SSBU/Palutena/Strategy

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Palutena


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Gameplan

Palutena's above-average movement stats and best-in-class aerials allow her to move around her opponents in neutral while staying relatively safe and either wall them out or directly interrupt their approaches with buttons like Bair or Dash Attack that are designed to successfully contest other moves. After getting the right hit in neutral the horizontal angles of most of her aerials and the long low-percent combos she's capable of allow her to consistently achieve an advantage state, where she shines. Palutena has a couple projectiles in Autoreticle and Explosive Flame, but these should usually be reserved for use in advantage or when far enough away to avoid getting punished for their startup- or end-lag. Overall, achieving mastery of Palutena's exceptional aerials - as well as understanding when to go for a grab instead - will allow for oppressive safety on shield and conversions into damaging combos or advantage state.


Neutral

As stated, Palutena's neutral heavily relies on her aerials. Each aerial comes out somewhere from 5 to 10 frames and has its own uses. Getting comfortable with each aerial will allow for maximized combos and neutral wins.

AerialsNeutral is short for "neutral aerial"


Nair: Palutena's fastest move, and likely her most versatile. Nair has a variety of uses:

  • Combos
    • Nair serves as both a great combo starter and combo filler. Catching the opponent while jumping or in the air with one of Nair's multihits or dragging up an opponent from the ground with it will allow for a followup with an Uair or another Nair depending on the opponent's DI and SDI, or a Bair or Fair to finish a combo or knock the opponent offstage. Get comfortable with the movement necessary to extend Nairs into themselves, as it will be used often.
      • Watch out in the Fox matchup, as at extremely low percents a single Nair will lead into fewer followups than the rest of the cast due to his falling speed.
  • Edgeguarding
    • Simply dropping down from the ledge and using Nair is enough to reset an edgeguarding situation against many characters with linear recoveries, such as Ken or Captain Falcon. At really high percents using Nair like this may finish off a stock, but it's best used to buy some time to position for a Bair or Dair to secure the stock more reliably.
      • Against characters recovering below the ledge with a hitbox, like Mario or Lucina, forcing their recovery to trade with one of Nair's multihits will interrupt the recovery and essentially spike them if they are missing their double jump. This isn't 100% consistent but isn't difficult by any means. Be prepared to tech the side or corner of the stage if you decide to go for this.
  • Out of Shield
    • Nair is Palutena's most useful OOS option - see the "Out of Shield" section below for more details.
  • Kill Confirm
    • As if it didn't already do enough, Nair even has situational use as the start of a kill confirm. The very first hit of Nair has set knockback against grounded opponents, and will always pop them slightly upward. This can be a true combo into another full Nair combo or an Utilt to confirm a kill at high percents.

Bair: One of the most privileged moves in the entire game

  • Bair will be Palutena's primary landing option and one of her most common kill moves at high percents. It's decently fast at frame 8, quite safe at only -5 on shield, and to top it all off it gives Palutena arm invincibility from frames 7-10. this means it is one of the absolute best tools to contest other moves with, as many interactions that might otherwise end in a trade will instead simply allow Palutena to come out on top. Bair can be used as an air-to-air to beat out many other aerials, although the relatively significant aerial ending lag the move has (39 frames) may prevent the interaction from being much more than a reset of the situation. It is an excellent landing tool though, due to its aforementioned safety and invincibility as well as its long range making it difficult to punish even on parry. If someone wants to play against Palutena they must know how to deal with Bair.

Fair: General-purpose poke and combo extender

  • Palutena's Fair is a simple but effective aerial. It's just as safe on shield as Bair but starts one frame later and isn't invincible. This move serves its purpose very well as a landing poke in neutral, just like Bair, but unlike Bair it can be used as a confirm into Grab at low and mid percents, or in the middle of Nair combos to extend or finish them if the opponent is a little too far away for another Nair.

