The Great Item Debate - 4th Edition

It’s that time again. The “I” word. The big one. The one that rips every Smash community to shreds due to the sheer devotion to it. But… it needs to be done.

Let The Great Item Debate Commence!

First, a History:

The Smash tournament scene really started to pave its way with Melee. Matt “Mattdeezie” Dahlgren began to pull together Californians in an attempt to establish a true competitive Smash community, beginning with his tournament series Tournament Go. The original tournament hosted singles, teams, and FFA, all virtually untouched gameplay. This means all stages, all items, everything untouched. The tournament was a great success that spawned 5 successors over 2 years as well as jump starting the Smash community into the giant it is today. Over those 2 years, the rules were tweaked, slowly, but surely, as aspects of the game started to become too polarizing. It started out simple, with removing the clear-cut offenders in items and stages, and made its way down to something most agreed with and lasted until near the end of those 2 years. The debates waged on during that time, largely around items and their place in Smash. Tournaments across the country were organized regularly both with and without them. It was only once it was determined that the exploding capsule causing unpredictable deaths that items began to fall out of the limelight, as they could not be turned off without turning off items altogether. The pro-item fans began to dwindle, the item tournaments stopped being organized in favor of the majority choice.

The real heat in the ideas began when Brawl was released. The biggest complaint was heard - containers had their own toggle. But it had been nearly 5 years. Many players wanting to jump on the new game had only really experienced Melee post-2003, and never got a chance to understand the item alternative due to the estrangement. Animosity formed between those that wanted to see another shot with a new game, and those that had believed the containers were part of a bigger problem that wouldn’t change between games. Members of SRK here became the forerunners for the return of items in Smash (dubbing the ruleset “All-Brawl”), and were met with a large force that insisted that they had no purpose, and the fight raged on as Brawl was being considered for Evo 2k8. In an attempt to lay mediator between the two sides, Mr. Wizard had decided that the ruleset would include a small subset of items. Unfortunately, this satisfied neither party, and despite the at-location hype, the outcome was sorely tarnished, where CPU soundly beat Ken for the victory. Brawl was not included with the subsequent Evo due to the fallout, but did return the following year under the established ruleset and managed by members of the Smash community at large.

We now have a new Smash, and a new attempt to discuss the future of the ruleset options for the Smash tournament scene. I believe it is time to bring this argument to life once again. Once again, the same ideas are on the table as with Brawl. It’s a new game, a new engine, different behaviors, different everything, really. My belief today has shifted quite a bit compared to when I myself was fighting for All-Brawl, and more so from the days of TG. But the basis of it still remains. Today, my proposal is a bit more complicated than my initial “items matches along side no items matches”, but ultimately much more organized than it as well. What I believe should be done is a ranking system for items. A TO can state their tournament to be a “Rank x” tournament to show the types of items to be in play, if any, which greatly simplifies the rule descriptions. My initial idea is as follows:

Rank 5 (The Pseudo-Ban Rank - these items wildly influence the game on appearance due to its overwhelming reward being too good or bringing the game to a halt, or otherwise reward considerably the player instantaneously through little or no interaction)

  • Back Shield, Fairy Bottle, Gust Bellows, Heart Container, Lightning Bolt, Maxim Tomato, Special Flag, Starman, Timer

Rank 4 (The High Stakes Rank - these items aren’t necessarily busted but still incredibly tide turning for better or worse or otherwise difficult-to-impossible for an opponent to handle reliably, but not so much that it will either negate or create a kill guaranteed or otherwise bring the game to a halt until it is resolved)

  • Assist Trophy, Beetle, Bob-omb, Bombchu, Bullet Bill, Cucco, Daybreak, Deku Nut, Dragoon, Galaga Ships, Gooey Bomb, Master Ball, Ore Club, Poison Mushroom, Spiny Shell, Super Mushroom, Superspicy Curry

Rank 3 (The Deep End Rank - these items may or may not have lethal abilities, or may or may not give great additional control, but most may bring about some risk or disadvantage that can be used against them pretty readily)

  • Beam Sword, Blast Box, Fire Bar, Food, Golden Hammer, Hammer, Hocotate Bomb, Lip’s Stick, Metal Box, Poké Ball, Ray Gun, Rocket Belt, Smart Bomb, Smash Ball, Soccer Ball, Star Rod, Steel Diver, Team Healer

Rank 2 (The Conservative Rank - items in this rank shouldn’t really create a killing scenario on its own in any way that a smash attack wouldn’t also, nor should they control a large degree of a stage or otherwise give the player a significant advantage without some drawback)

