THIS IS NOT YET FINISHED
LATEST UPDATE: 3/27/2015
please leave feedback in the comments, and make sure your reviews are based on what is in the guide, and not what is missing, until the final update
my goal is to make the best Marth guide I can on Smashboards, so all help is welcome!!
There is a reason Marth is a strong character. His moves come out quickly, have decent range, have good knock-back, and can link into deadly combos. He moves quickly, allowing him a good approach on unsuspecting opponents. his amazing wavedash and extremely long grab range give him tools that can be used to take him to the next level of play. If a player can master his agile movements, range of his sword, and land key grabs, they will most certainly become a force to be reckoned with.
- The Fire Emblem hero has more tricks up his sleeve. Marth has one of the longest standing grabs in the game, even being longer than Yoshi's. If you can use this to your advantage in competitive play, this can lead to many new options on offense and a better option on defense. His grab can lead into long combos on space animals, as well as DI reads into followups against many characters.
- Marth's speed is unmatched by many characters in the game, making him hard to deal with for even the most experienced of players. his dash dance game is amazing, and having quick feet can open up many different openings that might not happen without proper dashing and spacing. His long wavedash can be a strong mix up during your dash dancing, and can be used in many different scenarios to close distance or escape quickly.
- Knowledge of spacing can lead into crazy juggles against your foes. These juggles can lead into edge-guarding situations or an outright kill, if continued long enough and finished properly. Marth can easily juggle fast-fallers such as Fox, Falco, and Falcon. Knowing these weights, and when to tipper attacks can be extremely effective in helping finish off a set.
- Every character has weaknesses, and Marth is no exception. His weaknesses, though bad, are not impossible to overcome. His weight can be a problem, as he can be easily chain grabbed by many characters including Falcon, Sheik, and even himself, if not DI'd properly. He can also be waveshined by Fox with ease, and pillared by any strong Falco, and must be accounted for in these match-ups.
- Marth also lacks a projectile, which can be a real problem for any inexperienced player. Falco's lasers can be a real hassle for newer players to deal with, and other unpredictable projectiles such as Sheik's needles, Peach's turnips, or Samus' missiles can make the match real troublesome for the Marth.
- Marth's attacks can come out quickly, but don't stay out long at all. Other characters, such as Fox and Sheik, have attacks that come out quick, but stay out long as well, making them less vulnerable to counter-attack. Marth does not have this option, and a miss timed aerial can lead into huge punish from your opponent.
- Our hero's recovery also isn't too strong. It's very predictable, and can easily be edge guarded by foes that have knowledge of how you recover. Though he can use his side B to gain some extra ground, if shined by a fox after losing a second jump or using that side B, say good-bye to that stock.
Forward Tilt (9% base, 13% tip): This attack is actually pretty strong, and if tippered, can finish off your opponent. It's very useful for trying to finish off opponents without the risk of a quick counter-attack, due to the lack of much end-lag on this move. Not very useful unless tippered at high %. Low-medium lag.
Up Tilt (8%-13%): One of the strongest moves in Marth's repertoire. It can be used to juggle fast-fallers, as well as finish off floaty characters. Helps get re-grabs on spacies and can lead into tipper smash attacks to finish them off. Low lag.
Down Tilt (8% base, 10% tip): Can be used as a good approach against all characters. Helps keep space and still keep the opponent on their toes. This move can lead into a grab against almost all characters and can be used to poke through shields. Low lag.
Dash Attack (9% base, 12% tip): Very strong for reading tech rolls. If tippered, can pop opponents up and lead into up-tilt or F-Smash. Can also lead into re-grab, and possible combos. medium lag.
Forward Smash (14% base, 20% tip): One of Marth's best attacks and most reliable finisher. Extremely strong and quick, with good range, and can be good for catching people rolling or wavedashing out of shield. Good for edge-guarding and can kill at low % if tippered. Medium-High lag.
Up Smash (8% sides, 15% base, 18% tip): Weak move, and only useful if tippered. Too much lag to risk for a possible tipper, and usually much more useful to up-tilt or F-smash through platform, which is most likely the case to use this move anyway. Medium lag.
