The Arrow Quill Pokémon has an impressive bag of tricks
This is part of a series of written guides on Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. I’ve always loved this game and I’ve wanted to give back to the community and generate more interest in it. I’ll be creating more guides like this in the future and I hope this gets new players invested in the fighting game that taught me about fighting games. These character guides are meant as surface-level breakdowns of each of the playable Pokémon in the cast. If you would like to try out Pokkén Tournament Deluxe, and learn more information about the game, be sure to check out the community Discord! Access to the character-specific Discords will help you find any information that isn’t listed in this guide, and you can also ask the players there for specific advice.
We’re halfway through the character guides for all of the Standard Pokémon in Pokkén! This fourth guide focuses on Decidueye, a newcomer Grass/Ghost type from the generation seven RPGs. While his Fire/Dark wrestling counterpart, the Heel Pokémon Incineroar, got an invite to Smash Bros., Decidueye was selected to inaugurate the Switch version of Pokkén Tournament as the first new character exclusive to that version (Scizor, Darkrai, Croagunk, and Empoleon were added to the arcade version after the Wii U release.) Despite his Robin Hood thematic imagery, Decidueye is not exclusively a zoner-type character. Instead, his set of trick arrows and projectiles are a part of a kit that consists of several mixups and a unique Soaring Stance that allows for air combos and juggles that no other character has access to. Decidueye’s Spirit Shackle arrows also grant him the exclusive ability to seal his opponent’s Support calls.
Playstyle: An incredibly versatile character with unique aerial tools and mixups.
Values: 570 Hit Points, 600 Shield Health, 150cc Synergy Gauge
Poké Moves: Spirit Shackle (Duel 5A, Field n.A,) Fury Attack (Duel 6A, Field f.A,) Frenzy Plant (Duel 4A, Field b.A,) Feather Dance (]A[) Screech (]X[) Sucker Punch (Duel j.5A, Field j.n.A,) Smack Down (Duel only, 7/8/9A) Acrobatics (Soaring Stance only, SS.A)
High Stance: Charges Synergy Gauge (1.25cc/tick.)
Low Stance: Invincible against Highs on frame 1.
Unique Features: Decidueye is the only character in the game with access to the No Support debuff, which triggers on Spirit Shackle, Duel Phase grab, and Shining Feather Burst Attack. Spirit Shackle can be charged. Fury Attack can end in either Leaf Blade (6AY or 6AX) or Razor Leaf (6AA.) Holding R in midair puts Decidueye in a unique Soaring Stance. Several of Decidueye’s moves can also be cancelled into Soaring Stance. Soaring Stance itself can be cancelled with 4R into a warp backdash, or 5R and 6R into any normal aerial. The notation for Soaring Stance is SS. Acrobatics has a forward throw (SS.[A]) and a backward throw (SS.A.) Soaring Stance’s utility and application will be elaborated upon further down the page.
Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties.
Decidueye has several different arrows in his quiver, but he doesn’t have to play a strict keepaway style. Using a combination of Spirit Shackle, Feather Dance, Smack Down, and ]Y[ can force your opponents to navigate through several different projectiles and status effects, and Screech can make those statuses last longer. If they manage to get all the way in, you can use Frenzy Plant as a reversal to get them off you, or you can force them to play against your powerful mixup game up close with a combo into Fury Attack. On block, you can cancel your blockstring into Soaring Stance and force them to hold the mixup- will you continue the combo, grab them out of the air and throw them with Acrobatics, or punish them for mashing with a cancel into Sucker Punch? These combo extensions can be even more devastating when you throw your opponent against the wall for huge damage. Even Decidueye’s air-to-air game is powerful, as Acrobatics is one of this game’s very few air grabs.
Spirit Shackle is one of Decidueye’s best Field tools. Both the normal and charged versions will cause a Shift, and even though the projectile itself is very telegraphed, their ability to seal the opponent’s Support is very useful. More importantly, Spirit Shackle leaves a trap on the ground that forces a crumple knockdown and leaves a version of the No Support debuff that lasts twice as long as the normal version of the hit- up to eight seconds. In Field, EX Spirit Shackle will split off into three arrows, and thus leaves behind three of these traps, which can go a long way towards restricting your opponent’s movement. This can be easily combined with Feather Dance- continue holding A after firing Spirit Shackle, and then let go when Decidueye starts glowing. Feather Dance doesn’t do much damage and has no hitstun, but its main threat comes from the Attack Down debuff that your opponent will definitely want to avoid. These tools can be especially effective in high pressure situations, such as after a knockdown or if your opponent has been put into a pressure situation against the wall and is being forced to block.
