Amiibo Doctor’s Recommended Stagelist & Ruleset

This post was originally written in the days of Smash 4 and updated for Ultimate. While a few stages have been added, this has been the consistent Amiibo Doctor stagelist for the life of this blog.

Stages

The stages and their organization will vary as amiibo tournaments are conducted. The metagame is currently very weak in terms of population, so it may take a while to come up with the perfect ruleset.

The goal of a ruleset is to create an environment where as many characters are not hindered in as many situations as possible without consistently hindering the same character, and to create a game that is as competency-based as possible. We don’t want unskilled players being rewarded by the ruleset, because the point of a game is to get better at playing the game. While skill is less relevant in amiibo competition, surrending relevancy to the physical environment (the stages) instead, this only puts the onus of competency development on the stagelist, moreso than the ruleset.

Basically, it’s gonna be tough to create the perfect stagelist. We’ve never really had a good one in the meta, just simple and easy to understand ones.

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The system that I propose for stages this go-round is very, very different from what we had in Smash 4. In Smash 4, most tournaments had exclusively Ω-type stages. I’ve outlined in previous posts why those were a bad idea, and I maintain that. We’re not going to go with all of one type of stage, be it Battlefield-type or Ω-stages. Instead, we will start with the most competitively viable stages and narrow it down from there.

All of these stages are viable for amiibo competition, with hazards:

  • Battlefield
  • Final Destination
  • Small Battlefield
  • Dream Land 64
  • Yoshi’s Island (Brawl)
  • Smashville
  • Fountain of Dreams
  • Yoshi’s Story (Melee: however, currently there is a glitch where Shy Guys will bring food items regardless of the item settings. Until this glitch is patched, this stage should remain off-limits)

Without hazards, these stages are viable for amiibo competition, in order of importance of legalization, and they have been assigned a Legality Value to determine how reasonably they can be included in a stagelist:

  • Battlefield – 100 (guaranteed on third match anyway)
  • Final Destination – 100 (guaranteed on second match anyway)
  • Smashville – 100
  • Small Battlefield – 100
  • Pokemon Stadium 1 – 90
  • Fountain of Dreams -90
  • Midgar (functionally identical to Battlefield, and is useful if the TO wants Battlefield to have a “double chance”. Otherwise ignore.) – 85
  • Kalos Pokemon League – 75
  • Unova Pokemon League – 75
  • Dream Land 64 (functionally similar to Battlefield, but stage is larger and the rest of the features are accordingly sized) – 65
  • Yoshi’s Story (Melee) – 60
  • Pokemon Stadium 2 -55 (Would be 80 if not for Pokemon Stadium 1 already being in. Do note that amiibo sometimes fail to recover on this stage for no reason.)
  • Yoshi’s Island (Brawl) – 50 (Would be 70 without Smashville)

Skyloft has been removed. I’ve been doing some testing and it appears that the game’s stage picker favors Skyloft for some reason. In a selection of 100 random choices, with the list of 12 stages available, it picked Skyloft 24 times. That’s about three times as often as it should be chosen, so we’re going to strike it.

There are more stages that could be allowed, such as hazardless Halberd and hazardless WarioWare, but most of the reasonable stages that I didn’t put on here have blastzone issues. WarioWare, for example, has a very close horizontal blastzone which favors characters that have strong horizontal KO moves. Halberd has a low blastzone, which favors characters that have strong vertical KO moves. Ideally, we don’t want to favor one kind of move over another. Truth be told, some of the stages on the list are already questionable, but tournament testing hasn’t given me any solid reasons to avoid legalizing them.

In the future, some other stages will be considered for legalization. Those stages will be given a score, and future Amiibo Doctor tournaments will set a score of legality for that tournament. If Amiibo Doctor were to hold another tournament and set a score of 80, then all stages at or above the threshold of 80 would be legal – Midgar, Fountain of Dreams, Pokemon Stadium 1, and Smashville (with Battlefield and Final Destination being reserved for second and third matches, obviously). This will allow tournaments to use a custom stagelist and communicate legality much easier.