Down Smash (11% base, 16% tip): Very slow move, and not enough damage to risk using. Not very applicable, as it covers both sides, but too slowly to actually be effective. Can actually kill at high % if tippered, but mostly used for style or DI mix ups. High lag.
Neutral Air (4% 1 hit, 10% 2 hit): 2 hit move that comes out quickly with low landing lag. Good move to use below platforms for tech reads. Decent followup when up-tilt/up-throw sends the opponent too high and there is no other move to use. If properly spaced, can be a good approach, but if not, can be easily shield-grabbed and punished. Low lag.
Forward Air (9% base, 13% tip): Considered a Marth player's most used move, this move can be very applicable in different situations. Fair can interrupt many aerials by your opponent, as well as put on some slight shield pressure, a trait Marth seriously lacks. Can create a grab if hit and can lead into the famous Ken Combo. Knowing when to tipper this move can allow for combos that can lead into an edge-guard situation where Marth excels. Low lag.
Back Air (9% base, 13% tip): Great for off-stage edge-guards but not a lot else combat-wise. Can be used to turn Marth around to grab the edge or to create a reverse-dair edge-guard. Tipper bair can be used as a very effective edge-guard on almost every character, specifically space animals. Low lag.
Up Air (9% base, 13% tip): Good use for juggling opponents and keeping them above you. Against fast-fallers, it can be used on Dreamland to hit through platforms more effectively than up-tilt, and can juggle them to a possible death. Marth can combo some fast-fallers through these platforms and can lead into a free tipper F-smash. Floaties can be kept above Marth with up air, putting you in a huge advantage. Medium Lag.
Down Air (9% base, 13% tip): Marth's most stylish move, and one of the most effective. This is probably Marth's second most reliable finisher, besides F-smash. When sweetspotted, sends the opponent flying downwards. This move is a true spike when sweetspotted, and can be used to edge-guard, as an out of shield option, or to finish off your foe in the most glorious way possible. High lag.
Neutral Special (7%-28%): A chargeable move similar in range to F-smash. This move is quite powerful, and is very versatile. The primary purpose of this move, an what sets it a part from the rest of his move set, is the fact that the longer you charge it, not only will it become more powerful, but will have more destructive capabilities against shields, possibly breaking them, hence the name "Shield Breaker." Can be used for edge guarding and to punish opponents who shield far too often. Low-medium lag.
Down Special (7%): This move is Marth's counter, and when someone hits you while this move is in use, will do damage and knockback to them instead. This move can be used when your opponent becomes too aggressive and predictable when approaching (refer to Ken vs PC Chris at MLG Dallas 2006). This move can also be used for ledge guarding, especially for spacies. This move can also just be for occasional mixups against opponents who think they have an opening. When in use, Marth can still be grabbed. High lag.
Up Special (6%-13% based on grounded/tipped): This is Marth's standard recovery move, and has good distance. It has a strange angle that can be changed slightly to fool edge guarding opponents, but for the most part, is still pretty predictable for anyone familiar with the match up. As an attack, this move is pretty weak if not sweetspotted, but if it is, it can be a very strong finisher in different scenarios, such as catching spacies in firefox/firebird off-stage or as an out of shield mixup for a quick kill. High Lag.
