Villager (むらびと, Murabito) is a newcomer in Super Smash Bros. 4. Villager was revealed during E3 2013 on June 11th, 2013 during the first reveal trailer for Smash 4, and alongside other newcomers announced during E3 2013, Wii Fit Trainer and Mega Man. Similar to the Wii Fit Trainer, Robin, and Corrin, players are able to play as male and female versions of the Villager. There are four male and four female variations available. He was also among the first wave of amiibo figures that are compatible with SSB4.
Villager is ranked 25th out of 55 characters on the official tier list, placing him in C tier. Villager's most prevalent advantages are his powerful zoning and camping games, both of which are among the strongest in the game, thanks to his forward aerial and back aerials having excellent range. Pocket notably helps Villager counteract projectiles and opposing camping, and allows him to use enemy projectiles against them. Additionally, Villager has a very strong edgeguarding game, with both his forward smash and Timber being notable in this aspect. Villager also has one of the safest and longest recoveries in the game, being able to return to the stage safely.
However, Villager has noticeable flaws. The most serious of them is Villager's KO potential, as his strongest KOing options are burdened with slow speed, punishable amounts of lag, or inability to be comboed into, or all three. Villager is also burdened with poor movement, due to his below-average dashing and aerial speeds. Villager also has poor options when fighting in close range, due to a slow, punishable grab and rather slow, unsafe tilts, and can also be countered by characters who can reflect or negate projectiles, such as Rosalina. Although less impactful, characters that do not have projectiles hinder Pocket’s effectiveness.
Overall, Villager's stage control and edgeguarding options have allowed him to achieve strong tournament results, especially in Japan, largely thanks to Ranai, and he is considered to be a viable high-tier character. Despite this, Villager's results and representation plummeted from the fact that his best player, Ranai, has been inactive throughout the later-half of 2017. Due to this, Villager's viability has been contested throughout the game's lifespan.
Villager is an unorthodox character with several unique moves, including several standard attacks that are actually projectiles, similar to Mega Man.
Villager possesses a strong camping game. His forward and backward aerials are long-ranged slingshot attacks which, in combination with Lloid Rocket, are great for harassing opponents from a distance. Opposing projectiles can either be Pocketed or blocked by a tree; Pocket can also be used to "steal" character-generated items such as R.O.B.'s Gyro, preventing them from being used as long as Villager keeps them and thus further weakening the opponent's ability to compete with him at range. One caveat, though, is that Villager is a character of below-average mobility; in particular, he has the fourth slowest dashing speed in the game (albeit still noticeably faster than the bottom three), so once the opponent closes the gap it can be difficult for Villager to create space again. Despite this, Villager possesses three sex kicks out of his five aerial moves of which all have quick startups, giving him a relatively easy time knocking away an enemy if they approach to point blank range.
Should camping not be desirable, Villager's projectiles can also serve as good approach tools. In particular, launching Lloid Rocket and then running behind it is a strategy that limits the opponent's options and provides a chance to punish their reaction. Using his down aerial in a short hop is also a good approach option, as it is a disjointed attack with little lag.
Despite being a middleweight character, Villager possesses arguably the best recovery in the game thanks to Balloon Trip. This move allows him to fly a great distance at a respectable speed, and is surprisingly difficult to gimp; although the balloons can be popped to render Villager helpless, doing so requires two separate hits, and hitting Villager himself will allow him to simply use the move again. Lloid Rocket further bolsters Villager's recovery, as launching it stalls his descent while threatening edgeguarders. Alternatively, Villager can ride Lloid back to the stage, although this is punishable and can be reflected.
Villager is also a very potent edgeguarder, with a wealth of options to finish recovering foes. His forward smash allows him to drop a bowling ball from the ledge; this is a powerful attack that can be difficult for an opponent recovering low to avoid. If the opponent's recovery is slow enough or a tree is set up beforehand, Timber can also be used from the ledge for an even more devastating attack, or to reduce an opponent's options should they grab the ledge. Alternatively, Villager can jump offstage and pursue with an aerial attack; his down aerial is a powerful meteor smash should it produce three turnips, while a clean hit from his slingshot has enough knockback to be deadly near the blast line, and is generally the best choice against an opponent recovering high. Many of his aerials are sex kicks as well which, when combined with his extremely long-ranged recovery, allows him to gimp opponents pretty easily.
