Discussion of Stage Legality in Smash Bros. Ultimate

ShneeOscar

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Statements/ideas that annoy me.
2. Let's take a neutral stage and turn hazards off to make it more neutral.

No. The floating platform on Smashville is not a hazard. It does not hurt you. Its movement's are consistent and easy to track. The wind on DL telegraphs itself and can be used to your advantage. The rising and lowering platforms on fountain don't break the game. Randal runs on a timer. He's not some deus ex machina. Some arguments could be made for counter picks to be sure, and SOME neutrals, maybe, but don't go ham with the Hazards Off Hammer.
The reason we would have hazards off on stages like Smashville is not to make it more neutral, it's because going into the settings and changing the toggle depending on which stage we want to play would be a massive pain.
 

Munomario777

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The only risk with gentlemen agreements is an experienced player socially manipulating/coercing an ignorant newer player into going to a stage they don't actually want. And this can happen with any system.

If two experienced players actively want the same stage, then any selection algorithm outside of large-list-random will lead to that stage. That is, after all, literally the entire point of the exercise...
A lot of the time, though, I reckon it's not just wanting the same stage. If the selection process takes too long, players might not want to go through the trouble of FLSS / FLiPS / whatever else we put forward.

This might not be a concern with a list as small as 4's (though "bans or Smashville" is already quite common...), but going forward with a potentially larger stage list, it's important to address. If FLSS / FLiPS / etc takes too much time or effort, banning gentlemans has potential benefits when it comes to preserving stage variety.
 

Untouch

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castle siege takes like 40 seconds to transform, that could mean 1 stock
if hazards toggle is left on accidentally and this stage is picked, it'll destroy the flow of the game
it'll just take this happening 1 time before the idea is scrapped altogether
 
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There's a poll on Twitter asking how many stages people would want, and over 1,100 people have voted. Here are the current results:

https://twitter.com/PracticalTAS/status/1060310001657487360

29% between 6 and 8
39% between 9 and 11
16% between 12 and 14
16% 15 or more

68% voted between 6 and 11, only 16% want 15 or more. Seems like a majority do not want a 15+ stagelist. I imagine if you asked about game 1 being random, most would say "No" too (that's the reaction I've seen on Discord when people have asked about it).

Of course, this does not mean that the majority is necessarily right. Perhaps they're not and you have to convince them otherwise. I do not think we can expect a huge (15+) stage list to stick without people wanting it, and it seems unlikely (but not impossible) that people will change their mind in that aspect (TOs, in particular, seem to prefer a smaller stage list, with between 8-11 stages or so).

With that being said, I do support starting off with a rather big (around 12-14 stages maybe) in early small tournaments, and even bigger in friendlies/labbing, in order to test stages and give them a fair shot. The Spain and Japanese tournaments already count towards this though and they have shown why some stages should not be made legal, and we might get more pre-release footage on other stages if we're lucky.

Objectively the starter-counterpick dichotomy does not work.
If we assume that this is true (and I'm not convinced it is, Pokémon Stadium in Melee sees plenty of play still), couldn't one option be to have 9 starters and no counter-pick stages? That would solve this issue, right?

Most of them will be new players who will only begin to get into the scene after the game comes out; that has been what has happened with every game.
I agree that tradition is not important, although my personal experience with new players is that they tend to be the most conservative when it comes to stage picks, so that's something to keep in mind. A 15+ stagelist might be frightening to new players, a 9-11 might be a bit less frightening.

A viewpoint that will probably produce much better long term results is "now everyone can have the things they want most with all of us having to give up less than ever to get along".
Most people don't want to play on hazardless Rainbow Cruise in tournaments, or Dracula's Castle, or Halberd. I don't know which kind of people you've been talking to without this, but most I've seen really don't want stages like that legal in tournaments. If we look at the PracticalTAS Twitter poll, only 16% voted "15 or more" legal stages. Most people want a stage list with less than 11 stages. If we look at other, similar games, we see that they, too, tend to lean towards "less than 11 stages".

WE GET IT. This argument started back in smash 4. That does not warrant a stages exclusion competitive play. I get that there are now a massive amount of potential stages to choose from, and there is a need to narrow down our choices. However, the only significant thing YS, FOD, and DL have in common with BF is the 3 platform layout (unless, of course this changed in ultimate). The size, blast zones, and nuances of each stage can have a big impact on a game. You could do it like this: When you strike/ban BF, you strike/ban all similar stages. When you select a bf esq stage, you can choose the one of your preference. If you win on a "BF" stage you can't go back to it. JUST AN EXAMPLE
While there are slight differences between the stages, they are still very similar and characters that benefit from one will generally benefit from other. If you add them to the list, tri-plat characters will benefit from that. Even if you add a messy clause like "If you ban Battlefield, you also ban Fountain of Dreams, Dream Land, Midgar, and Yoshi's Story" you still make the competitive game a bit worse: Someone might be more okay with Battlefield but struggle a bit with some other stage in the list, so then they'd still have to ban the Battlefield group. Also, it might be hard to remember if you're playing on Fountain of Dreams or the Battlefield version of Fountain of Dreams, Dream Land or the Battlefield version of Dream Land, etc. Just having Battlefield is the better option.

The floating platform on Smashville is not a hazard.
The issue is that changing from hazards on to hazards off is a hassle and risks messing up future games (if someone forgets to set it back to hazards off after the game, for instance). It's better to just always have hazards off and avoid a new "0.9" situation.

If FLSS / FLiPS / etc takes too much time or effort, banning gentlemans has potential benefits when it comes to preserving stage variety.
If the players want to gentleman, I say let them gentleman. If they want to play on Final Destination every game of the set, let them.
 

kendikong

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Stage mispicks happen all the time, I don;t
castle siege takes like 40 seconds to transform, that could mean 1 stock
if hazards toggle is left on accidentally and this stage is picked, it'll destroy the flow of the game
it'll just take this happening 1 time before the idea is scrapped altogether
Stage mispicks happen all the time. Players just sd and start over. No big deal at all if something like this happens.
 