Side Special (3%-14%): This is the confusing one, and one most new Marth mains forget to use effectively. This move can be used to help Marth recover, as the first swing gives him some forward momentum, while his subsequent uses give him extra air time, similar to Mario's cape. The speed at which this move is used, varying from quick to rack up damage, or slow to catch out of shield options such as spot-dodge or a short hop aerial, can be a real game-changer. This move is pretty deep, and has many variations, which i will refer to as "2nd swing" variants, "3rd swing" variations and "4th swing" variations. While the first to swing can not be changed, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th swing of the "Dancing Blade" can be changed in different circumstances. If the first swing is timed properly, you can initiate a second swing, with 2 variants. The first is a turning downward strike that does minimal damage and can lead into a grab with its minimal lag, as it pops your opponent slightly upward. The second is up an can also lead into a grab, and since these 2 variants are very similar, I would always use the former due to the fact that it can lead into the possible 3rd and 4th swings. The 3rd swing variant has 3 types. The first type is the straight forward swing, which can be a decent finisher, and leads into one of the 4th swing variants. The second 3rd swing is down, in which Marth points his sword at the ground, knocking your opponent down, and is especially useful if your opponent is crouch-cancelling the Sword Dance. If used in the air, this variant can meteor smash the opponent if timed properly. The last 3rd swing, the up variant, has Marth thrust his sword upward, almost like a semi-up tilt, which can lead into fair combos or a 4th swing variant. The 4th swing variants include the forward variant, which can push away shielding opponents and send non-shielding opponents off-stage. The up variant can send your opponent flying, leading into air combos or juggles. The down variant is a multi-hitting attack that can be extremely useful for shielding or CC opponents and possibly break their shield if they were in it for too long. Lag fluctuates
Forward Throw (4%): This throw bounces the opponent on the ground in from of you. This throw can allow many different followups, such as down tilt, F-smash, or re-grab. This can also be used to fool fast-fallers who think you will up throw them, and possibly lead into F-smash (if they DI in), or tipper down tilt (if they DI away). This throw is also very quick, and can make unsuspecting victims miss techs and make them vulnerable to attacks that they would not have they known. *Low lag
Back Throw (4%): Pulls your opponent and tosses them behind Marth. This is most likely Marth's worst throw, and is only very useful when people suspect another throw, and can be punished with F-smash. This throw has the longest lag out of all of them, and doesn't have the versatility that down throw has, being able to throw fast-fallers off-stage. *Medium-High lag
Down Throw (5%): Slams the opponent into the ground. Because this throw bounces them higher then forward throw, it makes it easier to read tech rolls, allowing much easier tech chases against all characters. This higher bounce also allows for easier followups against floaties because they bounce too high to actually tech effectively, which can lead into a fair/bair. This throw is especially good because if Marth is facing away from the ledge, he can toss fast-fallers off-stage and can follow up with a down tilt to get into an edge-guard situation, or grab ledge and force them to recover predictably. *Medium lag
Up Throw (4%): This last throw tosses the opponent into the air. This is arguably Marth's best throw, because it always puts him into an advantageous situation, no matter the character. Up throw can chain-throw spacies, lead into F-smash directly against other fast-fallers, put opponents onto platforms above Marth (where he excels), or force floaties to stay above Marth, giving him an overwhelming advantage. If you are in a clutch situation against any character, and are not near a ledge for down throw, go with up throw. *Low lag
*all lag on throws are dependent on the weight of the character being thrown. high weight = longer throw lag
Floor Get-Up Attack (6% for each hit): A 2-hit get-up that covers both sides. Slow, but has decent range. Can be used against a player being too aggressive and cause a reset to neutral, or in the best scenario, lead into a momentum shift into your favor. Use sparingly though, because if your opponent catches onto the attacks, you can be heavily punished, and it doesn't help Marth's is a slower get-up attack than most. Medium lag
Ledge Attack(Fast) (8% sword, 6% base): Marth flips onto the stage with a quick arching attack at the ground. This attack come out when you do an attack from the ledge (pressing A while holding the ledge) at less than 100%. Can get overly-aggressive players away from you, but if your opponent is at low %, they can easily CC this weak attack into a guaranteed punish. Medium lag
Ledge Attack(Slow) (8% sword, 6% base): Marth swipes his sword horizontally low to the ground. This attack comes out much slower than the fast version (hence "slow") and has less range as well. This ledge attack is much more predictable, and can be easily shield-grabbed when the opponent is at high %s and CC'd when at low %s, hitting Marth back off-stage, or outright KO'ing him. Medium Lag
In this section, we will talk about the basics of Marth in competitive play. This will include which moves to use in which situations, combos, edge guards, DI, and play styles. Make sure to note that use of these techniques can vary depending on the situation, spacing, and conditioning your opponent.
