The SSBM Update: Modes and Items

There’s been a good opening discussion regarding SSBM at Evo. I’ve been educating myself about the Smash scene, and there are two big questions that I would like input on.

Assuming there is one SSBM tournament at Evo:

  1. What mode should the tournament be? 1v1, 2v2, of 1v1v1v1?

  2. Should items be turned on? (with some items disabled of course)

I’ve watched a lot of tournament vids, and IMHO what makes Smash unique, and therefore attractive to Evo, is the interaction with the environment (items, interesting stages, etc), along with the craziness of more than 2 fighters going at it.

Please limit your discussion to these two questions, and use the old smash thread for other ssbm topics.

Let us worry about things like time/space/etc. We just want to know what you think the ideal format is.

Thx for the info.

2v2 is fun. But i think it’s best to keep it 1v1. That’s kind of the main purpose of fighting games. I’m all for 2v2 if you choose to have it that way though. As for items, at the first major in socal last month, they banned: Hearts/Tomato/Starman/StarRod/Hammer/Mushrooms/HomerunBat/PartyBall/Bom-omb/Pokeballs/Cloaking Device

Ok, I’m new here, but I’ve been lurking for like a year or more now. I’ve been posting at for about a year (counting the crash). I put a thread about this there so hopefully there’ll be some very informed voices here.

My take is, 1v1, 8 minute rounds, 4 stock; items on very low with health (tomato, heart, food), hammers, starmen, mushrooms, and possibly pokeballs off.

Certain stages should be banned, but at Smashboards I’m in the minority about which ones, so I’ll just give my opinions, though they do not represent the smashboards community at large.

That said, I say put the big 7 safe levels on random for the first fight (Final Destination, Battlefield, Fountain of Dreams, Yoshi’s Story, Pokemon Stadium, Dreamland, Kongo Jungle). Then give slob picks level, winner picks character, loser picks character, in that order. Then ban Hyrule Temple, Yoshi’s Island 64, Big Blue, Brinstar Depths, and possibly Termina Bay and Poke Floats.

I think that’s all, I hope to see some SSBM matches on the next Evo DVD. That’d be awesome!

The general opinion from all of the people I talked to would rather have a 1 on 1 tournament as opposed to team. While many people thought a team tournament would be more exciting (including myself), and/or thought Evo should have both singles/team, when given the choice, the majority picked singles.

I talked with mattdeezie (head of Tournament Go) about trying to come up with a fair format that keeps game-length comparable to a game of MvC2/CvS2 (the longest games), while still keeping the smash strategies intact. It turned out to be around 3 stock / 4/5 mins.

Time is an important factor. After reading up and talking to mattd, it seems that more time in SSBM has an adverse effect on turtling. Not to say turtling is not a valid technique, but it seems that keeping the timer out of play for a longer period of time (basically just cranking it up a bit) encourages players to fight more. Once the timer gets close to depletion, many players use this as an incentive to avoid confrontation if they are in the lead (which also happens in many other games).

Items are a touchy subject for many players. Some would like to see them completely abolished, while others would like to keep them on with a handful removed. I personally believe that some form of items should remain in the game. The first set of items that generally get removed from tournament play are the healing items, for obvious reasons. Tomato/Heart. Next that usually goes is Party Balls, PokeBalls, Star, Warp Star, Cloak, Red Shell, Flipper, Metal Box, Bunny Hood, Mushrooms. From there, the rest of the items are generally on, or up in the air regarding availablity. Some of the up in the air items include Hammer, Homerun Bat, Star Rod, Barrel Cannon, Land Mine, Bombomb. For items that generall remain on, there’s Ray Gun, Super Scope, Fire Flower, Lip Stick, Beam Sword, Fan, Green Shell, Mr Freezie, Mr Saturn, Parasol, and Screw Attack.

I read a very informative post about items on (but unfortunately I couldn’t find the link) which explained why items should be turned on Low, but not Very Low. It basically stated that Very Low spreads items far to thin and when one finally appears the character that gets it has a much larger advantage. On Low, items appear at a steady rate, but not so much as to overrun the entire game with constant items. Basically, just enough to keep it fair.

