Saturday, 15 October 2011

An Update, but not an article...yet.

So, it's definitely been quite some time since I've posted.

The main reason is Capcom's inability to make a patch without announcing another two weeks later.
AE2012 is pretty much the reason I haven't continued. There is very little point in doing so until it's out.

So, give it about a week into AE 2012 and we should have something new, however I will be amending articles and am going to be posting the long awaited Frame trap article soon.

Hoping to be helping you guys again soon!

- Francys 'Illustrious Vega' Pai.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Dancing with the claw - For intermediates - Part III

The art of Kara throwing.

Why it's important.
Kara-throwing, is a giant chunk of Vega's game, therefore important, but it isn't exactly beginner; which is why it's being covered on a more intermediate level. Along with footsies, okizeme and having a pretty solid defense, this is another tool that you need to learn with Vega.

Kara, meaning "Empty", is the art of cancelling a normal into a throw or a special, namely a normal that moves the character forward. Some characters can do it with specials, but not into throws (For example, Sagat's Tiger Uppercut kara is off a f+lk. He can only Kara his specials. Makoto, on the other hand, can do both. Some characters, like Dictator, cannot kara at all.) and vice versa.
Bearing in mind, that a kara throw has more startup frames than a standard throw, as you are accounting for the frames of the normal that you have cancelled too.
Now, you're probably asking "What button do I kara throw off?"
Vega, as it presently stands, has two kara normals. However, only one of them is useful; you want the most maximum range that you can account for.
The first, is st.MK. His standing medium kick will pull him forward only a tiny fraction, so it doesn't make for a great kara, especially when you're accounting for those extra frames. Every little helps.
The second, and most important, and the one that you will be using. Is his standing heavy kick.
Standing heavy kick pulls Vega so far forward, it gains him the second largest range on a kara throw in the game (First being Ken's from a f+mk. You don't want to experience that range being done to you, it isn't pretty).

So, how do I do a kara throw?
A kara throw is performed by tapping your normal, and instantly inputting for a throw after (It must be before the animation starts. If he's doing a st.HK and nothing else. You're inputting for the throw too slow, if you're getting a throw and he's not moving at all, you're inputting too fast).
As a guide. Go into training mode and turn input display ON.

If you're doing it too fast, your inputs will look like this:

Vega will throw, but you won't get the kara cancel, meaning you're just throwing normally. And with a kara setup, if you do this, you're giving your opponent 20 frames to hit you. When put in that perspective, it doesn't look good, does it?

If you're doing it too slow, your inputs will look like this:

Vega will not throw at all, a standing heavy kick will come out. In some instances, this might be beneficial for you; but we're not basing our game on lucky execution mistakes.

Now, if done correctly, your inputs will look like this;

Vega will now move forward (Watch his feet) and a throw will come out. This is your kara throw. Use it and abuse it.

By now, you're thinking "So I know HOW to kara throw...but when do I use it?"
In truth, there is no "time" to use it. It varies by player and how they play. You won't be playing the same for everyone you come across. The important thing to remember, is to try to always always use it at maximum range.

However, to help you along your way, I will go through some setups that you can test out. These, like any "Tick throw" (Interrupting your own links to throw your opponent.), can be interrupted by mashed out normals, reversals, etc. Or quite simply countered if you get predictable as they aren't true links.

Kara setups;
All of these setups are done on block, but some can also be done on hit. You just need to leave a minor gap that is a little bigger than usual to accommodate for the hitstun. Some will even link on counterhit.

  • clMP, crMK > Kara throw
    The nice thing about this setup, is that aswell as having slight frame trap capabilities (which I will be covering in the next article) , it is capable of hit confirming.
    If the cr.MK connects, you will have the time to go into cr.lp, xx EX FBA.
    It is a tough link to get down on reaction, but once you're into the habit, it is a very effective setup.
  • crLP, crLK, crLK > Kara Throw
    This is a very very fast block string that leads to a kara throw. On counterhit, the crLK, crLK will combo, but there is very little that can be done from it. It is merely a setup and nothing more.
  • crLP, crLP > Kara throw
    If you're confident in your links, this would also be another great to consider. If your cr.lp, cr.lp connects, you could then hit into a into an EX FBA. It is also one that can get predictable very quickly, so use it with caution.
  • crLP, crLP > st.LK > Kara throw
    My favourite thing about this setup, is that in the midst of putting yourself at a very far range from your opponent is that it contains two hit-confirmable setups.
    Obviously, as mentioned before; crlp, crlp can be hit confirmed into another crlp or a crmp and then cancelled into EX FBA.
    The other, is if they try to counterpoke after your cr.lps and the connects, you can cancel that into st.HK or crHP.  The cr.HP is a little tougher and quite spacing specific so I would heavily recommend doing st.HK instead.
    Obviously, if you have godlike reactions and the confidence to try it, another combo that you could try is;
    -, cr.lp, xx EX FBA.

There are several more kara throw setups, but out of the twelve that I could think of, these were the most effective and efficient that I wanted to put out there.
Kara throws in themselves always have been rather situational, but they are a very important aspect of Vega's game.
Learn how to use them alongside your footsies and they will soon become very powerful tools that will make your opponent want to throttle you in the long run when they've fallen for several of them in a row.

And now for a fun fact;
If you attempt to Kara Throw using Cosmic Heel [df.HK], it will infact move Vega backwards. Difficult to pull off, funny to watch, but nonetheless absolutely useless.

As far as these articles have gone, it's been a very long road for me. However, I will be continuing them and I thank everyone for the support along the way.

So next up;
Frame Traps - A method of irking your opponent into walking into counterhits.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Dancing with the claw - For Intermediates; Part II


And now for something completely different...or not really.
A word you may or may not have heard before and that this article is now covering is "Okizeme"; Which is just a fancy word for "Wake-up game."
An Okizeme is a series of attacks and baits, ranging from meaties to safejumps to whatever your specific character has that can pressure your opponent into making a mistake as they recover from a knockdown, that may lead to another knockdown or a very damaging combo.

I think the first, most important thing that we need to look at when assessing what to use in an Okizeme, is the risk vs. reward factor of what each of your attacks do.
For example, if a Ryu has an ultra stocked, along with two super meters, you most certainly do not use an option that will trade or get stuffed by a wake-up Shoryuken (as this will inevitably lead to FADC into Ultra, and you really don't want to be eating that damage).
Another example, is versus Zangief, once again, with an ultra example. If you cr.MK, he has the opportunity to grab you with Ultra 1, and nine times out of ten, this is going to happen to you. Therefore, to keep yourself safe versus Zangief's ultra, you would stick to a jump-out method of attacking, like Jump-Back HP.
In essence, it is extremely important in the first place, that you keep track of what your opponent likes to do on wake-up. After a knockdown or two, it should be pretty obvious to you what they do. Some people throw out a wake-up reversal, some people try to throw, others backdash and some just block.
At this point, it does become a bit of a game of rock, paper, scissors;
  • If he wakes up with an attack, you block.
  • If he wakes up with a throw, at the correct spacing, you can attack and your opponent will be hit.
  • If they like to wake-up just blocking, you can throw them.
A little further down the line, it becomes more like chess, but this is when your frame-traps and Option Selects begin to come into play. These will not be covered in this article, but rest assured, they will be at a later date. At the moment, you need to learn your okizeme properly before implementing such advanced techniques anyway.
There isn't much more to an explanation other than that;Just like baiting, you're aiming to make your opponent make a mistake, only this time, it's on their wakeup.
So without further ado, let's start with Meaties.

What is a 'Meaty' attack?
A meaty attack, is where you are catching the opponent with your LAST active frame of your attack which will generate the largest amount of frame advantage possible (In the case of Cosmic Heel, it is +3). Or, where you are hitting them on their first frame of an uncontrollable state, say, recovering from a knockdown.

