Rising From The Ashes: A Defense Of The Tri-Slosher

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into ink battles…

I like to mess around with a lot of weapons in Splatoon 2, but if there’s one group of weapons that I simply cannot stand, it’s what I call “ZR-spam weapons,” or weapons where the player must quickly and continuously mash the ZR trigger to fire. This category contains four types of weapons:

  • Nozzlenoses (and kinda-sorta Squeezers, but Squeezers at least have an auto-fire mode)
  • Splat Brellas
  • Any and all Brushes
  • Any and all Sloshers (except the Explosher; their fire rate is so slow that I tend to group them with chargers and splatlings)

To me, these accursed weapons are repetitive motion injuries just waiting to happen, and thus they are pure evil.

Unfortunately, over the last year or so I’ve been working on what I call “The 100-Win Challenge,” where I attempt to earn 100 ink battle wins with every weapon in Splatoon 2. This quest put me on a direct collision course with these blasted ZR-spam weapons, and while I’ve mostly avoided them to up to this point, last month a fellow Discord member suggested that I finally bite the bullet (bucket?) and dive into the Slosher class, starting with the Tri-Slosher.

For players who’ve been slinging ink since the start of Splatoon 2, just the mere mention of the weapon will bring back a host of bad memories. When Splatoon 2 launched, the Tri-Slosher (despite officially being slightly nerfed from the original game) quickly established itself as the best close-range weapon in the game, sporting an unmatched combination of power, accuracy, painting power, and kit utility (Burst Bombs and Ink Armor were also strong in the early days of the game). The weapon quickly took over the competitive scene, and became the bane of every player who didn’t immediate swap to it.

The backlash to this movement was swift and fierce, and Nintendo reacted with a series of balance patches over the first two months to bring the Tri-Slosher back to earth:

  • The maximum amount of damage per slosh was cut from 62 to 52, putting it on par with the .52 Gal (a strong slaying weapon in its own right, but nowhere near as reliable as the infernal bucket).
  • The range of the weapon was reduced by 9%, bringing it down from slightly beyond the .52’s reach to slightly within it (at least according to this page; Inkipedia’s official range page shows a much bigger range number for the .52)
  • The number of points required to charge Ink Armor jumped 30 points (a massive amount by Splatoon standards) from a potentially-spammable 180 to an impossible-to-spam 210.

The changes succeeded in knocking the Tri-Slosher from its lofty perch, and while it’s settled into a nice niche in the meta, it’s not the do-it-all nightmare it was back in the day (ironically, that title currently belongs to the .52 Gal!) The community could rest easy knowing that the bucket beast had been slain.

Much like Jaws, however, the threat of the Tri-Slosher never truly want away. You see, Nintendo has a bit of a secret: While the rest of us weren’t watching, the Splatoon team started quietly buffing the bucket again, reversing many of the old nerfs and even adding a few new powers to its arsenal:

  • A movement speed nerf that was applied when the game launched was partially restored, and the weapon was re-classified as lightweight rather than middleweight (which increased the player’s running and swimming speed).
  • The maximum damage of the weapon was restored to its original 62.
  • The points needed to charge Ink Armor were cut to 190.
  • The max fire rate was increased to let players slosh faster, and the gaps between the hit boxes of the weapon’s three shots were reduced.

A new kit was also introduced in the form of the Tri-Slosher Nouveau, and while it hasn’t seen the widespread use in high-level play that the original Tri-Slosher did, it’s a very powerful set in its own right.

In other words, the Tri-Slosher is nearly as powerful as it was back in its glory days, and remains a great option in both a slaying and supporting role. If you’re looking for a short-range weapon that’s flexible enough to handle nearly any situation (and you aren’t afraid of carpal tunnel), the Tri-Slosher should be on your radar.

