Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drunken loli is go

Suika is a rushdown character, but she's special. In addition to rushdown, she also has good melee zoning and great defense. She's got poor antiair defense, but she can resolve almost any problem by simply running backwards. Her backwards run can be used to cancel projectiles and stay on the ground rather than HJC.

Suika's backdash has a few invulnerable frames at the start. It also can be cancelled into specials, so you can  reversal backdash and special a lot of meaty wakeups. Don't do it all the time, as some meaty moves (especially bullets) have really lengthy active windows and will hit you out of your special. Reversal backdash is pretty good in general though.

Suika is strong ground-to-ground and can actually footsie with Yukari. In fact, really good use of far 5a and charged 6a can make it really dangerous for anyone on the ground.

Antiair, Suika is better just backdashing (backrunning?) to deny the opponent an approach angle. 2b can be used as antiair with mixed success. It has exactly 1 active frame so you have to be pretty baller with it. Remember that you can cancel a backrun into a special such as OSB or firepunch to catch a jump attack. OSB is a pretty respectable antiair, all things considered.

On offense, your main string is 5a or 2a into 3a or 6a into 5b into highjump 9, then j6a at the lowest possible height. It's really crucial to get that minimum height j6a. If you whiff it, you're toast, so practice hard. This is probably the most technical thing about Suika. 5a 3a 5b hjc9 j6a 5b d6 j5a land repeat.

Suika's bullets are really dense, especially OSB. Don't throw lots of bullets, but do use 5b to provide cover and 6b or OSB to punish stuff. Fire Oni and C bullets are special-use, you only throw them when you think you can get away with it. White holes are a much better version of these bullets, they are faster so if you want more bullet pressure mixups you can definitely run white holes.

66c is your only graze attack and it gets its graze frames kind of late, plus it's really, really unsafe on block unless you cancel it into a rock throw super. Still you kind of need it.

OSB is mandatory in virtually all matchups. Some people run firepunch, but you basically need to MAX it for it to be really good. Only do that if you have a fast-drawing deck, eg. don't have 5-card supers or lots of reversals. I can see running firepunch in a deck that has Superdense Conflagration or something, but it isn't my thing.

vs. Reimu
Reimu sucks. She has much better control of the map than you do, and her pressure is as strong as yours. It's really a hard fight overall but there's nothing particularly special about it. If you can get into a melee ground zoning position, fight hard to keep it as it's your one strong position.

vs. Marisa
About the same as Reimu, except Marisa has less control and more damage. You control the screen a lot more reliably, since she has no decent graze but she has LAZERZ and you have no decent graze either.

vs. Sakuya
Fuck this.

vs. Alice
This matchup is so bad. It's not Sakuya bad or anything, but your sweetspot for melee is Alice's too. You can actually fight Alice in a footsie war if you can stay out of range, because the doll shotgun has a Dhalsim-style hitbox; the hitbox extends slightly forward of Alice's hand so you can actually hit it with your gourd. Don't rely on this trick because it relies on Alice doing the doll shotgun out of range. Also, if she does the air version it doesn't have the extended hitbox. Anyway, Alice is really strong at controlling the map, so you must absolutely keep her locked down. If she ever escapes and you end up blocking a jab or something, you're probably going to be dealing with doll bullet spam and crazy dumb mixups for a long time.

vs. Patchouli
Because Suika has no good graze attack, Patchy is strong here. Don't expect to walk away with this one. Also, Patchy's reversal specials are annoying. I'm not sure how Suika wins, this matchup feels impossible.

vs. Youmu
YES A GOOD MATCHUP. You are stronger on the ground than her, but always be careful as she's even faster than you are. Her bullet cover is good, but you have the best defense in the game -- backwards running. It's close to even, but Suika does amazing damage for less effort and has more zoning ability. There's nothing really weird about this match that I haven't explained somewhere else.

vs. Remi
Probably close to even, maybe a little Remi-favored. Remi likes to "jump in" using her forward dash, which is really annoying for you. Try to backdash to make her whiff, but it won't stop her from attacking. Consider backdash > OSB but remember, her dash grazes. You are much stronger if you can take to the air. j6a beats most of Remi's good options and Suika can actually fly with great mobility. j2a beats literally everything Remi has, but don't miss with it.

vs. Yuyuko
Actually not too bad. I think it's Yuyu-favored still, but it's not awful. It's not like she can reversal DP through your offense unless she likes pain. If she ever gets momentum, you can backwards run to negate a lot of the danger. Remember that you have babies, which block Yuyu C bullets, and that your B and OSB bullets go through her wisps. As Yuyuko, there is nothing special about this matchup, but you basically have to corner Suika in order to actually get the advantage unless she blocks something.

vs. Yukari
Like I said, melee zoning is a bit risky, but you can scare Yukari into thinking about it a little if you successfully land a counterhit f5a. The trick is to get her a bit afraid to do 66c all the time, so you can throw bullets on the ground more safely. Her C bullets actually dispel most of your dense bullets. Be careful. As Yukari, just play normally, except be aware of f5a because it does kinda force you to not spam 66c > supercancel and actually requires you to think on the ground.

vs. Reisen
This matchup is also really hard for Suika. See Reimu and Marisa, but harder. Her B bullets stuff you out of most approaches, her denser bullets eat yours, and her pressure is insane. At our level, it's close to even because Suika is rewarded more for actually scoring hits but Reisen is rewarded more for having anything blocked. The good news is that backwards run is still good if she does anything midscreen.

vs. Aya
No idea, probably like RAY-MOO

vs. Komachi
Suika favored, but nobody cares

vs. Iku
I actually think this is more viable than the JP players think? Suika is very strong once she gets OSB in this matchup. OSB is basically your answer to everything Iku does. Jump in? OSB. Attack on the ground? OSB. Throw bullets? OSB. Iku's still strong (she's Iku) but it seems very winnable for Suika.

vs. Tenshi
JP says it's even, I think it's Tenshi-favored. Nothing else to say really, again a lot like Reisen imo. Obviously she doesn't have as good a midscreen as Reisen, but she does tons more damage. Backwards run doesn't work very well here.

vs. Sanae
Any rushdown character can mess with Sanae spamming alt Kanako, so I think this is probably a roughly even or slightly Suika-favored matchup, since Suika can possibly take a round off Sanae before she even gets Kanako. If Kanako does hit the field, it's a bit rough. Sanae's 5c is rather dense, and she does have good bullet coverage, but you completely rule her world on the ground if you are allowed to get into f5a range. You also rule her face in the air.

vs. Cirno
uhh... f5a too good

vs. China
lolwut JP says this shit is even, Suika is like basically a better China. Ring kicks are quite powerful, so it isn't quite "get into f5a range and win" but China's offense is crappy and yours is airtight.

vs. Utsuho
Good damage, rushdown, good ground game, decent midscreen game. Yes, Utsuho is pretty outclassed here. It's definitely not an easy fight for her. Okuu basically has to run away in this fight, and she's like, the worst runaway character in the whole game.

vs. Suwako
Refer to the general Suwako post. Suika heavily advantaged here, mostly because Suika has incredibly powerful offense like Suwako along with a better midscreen and huge damage off jumping normals.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

E6 Level 6 duels!

As always, PvP is a thing!

JC is omitted from PvP; either he wins for free due to a successful Tasha or loses outright. For epeen purposes, we'll assume he loses all his fights.

Alain enters level 6 with:
14 str, 14 con, 16 wis (needed for spells)
Combat Casting, Shielded Casting, Somatic Weaponry, War and Destruction domains
mwk bastard sword, mwk fullplate, +1 large steel shield
total HP 42.5, AC 21, +8 total attack bonus
mainhand avg 7.5

Batman enters level 6 with:
18 str, 14 dex, 16 con, 13 wis
Combat Reflexes, Improved Unarmed Strike, Ascetic Hunter, Two-Weapon Style.
mwk greatsword, +1 chain shirt
total HP 48.5, AC 22, +9/+8/+4/+3 total attack bonus
mainhand avg 13, offhand avg 6.5
Note: Batman's real weapon is a +1 guisarme, but he will be using a mwk greatsword for close range battle.
We will assume that Batman does not have a combat animal companion. We will also assume he chose Humanoid (Reptilian) and Outsider (Evil) as his two favored enemy choices. Humanoid (Human) is a reasonable choice for him but it makes the vs. Kaeli very one-sided. Outsider (Good) is not a reasonable choice for him, obviously.

Kaeli enters level 6 with: (4 bonus feats)
14 str, 18 dex, 14 con
Two-Weapon Fighting, Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Focus (scimitar), Combat Expertise, Weapon Specialization (Scimitar), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (+1 feat that doesn't matter)
+1 scimitar x2, chain shirt
total HP 49.5, AC 19 (including dodge bonus), +8/+8/+3/+3 total attack bonus
mainhand avg 7.5, offhand avg 6.5

No one's feat choices are optimized for a level 6 fight. Alain is best taking Divine Quicken and Extra Turning and two-shotting people with basically guaranteed hitting inflict spells. Batman has a range of optimal choices but these get him closer to monk gestalt. Kaeli's options are focused on getting dervish early; her final feat is probably Spring Attack, Power Attack (as a prereq for Cleave) or One True Style, none of which do anything in these fights. Equipment is assumed to be appropriate for level 6 characters who are not spending consumables or have utility items; I think Kaeli's dual +1 scimitars might be overdoing it, I dunno. The gear level is probably low, but similar to what is likely to exist in the game; these characters are likely to rely on buffs to hit their enhancements rather than permanent +stat gear.

All fights begin in melee range. This disadvantages Batman (Alain has Shielded Casting) but I don't feel this is a big issue.

Alain vs. Batman
Alain's one attack has 30% hit chance, smite 50%. Spiritual Weapon is a little better, 35% for avg 6.5 damage. Bull's Strength brings him to 50% for 9.5 avg.
Batman's first two swings are 40%, second two 15%.
Alain has a very low chance of winning; Batman is outputting somewhere around 10 damage a round while Alain is stuck with around 6, and it takes him 2 spells to get there, meaning he's already behind 20hp. Even with heals, this seems unwinnable. Note that Alain's Cure Serious healing only heals 19.5 and costs him a round, for a net gain of 9.5 hp.

