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).