These can become a vital part of Vega's okizeme game and it's important to know when and where to use them; So I'll go over some examples of a wakeup (Read: Using on your opponent's wakeup, not your own) meaty to give you an idea;
    cr.MK is probably a more commonly used meaty on wakeup (Afterall, this is a article about Okizeme). Mostly because it baits out a lot of wakeup reversals and will easily stuff them provided they are not an invincible reversal (IE Shoryuken). As an example, if you meaty cr.MK over Balrog's wakeup and he attempts a Headbutt, the Headbutt will be stopped before it can hit you by your cr.MK.
  • L.Rolling Crystal Flash² (² = Second hit)
    This is an unusual, yet decent meaty and with enough practice and forcing yourself into the habit, it isn't too difficult to land either. The good side about it, is that it has deceptively long range due to the hitbox on his claw at the end of the roll and because of this, you are more prone to catching your opponent offguard.
    On block, it is very safe (In that you are at +2, so your opponent would be unable to reversal you.), and if it connects, say, on a backdash or a counterhit, you are then able to link it into a four-frame of your choice. I like to use EX.Scarlet Terror, simple, effective, and is an excellent game ender.
  • Slide (cr.HK)
    This is the easiest meaty to time right due to it's lengthy active frames, however, at a higher level, it is barely worth the risk of being punched by a reversal due to it's recovery if spaced even a little bit wrong (While it's easy to time, it can so easily be mis-spaced and it then becomes incredibly unsafe on block).
  • EX.FBA
    This is another easy meaty to time correctly, due to it being almost exclusively active frames until Vega touches the wall. The downside? It costs meter and is extremely risky if you run it into a block.
    However, it is good for the following situations;

    • Situation A:
      You have hit your opponent with EX.Sky High Claw (Cross-over, jumping from wall BEHIND your opponent) on their wake-up before. They may expect another one and try to block from that direction. This would mean that they wiill now be walking into your EX FBA. It can play quite a mind trick with your opponent as whenever you have meter, they will be worrying about which way to block.
    • Situation B:
      If it is timed properly, it will actually cross the opponent up. However, this is more of an advanced technique and I will be going over it in detail in a later article. Just remember this in the back of your mind for now iin case you want to try it out in training mode.
  • EX.Sky High Claw
    EX.SHC, is more of a gimmick tool than an actual meaty as you are using it for a cross-up (Refer to link in 'Situation A' paragraph). It is very risky if your opponent has played a Vega who does this before, and you can end up in for a world of hurt if they guess right.
    But it's just one more mind-game to think about; bear in mind, that like all gimmicks, however, if you use them too often, the risk/reward ratio will be inverted and you will find yourself taking much more damage.
    *NOTE* EX.SHC crossup is character specific if they wake up crouching!
    Characters of note in this are: Vega (You shouldn't be even considering any method of walldive in a mirror match anyway) and Chun-Li.
  • Cosmic Heel (df.HK)
    Until arcade edition drops on us, Cosmic Heel, right now, is a very good meaty to use long-range. It has 5 active frames, making it easy to time as a meaty and unlike slide (cr.HK) it is safe on block and yields some strong frame advantage.
    If it connects, you can the followup with Scarlet Terror (More on this later on in the article) for some pretty impressive damage.
  • Piece of Mercury (df.MK)
    This should only ever be used at maximum range as it is high risk, low reward. You should bear this overhead in mind as a gimmick for when you come across a wake-up Down-back hugger. (Your opponent constantly wakes up in crouch block).
    Once you have done this, on your next knockdown, you can then play around with a meaty cr.MK as they will more than likely be expecting another overhead. If you land cr.MK, you can hit confirm into EX FBA for even greater damage and an untechable knockdown to play this over again.
  • fst.LK (Far-standing light-kick)
    This is a nice way to reset into a kara throw mixup (Which will be covered in the next article, stay tuned.). Vega can easily play with this, showing your opponent that you have the tools to play ball with them.
    Fst.LK is going to be one of your tools that's going to make your opponent hammer their stick into the screen when you throw them a 5th time in a row. It's an excellent way to frustrate your opponent into making very easy, very punishable mistakes.
    If your opponent thinks he can win the match without taking the risk of psychic reversals, it is your job to convince him of the contrary. It also combos into itself for a hit confirm into st.HK or . It recovers so fast that it is even safe to some reversal ultras.
  • Throw
    A throw is the main threat for your opponent on wake-up because, as mentioned before, it beats block and leads to another knockdown. To defend from the threat of a throw,your opponent has to take risks and guess right. Vega has excellent walk-speed and this combo'd with a long-range grab (even longer when kara'd) makes him a pretty scary contender on wake-up.
    With a little creativity in mind, you can then play around with your opponent's wake-up to your heart's content, but as per usual. DO.NOT.GET.PREDICTABLE!
  • cls.HP (Close-standing HP, The double slash)
    This is useful in a few ways.
    First, if your opponent attempts to grab you on wake-up and you have timed this correctly, they are eating the second slash in the face, which then can lead further into cr.MP xx EX FBA. And then you can start your mind-games again.
    It allows you to retain a down-back charge due to it's active frame duration so combo-ing out of it is usually not a problem.
    It also can turn itself into a far-standing HP should your opponent try to backdash on wake-up. If it's a short backdash, you will either catch them with the second hit of cl.HP, or it will change into a st.HP and it will catch them.
    This does not apply to all backdashes as some move differently to others, have different invincibility properties etc.
  • jb.HP
    The instant overhead that will land you somewhere safe (Provided they do not wake-up reversal that has invincibility, IE, Shoryuken) It has range, is safe and lands you pretty far away. It will force your opponent out of db. block on wakeup and opens their guard for more cr.MK and bait traps.
    More on the usage of this later in the article, if you're not falling asleep right now with your pen in your hand. In which case;
And with that, we move onto the dreaded Corpsehopping.

Corpsehopping composes most of Vega's Okizeme game, it incorporates the use, primarily, of Cosmic Heel (However, this can actually be interchanged with Piece of Mercury [] too).
To be precise, a corpsehop is the act of moving yourself to the otherside of your opponent after you score a knockdown, without the use of a jump. It gives your opponent little time to react to your new placement on the screen and can generally land you in a very good position for another followup.
However, just like everything else it is important to not get predictable, IE: Do not corpsehop after every single knockdown that you gain.

With the brief explanation out of the way, let's start on some followups;

  • xx EX FBA
    This followup can become entertaining when done properly, in both 'Did that just happen?' factor and that it's a pretty good way of showing your opponent that they need to think quickly against you.
    Usually, I do this one after a Cosmic Heel > Scarlet Terror; If they quickstand, they have even less time than usual to react to it. (Be very wary as some characters like Adon and Guy quick-stand faster than others, making a corpse-hop after a techable knockdown extremely difficult).
    To do this, you land your df.HK > Scarlet Terror, Dash forward once, Do another df.HK (So that you're landing on the other side of them; And don't forget to keep a constant down-charge when doing the df.HK or you won't have enough charge for the EX FBA!).
    Then, as they stand, input your xx EX FBA.
    I would only recommend doing this once, maybe twice during a match since your opponent can catch on quickly to what you're doing and punish you accordingly. (Remember when I mentioned a blocked/whiffed EX FBA puts you in a bad position? That.)
    Personally, I use it against Dudley's that are a little comfortable attempting Cross Counter and Gouken's attempting to always High Parry on wakeup.
    Another instance would be people who attempt to throw instantly on wakeup; The, if timed correctly, will stuff the throw attempt and give you some free damage, and of course, the opportunity to set up another trap for them.
    You won't get a lot of these at a higher level of play, but if you come across them; you know what to do.
  • Throw/Backthrow
    This creates another knockdown for you to play around with some more corpsehop shenanigans, or even safejumps (Which you will read later on in the article). There is very little more to it than that. For extra mind game fun, learn how to use a kara throw.
  • jb.HP
    The ultimate Anti-Gouken mind game. Ever played a Gouken that likes to hit that command counter on their wakeup? Now you can really make that hurt with a jump-back HP.
    When done on Gouken, the attack will be absorbed, however you will not be hit. In the meantime, his recovery leaves him open to being hit by a cr.MP xx EX FBA. The timing is relatively strict, but do-able.
    With the situational, character-specific piece out of that way another use is that it stuffs a few reversal wakeup attempts. They must have no invulnerable frames however (So, usually, a shoryuken IS going to hit you and it will hurt...especially if it's Ryu with ultra stocked).
  • Backdash
    Backdashing away from your opponent is a great way to escape throw attempts, due to Vega having invulnerable frames at the start of it. This is not only important over wakeup, but in relatively close combat too. As people will often attempt a tick throw. A tick can be avoided by this backdash as can some low attempts at attacking.
    On wakeup, it works in the same manner, it will avoid some reversals too, however it is very limited on this account and you're more likely to take damage this way.
  • Cosmic Heel > ST followups
    If your opponent is not in the corner after an ST, you can followup with a dash forward and a corpsehop (However, due to the wakeup times, this does not work on Guy or Adon). After this, I will refer you back to the corpsehop section of the guide;
    Bear in mind, the followups mentioned in corpsehop can also be done after CH > ST without the use of another corpsehop.
    Other than that, there are "Safe-jumps". As an example;
  • Cosmic Heel > Scarlet Terror > Backdash > jf.MP If the opponent doesn't quick-stand, whiff a cr.LP and neutral jump with a late nj.MK.
    *Note* This is safe to 4-frame reversals, meaning a Shoryuken WILL hit you.
And with that, we are now at the stage of thinking "...So what exactly is a safe-jump? You haven't explained this yet, Francys!"
So to elaborate;