Stages obviously play a big part in SSBM, and there seems to be a generally accepted standard in the “most fair” levels as opposed to the “easiest to turtle” levels (which are usually not used). For example, the standard three as far as “fair” goes are: Final Destination, Dreamland, Pokemon Stadium. The stages generally accepted as “unfair” or “super turtle inducing” are: Hyrule, Yoshi 64, and Termina Bay. Most other stages in between have advantages as disadvantages, but none are really as pronounces as the main 2 or 3.

I’ve read an enourmous amount of discussion on concerning this exact topic, and many different groups like many different settings. It seems like the WC has generally adopted Tournament Go rules (around 4 stock / 6 mins / some items), some (not all) on the EC have adopted high stock, no items, and there’s plenty of variation across the country.

The format I was initially leading towards from talking to mattd and other players was something similar to:

3-stock / 4-mins (maybe 5)
Items On (Low)

Specific Items Off: Tomatoes, Hearts, Party Balls, PokeBalls, Star, Warp Star, Cloak, Flipper, Bunny Hood, Mushrooms, Bombomb

Specific Items debatable: Hammer, Homerun Bat, Star Rod, Barrel Cannon, Land Mine

All Other Items On

Stages: For first game of a 2/3 match, players pick from one of the 3 main stages: Final Desination, Dreamland, Pokemon Stadium. From there, the loser can pick any of the other stages except Hyrule, Yoshi 64, and Termina Bay. There is also the option of expanding the “banned stages” list to include levels like Brinstar Depths, Pokefloats etc.

Character selection is blind pick for first game of a 2/3 match. Regarding character change, there are two thoughts on this. The first is to stick to standard fighting game rules and force winner to always keep his/her character. The second is to allow the winner to change character before the loser, so the loser still has the option to pick a counter.

There is a ton of debate regarding settings for SSBM. In order to keep the overall tournament time under control and make for an exciting, yet fair finals, certain players will ultimately have to get used to settings they are not used to. The variety in the community is very large, so no matter what happens, certain people are going to have to play on new settings or decide to not play at all.

Hey, I’m also a lurking smashboarder, but I just wanted to add a couple comments.

First, your concerns about players learning to adjust to a new ruleset, while not unfounded, may be unnecessary. The thing you may be fearing, that people won’t like having to adjust to your rules, may be the part that goes most in your favor. You see, almost every region of the country has their own rules that they prefer to play, there is no exact universal standard. So it’s actually rather understood throughout the smash community that you get used to the posted rules before you show up or you get screwed and have no one to blame but yourself.

The items debate has gone on long and hard at smashboards. It’s basically “items add another layer to the game” vs “items make things random.” So, it’s your call.

Stages is another touchy subject. I think the most accepted practice is to put the first match on random, and limiting that to about 7 or so “neutral” stages (usually Final Destination, Battlefield, Yoshi Story, Kirby 64, Fountain of Dreams, DK64, and Pokemon Stadium) then the next 2 usually get more complicated. Usually, if items are off, the allowed stages usually isn’t very many more than those 7 initial stages, while when items are on, the list is expanded to include all but, as mentioned earlier, Hyrule Temple, Yoshi 64, and Great Bay.

As for second and third round pickings, I think it’s generally good form to allow the loser to choose another character or the next stage, and they then have to stay with their character they had. If they change characters, the stage goes back to random. I know this sounds a little odd, but since stages play a more important role in Smash as opposed to other games, the rule keeps the loser from getting too much control of the next match (which would really just turn the sets into a best of 1, since the winner of the first match would then get his chance to screw over the other guy).

I agree on the 3 stock, 4-5 minutes, best of 3 deal. Good choice, given the circumstances.

Also, how many stations do you guys usually run for each game? Smash tourneys are notorious for taking forever to complete. The recent tourney in DC, Game Over, had 95 participants running on 12 setups and took over 7 hours to complete. Just a forewarning there, get as many tv’s and cubes as you can spare.

There, just a couple suggestions/explanations from me. Hope this turns out well!

Yeroc, good post. What was the ruleset for the Game Over tournament? Basically I want to be able to see what they used with their 12 stations to end up at 7 hours. This can be a good indicatior of which way we need to go with rules.

