A Beginner's Guide to the Charcoal Decavitator

A Beginner's Guide to the Charcoal Decavitator

Hello!

For those of you who may be reading this who aren't especially active on Squidboards, my name is Deez. I'm a bit of a Splatana enthusiast who has a lot of experience playing quite a few different weapons with a div 6 team. I stopped playing Splatoon around Splatoon 2's launch but returned for Splatoon 3 and have been hooked ever since. It goes without saying that as someone who has spent more play time on Splatanas than any other weapon class, I would be very interested in playing the third Splatana when that inevitably released. Here we are today and the Charcoal Decavitator is one of my most played weapons despite it only having been usable for less than two weeks.

Before I go on, though...


Big, Big Disclaimer

Like I just said, this weapon has been usable for less than two weeks. I have seen more success with this weapon in Anarchy Open than my previous mains but I've not had very many chances to play this thing in more serious matches. I'd like to think I have an idea of how you're supposed to play this weapon, but the playstyle this weapon has is the first of its kind that I've put this much time into. As such, my strategies for it might be subject to change.

Also, as the title implies, this is mainly meant for the Charcoal kit. I don't have nearly as much play time with the Mint kit and certain parts of the two kits' playstyles may differ too much for me to want to talk about it. However, parts of this guide may still apply to people who are looking to learn the Mint kit. Don't let this dissuade you from reading the guide to see if you can pick up any helpful tips from it.

When I put more time into this weapon, both with playing in more competitive games and in practicing with the Mint kit, I will be deleting this guide and immediately posting a new one. Take everything I say here with a massive grain of salt.


Introduction

Of the few weapons currently in the Splatana weapon class, the Decavitator stands out as having a more unique playstyle than the rest. It's a mid-range weapon that often needs to use stealth to its advantage and ambush its opponents with its fast kill time. After you hold down the fire button to charge, releasing it will unleash a giant melee hitbox in front of you that one-shots opponents. This should be your main way of dealing damage when fighting others.

Much like other Splatanas, using this attack while grounded and holding Up on the control stick will give you a dash forward. Unlike other Splatanas, which mainly use it for smaller adjustments in their movement, this dash covers a massive distance and can be used to help you approach enemies or cover space that other weapons simply can't. This combines with the one-shot hitbox to make the weapon very fearsome if you can quietly get within range for this dash to let you reach opponents. You can get a bit tricky with this as well by changing the direction your camera is facing mid-dash, letting your melee hitbox cover a different area than it would have otherwise and giving you several options for directions to dash in to attack the same space.

When not within range of a one-shot, this charge attack releases a projectile that does 80 damage, which can kill opponents that have previously been damaged or leaves opponents susceptible to dying to smaller, quicker hits. You can follow this up by using an uncharged attack that releases a projectile that deals 40 damage. Using them both back-to-back leads to a guaranteed kill, and the uncharged attack is both faster and more ink-efficient, making this a relevant combo to learn. If you've ever seen higher-level Splatana Stamper gameplay, the same idea applies here. Using an uncharged attack up close deals 70 damage which is only situationally useful.

The Decavitator isn't the kind of weapon that wants to paint the ground as often as many others, but when it wants to, it can do so very well. Its uncharged slashes cover a lot of space fairly quickly. Most of the time it will be trying to draw as little attention to itself as possible so its teammates will be painting the floor instead of it. However, this is still a useful quality to have since it can allow it to charge the meter for its special weapon quickly if nobody can directly attack it at a given point in time.

Like the other Splatanas, the Decavitator deals some of the best damage to objects and armor in the entire game. This weapon can quickly tear apart things like Booyah Bomb, Brella shields, and the Rainmaker bubble. This is a nice quality to have but at a lower-level isn't really reason by itself to learn a new weapon. It's also worth note that it does use a lot of your ink tank to use repeated charge attacks, but with how much you'll be swimming around or hiding in your ink, this problem isn't as bad in practice as it can be for other weapons.

Unlike other weapons with mobility as a big focus, the Decavitator is pretty slow. The time it takes to charge may be fast, but there is a lot of delay between when you release the button, when the attack executes, and when the attack finishes. Making mistakes with this weapon can be very punishing since it often won't have the time to correct itself. In addition, as a weapon that uses stealth to find many of its opportunities to attack, things that help with location like Autobomb and Wave Breaker can force it into very uncomfortable situations where it needs to retreat or try attacking at a point where it's less likely for it to win.