Safe Jumping;
Safe-jumping is a method of jumping toward your opponent that will land you in a position, that, dependant on what they do, will allow you to avoid getting hit.
Most safe-jumps are performed on an opponents wakeup, which is why I have chosen to include them in the Okizeme section of the guide.
Bear in mind that some safe-jumps are character or attack specific (For example, some are safe to 3 frame reversals, such as Shoryuken, and others are not). As this is a guide about Vega, below are just a few safe-jump setups that can be performed with him;
  •  Backthrow > Instant jump forward > j.MP
    This is going to be your most common safe jump. It's safe to most attacks, including MOST 3 frame reversals (All of Ryu's Shoryukens, and all of Ken's aside Heavy...It pretty much punches your dignity right out of your face...kind of like Dudley's Cross-counter).
    For a full-indepth article on what exactly this safe-jump works on, refer to Deuy's Backthrow > MP Safejump Results thread.
  •  After CH, ST, whiff a cr.MK and jump in with a late j.HP.
    This safe jump is only safe to reversals that are 4-frames and higher, such as Chun-Li's Spinning Bird Kick. This, unfortunately means that it is not safe to that ever pesky shoryuken and not only that, but your opponent MUST quick-stand.
    Overall, I wouldn't recommend this one but instead;
    After CH, ST. Do ONE Backdash and followup with a late j.MP. This tends to catch people who attempt a throw or backdash on wakeup. It will catch 4-frame and higher reversals clean.
  •  Backthrow opponent out of corner > Instant Wall jump > j.HP
    This safe-jump, while decent, is also risky. It will not beat a shoryuken. If it is done against Honda, his Headbutt CAN Auto-correct if done even slightly late, and will anti-air you.
  •  After Izuna Drop, whiff a cr.MK and jump in with a late j.HK.
    Safe to all reversals > 4 frames.
    Personally not one of my favourites, but it is useful against characters with reversals that are greater than 4 frames.
    Out of all the safe-jump that I have mentioned, backthrow to j.MP is probably the safest and quite frankly the easiest to set up considering Vega's fantastic throw game.
PoM Followups
Last up, is the use of Piece of Mercury (df.MK) as a corpsehop.
While Cosmic Heel is always the recommended, once you develop the reactions of a cat, this shouldn't be a huge problem. It's a not-so-recognized method of corpsehopping and is also a little more ambiguous due to the low arc in which Vega moves through the air and over your opponent.

Just like corpsehopping with Cosmic Heel, I'd like to just point out that the following follow-ups are viable after a Piece of Mercury, whether you are doing it corpsehop OR Maximum range (Do not do it anything closer than maximum, point blank will leave you at -4 and Vega sitting in your opponent's face yelling 'Hit me!')
  • Throw/Backthrow
  • Backdash
  • jb.HP
And there we go, there is your Okizeme briefed, done and dusted. You'll always develop your own style as you learn what works for your mindset (every player thinks differently, and therefore will find some techniques more useful than others. Experiment to find which ones work with you.)

Next up is an article that I have long since wanted to write;
The Art of Kara-Throwing - Throw games at their finest.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Dancing with the claw - For Intermediates; Part I

Before I begin the intermediates sections, I just wanted to take a moment to thank a few people for their help and direction particulary within the Shoryuken Forums Vega community.
So many a shoutout to my guys in Team Vega (You all know who you are!) and a very very big thank you to Ajunta for your input on these articles; there's so much I could have missed if not for you. I can only hope that my intermediate and advanced sections live up to your expectations.

So what does all of this mean? An introduction to Intermediate Vega.
So, you've read all of the beginner's guide, Before we begin, there is a checklist of things that you should now be aware of with your Vega now,
  • What a hit confirm is and How to hit confirm.
  • Your preferred normals
  • How to anti-air on the ground
  • What you shouldn't do
  • How to manage your meter
  • Ultra preference
As for terms, you should know by now, I will go over ones that I used again just to clarify; In case you were finding yourself misunderstanding them;
  • Hit Confirm;
    A Hit confirm is how you ensure that your attack did not whiff or was not blocked before you commit to something that puts you at a disadvantage or at risk of wasting meter (such as cr.MP xx EX FBA, the cr.MP is the hit confirm here to ensure you're not just trying to hit them with a random EX FBA, which can be punished very very easily if blocked and is a large waste of meter).
    However another example of a hit confirm (as the former mentioned requires fairly high reflexes and reaction time), is Cosmic Heel > Scarlet Terror; It is a juggle hit confirm, meaning it can be followed up into another attack and also does not waste meter.
  • Poke;
    A poke is often considered a long range normal or command normal (a command normal is a normal move that requires you to hold a directional to do it, such as; df.HK [Cosmic Heel] and df.MK [Piece of Mercury]. The 'Command' is the directional, in these instances being down-forward.)
    Pokes are often considered safe and are used in footsies (More on that in this article).
  • Overhead;
    An Overhead is an attack that can only be blocked high (Standing). If you are crouching, you will be hit by it.
  • Untechable Knockdowns and Wake-ups;
    A knockdown is when your character is knocked to the floor; in this state they are invulnerable to attacks but also cannot be controlled. To get back up, is called 'Wake-up', there are varying instances of wakeups and knockdowns.
    A 'Techable' knockdown refers to being able to perform a quick-stand upon touching the floor by pressing either down or two buttons simultaneously. A quick-stand allows you to recover faster, characterised by your character rising from the floor instantly from the moment they are knocked down.
    An 'Untechable knockdown'; such as what happens when you are thrown or swept (commonly by a characters Down-HK, it can vary in some character's cases such as Makoto and Dudley).
    This is where you cannot perform a quick-stand, no matter how many buttons you press. You will remain on the floor for a set amount of time until you recover again and stand back up.
    Your wake-up is what happens when you are recovering from these knockdowns; be it a quick-stand or from an untechable. Some characters will use these few moments to play various little tricks to make you fall into another of their combos or into another knockdown. This can be done by Baiting (which I will touch upon briefly in this article) and Okizeme; which will be discussed later on.
  • Auto-Correct;
    Auto-Correct is when you input an attack; commonly a special or an ultra as your opponent is jumping over you or switching sides. The special will come out in the direction opposite to that of which it was inputted. This can often be advantageous in cases of Vega's ultra or his Scarlet Terror.
  • Anti-Air;
    An anti-air, is a move that can be used by a character to defend against a jumping/aerial attack from their opponent by countering with an attack of their own; one that generally out-prioritizes
    the opponent. It generally needs to be fast to startup, have very good range and a good hitbox.
Bear in mind, you should also know by now how to interpret basic frame data such as what frame advantage, startup, recover and active frames are.
In intermediate Vega, you will be learning things from footsies to wakeup games to followups from Cosmic Heel and Piece of Mercury. Not everything will come to you at first, you'll probably find yourself reading these articles more than once as you learn; but don't let it sway you, you're not going to learn everything about a character overnight and you're not going to incorporate everything you're reading here into your game overnight either.
So, enough of my prattling, let's get down to business.

First off, a brief explanation of Baiting;
Baiting is a bit of an obscure concept, in that they vary on a character-to-character basis. But the idea behind baiting is always the same.  You're aiming to make your opponent do something that is highly punishable by you. In a way, it's the same concept as footsies where you're whiffing safe pokes in hopes to punish them.