Game Over rules were:

I’d go against turning items on, and it seems like that’s becoming the trend. I think the feeling is that a game can’t be taken as seriously if randomness is involved. Almost all the top players in the country are anti-items.

Definitely 1v1. Team tournaments exist, but 1v1 is more popular and ultimately better because the items debate is relatively inconsequential. A 1v1 champ is still the champ, whatever the settings. In teams, TA off and TA on are very different games indeed and to pick one would suck. (If you did go teams, though, TA ON all the way- off is lame IMO)

1v1 stock is a given. Items should be Low, Very Low, or off. I think an items tournament is viable, but talking to MattDeezie he claimed that you folks at Evo would consider items a joke so I’ll go ahead and recommend items off. It’s the least divisive option, too- items off players tend to hate items, items on players play either one (obviously, because even with items on most of the game is without items, so items on players can do either one). So I’d recommend items off.

The only rules that are left are stages. Tragic mentioned that Hyrule and Yoshi64 are considered “unfair”. This is inaccurate- they are banned because they are flat out broken. On Hyrule you can run in circles around the center mass with Fox and chip away with blaster damage. Easy win. Yoshi64 you can hide on the far cloud and many characters can not get back to the stage if they follow you out there. Once they commit, you make the cloud disappear and jump back…

Termina has never officially been declared broken by the community but I think it’s only because it gets banned anyway. With no items it would certainly be broken…too easy to run away back and forth underneath the center platform.

Those three stages should be banned even with items. With items off, though, which is what I recommend, you will want to cut down the stages even further. Fourside is a definite goner- not only is it incredibly easy to camp on, but a Peach player can bounce between two buildings and run time out and many characters can do nothing to stop it, meaning it is broken. Other stages that are almost certain bans: Peach’s Castle, Venom. Center wall = easy camping.

I would go on, but I think I’ll just leave it to fellow smashboardian x1372 to elaborate, as I’ve seen him go off on the topic of no-items-stages about 20 times in very high detail. Might as well save myself the effort and let him do it. Generally you’ll want to end up with:

Final Destination
Pokemon Stadium

for the really plain ones, and if you want the true flavor of the game you’d probably include
Final Destination, Battlefield, Yoshi’s Story, Fountain of Dreams, Mute City, Rainbow Cruise, Kirby 64, Poke Floats, Pokemon Stadium…

Many tournaments will have a list of “neutral stages” (like the 9 listed above) for the first match random select, and then have the loser able to counterpick on any stage but the 4 banned stages (Hyrule/YI64/Fourside/Termina). I think this is a good rule, because I think stages are an important aspect of the game.

tragic- Game Over rules:

The tournament should not have run as long as it did. It was run poorly in terms of time management- matches were not played as quickly as they should have been, exhibitions were frequent even during tourney time, and they ran both a 2v2 and a 1v1 and forgot to even try to make the 1v1 bracket until after 2v2 was over, leaving a long wait in between tournaments. With 10 setups and a well-oiled tournament it shouldn’t take so long. Of course, Yeroc underestimated the time it took. I don’t remember when they finally started the tournament, but it ran at the official location until Midnight and it wasn’t finished- the 2 4/7 final rounds still had to be played at the host’s personal residence because we got kicked from the location and they went until 4:30 am or something. Still, I think you could cut down on the time with a good tourney setup (And maybe 3/5 instead of 4/7 for the finals, eh?).


MLG is going to host a SSBM tournament as well, most likely. They asked for rules on their forums, and GameBoyBob provided a list of major tourney rules. I will now copy his post:

What has been done before does not matter. Whilst some information is good for reference, I believe that it falls to the SRK board to create the perfect settings FOR EVO. By perfect settings these will not be loved by averyone, but they will be the most efficient for Evo.

With that my opinion.

1v1. If it is big enough then the next year hold a 2v2. Everybody plays 1v1 so for it’s first year we shouldn’t set the bar too high. 1v1 is fine, worry about 2v2 or FFA’s later on if all goes according to plan.

No items. As was stated above Evo is ‘the scene’ to demostrate your skill, and whilst items DO add another level to the game, it is not necessarily a desirable one. It DOES have some randomness obviously and that simply is overall not liked in fighters at a competetive level. Again like was said, everyone does play without items, even the people with items on =P.