Dair: Situational neutral tool and standard spike

  • At frame 10, Dair is tied with Uair as Palutena's slowest aerial. Notably this move has no sourspot, meaning all hitboxes of this move will knock the opponent back in the same way. When used offstage, Dair is a relatively average spike that's only active for two frames and gets its job done. When the move is landed on a grounded opponent, however, they are sent in a strange angle upward and behind Palutena. At low to mid percents, this can combo into Bair and at very high percents (160% or so) this move will eventually kill off the top.
  • Dair is another, more situational OOS option for Palutena - see the "Out of Shield" section below for more details.

Uair: Massive juggling tool and kill move

  • Uair can be used to finish Nair combos or combo into one or two more Uairs with the help of a jump and a platform. Due to its large range, it is a great tool to keep the opponent in the air, and is even a relatively potent kill move. Use Palutena's threatening air accleration to quickly catch opponents who are trying to land off-guard with this move.
    • Uair can also see some use in dragdown setups, as it will usually keep the opponent in front of Palutena and can confirm into a grab after landing.

Of course, the fact that her aerials are used so commonly means that opponents will be expecting them, and only using aerials generally isn't quite enough to win with Palutena. Her Dash Attack is a frame 6 burst option that has the similar invincibility to Bair, and mixing up grabs on opponents who are eager to shield Palutena's aerial onslaught is a must, as it will lead to respectable low-percent combos with Down Throw and eventual kills with Back Throw.

Shield Pressure

Palutena's aerials allow her to have a very solid air-to-ground pressure game, but ground-to-ground it can be relatively lackluster. The vast majority of her shield pressure centers around the fact that opponents will want to shield while Palutena is in the air, and that some of her aerials can be very difficult to punish even on shield or parry. Understanding how an opponent responds to this will allow exploitation of defensive options.

  • If an opponent becomes too willing to shield, empty-hopping to bait it out and grabbing will take advantage of this.
  • It's a common strategy for Palutena players to short-hop overtop an opponent's shield while using Nair as it will begin a combo if it the opponent stops shielding and the multihits are tough to directly challenge from this position. Be sure not to land the last hit of Nair on shield though, as that can lead to a punish.
  • Both Bair and Fair can be extremely hard to punish when spaced well, even on parry. Use these moves as your main low-commitment pokes.


Taking Stocks

The vast majority of stocks taken by Palutena will be via Bair or Bthrow. Fortunately for Palutena, these complement each other - opponents who are threatened by Bair will likely shield when Palutena is in the air, which is vulnerable to being grabbed. Opponents who are scared of getting grabbed may throw out preemptive attacks or jump, both of which are vulnerable to Bair. Uair is also a respectable kill move - especially combined with Palutena's high jumps and air acceleration - for catching opponents trying to escape by jumping over Palutena. Understanding where and when to strike in response to an opponent's defensive habits is crucial for taking stocks.

Dthrow is a crucial part of Palutena's gameplan when taking stocks. There are more details in the Setplay page, but being able to react to an opponent's poor DI off of Dthrow with Uair, as well as use Bair after the throw as quickly and consistently as possible, are keys to finishing stocks before the opponent's percent becomes unreasonably high.

This relatively simple gameplan at kill percents comes with a couple downsides, however. Both Bair and Bthrow are not absurdly powerful in terms of knockback, and require good positioning (i.e. grabbing an opponent near the ledge) to start killing reasonably. Bair in particular is likely to be very stale by the time it becomes a viable kill move due to the fact that it's a big part of Palutena's gameplan in all phases of the game. Aside from a read with moves like Dair offstage or a smash attack, Palutena lacks the sort of killpower to take stocks particularly early, generally finding her kills around 100-120%, or higher. If an opponent is good at evading Palutena's most common kill options, it can become very hard to finally take a stock without an extended disadvantage state, which gives the opponent chances to escape back to neutral. At very high percents like 150-160%, Dash Attack also begins to kill off the top of the stage, offering a relief for players unable to find a kill otherwise.