What are "footsies"? 
[Why they exist and how it relates to the tactical breakdown of your games.]
There are two main situations that you need to think about as a player when you are engaged in a match; They become clearer over time and you'll find yourself picking up on them with more experience;
  • Situation A -
    If you have a guaranteed opportunity to do damage on your enemy, you use it to your advantage and do that damage. This, of course, works in the opposite direction too on the defense; You try to not give your opponent this guarenteed opportunity to do damage.
  • Situation B -
    You have a tactical advantage over your opponent and you try to turn it into even more tactical advantage or into damage, and of course the exact opposite situation. We often refer to that as "Having momentum".
Now what happens when the situation is unclear ?
You can use your attacks, and so can he. But what happens if you whiff your attack or if you throw that move into a block?
It is then that the situation is clear that you have just put your oppoent into situation A or B. However, this in the sense that it is them that has these advantages to play with; and that, is bad for you.

So, how do we solve this problem?
Solving the problem, once recognized, is very very simple.
One example of solving these problems is something called 'Zoning'. This is where you are making sure that your opponent is not going to, or is unable to block and that your own attack is not going to whiff. (An example on top of this is, say, Ryu. He throws a fireball, anticipates the enemy jumping over it and initiates a Shoryuken. He is in range to do this, has put you in that setup and has prevented you from being able to block.)

However, Zoning isn't the main thing I am going to cover in this article and will be done in much further depth later on, so let's move on to the main point of discussion; Footsies.

When you play footsies, you want to avoid getting zoned. You want to avoid yielding tactical advantage, and you want to avoid sustaining heavy damage. At the same time, you are trying to make the opponent fail at at least one of these objectives.

Essentially, Footsies, is a method of players using their main pokes at maximum range in an attempt to make their opponent try to catch their poke with their own for it to be whiff punished.
A whiff punish is the method of punishing an opponent's whiffed attack with an attack of your own.
As a guide, I highly recommend reading through Maj's Footsies Handbook for a very indepth explanation.

Footsies and which ones you will use vary by person. Just bear in mind that the one thing that you are aiming for with them is to either:
  • Score a knockdown
  • Corner your Opponent
  • Make your opponent go to a section of the screen that is most advantageous to you
  • Keep your opponent away from you
  • Make your opponent fall into your setups for a combo.
Personally, from a poking perspective, I use;
cr. MK, cr.lp,,,, Cosmic Heel and I'll give an explanation as to why:

  • cr.MK;
    It's fast and has very decent range; if you hit your opponent with it, you can hit confirm into xx EX FBA. Which gives you both an untechable knockdown and positional advantage.
  • cr.LP;
    It's fast and upon hitting your opponent can lead into another cr.lp if they're close enough, or, which again hit confirms into EX FBA.
    Most of your strategy is going to be around either cornering your opponent (Which you do by poking them out first using your normals like mentioned in the beginner's section of this guide), or knocking them down with a slide (cr.HK) or EX FBA.
  •; is very fast, on both startup and recovery making it an excellent tool for keeping your opponent pinned in a block string. It has a surprising amount of range, as you can see by the hitbox (click the '' header of the section if you haven't already) and can stuff a fair few of your opponent's far attempts at poking.
    Another good point is that you can combo from it. If it lands, you can combo another then into, or even just by itself off a singular OR, if we want to get into difficult combos, provided you are in the correct range (IE, at this point you probably won't be in sufficient range to be using this as a footsie), you can combo cr.lp, xx EX FBA from it.
  • st.MK;
    More of a far-ranged poke, really designed for keeping your opponent away from you. It's fairly fast to start up and just as good on recover (at max.range, so that you're essentially hitting the opponent with your toes). It doesn't lead much more into that other than acting as a good keep out tool and setting up some spacing.
  • Cosmic Heel;
    Cosmic Heel, I feel, is more of a whiff punisher and a tool to move yourself closer into your opponent's range. It can punish low pokes at your maximum range with some pretty nasty results (see Cosmic Heel > Scarlet Terror) for some easy damage.
    You're not going to find yourself landing a cosmic heel constantly; you're more often than not going to be fishing for a punish with this rather than straight up hitting them out of the blue.
    I always recommend this to be used at maximum range, otherwise known to some as using it as a 'Meaty'.
    A meaty, is where you are catching the opponent with your LAST active frame of your attack which will generate the largest amount of frame advantage possible (In the case of Cosmic Heel, it is +3).

Air to airs;
An air to air is the act of using an attack while you are jumping versus your opponent who is doing the same. Usually, the attack with the better hitbox and better priority will win and the most common method of air to air is performing an 'Air Reset' where the opponent will be effectively knocked out of the air, but will not be knocked down; characterized by the hit character doing a flip of sorts in the air to recover before landing back on their feet.
So, it is essentially another method of anti-airing; and these are various methods in which Vega can do it;
  • Jump Back.MP;
    This is quite possibly one of Vega's best air to airs. It's the kind you use against far reaching jump-ins such as Dudley's j.HK and Balrog's j.HP. You do have to react early to use it in this way, however; but Vega gains height quickly when he jumps, so it isn't something too difficult to get into the habit of doing.
    The reason it's so good is the hitboxes. The attacking box reaches very far forward whereas his vulnerable hitbox is quite far back, making it difficult for your opponent to trade with you. Jump-Forward.MP can also be used as a more psychic anti-air; It does a decent job at keeping people in a corner that have a good answer to your air throw.
    Neutral-Jump.MP is also OK for an anti-air, nowhere near his best, but can be thrown out late (with very little leeway, but just bear it in mind).
  • nj.HK;
    It's extremely quick on going up, also arguably one of Vega's best air to airs due to the hitbox spacing and speed of the attack in general (in both startup and recover). While the vulnerable hitbox is fairly close to the active, you'll notice that it changes at the attack begins. You're aiming to hit your opponent about halfway through your own active frame so that your vulnerable hitbox is as far back and away from the opponent as possible.
    You can hit people on a late jump-in with the first few frames of your active but you really need to watch out for those pesky reversals that some people will try when you put them into reset, also be aware of throw attempts, as if sometimes another option people choose when you reset them (Watch out for your opponent, they'll do a flip backwards if they're reset meaning they do not get knocked down and gives them chance to attack you).
    Nj.HP also has it's uses, however, they aren't as good as nj.HK. Just bear it in the back of your mind and experiment a little.
  • jf.HP/jb.HP -
    Decent and it works if thrown out fairly early (You will not catch many people with it if thrown out late as they will probably already be trying to hit you with their better-ranged, faster air attack). It's a common air-to-air among Vega's due to it being fast and coupled with Vega's quick jump, works on a fair few of the cast.
  • -
    This is probably one of Vega's more underrated air-to-airs. It's fast, has surprisingly good range and the hitbox on Vega's body itself are small; making him a little difficult to hit.
    While I still prefer jb.MP and nj.HK over this, it's not a bad air to air.
  • Air Throw;
    Last but far from least, is Vega's airthrow.
    Most people forget about it's existance until they're sitting on the floor on an untechable knockdown. And this is where it's important; It's an untechable knockdown, meaning you now have options and an advantage over your opponent. Which is something the other Air to airs will not give you due to it only making your opponent reset giving very little room for error or to start a new combo.

Intermediate BnBs
After Air to Airs, it's about time we started learning some high damaging bread and butter combos. In the basic articles, I went over simple bread and butters and hit confirms (such as xx EX FBA and cr.lp xx L.Roll).
These next few BnBs are a little more complicated, incorporating one and two-frame links; They can seem tricky at first, but the key is figuring out the timing and no matter how tempting it is:
  •  So, first up is cl.HP, cr.MP xx EX FBA (315 Damage / 345 Stun);
    Very damaging combo, however requires you to be very close to the opponent (as to not get a far standing HP, which doesn't allow for combo capabilities). 
    A few people do have problems with the timing from the cl.HP to cr.MP, but it comes in practice; Observe where the cl.HP ends to see where you need to be pressing that cr.MP.
  •, xx EX FBA (285 Damage / 345 Stun)
    I've always been far more partial to this combo, mostly due to the range.
    Cr.MK and cr.MP are very long pokes, and seeing as you're using them in combo, means you don't need to be directly in your opponents face to set it off; It's essentially a longer hit confirm to cr.MP xx EX FBA but you'll find yourself hitting this often if you're using cr.MK as an appropriate footsie tool.

All of these can include a jump-in attack at the start; from j.HP/j.HK to nj.MK/nj.HK to j.MP and are easily interchangable. Note how all of these require the use of meter, meaning proper meter management is very very important for Vega; Conserve it wisely and don't waste it!

Well, this just about wraps up an introduction to Intermediate Vega.
Tune in next time for Intermediate Vega Part II - 'Okizeme, the art of wake-up mind games.'