The Details

As a weapon, the Tri-Slosher is defined by several key attributes:

  • Phenomenal Cosmic Power!: Simply put, this thing can rack up splats like nobody’s business. The weapon flings three primary bursts of ink per shot (one forwards, and one on each side of the forward shot), and these shots are not only fairly wide, but they’re all capable of applying the weapon’s max damage. Damage falloff is only applied when the weapon has a height advantage (depending on how high above the opponent you are, the damage can drop to a minimum of 35 per shot), so as long as you’re on even footing with or below your target, you’ll apply 62 damage with every slosh. Additionally, unlike many shooters like the .52 Gal, jumping while shooting does not decrease the weapon’s accuracy, allowing you to make defensive maneuvers without sacrificing your slaying power. Put this all together (and don’t forget the Slosher’s signature trick of throwing ink over walls to splat unseen opponents), and you’ve got a dependable two-shot-kill weapon that’s easy to pick up and barely requires any accuracy at all (if you’re in the ballpark with your shot, the enemy is going down; hence the “no aim, no brain” mantra that a lot of players throw around regarding this weapon).
  • Itty Bitty Living Space: Most of this bucket’s early nerfs have been at least partially restored, but the one that wasn’t (the 9% range reduction) is a big one. This thing has an effective killing range of about six inches, and most players are going to approach you by not approaching you, and instead try to maintain proper social distance and lean on their superior range. Therefore, success with the Tri-Slosher will depend on how effectively you can close these gaps and neutralize your opponents.
  • A Zapper Clone?: I praised the N-Zap ’85 for its flexibility, but the Tri-Slosher can be just as handy in these same situations:
    • If you need to slay, the Tri-Slosher isn’t that far off from the N-Zap’s range, and it requires none of the accuracy! (The N-Zap has some serious shot RNG when jumping, while the Slosher has none.)
    • If you need map control, the Tri-Slosher’s wider three-shot design gives it solid painting power, and lets you retake an area relatively quickly.
    • If you need bombs, both Tri-Slosher kits have them available.
    • If you need Ink Armor to give your team some extra defensive bulk, the Tri-Slosher has that too!

If you’re worried about the chaotic mess that is ranked solo queue, the Tri-Slosher can be a safe choice to handle whatever comes your way.

  • There’s A Hole In My Bucket: Given its power and flexibility, it’s easy to a adopt a ‘they who sloshes fastest wins’ mindset with this weapon. However, at 6% of your ink tank per shot, you’ll find that you go through your tank a lot quicker than you expect, especially if you’re doing a lot of painting or leaning on your sub weapon. Besides the range issue, ink management will likely be your biggest concern with the Tri-Slosher, so depending on the role you’re trying to fill, you’ll want to either be more judicious with your shots or run enough efficiency perks to keep your tank as full as possible.

What all this means is that the Tri-Slosher can do just about anything you want it to, provided you a) get close enough to do it, and b) have enough ink left to do it when you get there. These can be significant caveats, but they’re not as hard to work around as you might think.

The Flavors

Your options for the Tri-Slosher are as follows:

  • Tri-Slosher (Burst Bomb/Ink Armor): This is the OG version that terrorized the ink battle scene back when the game launched, and even if we set aside the power of the main weapon for a moment, it’s not hard to see why this weapon was so powerful. Ink Armor was, is, and likely will always be a top-tier special in Splatoon 2, as it gives every living teammate a shield that can absorb 30 HP of cumulative damage and will completely block a single attack that exceeds that number (Splashdown, Baller, etc.). At 190 points, the Tri-Slosher can technically spam armor as fast as the .96 Gal can, although being closer to the action with a bucket means you’re likely going to get splatted more, and thus you’ll lose a lot more special charge and not activate as many armors over the course of a match. Burst Bombs have seen their share of nerfs since the game launched (most notably having their ink consumption boosted from 25% to 40% of your ink tank), but they’ve also gotten some slight damage and painting buffs since then, and they’ve got some solid synergy with the Tri-Slosher itself (as ThatSrb2Dude shows in his video above, a direct Burst Bomb hit plus a single slosh might be the fastest way to splat someone in the game).

This is the kit that sees a lot more use in competitive play, and with its base slaying power and Ink Armor assists, this thing will stack bodies like cordwood and regularly rack up double-digit splat counts eve in Turf Wars. However, I actually found this version to be the least powerful of the two versions, and is more comfortable serving in a supporting role than trying to take over a game. If you want real power, you’ll want to make it rain.

