Playing with Ph1r3 - Gold Version

Playing with Ph1r3 - Gold Version

Update! (01/04/2016); Gold version is live! Added sections for Dash Dancing and Pivot Fsmash under "Fundamentals". Updated hitboxes for attacks. Minor adjustments across the board. Cleaned up some wording and formatting, and removed a bunch of information that is no longer relevant. Most likely to be the final update.

Update! (12/16/2014); Added some mentions for how some moves changed for the 3.5 update! Notes are for grab, uair, dair, DED x>, xxV, xxxV, Flareblade, and Counter. (Look for the red 3.5 update! text for the new notes.) Added in a Stage section after Moveset Analysis. Also added a Table of Contents, because jeez is this thing getting big. Gonna try to get 3.5 hitbox gifs sometime relatively soon.

Table of Contents
i. What do I Need to Know Ahead of Time?
ii. Roy's Pros and Cons
iii. What is Roy?
iV. How Do I Win With Roy?
V. Fundamentals

Vi. Controlling Space
Vii. Movement
Viii. Recovery
iX. Crouch Cancelling
X. Grab Game
Xi. Edgeguarding
Xii. Ledgedashing
Xiii. Dash Dancing
XiV. Pivot Fsmash
XV. Moveset Analysis
XVi. Grounded Attacks
XVii. Aerial Attacks
XViii. Special Attacks
XiX. Stages
XX. Standard Neutral Stages
XXi. Standard Counterpick Stages
XXii. Closing Notes

So, you want to learn how to play as Roy. Or maybe you just want a better understanding of him. Maybe you just want to learn his gimmicks so you can tell your crewmates what to look out for against him.

You've come to the right place.

I. What do I Need to Know Ahead of Time?

This guide is written with the intermediate player in mind. I expect you to already know what all of the standard Smash terms are (DI, "Nair", crouch cancelling, pivot, etc). If this is your first time contemplating competitive smash, go watch the Advanced How To Play guide on youtube, get a feel for the game, then come back.
This guide will focus directly on playing as Roy, rather than the overall mindset you should put yourself in while playing Smash (which is a big enough subject that I could write entire guides on that alone). If you want to delve more into that can of worms, my suggested material;
Drastic Improvement by Umbreon
Sirlin's Playing to Win articles
Seth Killian's old Domination 101 articles
The Footsies Handbook

But on to the good stuff.

II. Roy's Pros and Cons

+ Excellent range on attacks and grabs
+ Very strong CC game via dtilt conversions
+ Strong KO power through Fsmash, Bair and nB
+ Low KBG on aerials result in combos that rack up a lot of damage

- Poor offstage edgeguarding and lack of kill set ups against some characters can lead to opponents surviving to high percents
- Low knockback aerials make approaching a grounded opponent from the air a poor option
- Fast fall speed makes it so that most characters that can combo off of throws do so wonderfully vs Roy
- Fast fall speed plus one of the shorter distance upBs in the game can mean death early, especially to attacks DI'd improperly

III. What is Roy?

Roy is a somewhat polarizing character. He has range, but has to get in fairly close to get his better rewards. He has a great dash dance, but middling overall movement speed. His combos are potentially great, but often require either a read on (or flat out bad) DI from your opponent. His crouch cancel game is great, but CC is simultaneously one of his biggest weaknesses. Roy has strong KO options, but on the flip side is fairly squishy. Smash fundamentals are the pillars that hold Roy up, so you'll be able to flourish with those, but without them you will quickly crumble.

IV. How do I win with Roy? (Aka; What should my gameplan be?)

Overall, Roy is an aggressive character. His real strength lies in landing the sweetspot on his attacks, which is the middle+hilt of his blade. Roy can use his range to control space, but to really put the hurt on, Roy needs to get up in his opponent's face. Unlike other full rushdown characters, though, Roy's movement isn't any faster than average, and he doesn't have tools like the space animals' shine to crank out crazy shield pressure. Instead of rushing headlong into his opponent, Roy's gameplan should be to advance steadily and carefully with a combination of dashdancing, crouch cancelling, and his long reaching attacks to control space and eventually pin his opponent down and set up for dtilts and grabs.

"But Sethlon, what is 'controlling space'??"

I'm so glad you asked.

Roy is heavily fundamentals based, so thats what a majority of this guide will focus on.

V. Fundamentals

Vi. Controlling Space

Every character in the game has a space that they control, and a space where they work their best magic. Sheik wants to be just inside the range of falling needles, or just inside ftilt range. Marth wants to be just inside tip range. Fox wants to be dancing just outside of YOUR range, so he can make you whiff moves and then dive into you with his superior speed and mobility. Roy, with his rather long sword, has a rather large zone of control.
This is sort of a shoddy picture, but I think visualizing the zones is a good idea;

Red is the zone where Roy can safely and reliably land his sweetspots (with jab, dilt, DED> and uptilt), black is the area where he can put out attacks to stuff his opponent's moves/movement (with the tip of various moves), and yellow is the area where Roy could potentially attack with some risk (such as fsmash, ftilt, and dash attack).
Conversely, lets look at Metaknight;
Red is the zone where MK can easily land hard hitting moves and combo starters (dtilt sweetspot, nair, grab), black is the area he can put out attacks with relative safety (ftilt, fsmash, tip dtilt, fair), and yellow is the area that he can threaten if he wants to take a risk (with dash attack and dash grab).

Comparing the two, you can see that MK has a larger area that he can "threaten", but for around half of that area (the yellow area), he has to take a risk to do so. Roy, on the other hand, has a slightly smaller overall threat zone, but comes with a larger area to bully people with his sweetspot, and a larger area that he can throw out safe pokes.

So do these zones factor into how the neutral will go in this matchup? MK has the speed advantage and can dive into Roy at practically any moment with dash attack/grab, so Roy has to play it careful. While MK should be dancing around with wavedashes and dash dances, keeping Roy guessing for when he's going to go in, Roy should be advancing steadily, using his larger safe threatening zone to keep MK out while steadily boxing him in so he can set up his optimal spacing. Important to note is that Roy does not necessarily have to actively attack to threaten his space! Simply sitting patiently with the intent to rebuff any invasions into his space will often have that effect. If your opponent doesn't respect your space, then great; swat away their attempts to push in, and then take the momentum.

