Usually, when it comes to Q&As we’d be speaking to developers, streamers and other individuals who work in the games industry. However, there are often unique individuals out there who provide unique gaming related services, such as Goretaku who Chris interviewed a while back. And today we have another Q&A with one of those unique individuals in the form of the site owner of Amiibo Doctor who discusses the niche hobby and interest that is Amiibo tournaments. So without further adieu, here is our chat with Amiibo Doctor.
To get the ball rolling, please tell us a little bit about yourself and The Amiibo Dojo
We’ll start with the Dojo, as that’s the much more senior site. The Amiibo Dojo was founded by Cloud on the /r/amiibo subreddit way back in the early days of Smash 4 and then transitioned over to its own official site after a few months of an awkward phase involving forums, webcomics, “foteing”, and of course, amiibo. I hate to speak for the Dojo, as we’re separate entities and also not the same person, so I’ll direct your readers to find more at amiibodojo.com, in the Community Wiki.
I started training amiibo around the same time that Cloud did if I remember correctly. Unlike him, I didn’t have the necessary technology to conduct an amiibo tournament, and we disagreed on a proper ruleset (I chose to avoid custom moves and equipment on my amiibo, while the rest of the metagame embraced them). Due to that difference in opinion, I decided to train all of the amiibo that I could get my hands on, and I maintained a very statistically rigorous round robin between every amiibo I had ever trained. It encompassed thousands of individual battles between amiibo and ended up consisting of about 56 unique contenders, all of whom had set against each and every other amiibo. That was my initial insight into the possibilities of amiibo AI, and by the time Ultimate rolled around I had decided to join the rest of the amiibo hobby as a tournament contender.
And what is your role in all of this?
Amiibo Doctor, which is both my handle and the name of my amiibo site, launched almost exactly one year ago to this day. Unlike the Dojo, we tend to focus on a broader view of the competitive amiibo hobby. While the Dojo focuses on training guides and specific tournaments, I zoom out to view larger topics, like a proper stagelist or ruleset, and the state of the metagame as a whole.
Most recently, I have begun my fourth tournament, ASMR #4, to determine the state of the metagame. ASMR #4: War, as it is officially known, focuses on the interactions between the top-tier contenders in the metagame through a very restrictive character list. While it’s a bit of an unusual method to clarify the state of the meta, it serves its purpose very well.
The Dojo is the engineering of the hobby. The Doctor is the art.
How long has the Amiibo tournament scene been going?
I’m willing to bet that it’s been going on since the first amiibo hit shelves for Smash 4. The earliest tournaments required that people mail their physical figures to each other, and those seem to have occurred almost immediately after the release of amiibo figures. At this point it’s been about five years, give or take.
And how do these tournaments work?
Each amiibo figure and card contains a little tag called an NTAG215 chip. These very lightweight chips contain the entirety of your amiibo’s information. Over time, we figured out how to make a digital duplicate of the contents of that chip and then replicate it using either a blank NTAG215 chip, or an Amiibo Powersaves.
Tournaments work by having amiibo trainers take the contents of their amiibo and email it to the tournament host. Information on tournaments can be found on the Amiibo Dojo/Exion Vault Discord server. The host then duplicates those contents onto their Amiibo Powersaves and runs the tournament! It’s a very ingenious process, really.
I’ve seen people copying Amiibo data before, you can actually find people selling cards online on sites like eBay. There are some who would argue that it is morally wrong to do that. Would you agree and would you say the actions committed by people involved in these Amiibo tournaments are morally questionable too?
Not at all! It would be no different than if we were ripping out the tags at the bottom of our amiibo and mailing them to each other. We just found a more convenient way.
I will add that it’s not the same ethical situation as amiibo cards. While amiibo cards are ethically ambiguous, (I consider them to be a non-issue) those consist of reproductions of Nintendo’s intellectual property that may not have been purchased from Nintendo. Amiibo tournaments function off of figures that have been purchased from Nintendo and are now the property of the trainer themselves.
Getting back to the tournaments themselves, how do entrants go about training their Amiibo?
Good question! There’s been a significant debate for a long time as to the absolute best method to train an amiibo, and it is kept continually fresh by the discovery of new methods.
In general, I recommend simply mirror-matching your amiibo until they reach level 50. In Smash 4 it’ll take about four hours to get them to 50, and in Ultimate it’ll take about two hours. All of the best amiibo in both games are trained with that method and then given more specific training experience afterwards. If you have any questions, I recommend going to the Amiibo Dojo Discord, as many of the people there have lots of training experience.
How do gamers go about getting involved in the tournament scene?
I go into much more detail in my blog post on “I’m new to amiibo training, what do I do?”, but the process is actually pretty simple. You’ll need three things: an amiibo to submit, an Android with NFC or Amiibo Powersaves, and access to the Amiibo Dojo/Exion Vault Discord channel.
You only need to do these things to enter a tournament:
1. Train the amiibo so that they have reached level 50
2. Make a copy of the bin file of the amiibo using the Android or Powersaves
3. Email the copy (called a .bin file) to the tournament host, or DM it to their Discord profile.
It’s surprisingly simple once you set up the Android or Powersaves part!
Of course, after you enter that tournament, you’ll probably want to see how your amiibo performs. Some tournaments provide live streams or replays of the matches, and all of them provide a Challenge bracket link. The tournament scene is most interesting when you check up on how they’re doing and watch the matches, and then try a new training method after you see your amiibo’s weaknesses.
We’ve spoken a little before this Q&A about the scene and how gamers on the West Coast of the USA can battle against gamers on the East Coast, but does the reach of these tournaments go further than the USA?
Unfortunately, not by much. We have a few trainers in Canada and a few in the UK. We’ve tried to reach out to the Japanese amiibo trainers that we know are out there (both Amiibo Doctor and the Amiibo Dojo sites receive lots of traffic from Japan), but we have had absolutely zero success with outreach to other countries.
A few more personal questions now; how many Amiibo do you own and what is your favourite?
At last count, I had over seventy amiibo figures and a handful of cards and whatnot. I swear I don’t spend a lot of money and I’m not hardcore about collecting them: it’s just that after about five years of participating in a hobby, you tend to accumulate the merchandise to go with it.
Is there any Amiibo you don’t have in your collection that you’d like to get?
Man, I wish you had asked me that a week ago. To thank Best Buy for sponsoring Leaf, the best trainer in the scene, I went to the Best Buy near my home and picked up Marth and Wii Fit Trainer, two amiibo that I have always wanted to pick up.
I suppose now I’d have to say there are some custom amiibo that I’d really like. A while back I saw a Super Mario World-themed Blue Yoshi with wings, and I was so tempted to buy that. I mained Blue Yoshi in Melee, so my connection with the character runs deep.
And finally, to finish off, a bit of a random question for fun. If you could have lunch with any three Amiibo characters of your choice, which ones would you choose?
1. Samus (I bet the U.S. military would like to have a looksie at that suit)
2. Wii Fit Trainer (We’ll call it a running lunch: I want to see if I’m a better distance runner than she is)
3. Ridley (To take care of Samus after we get the suit)
We’d like to thank Amiibo Doctor for reaching out to us and agreeing to chat about this unique hobby/interest. If there are some of you reading this thinking you’d like to get involved, why not head over to the Amiibo Doctor website to find out more about getting involved in their latest tournament. Who knows, maybe you could go on to rule the world! An amiibo one at least anyway.
Until next time folks, MaddOx_FS signing off.