Overall, the Decavitator is an extremely dangerous weapon if and only if you can manage to get close enough to your opponents.


Playstyle and Game Plan

When using the Decavitator, at any given point, you should mainly be trying to get within range of your opponents in as quiet and unnoticeable of a way as possible. Use things like flank routes and longer-ranged allies' paint to get in, or if all else fails, using your special can make it far easier to find yourself these opportunities. Your dash can also be used as a little range extension for your one-shot or to let you quickly position yourself to pick someone off with a charged projectile to uncharged projectile combo.

However, with the Charcoal kit specifically, you have a Splash Wall. I will elaborate more on this later, but it's worth mentioning now that this will open up what all you can do with the weapon a little bit more.

Using your uncharged attack up close is situationally useful. Its kill time is a lot slower than your charged attack up close, but it uses less of your ink tank and the first of two hits you'd need to kill an enemy hits before a charged attack would. You can use it to finish off opponents you know are already weak that you happen to be close to already. The only other use case is a more ink-efficient way of killing a very slow weapon you're already absolutely dead certain you know you'll be getting a kill on.

Staying back and playing this weapon supportively or like a more standard frontline is technically possible, especially against teams with several short-ranged weapons, but is not ideal. That playstyle is done better by the Splatana Stamper for its better range and attacking speed on top of it lessening how much use you can get out of your dash.


Weapon Kit

Once you pick one of the enemies off the rest will likely be alerted that you're there. Splash Wall can be great here to keep yourself from immediately getting shot at afterwards. This needs to be done proactively instead of reactively. You CANNOT throw this out while you're being attacked or else you'll get taken out before it can activate. In the ideal situation, you pick off one of the enemies and have a Splash Wall up while next to one or a few other enemies. This gives an absolute golden opportunity for your teammates to close in on them because of the attention they now need to give you.

Despite what you might be thinking from everything I said about stealth, in some situations, Splash Wall's existence on this kit can actually make it ideal to briefly draw a lot of attention to yourself for a very short burst of time. Splash Wall can sometimes let you very briefly wedge yourself in places that force your opponents to look at you if it's in a different direction than at your teammates. If you can find an opportunity to do this as your teammates can make themselves able to approach them, then take that opportunity. This isn't something you should do through a whole match but knowing when and where to do it can be very helpful.

If you find yourself close to getting killed in this situation, make sure you're ready to throw out another Splash Wall or use the stage's terrain as cover as well, possibly both. You'll need to think proactively but if you ever fear you'll get closed in on or pinched by two enemies at once, try to get an Inkjet ready and use it before they get too close. This can push them back away from your space or at the very least give a teammate an opportunity to rush in with you.

Inkjet is a very important special for this weapon. Not only is it one of the best offensive specials in the game in general, but it does a lot of things specific for the Decavitator. The sword itself can't reach over ledges well because of its flat hitboxes and Inkjet completely ignores a lot of ledges. There are a lot of more defensive spots an opponent can sit in that an Inkjet can just fly right over to immediately put a lot of pressure on. You normally won't even need to reposition to use it because it naturally is useful in a lot of places where the Decavitator likes sitting.

Inkjet is one of the tougher specials to use in the game. Once you get a handle from using it to aim at people over ledges, there are still more things you'll want to learn with it. Ideally you're as close to your targets as possible without them being able to run in and hit you as your shots move very slowly through the air and can be reacted to if you're far enough away. As you get used to the ranges of certain weapons in the game, this is just something you'll need to keep in mind as you use the special.

You'll also need to keep the terrain underneath you in mind. You have a boost to let you dodge upwards every once in a while, but this by itself isn't all you can do to play evasively with an Inkjet. You can simply move over higher or lower terrain than where you were previously to position yourself higher or lower respectively. This makes you both more mobile and harder to hit as a result. Even if you don't have uneven terrain around you, it's entirely possible to go into squid form for a second to dip down just a little bit when you don't have access to your boost.

Finally, learning to predict movement. This is something that applies to most weapons in general but especially so with Inkjet since its shot speed is so slow. If you know where your opponent is going to go, you can shoot your Inkjet shot in that direction to try and one-shot them. Even if you don't hit it you can still get the blast radius hitbox to repeatedly pepper someone with damage until they go down. Doing this to hit people from behind corners is very useful.