Also important to note is that WHERE you currently threaten on the stage is just as important as how big your threat area is. In the above pictures, Roy and MK are both in complete neutral, at equal distance from the center of the stage. If that picture were to have either character even a couple of character lengths to the side, there would be a clear advantage; the player closer to the middle could move in just a bit and establish that space, cutting off some of the area that their opponent can safely move around in. Having your back to the ledge is a very bad place to be! Your options are cut down severely; your opponent can simply sit at a safe distance away and wait, since most characters have to take a sizable risk to push in towards the stage. If you do nothing, they can advance a bit and begin poking at you, and there's no where for you to run to.
Take for example; Me vs Dizzy's marth. Slow that down and watch closely. Dizzy has me near the edge of the stage, but goes for a risky fsmash; he DIs my wavedash OoS punish fairly well, so I can't combo after the fair. I do still have some frame advantage, though, so I rush in for an attempted follow up grab. Dizzy is ready to buffer a roll away, and escapes the trap, but in doing so, puts himself near the ledge, "on the ropes" so to say. Knowing that his options to keep me out are limited, I move to try to box him in with a nair; he attempts to dash dance to fake me out, but gets caught by the nair since he doesn't really have any space to move, and I convert from the (fairly safe) nair into a kill combo.

That example isn't one directly in neutral, though, thats an example of me taking advantage of landing a hit and keeping momentum. Lets look at another one where it starts closer to neutral; Me vs K9's metaknight.

I'm actually at a slight advantage right off of the bat, since I spawn closer to the middle of the stage, whereas K9 is close to the ledge. K9 immediately puts out an ftilt in an attempt to contest any movement into the space that he does have; I advance slowly and try to find my own range, however, so the ftilt ends up serving no function other than to whiff a move and put himself at a bit of a disadvantage. (If I had rushed in headlong, with either a dash attack or grab or short hop aerial, the ftilt would have stuff it clean, and the stock would have gone very differently.) I can't safely punish the ftilt, so I simply move in just outside of each of our ranges, and wait in crouch. At this point, K9 essentially has two options; he can try to invade my space, in the hopes of beating out my pokes/cc, or he can move away. If he stays in the current position, I have to inch just a bit closer to be in the range to safely attack him. He decides to play it safe and dash dance away. I walk forward a little more to put more pressure on him and cut off more of his space, but don't want to actively invade it yet, so I pull back with a wavedash and crouch, ready to CC any impatient dash attack attempts. K9 dashes in a bit and shields, likely in an attempt to net a shield grab or nair OoS vs an unsafe attack that didn't come. At this point, I'm well out of reach of any attack that he could do OoS, but still in the range that I could try a relatively risky attack if I wanted to, so he plays safe again and jumps OoS to try to avoid any grabs or active pressure. This actually puts him in a WORSE position, however; with the platform protecting me from potential angled dair space invasions, I can safely wavedash in to actively threaten him. He could attempt to land on the platform, but then he would be subject to flurries of uairs and upsmashes with no real way to counterattack. He decides to pull back even farther to land closer to the edge of the stage, and this gives me my opportunity to wavedash in again. He could fall with a fair, but I'm entering crouch as soon as I finish my wavedash, so CC dtilt would blow it up. I poke at him with a dtilt, well within sweetspot range, and it catches him in his landing animation. He attempts to DI away from the fthrow in the follow up, but doesn't do so fast enough, gets caught with a dash attack, and dies very early to an improperly DI'd fsmash.

With proper DI he could have survived, surely, but the important part of this lesson is that it was the proper space control that made the set up possible. I didn't press a single attack button until several seconds into the match, but I could still pressure K9 and control space regardless.

Another important thing to take away from that example is that rather than attacking where your opponent currently is, you should be attacking where he is going to be. If your opponent is going to move in on you, be ready to poke them out of it or counter the attack with CC. If your opponent is going to stay still, approach safely. If your opponent is going to retreat, move in and keep the pressure on. And if they ever get too comfortable picking one of those options, punish them hard!

Against some characters however (such as DK), Roy can't play to his usual gameplan, since they threaten the space he usually likes to stay in and punish harder off of those conversions. Against these characters, Roy has to play a bit more of an evasive style, using dash dances to stay safe, tricky DED timings to poke, and running JC grabs to go for all-ins to take the momentum. Fortunately, these characters are the exception rather than the rule for his normal style of play.

VII. Movement

Project M is a game lush with movement options, similar to its predecessor. In a way, movement is the biggest pillar upon which a player's skill level sits. It doesn't matter how much space you control if you can't comfortably move that space around. It doesn't matter how smart you are if your movement isn't smooth enough to take advantage of the things you know will happen. Movement is also a bit of an abstract thing. A lot of players move in different ways; its one of the reasons you can spot one player from another by simply watching their gameplay. I can however, give a short list of some of the things you should be 100% comfortable doing;

Shuffling any and all aerials (especially long strings of repeated uairs)
Using aerials on the way up in a short hop for quicker attacks vs using aerials on the way down in a short hop for a tighter offense
Wavedashing in all shapes and forms (forward, back, on stage, to the ledge, onto platforms, sliding off platforms, out of shield, etc)
Ledgedashing especially is an especially strong tool for Roy, enough so that I'm dedicating a section just to that below
Jump Cancelling all of your grabs! Roy has an exceptional standing grab. JCing your dash grabs will improve range and safety for grabbing while moving in on an opponent.
Dash dancing and brawl-style foxtrotting, and Melee's pivot fsmashes
Pushing yourself to the absolute max offstage distance you can edgeguard and still recover from
And all manner of the above mixed together in any way you can imagine.

Unfortunately, there isn't any way to get better at movement than to simply practice. Preferably, a lot. The more time you're willing to put towards this the better (especially for newer players who don't have movement techniques ingrained in their muscle memory), but if you don't have the patience/drive/time to sit down and grind out a ton of training mode, even just 5-10 minutes a day will greatly improve your movement over time.

VIII. Recovery

Roy is squishy. He's fairly light, falls like a rock, and his recovery doesn't go all that far. Because of these things, optimal recovery becomes paramount. There are several aspects that factor in to optimal recovery;

1. Good DI.
This seems fairly self explanatory, but is too huge to not mention. The better you DI, the farther up you'll be while drifting back the to stage, cutting down the distance you'll need to burn resources to attain. Good DI can make a Roy stock last nice and long.