  • Tri-Slosher Nouveau (Splat Bomb/Ink Storm): When I started messing with the Tri-Slosher, I was 100% convinced that the nouveau kit would be the weaker of the two. I couldn’t have been more wrong: My splat counts were generally higher with the original bucket, but my win rate was much higher with the nouveau version. This thing ended up being the more aggressive of the two kits: Splat Bombs are generally considered the best sub weapon in the game thanks to their power and versatility, and Ink Storm (a raincloud of ink that deserves far more credit than it gets) suddenly gives you an option against opponents trying to beat you with their range. At 170 points, Ink Storm is quick to charge even in the most trying of circumstances, and serves as a great way to knock opponents off their spot and divert their attention long enough for you to move in for the kill. This weapon wasn’t just the more aggressive of the Tri-Sloshers—it would flat-out dominate matches and even entire lobbies at time, so much so that even a Slosher-hater like me had to respect its authority.

The original Tri-Slosher may fit better into the current competitive meta, but I’d argue that the Tri-Slosher Nouveau has more than enough juice to force its way into that conversation. These buckets have slightly different superpowers, but in the end you can’t go wrong with using either version.

The Gear

In putting together this guide, the thing that struck me the most was how different the gearset I eventually settled on while using the Tri-Slosher was from the sets used by high-level competitive players. The differences primarily stem from the role the player is trying to fill: In top-level competitive play, the Tri-Slosher is a slaying weapon first and foremost, whereas I (whose only top-level competitive experience is watching leagues/tournaments on Twitch) prioritize flexibility and tend to gravitate towards supporting roles. The choice you make about what type of player you want to be will in turn drive your gear ability choices.

(Surprisingly, despite the differences between my gear and the gear of the pros, we all seem to run roughly the same gear regardless of the Tri-Slosher version we’re using.)

If you choose to be a cold-blooded slayer, your goal is to be in your opponents’ faces as much as possible, pushing them back and eliminating them if possible. Any time you spend not engaging your enemies is ultimately time wasted, and while you accept that the constant combat will lead to a higher death count, you want to do everything in your power to a) shorten the time between the last battle and the next one, and b) ensure that the deck is stacked in your favor when a fight breaks out. So what abilities should you use?

  • Quick Respawn: This tends to be the ability that people stack the most on aggressive Tri-Slosher builds (although part of that is because so many favorable Tri-Slosher abilities are special non-stackable ones). Quick Respawn shortens the time it takes you to respawn after getting killed, and while it isn’t the super ability that it was in Splatoon (Splatoon 2 requires you to have not splatted an enemy between your previous death and your current death for it to take effect), it’s a good failsafe if you find yourself getting crushed repeatedly (two mains will cut off about a quarter of your respawn time, assuming Respawn Punisher isn’t in play). Tri-Sloshers, much like NFL cornerbacks, have to have short memories when they get beat, and Quick Respawn keeps you from paying too heavy a price for your loss.
  • Swim Speed Up: If there’s one thing both I and top players agree on, it’s that quick movement is key to effectively using a Tri-Slosher. Your window to either put an opponent in your killing range or get the heck out of theirs may be small, and Swim Speed Up helps let you get back to the battle or out of trouble a lot faster. This doesn’t seem to be stacked as much as Quick Respawn, but one main of SSU will make you about 6% faster, which sometimes can be all the difference.
  • Comeback: Comeback can be huge at the right moment, as it gives you the equivalent of one main ability of (deep breath) Ink Saver Main, Ink Saver Sub, Ink Recovery Up, Run Speed Up, Swin Speed Up, and Special Charge Up for 20 seconds after someone splats you! Nearly all of these abilities are super important to Tri-Sloshers (they make you faster, give you more shots or bombs, and help you spam your special), which means that when you get back to the fight, you can turn the tide of battle in a hurry.
  • Ninja Squid/Stealth Jump: We’ll talk about this more a bit later, but stealth can be a major part for a Tri-Slosher’s game (after all, it’s a lot easier to lure people into your killing range when they don’t realize you’re there!). Ninja Squid will make it harder for opponents to track your movements while you’re swimming, while Stealth Jump will hide your Super Jump landing point from far-away opponents and (hopefully) keep them from camping your jump. You’ll sacrifice a bit of speed with both perks, but this can be countered with additional Swim Speed Up or Quick Super Jump abilities.
  • Last-Ditch Effort: If your back is against the wall, Last-Ditch Effort will make you even more scary: If certain conditions are met (either it’s late in the game or you opponents are closing to knocking you out in a ranked game), you get the equivalent of 1.5 main abilities of Ink Saver Main, Ink Saver Sub, Ink Recovery Up, and Quick Respawn. (Just imagine for a moment how much power you obtain when LDE gets stacked on top of Comeback. You’re basically a super-squid for 20 seconds!) It’s a bit of a “save for a rainy day” perk, but when it rains, you pour on the pain.
  • “The Three Four Subs”: I subscribe to at least part of ThatSRB2Dude’s “5 Subs” theory, so including one sub ability apiece of Quick Super Jump, Bomb Defense Up DX, and Ink Resistance is useful regardless of what weapon you’re running. Top competitive players tend to include the fourth sub ability (Special Saver) in their builds to mitigate special loss from dying, especially if they have Ink Armor. (The last sub Ink Recovery Up shows up occasionally, but doesn’t seem to be quite as prevalent.)

