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Cloud Strife is an interesting character. Making his first Smash Bros appearance in Smash 4 as paid DLC, he quickly rose to become a top tier character in both singles and doubles. As a result, he was nerfed coming into Smash Ultimate. However, don't let this stop you from playing him as he is still a useful character and is nowhere near bottom tier. This guide is written with knowledge from Smash 4 as well as knowledge of the character in Ultimate. Do note I am not a pro and I don't know everything there is to know about Smash nor do I know everything about Cloud. Just your above-average player.

[I played him towards the end of Smash 4 and mainly for doubles. Now in Smash 4 he is one of my mains and counter-pick as I also play Ice Climbers and Snake. Might make a guide on them too if this sees a lot of love.]

Table of Contents
i. Changes
ii. Pros & Cons
iii. Basic Gameplay Strategies and Tips
iv. Bread and Butter Combos
v. Stages
vi. Why Play Cloud?


i. Changes from Smash 4 -> Ultimate

Not going to list every single change but I will cover the major ones. If you want a rounded list of all his buffs/nerfs and other changes going into Smash Ultimate, please see this link for more information.

+Due to mechanics of Smash Ultimate, almost all aerial attacks have reduced end lag (more on that later)
+Back air has more range vertically due to the animation changes.
+Climbhazzard has less landing lag, allows him to grab the ledge easier coming down, and is overall easier to hit.
+ Limit Gauge actually charges faster from dealing damage. (250% -> 150% required to fill it from 0)
+Can cancel limit charging by jumping or spot dodging.
+Can wall-jump now. Good for stages like Unova League that are walled off.

-Neutral Air's animation was changed and reduced is range (Very significant change).
-Up-Air's startup was changed making it harder to Up-Air grounded opponents (Very significant change), reduced horizontal range, and later autocancel frames.
-Down air has more landing lag and shorter duration.
-Down Throw releases the opponent sooner meaning it's extremely easy to DI out of it at lower percents preventing the Cloud player to Cross Slash or Tilt follow-ups
-Limit Cross Slash has less knockback
-Limit is lost after 15 seconds if not used and if you are hit while charging you will lose limit instead of gaining limit (very significant change)

ii. Pros & Cons

A well-rounded swordsman and has a good neutral game.
Some of the biggest disjointed hit-boxes in the game even considering non-sword fighters.
Limit, while not as strong as Smash 4 Limit, still gives you good comeback potential.
Good juggle and combo game despite a lot of his prominent moves being nerfed.
Easy for beginners or players that played him in Smash 4.
Decent weight tier which gives a good amount of survivability. (Though not as good as say a Bowser or DK)

Without Limit, his recovery is very exploitable (however not as bad as some other characters)
At the moment, generally seen as outclassed by other swordsmen such as Marth/Lucina and Chrom/Roy.
Even though his hit-boxes are huge, he is still suspect to being walled out by some of the formats top zoners.
Not very many top players that use him. This can be seen as a good thing since that would mean people don't understand his match-ups but I see it as a bad thing since he retains a lot of the same weaknesses as he does in Smash 4 and nobody is really trying to get all that good with him.

iii. Basic Gameplay Tips & Strategies.
This section is probably going to be all over the place. I apologize and will try to make it neater in the future.

General Tips (Listed):
As mentioned previously, most of his aerials have reduced lag. Particularly, Fair is one that stands out above all. It's ridiculous size and now reduced lag makes it a great tool to space with in the neutral.
Back-Air is also a great tool to space with as well. At lower percents Bair can lead into Cross Slash, F-Tilt, Up-Tilt, or grab in some instances.
Up-Air still remains one of Cloud's best moves as there still isn't a whole lot of moves that can straight up challenge this move. Use it to rack up tons of damage and juggle when your opponent is above you.
Due to how limit works, you don't want to try to get Limit as soon as possible now. It's now a more situational tactic and you want to use it to net kills or use for recovering when you are ahead or at high percents.
Following up, make sure you pay attention to your Limit. You only get about 1 or 2 Limit plays a stock.
non-Limit Cross Slash is a great way to rack up damage and punish in the neutral. Think of it like Fire Emblem Dancing Blade.
If you played him in Smash 4, use Nair wisely now as it's pitiful hit-box struggles to hit opponents who are not in point-blank range or on a platform.
Recovering high is a good mix-up option that can allow Cloud to recover safely in some instances.
non-Limit Blade Beam is a good spacing tool as it is not as laggy as it once was