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Stage mispicks happen all the time. Players just sd and start over. No big deal at all if something like this happens.
EVO 2019, grand finals between ZeRo and MkLeo, MkLeo has a stock lead against ZeRo, when suddenly... Frigate Orpheon rotates, killing MkLeo. How is this not a "big deal"? I suppose you could argue that players should check after every set to make sure stage hazards is on/off but it's such a risk and a time sink that it's probably better to just play hazards off always.
 

kendikong

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EVO 2019, grand finals between ZeRo and MkLeo, MkLeo has a stock lead against ZeRo, when suddenly... Frigate Orpheon rotates, killing MkLeo. How is this not a "big deal"? I suppose you could argue that players should check after every set to make sure stage hazards is on/off but it's such a risk and a time sink that it's probably better to just play hazards off always.
I don't see it. Why is it a big deal if players could just restart a match if they discover that one minute in the stage isn't the correct one.
 
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Munomario777

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9 starters without CPs would work, but that kinda falls apart once you get to a larger stage list. FLSS with large stage lists takes a considerable amount of time.

Letting the players do what they want isn't always desirable. Letting players gentleman to Great Cave Offensive isn't desirable because the stage is campy and will likely draw out the match. In the same way, letting players gentleman to Smashville every game reduces stage variety, which isn't a good thing for the growth of the game overall. (This assumes, of course, that the process takes long enough to where gentlemanning is common because players don't want to spend the time selecting a stage)



K kendikong

The issue is that in the case of hazards on vs off, often you'll be playing a match for a good while before you notice something's up. By that point one player has a lead, or whatever, so you're not just SDing at the start – it's a matter of, "I had a lead, we can't just replay that game! I'll lose my earned progress!"



Anyway, new proposal to account for a liberal stage list:

There are a handful of different, community-agreed-upon sets of starters. For example, some might include:
Battlefield, FD, Smashville, Castle Siege, Skyloft
Yoshi's Island, Arena Ferox, Kalos, Unova, Rainbow Cruise
etc

Within a given tournament, each round uses one of these lists as its starting 5. Here's a good system:
Winners Round 1 = List A
Winners Round 1 = List A
Winners Round 2 = List B
Winners Round 3 = List C
Winners Round 4 = List D
Winners Round 5 = List E
Winners Round 6 = List A
Winners Round 7 = List B
etc

In a practical tournament setting, there are a number of options. The idea is that you have all the starter sets viewable somewhere, such as printed-out pamphlets or a whiteboard. When the TO calls you for your match, he says "you're using Set B for this set." You look at the resource and play using those starters.



This sidesteps the main issue with counterpicks, which is that certain stages (starters) are given more importance than others – as Ampharos and others have discussed at length. Under this system, each stage is sometimes a starter and sometimes a CP.

Additionally, it maintains game one 1-2-1 striking, with no need for complicated or time-consuming systems.
 
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kendikong

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If a hazardless stage takes so long to even notice the difference from its normal form (ex: yoshi's island brawl, lylat, dreamland, FoD), does it even matter that the wrong form was picked or not in the first place?

I feel like for stages that are legal both hazardless or not, the set should just continue regardless of which one was picked.
 
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kendikong

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The point is, only a few stages that are incorrectly picked will need to be redone after a minute goes into the match (players WILL easily notice a transformation). My opinion is that the couple of minutes lost from these instances during an entire tournament is negligible and not worth the universal ban on hazards toggles.
 
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Akiak

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Going back to the adjusted FLiPS system, I think randomly picking the last match might not really be necessary.

The initial presumption was a 30~ stage list, which seems pretty unrealistic to me. Unless it's counting similar stages too (DL, YS, etc.)? Because I think banning similar layouts is the way to go, personally.

Anyways, with a 16~ stage list, match 3 can simply be decided through striking.

Really the only issue that's left with the system imo is the double blind pick at the start, and requiring phones, which might not be a big deal, but if there's a way of circumventing it, it'd be for the best.

The necessity of the double blind pick at the start is to avoid the information advantage of going second, but is this not perhaps offset by the sizeable advantage of going 1-0?

1) P1 & P2 ban X number of stages each
2) P1 wins RPS and picks stage for game one

3A) P1 wins game one. P2 picks stage for game two. P2's advantage is equal, except they have more information. Is this a bad thing though? The set is 1-0, isn't it maybe beneficial to give P2 that little nudge?

3B) P2 wins game one. P2 gets to pick the stage for game two (and they have information advantage). This is really the only somewhat controversial scenario imo. At this point, you could say that the set is veering too heavily in P2's favour. You could maybe make the argument of giving P1 another ban in this specific scenario, but I'm not completely sure that's a good idea, as it results in an unbalanced set by design.

Wether the 3B scenario is problematic or not, I'm not sure, so would be interested in hearing some thoughts on that, as well as the suggestion that the information advantage of going second is simply offset by the probability of the player going first winning game one.


I'd also like to suggest an alternative. One of the problems with the system above is that A) Banning stages before game one is somewhat undesirable (even though we're used to it) and B) The counterpicks themselves in game one and two might be too strong, resulting in predictability.

To resolve this, we could do away with bans entirely for the first two matches and instead proceed as follows:

1) P1 wins RPS and picks 3 stages out of the full list. P2 picks 1 stage to play on.
2) For match 2, P2 picks 3 stages and P1 picks 1 stage to play on.
3) In a match 3 scenario, both players take turns striking until a single stage remains (neutral pick).

This should technically make the CPs weaker, as it is no longer the opponent's responsibility to ban the CPer's best stages out of the full stage list. This is also more welcoming for newcomers with less stage knowledge.

The only problem I see with this is that it might take too long to strike from the entire stage list in game three (given 16~ stages)?

The information advantage is obviously still present, but has already been discussed above. The 3B scenario in particular (the player CPing game one loses) is somewhat mitigated as a result of making the counterpicks weaker.
 

ParanoidDrone

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Interjecting with a small thought here. Practically speaking, I think a full stage list of...oh, 20 or so (give or take a couple), not counting duplicate stages (e.g. Battlefield w/ Fountain of Dreams, Final Destination w/ Wily Castle, etc.), is probably the upper limit of we can expect. If I had things my way, that number would probably be closer to 25 or 30 depending on how a few specific stages shake out, but I'm realistic enough to admit that the likes of Norfair, Green Greens, Reset Bomb Forest, or Mushroom Kingdom U will be a hard sell to most players.
 