Decidueye also has a wide set of other tools that he can use in Field. He has a variety of fast arrows in the form of ]Y[, n.Y, s.Y, and j.Y, which can be useful pokes at a distance. In Field, the only thing that Decidueye can cancel on the ground into Soaring Stance is Fury Attack. The Razor Leaf followup will automatically put Decidueye into Soaring Stance, but you can also cancel the normal f.A/6A into Soaring Stance immediately after the swing with f.R/6R. When approaching or playing aggressively in Field, you can use this Fury Attack into Soaring Stance for some rudimentary mixups. If your opponent guesses wrong about what you’re going to do out of Soaring Stance, you can earn a Shift by exerting this pressure. Otherwise, the normal Field Phase dynamics of approaching with CADCs and Homing Attacks still apply.
Pause! Learning Decidueye’s release moves
As an addendum- applying status effects with Spirit Shackle and Feather Dance, and then extending those debuffs with Screech, is a concept that carries over between Phases. I want to take a moment before moving onto the next section to explain that Screech can be difficult to use or justify at low-to-mid levels of play. Decidueye has a total of three release moves: ]Y[, ]X[ Screech, and ]A[ Feather Dance. The execution for moves like these, especially on the Pokken Pad or a regular gamepad layout, can be very difficult. (This is why players like BadIntent use a traditional arcade-style fightstick to play the game; they find it easier to do certain execution-heavy character-specific techniques.) Screech costs Synergy in order to extend the debuff time by four seconds. This utility is undeniable, but if you haven’t figured out quite yet how to buffer release moves, you don’t have to worry about it so much.
If you’re having trouble with executing release moves as Decidueye, particularly ]Y[ and Screech, I recommend beginning the buffer for the move by holding the appropriate button in the middle of another move, or while you’re blocking. Remember that you can’t let go of the button to perform the move until you see the glowing ring around the character, and if you let go of the button too early, such as in the middle of another action, you won’t get the move at all. Since Decidueye has three release moves, these rings tend to overlap. The ring around Decidueye’s head represents Screech; the ring on his chest represents ]Y[; the ring on his back represents Feather Dance. In order of importance for low-level players, learning how to use ]Y[ and Feather Dance are probably more important (and easier) to learn how to execute than Screech.
If Decidueye has won Field Phase, Duel can begin for you at pretty much any distance. At a mid-to-far range, your gameplan is similar to the zoning and poking playstyle that you used in Field, albeit with a few more tools. Duel Phase Spirit Shackle will travel the full length of the screen, whereas EX Spirit Shackle will land a little bit in front of that full length. Both versions will leave the same traps as they did in Field, with the same properties on hit. The ]Y[ and Feather Dance projectiles can still be used in Duel to shoot them from a distance or intimidate them with debuffs. 8X is an antiair projectile with an odd curve that can be changed by holding the button, but you can also get some mileage out of using it as a grab crush. Smack Down is one of Decidueye’s most useful projectiles in this Phase. The arrow itself can antiair approaches, but the main advantage is the Magnemite that falls if the arrow whiffs. The distance that the Magnemite drops can be adjusted by using either 7 (close,) 8 (midrange,) or 9 (furthest range.) Occasionally and randomly, Decidueye will also hit a cameraman Magnemite with Smack Down, who will do more damage and launch the opponent when it falls onto them. The Smack Down arrow can be used to punish jump-ins at range, while the Magnemite can be used to stuff ground approaches or as an okizeme option to limit the opponent’s wakeup.