iv. Bread and Butter Combos
W.I.P. Section.
To me, Cloud is not a super heavy combo character. A lot of his bread and butter techniques are only a couple of hits as his moves are more or less meant be used to space and try to take control of the neutral. That's not to say he doesn't have simple combo's you should know about. Here is a short list of things I like to use.

Up-Air has strong juggle game

Bair -> Side Tilt
Bair -> Cross Slash (Both Limit and Non-Limit)
Bair -> Up-Tilt Repeat -> Up-Air/Bair (depending on DI)

Dair -> Up-Air Juggles
Dair -> Up-Smash
Dair -> Limit Blade Beam -> Up-Air/Cross Slash/Climbhazzard/Bair

Fair -> Side Tilt/Cross Slash/Jab

v. Stages
This is going to be short but Cloud is solid on most stages in my experience. really it all depends who your opponent plays. If you are playing against a zoner, you'll want to have platforms to retreat to so Final Destination is probably not your best pick. Below is just some recommendations ranked from how I see it. This is not a definitive list as it varies by match-up as said above. Also not a definitive list of legal stages as that also varies by tournament.

Best Options
Town & City (Hazards On or Off)
Smashville (Hazards On)
Dreamland 64 (Hazards On or Off)
Yoshi Story
Duck Hunt

Good Options
Poke-Stadium 2
Unova League
Wario Ware
Smashville (Hazards Off)

Not That Good
Yoshi Island (Brawl) - Even with the walled stage it can be a nightmare to recover on this stage without limit. Generally speaking, I believe Smashville is always the better choice over this stage on any given day when playing Cloud.

Double Edged Swords
Kalos League - Platform placement is great for his recovery. The stage however is large and makes Cloud suspect to being zoned and camped out. The blastzone on top is also very high up so it could potentially be harder for him to kill off that zone
Final Destination - Awful if you are playing against a zoner character, amazing if not because it's extremely hard to land against Cloud on this stage due to no platforms being present.
Lylat Cruise - The platforms make him a monster of a threat but the stage tipping could cause you to die when you would have otherwise made it back safely.

vi. Why Play Cloud?
At this point you may be wondering why you would want to play him? If you want a solid swordsman who isn't exactly top of the bunch but still good enough to win tournaments (which is definitely possible and has been achieved in Ultimate) than this is your man.

Cloud is also a good pocket main to cover up weaknesses your current main has. For example, if you play Mario you are probably struggling with other sword characters that just outrange you. Cloud is an excellent counterpick in this scenario as he can definitely beat other swordsmen at their own game.

Maybe you aren't playing singles and your real main is garbage in Doubles. Cloud is still great in Doubles and he shouldn't be overlooked here either.

Maybe you are really new to the game and want to play a swordsman but don't know who is good starting out to learn the game with. Cloud is pretty easy to pick up and play and see good results with. Plus if you feel like switching swordsmen later on, a lot of the knowledge you will learn from playing Cloud translates well to other swordsmen.

Finally, if you are a big fan of Final Fantasy (7 or just the series in general) like me, you will probably be more than happy playing Cloud. He represents the series well and was an amazing addition to our favorite Nintendo cross-over game.


I am still considering this guide to be a work in progress. If you have made it this far I appreciate the read and I hope you gained something from it. As I said earlier, if you find anything in this guide to be incorrect or brings up a concern, please let me know and I will fix it.

Happy Smashing!

Afro Ninja
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