2. Aim for the ledge.
Trying to bully your way on stage while recovering is a bad idea, and a great way to get counter hit and killed. Even if you're directly above the ledge, rather than pushing in and dropping with an aerial, you should pull back a bit and aim to land safely on the ledge instead. The ledge isn't a great position to be in, but its a ton better than being dead, and from there Roy can take advantage of his ledgedash.

2. Proper DED stalls.
Using the first swing of DED will give Roy a bit of a boost in horizontal recovery. This distance degrades over swings, with a very small boost for the third swing, and not any boost at all past that. DED swings won't "recharge" the distance boosted until Roy actually touches that stage. Be careful when trying to boost yourself with DED when you've only made it to the ledge.

3. Optimal UpB angles.
Roy's UpB, Blazer, is actually one of the best in the game for cutting through an opponent trying to intercept offstage, if used properly. In general, you want to angle yourself straight up if you want to counter-hit an opponent coming offstage to attack you, to hit an opponent holding the ledge, or to stall out an opponent who is trying to edgehog your with a ledge roll/get up. You'll want to angle in as far as possible to snap to the ledge quickly, and to hit an opponent out of trying to edgeguard you from the ground on stage.

4. Conservation of recovery resources.
Perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT of these aspects. Your double jump and your DED boosts are your lifelines; if you ever get pushed offstage without them, Roy is basically dead. Use them sparingly, and only when necessary. If you can get to the ledge using just aerial drifitng and your double jump, do so.

IX. Crouch Cancelling

Crouch cancelling is a deceptively complex mechanic, simultaneously one of Roy's greatest strengths and his greatest weaknesses. The gist of it is as follows;
If you hold down right when you are being hit by a move, you will ASDI down, putting yourself straight into a crouch animation instead of standard hitstun.
At high enough knockback, crouch cancelling will result in you getting knocked down onto the ground (complete with the ability to tech). At higher knockback, you'll hit the ground and then slide offstage at a low angle, and at especially high knockback, you won't be able to CC at all.
While in full crouch, you receive 1/3 less knockback than normal, making full crouch CC much stronger than simply holding down when you're hit. (Note that you have to actually be in the crouch animation for this to come into effect, not simply holding down ahead of time)

Crouch cancelling of course takes knockback growth of a move into account when determining if the person CCing will get knocked down/away. Keep in mind that some moves have little to no knockback growth, however; characters like Charizard/DK will be able to CC Roy's jabs and DED pretty much regardless of their current percent.

Knowing these attributes is very important for knowing how to correctly use and fight against CC. A Roy sitting in full crouch controls the space around him very well, since he'll have the full crouch knockback reduction for any attacks thrown at him, and will likely be able to retaliate with CC dtilt. For the same reason, an opponent sitting still is in a difficult position to dislodge; the knockback reduction makes it so that any character can CC and punish Roy's weaker aerials (such as fair).

There are many different ways to actively combat CC. Rather than trying to butt heads against someone in full crouch, Roy could poke around at the edges of their space, be ready to flick opponents out of any of their movement (which will no longer have the benefit of knockback reduction), and then take momentum from there. Sometimes, Roy can CC them back; for instance, while dropping with a fair that you know your opponent will CC, you can do the move, l-cancel, and then go directly into full crouch. If they try to CC and attack back with a move that isn't very strong, then you can CC that attack and then dtilt them in the endlag of it. Alternately, you can drop with a fair/uair/dair at the last moment and then immediately go into shield to block their attack.

If you're ABSOLUTELY sure that they're looking to CC and then punish, you can possibly sneak in an empty landing into a grab! And yes, this trick can work against high level opponents.

X. Grab game

Roy has an exceptionally good grab. His grab comes out in the average 7 frames and has great reach, with the only characters having greater reach being the large characters (D3/DK/Chairzard) and tether grab characters. Opponents will have to play a little further outside of your shield than normal to space around shield grabs, though obviously characters with great pressure through speed (like the space animals) will be able to play their usual game.

There are three main ways to use Roy's actual throws;

1. Chain grabbing.
Roy's upthrow eats space animals alive. Upthrow chain grabs start at around 0% and last till around 60% (depending on your opponent's DI), and you can still follow up with potentially more combos at that 60%. It isn't unheard of for Roy to kill space animals off a single grab at zero percent. For any space animal fool enough to leave FD open as a counter pick, make them regret it.
(ProTip; no space animals around you to practice upthrow chain grabs against? A trick I used in Melee was to take a CPU space animal to FD in training mode, and set the CPU to "Evade". Their DI won't be entirely random, but its close enough that you should get a feel for the timing of each angle at varying percents!)

2. Fthrow/Dthrow combos.
Against any character floatier than space animals, fthrow is a fairly good combo starter. Fthrow -> dash attack is a great way to start combos aggainst opponents who are DIing away, and if they DI in you can punish with fsmash or go for fair chains. Against some of the floatier characters, fthrow -> nair works quite well at low percents. Against all but the floatiest characters, however, DIing away and down will stop any potential fthrow follow ups. Quick fthrows will make this difficult, but expect expert level opponents to escape some of your set ups.

Dthrow doesn't combo quite as well as fthrow, but mixing it in sometimes can lead to nice follow ups. Dthrowing and opponent at the ledge can lead to ftilt/fsmash (if they DI poorly), and any time you think your opponent is going to try to DI out of your fthrow combos, you can switch to dthrow and get a regrab or a quick one two combo.

3. Tech chasing.
Similar to Marth, Roy gets great tech chases off of his throws at low percents. Covering as many options as possible can make your tech chasing a terrifying thing for opponents. Wavedash in -> dtilt is a great way to cover tech in place/no tech, and its fast enough that you can usually pressure your opponent still if they chose another option. Wavedashing in and then chasing with a regrab to extend the tech chase is the low risk - low reward option, but watch out for opponents choosing to not tech. Fsmash is an obvious finisher for opponents at high percents, though it requires a stronger read and a bit of a gamble. Tricky movement with bair can finish a stock with a little more safety, but is significantly harder to pull off. Dair can cover multiple options if used correctly, but proper CC from your opponent will sever follow up potential.