In general:

  • Palutena will be unable to kill without a gimp at low percents
  • Shouldn't be actively looking for kills until around 90%, disregarding very high-risk smash attacks or early spikes offstage
  • Depending on the character, Dthrow will begin to allow for followups or airdodge reads into kills around 90-120%, and a well-positioned Bair, Uair, or Bthrow will start killing raw at the upper half of those percents
  • As percents climb into 130% and higher (and earlier if Palutena has accumulated a decent amount of Rage), Dthrow becomes less reliable, and Palutena will have to rely on raw Bair and Bthrow for kills
  • Around 150-160%, Dash Attack begins to kill
  • Around 200% (god forbid), Uthrow will start killing

Palutena shines most in advantage, and staying there as long as possible will quickly speed up the process of finding kills. Again, see the Setplay page for more.

Disadvantage

Palutena's disadvantage is fairly average - she is helped by her decent movement stats and ability to Warp Cancel, allowing her some extra mixups while landing.

Recovery

  • Warp is a teleport recovery, meaning that it is intangible (and invisible) after Palutena disappears. This means that she can Warp through an opponent to make it back to the stage, or in some scenarios make it ambiguous whether or not she is recovering directly to the ledge or past it.
  • Keep in mind that grabbing the ledge from above will prevent getting 2-framedGetting hit during the 2 frames of vulnerability a character has when grabbing the ledge of the stage from below. Warping downward to the ledge will allow Palutena to grab it safely.
    • While this is a good technique to use, it can be very risky as holding down for too long could result in Palutena missing the ledge entirely and falling to the bottom blastzone. Practicing and getting used to the timing of Warp will help prevent this.

Landing

  • Palutena's aerial stats - decent air speed and excellent air acceleration - give her a decent amount of leniency when trying to land, allowing her to potentially weave around an opponent's juggling options and attempts to catch a landing.
  • Warp also gives an extra landing option in the form of Warp Canceling, which can skip some of the process of trying to land by canceling the ending of Warp on an edge.
    • This is a valuable tool but it can be punished if read or reacted to, so be careful not to use this too often.


Getting off ledge

  • Palutena's high jump height makes ledge jumping slightly better for her, but as with every ledge option it can be punished if read correctly.
  • Jumping from ledge while buffering Explosive Flame will result in a short-range flame placed next to the ledge, where an opponent may be trying to ledgetrap.
    • This may seem like an excellent option, but if the opponent is above or in front of the flame when the move goes off, they will be in prime position to punish Palutena hard, as she is in endlag from Explosive Flame until the move completes.
    • If the flame connects on the opponent's shield, the last hit of the move is only -2, meaning even if Palutena lands right next to the opponent it is very likely they will be unable to punish her. Keep this interaciton in mind when using this option, as it will immediately result in both characters standing right next to each other and both able to act at (more or less) the same time. If the opponent believes they can punish with a shieldgrab or other out-of-shield option, Palutena could use a defensive option to avoid this and get a punish of her own.


Combo breaking

Palutena doesn't really have a move to directly break combos with - you'll have to rely on DIDirectional Influence: the direction someone holds on the control stick when getting launched by a move. Effects the angle of knockback. and SDISmash Directional Influence: the ability to tap or wiggle the control stick while getting hit to slightly alter the position of the character before getting launched by knockback. Assists with escaping combos, particularly against multihit moves. like the common folk.


Out of Shield

  • Depending on the matchup, Nair may either be an OOS option that's situational at best, or one that can almost give Palutena the matchup advantage on its own. Against characters with slightly above-average height, especially heavies, Nair is a very reliable, low-risk OOS tool that will make the opponent very wary of misspacing their moves. Against characters of average height or lower, however, Palutena may need to settle for Dair OOS depending on the situation, or nothing at all.
  • Dair is also Palutena's OOS tool in situations when Nair won't connect, such as against shorter characters or specific moves that hit low to the ground (like the landing hit of Falco's Fair). When using it this way, remember that it is 5 frames slower than Nair and generally more situational in regards to what it can punish.