  • Barrel, Beehive, Bumper, Bunny Hood, Capsule, Chest, Crate, Drill Arm, Franklin Badge, Green Shell, Home-run Bat, Killer Eye, Motion-Sensor Bomb, Party Ball, Pitfall, POW Block, Rolling Crate, Screw Attack, Spring, Tanooki Leaf, Unira, Warp Star, X Bomb

Rank 1 (The Simple Rank - items in here are non-lethal in most cases; they should be able to disrupt an opponent and possibly set up for other actions, but unless the setup to make the item lethal is incredibly situational, that’s all they should be able to do)

  • Banana Peel, Boomerang, Fire Flower, Freezie, Grass, Hothead, Mr. Saturn, Sandbag, Smoke Ball, Super Scope

Rank 0 - No Items

A Rank 0 tournament would be a very common occurrence for a while, as it is still a very unpopular opinion to play with items on at all. But for other ranks, it basically would include all ranks below it for items. A Rank 3 tournament would contain all items within Ranks 1, 2, and 3.

I believe this is the best way to handle both worlds out there to come together to accept both modes of play, and I am hoping that it can one day be adopted overall. I open this thread, however, as a means to discuss the possibilities of items in play, why some items deserve a given rank, etc. THIS IS NOT A THREAD TO BITCH ABOUT ITEMS. Take that shit elsewhere. This is not the place to discuss the validity of items. The idea within this thread is to discuss which items belong in a given rank and why. This list is what I would like to maintain and update as we discuss. Keep the discussion with the consideration that with this, most stages that would otherwise be considered unplayable may indeed still be viable.

tl;dr Ban items.

I think that’s what he said anyways

Haha… Most people aren’t well-versed enough in items to intelligently debate their relative strengths and rankings.

However, I am a magnanimous sociopath, and will do a write-up of my item observations in a day or so.

One item that should definitely get banned is the College Degree. Getting it puts a lot of people into a losing situation because they don’t have it. I don’t think its broken at all but you know, anything that makes stuff slightly unwinnable gets people complaining.

I agree with the list mostly, but there are a couple minor changes I think could be made:

Bombchu: I think this can be rank 3, especially if you have the Gooey Bomb at rank 3. Bombchu’s explosion is pretty tame (barely kills at 100%), the flight path isn’t great compared to other rank 4 explosives (like the bob-bomb), and it’s quite easy to avoid overall. Also does very little shield damage. Compared to Gooey Bomb which kills as low as 50% and cannot be blocked, even if it doesn’t explode on contact (though of course if you attack it…)

Smart Bomb: I also think this should be rank 3. While it may fail to detonate sometimes, and it doesn’t really kill, the blast radius is MASSIVE and cannot be shielded. Compared to the other Rank 2 items you have this seems a bit more powerful than the others there in terms of effectiveness.

I kind of agree . Smart Bomb is not as dangerous, but that stuff is like free damage if you place it well.

I think the bombchu is similar in that regard. It owns a lot of space for a while and is stage dependant like the hot head, but unlike the smart bomb it can kill. Having to eventually shield it can be devastating in it’s own rights, and killing at 100% is still pretty low considering a DK FSmash kills at around that time too. Keep it at 4

Speaking of. I don’t think Hot Heads should be a Rank 1 item.

  1. It blocks incoming projectiles by just sitting there

  2. Tossing a fully charged Hothead(depending on growth) can kill Bowser at 60 on FD and still get the stage control benefit of the stage. Mac can get it to max size in two USMashes, Samus in a Charge Shot and an FSmash.

But who’s honestly focused on charging a Hothead during a match? It’s pretty easy to dodge, even when it goes it’s fastest.

I’d be willing to sacrifice some time to hunt down and powerup a hot head while my oponent is off stage. Infact, in an items match, that’s the optimal strat if you ask me

^ unless you’re fighting Villager or someone with a reflector. ‘THANKS FOR THE POWERED UP HOT HEAD! =D’

I’m ok with playing any tournaments with Rank 3 items, but I think it’s weird seeing both Golden Hammer and regular Hammer on there. Golden Hammer is basically the same as a regular Hammer, but it does more damage. I haven’t played enough of the new smash to know if both hammers might not work sometimes when you pick it up like in Brawl, but I think Golden Hammer should move up a rank.

I also feel that the Dragoon isn’t as powerful as people think. I had sked a friend why he had it off and he said because it was basically a free KO, but you have to collect three of those things and even when you do you’re not guaranteed a hit even if you aim properly. We played a bunch of matches with that on and when someone usually got it and aimed for me I was able to dodge it with a sidestep or roll. I’d like to see play with Final Smashes too, but some Finals are just too op like Fox’s and Sonic’s.

