A Beginner's Guide for Marth in Smash Ultimate
Fri 5th Apr 2019 - 7:33pm
With the coming of the newest addition to the Smash Bros. series Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, fans of the game have been rushing to learn the most they can about the game. Today we’re going to have a “starting-out guide” covering Marth, the hero-king. In this guide we are going to cover each of Marth’s moves, some of their uses, and some simple bread-and-butter combos you can use against most characters. It is important to know that since the game has only been out for a short time, there are many changes that will happen to the game as there are newer and possibly better uses for any character’s tools!
Marth’s Moveset Analysis
Here we are going to go over some uses for each of Marth’s moves in Smash Ultimate. Of course, there are always going to be ways to expand the use for each move, but here are some of the more straightforward ways to make the best use out of each move while you are starting out.
Forward-smash is at the moment going to be your primary smash attack. It has good range in this game and can secure stocks at decent/expected percents. At the moment, there are a good amount of moves that can also combo into forward-smash at lower and medium percents such as first hit neutral-air or down-tilt into running forward-smash, so this move is going to be your stock finisher in most cases. It is also really important to note that, on Battlefield stages, Marth’s forward-smash does hit characters on platforms when they are diagonally above you. This is an important spacing to get used to as forward-smash can end combos and stocks this way very well in this game!
Up-smash isn’t that bad in this game. It has a decent hitbox but doesn’t K.O. as easily as forward-smash. It isn’t too difficult to combo into and can kind of act as a “I’ll take it” option when you probably couldn’t do too much else in certain scenarios. Most characters will get K.O.’d from up-smash at higher percents, so if you’re in a tense situation and think up-smash can connect then it isn’t the worst option to go for in this game.
Down-smash actually has some good range in this game and can be pretty good in tech-chase scenarios for covering tech-in-place and (usually) rolling inward/behind you. Down-smash has pretty strong vertical knockback, so it’s not the worst choice for securing a stock if you can time it correctly!
Forward-tilt seems great in this game. It has a lot of similar uses to forward-smash but has less risk involved. Forward-tilt comes out pretty fast and is less laggy than Marth’s forward-smash but has a bit less range. If you’re pretty sure your opponent will be close to you, forward-tilt can be a great option to send your opponent away while leaving you less exposed than forward-smash would, so it’s definitely worth learning the spacing and timing for. Forward-tilt comes out as early as frame 8, while forward-smash comes out on frame 10. Two frames isn’t a huge window of difference, but you’d see here that you can be active as early as frame 34 when using forward-tilt whereas forward-smash would not let you be active til frame 52. That’s 18 frames (almost 1/3rd a second) of you being stuck in lag if you decided to commit to using forward-smash. You can definitely make use of this move to finish off stocks and finish certain combos.
Up-tilt is your go-to combo extender move. This move is amazing in this game, as it comes out fast, has great range, and leads into simple follow-ups. Up-tilt is good under platforms, when your opponent is above you or jumping, and to continue a combo with. It adds 6-9% of damage and 7.2-10.8% in 1v1s, can be used in succession at lower percents, and good to use after aerials. Just be careful when you use it too much, like any move, as it can definitely be punished by players expecting an up-tilt to come out.
Down-tilt is your best approaching and zoning tool on stage. This move is a powerful disrupt to most opponents due to the range and speed and can lead to some grabs and other attacks in some situations. When you notice your opponent is more ground based in their game plan, down-tilt should be one of your moves of choice.
“Neutral-A”: Referring to Marth’s jab. A pretty fast move that you can use to catch your opponent for a small amount of damage and maybe a light knock-up.
Dash-Attack: An easy combo finisher for Marth. Kind of slow coming out on frames 13-16, but you can use it to get decent knockback off-stage.
Neutral-air is Marth’s good combo starter move in this game so far. Marth’s neutral-air has two hits and can be fast-falled after the first hit into other moves as well, allowing for some creative combos.
Forward-air is a solid aerial in this game as it has good range and utility. When using forward-air, make sure that you try to space Marth’s sword so that the tip of his sword is going to connect with your target in order to keep yourself at a safe distance. You want to use this move like a moving wall when either approaching your opponent or keeping your opponent in a position. There are times where you can connect other moves like forward-smash or forward-tilt, but they can be a bit trickier to execute than other combos.
Up-air is your prime juggling tool for keeping your opponent in the air after you’ve knocked them up. If you’re doing a falling up-air you can lead that into an up-tilt as well to continue your combo. Up-air can be used as a combo starter, but it can be pretty difficult to hit as Marth. Since Marth’s sweetspot is on the tip of his sword it can be hard for newer players to land and continue a combo off of. Up-air is a move that is good for continuing your combo. It can be good under platforms and should also lead into an up-tilt here against most characters.