Zekersaurus

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The reason we would have hazards off on stages like Smashville is not to make it more neutral, it's because going into the settings and changing the toggle depending on which stage we want to play would be a massive pain.
Dang, Idk why I assumed you would be able toggle hazards on and off for each stage individually. Even if you could that'd still eat up more 10 and increase the likelihood and impact of human error.
While there are slight differences between the stages, they are still very similar and characters that benefit from one will generally benefit from other. If you add them to the list, tri-plat characters will benefit from that. Even if you add a messy clause like "If you ban Battlefield, you also ban Fountain of Dreams, Dream Land, Midgar, and Yoshi's Story" you still make the competitive game a bit worse: Someone might be more okay with Battlefield but struggle a bit with some other stage in the list, so then they'd still have to ban the Battlefield group. Also, it might be hard to remember if you're playing on Fountain of Dreams or the Battlefield version of Fountain of Dreams, Dream Land or the Battlefield version of Dream Land, etc. Just having Battlefield is the better option.

The issue is that changing from hazards on to hazards off is a hassle and risks messing up future games (if someone forgets to set it back to hazards off after the game, for instance). It's better to just always have hazards off and avoid a new "0.9" situation.
You're right. I'm just gonna take the L on this one. What I was suggesting could create a messed up situation when it comes to striking and banning, as we as making things more convoluted. Toggling the hazards on and would be a pain. Both these suggestions create a lot of room for human error.

With these factors in mind, hazards off seems like it would most likely be the competitive standard.
 

TheBuzzSaw

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EVO 2019, grand finals between ZeRo and MkLeo, MkLeo has a stock lead against ZeRo, when suddenly... Frigate Orpheon rotates, killing MkLeo. How is this not a "big deal"? I suppose you could argue that players should check after every set to make sure stage hazards is on/off but it's such a risk and a time sink that it's probably better to just play hazards off always.
In that scenario, MkLeo deserves to die. The stage gives you an audible warning, and there is a very specific zone you have to be in to be rotate-KO'd. Plus, we don't even yet know if that same jank exists. Regardless, it's in no way unfair. Frigate Orpheon is a beautiful stage, and I'm sad that everyone insists hazards be disabled on every single stage.
 
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In that scenario, MkLeo deserves to die. The stage gives you an audible warning, and there is a very specific zone you have to be in to be rotate-KO'd. Plus, we don't even yet know if that same jank exists. Regardless, it's in no way unfair. Frigate Orpheon is a beautiful stage, and I'm sad that everyone insists hazards be disabled on every single stage.
Frigate Orpheon is just one example. Pokémon Stadium 2, WarioWare, or Castle Siege also have hazards that should be turned off and risk ruining a game if they're on, and other stages do as well.
 

TheBuzzSaw

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Frigate Orpheon is just one example. Pokémon Stadium 2, WarioWare, or Castle Siege also have hazards that should be turned off and risk ruining a game if they're on, and other stages do as well.
FO is the least offensive of that group especially considering it was legal in Brawl.

CS has long phases with walk-off. That definitely warrants hazard off.

I've forgotten all the phases in PS2. Which one breaks competitive play?

WW has all kinds of nonsense that goes on to where the players aren't even fighting each other. Hazards off for sure.
 
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TheBuzzSaw TheBuzzSaw What I meant was: Imagine someone accidentally leaves hazards on when it's meant to be hazards off and people start playing a game on a stage with hazards. Half-way through hazards appear and kill one player, thus forcing the game to restart. That's pretty messy, especially if it's the finals of a super major (it's still messy even in locals though). That's one of the reasons why hazards should always be off.

Or hazards always on, but then you'd lose many potentially good stages.
 

TheBuzzSaw

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TheBuzzSaw TheBuzzSaw What I meant was: Imagine someone accidentally leaves hazards on when it's meant to be hazards off and people start playing a game on a stage with hazards. Half-way through hazards appear and kill one player, thus forcing the game to restart. That's pretty messy, especially if it's the finals of a super major (it's still messy even in locals though). That's one of the reasons why hazards should always be off.

Or hazards always on, but then you'd lose many potentially good stages.
This will probably end up being the standard due to what I discussed a while back: tournament logistics. Oftentimes, ideas die because TOs don't want to deal with it and not because the idea is a bad one. :(
 

ParanoidDrone

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FO is the least offensive of that group especially considering it was legal in Brawl.

CS has long phases with walk-off. That definitely warrants hazard off.

I've forgotten all the phases in PS2. Which one breaks competitive play?

WW has all kinds of nonsense that goes on to where the players aren't even fighting each other. Hazards off for sure.
Ice: Everything's slippery
Flying: Low gravity
Electric: Conveyor belts push players toward ledge
Ground: Static and fairly innocuous, basically a low-calorie version of PS1's Rock form

EDIT: I agree that the ideal would be somehow combining hazards on with hazards off (unless people get it into their heads that HOn and HOff Smashville should be separate stages which I will point-blank object to because I'm sick to death of that stage in particular) but there's no way an event like EVO will want to deal with that sort of thing and where the supermajors go everyone else will likely follow.

This is also why I think it's important to start with a big stage list and work our way down as we figure out what doesn't work, because there's no way we as a community are going to step back and say "you know what, this stage was banned for no reason, it should be legal." At the risk of being pessimistic, there will literally be nowhere to go but down from whatever the starting stage list ends up being -- history has shown that banned stages never come up for consideration again.

...sorry, that was a bit of a tangent.
 
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Amazing Ampharos

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We did polling across reddit and Smashboards users about stage preferences too.

https://smashboards.com/threads/front-room-stage-procedure-podcast-poll.457508/post-22322822

To summarize, virtually every player wanted either a large number excluding problematic stages or a more modest number of clearly good stages. No one was interested in as many or as few as possible. The preference for larger stage lists did actually correlate with time in the community with more time leading to more liberal preferences, but the historical context is important. Smash 4 has had overwhelmingly conservative rulesets for its entire lifespan in most regions. Those who have only known Smash 4 as a competitive Smash game naturally support this status quo. Those who have been around since Brawl prefer something somewhat more liberal, and those of us ancient enough to remember Poke Floats being legal in Melee mostly actually really miss it. I do think it's clear that virtually everyone is really tired of the Smashville meta; it's not obvious the exact level of variety that will be preferred, but I think it's very clear the community as a whole wants a lot more than we have now.