However, Villager's ability to set up edgeguards in the first place is hampered by his slow grab. Although his net has relatively long range, it is one of the laggiest grabs in the game, making it very punishable. As such, attempting to throw an opponent offstage is a risky prospect, and Villager's ability to shield-grab is quite limited, although he does have other good out of shield options, such as his neutral aerial.
Outside of edgeguarding, Villager has multiple powerful KO moves, but none of them are easy to land from a neutral situation. His forward smash, while powerful, is a laggy and short-ranged attack when used onstage. Lloid Rocket has KO power when ridden, but this is slow and predictable. Timber's axe requires a tree to be present and has considerable ending lag, while using the tree itself is slow and requires staying in one place. Villager's up aerial is a strong juggling move and can score KOs off the upper blast line, but only if luck permits. Pocketing and throwing back a sufficiently strong projectile makes for a deadly attack, generally enough to KO at mid percentages and even instantly shatter full shields, but this is matchup-dependent and will not be easily allowed by a smart opponent. Overall, if the opponent maintains control of center stage, Villager can have trouble finding KO opportunities.
Villager has a versatile selection of custom moves. Pocket Plus and Garden are less powerful than standard Pocket, but have advantages that make them more useful for some matchups. Pushy Lloid's size and multi-hit nature make it harder for opponents to get past. Extreme Balloon Trip has Villager fly slower, but the balloons explode when they burst, making it very risky for the opponent to attempt an edgeguard while giving Villager a vertical boost that compensates for the move's reduced speed. The most notable and rather infamous custom move however, is Timber Counter. Timber Counter allows Villager to place a tripping hazard which, unlike Banana Peels, cannot be removed by any opponent short of another Villager, allowing for strong stage control. By combining these custom moves, Villager can significantly enhance his already potent camping abilities, making him very difficult to approach. He does, however, give up some offensive ability in the process, and some players may prefer his more balanced default moveset.
Villager has received a mix of buffs and nerfs in game updates, but has been slightly nerfed overall. Since 1.0.6, he can no longer Pocket Sonic's Spring or Pac-Man's Trampoline, his recovery was noticeably nerfed in 1.0.8 and once again in 1.1.1, by granting less and even less distance with consistent use. The same patch also made Extreme Balloon Trip, one of his best custom moves, less effective as a disruption tool. 1.1.3 slightly reduced his usefulness in team battles by having pocketed projectiles by teammates deal significantly less damage and knockback. However, 1.0.8 also brought some useful buffs to his grab game, most notably to his down throw, which allows him to combo his opponents better. He also benefits from the changes on the shield mechanics more than most characters do as of updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1, as it allows him to break shields easier, most notably with a rising axe followed by a clean hit with three turnips with his down air.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
While not a highly represented or discussed fighter in the early metagame, Villager has always been generally agreed to be a rather viable choice for competitive play. This is due to his infamously effective projectile and keep away game that enable him to shut down the approach of many characters, leading to a high perception of him as a character. However, it wasn't until Ranai's performance with Villager in Japan in various regional tournaments and eventually the USA at GENESIS 3 (getting 3rd place out of 1,096 entrants) that he started to gain more popularity, in spite of the negative light he had left at EVO 2015 and the infamous use of his custom moves. As a result of Ranai's high placings, and to an extent, various other placings from other Villager mains like MJG and SS, Villager was ranked 11th place in the first 4BR tier list.
Given the nerfs to other top and high-tier characters such as Sheik and Zero Suit Samus, and Ranai's high 5th place at EVO 2016, it was debatable whether or not he was actually any worse. He would eventually drop to 14th place in the second tier list, this being due to the movement (and introduction) of Bayonetta, the buffs to Mewtwo and the immense perception of Cloud in the metagame. However, Villager's tournament results have not been as strong since then, due to most of his main players gaining lower results, mostly due to his trouble at handling most DLC characters. This has culminated on him ranking at 17th place on the third tier list. After Ranai's last tournament, Villager's representation and results greatly plummeted and, from this, he then dropped to 25th in the fourth and current tier list, the second largest drop between the third and fourth tier lists. Overall, while he remains a stable high-tier character ever since the game's release, his much lower results have deterred him from rising on the tier list.