Alain vs. Kaeli
This fight is stupid. On paper, Alain wins due to heals; Kaeli can barely hit him and does low damage when she does, while Kaeli's AC is kind of low and Alain hits her 45%. However, that's not actually how this fight goes.
Kaeli can take -5 on Combat Expertise, bringing her AC to 24. This makes Alain's hit chance a mere 20%, while Kaeli has four 15% hit chances due to crits. Alain can go up to 30% with Bull's Strength, but Spiritual Weapon only hits 25%. Kaeli's doing a little over 3 damage a round, Alain is dealing about 5.5, Alain has to drop 2 rounds every 7 buffing (spiritual weapon first, then bull's, then attack until bull's runs out, then heal and repeat). With this pattern, Alain eventually outlasts her but it takes over a full minute of combat. He does have the spells to keep this up long enough (4 level 2s and 2 level 3s). Over 8 rounds, Kaeli deals 24 average damage. Alain heals 19.5 per Cure Serious casting, and he could keep up his full assault for 16, followed by bull's strength and another 5 rounds of 3 avg, followed by another heal. Even if the RNG favors her that far, he can expend one more heal, too (though with almost no damage output).

Batman vs. Kaeli
AC 22. Fucking hell that shit's imba.
Batman deals far, far too much damage to Kaeli; she goes down in 4-5 rounds on the average if she doesn't use full Combat Expertise. Unfortunately, that screws her down to ~3 damage per round, while Batman can still hit for about 7. Ugh. The RNG hella favors Batman here too, as a lucky crit could hit Kaeli for over half her HP (36 damage) while a max crit from Kaeli, even if she confirmed it (much less likely) would only do 22.

tl;dr: wtf e6 rangers

Super Alain Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
Hold Person is SL 2, giving Alain 4 shots (Spiritual Weapon is a domain spell so he got an extra one in the vs. Kaeli battle) to win. Alain has a save DC of 15. Neither opponent will defeat him before he gets all four shots off, and even in the event of unlucky RNG events, he can pop a heal. If his opponent is held, Alain gets  to coup de grace (a respectful tap on the neck with his weapon).
Kaeli has a pitiful +2 to save, giving a 60% success chance. She is over 90% likely to fail by her third save. She has a 1% chance to save four times in a row.
Batman has +3, with similar chances. He will only win with favorable RNG.
Holding action to interrupt him is not ideal. A 30-40% chance to hit with a single attack is not ideal, and you can't hold a full attack.

tl;dr: battle cleric 2 stronk

Monday, November 5, 2012

The impact of stealth on combat

This isn't about MMOs, it's about real life/pen and paper games. However, some MMO experience might also help understand my point. It's especially relevant for e6, but it does affect how I think about stealth in Rifts.

Two sides are engaged in combat. Suddenly, a rogue comes out of stealth/invisibility and backstabs a dude in the battle (who dies) then retreats, attempting to get out of combat. This happens a lot in big MMO PvP battles. Think about the last time this happened and what you did?

Maybe you were aware of the possibility of a sneaking rogue. The initial arrival of the rogue didn't surprise you, and because you were constantly looking around for him, you spotted him and called him out or attacked him.

But the chances are that he took you by surprise a bit. Maybe you caught him as he got away, sprinting out of range of combat. Even though you saw him, you probably didn't get a chance to engage. He caught you by surprise and your reactions are slow. Now you're aware of him, but he's long gone and you have no idea where he could be. There's also the chance that you simply didn't notice him at all and he got away for free. You might notice later that your pal is dead, but you won't immediately attribute it to the rogue. He probably just got popped by the enemy DPS or something.

Now add in distance to the mix. Even if you're aware of a stealther, a long-ranged attack could come from anywhere and it isn't immediately apparent where those packets of damage are coming from. If he's not hitting you, there's almost zero chance that you'll see him unless you're fully aware of where he could attack from while in stealth. If you're in a situation where there's a lot of cover and he could be anywhere, you're not going to spot him unless he pops out to shoot right in front of you. By the time you even realize someone is shooting, he's probably gone. In fact, the only reason you might know at all is because your dead buddy tells you about a stealthy sniper from beyond the grave (yay voice chat).

If someone is engaged in combat already and a sniper attacks, there's basically 0 chance that anyone not directly getting shot will be able to spot him. In a real battle, you have to be focused on the enemy that's threatening you, especially because you only have one life, can't respawn, and wounds aren't just an issue of healer mana. If you're not engaged in melee with someone, you might have a shot if you're looking at the battle at large, but even then you're probably looking for opportunities to shoot into the combat, flank someone, or zone the enemy out so they can't reach your archers/spellcasters.

Now if there's no battle and you launch a sneak attack with your force, you'll probably have some surprise advantage, maybe get in a round of attacks before the enemy is prepared. However, if you're the only threat and you're sniping, obviously the enemy is gonna be looking for you.

Basically what I'm saying is that characters using stealth weapons like bows or crossbows (or suppressed guns) shouldn't be detected at all if they start attacking after the main battle starts. Other combatants are simply too busy thinking about the threats they can see to reflect on threats they can't. Anyone sniped is going to look for a sniper obviously, assuming they survive.

Magic users can't really emulate this as well since spells have verbal components. How loud verbal components have to be is up to the GM, but I assume they have to be not whispered (they can be whispered in Rifts and make reasonable stealth weapons). Magic item use that doesn't require loud command words or spells augmented with sound-cancelling metamagic effects can probably work just fine for sneak attacks. Even normally audible verbal components might not be obvious if a battle has already begun and the spellcaster is well-hidden. Remember that there's probably a lot of grunting and shouting going on in melee. Battle is pretty chaotic, especially in a life-and-death kinda situation.

Even someone sneaking into melee to kill someone on the outside of the battle might not be noticed immediately. Think about how effective "behind the back" ganks are in SMITE, even though the person is visible on the minimap.

Basically what I'm saying is that without the Quick Reconnoiter feat, characters shouldn't be able to make Spot or Listen checks for free in combat. In Rifts, you basically need Intuitive Combat or Eyes of Zandragal active to have a chance of detecting any sort of stealth attacker, and even then the attacker needs to be in your limited range. Zanshin also works (as does CK tech-sense) if the enemy is targeting you. In Rifts, I might consider allowing sixth sense to detect incoming backstabs or snipers (it probably does).

What does this mean for e6? Well, say a party of fighter, cleric, NPC allies and invisible bard (singing) enter battle. Obviously the bard is there, he's singing. Ranger is off in the bushes looking for the target of opportunity to enter the battlefield, and he locks and loads his bow and takes his shots. Nobody should get a check to see the ranger except the target (assuming he's alive after getting shot) and any target's bodyguards specifically ordered to defend the target AND not currently engaged in melee. Some people might be looking for the invisible bard, they are actively making listen checks (instead of attacking visible characters) to try and find him. They probably won't hear the ranger though; they're trying to find the invisible bard they know about.

That's about how stealth should go; known stealthy foes can be checked for (takes actions? move or standard? I think move?), unknown stealthy foes shouldn't be checked at all. The Quick Reconnoiter feat fixes both of these issues; it specifically allows a character to make perception checks passively during combat, because the character is constantly making little assessments about the battlefield while he or she is fighting. Some special class abilities, particularly bodyguards or counter-terrorism units might have something similar.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How do I win as Iku?

Iku isn't as overpowered as I originally thought, though the revelation of this comes from a better understanding of the midscreen game.

Iku is scary at midscreen, as we all know. She has crazy range normals and a very fast 6c that punishes the startup of so many attacks that it can even beat graze attacks with laggy startup (re: China). She seems uncounterable at first, but that is just a poor understanding of how the midscreen game works.

Remember that fundamentally, the midscreen is about getting to some position where your opponent can't danmaku punish, then throwing danmaku. This is the gameplan of EVERY CHARACTER IN THE GAME. Therefore, Iku's 6c -- a danmaku punish -- is just something you have to account for with positioning. If she can 6c you, don't throw danmaku. Actually, don't do anything. If she throws it, just graze up or down and she's just thrown away a bar of spirit for nothing. As Iku, you want to try and get into that punishing position as much as you can, but if your opponent does nothing but safe danmaku, Iku loses the midscreen fight if she only throws 6c.

However, Iku also has the same plan; get to where the enemy can't danmaku punish and throw either 5b or 5c, depending on enemy screen position. If 5c would be valuable, then throw it, otherwise 5b. Iku can also use her alt 214 skillcards as extra tools in these situations.

Iku's 214 is her most important option in matchups, so running the right one is important. If you run DGLF against Reimu, she'll laugh. Even ranking the default 214 is better in that matchup (not much better though). This means Iku should have several different decks to account for matchups. The main deck choices are DGLF or Dragon's Eye, so at least 2 decks.

You'll want to run DGLF in any situation where your danmaku clearly loses AND where winning the danmaku fight wins the match. Alice, Yuyuko, Yukari, Patchouli, Komachi, Tenshi, Sanae, China, Suwako and Utsuho are all characters you'll want to run DGLF against. It is also the best choice against Sakuya, but DGLF won't win the match for you. Against everyone else except Remilia and Aya, you'll want to run DE. Against Remi, DGLF is a little better of the two cards, but you may want to rank Veils Like Water (to level 1) instead to have more autoguard frames. DGLF works okay though and helps out in some scenarios in that matchup. Against Aya, neither skillcard is very good; I don't have a good handle on that matchup yet. DE is probably bad in that matchup though.

Anyway, Iku has a unique advantage in most matchups (other than Alice) because her j2a has huge range and beats most things other than anti-air danmaku. Some characters with no real anti-air danmaku (eg. Utsuho) have huge problems with this simple approach. In general the safest option against an airborne Iku fishing for a jump-in is to jump back or use anti-air danmaku. For most characters this is a B bullet, such as 2b or 6b. For a few characters it's a special, such as Yuyuko 421c or Komachi 214. If the enemy is using anti-air danmaku on a regular basis, just setup danmaku before you get into range or air backdash and then use setup danmaku such as DGLF or 5b. Assuming the opponent also BDC/HJC7 and threw bullets, you're more or less even, obviously disadvantaged vs. Yuyuko.

If the enemy just jumps back when you approach, it can be tempting to 6c but that only works if your opponent isn't Utsuho (5c is too dangerous) or is being predictable with setup danmaku. If the opponent does not understand that being parallel with Iku is a bad time to danmaku, YES THROW 6C UNTIL THEY GET IT.

If both players play smartly this will result in a whole lot of nothing happening. Bullets, grazed bullets, landing into more bullets and possibly some melee fishing, especially for Iku. DGLF is very handy in these situations because it beats many bullet options. DE is handy in a few situations where the opponent has no good answer to it; the Reimu and Marisa matchups are good examples of this. Only throw DE if your opponent can't easily get in and hit you; ideally this will be a situation where both girls are in the air, or Iku is in the air and the opponent is on the ground.

