An Introductory Guide to Playing Fox

Fox Lab Team - August 25, 2017

Written by: @AquaticSSB

General guidelines: Fox is a character that needs to be able to be played in all sorts of play styles to throw off his opponent. He uses his movement speed and frame data to create his openings that some characters would not be able to get in on. Most foxes would describe his play style as heavy bait and punish. Fox does not have safe ways to approach and requires a commitment to actually start any type of combo. Play fox not aggressively but in a style that makes it seem like you're going to be aggressive and then switch off into doing something else so that your opponent commits.

Neutral: Bait and punish is your friend. With his very fast run speed and short landing lag/short jump squat, Fox is a master of weaving in and out of your opponents active range. Foxes best neutral tools are bair, empty hops, tomahawk grabs and dash attack (although it isn't safe). He can poke shields with ftilt and jab to try and force your opponent to pick an option. Lasering against slow characters is a very important thing to do but do not go out of your way to laser them (ie: retreating to go laser) Fox gets more out of stage control than most of the other characters in the cast.

Fox relies a lot on rock paper scissors to beat his opponent in neutral.

Late percent neutral: Fox starts to slow down and focus even more on bait and punishing his opponent since he has no safe kill combo. Dair is super negative on shield and nair isn't much less negative on shield. So his entire goal is to force his opponent into a situation where they are conditioned not to shield or you have found a pattern in when they jump.

Punish game: Fox has a ton of good tools and traps to allow you to be creative. Everyone knows about Foxes vortex at this point but he has a bunch of little neat tricks depending on what your opponent chooses to do once in the utilt frame traps. Uair does 16% and combos into itself in mid percents. Bair is going to pressure your opponent into shielding which is when you go for tomahawk grabs. Fox doesn't get much out of grabs percent wise but what he does get is a lot of stage control which is where you basically can make it so your opponent can't play the game.
Dair is a really solid punish tool but it needs to be for a punish only. landing with dair at low % leads to a true grab, mid % perfect pivot utilt to bair/uair, high % usmash. Nair has very similar follow ups as dair but at later percents and with a few changes here and there. Autocancelled dair leads to long follow-ups but is very hard to hit usually against any type of competent player. lower percent it combos into crazy footstool combos and even zero to deaths on mid-speed fallers/floaties. Against fast fallers at 0 you can AC dair to grounded footstool stool up b for about 40% because fast fallers can di downwards and touch the ground before you can aerial footstool them.
Utilt is an amazing punish tool. mid percents it combos into itself and sets up your frame traps. Almost every character in the game can shield at 0% after the first utilt so don't just spam it. Play a 50/50 game of either grabbing them if they shield or attacking them if you think they are going to try and grab you off of it. After about 20% is when you start getting the crazy frame traps on people. Utilt has 4 different hit boxes. The most important hits are the latest hit in front of fox which is the best for comboing people (including at death percent), strong 9% hit (best for starting utilt strings are low percents), and the aerial hitbox (what makes two frames/punish ledge regrabs with utilt great) which can set up into bair/uair depending on percent it might even combo into another utilt.
Tipper jab leads to mix-ups with jab jab pp utilt uair, jab jab dtilt dash attack at lower percents, jab jab dtilt uair at mid-ish high percents, and jab jab usmash. The non-tippered hitboxes don't combo into anything but you can sometimes jab jab mix up grab them.
Dtilt is an okay move, one of the only few to have a disjoint for Fox. It has three different hitboxes with the 6% tipper hitbox being the most important hitbox as it actually sets up combos.

Utilt/Dtilt/Dsmash are your two frame moves. For a list of what you can hit each character grabbing the ledge with, see this document: 

My opponents about to grab the ledge, what do I do? Foxes ledge trap game is one of the best in the game, he can wait at a spacing so that he can react to every option except jump off the ledge. By putting a back air to cover that, you essentially can cover every option as long as you react and time your punishes properly. A basic form of ledge trapping with Fox is standing on the ledge with your shield up back towards the ledge. If they roll, you dash attack/usmash/pp utilt them. If they neutral get up, you grab then throw them off stage again or utilt/fsmash. If they jump you react to their option after the jump or read their option immediately following the jump and punish. Get up attack you have enough time to drop shield and utilt/usmash/jab/grab/almost anything in your kit as long as you react.

Another set up is to stand right outside of get up attacks range and do a similar thing except reverse the roll/neutral get up coverages. Fox can cover absurd amounts of options simply just by standing near ledge.

Off stage game: Foxes offstage game is not good. Due to his fall speed, usually, it isn't worth going for anything offstage. However, if he is playing someone with a very linear recovery and is confident on his teching he can run off nair/fair if they have jumped and trade with them which can gimp them at very early percents.
Fair footstool is an important tool to understand how to use and not SD. Depending on the characters fall speed/weight you need to fast fall the fair at a different kick. A rule of thumb is fast fallers on the second kick, most other characters third kick, and Bowser/Samus on the fourth kick. Hitting the previous hits is not important, all that matters is you hit and time the fast fall at the right times. Fox has some true follow-ups into a fair footstool. Most notably bair to fair footstool at around 10ish percent - 25ish percent, landing dair to fair footstool, autocancel dair to fair footstool (will not kill most of the cast), tipper jab 1/2 to 50/50 air dodge read fair footstool and F-tilt hip check to fair footstool (mid-ish percents).

Disadvantage and how to accept your fate: So you got hit. You're in for a ride probably. Fox is one of the most combable characters in the game. Some characters even have zero to deaths specifically on him due to how fast he falls/lightweight. The best thing you can do is to avoid putting yourself in the situation in the first place. So don't try and force your punishes too far or run off stage trying to kill them. Foxes advantage is so good that you can force your opponent to commit to land properly or make them exhaust their resources. Don't over extend into places you don't need to. Most importantly don't get tilted when you're hit for huge damage for a mistake it's going to happen and you just gotta stay calm.

Off stage disadvantage: SAVE YOUR JUMP. Fox has a very good recovery in terms of length but it also is very linear. He has trouble recovering diagonally or vertically safely. In general, you want to avoid recovering low with firefox. Don't be afraid to abuse firefox into the stages to mix up your ledge grab timing if you are forced to use it. It will save your life as most people will try and meet the firefox right before it hits ledge. Get really good at teching, you'll need to be if you don't want to die to a lot of things.

A small trick is you can SDI multi-hits out from the stage to avoid untechable stage spikes to give yourself a chance.

Common Questions: 

I'm having trouble killing, how do I kill?

How do I handle projectile pressure as Fox?: Use your speed to run in and power shield their projectile habits, mix up doing a reflector very rarely or on a hard read so that they have to respect that you're willing to use it.Since Foxes dash length is a bit long, once you start getting closer to your opponent is when you need to start walking and power shielding to close the gap. You have the speed to break almost any zone in the game if you approach it smartly and play the way you're supposed to beat zoners.

What height can I fair footstool at?: Fair Footstool Diagram

When do moves stop jab locking?: Document with %s including rage

How does side b work?: Foxes Side Special Project

For more fox advice or resources please visit the Fox discord:

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