10 Invaluable Beginner's Tips For Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
Don't let the cartoony veneer fool you; while the stakes may not be as dire as defending earth from killer aliens, Kingdom Battle's slapstick skirmishes offer plenty of depth and challenge. Here are some spoiler-free tips to get you up to speed.
You can read my full review of Kingdom Battle right here, but if you're too lazy, here's the main takeaway: Despite the lackluster puzzles and light exploration that breaks up combat sequences, the battles remain fun and engaging throughout, and can be harder than you might think. As such I've compiled a list of some of the tips and lessons I learned during my playthrough, which will give you a good head-start on the adventure ahead.
Tip #1: Buy Those Secondary Weapons ASAP
Each character in Kingdom Battle comes with a secondary – and usually explosive – weapon. Before you can use it, however, you'll have to invest some skill points in the corresponding ability, and purchase the actual weapon. Resist the urge to spend your early coin stash on the first slightly upgraded gun that Mario comes across, and instead save up for secondary weapons for your teammates – the added flexibility in battle is more valuable than a modest damage boost to their starting weapons.
On a more general note, don't feel compelled to buy every weapon that you gain access to – weapons essentially unlock in different tiers, and the only thing that distinguishes a group of firearms is what Super Effect they inflict. If you want to try a different Super Effect, you might as well save your money and wait for the next upgraded tier to unlock instead of spending your coins on a "sidegrade" weapon. Coins are quite limited for most of the game, so don't go crazy on weapon purchases – prioritize upgrades for the weapons that you frequently use but are no longer cutting it, and be sure to anticipate when a new character might unlock (usually towards the middle of a world), as you'll need to get them up to speed as well.
Tip #2: Grab Those Coins
In order to buy those fancy new weapons, you'll need coins – a lot of them. You'll see coins scatter on the battlefield whenever you land a Golden Shot on enemies or break a brick (naturally). However, you don't actually have to move a character onto the spaces to collect them – simply moving Beep-0, the rabbit-eared Roomba that you use to plot your moves, over the coins is enough to hoover them up into your bank account.
It doesn't even have to be a legal move; you can move Beep-0 out of the movement boundary of your character and to locations that are impossible to get to (for example, up on ledges that only enemies can access). Enemies will also nab the coins if they run over them first, so make sure you collect them as soon as possible – if you can, you may even want to save one character's movement phase for the end of your turn just to ensure you can pick up any stray coins.
If you do miss some coins, they will stick around after the battle, so you can backtrack and pick them up the old-fashioned way.
Tip #3: Super Effects FTW
Kingdom Battle's weapons feature a number of "Super Effects" that are applied to an enemy when you land a critical shot. For example, Honey shots stick a character to the ground rendering them immobile, while Burn damage causes characters to run around erratically with their butts on fire (naturally). Characters are limited in which Super Effect weapons they can purchase, but even so, some are better than others. Which ones, you ask? I'll tell you!
Vamp weapons should be your top priority, as they leech off a good chunk of damage from your enemy and replenish your own HP, which is especially handy in some of the longer battles against a lot of foes. Stone damage has a Medusa-like effect on enemies, turning them into statues that can't move or use any of their abilities on the next turn – if that sounds pretty handy, it is! Bounce damage is also useful; these shots send enemies flying around the arena. If they go out of bounds, they're dealt extra damage – if not, they'll likely be left out in the open for future attacks. Ink, Freeze, and Push damage have their uses as well, but are outclassed by the aforementioned effects, so only go with them when you don't have any other options.
Tip #4: Respect The Respec
Each character in Kingdom Battle has their own skill tree with four different branches and a few unique abilities. The most important thing to know about these skills, however, is that you can respec your characters at any time without penalty. Take advantage of this: Instead of sitting on points to "save up" for a more expensive ability, invest them in whatever minor upgrade will help you in the meantime. Also, don't be afraid to rebuild your skills for specific challenges and/or boss fights. Does the current arena not have any sewer pipes? Then reinvest those "Pipe Exit Range" points in something you'll actually use. Even getting a few more coins for a Golden Shot is better than nothing.
That said, while you should frequently respec your characters, make sure you're doing it at the right time. When's that, you ask? If you'd stop interrupting me, I'd tell you! Wait to redo your skill trees until right before your next battle is about to begin – you'll know one is about to start when you find a pair of flags marking off the battlefield. If you respec after a battle instead (a natural impulse given that's when you get a shiny new batch of ability orbs), chances are you'll have to respec again if and when you come across a treasure chest in the ensuing puzzles areas that doles out more orbs.