Monday, 17 January 2011

Vega (Claw) j.HP > Slide Glitch

Well, no update to the guide this time; I will be continuing as of the end of the week due to work getting in the way of things. But until then, have a video.

The j.HP > Slide is a glitch that has been present since vanilla SFIV, but was only really tested on one character. Turns out it still exists in super and I tested the whole roster.
This just has the characters that it works on.

Is it useful? Doubtful
Funny to watch? You betcha.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Dancing with the claw - For beginners; Part IV

Welcome to Part IV of a Beginner's guide to using Vega in Super Street Fighter IV. This will be the final article covering the beginners and basics part of using Vega before I go onto intermediate.
If you have any questions regarding any of the information given up until now, please either write in the comments or find me over in (this thread over at SRK).
So, onto the next section; Anti-airs, Super and ultra, Simple BnBs and Meter Management.

'What is an anti-air?'
An anti-air, is a move that can be used by a character to defend against a jumping/aerial attack from their opponent by countering with an attack of their own; one that generally out-prioritizes the opponent. It generally needs to be fast to startup, have very good range and a good hitbox.
Hitboxes? I've mentioned yet another word important in understanding how these little engines work. In every fighting game, every character has at least one anti-air and they vary by character, their decency, as I just mentioned, is often very reliant on their hitbox properties, which I will explain as I go through anti-airs and air to airs.

An insightful post by TonyLew/SupernovaX explains how to understand them which can be found under the spoiler tag below;
» Understanding Hitboxes «

So, what anti-airs does Vega have?
I'll be honest with you, none that are particulary effective, but you would have known this from Part I with it being listed in his weaknesses. However, there are several that people do use and when spaced well are able to do their job (Click the name of the attack to see its' hitbox);
  •  cr.HP
    As you can see, from the attack box that while it is considered an anti-air for Vega, the attacking hitbox is extremely low to the ground and very small. Truth be told, it is fast, and the range itself is decent; however due to the low hitbox you are more than likely going to either trade hits or just get outright stuffed before you anti-air them.
  • st.HK
    The hitbox on st.HK is a fair bit higher than that of cr.HP, it is also larger, has more reach and comes out just as quickly, you'll also notice that his vulnerable hitboxes are positioned differently, making him less viable to be stuffed or to take a trade. Eventhough it only hits once, it is still a far more effective anti-air than cr.HP. On a non-anti-air standpoint, up close it's a great stopper for focus attempts as it hits twice.
  • lk.ST
    This is more for if you're catching the opponent on a far jump-in, it can be followed up with varying strengths of another ST due to it putting them into juggle state. I find myself using hk.ST more and then following up with mk.ST. However, if you want something quick to start then lk.ST is your better suggestion of them all.
  • st.MP
    While I personally have had a lot of success in using this (due to it technically being a taller cr.HP on terms of hitboxes), I wouldn't recommend trying it at a first glance. You need to find your own standpoint with it because you cannot throw it out as an emergency anti-air like st.HK.
  •  Cosmic Heel
    I really wouldn't recommend this as an anti-air, however, if you manage to Anti-air your opponent with it, it's a free ST followup and can even lead into Ultra II (See Vega's Trial #24)

Just like I mentioned in Part III about Sky High Claw. Just...don't do it.
Unlike his version in ST, where it activated on grab, in Super Street Fighter IV, it activates upon touching the wall. This is incredibly bad for several reasons.
The most obvious being that it is already hard enough at a competitive level to land izuna drops out of the blue. Your opponent has ample time to react due to Super Freeze (Super freeze being the lightning animation in which everything on the screen slows for a moment when a super move is activated). And it doesn't take much to anti-air Vega from this before he can grab you due to the properties being the same as his walldive.
Avoid using his super wherever possible, it simply isn't worth it (Shoutouts to MoshpitPetey, because you need to learn to stop it!)

Ultra usage:In Super Street Fighter IV, you might find yourself using ultras a lot because they've become a more vital part of the engine than before. However, some character's ultras are better than others, being that some can be combo'd into, other cannot; some are easier to land than others too.
In the Street Fighter IV series, Vega's ultras have some use to them, but you should never find yourself relying on them. Here's a quick run through on both of his ultras and the pros and cons to using one over the other.

Ultra I - Bloody High Claw
Bloody high claw, since it's first incarnation in Street Fighter IV has always had it's various pros about as much as it's cons. The properties since vanilla SFIV have been modified so that it now has a "launcher" on the way up.
I'll lay it out straight with ultras because there's very little explaining to do.
The Pros:
  • Full screen fireball punisher.
    As it stands, on reaction this can be used to punish fireballs mid-full screen. This is, of course, with the exception of projectiles thrown by Guile and Chun-Li as they recover far too fast to hit them even on reaction. However this is without the use of the launcher as the launcher does not have fireball invincibility and so you would have to move to the wall behind you.
    If you don't know how to control which wall it goes to, it is dependant on the direction that you end the motion on. For example, the motion itself is listed as;

    Down-Back, Down-forward, Down-Back, Up-forward.

    This would give you the launcher (Provided it is not full screen, it misses some characters mid-screen too). However, if you wanted to go for the wall behind you (Which is often your best option), you would need to input the ultra like this:

    Down-Back, Down-forward, Down-Back, Up-Back.

    The control of direction can also be applied to his walldives and sky high claw depending on your motions ending in up-back or up-forward.
  • As a general punisher;
    It isn't the greatest, but should you block a move attempted by your opponent that has a lot of recovery, you can punish, along with the launcher, for a lot of damage. On some moves it an interrupt them using either the launcher or moving to the wall behind you. I will be going into further depth on where you can do this in the matchups section.
  • It's fast.
    I think, for an ultra, this is generally what can make one great when you consider Vega's mobility. I'm not saying to throw it out at random, but it is very easy to catch your opponent off guard with it due to it's speed.
The cons:
  • Easy to interrupt if done up close.
    Unlike in vanilla SFIV where he wouldn't lose his ultra before he touched the wall, he can be easily light punched out of it if you attempt it in close quarters. You shouldn't be throwing ultra out like that regardless, but it is important to know that it will not get you out of a pressure situation.
  • Using the launcher as an anti-air.
    When you consider the properties of the launcher, it might seem like a good idea at first to punish mindless jump-ins. It is not a good idea.
    The launcher has a habit of anti-airing, but then the rest of the ultra will whiff. Meaning not only is this free damage for your opponent, but a waste of what could have been 450+ damage.
Now, onto Ultra II.

Ultra II - Splendid Claw
If you're looking for an anti-air ultra, this is it. It travels full-screen, is low to the ground and comes out fairly quick just like it's Ultra I counterpart.
Once again, there isn't much of an introduction about this other than this is what you will find yourself using versus non-projectile characters. Some Vega players even prefer this over Bloody High Claw versus projectiles, but as with most of his playstyle, it's down to preference. So without further ado, here are some pros and cons to using Splendid Claw;

The Pros;

  • Anti-Air
    The great thing about using Ultra II over Ultra I is that it can be used as an anti-air. The timing isn't particulary difficult, though not as simple as something like Hakan's Ultra II to pull off; but it is reliable. You cannot be poked out of it unlike Ultra I because it has invincibility for a few frames of startup (making Vega invulnerable to attacks).
  •  13-frame invincibility on startup
    The first 13 frames of Vega's Ultra II are invulnerable to attacks, this also applies for fireballs during that time (but it generally requires the ultra to be activated at around close range to eliminate the chances of your opponent blocking). I personally use it against people who are a little happy at pressing too many buttons in either a block string or over your wakeup.
  • Has 'Auto-Correct'
    Much like the varying versions of Vega's Scarlet Terror, Ultra II has something called 'Auto-Correct'. You might find when playing that your opponent will try to cross you up somehow (A crossup being that they are aiming for the back of your hitbox which means you have to block towards the attack instead of against it; IE, block the other way to avoid being hit), that your move will follow and Vega will start off his attack facing the opposite direction that you inputted for it.
    A lot of the time, you are going to catch the opponent offguard with this, especially if they attempt a crossup into a throw or into some other unsafe move that leaves them vulnerable.
The cons:
  • As a fireall punisher.
    As a fireball punisher, Splendid Claw is decent, per se. It is neither a great fireball punisher nor a bad one. If you're solely looking for an ultra that might stop a pesky shoto throwing projectiles, you're probably better off using Bloody High Claw.
  •  Damage
    The damage isn't as great as Bloody High Claw, but in itself, it isn't much of a con when you see the pros that really make up for it in comparison.