Less scientifically, I can just say that from dealing with people in this community for many years, it has always been about the same in terms of what is the popular view. The status quo will always get heavy support since a lot of people are just scared of the unfamiliar, but beyond that, most people really want a ton of legal stages but really don't want to deal with specific problems with stages. That is of course somewhat contradictory (having more stages means tolerating a wider array of things). This is why I'm pushing so hard on this in Smash Ultimate though. With hazards off, we can have a huge array of stages giving the variety craved while also not really having serious problems with our stages. Literally everyone can win if only we let it happen!

I want to do more detailed polling once the game is out and we have a clear idea of the exact mechanics of all 103 stages and a better picture of what Smash Ultimate's meta is actually like (things like the stage being large that seemed to matter a lot in 4 very well may not matter much at all in Ultimate, and this will affect what stage legality pattern produces the best game). I think you'll be surprised about opinions on Rainbow Cruise and such at that time; a poll asking specifically about it right now is hard because I bet a large number of respondents won't even understand that it's just the boat and of those that do no one really knows what you can even do with the wall so a lot of people will just get scared and vote no when they would have voted yes after the game is out if it proves there's really no issue.
 

Untouch

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When the game is out and there's a list of list of stages that even have a moderate chance of being legal is out, polling each stage may be a good idea.
 
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Note that the question asked was: "Which of the following best describes your feelings on where the Competitive Ultimate Stagelist should START off at?

1.As few stages as possible.
2.A generally small number of carefully selected stages.
3.A generally large number that excludes problematic stages.
4. As many stages as possible.[/quote]I don't remember if I voted, but if I did I probably would have voted 3. "A generally large number that excludes problematic stages" seem to me as something around 13-15 or so, to START off at. Most people seem to be okay with starting with at least 13 stages and going down from there (a few think we should start with 20+ but they seem to be a minority).

With hazards off, we can have a huge array of stages giving the variety craved while also not really having serious problems with our stages. Literally everyone can win if only we let it happen!
What about players who would rather have 9 good stages than 15 stages or more where a few are flawed? Those people (which I believe are a majority of competitive Smash players, especially at higher levels) won't "win" then.

It's important to remember that starting big for the first few weeks is very different from having a large (13+) stage list 3 months in. I don't think we'll still have a 13+ stage list 3 months in.
 

ParanoidDrone

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I want to do more detailed polling once the game is out and we have a clear idea of the exact mechanics of all 103 stages and a better picture of what Smash Ultimate's meta is actually like (things like the stage being large that seemed to matter a lot in 4 very well may not matter much at all in Ultimate, and this will affect what stage legality pattern produces the best game). I think you'll be surprised about opinions on Rainbow Cruise and such at that time; a poll asking specifically about it right now is hard because I bet a large number of respondents won't even understand that it's just the boat and of those that do no one really knows what you can even do with the wall so a lot of people will just get scared and vote no when they would have voted yes after the game is out if it proves there's really no issue.
Related to this: I've mentioned at some point several pages back that I intend to document how each stage behaves with hazards off. While the Spanish invitational has unexpectedly made such efforts less urgent (a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one), we still have a few gaps in our knowledge such as Magicant (does that platform exist), Big Blue (what does it even do, seriously), or Gamer (is it still random and if so what can it create). While I won't be doing anything super in-depth like kill %, I'm open to suggestions and requests for specific tidbits of knowledge.
 

Munomario777

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Frihetsanka Frihetsanka

Polling for where the stage list starts at makes sense. That's the only area we have proper, 100% agency – from there, the meta progresses as it progresses.

re: players who would rather have 9 good stages than 15 where some are flawed, if the stages really are flawed, then these players win if we start with a large stage list. Starting large doesn't mean we won't remove stuff down the line if it's found to be flawed. If the stages aren't actually flawed, then idk why they shouldn't be legal ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(That's the thing about starting large – it's the optimal way to find the best stage list. In a system where bad stuff gets removed but good stuff doesn't get added back, you start large and remove any bad stuff you find as time goes on. The best list might be small, it might be large, but starting with a big list is the best way to try and find it)
 
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Frihetsanka Frihetsanka

Polling for where the stage list starts at makes sense. That's the only area we have proper, 100% agency – from there, the meta progresses as it progresses.

re: players who would rather have 9 good stages than 15 where some are flawed, if the stages really are flawed, then these players win if we start with a large stage list. Starting large doesn't mean we won't remove stuff down the line if it's found to be flawed. If the stages aren't actually flawed, then idk why they shouldn't be legal ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(That's the thing about starting large – it's the optimal way to find the best stage list. In a system where bad stuff gets removed but good stuff doesn't get added back, you start large and remove any bad stuff you find as time goes on. The best list might be small, it might be large, but starting with a big list is the best way to try and find it)
I don't really mind starting large, but some people here seem to think an ideal stage list two years from now would be 20+ stages. Based on what I've seen, I strongly disagree with that. We can experiment for a few weeks but it probably won't be long before we're down to 11 stages or less, which some people would call "conservative".
 

Mister M

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We can experiment for a few weeks but it probably won't be long before we're down to 11 stages or less, which some people would call "conservative".
Experimenting for 'a few weeks' realistically equals 3 tournaments at each local. That isn't really an honest attempt at testing. It's lip service. That said, I'm pretty pessimistic about this whole process and thus agree with you.

This would be the first smash game where we just ignore completely viable stages for no reason; meaning the casual elitists were right about the community all along.

I was bummed when umbra clock tower was dropped, the reasons there were... understandable. But in this instance, it will be indefensible. Sentiments of a liberal I guess
 

Akiak

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To reiterate the point in my previous post, I think some variant of the adjusted FLiPS ruleset is the way to go. However, for a balanced neutral pick to happen in game three, the remaining stages pretty much need to be 4n+1, so probably 13 (1-2-2-2-2-2-1), or maybe 9. The alternative, is to still follow a 1-2-1 striking system, but end up with a pool of stages, instead of just one, and pick randomly.