Stages. For the first year I call that the stages be restricted to only Final Destination, Dreamland64, Fountain of Dreams, Pokemon Stadium. These four stages are pretty much as balanced as it gets and Evo simply does not have the time (OR SO I HEAR FROM A LOT OF PEOPLE) to muck around with things like stage debates in between every round. Let the com pick the stage from the four and just play it. There may be a few more added for flavour, but generally let the com pick the level from the list instead of the players. Imagine how long CvS2 would take if there were debates over the level…

3 stock 6min. This essentially makes it 3 stock with no ‘camp till the timer runs out’ mode. At the same time if a really good match goes on in 3 stock, it normaly goes for 5-5.5mins, so 6 is enough to let the best matches last whilst still not allowing people to just play run away for 10min. I say 5 at absolute LEAST, but strongly suggest 6. Hell playtest it yourself that’s what I did. If any of the mods have SSBM then just muck around fighting and see how long it would take. You just need some decent skills. I’m sure there’s ONE mod who plays Melee.

Again I say it falls to Evo to create the norm. If all this goes ahead and goes well all-in-all, then Evo is the type of tournament groups follow. People will follow what Evo do. So don’t screw it up =P (lol, no pressure.) Even if it is a total failure and/or major flaws arise, then at least you will know what has to be fixed and can announce the changes for next year. May I suggest a trial run? There are many great SSBM players I hear in the states and talk to on smashboards, so send them your ‘Settings’ for some playtesting. I’m sure they’d love to help you guys out setting up Evo ;).

One of the main concerns with time limit is the “what if” factor. What if each match goes to max length at 6 mins, or 8 mins etc. People are going to have to chose between a low stock 2/3 format, or a higher stock 1-game format (both would be double elimination).

nah 5 minute, 3 life is better. Play 2 out 3 double elimination. Then final is best of 5.

Also i suggest ffa preliminary. (first from each bracket preliminary gets to go on to the final). (divide the total number of players by 4)…then have the rest do one on one double elimination. Also do random generating seating so no one plays so the people you play is random.

or do a team tourney.

I like it, cause well, i get more chance to win…

I strongly advise against doing FFA at all. Even for prelims. There are to many broken aspects to FFA. Mainly, politics. If there’s one good player in a match and 3 not so good players the odds of those 3 teaming up on the better player are pretty big. So in that event the better playing wouldn’t win and make it out of the prelims. Or even worse, what if two or 3 friends happen to end up in the same FFA match? They’ll team up, kill all the opponents and then fight it out among themselfs to see who gets to go on. I know I certainly did just that in the one FFA tournament I once played. (Not that I had to, it was all scrubs anyway, but I wanted to prove a point) And on top of all that FFA also makes camping far more viable then it is in 1 vsv 1. After all, if your opponents are fighting each other on one end of the stage and you’re on the other end embrasing your inner bitch you’re not exactly losing the match. So unless the goal of the tournament isn’t to find out who’s the best there should be no FFA at all, ever.

Never, ever, ever do a FFA in a tournament.

FFA is never a good option in a serious tournament. the only times FFA is done, is as a side attraction as a joke/for fun during the downtime of a real 1v1 tournament.

many people won’t even show up at all if they expect FFA. I wouldn’t.

I also wouldn’t show up if it were not at least best 2 of 3.

there is pretty much no point in a tournament with few stock (1-2), or that is only one match, instead of best of 3.

with a decent number of stations and good organization, 3-stock, best of 3, 6 min time limit will go very quickly. at moast2, the biggest texas tournament, these settings flew through a filled-up 64 man bracket in a few hours. they had ~12 stations, and a well-organized crew to run them.

I understand the “what if” worries, they’re necessary, but it’s not common at all for a match to hit the time limit when the limit is set at or near double the stock. (5-6 min for 3 stock etc)

The only real danger to a ssbm tournament with good rules running over a reasonable time is an inexperienced crew trying to run it. “oh yeah, we have to make brackets huh?” or “lol yeah you guys can play a friendly game. entrants can wait.” if you have a fair number of stations compared to the number of entrants, and you’re well-organized, the tournament will not run over.

worst case scenario: you have 128 entrants. that is ~255 sets. every set goes to the third game. every game takes 6 minutes. that is 4590 minutes. among 16 setups that is less than 5 hours.

even if you say each set takes 25 minutes instead of 18 (for rotating players into the stations and recording results etc…25 is still way overestimating) that is still under 7 hours. worst case scenario.

a more reasonable estimate for 128 entrants is 4 minutes per game, half of them go to the third game. with 16 stations that is under 3 hours (not counting rotation, recording results). with only 10 setups (not a lot for 128 people) it’s still under 5 hours.