Matchups

It's a bit tougher to talk about the matchups of a weapon that spends most of its time either hiding or holding space down. This playstyle is one where either you succeed in doing those things and win or you fail and you die. There are still some things to talk about though.

Obviously, weapons that have tools against people hiding in their own ink make it a lot harder for you to get in. If you get hit with a Point Sensor, hiding away will not work and you'll either need to retreat, use Inkjet immediately, or start playing defensively with Splash Wall. If you're trying to hold down space with Splash Wall then area of effect weapons will get in the way the most. Things like the Rapid Blaster Pro and Tri-Stringer will be able to poke at this the easiest since they can reach you the easiest without being threatened by your dashing one-shot.

There will be some points where you're out in the open and the enemies can see you, especially after having just killed someone. At these points your best matchups are into shorter-ranged weapons like the Splattershot and weapons that rely on objects like the Splat Brella. Your wide hitboxes and solid range make it incredibly hard for them to approach you. Particularly slow mid-range weapons like the Range Blaster and Dynamo Roller can struggle against you as well because a single missed shot will give you enough time to get in their faces and one-shot them.

If you're out in the open, however, some weapons that usually struggle more against sharking suddenly will be able to completely halt your progress. Your hitboxes are very slow so mid-ranged weapons with a decent enough fire rate or fast enough attacks to be able to react to your approach options leave you without much to do. Such weapons include things like the vanilla Squeezer and Splatana Stamper. It is worth reiterating that these weapons can struggle against hidden opponents otherwise.

Most losing matchups are very workable here. It doesn't feel like any single weapon can completely stop you on your own even if some do make it harder. Here especially is where I need to stress that I have not played this weapon much in a competitive setting, have literally never played against this weapon there, and could ultimately end up learning I'm way off. Take everything with a grain of salt, but this section more than any other.


Gear Abilities

Just like my previous guide, I'll be doing this in a bulleted list. Very roughly ordered and then grouped from most to least important.

  • Quick Super Jump - Just as a rule of thumb, no matter what gear you build in this game, it will almost always want at least one sub ability's worth of Quick Super Jump. If I were you I'd even consider running two sub abilities although you definitely don't need the second one. Making the most vulnerable state you'll be in less vulnerable by any noticeable amount is a huge deal.
  • Stealth Jump - With this ability, there are so many more places you can super jump to than you would be able to without it. More opportunities to jump closer to a more important part of the map means more time saved. Jumping in against a long-ranged weapon is basically impossible without this ability unless they specifically mess up or don't happen to be looking.
  • Ink Resistance Up - Similar story to Quick Super Jump where one sub ability is extremely useful on most weapons. Touching enemy ink just a little bit without this ability makes it so enemy ink immediately will start effecting you, but one sub gives you a sixth of a second of leeway. Moving around becomes a lot easier if you have just a little bit of this, and it's in a way that's a bit difficult to put into words. If I were you and I were newer to building gear as a whole, I would heavily consider getting a pair of shoes with Stealth Jump as its main ability, with its sub abilities being Quick Super Jump, Ink Resistance Up, and whatever third ability you personally think you might use on a lot of weapons. It will save you a lot of time.
  • Comeback - Close to mandatory on most weapons, absolutely mandatory on the Decavitator. Comeback is extremely important when the enemies are holding off a large portion of the map from you and you need to get your special fast. This weapon will probably also be dying more than most other weapons in a given match unless the Decavitator's team wipes their opponents out. As an already very strong ability that synergizes fantastically with the goals of this weapon, there's little to complain about.