XI. Edgeguarding

Offstage edgeguarding is one thing that Roy is unfortunately rather bad at. Flare blade can secure kills, but it has significant start up that seasoned opponents will often be able to dodge. Fair comes out fast and covers a lot of space, but often isn't powerful enough to finish the job. Whiffing either move offstage as your opponent is recovering can easily mean a dead Roy. Some characters do have target windows that you can hit them out of (Ness starting his upB, Marth/Roy boosting with sideB, Luigi's downB/sideB, etc), but the majority of your successful edgeguarding won't be done offstage.

Roy's onstage edgeguarding is fairly good. Dtilt will pop up opponents that miss their sweetspot for a free follow up, and fsmash will often take a stock. Angled downward ftilt can poke an opponent out of their recovery, sometimes disrupting their flow enough for them to miss a sweetspot. Several of Roy's aerials, (dair and flare blade, especially,) can reach below the stage to snipe people sweetspotting.

The place where Roy's edgeguarding truly shines, though, is at the ledge itself. Grabbing the ledge won't often lead to Melee-style edgehog kills, but it will open up other ways to punish your opponent. One of the simplest edgeguards is to grab the ledge right before your opponent starts to aim for it, to force them up onto the stage; from that position, you can ledgehop an aerial to punish. Depending on the aerial, you can either do a meaty hit (nair), set up for follow up combos (uair/dair), flick them safely for some damage and momentum (fair), or straight out end their stock (bair/flare blade). Against opponents with especially long recovery on stage landing (say, Sheik), you can often simply stand up from the ledge or wavedash on to the stage, and then punish with grab set ups or raw smashes!

Another strong way that Roy can use the ledge is to grab the ledge at a similar time for the above set up, but then use his ledge invulnerability to do an immediate rising dair. Roy's double jump goes high enough that he can dip fairly low before dj'ing and dairing, covering a lot of space below and around the ledge. The beauty of this set up is that any part of the blade is (at least somewhat) useful if it connects; the tip will send opponents out, possibly killing them and often giving Roy time to wavedash back to the ledge to set up another dair if not. The middle of the blade will pop opponents up for a bair (to kill) or a fair string (for potentially more damage). If you manage to connect with the deep dair sweetspot, the spike is often enough to kill characters that low to the stage. In addition to all of that, ledgehop dair is probably one of the safest ways to edgeguard if done correctly, since you are invulnerable for most of the dair, and immediately onstage afterwords. Low risk, medium - high reward!

Because of this, it is especially important that you are comfortable in getting to the ledge. There are many things you'll have to practice as Roy, and this is definitely one of them. Get comfortable in making it to the ledge as fast as possible, from any distance; whether that be with a full run -> rar wavedash, wavedash -> turn around -> wavedash, or simply walking forward a tad -> turn around -> wavedash.

Speaking of the ledge...

XII. Ledgedashing

Roy has a fairly potent ledgedash. Its one of the few "advanced techs" that he really has (though its not specific to just him).

Ledgedashing, of course, is simply wavedashing onto the stage from the ledge. (Dropping down from the ledge, double jumping, and then quickly airdodging.) The true power of Roy's ledgedash comes when you can get it down well enough to do it extremely fast; when done fast enough, Roy actually retains some of the invulnerability granted by grabbing the ledge while he's moving on stage.

Correct use of ledgedashing will completely blow away any pressure your opponent is putting on you while you're on the ledge. This is especially nice for Roy, since his recovery is so poor; any interception from your opponent when trying to muscle your way on stage can often result in a dead Roy. Even if you aren't doing the ledgedash tight enough to have full invuln, getting hit in crouch on stage is much better than getting caught out of your double jump trying to do something like ledgehop fair/nair.

This is one technique that will take a lot of practice to get down. You will SD, a lot. Even when you have the technique "down", there will be times where you'll SD when attempting it in tournament. Its worth it.

Roy's ledgedash isn't quite as potent as it was in previous versions of PM, but still very much worth learning. With a frame perfect ledge dash, Roy has 7 frames where he can commit to any action and still be intangible. This means that jab, dsmash, uptilt, grab, and DED will all come out before the intangibility goes away!

XIII. Dash Dancing

Dash dancing has been an integral part of Smash movement since Melee, and PM is no exception. Marth has always been great at using dashdancing to shut opponents down, and Roy's is useful for nearly all the same reasons. Proper dashdancing when combined with wavedashing and crouch cancelling can make for an opponent thats frustratingly difficult to pin down.

The general idea for Roy dashdancing is to be dashing just outside the distance where you could run in for crouch dtilt. From this distance its hard for opponents to effectively attack you, since you're in a prime position to move away or intercept their movement (since they have to move a decent distance to actually get in range to hit you). This is also a good distance for aggression, since if your opponents start respecting you cutting off their options and begin acting defensively, you can move in with crouch dtilts or JC grabs to break through and start momentum of your own.

Dash dancing is rather complicated, and there's plenty more to learn about it that I wouldn't trust myself to accurately convey. If you have trouble applying it, there are many other resources online that could be beneficial. I would recommend starting with Dash Dancing 101.

XIV. Pivot Fsmash

Fsmash is one of the key moves in Roy's arsenal. It hits hard, comes out fairly fast, and has pretty big range. Its also got a good amount of risk with its cooldown lag, however, and finding the right spot to throw one out can be tricky. This is where pivot fsmashes come in.

Pivoting is a technique that exists in all smash games (though its less useful in Brawl and Smash4). When a character transitions from dashing one direction into dashing in the other direction, there is one frame in between the two dashes where your character is in a normal "standing still" animation. During that one frame, you can input practically any grounded attack and have it come out. Being faster than transitioning from a wavedash into an attack, pivotting is extremely useful for quick "random" fsmashes. Useful for converting off of some things that normally wouldn't combo into fsmash, quickly dodging an attack and counterattacking hard, and many other situations.

XV. Moveset Analysis

As mentioned already, Roy has a fairly well balanced moveset. Basically every single one of his moves is useful in some sort of scenario, and the only real way to go over them is to go over each move itself in detail. So, here we go, full moveset analysis!

For more indepth frame data, check out the sticky in the PM Roy section.