If both girls are on the ground, Iku is at advantage in most matchups. Against Alice or Yukari things change a bit, but against everyone else, Iku's big melee hitboxes (3a/6a) beat most melee rush approaches. Use the correct move for the matchup; don't use 3a against girls with hoverdashes or hops and don't use 6a against girls with low slides. Patchouli can also be a problem with her 66b. Iku shouldn't actually dash in much as her 66a is 15f, which is kinda slow relative to 12-13f dash normals. If you land first and are sure the opponent will try to dash melee, 66a is alright. 66c is also decent if you're expecting the enemy to stick out some kind of low attack. Be careful, as 66c does not hop over the tip of Yukari 3a/66c. 66c is pretty good as a meaty as it has generous active frames and if it hits meaty, Iku is at advantage. You can also use it from very far away (roughly a normal screen width) for a meaty hit, but only if your opponent is expecting a 6c or something and is waiting to graze.

Against Iku, dash-in melee is very dangerous unless you're Alice, Yukari, or Patchouli (in which case, rape her face). Again, it's better to just (high)jump and setup danmaku.


Iku doesn't rush down. She can "get aggressive," but she can't lock the opponent down without leaving a million gaps.

Like every other character, Iku should get on the opponent whenever a bullet is blocked. The standard safe mixup is 2a into 3a/6a into a bullet. I feel that the best option overall is 5b. After 5b, hjc8 j2a at minimum height puts the fear of God into the opponent. You can also use 6c, which is airtight, and do the same thing. You could drill them but FUCK THAT. Minimum height j2a leads into actual damage (I think 2c, d3 j5a j6a combos, but it's somewhat spacing-dependent), where a drill does not. A drill also doesn't look like a rejump pressure attempt. A drill also isn't safe on block if it's bordered.

On airblock, it's the same old j5a j6a 6c d9 shit. Don't do j8a unless you like giving up pressure. It's fine if it hits, obviously.

Don't throw swimming dragon fish SC unless your opponent is knocked down or blocking 5c. The recovery is really long and your opponent can trade 2k off some ghetto 2-move combo for 700 from one hit of your SC.


--Dragon's Eye is mandatory in this matchup. DGLF just postpones the inevitable rushdown.
--Runaway like crazy unless Reimu makes a mistake and 5b whenever safe. Her 5c will beat it, but at least it forces a reaction from her. Keep doing this until you draw DE. Reimu is very strong in this matchup without it.
--If DE is on the screen, Reimu can't do anything unless she draws Youkai Buster. Even then, she basically has to spam it randomly in the hopes that she catches you in DE startup.
--Pressure heavily if you have DE onscreen. Almost a free win once you draw it.
--If you don't have DE, Reimu's barrier makes this matchup very hard.

--DE is the best choice for this matchup, though it doesn't win the match for free.
--Iku has strong advantage midscreen. Just play your normal game.

--This matchup is 100% retarded. Extremely Alice-favored without DGLF. Probably still Alice-favored, even with it.
--Don't try to fight Alice on the ground. Jump back or die. Even that's punishable if she uses HJ9 6a.
--Iku close air seems strong against Alice, but Alice can jump back 6a. Fucking 6a.
--If Alice ever whiffs 6a, punish hard with 6c or something and get in her face. LOL@Iku getting in someone's face
--You want to 6c a bit more liberally in this matchup in order to deal with dolls. Once you have DGLF, use that instead. Whore the fuck out of that shit because it's pretty much the only way you can win.

--I don't really know what to do in this matchup (from either side). Sorry.

--If Sakuya plays defensively, it is basically impossible for Iku to make anything happen. C knives beat DE (cleanly) and any slow bullet is extremely dangerous in this matchup.
--5b and DGLF like your life depended on it.
--At least you're at advantage on the ground, except... Sakuya can just Magic Star Sword to beat 6c and Iku has no graze attack. FFFFFFFFFFFF
--On the plus side, if Iku gets to a close air position, Sakuya can't do much (2b is kinda slow). Fish for that spot CONSTANTLY. Above Sakuya = mostly safe. Use that positioning to mount an offense, no matter how you get above Sakuya.
--If Iku plays very defensively, she is disadvantaged, but her strong melee makes it hard for Sakuya to capitalize.
--Don't run out of airdashes.
--If Sakuya has some alt skill bullet that hits upward (I don't think she does?) that is air-usable, this matchup became fucked. I think running Square Ricochet helps with the burden a bit, but it's ground-only. Definitely worth looking into.

--Nothing special, DE = win?
--Youmu 6c is deceptive. It will beat basically anything you do if you're in range. Be aware! If you block 6c, you can do whatever you want unless she has the Myon alt 22. Probably worth using in this matchup.
--Due to 5c/6c, it is hard to get into close air vs. Youmu. She also has a melee-invincible DP.
--Youmu likes the ground and can slide under 6a. Kinda scary. Also her B bullets are a huge problem if you're on the ground. Take to the sky as much as possible, but beware of 6c and spend time doing nothing.
--Youmu pressure is pretty ghetto. Don't be scared by it.

--Pretty even matchup.
--Remi's normal antiair approach (dash j5a) doesn't work on Iku; be aware of her attempts to do this and melee in advance if she is at the appropriate angle.
--However, Remi 6b is a problem for Iku jumping in. It gets Remi on the defensive, though.
--Remi's alt 214 spears make it very hard to do anything as Iku. 5b safely.
--Block on the ground. A blocked Remi 236 forces Remi to supercancel, a hit gives her a free combo into super. You do the math. If Remi has no super or Hakurouken, punish any blocked 236 grazedash.
--If Remi is close to a wall, she may use her 22 grazedive in the air to hit you. Cancel your bullets safely and be ready to block. If you block it, Remi is in trouble.
--Remi pressure is frustrating. Good luck?

--IMHO Yuyu favored (JP thinks otherwise, why?)
--Safe Yuyu midscreen is hard to do anything to. Her 5b is actually a problem in this matchup (wut)
--Even one safely fired C bullet is an issue. Graze defensively and don't let her get close on your terms. Fish constantly for DGLF or 6c counterhits.
--You are mostly at advantage on the ground, but Yuyu can be ballsy and attempt bullets; your answer is 6c, her answer is DP. Rock-paper-scissors. If I were Yuyuko, I'd 5c (1 bullet) and cancel into C DP to bait the 6c. Not sure if it'd work at most distances, but if it comes out at all, it's a mostly safe DP. 3a doesn't work on Yuyuko dashing (she has a hopping graze attack), so use 6a for any defensive melee on the ground.
--Anything blocked by Iku probably means bullets onscreen for Yuyuko. Graze defensively and try to punish the startup of more bullets. Defensive grazing is your first priority, punishing is second. REMEMBER.
--This fight is troublesome in general without DGLF. 5b until you get it, then use DGLF anytime you'd 5b once you have it.

--Probably Iku-favored with DGLF. Slightly Yukari-favored without.
--This matchup is boring like Iku vs. Alice is boring.
--Yukari B bullets are really powerful until you get DGLF; try to fish for 6c startup punishes as always.
--Yukari rules the ground and can DP on reaction to any of your rushdown. I think the drill beats it, maybe.
--Iku rules the close air position, but Yukari 66a has a weird and potentially dangerous hitbox. Make sure your j2a is aimed a little lower to the ground and not at Yukari's head.

--Oni Spirit Bomb is really strong in this matchup, like a faster DGLF. You know how DGLF works, so pretend Suika has a better version of the move.
--Although I said to run DE above, I'm actually not sure what alt card to run in this matchup. DE is alright, but Suika can deal with it better than most due to her ridiculously silly backdash and OSB/fire oni. DGLF isn't useful really though; possibly the lightning "hold" or antiair grab?
--Iku rules the air, just beware of OSB.

--Even or Reisen-favored. No good alt card choices. Delayed lightning is probably ok. Coins seem good.
--Reisen has few options while Iku is in the air, other than 6b or 6c. These options are kinda good. Just sayin. If you have DGLF, it will give you some gimmicks but not really a reliable thing.
--On the other hand, Reisen d214c pretty much ruins your air game. NVM?
--Don't let Reisen get in; play defensively and 5b or DGLF spam.

--"Everything you can do, I can do better," says Iku to Komachi
--DGLF or DE are both fine. DGLF requires more skill (lol) to use.

--I dunno who is favored here. JP says Iku; I don't think it is. Probably even!
--DE is probably the better card but Tenshi can actually beat it.
--Tenshi 5c beats most of your stuff, so fishing for 6c is counterproductive. DGLF still works, though not very well.
--5c actually controls Tenshi's strongest zone, so it is actually decent for zoning in this matchup (it's actually ok in other matchups but only if the opponent is close to where you throw it)
--Tenshi has an alt DP. Just bait it and backdash. The risk/reward is greatly in your favor there.
--Just play normally, but with less 6c fishing than normal (eg. basically none).

--Horrible for Sanae...until she draws alt Kanako, then ffff-
--DGLF mandatory here.
--You probably want to be aggressive. Sanae is strong when zoning. 6c fishing is better than normal, but Sanae 5c kinda wins.
--If she draws alt Kanako, conserve your airdashes. Border up if you're caught blocking it on the ground.
--Sanae wins the zoning game if she has alt Kanako. You'll have to rush down, but her defenses are weak so it shouldn't be too hard.

--Iku favored, bleh
--Close air is beaten by Cirno 5c and the ground is hard to deal with her ice slide. Win the danmaku fight; it's not hard, even for Iku.
--DE = free win.

--China so bad
--I say DGLF in this match since it beats rings, and China rushdown is dangerous enough you don't want to get caught in DE startup in the air. DE is still good though.
--China 2b is actually kinda scary as antiair.
--Nothing else China does is particularly scary, though be careful of blocked dash attack > special.

--I used to think it was bad, now I think it's "less bad." Still bad.
--Utsuho wants to jump back a lot in this matchup.
--If you're both on the ground, she's at advantage most of the time since she is not afraid of 6c and you are hosed (by 66c) if you jump too early. If you throw 6c on the ground, she will eat you alive. If you don't do anything, she will get a 5c for free. It's a bad state of affairs.
--DGLF in the air is how you win. Otherwise Okuu 5c is too good. Beware of alt 22 if she's on the ground.
--Okuu must backdash if you are in close air position.

--Not as free as some of Suwako's other matchups. Still pretty bad for Suwako.
--Your normal bullet zoning is of mixed value here. It's not as good as in other matchups. DGLF will punish Suwako if she does anything in the air.
--Being on the ground is annoying. Avoid it and jump back a lot. Unless you are very close to Suwako, you are at advantage but she can dash under most of your stuff. Annoying.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stop Playing Yukari Badly

I don't know shit about playing Yukari, except that I hate her.

Yukari is a zoning character whose main strengths are neutralizing enemy danmaku and controlling the ground. She has a relatively weak aerial game, so the usual "jump up and control from the air" that works for much of the cast is much weaker with Yukari. Denying the opponent the aerial approach will allow Yukari to control the game, so she must play defensively until she gets a decisive advantage. Yukari is very matchup-specific, meaning that she is reactionary and can't stick to one gameplan for every matchup, unlike Yuyuko or most rushdown characters.