Back-air is Marth’s aerial of choice for securing K.O.s. It has the highest knockback of any of Marth’s aerials followed closely by the second hit of neutral-air. Marth’s back-air also has the unique property of turning him around in mid-air, so keep that in mind when using it, and this can sometimes be used to your advantage. Back-air does a decent job of being a combo finisher, as you can do smaller moves like up-tilt or sometimes and up-air into back-air, making it easier to secure a K.O. rather than spamming back-air.
Down-air is probably Marth’s worst aerial this early into the game. The spike hitbox is harder to hit, and down-air will end up sending your targets horizontally, which back-air could already do but better. Some good uses for down-air would be finishing stocks off-stage, as down-air covers a decent amount of space below Marth and covers tech options on platforms. When your opponent is knocked onto a platform, you can properly time your down-air to hit their tech option, and with the amount of space down-air occupies you should be able to cover the entire platform and only focus on timing.
Neutral Special: Shield Breaker, a chargeable move which does a large amount of damage to your opponent’s shield if they block it. This move also can have the potential to secure stocks or finish combos. A decent strategy to use when thinking about Shield Breaker is to move away from your opponent while they approach you and turning on the spot into doing shield breaker. You’re essentially covering two options and by charging the move you can change your timing as well. If your opponent chases you with a move that won’t reach you or no move at all, you can catch them with your attack. If they shield, you can do a large amount of damage to their shield or you can charge it to try and bluff your opponent’s option out of shield.
Forward/Side Special: Dancing Blade, a four hit attack which can change properties based on how you input a direction at the same time as pressing the B button. Marth, as well as his many counterparts, have a similar side special which uses four directional attacks. With Marth, you can use dancing blade while holding the up direction to get damage and launch your opponent into the air, which could lead into more combos. Holding forward while using dancing blade can give you the most knockback horizontally but holding down while using dancing blade will lead to more damage and a multi-hit finisher.
Up Special: Dolphin Slash is Marth’s recovery move. It boasts a large vertical recovery as well as a strong initial knockback. Marth’s up-b can be a good option to use out of shield, acting like a “dragon punch” from traditional fighters. If your opponent does an unsafe aerial against your shield while they’re at high percent, performing an up-B out of shield has a high potential to take your opponent’s stock. For any newcomers to the Smash series, Marth’s up-B can also be “curled” by rolling your control stick in the direction you want to go in order to get more horizontal movement! This can be a useful trick to take advantage of when recovering.
Down Special: A counter move, Marth turns invincible to attacks and performs a counterattack upon being hit. However, be careful against grabs and command grabs (like Wario’s Chomp or Captain Falcon’s up-special) as counter will leave you vulnerable to them. This move should probably be used the least out of all of Marth’s moves, as it can leave you vulnerable to well-timed attacks and grabs. Counter comes out on frame 6 and lasts all the way until frame 27, but leaves you in lag until frame 65, meaning it’s one of Marth’s laggiest attacks. However, if you have a good read on your opponent, it can be a good mix-up to get some additional damage and stocks at high percents.
Strategies and Gameplans
Marth’s general gameplan is similar to that of any character with a sword; to hit your opponent with your disjointed hitboxes at a safe distance. You want to think about the range of your sword as your entire threat range, which can be quite large when you think about how far Marth’s forward-air and down-tilt reach. These are two of the common moves you’ll want to use in addition to Marth’s neutral-air. The majority of your game plan will revolve around using these moves to force your opponent to shield, at which point you can either use grabs into down-throws for combos or Shield Breaker on their shield. You want to focus on controlling space on stage and using your range to stay safe from center stage.
The main difference between Marth and his clones is how his sword functions. Marth’s sword has a sweet-spot at the tip of his sword resulting in more knockback and damage and is termed as his “tipper.” Lucina, Marth’s most prominent echo fighter, does not have this same function and has the same amount of knockback/damage from her entire sword in each move. Having the tipper means that Marth will want to focus on getting kills using the the tip of his sword and keep note of how combos work when moves are either tippered or not.
This is how you want to play most match-ups from Marth’s perspective, but there are times where you want to take more “aggressive” or “passive” styles. In general, when playing against characters that have projectile focused gameplay, you want to avoid getting hit by projectiles while occupying the space in front of your opponent. Good ways to avoid projectiles can just be jumping over the projectiles or parrying/shielding them. It’s important to make sure that you choose each option as often as the other so that your opponent will have a difficult time predicting your movements. This way, you can apply pressure to them while they get forced into the corner and if they attempt to use projectiles you will be close enough to punish them on the startup of their move. Against characters that either have fast ground speeds or moves with long endlag, you want to focus on staying just far enough away from your opponent to be able to dash in and punish them.