Taking this into account, I've included some optional bans into the steps below. Wether they should be implemented or not depends on our legal stage count, and on wether you want to avoid the random pick or not. All bans are permanent throughout the entire set.
  • Both players ban 0-2 stages from the list
  • P1 wins RPS
  • P1 picks 3 stages, P2 picks one out of the 3 for game one. There are obviously alternatives here, such as the 3-2-1 system which people seem to like. Essentially the reason I'm going with this 3->1 is to weaken the counterpick further, which is a good thing particularly for this system (to avoid the first two games being predictable)
  • After game one, both players ban 0-1 more stages from the list
  • P2 picks 3 stages, P1 picks one out of the 3 for game two.
  • If 1-1 after game two, proceed to strike using the 1-2-1 system until either A) one stage remains, or B) multiple stages remain, and the stage is picked randomly.
If you want to avoid the random pick in game three, essentially the only requirement is that the starting number of stages be an odd number, and no larger than 19 (without DSR), or 21 (with full DSR).

I've left out some details, such as character counterpicks, and wether DSR should be in effect, as I'd rather leave that to someone more experienced and capable. I do think though that this is the best currently proposed system, at least in my opinion.

Credits to DeLux DeLux for the original proposition. Thoughts welcome!
 

Munomario777

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I was gonna reply but Mister M Mister M already stole the words outta my mouth :p

My stance on the future stage list of the game is that it should equal the amount of competitively viable stages. That's a number we won't be able to determine unless we start off with a liberal ruleset for early tournaments and see what works / doesn't work, and let the metagame run its course.

I don't want to, in a year, have 30 legal stages but 20 of them be bad. Similarly, I don't want to have 10 legal stages if that list excludes 20 perfectly good stages. The difference, though, is that having bad stages inside of a ruleset fixes itself, while having good stages outside of a ruleset is a battle to fix (both trends backed up by history).

Right now, it's neither useful nor informed to discuss how many stages we ought to have in a year, because we need to test our candidates first – and to do that, we need to start large.
 

J0eyboi

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I don't really mind starting large, but some people here seem to think an ideal stage list two years from now would be 20+ stages.
I don't think I've seen a single reasonable person say "there should absolutely be at least X stages on the stagelist in two years." I don't think I've even seen anyone talk about the stagelist two years from now, except in the context of "stagelists never grow over time, so by starting small we remove potentially good stages from the stagelist permanently for the sake of short-term comfort and maintaining an outdated status quo."

What I'm saying is, if you're fine with starting large, you've spent a hell of a lot of time arguing past the stage liberals here and towards their corn fields.

If we assume that this is true (and I'm not convinced it is, Pokémon Stadium in Melee sees plenty of play still),
According to ssbwiki(so grain of salt), Pokemon Stadium was originally a neutral, which means legacy players had reason to practice it and would actually know how to play on it, eliminating many of the problems AA brought up. Even then, there's still a number of players who want the stage banned.
 

Amazing Ampharos

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Correct, Pokemon Stadium was a starter for a huge number of years in Melee which is the reason it and it alone has ever been actually utilized as a counterpick stage. The practice and learning to exploit the stage was already a sunk cost for such a huge percentage of the community. It's not surprising it's falling out of favor now that it has been a counterpick stage for a long time; it doesn't even have anything to do with the quality of the stage just that its standing in the community inevitably deteriorated over time by being a counterpick stage as newer players had no reason to make the same investment older players had made into the stage.

Also, for anyone who didn't observe, I updated the other topic with every stage I know about's behavior with hazards off. Hopefully that will be a helpful resource to everyone.
 

DaUsername

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castle siege takes like 40 seconds to transform, that could mean 1 stock
if hazards toggle is left on accidentally and this stage is picked, it'll destroy the flow of the game
it'll just take this happening 1 time before the idea is scrapped altogether
EVO 2019, grand finals between ZeRo and MkLeo, MkLeo has a stock lead against ZeRo, when suddenly... Frigate Orpheon rotates, killing MkLeo. How is this not a "big deal"? I suppose you could argue that players should check after every set to make sure stage hazards is on/off but it's such a risk and a time sink that it's probably better to just play hazards off always.
Doesn't the stage select screen have an icon at the top indicating that hazards are turned off?
The only way I could see this becoming a problem is if neither player bothered to check the top of the screen when selecting a stage.
 

PoptartLord

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Here's something people are forgetting: we have the option to save and load settings now. There is no need to worry about setting it to stocks, or the correct stock count, or a number of other settings. Just load the pre-saved settings before starting game 1 and you're good to go. It's almost as if the game designers saw that people would overlook things or frequently play using settings not the system default and did something about it...

Responding to a few things:
I also think there are some obvious advantages to being conservative with stages, simply because it shifts the focus onto characters and playstyles, as opposed to stage-specific strategies.
This is the big one. There is one very basic fallacy with this line of thinking - there are stage-specific strategies for literally every stage. There is no getting around this. Here's where the confusion originates - you're (the collective 'you') so used to playing on a few stages that you see these stage-specific strategies as just the normal way to play the game. Which is good! It shows that instead of thinking in terms of "how do I play on <stage>" you've built the answer into your core understanding of the game. The problem is the limited amount of experience garnered from sticking to the previous legal stage lists. I've been devoting equal time to stages with walls and dynamic elements since Smash 64, so what you call "a stage requiring a stage-specific strategy" I call "normal".
To back up my claim, here is a non-exhaustive list of stage-specific strategies for some stages that are constantly called 'neutral':
Final Destination: no platforms to aid in landing, so strike at that moment. No way to approach projectile users without running through their path; can stay mid-air only so long.
Battlefield: aim aerial juggles towards the center of the stage, then use the two levels of platforms to refresh jumps for extended combos.
Smashville: sit in shield on the platform as it moves past the stage to taunt the opponent into overreaching, then punish. Time the start of a horizontal combo to coincide with platform movement and use it as an extension. Throw from the platform for very early kills.
Town & City: grab while on a platform, use the upward movement to turn up-throw to up-air non-true combos into true combos. Break opponent's shield while they are on/under a platform, let the platform take them to the blastzone.
1. It's too similar to battlefield
Ok, let me clarify my position - all "group up the tri-platforms" comments are based on the assumption the stages will be very similar to identical to each other. This includes platform widths, heights, main stage size, and blastzones. Differences in these traits could be enough to warrant being unique entries. From preliminary observation it looks like they are indeed identical. Obviously we'll test more once we have the game in our hands. So yeah, lots of conditions attached here, sorry for any confusion.
Let's take a neutral stage and turn hazards off to make it more neutral.
Geez, I've heard this phrase so many times.... there is no such thing as a 'neutral' stage in platform fighters. Even those touted as being 'neutral' favor some characters over others. Which goes against the very definition people are applying to it. Once you start saying things like "they don't dis/advantage characters as much as these other stages" you're drawing arbitrary lines based on statements that probably aren't even true. For example, Final Destination is very commonly labelled as 'neutral' but is quite polarizing, more so than several 'counterpick' stages.
To me, the spirit of competitive smash as a platform fighter is, among other things, stage variety. Most other fighters lack this compelling trait.
Yes, this! Due to the mobility allowed in platform fighters the stage is second in importance to the characters, and even then decisions about one group affects decisions about the other. Even from a strictly mechanical standpoint, a roster with any semblance of diversity will exhibit a wide amount of traits, and the only way to fully experience them is by playing on a wide range of stages.
We did polling across reddit and Smashboards users about stage preferences too.
Don't forget all the submissions brought in by Twitter!
I think some variant of the adjusted FLiPS ruleset is the way to go. ... Credits to DeLux for the original proposition.
Quick clarification request - which original proposition are you referring to here? Is it the original FLiPS? DeLux had no hand in that. Basically, AA took some ideas from one of DeLux's posts and added them to the original FLiPS ruleset. I still prefer the original, actually
 