If you’re more of a support player, your internal calculus changes slightly: You expect to use your weapon more (for painting), but you expect to die less (you’re not engaging the enemy as much because you’re not the primary slayer). In turn, you expect you have your special available more often, but you can’t rely on perks like Quick Respawn or Comeback to come into play very often. This led me to use the following abilities:

  • Swim Speed Up: Just like with the slayer set, movement remains a critical part of your game, but…
  • Ink Resistance: I found that having unhindered movement was really critical, as you’ll often find yourself pushing up against the limits of your map control. One sub of IR didn’t seem to do the trick, so I ended up going with three subs to maintain my swim speed even in adverse conditions. (This perk has some serious synergy with Ink Storm, allowing you move quickly through the rain’s aftermath despite its less-than-perfect coverage.)
  • Ink Saver Main: After about the millionth time I got caught right next to an enemy with zero ink, I started running this ability to try to be a sitting duck less often. The first three subs you add will each give you an extra slosh (note that four/five subs won’t give your four/five shots, but one main and one/two subs will), and with a weapon this powerful, having a few extra shots can sometimes make all the difference.
  • Ink Recovery Up: You don’t always have a lot of time to rest while you’re busy sloshing, so having some IRU on hand helps you recharge ink faster and make the most of your down time. I tended to roll with three subs/one main, but you could get away with less depending on your playstyle.
  • Special Charge Up: I tend to run at least one main of Special Charge Up with an Ink Armor weapon like the Tri-Slosher (it cuts the point threshold fro 190 to 175), and while it’s not strictly necessary on the Tri-Slosher Nouveau, cutting its 170 point threshold to 156 really lets you make it rain.
  • Special Saver: This is mostly for conserving your special gauge for Ink Armor. I used one main of this ability, but you could potentially cut this to one or two sub abilities. It’s not necessary at all for the Tri-Slosher Nouveau—the weapon recharges Ink Storm fast enough as it is, and there are more important things to use your ability slots for.
  • “The Zero Subs?”: I subscribe to at least part of ThatSRB2Dude’s “5 Subs” theory, but with the Tri-Slosher I ended up turning my personal “3 Subs” theory on its head, dumping Quick Super Jump and Bomb Defense Up DX entirely and rolling with full main abilities of Special Saver, Ink Recovery Up, and Ink Resistance. (For the Tri-Slosher Nouveau, I dumped the Special Saver for my usual three subs, although with better gear management you could dump the extra Ink Resistance sub for something else.) I was a bit nervous about the change, but the extra efficiency focus made the Tri-Slosher much more successful in the end, even in ranked matches.

In the end, the abilities you’ll need to be successful will depend on how you decide to use the weapon. If you’re not sure what the best playstyle is for you, try the weapon out with a basic slayer or support set, see what your personal pain points are, and adjust your gear as needed to address the problem. As the old saying goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, tri, tri again.”

