Advanced Tips and Item Management Guide
Before I get started going through each item separately, I'll go ahead and give some general tips on sandbagging. Some people never sandbag. Some people sandbag all the time. I think it's best to do a combination of the two, based on a number of factors. Most of the time, track selection is the biggest factor. Some tracks are good for sandbagging, while others are terrible.
For example, N64 Mario Raceway is one of the best tracks to sandbag on because it has so much open off-road area. It is possible for people in the back of the pack to overtake people in the front at the last second by saving golden mushrooms or stars, and cutting through as much off-road as possible. Other tracks such as Bowser's Castle Wii or Rainbow Road are not very good sandbagging tracks, since there really is no off-road or opportunities for massive shortcuts.
I've found sandbagging is most effective in one of two ways. On some tracks, it is possible for you to purposely sandbag on the first set of item boxes and get a power item and cut through some off-road and get a big lead early and avoid most of the items that get thrown around, possibly allowing you to frontrun for the rest of the race. The other, more common method is to sandbag on the last lap to try to get in a position to steal the lead at the last second. Of course, these are not the only times you can sandbag, I just find these to generally be the best.
Sandbagging works best when all players are close together. If everyone is spread out, it’s going to be hard for you to get a good item and pass everyone, because chances are in order to get a good item you’ll have to fall too far behind to catch first place. If everyone is clumped together however, it’s easy for you to fly past everyone at the last second and steal the win. Check the mini map frequently, especially toward the last lap to decide if it’s a good idea for you to slow down and sandbag, or if you think you’re far enough ahead to the point where slowing down is going to cost you too much time, or you think you’re far enough ahead where most of the players with power items won’t catch you.
Generally, the best thing you can hope for when sandbagging is to get a star. Most people will wait and stay behind the pack after getting the star and then use it just before the next set of items, resulting in you having a star activated, PLUS another power item, which lets you make up a lot of ground quickly. You can also choose to save your star until you are almost certain someone is going to use lightning, which will allow you to shockdodge and also make up a lot of ground quickly.
Sometimes you will get an item you don't want, and that's the risk involved with sandbagging. For example, triple mushrooms are not going to help you too much in most cases. If there are still more item boxes, I will usually waste my triple mushrooms immediately, then try for a better item. If I get a golden mushroom when I'm hoping for a star, I'll start using it immediately but only boost enough to keep up with the pack while still staying behind, even if it means wasting most of the mushroom. Sometimes I will stay back for a long time until I get a star, lightning, or whatever item I want, and then I will make my move when I think the time is right.
There are obvious risks involved in sandbagging. Purposely putting yourself behind can go wrong in more ways than one. And there's always the possibility you will get bad items like bloopers, thunderclouds, or POW's, etc... that aren't going to do you much good. It's not always a reliable tactic, but on some tracks, it is almost a necessity to know how to sandbag if you want to do well consistently.
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