Akiak

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Quick clarification request - which original proposition are you referring to here? Is it the original FLiPS? DeLux had no hand in that. Basically, AA took some ideas from one of DeLux's posts and added them to the original FLiPS ruleset. I still prefer the original, actually
Was referring to DeLux's post, which yes I'm aware has nothing to do with FLiPS, until Ampharos' suggestion, which combines the two:

The core idea is that we're doing away with character counterpicks (which mathematically actually just entrench the winner of game one as the likely set winner, the advantage of cping game two is more than offset by the disadvantage of being cp'd against game three) and running the "neutral" game for game three instead of game one. That way if the set goes 2-0 we save ourselves the slowest stage pick.

1. Start by having each player do some number of stage bans, let's say four for now. Do it like stage striking with a 1-2-2...-1 order. These stages are banned for the set.
2. Each player will pick one stage to be their counterpick stage double blind. If players cannot agree on whose stage is used first, rps for it or whatever. If both players name the same stage, that's fine; you just use that stage for both games one and two.
3. Double blind pick characters or squads and just play the first two games (you can change characters for game two but it's still double blind).
4. If the set is 2-0 at this point, the winner of both games wins the set.
5. If the set is 1-1 after two games, remove the stages used in games one and two from the stage pool and each player gets another full round of bans just like at the start. Stage is random from all remaining stages.
6. Players can double blind pick characters or squads in reaction to the game three stage which will be played to decide the set.

It's fast, easy, and fair. Double blind picking is easy in the era of phones; just type what you are picking into your phone, your opponent says what they're picking out loud, and you show them your phone screen. You can also track all bans on the random stage screen quite easily, and rules presets should make it easy to save the tournament's total legal stage list.

The most significant change in my post was the suggestion of weakening the counterpicks in games one and two, so as to keep them still somewhat neutral and avoid predictability in the first two matches. This was done by using a 'pick 3, opponent picks 1' method, which should be reasonably weak given 15~ stages. This is totally up for debate, though.

I also kept it rather flexible, in order to accomodate different amounts of legal stages, as well as the random/non-random game three.

Edit: I also made the argument that the double blind pick for the CP stages at the start might not be necessary, as it's probably fine to give the player with the second CP a slight informational advantage, given that there's probably an inherent advantage to going first and having increased chances of going 1-0. I could be wrong here, but even then, there are other arguments to be made for why the informational advantage isn't an issue (granted, arguments that I've read in the read-only thread but don't fully understand myself lol).
 
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Amazing Ampharos

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Even without an information advantage I'd prefer my stage being second probably so I can combine my knowledge of their play from game one with a stage I particularly like to have a maximum local advantage, but I wouldn't be too bothered by going first with the theoretical advantage being equal. If you have the informational advantage, going second is just correct, and I'd be really quite annoyed at ever having to go first. Remember it's not just the gameplay you learn from game one. You learn who my main is. So if I go first, I'm picking my stage on the basis of my opponent being Fantastic Fred who in this case is some dude I don't know. For game two, my opponent is picking their stage on the basis of not only me being Amazing Ampharos but on having seen a game of my Rosalina? Yeah, that's a huge leg up; there's already some advantage from just knowing someone's reputation which we can't avoid, but we don't want to give very direct information to only one player if we can avoid it.

From a practical standpoint, whatever tiny time cost there is to doing both simultaneously (just type in your phone, takes a handful of seconds) is more than offset by the time you save from not having to do rps every single set to decide who goes first since if there's a real advantage most players won't agree and will have to randomly decide who goes first. With it not really mattering, most of the time the players will just agree, and that savings will add up.
 

Ulevo

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So.

I wanted to discuss stage legality, and I see it already started. I have seen several comments and posts in here and on twitter suggesting we move away from stage striking to a new system, but I do not see this as necessary given what we are likely to end up with.

First off, let's get the stages that are clearly not going to be legal regardless if they are hazard'd or hazardless out of the way:

Big Battlefield
Great Plateau Tower
Moray Towers
Peach’s Castle
Mushroom Kingdom
Princess Peach’s Castle
Mushroom Kingdom II
Luigi’s Mansion
Mushroomy Kingdom
Figure-8 Circuit
Mario Bros.
3D Land
Golden Plains
Paper Mario
Mario Galaxy
Mario Circuit
Super Happy Tree
Yoshi’s Island Melee
Kongo Jungle
Jungle Japes
75 M
Hyrule Castle
Great Bay
Temple
Bridge of Eldin
Pirate Ship
Gerudo Valley
Spirit Train
Brinstar Depths
Norfair
Dream Land GB
The Great Cave Offensive
Corneria
Venom
Saffron City
Spear Pillar
Big Blue
Port Town Aero Dive
Mute City SNES
Onett
Fourside
New Pork City
Magicant
Summit
Coliseum
Flat Zone X
Skyworld
Reset Bomb Forest
Palutena’s Temple
Distant Planet
Garden of Hope
Tortimer Island
Boxing Ring
Wii Fit Studio
Guar Plains
Shadow Moses Island
Green Hill Zone
Windy Hill Zone
Pac-Land
Suzaku Castle
Hanebow
Balloon Fight
Living Room
Find Mii
Tomodachi Life
Wrecking Crew
Pilotwings

It should go without saying that stages with long standing walk offs, with hazards that attack or damage players, with less than mild RNG, that promote timeouts and stalling, that have unreasonably low, shallow, narrow or massive blast zones, with walls or ceilings that act as cave-of-life or pseudo-cave-of-life areas, that scroll or that have permanent water do not have a place in competitive play. If you have a contention about a specific stage listed, that is fine. It is more or less the process I am partaking that is important.