  • Quick Respawn - Given how aggressive this weapon likes playing, it's nice to have insurance for when something doesn't go to plan even if you're getting quads every other game. When you're in a losing situation it will get a lot of usage. The only problem is that you usually will need to dedicate a lot of your gear to it, often as much as your final main ability slot with Comeback and Stealth Jump alongside two or three sub ability slots. It absolutely is worth it for this weapon though, and I can say it with confidence because it's what I've primarily been using.
  • Special Saver - I don't feel the hype behind this one here as strongly as other people but it's as popular on this one as other weapons so I guess I'll talk about it. You lose a decent chunk less of your special meter while dying if you run just one sub ability of this. Comeback already kind of does this by giving you Special Charge Up after respawning and you already get it very fast by then, but there's no harm in making the process of getting special again even faster. The fact that a whole third of this weapon's gear is usually dedicated to Quick Respawn and so much goes to everything else I mentioned above can make it better to invest in a bunch of smaller perks that are at their strongest with only one sub ability.
  • Special Power Up - This improves both the duration and the explosion size of your Inkjet. Running two subs of this is mandatory on most other Inkjet weapons, but because you're also a Quick Respawn weapon, it's not as simple to justify. Picture a build where out of your nine sub abilities, you have two Special Power Up, a Quick Super Jump and an Ink Resistance Up, and three Quick Respawns. You don't have a lot left to work with since there's not as many abilities that stack great in subs of two or one that you don't have. It's still one of the best options regardless and I would run two subs of this if I were undecided.
  • Sub Resistance Up - Usually an ability where whether or not you run one sub of this can mean life or death, but so situational that I can count on my hand the number of times where it MIGHT have mattered through my 1000+ hours in this game. Normally I'd recommend something else, but with the whole issue I've repeatedly brought up now, this is one of the better options to spend exactly one of your sub abilities on.

  • Ink Saver (Main) - One sub of Ink Saver (Main) will give you one extra charge shot before your ink tank is empty assuming you spam all of them in a row. You have less than a dozen in total in this case, so once again, this is one of the better things you can run one of. I haven't much of a difference when using it as opposed to not using it though so I would personally recommend other options.
  • Swim Speed Up - One of the best abilities you can run if you're not running a Quick Respawn build and it still has a small amount of merit even with Quick Respawn. This doesn't stack the greatest in smaller amounts, but there is a case to be made that running two subs of this is fine.
  • Ninja Squid - Not super common but I can see the vision to running this. Having Ninja Squid would require you either drop Quick Respawn entirely or put so many chunks into running it that you cannot run anything else. Still, this is the kind of weapon that would love being able to run Ninja Squid, and if it weren't so difficult to fit gear onto this weapon as is then it would run it all the time. Worth noting that unless you're trying to fit Quick Respawn, Ninja Squid builds will appreciate running a bunch of Swim Speed Up.

  • Everything else - This is where I'd normally say that anything else probably isn't worth your time, but realistically, this weapon has a lot of development that could happen. Don't be afraid to experiment here. I will give a dishonorable mention to Drop Roller because the sword itself can do extremely similar things as you'd want to with Drop Roller. You might still have extra sub ability spots to fill if you're reading this guide. If this is the case, you could probably go add another sub of most of the abilities I mention above and will get value from most of them, with the big exceptions being Ink Saver (Main) and Sub Resistance Up.


Other Notes

I've mentioned previously but when you're landing from a super jump or Inkjet's recall, try using the dash you get from your grounded vertical slash the moment you land if there's any chance you're under enemy fire. This isn't foolproof, especially against a well-timed bomb, but giving yourself any chance of survival in these situations is a big deal. You also have the one-shot from that attack if anyone gets overly careless about how dangerous it can be to catch a Splatana's landing.

If you point your camera downward while throwing a Splash Wall on the ground, this makes it move slightly further. It's not much, but dashing towards it afterwards in this case will leave you just barely behind the wall and safe from enemy fire. This is very situational and I've personally never found a use for it because of how slow that whole sequence is, but it's nice to know and might find itself useful in the future.

If you use your dash on the ground and end up in the air, you will not start descending until your dash ends. This allows you to clear some gaps that are impossible for a Dualies's dodge rolls and in some cases is completely impossible for other weapons. An example of the former is on Flounder Heights where you can clear some space over the grate bridge in the center of the map without jumping or ever touching the grates. Position yourself on one of the four high points around that bridge and try dashing to another.


Conclusion

This weapon is great. I've seen so many people say they're having lots of fun with the weapon despite saying in the same breath that they still aren't great with it yet. That's part of the reason I felt like rushing a half-baked guide that I know I'll need to delete and rework later. I've been seeing a lot of success with this weapon in open that I've never seen with any other weapon, across a 14-game win streak, the highest kill game I've ever had without counting assists, and other things I won't get into.

If I can try my best to articulate what might have made me successful, and if that ends up helping even one other person, then it's absolutely worth my time to write something like this. If nothing else it gives people looking to play this weapon a few things to think about.
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