Yukari's offensive momentum is fairly strong. She can turn a blocked normal into a cornered opponent fairly easily, much like a typical rushdown character. However, she cannot generate these situations as easily as most rushdown characters; she must play defensively and punish enemy mistakes in order to get these advantage situations. She lacks airtight strings, but she has many options to punish grazing, which can lead to fairly high damage. A good arsenal of 1-cards also helps keep blocked 623Cs from being punished. In general, if you're looking to graze punish, make sure you have a spellcard ready.

The main tool in Yukari's arsenal -- the one that she wants to use ALL the time, is her B bullets. If Yukari's opponent isn't specifically looking to punish her (or can't), AND her opponent doesn't rape her bullets (eg. Utsuho), Yukari should be trying to get B bullets on the screen constantly. Her response should depend on the opponent.
*If the opponent tries to graze them and you are in range: DP; if you're in the air, rush down
*If the opponent tries to throw danmaku through it and you're in range: DP
*If the opponent tries to graze safely: get into a safer position and throw more bullets, probably B
*If the opponent tries to graze to a position to throw danmaku: throw C bullets that will hit them, if none, graze safely and try to throw more B bullets
*If they block: RUSH THAT SHIT DOWN

As you can see in the above flowchart, the B bullets into DP is a very important mixup for Yukari so keep it on the back foot at all times. You can also substitute teleports instead of a DP to hit an airborne grazing enemy, but beware as they basically throw momentum away if you whiff.

In some matchups, the opponent will have rape danmaku that will horribly punish you if you try to throw B bullets. You still need to throw them but be very careful, especially against lasers, Patchouli, or Oni Spirit Bomb. Don't throw bullets predictably, and be content to jump up and down doing nothing. I am not sure what to do in the Utsuho matchup.

If you are on the ground, you are fishing for the enemy to get in range of your ground melee. 6a will mess some bitches up if you use it as antiair from the proper angle. Walk backwards in order to get this angle and be evasive if the opponent won't give it to you (or just jump back and do nothing or throw B bullets). If your opponent is consistently getting into your close air zone above your 6a range, you can throw anticipatory 2b to beat melee. Be careful to backdash or highjump cancel early because air-to-ground danmaku could happen. Make sure you throw it early if you throw it at all.

Actually, this brings up a very important point; Yukari must make anticipatory decisions to close down the opponent's aerial approach. 2b is very important for this, since it makes close air melee impossible for the enemy. Remember how I like to shoot bullets at Iku when she's looking to close in for j2a? That's kind of what 2b does, but you have to throw it early or it's crap. Again, as soon as you see the enemy jump you need to be decisive and either jump back nothing, jump back bullets, 2b, or 6a antiair if they're in range.

66a can also be used as an antiair against many characters (non-Iku, non-Yuyuko j2a) going for a predictable close air attack. Be careful on spacing it, but because it lowers your defensive hitbox a LOT it works pretty well. Use sparingly, air-to-ground bullets suck and rape your face. Again, be decisive. If they jump, you need to choose what to do and commit to it.

If both of you are on the ground, your default answer should be 66c; this is actually a bad idea but it is important for conditioning. If your opponent jumps, 66c will catch them, it will beat all melee dash forward type stuff and it grazes so it beats danmaku too. If your opponent blocks, he is at advantage but you can cancel into a special (don't do a DP). Do this every time your opponent lands on the ground in a neutral or advantage position (her at advantage, not you) until she stops jumping or doing stuff. If you're too close, just do 3a and cancel it into bullets if it gets blocked. If you're both on the ground it should only whiff if she jumps back, which she can't do anything except setup danmaku (which you can punish with low j5c). Once your opponent stops jumping, you can do dash-in 2a spam and take the advantage for free. This probably will never happen except against me. Note that, at certain distances, the opponent can jump back bullets to punish you. It's mainly important for non-Yuyuko characters, as Yuyuko has no way to punish 66c other than getting setup danmaku for free (which is kinda bad for you). Don't 66c at other times, ESPECIALLY if you are at advantage. If your opponent is likely to just fucking block then just fucking rush down.

If your opponent likes danmaku, use 5c, 6c, or j2c to beat it depending on positioning. Predict the danmaku and beat it; don't stick out C bullets at any other time except in block pressure. I can't stress this enough. If the enemy isn't throwing bullets or attacking, don't throw C bullets. It's a fucking mantra: don't throw C bullets unless they're going to get blocked or you are predicting enemy danmaku.

If you're in the air and she's on the ground, just throw B bullets and try to get back on the ground. Remember that if you throw B bullets and she stays on the ground, you will be at advantage so rush down, don't do 66c or some garbage.

Don't DP to beat danmaku unless you can't do 66c or you need the startup graze; your DP comes out slower, travels slower, and is horribly unsafe. Obviously if you throw bullets and they attack somehow inside the range of your DP, your only option is DP or highjump cancel so DP is the clear winner there.


Yukari's offense kinda sucks by rushdown standards, but she has some shenanigans. The main biggie is that you can 2a*n > 6a > 2c into a "mixup." Mix up the number of 2a you spam to avoid being unpredictable. If your opponent is a shitbag who does not know how to block low, 3a instead, otherwise 6a to overhead when she starts blocking 2a low.

In Yukari's case, her mixup is either DP or HJC9 j2c airdash j5a land repeat. 2c cancelled into DP comes out disgustingly fast and will beat any sort of jump bullshit. It will also beat anything except a reversal but a reversal at that point would be stupid anyway. If the DP gets blocked, supercancel or you will die. If you don't have a super, DP sparingly. Against fucks like me who jump out all the time in any gap, DP all the time. If I learn not to jump there, hey, I like free combos anyway.
Lemme repeat that again:
2a*n > 6a > 2c into...
--DP (supercancel if blocked and continue pressure)
--HJC9 j2c d6 j5a land repeat
--HJC9 j2a 236b (Bound to the Grave) loop (airtight in corner only)

The Bound to the Grave blockstun loop must be bordered if done properly. If you do the j2a too high, your opponent can just hit you out of it after it is blocked or counterhit your 236. You can also mix things up by doing 2a*n straight into 236b (because who would try to mash out of that?) and starting the loop that way.

Aerial pressure is a bit different. The main reason is that j5c/j2c bounce Yukari back a bit, making it hard to follow up, but j5b is slow as balls. The basic air pressure you should use is j5a j8a j5c D9 repeat. This is also your midscreen bnb air combo; Yukari has jack shit for air combos so your main damage will be from putting the opponent back on the ground. Yukari can do j5a j6a j5c loop until limit if she has her opponent cornered.


Yukari's main BnB varies somewhat. 5aaa 623c is the most reliable combo she has in many key matchups and it does shit balls for damage. It also DROPS WTF if too far away.

If you have Bound to the Grave, 5aaa 236b does more reasonable damage.

Among characters actually played by us, Yukari's real BnB combos drop on Reimu, Sakuya, Tenshi, Suwako, and Yuyuko. This means you probably don't need to learn them, but you should probably practice them once you've practiced the more fundamental stuff and need something to work on.

3a 2c 421c~6. Use it against everyone anytime you hit with 3a. Don't do the damn teleport if it's blocked and do a normal damn block mixup.

If 6a hits far from the corner, you won't land anything so throw some B bullets and get ready to punish a tech or play the wakeup game. If it hits close to the corner, you can 6a 6a 623c.

You know the corner combo but just suck balls. Learn to DP. This combo is easy and if you're having trouble with it, you're not practicing even half of enough.


--I think that this is personally Yukari's hardest matchup. It's not that bad, but probably her hardest.
--After blocking either 5aa (far swinging fan), 3a (low sweep kick) or 6a (overhead fan), you can DP and beat anything Yuyuko does. She can 2b and jump back and her B DP might win, so only use until she learns the counter. If Yuyuko has the true DP card, she can basically wreck you on block (DP fights lol). Sucks.
--Yuyuko can pretty much rule the midscreen though. If she just grazes and throws out safe C bullets and butterflies, you will eventually block something or get hit and lose. Additionally, Yuyuko does tons more damage than you.
--BEWARE OF 236 LASERS. B bullets are really unsafe in this matchup.
--For Yuyuko: Don't block anything, graze everything and use 5c and 6c whenever possible. Don't use normal melee pressure; mix it up (eg. 2a straight into 421 or 2c or something). Throw lasers liberally if Yukari's in range and doing nothing. Play like a bitch. Don't ever get grounded at the same time as her unless she is blocking or you are really, really far away.

--Yukari favored, but Patchy has answers to you midscreen.
--For Patchy: Don't get grounded at the same time as Yukari, and if you do delay your jump a moment to see if she does 66c. Yukari 5c will hit you if you 6c. Don't use bullets unless Yukari is not parallel on the screen with you (or in blockstrings/combos obviously)
--Yukari B bullets and Patchy 5c don't directly beat each other and are still threatening. Beware. Patchy 6c beats Yukari B bullets, so Patchy might fish. 5c beats her 6c if you cancel properly. BULLET RPS. Patchy metal wheel bullets are amazing in the matchup since they clear Yukari C bullets and cancel early.
--Patchy's close air approach is most dangerous due to her dense bullet air to ground options. You are better off jumping back if Patchy gets airborne without you punishing her with 66c.
--Patchy 4b HJC window is kinda early, so she can empty HJC to cause your DP to whiff. Don't DP randomly in normal blockstrings. The only gap is immediately after 4b (which is immediately after her melee). You can border anytime after blocking her ground melee; however, if she decides to hjc9 j6a you will get caught.
--Just stick to normal gameplan. NEVER get close to Patchy in the air, j6a wrecks all your options. Only do it if she's blocking or grazing your shit.

--This matchup is also hard. Technically Yukari favored, but I'm not feeling it. I think it's 5.5 Utsuho.
--All of Okuu's bullets are dangerous, and it pretty much shuts down your gameplan. You need an alternate one.
--Whore the ground like a boss. Okuu doesn't have good danmaku cover so 66c anytime she might be in range. Do the move like 300 times a round. Not even joking. If she ever jumps in, 6a or jump back.
-- Jumping back is really dangerous against Okuu unless she's also in the air. If you're directly above her, 2b is pretty good but make sure you're ahead of her 2c laser or you could get owned.
--Okuu 6b is so gay. You want to bait her into a situation where you can either 66c or DP her.
--If Okuu might not jump and wants to stay on the ground (that bitch!) use 66b. It's special cancellable too, so cancel that shit into Bound to the Grave and start the loop.
--Bound to the Grave might actually beat her bullets on the ground, iuno.
--If you actually get offensive momentum, don't give it up.