That is 67 stages out of the way, leaving 36 in total. I have separated them into Borderline and Legal Worthy. Stages with an asterisk denote stages that would be used as hazardless only. The borderline stages are stages that could be legal if certain conditions were met, i.e. Wuhu Island's blast zone and size was adjusted from Smash Bros. Wii U. Many of them were previously banned prior to Ultimate. Legal worthy are the very obvious shoe-ins.

New Donk City Hall*
Dracula’s Castle*
Delfino Plaza
Mushroom Kingdom U*
Super Mario Maker*
Kongo Falls*
Green Greens*
Gamer*
Duck Hunt
Pictochat*
Wuhu Island

Battlefield
Final Destination
Rainbow Cruise*
Yoshi’s Story
Yoshi’s Island (Brawl)
Skyloft*
Brinstar*
Frigate Orpheon*
Dreamland
Fountain of Dreams
Halberd*
Lylat Cruise
Pokemon Stadium*
Pokemon Stadium 2*
Unova Pokemon League*
Prism Tower
Kalos Pokemon League*
Castle Siege*
Arena Ferox*
WarioWare, Inc.*
Smashville
Town & City
Wily Castle*
Midgar*
Umbra Clock Tower*

Now that we have some context on what we're working with here, I will start by discussing the starter list.

The whole point of a starter list is to ensure that game one is played on the stage that provides the fairest conditions possible for both players, assuming the players struck optimally. With this in mind, there are some important considerations:

1. Regardless of how large or small the total stage list is, the starter list must be kept relatively small, preferably within a range of 5-9 stages. There are a few important reasons for this:

- Time. Since the first stage must be struck to, this requires both players to go through each stage in a list. The larger the starter list, the longer it will take to go through each stage, and tournaments need to be kept expedient. It also takes longer if players have to consult a list to remember what stages need to be struck or have to ask someone what stages are in the list.

- Human beings are not good multitaskers. Even in situations where one appears to be multitasking, it is instead moving the direction of focus from one object or activity to another in quick succession. This is because we can only process or consider so many things at any one given time. We are also not good at retaining many parts of information within our working memory. The average person can only retain 7 digits at a time. In order for a player to properly prioritize which stages to strike and in which order, they need to compare multiple stages at the same time. This becomes exponentially harder to do the larger the list becomes, particularly if you have to consult a list to remember all of the options available to strike from rather than the 5 or 7 you are used to. If you go past 9, it starts to become excessive, based off of my experience organizing tournaments.

- The larger the starter list becomes, the more likely it is that the stage list will experience what I would call stage redundancy. This is where stages that are similar to each other, such as Battlefield and Dreamland, or hazardless Smashville and hazardless Halberd, occupy the same list. This leads me to my next point.

2. The starter list must be kept diverse, and unique. This is achieved by including a variety of stage layouts with little overlap in qualities. This is to ensure that no one type or sub-type of character has more of an advantage while striking due to an overlap in options. We do not want the starter list to favour zoners over grapplers, or grapplers over rush down characters, for example, more than is necessary.

3. No extremes. The starter list must consist of traits that mildly to moderately favour groups of characters, but no more than that. This is again to achieve point 2. The reason we use Battlefield and not Dreamland in the starter list in Wii U is because the high ceiling counterbalances the elevation the platforms provide, where Dreamland fails to do this. If we used Dreamland over Battlefield, it would favour characters playing on a tri-plat game one differently, and this would make it harder to achieve a fairer game one.

4. The starter list must consist of symmetrical layouts. The reason for this is because players will have different advantages on stages like hazardless Castle Siege or Arena Ferox based on where they spawn. This may seem like a small point, but it stays consistent with the purpose of the starter list.

With all these conditions in mind, given the 36 stages available to us, what would an ideal starter list look like? If we want to pick stages that are unique to each other, with qualities that are not extreme like really large or really small blast zones, and that are symmetrical, here is what we come up with:


With Hazards Toggled
  1. Final Destination
  2. Yoshi's Island Brawl*
  3. Pokemon Stadium/Pokemon Stadium 2*
  4. Battlefield
  5. WarioWare Inc.*
  6. Smashville/Town & City*
  7. Lylat Cruise*/Town & City*

With Hazards Off
  1. Final Destination
  2. Smashville*
  3. Pokemon Stadium/Pokemon Stadium2*
  4. Battlefield
  5. WarioWare Inc.*
  6. Lylat Cruise*
  7. Town & City*
What we wind up with is a good place to start. I think it is important to consider two lists because while it seems right now that hazards cannot be toggled on the stage select screen, there is a very strong possibility it could be in the game on launch or patched in later. The first five stages are the same in both lists, following a flat, si-plat, di-plat, tri-plat, quad-plat format. The only thing that changes is that if we cannot toggle hazards and organizers choose to stick to a hazardless ruleset, we replace Yoshi's Island Brawl with hazardless Smashville.

Now to discuss the counter pick list.

While it is important to have a relatively conservative starter list, I think the best approach in the beginning to counter picks is to be very liberal and include as many as seem reasonable and then ban them as time goes on, with the exception that we do not saturate the list with redundant stages like mentioned earlier. There is a chance that Battlefield, Dreamland, Yoshi's Story, Fountain of Dreams and Hazardless Midgar are going to have differentiating factors that make them unique, but including most of them is unhealthy for competitive play. We will have to suffer and pick which to get rid of, which will be easier to discern once we know about their dimensions and other details when the game is out. The same goes for hazardless Pokemon Stadium 1 and 2, et cetera. This becomes especially important when you consider that there are more tri-plat and flat stage layouts than any other variant stage type available.