XVI. Grounded Attacks

Active on frame 4-7
-16 on shield

Fairly good, as far as jabs go. A little slower than the best jabs (frame 4 vs frame 2), but solid 3 frames of active hitbox, and tons of range. A great interrupt move, jab can sometimes lead to follow ups if you hit with the tip and your opponent DIs in, and has enough base knockback that it will still lead to a tech chase opportunity in most situations. A frame perfect falling fair -> jab on shield will hit on the same frame as an opponent's 7 frame grab, making it a decently safe frame trap against shielding opponents, even when your fair is not spaced optimally.
Good times to use - as a staple interrupt, after landing with an aerial, after teching in place, after invincible ledgedashing

Forward tilt
Active on frames 8-12, 9-12
-21 on shield

The definition of a good neutral poke. Huge range, low risk, low reward. Best to use when you either can't hit your opponent because they are too far away (like when they are offstage), or when they're zoning you out and you can't get through their walls. Dthrow/Fthrow -> ftilt works fairly well as a low reward follow up. Note: this move becomes quite a bit better when playing against characters with weak recoveries. Against them, the good base knockback of ftilt can often push them far enough offstage that you can set up edgeguarding, and overall give you the momentum necessary to take a stock.
Good times to use - in any combo where they're just out of range for fsmash, to poke at opponents in neutral

Down tilt
Active on frames 8-10
-5 on shield
The crux of Melee Roy's gameplan, dtilt works just as well as ever. It doesn't have as much range as ftilt, so it requires a little more precision to set up, but its pretty safe on shield, and the rewards on hit are much, much better. The IASA of the move is a little tricky in that the game doesn't allow you to IASA directly into can work around that, however, by holding forward/backward and shield at the same time (so that Roy enters into the first frame of walking/turning around, and cancels that into shielding).
Good times to use - after a wavedash in (one of the bread and butter Roy approaches), during a tech chase, when opponents are trying to sweetspot the ledge, as a poke against opponents on the defensive

Active on frames 6-9, 10-13
-20 on shield
Not quite as good as Marth's uptilt, but still a really good move. The middle blade hits hard enough to set up for some combos, and tip has low enough knockback that it can set up for some (looser) strings as well. In many situations, uair will be better, but uptilt hits in a larger arc. Good to use when you want to cover more area closer to the ground, or you don't have time to get back in the air for an uair.
Good times to use - after landing from an uair, after teching in place, against low-mid % opponents, when your opponent is right on top of you

Forward Smash
Active on frames 11-13
-31 on shield
One of the moves that makes Roy the character that he is! High risk, high reward, a well placed fsmash can turn the tides of a match in the blink of an eye. Proper DI will make it so that opponents will survive fsmashes until around 120%, but often times, if you land an fsmash, it should be unexpected enough for them to not be ready to DI correctly. Finding the right spot to throw in an fsmash is EXTREMELY pivotal to playing Roy. Too often, and opponents will start taking momentum and punishing you very hard. Too infrequently, and your opponents will survive to very high percents and start taking more risks against you. Balance is key.
Good times to use - after landing a dtilt vs fast fallers, during tech chases, for any hard read

Down Smash
Active on frames 6-9, 10-17
-44 on shield
A quick GTFOff-me move. Hits on frame 6, only 2 slower than jab. Dsmash covers a fairly wide area, and even the tip hits hard enough to potentially KO opponents (just off of the side, rather than the top). Cooldown is massive, though; don't use this move against low % opponents, and above all, don't miss.
Good times to use - after spot dodging an attack/grab, after invincible ledgedashing, after crouch cancelling/powershielding an opponent's attack

Up Smash
Active on frames 14-23
-15 on shield
A relatively slow move (hitting on frame 14), up smash is a decent combo starter and out-of-shield poke. On many stages, upsmash will reach up onto the platforms, and thus is good tech chasing and safe poking at shields (though beware of advanced opponents punishing with shield drops!). There are hitboxes around Roy's sides that will pull people up into the main hitboxes, so it can be randomly useful for things like hitting opponents who don't tech. The multi hits actually pull your opponent down into the rest of the hits, so occasionally you can catch them with the tip of Roy's sword on one of their limbs or while they're smash DIing to spike them down. If you do manage to connect with the full thing, you can often follow up with an aerial, or even better on the fastest fallers.
Good times to use - to pressure an opponent on a platform above you, when space animals try to pressure your shield with shine -> full hop dropping aerials, against opponents who disrespect your shield with cross up dash dances

Up Smash DACUS
Roy, similar to Marth, has access to a dash-attack-cancel-upsmash. Due to his 4 frame jump squat, its a fairly difficult 1-frame window to input, and cannot be done with c-stick+z; you'll need to either set one of your shoulder buttons to attack, or learn how to claw (with c-stick(thumb)+A button(pointer finger)). For anyone who thinks that they're incapable of learning to switch to claw mid match, I was the same exact way about six months ago. I'd never used claw before in my life, and hadn't learned how until then because I thought I wasn't capable of it. I decided to mess with it, and it took a good amount of practice over a large period of time, but now I can do it fairly consistently. As always, frequent practice to establish the muscle memory is key!
But on to its actual use. Roy's DACUS is actually a fairly good one; the boost he gets from the DACUS goes out a bit further than his dash attack, giving you Roy players a reason to occasionally use it over that. The hitboxes start coming out a bit before Roy is done sliding, so it hits in a fairly wide area, though opponents caught at the beginning will sometimes slip out. Useful for setting up for combos at low percent, or sealing a stock against a high percent opponent.
Good times to use - after fthrow, after connecting with a falling fair, when you think your opponent is going to try to retreat or dash dance, for a surprise rush into your opponent's space

Dash Attack
Active on frames 13-17 (-18)
A glorious, functional dash attack. (Very much unlike Melee Roy's dash attack.) Roy's dash attack is similar to Marth in reach and use, though as often is with Roy's kit, you'll need to land the sweetspot for its usefulness to truly shine. The angle of the move pulls your opponent up and towards Roy, so you can often follow up with and fsmash or an aerial attack. Dash attack is also a good way to snipe an opponent who thinks they're outside of your range, but beware CCing opponents.
Good times to use - after fthrow, against an opponent teching outside of the range of a jump cancel grab, as a quick invasion of your opponent's space, to duck under and counter-attack some projectiles (such as falco lasers)

Active on frames 7-8
An exceptionally good grab. Standard 7 frames with great range. See Grab Game section above for detailed grab set ups.
Good times to use - when your opponent spaces stuff poorly on your shield, to set up situational combos, to break through CC and other defenses, to start tech chases, to chain grab space animals