Stages

When choosing a stage, try to consider these things:

  • How well can Palutena cover space in neutral on this stage?
  • Would I rather have slightly extra movement potential and combo extensions or improved juggling ability?
  • Is my opponent's character particularly bad at escaping juggles/aerial disadvantage?
  • Do I want to use Palutena's tools to overwhelm my opponent or to focus on baiting my opponent and punishing their approaches?


Palutena doesn't necessarily have any strictly "bad" stages, and a Palutena player should pick to complement their playstyle and what they're good at.

Great

  • Battlefield
    • Generally considered Palutena's best stage. Allows her to string together combos with platform extensions and gives her the most Warp Cancel points of any other stage.
    • Her aerials are great at contesting the space between platforms and with tools like Dash Attack and Bair she is extremely good at keeping opponents in disadvantage by preventing them from leaving platforms. If an opponent tries to escape upward to the top platform, her high jumps and wide-reaching Uair can contest that from the ground.
    • The side platforms allow for Dthrow setups and tech-chases.
    • When in doubt, Battlefield is never a bad pick for Palutena.


Good

  • Hollow Bastion
    • The lower height of the platform when compared to a stage like Smashville allows her to combo opponents with platform extensions as well as reliably chase most opponents in disadvantage.
    • Generally a decent, reliable pick
  • Yoshi's Story
    • Offers many of the same advantages as Battlefield due to the platform layout
    • Picking this stage will likely result in a faster-paced match due to the size of the stage. Make sure you're prepared for this and that your opponent's character doesn't benefit from that more than Palutena does.
    • The slants at the side of the stage allow for Palutena to angle her Dtilt lower when trying to 2-frame an opponent, which will let it connect easier.


Neutral

  • Small Battlefield
    • Palutena is good at covering space here, and also has access to platform extensions for her combos.
    • The slightly closer-together layout of the stage (compared to PS2) may benefit players (both you and your opponent) who aim to overwhelm their opponent in neutral.
  • Pokemon Stadium 2
    • Very similar to Small Battlefield. The platforms are slightly higher up but Palutena still has access to combo extensions.
    • The slightly further-apart layout of the stage (compared to SBF) may benefit players (both you and your opponent) who aim to react to opponents' approaches and punish accordingly.
  • Northern Cave
    • Similar to Final Destination and Kalos Pokemon League (see below) but even less volatile than Kalos due to its smaller size. Palutena can take advantage of her juggling tools here quite well.
    • If you believe that Palutena will benefit in the upcoming match from juggling and extending her opponent's aerial disadvantage more than the coverage and movement options that regular (directly above the stage) platforms provide her, this can be a good pick.


Volatile

  • Final Destination
    • Having no platforms and a wide open area is good for characters who have long-reaching moves and zoning potential. Palutena is a mid-range character above all else so this doesn't necessarily apply, but she is good at contesting many characters with those traits.
      • If you tend to use Palutena's projectiles a lot, this stage could provide some trouble for the opponent.
    • Palutena's juggling is very potent on this stage due to the fact that the opponent has no platforms to retreat to. If your opponent's character is weak to juggling this may be a good pick.
      • Remember you also have no platforms to retreat to, so make sure you're confident you can escape disadvantage reliably before choosing this stage.
  • Kalos Pokemon League
    • Very similar idea to Final Destination, but slightly less volatile in disadvantage due to the side platforms. Pick this stage if you're looking for the benefits of FD but are unsure if you can deal with the drawbacks.
  • Town and City
    • The fact that this stage switches layouts is enough to put it in this category. However if you are good at adapting to situations quickly, or can simply outpace your opponent, this is not a bad pick at all due to Palutena's moveset having decent answers for most situations.