--This matchup is a free win for Yukari.
--Don't ever engage unless you're at advantage. I feel like a broken record here.
--If you're both on the ground... Suwako's dash actually gays your 66c here. If she is not yet dashing and you are at the right range, you can beat it. It's worth making some mistakes here to learn the proper range, but if she takes to the (under)ground, HJ back and throw B bullets.
--If you ever block a non-5a melee (including j5a), DP immediately after you leave blockstun.
--If you're both in the air, fish for C bullet positioning and fly away at all other times. If you can, throw C bullets, otherwise B.
--If she ever uses anything that is a bullet, 6c or jump back 6c depending on spacing.
--If you ever get advantage... you know
--This matchup is a joke. You can just runaway and deny Suwako everything.

--Different characters have specific tools but most characters can eat through some B bullets to hit you. Don't get hit, and don't block if you can avoid it. Graze defensively.
--If you're in the air and she's on the ground, throw B bullets.
--Throw C bullets if you're in line to do so and you're not both on the ground.
--Play defensively. You have the advantage midscreen so try your best to do nothing risky or aggressive until the momentum turns in your favor. If she grazes forward through your bullets and you're both in the air, you can punish so look for that. Otherwise, don't fucking dash into the opponent doing stupid shit.
--If you're both on the ground, 3a if you predict a dash in (and combo off it) or 66c if you think she'll jump, throw bullets, or do anything other than jump back. If you predict she'll jump back, YAY. Throw bullets.
--Follow the gameplan and don't rush. Just turtle and wait for opportunities. Don't engage unless you are at an advantage (she's blocking, airgrazing or getting hit).
--vs. Youmu specific: Cry a lot because her reflector is fucking gay and she can jump straight up bullets really safely

Monday, October 1, 2012

Beating Laser Suwako

Suwako is a big problem right now! Sam went on a crazy win streak after switching to Suwako lasers, and it's mostly because the lasers help Suwako get in. I think part of the reason is that I was playing low tier garbage, but it's a good analysis to find out exactly what is winning and why.

I think it goes without saying that Suwako is about as threatening as Sakuya if she gets you blocking. Suwako doesn't have the crazy mixups that Sakuya does, but her stuff is airtight, hard to escape, and she does way more damage than Sakuya. We all know this, and if you're threatened by it, use more bombs or raiments.

Suwako's bullet options come in the form of various cover bullets and her bullet punisher, j6c (or 66c). If Suwako is in the air, she can throw cover, then attempt a punish with j6c. Unfortunately, j6c is a bit slow, so it relies on density to reach its target. This has some problems. If you see Suwako throw cover, you can fairly safely throw any bullet (ideally a bullet, not a laser) that beats j6c and be at a large advantage, since Suwako must graze. After messing around a bit in vs. CPU, I found that the following bullets consistently win:
Reimu: Default 214 barrier, alt 236 Youkai Buster
Marisa: 6c laser, anything similarly dense (eg. Narrow Spark). Marisa has few options and has problems in this matchup.
Sakuya: All C bullets; d.236 Seven Star Sword. Sakuya is basically uncontestable at any range by Suwako.
Alice: C doll bullets are safe and indirectly win, since Suwako j6c will not hit them, allowing Alice a free doll setup.
Patchouli: alt.236 Summer Flame, d.214 Autumn Edge, alt.214 Autumn Wind. 5c also indirectly wins, since it goes around j6c. Patchouli has many, many options here. Summer Red technically also wins, but will only hit if Suwako is very low to the ground.
Youmu: Nothing other than her d.236 reflector. Youmu has a lot of problems in this matchup.
Remilia: alt.214 Demon's Dinner Fork, alt.214 Stigmanizer. I highly recommend switching to one of these alt cards against Suwako. Remi's vs. Suwako is harder than most, even with these options. alt.623 Rocket Kick Upper also works, but is an unreliable combo tool, not a danmaku punisher.
Yuyuko: d.214 Ghostly Butterfly goes around Suwako's danmaku. d.236 lasers also work, but they're lasers and not a good choice. 6c is also very effective, but slow to execute. d.421 penetrates, but only works in certain screen positions and is not very good against j6c. 5c is effective if cancelled early.
Yukari: C bullets. Yukari has few other fullscreen dense bullet options, but she doesn't need them. She can just 6c on reaction to any Suwako cover and completely rule the screen.
Suika: Technically almost anything but only Oni Spirit Bomb is any good. 6b does not work reliably. Oni Spirit Bomb is absolutely mandatory in this matchup.
Reisen: alt.214 Eyesight Cleaning is the only air-usable skill that works for sure. Ripple Laser might, but it's hard to test, oddly enough. Reisen 5c can still be threatening, even though it can't penetrate.
Komachi: Only alt.236 Scythe of the Reaper and only at certain distances, which Suwako will almost certainly avoid. Alt 214 blue spirits can get on the screen when normal 214 cannot, so it might be good.
Iku: Alt. 214 Dragon God's Lightning Flash is her only real option. Whiskers of the Dragon God also work, and Dragon God's Wrath can provide protection in case Suwako dashes in. Lightning Flash is mandatory in this matchup.
Tenshi: While 6b doesn't seem to work, almost all of Tenshi's other bullets do. Tenshi absolutely rules this matchup.
Sanae: No normal danmaku works (well, 6c does), so she must use assists to prevent Suwako rushing down instead of trying to beat danmaku directly.
Cirno: 6c only. alt.236 lasers might; could change this matchup considerably if they did.
China: 5c/ground 2c only. This is a problem due to angular geometry; as China you should probably try to stay level with Suwako or directly below her as much as possible to prevent danmaku pressure.
Utsuho: LOL.

Based on the above information, we can safely group characters into a few tiers:
Completely shut down Suwako's danmaku: Patchouli, Sakuya, Yukari, Iku (with DGLF) Tenshi, Utsuho
Strong against Suwako's danmaku: Reimu, Alice, Yuyuko
Have options against Suwako's danmaku: Remilia (with alt.214), Suika (with OSB), Reisen, Komachi (with SotR), Sanae (with an alt assist)
Have problems agaisnt Suwako's danmaku: Marisa, Youmu, Cirno (possibly), China

Of course, danmaku isn't the whole matchup. The rest of it is Suwako's melee approaches: 66b/6a/j8a (tree) j6a and j2a. All of these have one thing in common; they are extremely unsafe on whiff. Any character with strong punishment options (via bullets mainly) can turn situations with these moves into her favor by baiting a whiffed attack. If you have poor options against her danmaku you will spend most of the round either rushing down or getting rushed down, which will lead into the next section. This section mostly covers characters that can deal with her danmaku, forcing Suwako to change tactics.

A blocked tree or dive is not a big problem for most characters. Suwako must cancel after the tree, and almost anything she does loses to many startup graze attacks. In particular, Yukari 623b wheel absolutely crushes Suwako here; there's nothing she can do except get wrecked. Tenshi default 623 also absolutely ruins Suwako here and there's nothing Suwako can do. Sakuya default 623... again, anyone with a forward-moving startup graze attack, preferably with a disjointed hitbox, has a strong advantage here. Youmu can actually fight out of this situation with her 623c if she dashes forward, but Suwako can cancel the tree into a melee special and possibly win.

j6a is just a big problem for everyone. The best situation possible is simply to beat her danmaku and deny her the approach angle with anti-air bullet cover or anti-air melee. The other option is baiting it. Of all Suwako's tools, j6a is the most like another character's midscreen game. Predict it and counter and the matchup will be a lot easier. Once blocked, there's no safe escape since you don't know exactly when Suwako will cancel or what she will cancel into. If you have one of the startup graze options mentioned above, they will probably work. Otherwise, you'll have to guess. Bombing/DPing is highly advised.

Being put on the defensive against Suwako is very hard. Once she gets in on you, it's hard to escape. The first thing to remember is midscreen, she must do some melee into 5b, airdash forward, j5a into a mixup. She can 5b into another airdash or land and attempt a reset.

If you predict a reset, you want to DP there. DPs with lots of invincibility (including bombs) also can work for both options, though you must react quickly or Suwako can dash cancel her 5b and escape.

If you predict a bullet, any startup graze special works. Lacking that, you will want to border escape the j5a. If you're not in the corner, you have the option of border backdashing. This can potentially force a whiff, but if Suwako cancels her bullets into more bullets (in other words, predicting a border backdash) you are totally fucked. Bordering straight up is a better solution.

Note for Suwako: On block, j6c is somewhat risky since the airdash forward is difficult if improperly timed and 5b > j6c is not airtight on block. IMHO it is better to omit 6c unless you are sure the opponent won't border up. If the opponent borders 5b, you can airdash j5a to punish. In fact, since 5b deals a full spirit orb, you're probably better off not doing 6c at all unless the opponent has only one orb left. Even then, your opponent will probably border if he's smart since a blocked 6c means guardcrush into 2k and a bluering, a j5a hitting aerial means 1k and a wakeup mixup.

Don't airtech against Suwako. Ground mixups are way easier to deal with as Suwako's oki is bad. If you have a fairly long ground tech or an unpredictable one, Suwako has no way of getting a reset. Some characters, like Yuyuko, are in a bit of trouble in either case but you are still better off playing the guessing game on the ground rather than trying to fight a tech punish in the air. Suwako has a lot of trouble chasing ground techs, and if she guesses wrong you are in neutral again. Air teching will never give you this good of a situation!

General situations

Going off of what we learned above, in a midscreen situation, Suwako's options are fish with trees, j6a, or j2a, or deploy danmaku. If you have options such as Yukari 6c or Tenshi 2c that beat all of these, just employ those if you are in a neutral situation.

Suwako wants to take to the air in a midscreen situation and will do almost no fighting on the ground. Prepare danmaku responses accordingly. Don't throw low-density danmaku in this matchup; almost all of Suwako's danmaku is medium density and will beat it. This means stuff like Yuyuko B butterflies and all Iku bullets other than alt skillcards. Some low density danmaku such as Yuyuko's 214 butterflies are obviously good, but in general you want to stick to high-density danmaku until you have advantage. Once you're at advantage, play your normal gameplan.

If you don't have high density danmaku or setup danmaku such as Yuyu d.214, you will need to play a passive graze game and bait j6a or trees. If Suwako whiffs, take advantage immediately and go for the kill. If you have alt skillcards that win the matchup, throw danmaku whenever it is safe in order to build card gauge.

Once Suwako is on offense, if you have a special with startup graze, use it to break out of her pressure before it starts. If you block a j5a or a ground 5a, you are hosed without a border escape, bomb, or DP. Save your bombs and reversal spellcards for when Suwako starts her offense.