XVII. Aerial Attacks

Neutral Air
Active on frames 6-11, 13-25
-4 on shield
A beefy spinning flame swing, Roy's neutral air has very good range and a huge amount of active frames. Roy actually comes around for a third swing in the spin, though you have to start it early and not fastfall in a short hop for it to come out. Neutral air has three primary uses; firstly, controlling the space around you. If you want to stay in place and keep your opponent out, an early nair will chew through most aerial approaches, and grounded ones against the taller characters. Secondly, for pressuring an opponent. Nair lasts long enough to beat an opponent who tries to spotdodge in anticipation of a grab, and will also ground down the top of their shield, and will often shield poke opponents with low/bad shields. Spaced correctly, you should have no fear of out of shield retaliations. Thirdly, nair works well as a combo move, especially against bigger opponents, and works well as a combo finisher in some situations where the bair sweetspot might not connect. Nair is also one of Roy's better aerials to use out of shield.
Good times to use - after fthrow/dtilt against larger/taller characters, to grind down shields and control space, to cover multiple tech options vs opponents landing on a platform, as a close range OoS option

Forward Air
Active on frames 5-8
-3 on shield
Roy's fair is a great multi-purpose move. It comes out fairly fast and reaches out far, so its great as a quick interrupt. The sweetspot hits hard enough to potentially kill characters offstage (at least the ones without an S tier recovery), and it sets up very nicely for combo's on stage. Falling fairs are a pretty good way to set up dtilts and overall to pressure shields, but be aware that CC will blow that up. Use nair if you want to control space for an extended period of time, and use fair for when you have an idea what your opponent is trying to do and want to quickly poke them out of it.
Good times to use - after connecting with a dtilt, to poke opponents out of attacks, to push off stage opponents further out

Down Air
Active on frames 7-10
-5 on shield
Down air is a bit more of a niche aerial, but interestingly unique in that it has separate uses for its three different types of hits (tip, middle blade sweetspot, and the deep arm/body sweetspot). The tip's hit is relatively weak, but hits at a very low angle. Its a little challenging to land it on purpose, but can be nice for pushing opponents deep off stage. (For extra points, yell "I'm metakniiiiight" while doing this.) The middle of the blade pops opponents up into a great spot for follow up combos. At middle percents, dair -> fsmash will work, and at high ones, dair -> full hop back air works wonders. The deep body sweetspot is a bit challenging to land...the blade hitboxes take priority over these ones, so you'll have to hit with the body and ONLY the body hitboxes for it to work. These are the hitboxes that will spike your opponent. The firey dair spike deals a lot of damage, but has relatively low base knockback. It won't generally KO opponents until mid-high percents, but it works great in combos; following up moves like dtilt into a dair spike sets up for a decent tech chase scenario that does a ton of damage. Against grounded opponents, the spikewill break through CC, and pop low-mid percent opponents up for a combo, though its challenging to land against an opponent on the ground; generally you want them to be above you when aiming to hit with the spike hitboxes.
Good times to use - when falling down onto an opponent, for edgeguarding with ledgehop dairs, after connecting a dtilt near the ledge, for spiking opponents down in combos, for deep cross ups against a shielding opponent, after connecting a deep fair

Up Air
Active on frames 5-10
-2 on shield
Uair is a very good move. It doesn't hit for the most damage, but it is one of Roy's best combo aerials. Opponents caught above you with the sweetspot will often be subjected to atleast one aerial follow up, and woe to those who get caught above Roy without their double jump. Uair also has slightly lower than average landing lag for Roy's aerials (9, vs 10/12), and is decent vs shield at -2 frame disadvantage.
Good times to use - whenever your opponent is above you, after ledgehopping for edgeguarding oppents recovering high, when dropping down on opponent's shields

Back Air
Active on frames 7-10
-3 on shield
Bair is Roy's staple aerial finisher. Its sweetspot makes it take a little more finesse than Flare Blade, but Bair does more damage, KOs opponents earlier, and comes out faster (making more of the set ups into it guaranteed). At 16 damage, Bair does more damage in the air than everything but meteor-sweetspot dair, making it a good move to throw out even at lower percents if you're not sure you'll be able to extend the combo afterwards. The sweetspot is easiest to land at the very start up of the move, but the end swing will actually reach all the way back around over Roy's shoulder if spaced and timed correctly.
Good times to use - to end a combo from dtilt/fair/dair/uair, at random times in neutral to finish an opponent, for risky offstage edgeguarding

XVIII. Special Attacks

Neutral Special, Flare Blade
Active on frames 16-21
-21 on shield
Flare Blade is sort of like a poor man's fsmash. Doesn't hit quite as hard, isn't quite as punishable, and is usable in a wider variety of instances. Flare Blade is unique in that it hits just as hard at the tip as it does at the middle of the blade, making the spacing on it a little more lenient. It comes out slower and doesn't hit as hard as back air, so that should be your priority, but the large arc of nB still makes it very useful at times, especially against offstage opponents. Another obvious benefit is how long the move can be charged, but resist the urge to try to edgeguard with it; competent opponents will more often than not sweetspot, and charging nB just lets them get back to the ledge for free. Prioritize hogging the ledge instead, unless you have them in an awkward spot where you think they won't be able to sweetspot.
Another trick that you can do to edgeguard is to short hop and use flare blade on the way down; the arc of the swing can reach well below the ledge if timed correctly!
Good times to use - after a high fair, to edgeguard opponents, onstage vs recovering space animals

Active on frames 8-20
Textbook high risk high reward, Roy's counter doesn't come out as fast or last as long as Marth's or Ike's. What it does do, however, is hit like a truck. Similar to Ike's counter, Roy's hits his opponent back based on the strength of the attack that you countered (specifically, at 1.5 times their attack's knockback). Useful for edgeguarding some characters, Space Animals especially. Counter can turn a game around in a blink, but it can also get you killed. Use sparingly.