Uncertain

  • Smashville
    • Palutena can cover space similarly to Hollow Bastion, but the platform being significantly higher above the ground can make chasing an opponent in disadvantage, as well as general movement, slightly more awkward.


Fighting Palutena

Playing against Palutena can be tough. She has no easily exploitable weaknesses - that's why she's a good character - and her best tools seem designed to beat everything else out. Being aware of her threat range and understanding her general gameplan are very important.

Neutral

  • Palutena's usual plan in neutral involves covering aerial space with Nair and poking at her opponent or their shield with Fair and Bair.y
    • Any long or disjointed move can directly contest Nair while it's active - at worst you'll trade with one of the multihits and become immediately actionable again.
    • If the last hit of Nair connects onto shield, it's usually unsafe and can be punished with an aerial or OOS option.
    • If Palutena is pressuring you a lot with Fair and Bair, it's possible to get her to mis-space them (and make them less safe on shield) by approaching her before the aerial connects and shielding.
      • Getting comfortable with parrying her landing aerials can also be crucial to beating Palutena. Characters who have fast, low-hitting moves or direct OOS options can often parry an aerial and respond with their move. Even without one, parrying in general is a good strategy to make the Palutena player less likely to box you out with aerials. Be aware of the potential empty-hop grabs this could invite, however.
    • In general, try to understand which of your moves can either beat out or punish Palutena's common approaches.

Advantage

  • Palutena is deceptively quick in the air but doesn't have a move that can help her land without risk. When juggling her, baiting options like airdodges can be useful and noncommittal.
    • Be aware of Palutena's position relative to any platforms on the stage. The Palutena player could be trying to Warp Cancel off the edge of a platform, which if done correctly will assist with landing and often precedes an immediate Bair or airdodge to reset neutral. Warp Canceling is reactable, and timing a powerful attack at the edge of a platform can catch the end of Warp before she becomes actionable.
  • When recovering from offstage, be aware of where Palutena is likely to Warp to. If she Warps onto the stage, its endlag can be easily punished. If she Warps downward to the ledge, you will be unable to 2-frame her, but if she Warps to the ledge in most situations, trying to leave a lingering hitbox directly below the ledge can often 2-frame her as she reappears.
    • Things like Diddy Kong's Banana Peel can be thrown at the ledge before Palutena uses Warp to catch the teleport and follow up with an attack. Long-lasting aerials as well can easily hit the Warp if timed correctly. There's room for creativity here, but be careful - being too committal while trying to edgeguard could lead into you getting edgeguarded yourself.

Disadvantage

  • Palutena can be very difficult to deal with while she's in advantage. Be aware of what she can throw out and don't try to excessively force your way back into neutral as you will likely just eat a Bair for your troubles. In general, try not to panic and allow her to get an easy hit or kill. Her gameplan in advantage is very similar to her gameplan in neutral - the stakes are just lower for her and higher for you.
  • Dtilt 2-framing is character-dependent, but it may be an incredibly important thing to avoid. If Palutena is staying onstage while you are recovering, try to mix up your recovery timing so her Dtilt is either too early or too late.
  • While getting juggled, be aware that she has very high jumps and good air acceleration, meaning she can reach very high very quickly with dangerous moves like Uair. Be aware of her positioning and what she's doing while you are trying to land.

Tips & Tricks

  • When getting Dthrown onto a platform at low percents, be aware that you will immediately be put into a tech-chase situation. Missing your tech will result in an easy combo from Palutena, and teching anywhere except inward will leave you vulnerable to an Explosive Flame setup. Dthrow is dangerous - try to react quickly to what Palutena is doing.
  • At higher percents, if you have been grabbed at the ledge, DIing out is usually the best option - Fthrow will never kill, even with DI out, and DIing Dthrow anything else will very likely result in a kill.
  • Explosive Flame's last hit is only -2 on shield. If Palutena lands the move (while jumping from ledge, for example) on your shield and lands next to you, don't get tricked into doing something committal thinking she's punishable.

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