The Playstyle

The awesome power of the Tri-Slosher gives you a lot of flexibility in dealing with any scenario, so the first rule of thumb with the weapon is “stay busy.” You may have a primary focus on slaying or supporting, but if you’ve got a free moment and a need, pitch in and make use of that flexibility, whether it be helping secure map control, jumping in to help a teammate in a fight, or even helping with the objective. Here are a few ideas that can help you find success:

  • Think like Jaws, or at least a carbon roller. Sharking isn’t the most well-liked tactic in the world and will draw angry taunts from your opponents when they find you, but it’s one of the most effective ways for a weapon like the Tri-Slosher to neutralize someone’s range advantage and take out opponents. While you’ll want to stay mindful of the big picture (a teammate may need help, the objective might need to be moved, etc.), if you’ve got the chance, find a good hiding spot and wait for opposing players to come into your house.
  • When stuck in a pitched battle, take some advice from House of Pain.

Jumping while attacking is an effective defensive maneuver with any weapon, but it’s especially useful with a Tri-Slosher because you don’t lose any shot accuracy while doing so. (The wall of ink you’re throwing out may further obscure your movement.) I find that jumping slightly closer or farther away when flinging ink can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing a 1v1 with a weapon whose range resembles yours.

  • When facing an opponent with superior range, use your entire kit to keep them off balance. While discretion may be the better part of valor, sometimes an opponent is holding a key defensive position and it falls to you to deal with them. If your can’t reach someone safely with your main weapon, keep the rest of your arsenal in mind. Bombs are great at pressuring weapons with longer charge times, and leading with Ink Storm forces your foe to move or die (and the ensuing chaos might get you close enough for a few sloshes). While Ink Armor is primarily a supportive special for your teammates, you can also call your own number and use the extra HP to rush your opponent and try to get them before they get you.
  • Be judicious with your sloshes. While more sloshing is generally better (it lets you claim turf and charge your special), try to keep a few sloshes handy for when the unexpected occurs. Even with all the ink efficiency perks I run, I still run out of ink far more times than I’d like to admit, and an empty bucket is usually a dead bucket. (On the flip side, the Tri-Slosher is also well equipped to handle surprises provided it has the ammunition: If an ambushing opponent gets too close and misses that first shot or two, you can quickly wheel around and squash them.)
  • Keep track of your opponents and try to anticipate their next move. Maintaining situational awareness is key no matter what weapon you’re using, but the Tri-Slosher’s mobility gives you a better chance to react to what you’re seeing, even if the opponent is already in position. The moment you get an inkling (or octoling?) of where an enemy is and where they’re going, try to beat them to the spot. Getting somewhere quickly enough will give you time to find a good hiding spot to ambush your foes, but even without the element of surprise, sometimes just knowing you’re around is enough to slow down an opponent and force them to think about their approach.

Despite its “no aim, no brain” reputation, it’s your mental game that will determine the success you find with the Tri-Slosher. Having a higher level of mechanical skill won’t automatically make you a better Tri-Slosher player—instead, it’s your decision-making skills that will make the difference as you decide when and how to engage the enemy team.

Okay, so the Tri-Slosher won’t solve every problem…but Ink Storm would at least give them some shade for a while.

The Conclusion

The Tri-Slosher put quite a scare in the Splatoon 2 crowd when the game launched, and it’s powers have mostly been restored since it was vanquished back in 2017. So why isn’t it a bigger part of the current meta, and why is the Tri-Slosher Nouveau relegated to the fringes of competitive play? Part of it is that the game has changed a fair bit since then: For example, the .52 Gal didn’t have a Kensa version back in the day, and neither Main Power Up (which improves .52 accuracy) nor the Booyah Bomb (which will clear out an area a lot faster than an Ink Storm) existed until late in 2018. The meta has gotten more range-focused and shooter-heavy over time, and while the original, almost-restored Tri-Slosher has still found a role on certain modes, it’s simply not the do-it-all behemoth it used to be.

However, these buckets remains a powerful force in the right hands, and I’d argue that the Tri-Slosher (and especially the Tri-Slosher Nouveau) deserve another look from the Splatoon community. With solid slaying and support abilities and strong kits, these weapons can kick tails, take names, and win games in any mode you put them in.

…Just be sure to put some money away in your health savings account before you start using them. You’ll want it for your hand surgery in a few years.

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