Forum:List weight changes as buffs/nerfs
After a sort of edit war on Little Mac's SSBU page, I have noticed that most weight changes in this wiki (from one game to another, regardless of the specific games) are listed as neutral, with the simple justification that "it changes your survivability, but also your vulnerability to combos". However, looking at it more in detail, this seems more like an unwritten rule that is followed by most users (including admins) only due to a lack of profound research on the matter; it's a claim that keeps getting parroted to cover up more complex doubts, yet there have been no arguments to validate it that do more than scrap the surface. This "rule" would have been understandable in the early 2010s, when the latest game was still Brawl and there were few technical Smash tools to work with, but nowadays, there's a lot of resources and work from dataminers (including Ruben, who created the Smash calculator, and Kurogane Hammer).
The belief most people seem to have is that because weight reduces the knockback you take, and lower knockback is more favorable for combos, an increase in weight immediately poses a disadvantage that offsets its advantage (surviving for longer). However, if we look at the knockback formula, and use the Smash calculator to gather calculations that actually happen in-game, we can see weight has a larger effect on higher knockback values than lower ones. Let's use a concrete example in Ultimate: Luigi's up tilt against Cloud (100 weight), then against Mewtwo (79 weight). This move can combo Cloud until around 90%-100%, where he takes from 115 to 124 units of knockback (excluding decimals). Against Mewtwo, these knockback units are in the 80%-90% range. However, when it comes to KOing, Cloud dies at 185.9% on Final Destination according to the calculator (with no factors like DI or rage), while Mewtwo does so at 166.2%. Since Ultimate normalizes falling speed and gravity for moves with 70°-110° angles (which Luigi's up tilt falls into), those are barely factors in this situation. Not only we can see a difference of nearly 20% in KO percents, compared to a difference of 10% in combo percents, but because of Mewtwo's larger hurtboxes, it's easier to hit than Cloud and therefore these combos can work on it for longer, further diminishing the disparity in combo percents (by at least around 5%).
Having proven the point with technical information from the game, let's look into the effects weight changes across games (including patches) have had on characters. When Sheik's weight was repeatedly reduced in Smash 4 patches (85 to 84, then 81), many players (including her top players, like ZeRo) agreed that it was a nerf overall, since the effect it had on her survivability was more significant than the effect it had on her vulnerability to combos. Likewise, Mewtwo's weight increases in Smash 4 patches (72 to 74) and in the transition to Ultimate (74 to 77, then 79) are widely agreed to be buffs as well. It's not those characters' weight that makes them vulnerable to combos; it's their hurtboxes that are either tall or large, especially in Mewtwo's case, and falling speed in Sheik's case (Smash 4).
The easier you are to hit, the easier it is to connect a combo, and hurtbox sizes that vary so much across characters are more of a deal-breaker than minimal changes in launch distance. There's also the fact that hitstun, which is obviously the driving force of combos (Smash 64 has a ton of them, Brawl barely has any; we all know the story), is directly proportional to knockback, so lighter characters will more often than not take at least one more frame of hitstun than heavier characters at the same percents, which in part offsets the increased launch distance. As a well known and proven example, in Ultimate, Ridley is one of the most vulnerable characters to combos, on par with large heavyweights like Bowser and DK, even to the point kill setups (such as Ding Dong and Inkling's "Booyah") have the largest percent windows against him, despite being significantly lighter than them (107 units, compared to 135 and 127 respectively). The reverse is true as well; in Brawl, Snake's disproportionally high weight for his character size (113, the third highest in the game) is infamous as one of his best attributes, and what allows him to survive for so long, despite the game having several chaingrabs that would supposedly offset this huge advantage.
Are there cases where increased combo vulnerability from having a higher weight is more detrimental than the benefit of surviving longer? Yes, but much fewer than users in this wiki keep constantly claiming, and only in Melee and Brawl; in Smash 4 and Ultimate, it is overall agreed that higher weight is more beneficial. In Melee, Fox's waveshine combos are less effective on lightweights because they get knocked down from the shine, rather than being pushed along the ground; this happens because his shine uses set knockback (80), which is affected more by weight than normal knockback (also verifiable in the Smash calculator), causing characters with weight under 85 to tumble. In Brawl, the same happens with Dedede's down throw, and while there are a few chaingrabs that work for longer enough on heavyweights (such as Falco and Wario's down throws), hurtbox sizes are still a larger factor in this case.