The bottom line, however, is that your character builds should be fluid. Come across a mushroom after a hard battle? Respec Mario and max out his "Mushroom Mend" ability, snag the HP-replenishing power-up, then swap those points back out for something that will help in the next battle. It may be tedious sometimes, but Kingdom Battle is all about optimization, both on the battlefield and off.
Tip #5: Figure Out Your Order
This might be a no-brainer for strategy fans, but it bears mentioning: Your success or failure in Kingdom Battle's skirmishes all comes down to the order you carry out your actions.
All three of your characters have three separate actions they can perform in a turn: movement (which can include dash attacks, headstomps, and team jumps), an attack with one of their two weapons, and an ability (also chosen from two options). However, you don't need to do all three at the same time when you select a character, so you'll need to figure out how best to swap back and forth between everyone's actions.
I can't explain how to optimize your moves, since every battle and team combination is different (DUH!). However, here are some things to think about that will help you get everything in order:
Before you start moving characters around, make sure someone doesn't need a team jump to reach an enemy or safe spot before you move all of the crew members away from them.
If one of your characters is going to use an area-of-effect attack, move them into enemy territory first so you're not hitting your other teammates – or last if your teammates are already there (i.e. evacuate everyone else first!).
Pop your stat-boosting abilities before you start spreading everyone out – if you plan in advance for these moments, you can save yourself from having to invest skill points in extending the range of activation!
Use vamp attacks (like Rabbid Mario's shotgun or Rabbid Luigi's Vamp Dash) first – the status stays on enemies for the rest of the turn, allowing your other characters to soak up some HP as well on subsequent attacks.
Take other Super Effects into account – if a Bounce crit lands, will it knock the enemy out of another character's line of sight? Then shoot with the other character first!
Hero Sight (i.e. overwatch) takes effect immediately, so if an attack causes a foe to move (like Smasher enemies, or a Super Effect like Bounce, Push, or Fire), they'll trigger it. If you want to hit that enemy an additional time, activate it first – if you want to save it to stymie movement on the enemy's turn, trigger Hero Sight after everyone else has attacked.
These are just a few of the situations to consider when plotting your turn order, but to maximize your potential, you should ask yourself, "Is now the best time to perform this action?" for every move you plan.
Coming Up Next: Five more tips to improve your ground game...
Tip #6: Embrace The Rabbids
I get it – you think the Rabbids are annoying, and their penchant for potty humor rubs you the wrong way. Well, get over it, because you're going to want these deranged imposters in your party ASAP.
First of all, you need to have at least one Rabbid in your crew – the game forbids you from going full Team Mario, most likely for the sake of cutscene humor. However, that's not a problem, as the Rabbids have some of the most powerful abilities at their disposal. Rabbid Luigi's Vamp Dash is the best dash attack in the game, followed closely by Rabbid Mario's Boom Dash. Their active abilities are also life-savers, whether you are taking the edge off enemy attacks with Weaken or pulling them out of cover with Magnet Dance. So get over yourself and embrace the dumb, wacky Rabbids – your squad will thank you. Now, speaking of Magnet Dance...
Tip #7: Don't Overlook These Abilities!
There are a lot of abilities in your characters' skill trees, and in the first half of the game, you won't have a lot of skill points to unlock them. As such it's easy to overlook some basic but vital abilities, which I will outline for you're here. You're WELCOME.
I already mentioned the need to unlock your secondary attack, but if you have a short attention span, this is the ability that lets you use your character's other weapon, which usually does area-of-effect damage. You'll want that option in battle, so buy it – thankfully it's cheap.
Cleansing Jump sure sounds like a boring ability, but it is the most important move in your skillset. Cleansing Jump will remove a Super Effect from an afflicted team mate. This isn't super vital in the first world, but once you start facing more advanced enemies, Super Effects will kill your party and ruin all your best-laid plans. For instance, if an enemy hits one of your characters with an ink shot, they won't be able to use their weapons for a couple rounds – during which the enemy will probably hit them with another ink shot, taking out one-third of your firepower for pretty much the entire match. Mid-bosses can rely heavily on elemental attacks, and some enemies have a power-up that guarantees a Super Effect will trigger, so being able to cleanse those ailments ASAP is vital. Whenever you respec, you might as well invest in Cleansing Jump right away before strategizing the rest of your build.