Simple BnBs
BnBs, or Bread and Butter combos, are just the little strings of moves that lead into specials that you'll find yourself doing often. They are always composed of a set of hit confirms to make sure you get the damage for the special in.
A hit confirm is a sually safe attack that can combo into another which helps the player to determine if they are actually hitting their opponent before committing to an attack that would otherwise be unsafe and punishable if thrown out randomly (IE, Vega's EX Walldive is not only unsafe when thrown out randomly, but is also a waste of meter, should it be blocked).
So, to start with, I will go into some very basic BnBs for Vega which will be looked into in much further detail in the intermediate articles.
  • cr.lp/ xx lp.RCF
    After some time, you can start making it crlp, crmp xx lp.RCF, but for the time being, just hit confirming with either cr.lp, or will suffice. It does require you to already have charge though.
    The good thing about Vega's claw roll is that when hit confirmed into, it will be relatively safe on both hit and block. It's good for keeping some minor pressure in a corner with but that is about as good as it gets. You'll find yourself using other BnBs instead at a beginner level as it doesn't really lead into any knockdowns.
  • xx lk.ST/ xx hk.ST
    As you might have seen in Vega's trials, he can do a few little tricks to combo into a Scarlet Terror. Scarlet Terror, in my opinion, might be a smarter choice than a claw roll outside of corner as it leads to a knockdown and while the knockdown is techable (They can Quick-stand), it will still give you a positional advantage to start implimenting a small wakeup game which I will talk more about in a later article.
    The only problem with using Scarlet Terror, is that it will not hit an opponent if they were crouching when you hit them with the, which then leaves you open to a counterattack.
  • cr.lp/ xx EX FBAThis is the main hit confirm BnB that you will be using when you have the meter to do so. It is probably Vega's best option with meter usage as it leads to an untechable (they cannot quick stand) knockdown. This is where wakeup games become almost essential to learn and I will be going over some of them in the next article (which is where we start looking at Intermediate techniques), this wakeup game also includes something known as the Izuna Trap (or Izuna Vortex/Walldive loop etc)
  • Cosmic Heel > Scarlet Terror
    Your meterless BnB for easy damage. Of course, it is important that you remember not to throw out Cosmic Heel constantly; It should be used sparingly. As I mentioned before, Scarlet Terror is his best followup after Cosmic Heel but you should know all of this already from reading Part II.

Meter Management:
For the last part, it's just a short note on meter management.
With Vega, you really shouldn't be using your meter for anything else other than EX FBA (this will change in Arcade Edition in that it will also be used for EX Rolls for new BnBs of which this article will then be revised.)
You can build meter generally by doing empty walldives (holding back against the wall you jumped off as to not put yourself at risk of being hit.) There is also whiffing lk.STs.
Both of these, however, work at around full-screen only on account of not being punished (and even then it is character specific; some characters can still hit you from this range with devastating results.)

And now, you can happily sit back and say you're done learning the basics of how to play Vega. All you need now is to learn some more tricks of the trade, be it mind games or frame traps, I'll be going much further into it where we'll be looking at;
Footsies (More on poking), Baiting, Air to Airs and Intermediate BnBs

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Dancing with the claw - For beginners; Part III

There's a few long gaps between entries from here on out seeing as I'm trying to add a little more detail and I really would like to get everything down to make these guides as accurate as possible.
After explaining his cosmic heel, overhead, flips etc. It gets a little more complicated to explain while trying to keep everything still basic.
Regardless, as promised, let's start with getting out of a corner with Vega.

Getting out of a Corner:
For Vega, getting out of a corner can feel daunting at first (Considering his lack of 'Get off me!' Invincibility moves), but it is certainly important to remain completely calm. Pushing buttons, trying to jump up desperately trying to get yourself out and back flipping will only serve to keep you pinned; Right where the opponent wants you.
I personally make a lot of use of Vega's throw for this. Having great range and priority, you will find yourself using it frequently anyway.
"But...When do I throw?" I imagine you'll ask. Be aware that this is something that comes with time and every player is different. You won't be able to pinpoint the same throw time on everyone you come across but you can find ways to stop yourself being stuck there forever at their mercy.

The things you need to look for when cornered:
  • Patterns
    A lot of players, when dealing with a cornered opponent, usually will try a set of attacks called block strings in an attempt to keep you under pressure. What you will find is that after a while, each string of attacks will have similarities. It's these similarities that you need to look for and figure out which of your attacks can counter them.
  • Throws
    A common tactic when keeping someone in a corner is to do a technique called Tick throwing (More on it later), this is where the player interrupts their own blockstring to attempt to throw you. Sometimes you can be caught offguard, but if you know it is coming, tech it with your own throw. Then see how they react upon a tech. This may not initially get you out of the corner, but upon seeing their reaction allows you to plot ways to get out, should you tech another.
You can also be aware of jump-ins that they may attempt and counteract with an anti-air, which I will explain later in this article. Sometimes a jump-in is exactly what you need, especially when you're using Vega, who has a very decent forward dash. This often will allow you to dash under your opponent's jump in attempts (depending on the arc of their jump; meaning, you can forget dashing under Hakan.)
It is difficult to get out of a corner with Vega, but it is not impossible. I find that knowing that they will throw (assuming I am crouch charging), poking out a helps immensly. It will stuff most throws and should you have meter, gives you an opening to link into an EX Walldive to get yourself out of there. Even if it is blocked, should you land on the other side of the screen, you will be safe against a few characters (except, for example, with the exception of Dudley, who will machine gun blow you back into a corner for your effort).
I use Vega's wall jump (Not to be confused with walldive) to often pull myself out, but it must be very well timed or you will find yourself back where you started (To do a walljump, just jump back against a wall and instantly hit up-forward, he will jump off the wall behind him). 
Vega can gain a good height relatively quickly, and so, timed right, will jump over your opponent and put them in a corner instead where you can then press the advantage.
Another method, that was recently pointed out to me, is the use of Vega's slide (cr.HK) to pull yourself out of a corner when your opponent jumps at you. It's fast, travels far and shrinks his active hitbox (Making him far more difficult to hit). Due to it's speed, your opponent might only be fast enough to poke you once but it will rarely end in you taking a lot of damage if done correctly.

Other than that, the most important mode is block, block and block some more until you can poke out an attack safely (which usually falls hand in hand with the two points that I covered).
If you are finding yourself cornered often with Vega, you're not using his mobility to it's fullest. He has excellent walk speed and an even greater backdash. These keep him moving freely without compromising your spacing, so should you keep finding yourself cornered, you're doing something wrong.
If this keeps happening, try to figure out why you're getting cornered and make adjustments to your game to avoid the situation from happening again.

