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Unfazed: A Thorough Guide on Armor, Intangibility, and Invincibility.

Wood - September 18, 2017

         When I watch vods, I often hear commentators use the terms "Super Armor" or "invinciblity" pretty haphazardly during matches. Sure, these traits are very similar and often have the same applications during games, but there are small but very important differences between what I have deduced as the 3 main branches of smash "imperviousness": Armor, Intangiblity, and Invincibility. here is a guide on the differences and nuances of them.

FULL INTANGIBLITY: this is probably the most common defensive trait you will see during matches, as it is the property given to players during air dodges, rolls, techs, ledge grabs, etc. Of course, certain moves like villager pocket and many recoveries will also grant this property. When a character is intangible, for all intents and purposes, they might as well not exist. Hitboxes, projectiles, other characters, items, everything, will simply pass through. Nothing will interact with the character in any way, and if a hitbox passes through, it will remain active and not be neutralized.

FULL INVINCIBILITY: This property is somewhat limited in use, as it is quite rare. When a character is fully invincible, hitboxes will interact with them, and be neutralized completely. The user will not take any damage, KB, or hitstun, but unlike intangibility, the hitbox will no longer be active. Projectiles (that are not transcendent, we will get to that) will clash with the user and simply evaporate. This property is only granted (without items) to players during their animation of a throw, or when they are just coming off the Halo Platform after losing a stock. Keep in mind, while no one else may damage you during this state, self damaging moves like flare blitz or 1 hammer will still do their damage regardless. Most counters use a sort of cocktail of intangiblity and invinciblity to make sure their attacks trigger and execute without a problem.

SUPER ARMOR: Super armor is the strongest form of the "armor" branch. When in this state, the user will still take full damage from whatever hits them, but they will not take KB of any kind and will continue their animation as intended. Super armor will not break to any move (with the exception of KO punch and level 3 focus), and acts like a version of invincibility where you still take the damage from the move. Notable examples include Rock Smash, and Little Mac's Smash attacks. 

Blue means intangible.

PARTIAL INTANGIBLITY: Partial intangiblity works the same as full intangiblity, but only on a small part of a character's hurtbox. Moves will pass right through.This is essentially a way of increasing the disjoint of a move, as part of your hurtbox that would have been affected by something like, say, a sword, will no longer be hit. This is applied famously on mario's upsmash, and on DK and Bowser's limbs to make them act like swordlike disjoints without having ridiculous range. The hitboxes are not transcendent however, and can still clank with others, you just don't risk getting beaten out and trading damage as much.

The green is the area of incincibility.

PARTIAL INVINCIBILITY: Again, this acts like invincibility, but instead of your entire character being covered, it simply covers part of your characters' hurtboxes with an "area" of invincible properties. Unlike, intangiblity, hitboxes actually interact with it, and any that do with that area will be neutralized, including projectiles. Multihits will keep hitting, however, sometimes through the invulnerable area and end up piercing into the vulnerable part of the hurtbox. The only examples of this property I could find were Palutena's dash attack and bair, Bowser's Upsmash, and G&W's Upsmash.

DAMAGE BASED HEAVY ARMOR: This property acts identical to super armor. The only difference is after taking a certain amount of % at once, it will break. KB is irrelevant however (you can test this with finishing touch, a high KB low % move, or something like little mac Down Fsmash, a high % low KB move). Examples include Flare Blitz (14%), Little mac neutral B (8%), and Koopaling clown kart (7%).

KNOCKBACK BASED HEAVY ARMOR: This property acts identical to super armor. However, if hit by a single move with sufficient Knockback, the armor will break. Damage of the move is completely irrelevant (test this with finishing touch), and multihit moves' knockback do not stack on each other. Oviously the knockback you take increases as your percent climbs, so these armors lose their effectiveness as your character's damage rises.The three most prominent examples of this property are bowser's tough guy (19 points of KB), wario's bike, and Yoshi's double jump (120 points of KB, or around a mario back air at 86% [no rage]).

Little mac clanks, but his jab continues into it's combo without recoil.

TRAMPLE: Trample is a unique property. This acts a lot like invincibility, but only for your hitboxes. Usually, when a move clanks with another, if the damage of the two moves are within 9%, a character will go through recoil animation. If a move has trample, however, it will simply clank, and the animation will continue. If the hitbox is within the 9% window, it will still be neutralized, but the animation will continue uninterrupted. if the move exceeds the 9% window, it will continue without trading and hit the opponent. This is how bowser's upsmash can defeat almost any aerial, and continue to do damage, as you would need an aerial that does 11% or more. Multihits are also unaffected, as the first hit will neutralize and the others will continue. This is why little mac can ftilt through a luigi fireball and continue to hit luigi. The first hit neutralizes the projectile and the second hit lands on luigi. Examples of this property include little mac's jab/ftilt, bowser's upsmash, and jigglypuff dash attack.


The ftilts do not interact with each other. Thus preventing a "clanking" animation.

TRANSCENDENCE: Transcendence is another property limited to hitboxes. Think of it as intangibility, but only for your character's hitboxes. These transcendent hitboxes will not clank or interact at all with other hitboxes or projectiles, and will remain active. As well, transcendent projectiles (like sheik needles) will not interact with other projectiles, hitboxes, or be stopped by shields. This is an advanced form of disjoint. This property seems to be limited to energy or explosion based attacks that would look strange if a "punch" attack stopped or clanked with it. Examples include Palutena upsmash, Lucas sweetspots, and ROB Laser.

SPECIAL ARMORS: Not all impervious properties follow the rules I have listed above. There are two notable exceptions. The first is Ryu's Focus Attack. This essentially is a % based heavy armor, that starts at 22% and climbs to 39% as he charges. This means strong moves will break it just the same. However, in order to mimic his game, once ryu is hit twice, the armor will break. Also, unlike normal heavy armor, Ryu will only take half damage from said attacks until his armor breaks again.

Another, even stranger exception is Kirby's Rock. This move acts similar to heavy armor, but a little different. Once kirby is in rock form, he will take no damage or knockback at all until he takes over 24% (you can add % from multiple moves for this). After this, the move that broke him out of the rock will deal half damage, but kirby will take full knockback from that hit.


I hope that helped explain the nuances of all of the different defensive properties in smash 4, and I hope this will teach you either how to better apply the move you are using, or better defeat the move your opponent is using against you.


Thanks for reading,



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I assume KO Punch and Level 3 Focus go through Super Armor because they are unblockable and that is how the interact with each other.
Great Read and a definite Pin/Bookmark.
FRauDFiSH - November 4, 2017

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