The Problems with The Amiibo Meta

by Doc – Owner, Founder, Does It Surprise You That There Are Problems With Amiibo?

Two weekends ago, I put out what is quickly becoming my most-successful amiibo video on the Amiibo Doctor Youtube channel. About halfway through this video, I explained the history of the Western amiibo trainers’ interactions with the Japanese amiibo trainers, and opined on the causes of the differences between our two groups.

The biggest divider between the Western and Japanese meta was our beliefs as to the ingredients of a “well-trained” amiibo. Because of our completely-independent development, our perceptions of “training skill” were defined by the other amiibo trainers that we would encounter, and what outperformed those trainer’s amiibo. The Japanese believed that a good amiibo managed its shield effectively and was able to break shields, while the West believed that a good amiibo focused on breaking the amiibo opponent’s AI. We both learned tremendous amounts of new strategy from our encounters, and it completely shifted our perceptions of a “well-trained” amiibo.

This problem is not exclusive to Japan vs. the West. I’ve been posting amiibo training videos on Youtube for about three and a half years, and about five percent of the comments are some form of “When my amiibo fight each other, my [low tier amiibo] always wins. Your tier list is wrong.” They were funny at first… and they’re still funny, honestly.

The Youtube commenter comes to his conclusion because he only has his amiibo compete with each other or with a friend’s amiibo, so each amiibo is trained with the same preferences and style. His “personal amiibo tournaments” become a question of which amiibo wins most often when every contender plays in roughly the same style. He has no competition to show him that there are other ways that his amiibo should play, which creates the first problem with the amiibo meta. The first problem with the amiibo meta is a lack of accessible competition. It’s not easy for someone to enter amiibo tournaments and stumble upon new playstyles and training options: tournament hosts are few and far between, tournaments fill up immediately, and Amiibots takes a long time to accumulate matches without a paid subscription. Broke trainers who don’t have all day to spend (or no hardware to get bin files) can’t get a good measurement of their amiibo without resorting to arenas that already mess with amiibo AI. So far too often, trainers who are not deeply-embedded in at least one amiibo community won’t get a broader view of the amiibo meta by experiencing it firsthand.

The second problem with the meta is that enthusiastic new trainers and communities often jump right into amiibo training without getting a solid conceptualization of how the meta tends to play out, and end up rehashing all the previous mistakes that other trainers have made. Foundational notions of the meta like match randomness, ditto match irrelevance and basic rulesets almost always get ignored or never learned, resulting in an amiibo trainers that don’t understand the meta and make no real innovations in training. The process typically goes like this:

1. Start amiibo community with a few amiibo training friends
2. Stay kinda-sorta aware of amiibo training stuff, but not in direct contact with USAC or CCAS
3. Don't compete with outside trainers
4. Compare your tournament results with outside tier lists and determine everyone else is wrong

Since we’d prefer that amiibo trainers are always experimenting and trying to innovate new strategies for amiibo, it would be best to give everyone as full of a picture of the amiibo meta as possible.

The Solution to Both Problems?

To solve these problems, we have to make amiibo competition more accessible. The first problem can be solved by encouraging micro-tournaments in smaller communities. Micro-tournaments are tournaments designed for the new amiibo trainers who aren’t as financially invested in things like Powersaves for Amiibo, but who still have a Nintendo Switch Online membership and can host arenas.

Spongebob and Plankton amiibo meme

Micro-tournaments would be a 4-man double elimination or 8-man single elimination arena tournament, meant to be completed in a single evening. Micro-tournaments would have all the same options that a regular tournament has: vanilla or spirits, counterpicking or no counterpicking, tier bans, and so on, but they’re much easier to understand and don’t require much time at all to run.

Of course, micro-tournaments wouldn’t compete with regularly-sized tournaments and wouldn’t have the same “glory” for the winner, but they would serve quite well to keep people interested and innovating their amiibo, which is really the important thing.

The second problem, the information gap, can be mostly solved simply by asking the communities to unify around USAC, and encouraging the smaller communities to post their ongoings on media pages. USAC is the center of amiibo competition (and has experienced a recent revival thanks to the video I posted), and the most important amiibo discoveries happen in USAC. Frankly, (and I’m saying this as someone who doesn’t believe in flattery), USAC is the healthiest amiibo community I’ve ever seen, both in terms of enthusiasm for amiibo and in the overall cultural health maintained by the staff. Getting trainers to center around USAC would keep everyone abreast of the innovations that other communities are finding, and serve the useful functions that a hub can serve. USAC has its flaws, as I’m well aware, but it’s still our best option by far.

Small communities creating media is another key part of solving the information gap. This will be up to the individual creators in each community, and their style and method of distribution will be unique to each one. I’d be happy to use the Amiibo Doctor platform and my own self-taught techniques to teach amiibo creators skills like graphic design, video production and so on. I’ve already been doing so on the Amiibo Doctor Extra channel, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon.

Do you think these solutions can help the amiibo meta? Tell me in the comments, if you would.

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