I overlooked Rabbid Mario's Magnet Dance for far too long during my playthrough, because I incorrectly assumed that affected enemies would move at the end of my turn. This is not the case: When Rabbid Mario sings his siren song, enemies immediately abandon their cover and flock to the crooning character, allowing everyone else in your party to land open shots. If Rabbid Mario is in a position that can snag enemies before he moves, his Boom Dash – which deals area-of-effect damage to nearby foes – can sometimes be enough to finish off the group all by itself. If not, his Boomshot and Hammer weapons can also deal damage to multiple characters at the same time. Magnet Dance also pairs nicely with characters' various overwatch abilities, making Rabbid Mario one of the strongest teammates – if you don't foolishly overlook this powerful ability.
Investing orbs to reduce the cooldown of your favorite abilities is pretty much always worth it – most matches will only last a half-dozen rounds, so a three-turn cooldown means you'd only get to use your ability once or twice depending on the circumstances. That's a huge waste if you're sinking hundreds of orbs into boosting its effectiveness. Instead, siphon some of those points to dropping the wait time as low possible.
Finally, don't overlook the boring abilities that Ubisoft shoves off to the right-hand side, specifically Pipe Exit Range and Movement Range. Mobility is the key to success in Kingdom Battle, allowing you to reach enemies with your dash attacks, move within range for abilities like Weaken and Magnet Dance, and flank them for guaranteed hits. It also allows you to reach your own teammates, for status-boosting abilities like M-Power and Super Chance, and to remove one another's ailments via Cleansing Jump. When the battle objective it to reach a specific area, team mobility is also a no-brainer. Maxing out those two categories may seem like a mundane waste of skill points, but if you've already unlocked some of their abilities and boosted their dash attack damage, the extra mobility will pay dividends.
Tip #8: Mind The Sewers
Sewer pipes are a unique mechanic in Battle Kingdom, allowing to warp around the battlefield with ease. However, there are a few important points to note that will help you use them to your full advantage.
The first is that your movement out of a sewer pipe isn't based a character's Area of Movement stat, but rather their Pipe Exit Range. What that means is even if a pipe is on the outer boundary of your movement grid, you'll have as many movement spaces on the other end as you would if you were standing right next to the entrance.
The second thing to note is that you can't move through the same pipe twice in one turn, so while you might be able to pop out by an enemy and wallop them with a dash attack, you won't be to retreat the same way you came. That said, pipes often come in pairs, so there's a good chance a symmetrical counterpart will be nearby to whisk you away somewhere else.
And finally, there is no limit to the number of pipes you can travel through in a single turn (as long as you aren't repeating them). Since each pipe resets your Pipe Exit Range, you can string an extended run through several of them if they line up correctly, sometimes allowing you to snake all the way to the other side of the battlefield. This isn't a coincidence; Ubisoft has clearly put a lot of thought into sewer placement on the battlefields, so keep an eye out for these options – and don't forget to upgrade your Pipe Exit Range stat!
Tip #9: Bigger Isn't Always Better
Maxing out your characters' offensive capabilities is a good idea, but you'll want to be careful when it comes to area-of-effect damage. Attacks like Rabbid Mario's aforementioned Boom Dash and Yoshi's Ground Pound can easily ensnare your own teammates, and if you max out their damage, you may be inflicting more harm on your own crew than the enemies you're up against. My recommendation? Go ahead and max the damage, but go easy on the Range upgrades. Keeping the blast radius of these moves a little tighter probably won't hurt your offensive prowess, but will make it easier to keep your teammates out of harm's way. The later Range tiers tend to be some of the more costly upgrades, so you can probably put those extra skill points to good use in two or more different categories.
Tip #10: Don't Put Off The Challenges
In addition to unlocking a new tier of weapons, completing a world in Kingdom Battle opens a series of new challenges. While backtracking through the world you just finished may sound boring (and it is for the most part), this is the time to do them. If you continue on with the main story and return later, you'll likely be so overpowered that the challenges won't actually be challenging – combine that with the puny rewards you get, and the delayed return trip just feels tedious.
Of course, you can skip extra content altogether, but if you want to see everything Kingdom Battle offers (and some of the bonus missions are genuinely interesting/unique), then do the challenges as they unlock.