I. NEED-TO-KNOW TECHNIQUES
Wavedash- I think we all saw this one coming, especially for Marth. This is done by doing a short hop into a diagonal air-dodge into the ground, creating a slide. Marth has one of the longest wavedashes in the game, 4th to only Luigi, Mewtwo, and the Ice Climbers. This allows for fast retreats and quick approaches and can become wavesmashes or wavetilts, which can be quite hard to deal with for your opponent. Mainly to help with Marth's movement and spacing, both crucial parts of Marth's game. You can use this to waveland on platforms to get in position to continue a spacie chaingrab, avoid projectiles, or just mix up movement. Wavelanding from the ledge can also be important, as you can quickly get onto the stage and possibly take back stage control. You can also use it as a mixup to get behind your opponent who is sitting at the ledge and get a grab. Wavedashing out of shield is one of the best options for avoiding any kind of shield pressure, and allowing you to counter and attack they try to follow you with, because rolling is slow and punishable and your opponent can easily get away from a spot dodge. Spamming shield-grab can also get you shined, and can lead into some bad punishes for Marth, so make sure you have that down when playing a strong spacie player.
L-canceling- also referred to as "lag canceling." This technique can be done by pressing a trigger button 7 frames or less before landing after an aerial. Because most of Marth's aerials have little landing lag to begin with, this can speed up combos even further. Without it, hitting quick combos, such as fair - Fsmash or fair - nair can be impossible. Because these moves come out quickly and end, it is imperative that a Marth l-cancels these moves so he can either dash away or shield to avoid punishment. SHFFL (Short Hop Fast Fall L-cancel) can be useful for spacing your opponent with nairs or fairs to keep them away, and keep Marth safe.
Ledge-Hop- Marth has great edge guarding, and this is supported with his moves out of ledge hop's. His ledge-hopped dair can be used to spike characters recovering from underneath, and a ledge-hopped bair can be used to counter characters recovering horizontally. A ledge-hopped nair can counter a character who is recovering, and you know he will land on-stage to swat him/her back off. Ledge-hopping can also help get back on stage, such as his nair, which has 2 hits and can be easily dashed or grabbed out of and can get you back on stage in a clutch situation.
Crouch-Cancel (CC) - This is when you crouch, and when your opponent hits you, you dont take as much knockback, if any. This can be done when your opponent is at high % and you are at low % and need an easy kill off of a careless dash-attack or F-smash. Can lead into an unsuspecting grab, and possibly a kill.
Dash-Cancel- This is when your character is dashing, and when you crouch, you can perform and smash attack, tilt, or jab, seemingly out of your run. This can be used to read rolls with F-smash, space opponents with down tilt, or for a quick CC. One of Marth's best techs because of his fast and long F-smash, which can kill with bad DI at low %.
Jump-Cancel Grab (JCG)- Marth's standing grab has huge range, especially in comparison to his dash grab. So if you jump just before grabbing when dashing, you will be considered standing for the first 3-8 frames of the jump. If you grab during these first few frames, you will perform a standing jump out of your dash. This can be used to grab as an actual approach option, and make your opponents respect your grab range. The reduction of lag and gain of reach for your grab makes your dash-grab obsolete.
Short Hop Double Fair (SHDF)- If Marth's fair is used early enough in the short hop, you can use fair again before you hit the ground. Use this along with an L-cancel, and this can be used as great shield pressure followed by a grab before they escape. This is also one of Marth's best combos, and can be used to carry some characters off stage such as Sheik and Marth himself, and can be finished with a F-smash, Ken Combo, or a reverse Dolphin Slash.
Ken Combo- A fair to a dair. This can easily finish off opponents, and be relatively safe. Depending on character, getting a tipper on the fair can be different. Against floaties, you do not want a tipper because they will go too high, and against mid-weight characters, you want a tipper to lead into a dair at low %s, and at high %s, you don't because they will go two high. Against fast fallers, you always need a tipper, but at different spots depending on %s. Low % fast-fallers need to be tippered near the middle of the fair, while at mid %s you need a tipper later on in the fair so they dont fly too high. If a fast faller or mid weight gets hit too high, sometimes they can be hit with a reverse Dolphin Slash to knock them away, and get the kill when they fly higher than normal. Floaties fly too high on the fair when tippered to follow up with anything.
