Battleblock Theater is some stupid fun. Co-op platform puzzle challenges can be straight forward enough. Though not always as easy as one might describe, they're meant to be figured out eventually. Something you'll want to learn quickly that isn't immediately explained though are the weapon tools. For five yarn balls each, you can bribe the cat guards into giving you a weird weapon they happen to have laying around the theater. Throwing fireballs? Where was that? Behind the desk?
I can see a lot of people getting frustrated in the competitive portion of BBT. Which is why I wanted to write this out. I played in the beta and experienced a lot of shenanigans earlier than most and figure out some things. The forums were riddled with complaints of balance though in the end, my opinion is that a game about throwing exploding dancing frogs at your opponent shouldn't be taken too seriously.
: Everyone's first weapon and a weapon that's honestly a bit hard to be effective with in the beginning. You're going to need to play through a few chapters of the story just to earn the yarn balls needed to get something that's not the frisbee mine, because everyone else will be using dramatically different and easier to use weapons.
The frisbee mine is primarily area of denial. When thrown, it can strike a prisoner and knock them down for a second. But only after about few more seconds will the mine explode. It'll never explode prematurely, which makes scoring aggressive kills with it difficult. Still, it's nature as a deterrent has merit in gametypes that aren't Muckle (team deathmatch). After all, your first reaction after getting knocked down by it is to get away from it, right? Throw it around in Capture the Horse or Ball and you're sure to deter your foes.
: Practically everybody's favorite weapon online. Just fire and forget easymode most of the time, but there is a science behind that will make or break it's effectiveness.
You throw this bad boy in a lob. It'll either explode after a few seconds or, and this is important, after it makes contact. Unlike the frisbee mine, it's detonation on impact is precisely what makes this weapon so appealing. Just set up shop on high ground and watch those peasants below you struggle!
Luckily, there are options around it. If you get in close, the grenade will straight up not come out. This thing is effective at mid-range but not much else unless they intend on dying with you. Something not well explored is the ability to slide kick grenades. If you're not running away from grenades, you should be sliding towards them and hopefully you'll take out the thrower in the process. Of course, how easy it is to score kills makes this a gem on Muckle and other modes where you know players will be lining up like King of the Hill.
: Ah, the fan. The bane of Ball mode. Using the power of pure modern convenience, the fan will blow and push anything its way in the opposite direction for a few seconds. Grenades, frisbees, other players, and yes, also the ball in the Ball gametype. This item is purely defensive but damn if it isn't defensive!
This thing isn't a whirlwind though. It's effect can only be felt close up and its cone of effect is pretty narrow. Still, players can pretty much camp the baskets and spam it all day unless you get creative on how you approach the fan. Of course, like I said, it needs to be close and within it's reach. That makes it inflexible to a different approach. Not to mention once you break it out, you're stuck with it until it finishes its business.
There's nothing quite like blowing someone off the stage and into water though. It'll see the most use on Ball but expect to see it on Muckle if only to screw with people spamming grenades.
: Probably in second place after grenades for ease of use. Once it hits, it sets it's target on fire. They won't die immediately though. They'll burn a slow, agonizing death, just like in real life! Also just life in real life, they're free to spend their last few seconds alive praying or running into other people they wish to die alongside them. Including you. Your hands might be fireproof to throw pyromania but the rest of your body isn't.
Needless to say, if you throw this into a crowd, expect to create pandemonium. The fireball is slow and travels only a set distance however. The distance is actually quite short. Short enough that most people will immediately realize the option of setting you on fire in their last act of vengeance, so be flighty as you use it.
Just think, "What would Ryu from Street Fighter do?" though. Ryu wouldn't just throw out a single fireball willy nilly. He'd punch his opponent then combo his fireball. The same is true here. Any weapon benefits from you punching your opponent first and throwing your weapon but the fireball benefits especially because it also gives you time to runaway from your flaming vendetta. You'll see this a lot in Muckle. May God help you if you throw this into a mosh pit.
: When these pretty little bubbles are launched, they immediately travel at an upward angle until they meet something to impede their path, where they then stick around a little longer until they pop much later. Their upwards trajectory makes them hard to use in close combat but the fact that they last for a really long time makes them great for area denial and defense.
Their upward trajectory also hides their one weakness: they're harmless when jumped on. Move into it at any other angle and you're just bones but they can actually help you gain altitude if you jump on them. So it's not exactly threatening if you attempt to use this if your opponent has an immediate height advantage.
The best (and most annoying) way to use this weapon is to spam it a lot and create a linear cloud of death nobody will want to enter. Luckily, hitting other weapons will pop them and the fan trivializes them. But if you want to make getting somewhere difficult, like in Capture the Horse of Color the World, this thing is an absolute menace.
