No one has proved their kung fu is stronger yet
Marth is, and has been almost since the start of the franchise, the quintesencial sword character. Spacing, speed, mobility, and knockback are the pillars of Marth's gameplay. As he fits in the lighter side of the middleweight characters but with great walking speed and air acceleration, he can make use of a larger portion of the screen and create the spacing necessary for his powerful attacks.
Even if at the beginning of the game's scene Marth was not played as a top character, the potential was certainly there as seen in its echo Lucina. Over time, with patches and the natural evolution of the meta, Marth has developed to be a respectable main or secondary for players that prefer tipper-style fighters with a heavy emphasis on mobility.
How to Unlock Marth
Like with any base character, Marth can be unlocked in three different ways. The fastest is with classic mode as Yoshi, Marth is the second character to be unlocked in his line. Otherwise playing Versus Matches Marth will be the 7th character in the line. Finally, you can play the World of Light, where he is one of the four starting choices.
Key Strengths & Weaknesses
Marth can be categorized as a tipper sword fighter. Tipper refers to a special hitbox that deals more damage and knockback in his attacks. For Marth, and most other tipper sword fighters, that is on the tip of his attack. Since Marth is heavily reliant on this mechanic to be effective, the crucial game concept to learn with him is spacing.
Keeping the correct distance from your opponents as well as knowing which movement options will lead to the best setup for one of his powerful tipped attacks is a skill unto itself that will take a lot of time to practice. Marth's attacks also emphasize the importance of that skill as many of them have slow startup animations. Obviously, they are incredibly powerful to compensate for this.
A core problem of Marth's is his reliance on tipper attacks, however. Ideally, if you are missing a tipped attack you would still like to contact your opponent, but if you miss entirely, then things can be very hard very quickly. On top of that, you will need to master his edge guarding ability since it, once again, requires you to be able to use the tipper part of the hitbox to deal a meaningful blow to your opponent.
|Neutral Jab||If the tipper connects, it will pull Marth's opponent into him guaranteeing the second.||Low||Low|
|Forward Tilt||Tipper is capable of incredible knockback, but its normal hitbox will deal far less damage.||Medium||Medium|
|Up Tilt||A great way to pressure people off platforms, the attack also extends behind him, and it can combo into itself. Tipper hitbox is incredibly powerful.||Medium||Low|
|Down Tilt||A low poke, great for edge guarding opponents.||Low||Low|
|Dash Attack||Risky, but ultimately very rewarding if tipped, as its knockback can KO from low percentages from near the edges of most stages.||Medium||Medium|
|Forward Smash||Its fast startup and huge knockback make it one of the best KO tools in the game overall, but its ending lag can result in heavy punishes.||High||Medium|
|Up Smash||One of Marth's few attacks in which you don't have to always try for the tipper hitbox as it's fine without it.||Medium||Medium|
|Down Smash||A sweep, its back swing is much stronger.||Medium||Low|
|Neutral Air||A very powerful neutral in which Marth swings his sword twice, making a full ration on the second and hitting behind him as well. It allows for multiple follow-ups||Low||Low|
|Forward Air||Marth's best tool for striking in the air, as its normal hitbox is fairly big while also having a strong knockback tipper.||Medium||Medium|
|Back Air||A very similar move to its Forward Air.||Medium||Medium|
|Up Air||His fastest aerial, is great for juggling opponents above Marth, its hitbox allows for it to be a combo starter.||Medium||Low|
|Down Air||If the hit connects with the tip and is in the middle of its swing, it will cause a meteor knockback effect. But it's difficult to make it consistent.||Medium||Low|
|Pummel||Marth strikes his grabbed opponent with his knee||Low||-|
|Forward Throw||Marth Elbows his opponent which can lead to good edge guarding opportunities||Low||Low|
|Back Throw||Lacks the power to KO or combo.||Low||Low|
|Up Throw||His most powerful throw, but not that useful overall||Low||Low|
|Down Throw||At lower percentages, it can be used as a combo starter, and even in mid situations it can still lead to a follow-up aerial, but it quickly losses out.||Low||Low|
|Neutral Special||Shield Breaker, as its name suggest, is great against shields. It can be charged up to deal even more damage. As you might expect, the tipped version of the attack is even stronger, particularly its knockback.||Medium||High|
|Side Special||A series of attacks depends on the player's input, which can be neutral, up, or down. Each with a different animation depending on when in the series they were made.||Medium||Low|
|Up Special||A good vertical recovery but it will not snap to ledges until the hitbox is gone.||Medium||Low|
|Down Special||A counter, will not work against projectiles or longer-range melee attacks, it will deal 1.2x the damage of the attack or 8%, whichever is higher.||Depends||Low|
Best Marth Moves
Shield Breaker - Neutral Special
Marth's ability to threaten shields goes well with his mobility and speed. Even if not against shields themselves, the attack and be used to punish rolls and landings on stage thanks to the distance it covers. When fully charged it will deal so much damage and knockback that it can be a very lethal attack if your opponent is not comfortable with using multiple recovery options off stage and often tries to land on stage.
Dolphin Slash - Up Special
Its high Knockback scaling makes it one of the better KO moves in Marth's kit as well as a good combo breaker and out-of-shield option. As a recovery option, it has great speed making it difficult to intercept. You can expect to use it regularly, which also means it might lead to overreliance. Make sure to avoid using it too often when trying to get back to the stage, as once opponents acclimate to its timing it will be much easier to punish you for it.
How to Punish
Marth's sword reach is solid. Although it will take you some practice, being able to land tipper tilts off the back of an opponent's whiffs or lack of spacing will give you the best opportunity to build up the damage for KOs. Use the increased mobility of Marth to stay away from opponents and if you can force them off the stage and reduce their recovery options then you will be able to punish them in the edge with either down tilt or down special, or if they try to reach over the air his up tilt will cover that option quite well.
Marth Core Combos
- Up Air, Up Special
- Forward Air, Down Air, Grab>Forward Throw
- Down Throw, Forward Air, Up Air, Forward Air, Up Special
Playing Against Marth
The biggest problem for Marth's game plan is range. Characters with good enough options to zone him out of his effective range or punish him for trying to approach with his speed will be able to neutralize him. Thus, it should not be surprising that Pikachu, Snake, Inkling, and Young Link are solid options to keep Marth at a distance and punish him for his aggression.