The first match

I propose that we avoid stage biasing by not having a set first stage. Instead, we should have a list of potential stages that can be chosen for the first match, and have the game’s Random Stage Picker choose them. We should exclude Battlefield and Final Destination for the later matches for simplicity purposes, but the rest of the list should be up for grabs. If a TO is going with hazards ON, then they should put Dream Land, Yoshi’s Island and Smashville in the random stage list, and have the game choose. If they’re going with hazards off… you see my point. It allows for a still fair but also interesting twist.

The list should be the list I provided above, minus Battlefield and Final Destination.

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The second match

The second match should be Final Destination or an Ω-stage, regardless of the results of the first match. Final Destination is a completely unique stage with an entirely different metagame from a platformed stage, which is why I’m putting it second no matter what. It revolves around ground-based metagames moreso than any other stage and will require flexibility from well-trained amiibo.

Setting up the stages in this manner will ensure that ground-based amiibo are not hindered, but also not favored across the matches. If the ruleset remains best 2 of 3, then a flat stage will be in every matchup no matter what. Trainers will still need to prioritize flat-based training for their amiibo, but we’ll no longer have the problems of a dominant Little Mac like we did in Smash 4 due to the first stage being non-flat.

(It never made sense to only have flat stages anyway.)

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The third match

The third and final stage should be Battlefield, or a Battlefield-type stage. Like Ω-stages, all Battlefield-type stages will be exactly the same as each other, allowing for some visual diversity in tournament videos. Seeing nothing but Ω Battlefield was a real bore with Smash 4 tournaments, and I found myself very bored and with a little bit of eyeburn after a few minutes.

Having Battlefield in third means that across all three matches, the stage imbalances should be largely neutralized by each other. This creates an overall balanced and fair experience for the amiibo, and for the competitors.

Rulesets

I’ve run one tournament with this ruleset already, and I think it works pretty well. The first tournament, ASMR #1, was the testing ground for my theoretical ideas on rules, so I think I’ve got a handle on them now.

  • 3 stock
  • 5 minutes
  • Best of 3, except for Grand Finals which is best of 5
  • Spirits OFF (obviously this is up to the TO and is much more fluid than other points on this list)
  • Final Smash meter OFF
  • No Handicap
  • Items OFF
  • Stage Morph OFF (unless it’s between two Ω stages or Battlefield stages, because then it’s only for visual flair, but frame drops must be taken into consideration beforehand)
  • Hazard/Hazardless options are up to the Tournament Organizer
  • Learn button up to the discretion of the trainer submitting them

I went with 5 minute timers for a few reasons. Amiibo have the tendency in Smash 4 to sit and stare at each other, which can sometimes waste time. While I don’t expect this to be prevalent at first, top-tier amiibo who keep fighting each other may end up with this problem again. We need to cut the time short so that even in the worst instances of this, the streams can move on. On top of the amiibo standoffs, five minutes per match seems like a cozy number to sit at. In a Best-of-3 scenario, one single matchup could take up to fifteen minutes, which would be a huge headache for both the tournament organizer and the audience. Five minutes keeps the action going.

Picking the Best-of-3 option is partially just tradition, and common sense. It’s a good, normal number, and it allows for matches where one contender is much better than the other to skip the third match and save time. I would personally recommend that Grand Finals go with best-of-5, because that will test the long-term quality of the amiibo’s training. If Grand Finals is reached, then the fourth and fifth match should be Final Destination and Battlefield again, or two randomly chosen stages from the stage picker that include Final Destination and Battlefield.

The competitive community is going with Final Smash meter OFF, and for good reason. Final Smashes being handed to you takes most of the fun out of the game, because your opponent just has to land it to net a KO. For many of the same reasons that Smash Balls were disallowed in Smash 4, Final Smash meters shouldn’t be allowed.

I believe that items and Spirits should be turned off, but Mii Fighters should be allowed to use their custom moves. Their moves are available from the beginning for every player, they’re the only characters with customs this time, and the effectiveness of the custom moves are largely stage-dependent.