Pokes to be aware of:
For my next trick, I will be talking upon the subject of pokes that you should be aware of and some that you probably aren't using; perhaps from not realising their potential.
To start with, poking is a very vital part of Vega's game; being that he has some of the best moves to do it out of a lot of the cast due to their range and speed. This coupled with his walk speed makes him pretty dangerous in the right hands.
"What is this 'poking' that you're referring to?" I realize is what you're thinking at this moment, but to answer;
Poking is using various normals/command normals that are considered quick and safe; they can be used at various distances depending on the situation for varying purposes such as:
  • Keeping a character away
  • Getting your own character closer
  • To gauge your distance for moves that require specific spacing to work efficiently (IE Cosmic Heel and your Overhead)
  • To give you a method of grinding the opponent's health down safely, especially against characters that can hurt when up close such as Zangief.
Now that the description's over with, I will now explain which pokes are best to be used with Vega and why.
  • cr.lp/
    These two moves alone, are excellent and essential to Vega's game. Not only does cr.lp link into itself or a, depending on your choosing (Leading to both a hit confirm and even into combos), but it makes for a great poking tool in itself due to the range [Obviously this includes the use of his claw] and the startup being fairly quick.
    The recover is very quick, especially on the cr.lp and thus makes a whiffed cr.lp/ difficult to punish (Unless we're talking people mashing a shoryuken/cannon spike/some other 3 frame startup reversal).
    It will more than likely be your main crouch poke as it also spaces fairly well and is one of the easiest methods to combo into Vega's EX FBA (Which is generally what you're fishing for when you have meter available to you.)
    This, in itself, is pretty decent but only up close. I consider it better for preventing throw attempts than actually poking (seeing as pokes are meant to be distant attempts at attacking rather than deadset infront of you.) As mentioned before in my "Getting out of a corner" section, it can lead into EX.FBA. It can also lead into a L.Scarlet Terror (Bear in mind that this will whiff on a crouching opponent) and a L.Claw Roll (Or Rolling Crystal Flash if you prefer)
    Just like before, it's fast, has good recovery and is all around fairly decent.
  • -
    St.LK is probably one of Vega's more underestimated pokes. The range is good for what it is, it's fast, the recover is exceptional and even better you can combo (Even if it is a little more advanced) into cr.lp/ which can be used as a trap to your opponent (It's a frame trap, which I'll talk about later on, so just bear this term in mind for now).
  • st.MK
    I always found that people underestimate the range of Vega's st.MK. In this sense, it's a great poking tool as it tends to gather plenty of counterhits (Which often do not trade with you) and in a way, can end up making your opponent a little scared of tapping a button even from mid-screen away.
    It serves as an excellent keep-out tool because it can safely keep your opponent at a distance (Being Vega's longest reaching attack) and at the same time set up for other poking and footsie games that you may have in mind.
    However, be careful; it's fast, but can be punished if thrown out a tad too much, just like a lot of his other long range pokes.
    As was said with st.MK, Vega's is quite the bit underestimated on it's range as well as it's startup (which gets even better in Arcade Edition). The greater thing about compared with is that you can combo from this very easily into an EX FBA either by itself or linking into cr.lp/ I recommend going for if you're using it long-range.
    All of these pokes, combined with Vega's walk speed can prove to be dangerous provided that you keep your spacing in tact and be tactical about throwing them out (IE, don't throw out a move for the heck of it. Actually THINK about your poke.).
    Think to yourself "Where can I go if this lands? Can I combo? Score a knockdown? Maybe get myself in closer to do even greater damage?" You need to think all of these steps ahead otherwise your pokes become nothing more than random little attacks thrown out there; which may, in turn, get you into a heap of trouble.

    When I start going into footsies, you may want to check back on this article to see which ones that you think might fit your play style when put into a different perspective; Not every Vega uses the same pokes nor the same tools to footsie. It varies by preference and is something that you'll come to by yourself. Which brings us to our next section;

Learning to walk before you jump:
Learning to walk at times, especially when you're new to fighters or even just street fighter in general, can be difficult.
You will see it all the time; players will always say "But it gets me across the screen faster =/"
True as this statement is, there's a lot of cons to go with perhaps maybe one or two pros that jumping in place of walking will do.
First, we'll start with the cons that may deter you from the 'pros' that aren't exactly pros when you start excelling beyond beginner...which won't happen if you keep jumping!

The cons:
  •  Vega, as with many other characters, is extremely vulnerable in the air against a lot of the cast (argue airthrow all you want, it's easy to stuff and your opponent's antiairs are NOT your friend).
  • Vega's walk speed and back dash are far greater options as they allow you to evaluate your options far better as it gives you the option to poke and footsie from various angles other than just a jump-in attack.
  • Jumping gets very predictable quickly, due to the aforementioned lack of options to attack. At a higher level, this isn't going to get you much more than a punch in the face and even then, more than that.
  •  Well, sometimes at a newer level...that is to say, playing against someone who is also new, it might get you one or two free hits. You can't even really call it a pro because once you get past the level of a beginner, this becomes an entirely moot point.

Of course, I'm not saying "Don't ever jump.". But it is a far better option to use Vega's ground mobility before you start taking to the air; HINT: he is far stronger on the ground.

This just about wraps up part three of the beginner's guide to using Vega; Next up we'll be talking about:
Explaining hitboxes and their importance with Anti-airs and Air to airs, Basic BnBs, Ultra and Super and Meter Management.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Dancing with the claw - For beginners; Part II

Moving on from the previous article, I thought I would cover some more points; including the use of his short flip, overhead and Cosmic Heel. These are merely basic overviews of each move as I consider option selects, corpse hops and other shenanigans as a little more advanced. However, in later articles they will be explained in further detail, so fear not.
But for now, on with the show!

KKK Flip
It goes without saying, that when used smartly that this version of his flips has a little bit of potential. Obviously, just like the PPP flip, you can use it to avoid fireballs, but I believe that this one is a little more catered to baiting.
Again, just like most bait tactics, use this sparingly and do not get predictable with it. It can be used to escape from minimal situations, but bear in mind the use of the word minimal here.
I tend to use it as a bait tool and nothing more (because I prefer fireball hopping [Which I will explain later] as opposed to flipping through projectiles).
Most people tend to use it in line with Vega's poke in that you instantly cancel into a KKK flip. This generally baits a fair bit of mashed reversals safely leading to larger punishment opportunities. I personally would go for this when you are out of meter (which you shouldn't be with Vega, but just in case), otherwise, just cancel the into an EX FBA.
You will end up far better off with an untechable knockdown and a nice 200 damage.

Df.HK (Cosmic Heel)
The Cosmic Heel; This is probably one of my favourite moves, as well as a lot of other people's (As brain dead as it can honestly get when it turns into your main BnB after a while).
This section of the article covers your basic followups on block and hit. In a later article I will begin to explain option selects and CH > ST quick stand followups. But until then;
There's a few things to note here when using it:
  • Use it at max-range (Unless obviously you're going for a very open punish on a whiffed/blocked attack.)On the tip, as of Arcade Edition, Vega is at +0 on block [-4 when used point blank]; At +0, This leaves him open to doing a backdash, throw, and in some instances a jump (be it neutral or directional). At +0, aka, Maximum Range, Vega is still safe; he cannot be jabbed, DP'd, Reversalled (Providing that you block) or thrown (Providing you tech, of course).
    As of -4, you have a very big problem. Vega can be thrown, reversalled and even put into a combo, so space this move at maximum range. Always.
  • If being used on a wake-up, make sure it is a meaty; and don't spam it like an idiot!
    This allows for time to block or tech, should they try to mash out a wake up reversal or throw. Essentially, you're giving yourself options, which is required to make this move work.
  • If your opponent likes to throw out a lot of low pokes.
    Cosmic Heel can be used as a punish tool as it hops over low normals. Again, use it very carefully and at a safe distance as Vega will be poked out on start up if used up close. (This also includes being DP'd and thrown).
On block, you can do a variety of things, you can stuff crouch techs quite happily with jb.HP should they try to throw tech. It is also recommended that should you go for a throw, that you try to kara (Kara throw is vital to Vega's game) as it will usually beat any attempt of throwing that your opponent tries (Just make sure this is on tip and not point blank).
A neutral jump will also avoid any attempts at a throw and you can retaliate with a neutral jump BnB (More on that later).
A backdash will also bait out a bit of mashing or some panic moves from your opponent, which will often lead to another Cosmic Heel, which will connect and lead to bigger damage and more setups. However be careful as some reversals will catch Vega's backdash, experiment in training mode to figure out your safest options (I'm not doing all the work for you).
You can backflip (Yes, I said before 'Don't flip'), but it must be Kick backflip. This will generally bait out an attack from reversal happy players which you can usually then punish with a Cosmic Heel that will land, leading to a followup.
Another option is of course...just block and react to it. Being at -4 is a serious problem, so if you should ever end up in this, prepare for a punish (and consider yourself lucky, if your opponent doesn't do a huge amount of damage.).
 However, at maximum range, and even anything within that, be prepared to tech a throw as is the common reaction of a blocked Cosmic Heel. Pay extra attention to how your opponent reacts to your own pressure; most will get wise and start to reversal you instead (IE, Shoryuken,  if they're a shoto) as it beats out any form of pressure that Vega has at the end of one, clean.

On hit, you also have options.
First and foremost, resets. Just don't bother with them; they aren't worth the attempted mind games after when you can set a solid few points of damage that can be done with followups.
To start with, the most common followup from a landed cosmic heel:
  • Cosmic Heel > H.Scarlet Terror (240 Damage, 300 Stun) [260 damage, 350 Stun on EX]
    This is generally considered your wisest option. It deals decent damage, great stun and puts you at some good spacing (You can followup with a safe jump, but you'll learn about those later).
  • Cosmic Heel > Slide (170 Damage, 300 Stun)
    Generally considered the least favourable of your options (aside a reset); While it gains you an untechable knockdown, the damage isn't fantastic. If you've hit them in a corner and fishing for Izuna Vortex, then maybe this could be viable to you. But the vortex is something to not be relied on anyway. So always always always try and go for a H.ST instead.
  • Cosmic Heel > EX FBA, Izuna Drop (230 Damage, 270 Stun) [202 Damage, 210 Stun on claw strike].
    Just like the slide followup, this is only good for fishing that untechable knockdown. There isn't a lot to say about it that aside from that, it isn't a great option and is nothing more than a waste of meter.