Alternatively, you could create groupings within the counter pick list for bans. Instead of banning Yoshi's Story, you would ban tri-plats and that would eliminate all 4-5 options. However, this is likely a bad choice because each stage will have its own set of intricacies (certain characters unable to full hop on bottom platforms, sliding moves like Kirby's down B sliding off the side of Yoshi's Story, etc.,) and this means that to stay competitive you would have to play and learn on all 4-5. This makes playing the game more of a burden for the mere benefit of including more eye candy and minimal variety.

If you remove the excess and assume that any stage in the Borderline list is likely non-viable, a counter pick list may look like this:
  1. Rainbow Cruise*
  2. Yoshi's Story/Dreamland/Fountain of Dreams
  3. Skyloft*
  4. Brinstar*
  5. Frigate Orpheon*
  6. Halberd*
  7. Prism Tower*
  8. Kalos Pokemon League*
  9. Castle Siege*
  10. Arena Ferox*
That brings the total down to 17-18 stages. While relatively small compared to the 103 we were blessed with, it is massive compared to the mere 6 we were left with in Wii U.
 
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Ulevo Ulevo I agree with quite a bit of your post but disagree with some of it. Some points I disagree with:

1. Starters should be either 5 or 9, not 7. The reason for this is that 7 would give an advantage to whoever strikes second, which is not desirable.

2. Redundant stages should be removed. Some examples with hazards off (which is likely what we'll end up using): Wily Castle, Dream Land, Midgar, Fountain of Dreams, Yoshi's Story, Pokémon Stadium (if we run Pokémon Stadium 2), Unova Pokémon League (alternatively, we could run Unova and drop Pokémon Stadium 2), potentially Kalos Pokémon League (some think it's too similar to Pokémon Stadium/Unova). Pictochat.

There are a few reasons why it's better to ban those stages instead of "If you ban Battlefield, Yoshi's Story, Dream Land, Fountain of Dreams, and Midgar are also banned". One is that it can be hard to know at a glance whether you're playing on the hazardless version or the Battlefield version. There might be, for instance, slight difference between hazardless Fountain of Dreams and the Battlefield version of Fountain of Dreams, and when you're making split-second decisions (such as when recovering) you don't want to have to account for such small differences. Even top level players would struggle with this.

The second reason is that it adds complexity. You'd be surprised how many players struggled to understand the rule "If Battlefield is banned, so is Dream Land" in Smash 4. Simply banning them because they're too similar to Battlefield (and banning Pokémon Stadium 1 because it's too similar to Pokémon Stadium 2, etc) is easy to understand and will be accepted by most, especially if Omega stages and Battlefield variants are allowed (and if they're 100% similar in gameplay to the original they'll probably will be allowed, at least in locals).

The third reason is that it off-sets balance due to slight differences. Some characters might be okay with Battlefield but struggle on Dream Land, so they might have to spend a ban on that bundle if it's legal. If we have 4-5 Battlefield-like stages under one ban, the risk of this increases significantly. It also gives an advantage to characters who like Battlefield-like stages in particular: They have 4-5 to choose from, meaning they can pick whatever they prefer for that specific matchup. Meanwhile, characters who benefit from, say, Town & City or Lylat don't have that luxury. If there are 3-4 Battlefield "echoes", and your character is bad on one of them, then you'd be put at a much worse disadvantage than if Battlefield were the only choice.

So, overall, the benefits of allowing "echo stages" don't seem to be enough. Echo stages should thus be banned. If you like the layout, pick an Omega or "Beta" (Battlefield) version of the stage.

If we're looking at your list, then the Battlefield echoes should be removed, and maybe Gamer is worth trying, potentially giving us up to 17 stages worth testing. I expect Skyloft, Brinstar, Rainbow Cruise, Halberd, Gamer, and Prism Tower to be banned rather quickly, leaving us with 11 stages. Out of those, Arena Ferox, Castle Siege, Kalos Pokemon League (if it's considered too similar to Pokémon Stadium 2), Yoshi's Island (Brawl)/Smashville (if they're considered too similar), Town & City (some have expressed worry that some platform layouts are degenerate), and Frigate Orpheon run a serious risk of being struck from the list. Time will tell, though.
 
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Alright, after catching up with this thread again, here's my proposal for an Ultimate ruleset. I'm calling the the "Smashville system".

Step 1: Both players gentleman to Smashville.

Benefits: It sames time, only one stage to learn, it's the most perfectly neutral stage to ever exist, keeps the stagelist small and conservative, no argument between strikes/vetos/lists, everyone already knows it.

...Okay, I'm being facetious here, but I can't help to think a lot of the more conservative arguments are along those lines. I'm sure I and many others in the thread are beating a dead horse by repeatedly stating our views in different ways but there is no good reason I can think of to limit the stagelist. I see arguments that we should value character diversity over stage diversity, but stages are naturally going to favor a character no matter what, so by limiting the stagelist we're going to limit who is viable and who gets seen regularly. I see arguments that if we mess up hazard toggle we won't know until too late in a match, but we have custom rulesets we can save now and it's no more complicated to set up than time/stock settings. I see arguments about the unfairness of asymmetry and that deciding games but Smashville is asymmetrical most of the time (and also, if you lose a match because your opponent started on the slope on Castle Siege and you didn't, that might be because you're not as good of a player as you think you are).

Competitive Smash is in a weird liminal space where casual players dislike it for perceived elitism and competitive players of other games dislike it for either not being like other fighting games or the childishness of the community. I don't agree with either, but I think both of them make good arguments and I think the basis for both groups disliking us is because of our rules that gut so much from the game. Tekken players don't have huge complicated rulesets allowing and disallowing certain content and our strict rules make us look like micromanagers really obssesed with controlling everything. When a casual sees that the finalists are Bayo and Bayo on Smashville again, they aren't gonna think about why it's a neutral stage or how the meta has progressed, they think "this is the only thing allowed, so why get involved?" I think it goes without saying that we should be using as much of the games content as possible and keeping the stagelist beneath 10 for no reason besides "we've always done it" and "this is what pros want" really makes us look like we hate fun and variety and leaving our boxes. Maybe that's true, but even if it is this is our opportunity to change it. Why not take the chance? People like AA and DeLux and more I'm not familiar with have given us tons of workable rulesets and those arguing against still say "nuh-uh". Why?
 
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