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.