Golden Hammer has the added bonus of better damage/knockback at the cost of having a slightly higher chance at being a dud, as well as the spawn time issue, unlike Hammers. The only thing I’d really give the nod toward the Golden Hammer towards is the fact that simply chucking the wielder off stage won’t necessarily kill them with the ability to hover for a while, but even that doesn’t last that long and could still get you killed, not to mention that there’s a good chance they’ll be able to follow up before you recover from the throw and footstool you for the finish.

Dragoon’s a bit tougher to debate on, honestly. It’s something that is complicated enough that the earned Dragoon is fairly justified, is definitely dodgeable with enough practice and becomes an interesting little bit of yomi in itself, and doesn’t reliably kill until someone’s into their 40s and 50s, so doing the fresh stock grab and smack like with Final Smashes doesn’t really do much other than accumulate a bit of damage and respace your opponent. On the other hand, it IS still something that will kill as low as 50%. I think this is one that really warrants looking into more. Especially considering the big issue with Dragoon in Brawl was that it frequently clogged the item spawns when it started.

As for Final Smashes, Fox’s was never shit and overrespected in Brawl; it’s only worse here. Sonic’s was pretty damn good in Brawl, but did have a weakness in that it always hit straight upward, so picking stages with a ceiling neutered it greatly (weee Luigi’s Mansion), but here it’s been nerfed a lot and still has that same hit angle. Both of these fall behind two transformation final smashes that were better even in Brawl - Pikachu’s and Wario’s. Yet even those in Brawl would only net a near-guaranteed fresh stock kill at best against competent opponents, and do worse now. I think the overall balance of Final Smashes have been largely centered now. The only really terrifying transformation FS now is Wario’s (debateably Zamus’s as well), and Wario could use that added muscle.

Dragoon automatically starts its target at the opponent, so if you just mash, then you’re very likely to score an easy clean hit.

If you’re going to rank items, I think that any item that can be activated by attacking it or through any method other than a deliberate effort of picking it up should be bumped up to at least Rank 4, regardless of power.

can we move gust bellows to Rank 6? i’d rather play with starman than that stupid item

no seriously…can we do that?

I nominate that niggas who do nothing but bitch about items THAT THEY NEVER USE be disqualified from discussing their viability.

This sounds to me like one who’s been too oft a victim of Spam Flail Boom.

Well, this is supposed to be a discussion, isn’t it? Dismissing everything as “Lol, you just suck” without actually talking about it first is the exact same thing you guys always accuse Smashboards of doing.

It’s hard to take the argument seriously when your criteria is based around a doom prophecy that only comes to pass when players are unfamiliar with the given ruleset. An experienced item player either will not have an item activation based on attack occur due to a spawn during the attack, or will occur knowing that it was a risk performing said attack. I think it’s fair to say items that don’t result in a near-guaranteed kill due to said risk don’t deserve a rank 4 slot. Even more so with an item that’s already spawned. You should know what the item is capable of going in, including what can occur when you attack it, and if you still choose to do so, any negative outcome is 100% on you.

What I think you’re missing is that for every outcome that you find bad, there is both a way to reasonably plan around it as well as ways to take advantage of it.

I’m all for sponsoring item tournaments, by the by, but I would expect Rank 5 or higher tournaments would dissuade lots of entrants

Rank 5 is definitely something that’s intended to be a pseudo-ban, considering as you say it would dissuade entrants, no one will enter. Rank 4 is going to get a similar treatment, but not nearly as much, considering a lot of item fans like the higher risk stuff as well. Rank 2 or 3 IMO is where most would fall. Rank 1 is ideal for the conservative crowd who are, to say the least, skeptical about their inclusion.

EDIT: To respond to this - Dragoon cursor starts at the center of the screen. The screen DOES center around the one remaining player if possible at first, because your character goes off screen. Once the camera rests and you attempt to use it (in your case, you’ve been mashing A at this time already so it’ll fire ASAP), will only slightly stick to an opponent, but is not a firm track (kinda like how a Mario game will keep you sort of in the center more often than not, but it’s not fixed to your location). Unless your opponent is in the center of the screen and stays in that exact position (a risky maneuver, but probably not a bad one considering you’re sitting there right next to him mashing away, so stand still and ready that spot dodge!), mashing on activation will end up missing.

Well, considering people apparently freak out at just smoke balls, hotheads and bananas…