: These weird little guys come out with all the pizzaz of a Broadway show and exit like the Mythbusters: with an explosion.
These guys travel in a straight line, on the ground, until they either touch something or just run out breath. Then they explode similarly like grenades. Unlike grenades, they don't explode on impact, so if you brush up against one, you have a chance of escaping. Like the bubbles but on a lower altitude, these little guys are annoying when spammed for area denial. Fortunately, they only know one dance number, so getting around these guys is about taking the high ground.
Other items will make them prematurely explode, so be generous with your own items when you feel things are getting cramped. They last for a while so expect to see dozens of dance numbers over the course of a game. Capture the Horse can become a nightmare with these things but imagine seeing them show up on your turf in Color the World.
: Fairly uncommon from my experiences. The paper airplane is thrown out at a curvy line in one direction. It's not exactly straight but it is straight enough that you can stand on one end of a map to bombard a far away area with exploding paper airplanes.
The paper airplane is the only item that can be remote detonated. It also has two states when active: healthy and crumpled. These two animations pretty much define whether or not if it's actually flying or if it's landed. Regardless, after you throw the airplane, you can detonate it after a brief priming period. Due to the priming though, the airplane is very unsuited to close quarters combat. But that's ok because this weapon can go further than any other weapon in the game. And the remote detonation lets you do goofy things trying to score explosion kills.
Not a lot off maps come with the space you need to really be comfortable with the airplane but casually bombarding spaces in King of the Hill would go a long way.
: The vacuum has one purpose and one purpose only: the suck up stuff. Unlike the fan, which can blow people off a stage, the vacuum will bring them closer. On the bright side, it completely nullifies items it sucks up. So if someone has an itchy trigger finger with his item, you can suck it up and tell them you keep a clean house.
There are limited functions to bringing enemies closer to you though. While the fan has more utility, the vacuum is even more defensive and limiting. On the other hand, if you have an aggressive team mate, you can clean the area of enemy danger and leave your partner to throwing out destruction.
There is one gametype this really shines though and this is Ball. The fan will blow stuff away but the vacuum will suck up enemy shots and then give you the ball to go on the offensive.
: Personally my favorite weapon as it is generally a multipurpose offensive weapon. The boomerang stuns anyone it hits, which is time that can be spent knocking the enemy around or time to to put more distance between you two.
The fact that it goes back and forth between the user also means it takes up a lot of space and can control it well. As long as the map has hazards, you can throw it up and generally use that time to kill your enemies somehow.
I love this item on Muckle, but like I said, it has multiple uses and can be easily used for other competitive modes due to its flexibility.
: This weapon has limited use due to being more of an exploratory tool than a combat tool. Still, this weapon flies at a generous arc and distance and can still score a few points for general annoyance and long range pestering.
It's main benefit it creating makeshift platforms to reach high areas. Very rarely can you use the ricochet it causes from bouncing off its first target to make double hits.
Overall, this is easily best kept for story mode or challenges.
: Like the boomerang, this item stuns enemies it hits. Unlike the boomerang, it won't stun your allies and it travels in a bouncing arc. Another rarity online due to its weird arc hitbox, it nonetheless has properties contained within both the grenade and boomerang that yields a bit of both. Try using it in situations similar to the grenade and you'll see that it has less collateral damage, so you can use it without fear when your friend is mixed up with enemies.
: This thing fills a role similar to the boomerang but with an extended reach. Only instead of covering the area in front of you, the ice cannon shoots two ice cubes are random arcs, covering a major part of the sky in front of you. While the area in front is relatively safe, you can use this from low ground and deny downward slopes for the enemy.
Instead of stunning the enemy, you freeze them blocks. They retain more movement compared to actually being stunned but they stay frozen for a longer amount of time. Either way, they're sitting ducks to follow up attacks, whether you wanna knock them into a hazard or if your buddy has different plans.
The exaggerate arc leaves the ice cannon more suited to being used based on map design rather than gametype. Any area that puts you on a lower plane, especially on defense, will give the ice cannon a significant advantage.
: While the Forceball looks lethal, it's actually completely support based and sees more use in story and challenge mode like the dart gun. Not only does this item deal pure knockback, lacking any destructive force, but it travels almost completely vertically, so it's hard to even get this thing to properly hit. The blast radius is admittedly pretty generous, and that knockback can be pretty useful on blowing people into hazards, it's limited hit zone means it's difficult to do anything besides knocking people high into the air to reach hard to reach things.
And there you have it. All thirteen items you can unlock, which you admittedly unlock pretty fast in the game. Undoubtedly, your first few matches in BBT's Arena modes can be confusing if you don't know what these items are capable of but hopefully a brief primer will better prepare you for what happens next in modes like Muckle, Ball, Capture the Horse, and so on.