The efficacy of Soaring Stance and how it affects Decidueye’s close-to-midrange gameplay is more pronounced in Duel Phase, and mastering it is a key part of his gameplan. Decidueye’s 5YYY Poké Combo can be cancelled with R at any point on hit or on block into Soaring Stance, as can 2YY and 5XX. Meanwhile, Fury Attack and the Razor Leaf followup can also once again be cancelled or ended in Soaring Stance, and 8Y can be cancelled into Soaring Stance even on whiff. Furthermore, remember that Soaring Stance itself can be cancelled for even more mixup opportunities: 4R will perform an invincible aerial backdash, 5R will drop you down in front, and 6R will make Decidueye do a forward flip. You can do any of Decidueye’s normal aerials out of the 5R and 6R cancels, and being able to do something like SS6R j.Y means that Decidueye has nearly exclusive access to crossups that are rarely seen in Pokkén. Soaring Stance Cancels makes mashing certain blockstrings on block completely safe, and you can then grab counter armored reversals with Acrobatics or punish normal options or anti-air reads with Sucker Punch. Extending combos with Soaring Stance and Fury Attack is also a major part of Decidueye’s combo theory, which will be elaborated upon later.
Aside from his projectiles and Soaring Stance, Decidueye also generally has very solid frame data up close that contradicts his face-value archer archetype. J.Y is a light normal that hits with heavy properties, and can be used as a combo starter and extension, especially out of your Soaring Stance cancels. Meanwhile, 2Y and 2YY are i11, High invincible, and reliable throw crushes that can of course be followed up with Soaring Stance or Fury Attack. 2X/2XX is similarly fast at i15 but has fewer combo opportunities if you’re not against the wall. On a knockdown, you can either go for Smack Down to set up a trap at midrange, or 4X/4[X] at close range. Forcing them to block these will put them at risk for a grab, and if they mash on it you can get a free combo, especially against the wall. You can also use extended knockdown opportunities to hold High Stance and charge your Synergy- even if it charges at a slow rate, it can be useful if you’re trying to manage the cost of Burst and Screech.
With a 150cc meter, Decidueye builds Synergy- and thus will have access to Burst Mode- at a fairly normal rate, but with a 12 second duration it’s one of the shorter Bursts in the game. That being said, Burst Decidueye is still very valuable, and can be used to devastating effect. Burst Decidueye gains the following enhancements:
- Acrobatics, both versions of Spirit Shackle, and Spirit Shackle’s traps will deal additional damage.
- The normal version of Spirit Shackle now fires three arrows in Field, and thus leaves three traps. The charged version now fires five.
- Fury Attack Leaf Blade has a followup attack (6AYY or 6AXX.)
- Smack Down always fires three arrows, and will thus knock down all three Magnemite.
Burst Mode Decidueye’s main advantages are the buffs he receives to his zoning, namely Field Phase Spirit Shackle and Smack Down. Fury Attack Leaf Blade also becomes more valuable over Fury Attack Razor Leaf as a combo ender. If you’re having a rough time keeping your opponent out or poking at them, Burst Decidueye may have an easier time with it; on the other hand, if you want to continue walling them out very effectively or make them hold a camera crew, you can use Burst to keep that oppression going. Otherwise, your gameplan is more or less the same- just remember that your Burst doesn’t last as long as some others. Decidueye’s Burst Attack, Shining Feather, is a counterpiercing i15 laser beam that is +8 on block and invincible on frame 13. It can also be activated in midair- while jumping or in Soaring Stance- and will apply the No Support debuff. It’s easy to punish if activated up close, but it can also be used to punish your opponent’s risky approach and take away a tool that they may have needed in order to turn the tables during your Burst Mode.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Decidueye is arguably a top-five character, right up there alongside characters like the Mewtwos, Aegislash, and Sceptile. With mixup tools, debuffs, and movement options that very few other characters can utilize or compete with, Decidueye has a distinct edge over the rest of the cast. Most of his matchups are even or favorable with only slight advantages or disadvantages. However, playing Decidueye isn’t a free win, and being too predictable with your mixups or your habits out of blockstrings cancelled into Soaring Stance will turn many of your fights into uphill battles you could have won. On the other hand, learning how to utilize your Soaring Stance cancels will take a lot of trial and error, as well as a lot of practice in training mode, so don’t be discouraged if you take a lot of early losses. Decidueye will mainly have a rough time against characters who are especially good at limiting a character’s movement options on the ground or in the air, such as Suicune and Gardevoir with their traps and zoning all across the stage. Gengar’s floaty nature, fake-outs, projectile invulnerability, and Mega Gengar mode can also avoid many of Decidueye’s key moves and shut him out entirely.