Marth has a lot of general combos that can work on most characters. A lot of simple, general combos come from getting a small knockback and following up with another move. Here are some sample combo starters and what they can lead into:
- Up-tilt -> any aerial (besides down-air in most scenarios), usually up-air
- Down-tilt -> dash attack
- First hit of neutral-air (performed by fast-falling so only the first hit connects to the target) -> Forward-smash
- Landing forward-air or neutral-air (usually at low percents) -> side-special
These are just a few combo options that Marth has and hopefully they help you get started with playing the Hero-King! Don’t forget to practice what you know so you can perform up to your own standards and remember to experiment with different moves in different scenarios when playing friendly games in person and online in order to learn more about how Marth works!
For anyone who might be a bit unfamiliar with some common basic Smash terms, here is a small breakdown of some of the terms used in this guide.
Dash - The starting segment of your character’s run. A character’s dash happens before the running animation starts. You can notice the smoke clouds appear at your character’s feet in addition to a different actual running animation (particularly in the feet/legs). Dashes are important for getting an initial boost of speed after doing other moves.
Forward-smash, up-smash, down-smash - These terms are referring to the typically more powerful moves that your character possesses and are normally performed by pressing a direction and the “A” button at the same time, or by moving the “C-Stick” (or smash stick) too. These moves tend to be the moves you want to use to finish a stock by either ending a combo or placing them in a location you think your opponent will be.
Forward-tilt, up-tilt, down-tilt - These moves are performed when your character is on the ground and you are holding the control stick in a direction and then press “A.” In any Smash game, tilts are an important part of your character’s moveset and should not be overlooked! Most tilts can either lead into combos or extend combos after landing successful hits.
Forward-throw, back-throw, up-throw, and down-throw - Throws are traditionally performed by pressing the “Z” button, grabbing your opponent, and inputting a direction and throwing your opponent in that direction. Most characters have down throws that will send characters in different directions, such as into the ground and directly up, or maybe behind or in front of the character doing the throw. We won’t need to really go over Marth’s throws as they are relatively simple, but it is important to remember that Marth’s down-throw will lead to the most combos of out the four.
Short hop - Short hops have been an iconic mechanic in other Smash games, and it is as simple as it sounds. Short hops are just short jumps, executed by lightly tapping your jump button as opposed to holding down your jump button. Short hops are important for doing aerial moves as fast as you can, as well as landing as fast as you can in order to reduce your overall lag and continue combos. Smash Ultimate has a new unique mechanic which could be useful for newer players or people who have difficulty with light pressing jump, where if you press your jump button “at the same time” as your attack button, the engine will make your character short hop and do the move at the same time. This timing might be trickier for new players, but if you find that using this new technique helps you execute your moves how you want, then by all means do what is more comfortable for you.
Fast-fall - After performing either a short hop or regular full jump, you can press down on your control stick to fall faster to the ground and reduce the amount of lag form being stuck in the air. If you are still getting used to the timing of when to perform the fast-fall, you want to press down when your character gets to the peak height of their jump before pressing down. Characters will also have a small “star” above their head showing a fast-fall has been started.
Forward-air, back-air, up-air, down-air, neutral-air - These terms are referring to the different types of aerial attacks a character has based on the input. Anyone familiar with the Smash series will know that holding their control stick in a direction while pressing their “A” button will result in a specific type of move depending on the direction the stick was held. The different names are referring to the direction the stick is being held in contrast to the way the character is facing. For example, if your character is facing right, then forward-air would be executed by holding your control stick to the right and pressing “A” while in the air.
Side-b, up-b, down-b, neutral-b - These are referring to your character’s “special” moves, usually mapped to the “B” button on your controller. Like the terms above, the different names are referring to the different directions the stick is being held while performing the move. Up-b tends to act as a way for most characters to return to the stage after being knocked off, in addition to also being an attack.
Tech(s), teching - This refers to when a character has been hit and is about to hit the ground. If a player presses one of their trigger buttons before the character connects with the ground, they will perform a tech, and will allow them to enter a standing position. By holding either forward or away and performing a tech, a character will perform a tech-roll and roll in the direction held. These are a fundamental game mechanic that will help you avoid getting hit by easier/stronger combos in most situations, however a player can time their moves in expectation of a tech. Tech-chases are when you are following up a tech scenario after your opponent techs. This is a just simple explanation of an important part of how the game is played for the purposes of this starting guide.
Dragonpunch - A move in traditional fighting games performed by pressing forward, down, and down-forward on the control stick and followed with an attack. Dragonpunches are used as reversal techniques as they are usually invulnerable on the first couple frames of startup, making them popular moves to use after or while blocking.
Read - Otherwise known as a “tell” in games like poker, reads are predictions about a player made by their opponent based on the player’s in-game habits. In Smash, reads are usually movement choices, attack choices, or tech choices.
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