To summarize, weight decreases should be listed as nerfs, and weight increases should be listed as buffs, because its effect on survival is larger than its effect on combos. Listing all weight changes as neutral is a poor assumption that keeps treating both sides as equal, and leads to an inaccurate documentation of character changes. DracoRex, Creator of the Land 11:29, December 10, 2019 (EST)
Support, the benefits largely outway the drawbacks, as can be demonstrated by looking at the extremes of Pichu and Bowser, where the former's lack of weight is seen as a major drawback and the latter's high weight (and subsequent resistance to being KOed) is often cited as a major strong point for the character. If we were to list all changes that aren't solely buffs as changes then we would have to list things such as increased range as a change as in some situations it can make it harder to poke shields. Alex the Jigglypuff trainer 15:02, December 10, 2019 (EST)
Support. I had never thought about it that way, but damn if this isn't true 95% of the time. Nothing more to add to what Draco said, as he actually summarizes it perfectly. --Beep (talk) 19:21, December 10, 2019 (EST)
Support, checks out. As a competitive player, I entirely agree. The variance in kill percents due to weight is greater than the variance in combos. In fact, there's actually some combos which only work on lighter characters! Any competitive player will agree that high weight is a strength. --Spexx (talk) 21:49, December 10, 2019 (EST)
Support; it's not weight that changes your vulnerability to combos, it's your hurtbox. The larger you are, the more likely you are to get hit.
Poor Mewtwo and his damn tail... Aidan, the Festive Rurouni 14:09, December 12, 2019 (EST)
Support; While weight does affect combo vulnerably (i.e. Link in the European version of 64 compared to every other version of the game), increased survivability is more important in the grand scheme of things and the example I mentioned was a rather big increase to weight. Most increases/decreases to weight are small and have a negligible affect on combos (and as multiple others have mentioned, there are other more significant factors when it comes to combo vulnerability). SuperSqank (talk) 14:37, December 12, 2019 (EST)
This is all completely true, the wiki is the only place I ever seen that claims weight changes were always a neutral change, and if I was active I would have taken care of this long ago. Another important factor for why being heavier is better in Smash 4/Ultimate is the existence of rage, where characters are directly rewarded for being able to survive to higher percents with increased knockback on all their attacks. Some other benefits of being heavier include having more favorable frame disadvantage when hit for longer, being able to avoid being knocked down for longer, and prior to Ultimate having less frame disadvantage off of weight-based throws as well as more time to DI them. In Smash 4/Ultimate if you asked competitive players if they would rather have their main be made heavier or lighter, probably nearly all of them would take the weight increase (and those that wouldn't probably aren't really knowledgeable of the effect it really has on their combo vulnerability). Omega Tyrant 17:23, December 13, 2019 (EST)
As someone who isn't that knowledgeable about technical details, I always considered weight increase a buff. Like you said, people seem to assume that weight increase increases a fighter's survivability, but increases their vulnerablility to combos, thus they assume the change is neutral. This is not 100% true. Weight is not the only factor in determining a fighter's vulnerablility to combos, but hitstun, hurtbox size, and falling speed also play a big part in that.
Giygas err... I mean Mewtwo is a good example for hurtbox sizes determining combo vulnerablility: Because of its large hurtbox, it is more vulnerable to combos despite being lightweight because its easy to hit. For falling speed take Fox as an example; his fast falling speed makes it harder for him to escape, leaving him vulnerable to combos such as up-tilt combos and chain grabs. Hitstun's honor would go to Smash 64 and Brawl: We all know how it works. 64's hitstun lasts forever, making even lightweights vulnerable to combos. Brawl's is nonexistent (well with the abomination known as hitstun cancelling), thus heavyweights can escape no problem. As OT said rage also plays a big part in the heavier the better: heavyweights can survive much longer and get the most benefit from rage, but lightweights will often get KO'd before they can benefit from rage. So in conclusion I Support. SupαToαd64 19:04, December 13, 2019 (EST)