Out-Of-Shield (OOS)- These are different things Marth can do to effectively get out of his shield. Tje most used options are spot dodges, rolls, or shield grabs, and while most of these are effective, they can get predictable. Using Dair OOS can punish someone who is trying to avoid a shield grab by getting behind your shield. Wavedashing OOS can get you out of tough shield pressure and can lead into a grab. Fair or Nair can also be good, but can get you shield grabbed yourself, or shielded into a short hop aerial of their own. Jumping OOS, while not allowing for a punish of your own, can reset the situation and kill your opponents momentum.
Ledgedash- Doing a ledge hop, and immediately wavelanding onto the stage. Doing this normally will allow Marth to land on-stage quicker than if he just did a get-up or roll. If done perfectly, Marth will slide much further, and possibly get behind the opponent and take stage control. Can be made into an unsuspecting grab and throw off-stage, which can lead into an edge guarding situation.
Marth's F-smash is the go-to for most Marth mains, especially when they don't know which option the opponent will take. This option can become predictable though, and it is hard to time when punishing moves such as Fox's Illusion, Falco's Phantasm, or Sheik's teleportation. If missed, a ledge hop aerial can easily turn the tables against Marth, so use this option when punishing easily predictable recoveries, such as Falcon's or a Fire Fox.
Marth can be more effective at the edge with quicker moves. Down tilt, Forward tilt, and jab can be quicker options for covering the edge, without the fear of a quick ledge hop aerial for a punish, due to these moves having less lag, especially down tilt because it has Interruptable As Soon As frames (IASA), and jab, which can stop quick recoveries such as Fox and Falco's side B's, as well as just knocking opponents off of the stage and back onto the edge. If these moves hit with the tip, they can almost always secure the stock.
When your opponent grabs the edge, using down tilt can force your opponent to get back on stage before their invincibility runs out. While this can be effective, certain moves, like an illusion, Sheik's fair, or a ledge hop knee from Falcon can counter this. If the foe repeatedly gets up from the edge attacking, a wavedash back F-smash or down tilt can usually do the trick. Fair or nair can catch opponents jumping too high from the edge, such as Falco trying a ledge hop double laser or Jigglypuff throwing out an unsafe aerial. Using Dancing Blade can also cover a lot of options if your opponent doesn't suspect it, and can lead into an easy kill if hit with the 3rd or 4th swing.
Marth's speed also helps him in this department for stopping your opponent from getting around you from the edge. Marth can use his speed and long wavedash to cover the roll, get up, or ledgedash and punish by throwing them back off-stage. Most opponents will immediately shield or spot dodge after doing a normal get-up or roll from the edge, so see if you can pick up which of these they use and punish them accordingly. Marth's grab range makes shielding at the edge and shield grabbing very safe, and can be used to punish get-up attacks from the edge, or a ledge hop aerial.
Marth also has great edge-guarding abilities after grabbing the edge himself. Marth's bair can turn him around in the air, allowing him to grab the ledge, or lead into an off-stage bair or dair to swat them away. His long wavedash makes it easier for Marth to steal the edge from opponents. When grabbing the edge, Marth can use a ledge-drop bair, or fair to keep the opponent away or go for a stage spike, respectively. Marth's long roll also allows him to keep the edge from being grabbed, because throughout the roll, he is considered still grabbing the edge, which can be extremely useful for opponents who try to trick you by trying to go over, but drop back down onto the edge, such as Sheik or Pikachu. Marth can also use a ledge hop dair to punish characters with vertical recoveries to ensure the kill, or just style.
When the opponent decides to land on-stage to avoid being edge-hogged, Marth sometimes has a hard time covering this. To punish characters with little landing lag, Marth will have to ledgedash and grab if they are too far away for a ledge hop fair or nair. Characters with high lag, like Sheik, Marth, or Falcon can be F-smash tippered back off-stage if the option is read quickly enough, or an easy back throw accompanied by a down tilt or F-smash can finish them as well. Shielding when they land can also lead into a shield grab if they suspect a swift punish, and waiting for a spot dodge can also be effective if they seem to use that option too often.