As for things that you shouldn't do with Cosmic Heel?
  •  Use it point blank
    If you endeavour to use Cosmic Heel point blank, you are placing yourself presently at -4 on block. If I haven't stressed this enough throughout the article and it needs to be said again; MAXIMUM. RANGE. ONLY.
  • Not mix up each blocked one with something different.
    If you go for the same option constantly, such as a throw, things could get messy quickly as you will begin to get very predictable. This then leaves you open to your opponent adapting to the situation and finding various options to punish you; and believe me, it's never fun.

  •  Constantly throw it out there and think you are safe.
    Quite simply put, you're not.

Overhead (Otherwise known as Piece of Mercury) [Df.MK]
Unlike its vanilla Street Fighter IV counterpart, this move is now an overhead. However I must encourage you to use this extremely sparingly and always at maximum range otherwise you're going to end up shooting yourself in the foot (I don't think I need to explain further than that inside maximum range and especially point blank, you are going to eat a fair bit of damage for this.) It is very very easy to punish as the block/hit stun isn't brilliant and neither is the start up or recovery.
It does however, go over low normals. So should you find yourself against a crouching low normal happy opponent, you could get away with one or two of these before they catch on.
I tend to find myself using this on opponents adamant on holding down-back until the cows come home. It can also catch some wake up back dash attempts (but, for the love of all things holy, do not try this over a wake up on someone with an invincible reversal).

There are followups to a piece of mercury, however, they generally involve corpse hopping off a knockdown; which is something I will be covering at a later article. But for now, it's best to block or if you can keep them pressured, you can sometimes throw (Of course bearing in mind that guessing wrong will get you into a heap of trouble) and assess your options. You are at 0 frame advantage upon block on tip and -4 on block at point blank, so there isn't a lot you can do with it.

For now, this is the end of Part 2 of Vega for beginners; Hope you enjoyed and hopefully learned something from reading this.

In the next article, I will be covering the following topics:
Getting out of a corner, Pokes to be aware of and Learning to walk before you jump.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Dancing with the claw - For beginners; Part I

I thought about doing something like this for a while and in the end, threw my hands up and went 'Let's do this.'
So here it is; this will be a multiple part article on the basics and the do's and don't's of how to play Vega and other things that you should consider. For now, we're starting on the don'ts.
I will be using Frame Data in these articles and so I recommend reading up on it first. A pretty decent article on how to read it can be found over here at Eventhubs but the general gist of it is that + is advantage frames and - is putting you at a disadvantage.
[Note: This article is aimed at beginners who are just starting out with Vega; I will go into far more depth and maybe start an intermediate/advanced part later on. But for now, let's start from the top.]

The first things you need to consider before you begin learning Vega is his strengths and weaknesses.
Most players will pick him up first, realise his weaknesses somewhere down the line and then switch to someone else after realising he's not for them. Here's a quick rundown as a 'Here's what you're getting yourself into.'

  • Excellent walk speed and even better backdash giving him mobility to get around the screen easily.
  • Great range on most of his attacks.
  • Isn't an easy target to anti-air due to the speed and trajectory of his jump.
  • Strong poking/zoning game
  • Focus attack has good range.
  • Low stun rating, so he dizzies very quickly
  • Low damage output without having to use EX Meter.
  • No reliable anti-air.
  • Hard to get opponent off you, for example, when cornered.
  • Losing your claw will lose you a lot of range and lowers your damage output.
  • Trading hits, especially without your mask, is almost always a losing scenario.

Still want to learn to play him? Then read on. Here's what you SHOULDN'T be doing with Vega.

 PPP Back flip.
Argue the case all you want, this move is an absolute no-go as a Vega player (with the exception of avoiding chip damage versus Cody's Ultra II). You can be walked after and thrown/hit, slid after if you're against a character with a slide (IE, Dictator) for a knockdown which then leads to further problems, or even hit with ultra if done point blank since all in all, it is a free ultra for most of the cast, and you REALLY don't want that.
Think on it; your opponent has 65 frames to think, 57 of those, you are invincible. But in that time, they'll have caught up to you and you are free to them for 8 frames. That's pretty much enough time to be hit with anything when you consider the start up (which will probably be happening mid-invul frames, so you're getting hit straight on their active and YOUR recover).
You will find if your opponent does not ultra you, they will go for an un-techable knockdown (IE Throw or Sweep); Vega has an extremely weak wake up game and most characters can take advantage of this with a simple Okizeme game (The art of attacking over a character's wakeup) or just general baiting tricks.
All in all, an untechable knockdown is bad for Vega, so avoiding a PPP flip is just one way of keeping away from situations such as these.

Full screen HP RCFs
The topic of full screen H.Roll.
I have seen many a beginner Vega do this, thinking that it's smart to use it to get across the screen in short time, or to just generally think they may hit the opponent off guard.
This honestly, is not the case; It's so slow on both start up and active frames, it's a free hit for your opponent and the same as PPP flip, the outcome can be bad.
Even up close a H.Roll, while possibly may deal decent chip, the start up is so extremely slow, that chances are, you will be hit out of it before your active frames even begin.
He is extremely vulnerable when this move is just thrown out there randomly, just like his Wall Dives (Or Flying Barcelona Attack for people who are clueless), which I will cover in the next point.
In short, Don't do this, ever. It has no invincibility, not even to projectiles; all you are doing is setting yourself up for a free combo.

Random Wall Dives
I can hear you already "But Izuna drops do really good damage!" and true enough, they do. But at a high level, the chances of spamming the move and having your opponent fall for it?
Minimal. Absolutely Minimal.
A few things to note is that despite the damage being pretty good when caught with an izuna and it being fairly easy to hit a button on a nitwit opponent and catching them claw strike or drop; It is still a very bad idea to rely solely on this.
I see it a lot from Vega's online and even at tournaments (and you can bet that they don't make it very far) and you can believe me when I say, "Don't.".
The reasons are quite simple and are as follows;
  •  Recover.
         Vega's recover off a wall dive is 31 frames (during that little hop-back that you see when he touches the ground). In these frames you are completely vulnerable to anything that your opponent wants to do to you; just like the PPP flip, this includes and is not limited to taking an ultra or a knockdown.
  • Easy to hit Vega out of the air.
       While you may sit there in some games and realise "This person doesn't have a clue how to anti-air." It is seriously no excuse to keep using the wall dive. You will become predictable and believe it or not, reflexes like a cat aside, you will not always be able to psychic izuna/claw strike someone when they decide to go air to air with you.

All in all, just like most of Vega's moves on their own; using it sparingly is key, see how your opponent reacts. If you can get away with Izuna vortex-ing them all day, then keep doing so. However, be prepared for them to adapt and you to take a lot of damage for your troubles.

Random Sky High Claws.
 There isn't a lot to say about this aside from don't do it.
Only the EX version is really viable in a fight and even then it only tends to work once and only once as a cross-over. You can use it versus fireballs, but you must be very on point and will not work versus Guile and Chun, due to their recovery being so fast.
A non-EX version will get you a nice ultra in the face even on hit, so as a rule of thumb, just don't use it. It can be used as an escape tool, but most of the time, this is not at all the case.
You will be lucky if it works and you will eventually find when it will and won't.
I will hear someone out there saying "LP version can antiair..." Yes, and so can st.HK and that does the job better. So just don't.

Spamming back flips in the corner
There should be no arguments here, it's worse than hitting random buttons and hoping for a counter hit in a corner. Be it the kick version or punch, they're as bad as each other for this situation.
This, just like every "DON'T.DO.THAT." in this article, is a free hit for your opponent as the key to being a good Vega is to stay calm and collected and wait for an opportunity.
I will cover the 'Getting out of a corner' part of Vega's game in my next article but it's time to wrap this up.

If anyone has any input on the things that I missed in these points, give me a shout and I'll be sure to add them. This is meant as just a general 'don't's article on people who are new to playing Vega in SSFIV.

Next time:
The shorter backslash, Cosmic Heel and Overhead.

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