I’m sure you’re completely able to do the math yourself (hey I probably got it wrong somewhere), but only 3 stock, 5-6 minutes, best 2/3, double elim is pretty much the bare minimum. if you can’t make it work with that, it’s probably not worth having at all.


In my opinion Items are a big hazard of the game. I think they should be set 2 off all the times you want to the play the game unless ur playing for fun. But if $ is on the line definatley no items. No one wants 2 go home because they lost 2 a homerun bat being thrown at them or a random exploding bomb that appears right behind them while fighting. Its generally East Coast saids No items while west coast saids yes 2 items. The 2 best on the west coast, ken and isai say that they dont even like items on. It becomes a hazard and random things can happen with items. Generally with items smash turns into a game that u need 2 turtle on. My final thought is NO ITEMS.

1 on 1ns is what smash is about. Its really exciting 2 see 2 players go at it and not knowing who will win in the end. Skill is wat would determine the outcome of the matches. Matches also grow intense with every stock thats taken away. 2 vs 2 should have team attack off. There are 2 many team combonations that can spam the crap out of u without really working as a team. Example double samus spamming missles. :eek: No items and 1 vs 1 is wat im lookin 4.

Just giving my 2 cents, Dave.

PS: Ill come out of retirement 2 rep as the best falco again if this actually happens :smiley: only time will tell.

I’m sure that the Evo staff is going to try to make SSBM of comparable time to the other games, you should maybe take that into mind when talking about this.

If any of the Smash players were at EVO last year, you probably saw that each game had between 3-5 stations for pools. Tekken had a few more. It would be better to do the math based on similar numbers. If we can have more stations, we will, but always assume the average until proven otherwise.

Next, pools hardly ever run flawlessly. Even adding a few minutes onto each match doesn’t really make up for all the stuff that goes on (and eats up time). For example, say Isai somehow didn’t get a ride from the hotel to the event center (note, this is just an example). Would you want to just DQ one of the top seeds? The same thing happened in ST last year. One of the top players was ridiculously late and the bracket was finally run w/out him. Then he showed up and the decision was made to let him back in and re-run the bracket (note: I’m predicting this kind of stuff won’t be allowed this year because of an even tighter schedule). At any rate, there are always exceptions. When I ran the GGXX bracket, I always tried to give each pool as much time as possible to show up. Out of all the players that entered, I don’t think more than a couple were DQ’ed. This added time to the pools, but fortunately we still finished in time.

CVS2 runs about 5-6 mins a game. The rules for this tournament was best of one game, and it STILL ran ridiculously long. Of course, it had time setbacks, but the fact is, it’s a slow game and it had a ton of entrants. Smash will have a ton of entrants, and with a 5/6 min timer, there’s a good chance that the tournament will run incredibly long too.

Now, don’t automatically take anything I’ve said to indicate what rules are set in stone, because none have been! My reason for posting is just to show that times on paper never turn out to be accurate as far as tournaments go… at least not big USA tournaments. We are generally too lenient. In JPN, especially at SBO, they will DQ you in a second lol.

I don’t think the number of stations will be much of a problem. Unlike arcade cabinets, it’s extremelly easy to get a hold of Gamecubes. After all, almost everyone that enters a Smash tournament will probably own their own Gamecube, and many of them would be willing to bring it to the tournament. In the same way there will also be a lot of people willing to bring TV’s. You just have to ask around a bit among the local Smash players. So the only reason I can see why you wouldn’t have enough stations is if there isn’t enough room for all of them.

Now that we’re on the subject of hardware anyway, I’d strongly suggest you make it “Bring your own controller”. For one this means you don’t have to worry about controllers. And it also helps eliminate any complains of people losing because of crappy controllers.