Side Special, Double Edge Dance
(First swing)
Active on frames 7-9
-18 on shield
Double Edge Dance is easily the most complex move that Roy has. To strip it down to its base use, DED is a good interrupt. It comes out a little slower than jab (frame 7 vs frame 4), but the first swing hits much higher than jab, making it a better anti air. It has the benefit of being able to be used out of a run, making it useful for small burst movement and for tricky things like running -> breverse DED. In situations where my opponent is on defense inside range of tip ftilt, but out of range of dtilt, I'll often use a small run -> DED to attempt to stuff any movement or attacks and also apply safe pressure. Spaced correctly, you should never fear a shield grab in the middle of your DED (outside of characters with tremendous grab range, such as D3 and Charizard). Another thing to keep in mind is when to stop dancing and when to continue the string; mindless long DED strings will be punished by patient shielding opponents. Vary the timing of your swings, which ones you do, and whether or not you'll actually continue the dance, and you can put some serious pressure on your opponent!
Similar to Flare Blade, many of the hard-htting DED swings have as much knockback at the tip of the sword as the sweetspot. Also, keep in mind that hitlag will change the timing of your dance; you'll have to slow down or speed up your inputs depending on whether or not you actually connect with your opponent.

Double Edge Dance terminology; Rather than typing out annoyingly long sentences, Roy's DED swing combinations can be noted in symbols and letters. Terminology is as follows;
> = swing to the side
^ = swing upwards
v = swing downwards
x = to notate one of the swings later on in the dance.
For example; ">^>" would notate "DED combination side, up, side", and something like "xxx>" would notate "fourth DED swing side" in specific (rather than any other swings that could possibly come beforehand).

The first swing of DED is the most important. All the things I've written above directly refer to it. Do not be afraid to stop your dance after just this flick; > into grab is a fairly good punish against an opponent around short hop height, is very safe on shield (especially if you condition them into being scared of the rest of the dance), and is fast enough that CC heavy opponents won't often be able to CC on reaction (leaving you a window to apply additional pressure or rush in for a grab).

With a bit more range than the first >, DED x> is good for poking at opponents from max range. Dashdancing into x> is a solid poke, is slightly better on shield than x^, and combos a little better against opponents are right on top of you. In general, use this swing if you want to simply poke at your opponents, and use x^ for better combo strings.

The bread and butter second swing. Pops your opponent up into the air for potential follow ups. Beware of opponents potentially DIing into you to avoid any more DED hits; if you catch opponents doing this, you should switch to just doing a single > flick and following up from there. Similar to x>, x^ works well as a stopping point in the dance for follow up pressure.

Possibly the most useful third swing. Best range, KO power, and reliability. DED >^> is the bread-and-butter dance combination; use this as your go-to option, unless you find yourself in one of the situations where the other two are useful.

This meteor swing combination sacrifices some of xx>'s reliability for higher potential gains. Against opponents near the ledge, the meteor can potentially steal a stock if your opponent isn't on their toes or has a poor vertical recovery. On stage, it can set up for some particularly nasty tech chases. After a successful >^^, xxx^ or xxx> will hit opponents who don't tech or who tech in place, and xxx> reaches far enough to often catch opponents teching away. For opponents who tech behind you, or DI behind and don't tech, xxx< can catch them (though at some times its better to simply end the dance and chase/pressure as normal). Down throw to >^^ is a gimicky way to set up potential meteors against low percent opponents, though hard DI out or in will render that moot.

A strong multi-hit stab. This swing is one of the harder ones to make use of in DED chains. Its multi-hits hit hard enough that it will punch through CC, but the slower start up means that xx> is often better vs that. The low multihits are good to put some damage/pressure on a shield, but good spacing is required to not be punished afterwards.

This swing is one of the reasons why DED shines! Its like a diving fsmash with no sweetspot requirement. Good to catch an opponent who is dash dancing around in the middle of your DED combination, good against an opponent who techs away after a >^^ tech chase set up, and good against low percent opponents after a >^> string. As with fsmash, balance is key; the rewards for xxx> are huge, but beware of opponents who will respect it and punish.

The fastest reliable DED finisher. xxx^ comes out fast enough to stuff some shield responses to >^>, and pulls Roy's opponent into the air for possible mid percent follow ups. Use this as a desperation swing when you space too deep with your DED combos, or to punish a tech in place after >^^.

The multi-hits on this finisher can sometimes be unreliable, but it is the fastest DED finisher (hitting on fr12 vs xx^'s fr15). Similar to xxV, it can be used in strings to poke opponent's out of actions or to stab shields low. It can be used for poking at ledges, but either dtilt or aerial Flare Blade would be better choices for that situation. Use sparingly.

One of the tricks that gives Roy an edge over Marth's Dancing Blade! xxx< is a solid backwards stab. Hits decently hard, and good for hitting opponents teching behind you off of >^^ or rolling behind you in the middle of your dance. Also potentially useful as a desperation tactic to get you further away from spacing too deep on an opponent's shield. This swing is on the of the reasons that its decently safe for Roy to use the second and third swings in DED; if your opponents slip away and try to attack from behind, don't be afraid to let this rip and make them respect your space!

XIX. Stages

The Smash series is rather unique among fighting games in that the stage itself plays a very big role in how each game is played. Some have requested that I have a stage section, talking about the pros and cons for each stage, so here it is!

XX. Standard Starter Stages

Pokemon Stadium 2

Widely considered to be the most balanced stage, PkmStd2 is an overall middle-ground. Big, but not too big. Some platforms, but no tri-plats. Roy does fairly well on this stage; the platforms are at a good height for Roy to pressure opponents on them (though they interrupt the upthrow chain grab vs spacie animals), and they're positioned perfectly to boost around with aerial wavelands. Fsmash isn't as good on this stage as the smaller ones, as you're likely to be hitting them from either the middle or across the stage's length, but they will still end stocks super early if you can connect one near the ledge. The ceiling is higher than some other stages, but not so high that bair set ups won't kill at the %s where you can actually set them up. Learn the ins and outs of this stage well; you'll likely be playing on it a lot!


Good old Battlefield; a fairly good Roy stage. The slight loss in bair's kill potential due the higher than average ceiling is almost inconsequential in the light of fsmash's prowess here. The platforms are good for pressure and mobility, similar to PkmStad2's, though Roy can sometimes have trouble punishing opponents who decide to hang out around the top platform. This is a fairly good stage to strike to with Roy, and can work as a counterpick if you're running out of other smaller stages or are more comfortable on this one.