As soon as you get a little advantage, capitalize and lock her down. In general, in "even" danmaku matchups (eg. Remi, Suika, Reisen, Komachi), you will get more opportunities than Suwako because Suwako has less mobility. If you lose the danmaku matchup, you will have problems. Suwako has trouble escaping most things because she has poor mobility, so you should keep her locked down as strongly as possible.

Be aware of Suwako's lily when on offense. Avoid "low" attacks that cannot hit the lily and force Suwako into blocking high by using frequent overheads. A whiffed low is extremely painful. On the other hand, lows that can hit the lily, such as China 2a or Youmu 3a are quite good (unfortunately Youmu has no good overhead T.T).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If I were patching Soku...

623 Ascension Kick: Level 1+ gains startup invincibility, rather than MAX
412 Dimensional Rift: Level 2+ Button can be held to fake the attack; recovers quickly
623 Sliding Ascension Kick: First kick is a graze attack with startup graze (all levels)

66B: Now a melee attack.
623 Busky Sweeper: Now a melee attack; hitbox slightly larger
214 Up Sweeper: Now a melee attack.
Star Sign "Gravity Beat": Startup shorter, striking hitbox wider; hits low to the ground.
Perversion "Sure-Fire Master Spark": Startup slightly reduced; still basically impossible to combo, but some new CH or monsoon combos become possible

No idea on Alice, tbh
B bullets: Linger slightly if Alice jump cancels
623 Volatile Doll: Buffed in some way, iuno; probably same at level 0
623 Doll Cremation: Probably buffed in some way, iuno

B bullets: 1f more hitstun; proration reduced.
Tengu Drum: All followups possible at level 2, possibly level 1

j2A: Bullet cancel window slightly later (?)
6C: reduce spirit damage per knife
236 Magic Star Sword: Throws fewer knives at level 0; gains the lost knives at Level 2
no good way to fix her other than to buff everyone else.

6A: Hitbox extends to the stage floor and slightly above Youmu's sword; can't crouch it anymore
j2A: Now special cancellable
236 Netherworld Reflection Slash: Bullets created (the Youmu bullets) move much faster (like 2x)
214 Slash of Life and Death: Can cancel either version into subsequent hits as soon as the move connects
unsure of what to do about Youmu without making her totally broken
22 Medium's Bind: Very high bullet "HP;" will pass through dense bullets and still hit, and will eat most non-dense bulets.
Youmu needs moar buffz tho; possibly increase hit/blockstun on B bullets, B bullet travel speed or make her DP slightly safer; unsure

no changes probably

6C: HJC/fly/airdash cancel window 1-2f later. Super/special cancel window still the same.
623 Dance of the Butterfly Dream: ~2f slower recovery.
623 Reverse Screens: Creates a few butterfly bullets that hit in front of Yuyuko as well as her normal trail

Divine Spear "Spear the Gungnir": Hits more reliably on a cornered opponent (travels slower on hit/block)

probably needs some buffs, but I dunno what to add

2B: Hits high and takes one orb on wrongblock. Guardcrushes when charged if blocked low.
Spectre - Dense:  Level 2 C version and up have startup superarmor; Level 0-1 have it on frame 8. More superarmor overall. B version gets startup superarmor at Level MAX.
Gnome - Dense: Can be airdash/fly cancelled shortly after Suika reaches the peak of her bounce.
Foot Bellows: needs buff badly
Gnome - Thin: One wisp always travels in a predictable location. Wisps last much longer. Has late highjump and backdash cancel window (rather than none).
Four Devas Arcanum "Demolition in Three Steps": Superarmor at startup and throughout entire move.
Will-o-wisp "Superdense Conflagration": Faster recovery.

no changes
my personal changes would remove all 623 moves and make Undersense Break a 22 special

Wisps: All explosion wisps now home in slightly on the opponent. All wisps last 4 seconds.
Dead spots on various 5AAAA hits reduced or removed.
All aerial normals: Startup very slightly reduced (~1f for most; 2f for j2A)
5C: Comes out faster, cancellable earlier, travels slightly faster, hits more times.
2C: Comes out faster, cancellable earlier.
66B: Now special cancellable (CONTROVERSIAL!)
214 Floating Spirits of the Indolent Dead: Can have more than one use of this card onscreen at a time.
623 Bound Spirits of the Earth: Wisps hit on the way up.
214 Scythe of Exorcism: Now melee. B version has no dead spot.
22 The Endless Way: Startup much shorter; to the point of "bad but almost useful"
22 Taste of Death: Drains 2 orbs if blocked low; recovery reduced (safer on high block, though still unsafe)
These changes probably put Komachi somewhere highish on the tiers; definitely not slumming in low tier anymore.

Melee specials more unsafe on block
236 Dragonfish, the Able Swimmer: Much faster startup.

probably totally fine

No idea on Sanae; she needs huge buffs to anything not her meta playstyle

j2A: Hits much further in front of Cirno and directly below her (can cross up)
j5A: Larger frontal hitbox; possibly add an ice graphic to her punch to make it visually bigger
5C: Counterhit freezes enemy in place rather than bouncing (only on initial counter).
66B: Is special cancellable.
Generally increase damage.
Cirno just needs a lot of work, but too much work would definitely make her too good. I think the 5C counterhit change makes her tons better, though it doesn't make her more interesting.

6A: China dashes forward slightly more while doing her slam. Same speed.
j2A: Startup reduced to within 1-2 frames of j6A
236 Fragrant Wave: Startup reduced; relative startups still the same (B version fast, C version slow). C version huge advantage on block.
623 Scarlet Cannon: Horizontal hitbox slightly improved.
214 Spiral Light Steps: Startup much faster; grazes during latter frames of the "stomp" rather than only during the dash. B and C versions start up at the same speed.
22 Yellow Tremor Kick: Charged version guardcrushes if blocked high.
214 Descending Flower Slam: Both kicks graze for entire duration.
These changes are much too conservative (esp compared to Komachi) but I don't have a good sense of what is broken with China.

No idea. My guess is that she needs midscreen help and is too easy to rush down, but iuno what to do about her. She has so many awful matchups that my guess is she just loses in melee fights and can't start momentum easily. I'd probably add some Yuyuko-like traits to her (faster 22 or something) but I dunno even where to start with Suwako.

Airdash: Startup reduced. Still laggy compared to a normal character.
6A: Hits further away; probably creates an explosion on the ground (so you can actually see it hits low)
j2A: Comes out faster, bullet cancels faster.
6B: Orbit bullets mega-dense, beat virtually all non-laser bullets (Okuu 5C can beat it, and Reisen C bullets still destroy it due to followup explosions hitting the core). Cancel time reduced.
236 Ground Melt: Explosions occur sooner; they start as the laser is painting the end of the trail.
623 Rocket Dive: Always has the 5f initial hit, even at level 1; flames are wider and bullets instead of melee, grazes after 27f initial startup
236 Radiant Blade: Has an initial short-ranged melee hit, does more damage.
Has something that makes the vs. Sakuya matchup not impossible

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rifts Combat Version 2

This is a work in progress. As always, feel free to fill in gaps.