In short, ensuring a tipper or interrupting their second jump when edge guarding is key for Marth. Deciding between staying on-stage, or going off-stage can be tough, but getting used to reading recoveries, and mixing these options up can help with this facet of your game. Dropping edge guards can be brutal for Marth and allow your opponent to gain momentum and possibly take back control of the match, so getting your opponent off-stage and keeping them there can decide whether you take or drop the set.
Many Marth main's like playing this character to his full potential of tech skill. using SHDF's, SHF -> wavedash forward grab, down tilt approaches, etc. While Marth doesn't have the shield pressure or long lasting aerials like Fox/Falco, he does possess his own strengths to make him an offensive powerhouse. His sword can win him many aerial approaches, beating out almost every option but shield or spot dodge. He can dash dance at many different intervals, giving him tricky movement and some cool cross-ups into grabs. He can do some surprising approaches as well, being able to run up -> down tilt -> grab for some safe approach options.
In theory, if your spacing is perfect, Marth should win every neutral engagement thanks to his sword. If spaced properly, most of his aerials cannot be shield grabbed, and if they wavedash towards you, in most scenarios, you can dash away and possibly get a grab after a whiffed punish. His down tilt with good spacing is almost impossible to punish, and if they shield it, and are too far away to shield grab, they are forced to either roll, or jump into an aerial, and Marth can dash away or jump and fair after the lag frames of the down tilt. But this is all theory, and this never happens in an actual match, let alone in tournament.
In reality, Marth isn't that great at approaching. his grab has good range and low lag, but is still punishable if you just throw them out without thinking on your approaches. His SHDF can be baited out and punished by a good spacie/Falcon/Sheik, and don't get me started on nair when approaching (never do that btw). His only really safe option is down tilt, and those are pretty difficult to space properly to avoid punishes as stated above. So unless you can space every aerial/down tilt you use (aka Chuck Norris), you should probably not be playing Marth aggressively 24/7.
Marth can also be played very passively. Marth has all the necessary tools to space someone out and keep them away, barred a projectile. If you're playing against a character like Falcon or Jigglypuff, it should be very hard for them to actually get in on you. He can use down tilts and fairs to keep enemies away, and using shield stops to your advantage to make sure you don't fall into your opponents shield when using an aerial.
When playing this way, your goal is to not do anything risky. This means not throwing out any unsafe aerials or being reckless and getting grabbed or losing control of center stage. Your job is to make the opponent come to you, push them towards a corner, limiting their options, until you can finally take the stock. A passive Marth needs to be able to wither away their opponent with small chip damage, and be able to punish their opponents reckless approaches with grabs. Movement is also key, and making it look as though you will approach, while keeping at a safe distance, is what makes your opponent stay on their toes, especially if its a laser-spamming Fox/Falco.
While Marth's disjoint makes it almost impossible for foes to break his defenses, he still lacks one key trait that anyone wanting to play this style needs: a projectile. It is hard to strictly play a passive style without anything to force an approach besides impatience. Most characters will out-camp Marth, and force you to approach anyway (Fox/Falcl lasers, Sheik needles, Peach turnit etc.) so playing only passive is pretty much impossible.
Finding a balance between the 2 is the most effective strategy when playing Marth. Marth is all about tricking your opponent in the neutral with different approaches and baits to get a grab , and punish from that grab. Playing too aggressively will just get you punished too hard by most characters, and playing too passively will just get you projectile spam, so being able to do both depending on the situation is how to play Marth most effectively.
Being able to use different moves for both approaching and waiting, being able to switch back and forth from approaching to spacing, while controlling center stage is how you wither down an opponents stamina. They need to not be able to expect you, and using dash dances as bait or approach options can keep opponents guessing and doing things they don't want to do. Sometimes you want to force them to come to you, and other times you want to put the pressure on the opponent, and being able to do both effectively and with good timing are what makes a great Marth player.