Green Hill Zone

Green Hill is an excellent Roy stage. The platform gives just enough presence to be able to move around a bit and escape some throw combos, while still giving Roy plenty of room for dtilt combos and upthrow chain grabs. The ceiling is high, making it so other characters with vertical kill moves take longer to finish a stock, while the side blast zones are close enough for early fsmash kills and for bair set ups to kill regardless of the top blast zone. Some characters like Ike get a little bit of a recovery boost from the long walls, but honestly Roy isn't very good at edgeguarding them anyways, and is more likely to get kills off of on stage conversions. Green Hill is one of the three stages I will almost always counter pick to if it isn't banned.


Smashville is an okay Roy stage. Similar to Green Hill, the platform is around enough to not really get in the way of combos and be useful for occasional movement, but its also somewhat of a safe zone that opponents can chill out on without much fear of Roy retaliating. Be very careful trying to challenge someone who is entrenched on the platform; getting grabbed or combo'd on it while its over the edge of the stage can easily mean a dead Roy, even at very low percents. As far as blast zone go, the top is a bit lower than average, making bair kill a little earlier than most stages. Similar to PkmStad2, fsmash will be a little less prevalent here, unless you can catch them with it near the ledge.
I don't like going to this stage in most matchups, but its not really worth burning one of your bans IMO.

Dreamland 64

Dreamland was hands down Roy's worst stage in Melee. Name one of Roy's weaknesses, and this stage makes that weakness even more prevalent; big stage means that some characters can run, and be very difficult to catch. Very high platforms mean that characters can hide out on them and make it very difficult for Roy to effectively attack and pressure them. Huge blast zones make explosive early kills a near impossibility, and even high percent kills challenging at times, whereas Roy's below average recovery makes it so he doesn't survive any longer. Bad, bad, bad. There are some situational matchups where this stage might be good for Roy (ones where Roy can get kills via edgeguarding rather than through raw KOs, especially if his opponent has difficulty edgeguarding him), but for almost all of my matches, I ban this stage.

XXI. Standard Counterpick Stages

Distant Planet

A fairly decent Roy stage. The platforms allow for some movement tricks similar to PkmStd2, and the higher platforms aren't so high that characters can comfortably camp on them. Overall, fairly similar to Pokemon Stadium, in my opinion. Not something I would go out of my way to counterpick, but certainly not a bad stage for most matchups.

Final Destination

Pushed back into counterpick in most rulesets, Final Destination is a rather polarizing stage. Against any space animal, this stage turns Roy's upthrow chain grab into practical zero to deaths, with Roy getting sometimes as much as 100% even when he doesn't convert into the kill off of it. Against non spacies, the lack of platforms can hurt, with no tricky ways to move around the stage, and no respite from some of the characters (such as DK) that can combo Roy very well. Roy can control the ground with crouch cancel dtilts and use the space fairly well for dash dance shenanigans, but there are other characters that can do it better. Useful as a counterpick if for some ungodly reason a space animal doesn't ban it, but other than that, I would recommend avoiding the stage.

Fountain of Dreams

Easily one of Roy's best stages. The blast zones work out great for Roy, for all the same reason that Green Hill's do. The platforms are perfect for pressuring opponents on them with upsmashes, and at times you can throw opponents onto them for easy tech coverage with fsmash. When platforms are in their lower position, Roy can short hop onto them with aerials, and then immediately run off/fall through them with another aerial, making for quick flurries of fast aerials to chop at opponents or control great amounts of space. This is one of Roy's great counterpicks for almost any of matchup, though beware of getting pushed off and gimped at low percents.

Yoshi's Island (Brawl)

A fairly good Roy stage. The platforms can get in the way of combos at times, but they also get in the way of opponent's combos...against characters that have a tendency to convert into huge damage off of throws on Roy (like Falcon, Ness, Diddy, etc), this can be a great pick to help counteract that. The slants can screw up dtilt spacing at times, but being on the part of the slope further down, stuff like rising nair becomes a very good option for controlling space and grinding at shields. The new white flying shy guys give a heads up for when Ran-Dad is about to pop his head, so Roy can keep an eye out for those and sometimes survive edgeguards that he normally wouldn't be able to.

Yoshi's Story (Melee)

Pushed out as a neutral due to PM's other stages, and sometimes banned altogether on account of how many small stages PM has, Yoshi's Story is one of Roy's best stages. The small blast zones make for potential super early KOs, and the slants near the edge make it easy to poke off onto offstage with stuff like dtilt and fsmash. One thing to note is that this stage can be scary against characters like Marth, who control massive amounts of the stage through their reach and can get explosive early kills as well. Regardless, this is one of the stages I'll be likely to counterpick if its available.


WarioWare is another rather good Roy stage. The sides are extremely small, making fsmash potentially kill at extremely low percents. Not much else to say, really...sometimes his opponents can be obnoxious with hanging out on the top platforms, and the nature of the tiny blast zones can sometimes work against Roy's light weight, but overall its one of Roy's better counterpick options.

XXII. Closing Notes on Updates

With Project M now in its last version (for better or for worse), I now foresee no reason that I'll be updating Playing With Ph1r3 again in the future. The only thing missing is a match up list, and doing that for PM's massive cast isn't realistically possible, especially since my presence in the game's current meta is diminishing. Roy's tools will now be unchanging, and all that I can think to put into this guide is here.

I hope this helps any of you Roy mains or would be Roy players out! If there are any questions that you want to ask, feel free to drop them here in the comments or on my twitter account ( I try to get to everything thats sent my way, eventually =)
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  1. Playing with Ph1r3 - Gold Version

    Update! (01/04/2016); Gold version is live! Added sections for Dash Dancing and Pivot Fsmash...

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In depth and thorough, how is Roy at E on the tier list?
Not only is this the best Roy guide I've ever read, it's also the best guide I've ever read. Sethlon knows how to appeal to the reader in a way that other guide writers don't.
The poster child of what a good guide should be, this is the optimal way of both learning Roy and writing a guide yourself.
The definitive PM Roy guide, and a standard for well written, well organized guides on Smashboards.
I've been needing this, and it feels great to know this was made by one of the top Roy players, too!
Extremely good information for someone trying to get a grasp of Roy as a whole, what to do when and how.
Just so detailed and by a top player too!
Top notch guide. This is how a guide should be, unlike those three paragraph uninformative fox ones. Bleggh
This was incredibly insightful and interesting. I only wish that it had some details on more specific character matchups.
The most comprehensive and one of the most detailed guides I know.
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