Support and Cheer Pairings
Decidueye’s Support Sets will likely change for the specific situation. In the aforementioned bad matchups, using Supports like Pachirisu or Whimsicott that can eradicate projectiles, or Supports that can limit your opponent’s movement options like Rotom, Latios, or Magikarp, can be very effective. In other scenarios, Supports that can enhance your own already effective movement, such as Togekiss, can make you harder to run away from or can help you escape certain situations. As far as universal options are concerned, aggressive Supports that can add onto the several debuffs that Decidueye can innately pass on can also be very useful. Mimikyu and Umbreon are both strong reversal options- Mimikyu with counter armor and Umbreon with complete invincibility- that can debuff your opponent’s Synergy, and in the latter case can also lock your opponent from landing crits. Umbreon is especially useful in order to make your mixups safer- if your Acrobatics gets read, you at least won’t get crit for it. Yveltal can also seal Synergy Burst and function as a huge projectile trap. Remember, of course, that Screech can extend the duration of all of these debuffs! Standard is probably the best Cheer for Decidueye that will provide him with a healthy balance of calling Support and building valuable Synergy Meter, but if you value a more snowball-style gameplan, you can try using Special instead.
These are some easy combos that you can get started with right away- they are bread-and-butter combos, not necessarily the most difficult or the most optimal. If you want to learn more about what your character has to offer, I suggest exploring the longer combo guides found in the Pokkén character Discords, as they will often be the most up-to-date with the current version of the game. The sample combos in the tutorial mode are also very good at helping you figure out your character’s combo theory.
Decidueye’s longer combos can be difficult, but they are versatile in that you can pick them up off many situations. In general, you want to confirm the combo after scoring a juggle or a launcher and then extend the combo with 6AA Fury Swipes Razor Leaf. From there, you will either cancel the Soaring Stance immediately and keep the juggle going with j.Y, or carry them with SS.YY. If you feel like you’re going to drop the combo, you can usually cash it out with SS.X or Fury Swipes Leaf Blade instead. Against the wall, you can also often capitalize on a wallsplat with similar extensions or use Acrobatics to earn the wallsplat in the first place. In general, a confirm into 5XX or an anti-air 8Y will be your best bet at longer combos. You can also manage to score some damage after opening someone up with CA or 4[X].
j.Y 5XXR6R j.Y 6AA SS.Y~Y 2XX
SS.[A] W! 6AR6R j.Y 5YY 8A 6XXX
(on an antiair hit) 8YR SS.YY6R j.Y 6AA SS.YY
Fury Attack is similar to Lucario’s Bone Rush in that the amount of hits that land will increase the amount of PSP that accrue, so at higher levels you can optimize your combos to keep them in Duel longer. Likewise, antiair 8Y combos will change depending on how high you hit your opponent, and some of those combos can even be scored on a grounded crit. Also, in these combos listed, the SS.Y~Y indicates a delayed press of the second Y so that you earn a second SS.Y instead of the SS.YY Poké Combo.
Decidueye is a well-rounded character with highly versatile options, several powerful debuffs, and a unique Soaring Stance that allows for aerial movement that very few other characters can compete with or use themselves. In Field Phase, use your projectiles like Spirit Shackle to lay traps and force your opponent to fear your plethora of debuffs. After the transition to Duel, you can use more projectiles to harass your opponent as they approach you, and then frustrate them with Soaring Stance mixups when they get in close. Soaring Stance combos can be tricky, but learning how to use your aerial movement correctly can make your pokes and normals hard to punish. Burst Mode will improve your zoning game by enhancing the properties of your arrows in order to further wall your opponent out. Your Supports will change depending on the situation, but you can get a lot of mileage out of Sets that limit your opponent’s movement or further harass them with debuffs. A Cheer that allows you to access these Supports while also offsetting the cost of Synergy on Screech and Burst will also be valuable.
The next Pokémon in the Trainer’s School character guide series will be the witchy magical girl Fox Pokémon, Braixen!