Segments, Actions, and Turn Order
  • Each 15-second round is divided up into three 5-second segments.
  • At the beginning of each round, each character rolls initiative (d20 + bonuses) as normal. This initiative is retained between segments.
  • If a character loses initiative, he automatically goes to the bottom of the initiative order, acting 1 initiave below the current lowest initiative. If multiple characters lose initiative at the same time, they are ordered in their previous initiative order at the bottom of the initiative. If initiative numbers go to zero or negative, this is fine; it's a measure of turn order, not a discreet measurement of time.
  •  A character's actions per melee are divided evenly among each of the three segments. If there are extra actions per round, they are added to the later segments first. As an example, a character with five actions per melee gets one in the first segment, two in the second, and two in the third.
  • When a character's turn comes up, he may take any number of actions he has available in that segment. As examples, a character with two actions may make two attacks, an extra move and an attack, cast a two-action spell, or reload a magazine-fed weapon with which he has proficiency.
  • A character may delay one or more actions to act later in the round. If he does so, his initiative for the rest of the round moves down to the initiative in which his last action was taken. If he holds his action to dodge, he retains his rolled initiative. Unspent actions are retained until the end of the segment,
    when they are lost.
  • Each segment, a character may move up to his SPD value in feet. If a character has a listed speed in some other form such as miles per hour, convert it to SPD.
  • On a character's turn, he may move any amount up to his maximum movement for that segment in addition to taking his actions. He may also retain some of his movement for pursuit or dodging later in the round.
  • A character may expend any amount of his movement for the segment when taking a dodge action. If he has no more movement left he must dodge in place, which may be ineffective against attacks that require movement such as leg sweeps or area attacks.
  • A character may also expend any amount of remaining movement to pursue an opponent he has deadlocked who is moving, regardless of whether or not it is his turn.
  • A character in a deadlock must expend 2 feet of movement to move 1 foot, unless he is pursuing a foe he has deadlocked. A character deadlocked by multiple opponents must spend 2 feet of movement to move 1 foot at all times, even if it is to pursue.
  • A deadlocked character may attempt to move his normal movement, rather than half on his turn by spending an action. If he does so, he provokes an attack of opportunity from all deadlocking foes. He may make a normal dodge action as part of the movement to dodge all opportunity attacks, although he is -2 for every deadlocker beyond the first. If none of the attacks hit, the character may move at his normal speed. His opponents may still pursue.
  • Once per segment, a character may spend an action to gain an additional 1/6 of his speed in extra movement. This can only be done on his turn and the movement must be taken during the turn.
  • Any remaining movement left at the end of the segment is lost.
Parrying, Dodging, and Defensive Actions
  • A character gets 1 free dodge and 3 free parries per segment which do not consume actions. A character may spend 1 action to get 1 additional dodge or 2 additional parries. This action is spent at the time the dodge or first parry is desired.
  • Characters may not defend against attacks from behind, from invisible opponents, or while blinded.
  • If a character is deadlocked by multiple foes, only one enemy may be selected to defend against. The other enemy is considered flanking.
  • Any dodges or parries that are unspent are lost at the end of the segment.
  • A character may also spend an action during his turn to adopt a defensive stance, gaining +2 to defense rolls during the segment. This cannot be combined with any special defense such as multiple dodge, automatic dodge, or circular parry.
  • A character with a held action who is intending to use it for defense may name a specific opponent. If that opponent attacks the character, the held action is expended but the defensive action is +4. This can not be applied to any special defense. This held defense can be used to evade an attack from a flanking enemy.
  • Ranged attackers are automatically considered flanking if they attack an opponent already deadlocked with someone else. However, ranged attackers are -4 to strike a deadlocked character and have a 50% chance of hitting one of the other meleeing characters if the attack misses for any reason (including if the attack is dodged). Exceptionally large targets may skirt this rule if they tower over their deadlockers.
  • A character with multiple special defense options may only use one such defense in a segment.
  • A character with a shield and WP: Shield gains an additional 2 parries per segment and may block flanking attacks from one enemy. This can be used for a held action or defensive stance but otherwise counts as a special defense.
  • A character using paired weapons and the paired weapons ability gains an additional parry each segment if he does not use any double strike attacks. If he uses any double strikes, this parry is lost in addition to the normal costs for double striking. This extra parry counts as a special defense.
  • A character with the automatic dodge ability may make an extra free dodge action during the segment. This counts as a special defense.
  • A character with the multiple dodge ability may spend an action on his turn to multiple dodge. If he does so, he is not considered flanked and can dodge any number of attacks, although he is still limited to his normal movement. A character multiple dodging may not take an extra move action during the segment. This counts as a special defense.
  • A character with the circular parry ability may make any number of parries per segment and cannot be considered flanked. A character using double strikes may not circular parry but it may be used with a shield, as long as it is not a tower shield. This counts as a special defense.
Close Quarters Combat and Deadlocking
  •  A character within melee range of his opponent may "engage" his opponent. This is called a deadlock, and characters in a deadlock have limited actions and movement. A deadlock ends if the deadlocker cannot maintain melee range with his target using pursuit.
  • A character is automatically deadlocked to his opponent if he initiates a melee attack against his opponent that is successfully defended. Likewise, the opponent is deadlocked to the attacker unless the attacker has no movement left.
  • A character is also automatically deadlocked to his opponent if he ends his turn in melee range of an opponent he has attacked as long as the defender is able to engage and attack him.
  • Prone opponents, or those stunned or affected by most half-APM debuffs cannot deadlock enemies. They can still be deadlocked and have their actions limited. Likewise, invisible attackers can deadlock foes but cannot be deadlocked unless they can be detected and struck. This includes partial (-5) as well as full blindness. Obscured characters (-1 blindness penalty) can still be deadlocked.
  • Defenders are -2 to defend against flanking opponents; that is, an opponent who the character is not deadlocking, but who he is aware of. If a held action is expended to avoid a flanker's attack, the defender suffers no penalty.
  • Characters cannot cast spells while deadlocking; doing so provokes an attack of opportunity. Spells that can be cast as a free action do not provoke attacks of opportunity. Some spells or class abilities may bypass this restriction. Any damage dealt to a spellcaster while he is casting normally disrupts the spell.
  • Using Dimensional Stalking/Dimension Sense versus a teleporter and a similar teleport ability does allow a deadlock to be maintained between teleports, although this is a very extreme, unlikely case.
  • While deadlocked, a character is -3 to strike with missile weapons, but the opponent is -3 to defend. WP: Sharpshooting waives these penalties (having it removes both the strike and defense penalty; opponent vs. sharpshooter still has -3).
Damage in Combat (unchanged)
  • Most attack multipliers are additive with other attack multipliers of the same type.
  • Critical multipliers are tricky. All of them are additive: Dice crits, backstab crits, and power attack crits all add together; thus a backstab power attack with a natural 20 will generally do quadruple damage (x1, plus 3 crits for x4)
  • Items that improve crit range artificially add a critical multiplier, allowing a character to double crit on its numbers if an appropriate combat skill is known. For instance, if a weapon gives 19-20 critical, and a combat skill gives 18-20, the character will double crit (for triple damage) if a 19 or 20 is rolled.
  • Weakness multipliers are not additive. The most effective weakness modifier applies. This includes charmed weapons and death strike attacks.
  • Hit multipliers (such as burst size) generally multiply on top of other multipliers.
  • Multiple attacks (such as paired or speed weapon) have separate rolls, calculate each separately.
  • If a normal strength character is hit by SD damage in excess of PS * 10, he must make a Roll With Punch against the attack to avoid being knocked down. Each subsequent 20 SD (2 MD) applies a -1 to this roll. This Roll With Punch is a free action.
  • A supernatural strength character can withstand three times this (PS * 30 in SD damage) before needing to make a roll, with each 5 MD applying a roll penalty.
  • Knockback applies a -6 to all defenses and a -6 to all offensive actions. A character may use a melee action on his turn in order to stand up. Melee attacks against a knocked down opponent deal +4 damage.
  • A character hit by knockback automatically loses any held actions, whether the knockback is successful or not.
  • A character hit with knockback effects who is braced in some way may choose to suffer 50% more damage, but not be knocked down.
  • Non-physical damage, such as laser, ion, and plasma weaponry, does not inflict knockback. P-beams do.
Grappling and Ground Fighting
  • There are four basic fighting maneuvers to initiate a grapple: grab, throw, takedown, and slam. All of these require a strike roll to hit, and if successful, a contested grapple check to initiate the maneuver. Untrained grapplers cannot parry these attacks, and in some cases they may not be parried.
  • Grappling skill follows three different skill levels: untrained, trained, and expert. Some characters might have super unique "master grappling" or something but I feel no need to incorporate this at this time.
  • Opposed grapple checks are the same as the old rules. D20 plus PS modifier; add strike bonus if trained or better. If supernatural/robot versus normal, double PS modifier for the supernatural; if no PS modifier for supernatural vs. normal, add +1. Add +1 for each grappling limb advantage (limbs carrying weapons don't count), and of course, common sense for grappling applies eg. small size characters can't grapple large ones effectively.
  • Grabbing the opponent puts him in a grappled state, though the situation is neutral and either grappler can perform any grappling moves. A grappled character is locked in the grapple and cannot move without attempting to drag the opponent around. Grappled characters cannot defend against attacks except those from whoever they are grappling with.
  • While grappled, a character can attempt to perform a throw, takedown, disarm or turn the grapple into a hold. All of these actions require an opposed grapple check. A success allows the maneuver to be performed, a failure does nothing. If the opponent is armed with a grapple-appropriate weapon (knife, claws), he may deal his weapon's damage on any failed grapple attack.
  • A throw knocks the opponent down next to the thrower, or may propel the enemy further if the strength difference is great enough. A grab-and-throw can be done as a single attack. The opponent may roll with punch to reduce damage but can't avoid falling if the throw was directly on the ground. If the throw propels the opponent a great distance (more than a body length), roll with punch can be used to regain footing.
  • A takedown is a grab that follows the opponent downwards, pinning the opponent but effectively knocking both characters down. It can be parried. A takedown can be done as a single action or executed from a grab, like a throw.
  • A slam is a clothesline, sweep kick, or body check intended for knocking the opponent down. Slams can not usually be parried. A slam requires some momentum to perform, which means that the attacker needs some space between him and the defender or a slam can't be effectively performed. Sweep kicks are special slams that don't require momentum, but they can be parried by a trained fighter (4th level basic, 2nd level expert, 1st level everyone else). A character with a heavy shield can attempt to parry a slam, and a spiked shield of any kind may do serious damage to anyone attempting a slam.
  • After a takedown or when grappling a fallen opponent, a successful grapple check may be made to pin the opponent. Additionally, if the Wrestling skill is known a pin occurs on any 18, 19, or 20 on a strike roll to hit with a grapple. If a character is pinned, he cannot get up, move, or defend himself. The attacker can still deal his crush/squeeze damage, but cannot attack normally. The defender can make contested grapple checks to get free or attack with any wielded weapon, but is -6 and cannot apply strength bonuses to any attack damage. A pinned character can still use psionics or thought-activated magic items, but cannot cast spells.
  • A character in a grapple may turn the grapple into a hold with an opposed grapple check. A held character is -6 on attacks and opposed grapple checks and cannot make defensive actions, just like being pinned. A held character may use magic items that are in his free hand as long as their activation does not require another hand, plus psionics and thought-activated magic items as normal.
  • A martial artist with both Wrestling AND Body Flip/Throw from his combat style (except Basic even at level 8) may attempt to turn a hold into a joint lock. Make two contested grapple checks. If the opponent succeeds on either, he breaks free. If the attacker succeeds on both, the opponent is now locked and cannot do anything except activate psionic powers or trigger thought-activated magic items, but even then the character must make a saving throw vs. pain (14+, PE bonus applies) or forfeit his turn. On his turn the attacker may cast spells, use psionic powers, release his opponent, or break his opponent's joint. This deals 2d6 damage direct to hit points (cannot reduce HP below 0) and gimps his opponent appropriately. An opponent whose limb was just broken must save vs. pain (16+) or be incapacitated for one minute while he writhes on the ground in agony.
  • A trained grappler may attempt to turn a hold into a choke. Make two contested grapple checks. If the opponent succeeds on either, he breaks free. If the attacker succeeds on both, the opponent is now being asphyxiated. If the opponent has blood flow in his neck that can be interfered with, he will lose consciousness for 1d4 melee rounds if he failes a save vs. poison (14+). The opponent may do everything he could do in a hold, such as break out or activate psionic powers. The attacker may release his choke. If he does not, the opponent must save or be rendered unconscious. In addition, the attacker may either do nothing or deal damage (same as a hold). No other actions may be performed.
Magic and Special Powers Combat

  • Casting spells in melee range of an opponent always put the spellcaster at serious risk. If an opponent is within melee range or has the mage in a deadlock, the opponent can make an attack of opportunity on the mage. If the attack hits, the mage's spell is generally interrupted, and the mana is spent as though the spell was cast.
  • Functionally, spells take action after other actions done at the "same time," so held actions to interrupt when used from range also carry this function.
  • If the mage takes a defensive action (automatic defenses notwithstanding), spell casting is interrupted.
  • Opportunity attacks that deal no knockback magnitude AND deal no damage directly to the mage (eg. hits armor) may not interrupt the casting (GM discretion). This means that, in general, don't use targeted interrupts on a mage if you're armed with a ranged energy weapon.
  • Environments that are awkward, irritating, or damaging, generally prevent a mage from casting spells. Tear gas, Sand Storm, and similar environments prevent spell casting even if the eyes and face are protected, unless the entire body is protected via EBA. Some effects that bypass armor, such as Havoc, prevent casting entirely. In general, if in a damaging or awkward environment, and damage would be inflicted (even if it's SD to MD creatures), the environment prevents spell casting until the round after it is exited.
  • Environmental damage (eg. deals x damage per round) now applies that damage per segment, though I may alter the durations of some DoT effects to compensate. However, environmental damage from a single source may only do its environmental damage once per segment, and only at the end of the segment.
  • Reloading a TW firearm is a thought-activated magic item. Unless the creator states otherwise, powering a TW item is thought-activated.
  • Ley Lines influence magic in profound ways. Ley Lines add 10 points of mana generated per minute (nerfed!). Nexus points generate 10 per melee round. LLWs get double this amount. Surges generate the same amount as before, but LLWs can get double mana during a surge as well.
  • Spellcasters can pad their spells, mostly to protect against Spellshield and negas/nullis. A spellcaster can add any amount of mana to his or her spell, but each 25 mana raises the effective spell level by 1.
  • If padding raises the spell level of a spell above 7, the spell costs 2 melee actions instead of 1. If a spell normally takes fewer melee actions to cast, raising its spell level also reverts it to taking the normal number of melee actions for a spell of that level. Spellcasters may pad with 24 mana with no effect. 
  • Single-action level 8 spells as well; they may be padded up to 24 mana, but any more will incur the below issues.
  • If padding raises the spell level above 9, the spell must be cast as a ritual. Spells cast as rituals can have as much padding as desired, up to the maximum limit.
  • Level 9 and higher spells cannot be padded without a ritual casting.
  • The maximum amount a caster may pad is equal to 20 points of mana per level of experience.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Soku character recommendations for Jakey

#1: Suika
Suika is a fast melee brawler with strong options at close and mid range. Her dial-A does huge damage, giving her an easy learning curve. Her basic combos, even without her dial-A, are fairly easy and she does pretty large damage even with j6a j6b and no followups. Her attacks are quite fast so mixups will take some practice, and her block pressure is fairly hard to perform for beginners since it relies on minimum height j6a. She also lacks a good graze attack (66c is her only graze attack), which can make the vs. Yuyuko and vs. Utsuho matchups hard. She is a powerful threat though and can punish mistakes from anywhere with a little practice.
Deck: 4x Oni Spirit Bomb, 4x Missing Power. Spiritual Strike Talismans are useful as she has no DP without losing Oni Spirit Bomb (requires level 3 Spectre: Dense) which is unacceptable. Fire Oni is generally seen as very useful. Other good cards include the rock throw 2-card (forget the name) and Throwing Atlas. Her spellcard variety is so-so. You only need 1 Spirit Bomb and can use the rest on spellcards.

#2: Meiling (China)
Meiling is basically a more well-rounded, shittier Marisa. She has more respectable zoning, a crossup game, and a graze attack, along with a good variety of spellcards. She has more deck variety than Suika, who basically has to run certain skillcards. She relies on fighting midscreen or fake pressuring in the corner, but has no ways to keep the enemy in blockstun and must rely on ghetto tricks. China is very dangerous in close, but it is fairly easy to guess her mixups. Her game mostly ends up being about punishing mistakes. Her vs. Iku matchup is extremely hard, but she is fairly decent against Yuyuko, Suwako, and Utsuho.
Deck: Most China decks ignore her 236 move entirely, as there are no good options for it. Her 214 attack has many good options, as does her 623. She has several invulnerable spellcards and should take at least one. Spiritual Strike Talisman is also a good idea.

#3: Iku
An easy-to-play, melee-focused midrange character with good zoning, Iku is both incredibly strong and easy to play. She is Nick's main. Iku requires precise spacing which can only be learned with practice, but if Nick can learn it, anyone can. Iku has some tricky combo execution for random midscreen hits, but none of it is hard. Her midscreen dial-A followup is also somewhat hard to execute; Nick can't do it reliably. Iku has a lot of deck diversity, with only one card really being mandatory. She probably needs defensive cards, as she has a very weak close-range game despite her strong melee.
Deck: 4x Lightning Fish "Swimming Thunder Shot, 4x Spiritual Strike Talisman. Other than that, Iku can run a fairly wide variety of skill and spell cards. I see a lot of Lightning Sign: Elekiter Dragon Palace in high level play. Iku's 214 options are very diverse and it's worth playing with all of them. Thorn Sign: Thundercloud Strikeback is one of her best spellcards, too. I really like Veils Like Time, but I'm a weirdo.

#4: Marisa
She's super-China. She takes the strengths of China and magnifies them greatly, and her fullscreen laser gives her a way to punch through bullets and punish mistakes at any distance. Like China, she focuses heavily on doing big damage with random hits. It's up to you to land those random hits and confirm for big damage, though and while I personally find her execution easy, the rest of the group cannot confirm off of random jump melee (Nick being a notable exception and only with Iku). Because Marisa generates big damage off of any hit, she is much more dangerous than many of the other characters I've recommended (Suika does more, though). Marisa lacks a graze attack and must fight for midscreen position with her laser or 5c in most situations.
Deck: 4x Spiritual Strike Talisman. A lot of options here. Her default 214 is decent for combos and can be upgraded to be safer on block and allow for post-block mixups. Her 214 broomgun is also really good and is the most commonly used Marisa skillcard in high level play. Her default 623 is her only real graze attack, and it has startup graze which allows her some ghetto tricks. However, it does not have invincibility; it is not a real DP even at max level. She also has very good options for her 22 bombs and they can be used to control the map. Her spellcards vary widely and almost all are useful. For shits, 6c > Narrow Spark > Master Spark combos for all the lasers.

#5 Utsuho
Considered by top players to be the second-worst character in the game, Utsuho deals massive damage off of most hits and has easy combos. I'd almost recommend her over Marisa, honestly, as her combos are much easier to learn. She is pretty slow though, and her sluggishness makes her hard to defend against. Fortunately, most of us are bad so her huge damage and huge bullet density are more powerful.
Deck: 4x Spiritual Strike Talisman, 4x Hell Geyser (also known as Gunflame). Shooting Star is also quite useful and Divine Raiment is helpful when you're getting rushed down. Rocket Dive is very popular for combos and shenanigans. She has very few useful spellcards.

Yuyuko (easy, strong bullets, easily rushed down)
Patchouli (powerful bullets, strong zoning, hard combos; more difficult, higher damage Yuyuko)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Dwarf rifle

Unable to sleep and thinking about guns, I got to thinking about how a dwarf-made firearm might work. We've kind of established flintlock guns, which make a lot of sense until percussion explosives are invented. Note that percussion explosives are kind of the barrier to making any progress in the field of firearms and flintlocks were kinda used for hundreds of years so I don't know that is even plausible in this world.

Anyway, a flintlock mechanism involves having a spring-loaded flint held rearward by a mechanical arm, called the cock (hence the term "cocking the gun"). When the trigger is pulled, it releases the spring, causing the cock to fly forward on its hinge. The flint hits a striker, which causes hot pieces of the flint to shard off into a pan which catches the hot shards. There is powder in the pan; the hot shards of flint ignite the powder, which feeds into a tube carrying the main powder charge. When the burning powder reaches the main charge, the main charge ignites and shoots the bullet forward.

This is pretty inefficient, all things considered. First, flintlock rifles are bullshit. I don't mean like they didn't exist because they did, but in the real world they were a million and a half bitches to load and no one really used them, aside from hunters and military marksmen. There weren't even really "sharpshooters" back then; the term was coined from the Sharps rifle which kinda shoots .45-70 black powder cartridges. That's cartridges, like rounds, like made of brass with a jacketed bullet. Most flintlock guns of their day were muskets. A flintlock rifle takes about 50 times longer to reload because you have to forcibly slam the damn musket ball down the bore, so a musket, where you put the main charge in the bore, put the ball down the bore, put the powder in the pan, cock the action, sight in and shoot all in 20 seconds is a much more reasonable deal. If you want to narrow it down to 2 full-round actions to reload and another to sight in and fire (with appropriate reloading class features or feats) that would make sense. A rifle takes many times that because of the difficulty in getting that damn ball down the bore without damaging the bore.


So dwarves are a little bit smarter than that, with paper cartridges that hold the main charge. How can we best use that technology?

The best way to use a paper cartridge is in a two-piece load. You pull the smaller piece of the cartridge off and open it up, pouring the powder into the pan. The other piece of paper cartridge just feeds into the muzzle of the g...FUCK THAT TOO.

Instead of muzzle-fed bullshit, we can also improve there. The main charge is glued to the bullet itself, and the whole thing is fed into the breech. A break-action design simply won't work for a flintlock though; the pan and striker and trigger assembly are all kinda in one spot and you can't break that open. Instead, a falling block action can be used to feed the paper cartridge + bullet into the chamber. What's a falling block action?

Basically, a lever on the gun, most likely located underneath the trigger housing, lowers a block (hence the name) that conceals the chamber. The main charge and bullet are fitted into the chamber by hand, then the lever is retracted, sliding the block back into place and sealing the chamber. You want the falling block mechanism to hinge vertically though. If it's hinged horizontally (like a bolt-action rifle) the explosion of the powder will act against the mechanism holding the action in place, and since it's made to slide that way, the action will eventually break.

Modern bolt-actions are held in place by locking lugs, which rotate when the bolt is turned to seat the bolt so that it can't move. In fact, bolt-action rifles have multiple locking lugs to distribute stress on them between several points of contact so a high-powered rifle cartridge doesn't break them. It is possible that a bolt-action, chamber-fed gun is the next step in dwarven firearms evolution but really the improvements would be minimal compared to a falling block action.

The main flaws in this design are the problems with any unjacketed lead bullet fired through a rifled barrel; lead and propellant fouling in the barrel and paper/propellant fouling in the chamber. The advantages though are a gun that can probably be reloaded as a standard action or possibly even a move action. There's probably severe accuracy problems if you fire more than 3-4 shots without cleaning it though.

The actual bullet itself has a lot of potential from this design. You can make an actual bullet, rather than a lead ball, though actual spitzer bullets weren't invented until the 20th century IRL and were only really feasible with jacketed bullets anyway which is totally not something that would be invented anytime soon. Even without a real bullet, you can squeeze a ton more accuracy out of this. The chamber is mostly airtight, except for the pan (not sure how that problem was solved), but more importantly the bullet is slightly bigger than the bore so the bullet flies perfectly straight down the barrel, swaged by the rifling for amazing accuracy, relative to its predecessors. Reloading this sucker is super fast too. Operate the lever, put the bullet and main charge in, break the paper for the secondary charge in the pan, close the lever, cock the gun and sight in. Probably a standard action with a feat or class ability to improve it to a move action.

These rifles would be useful for infantry with some caveats. The main issue is that massed fire of black powder weapons creates a lot of smoke, especially flintlocks that burn powder in a pan outside the rifle. However, other elements of D&D warfare kind of render infantry formations stupid; the military adoption of the fireball, grease, and entangle ordinance make massed infantry a really bad idea. Most likely, infantry operate in squads with a unit commander and individual objective orders, with squad leaders, team leaders, and specialists assigned as needed. Unfortunately in D&D, magic was invented before the radio. How does siege warfare even get done? I'm not really sure. The ability to conjure also has issues since it's harder to starve an army of provisions and nearly impossible to run it out of water, even in desert combat.

My guess is that you just don't attack fortifications in D&D unless you want your siege weapons getting wrecked by scorching ray snipers.