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.'


thegame4ever said...

Why no XBL? I want more Vega experience. ;/

.Francys Pai said...

Because the xbox I own isn't mine and I rarely get to use it, so there's little point getting XBL for it.

thegame4ever said...

On that note, how is the connection of PSN across Europe?

.Francys Pai said...

Depends A LOT on the country you're playing against. I findd Austria completely lagless. Germany is a close second, then Netherlands, then tied together for "sometimes laggy but bearable" is UK/France.
Italy and Sweden are HUGE no's even if they're green bar for me, they lag like mad.

thegame4ever said...

Ooh I'm Poland, hopefully it doesn't lag. My lagless PS2>PS3 Adapter doesn't work anymore thanks to Sony's 3.50 update, so have to wait to get my PS3 stick from home (2 weeks time).

.Francys Pai said...

Ahh I see, I've never played a connection in poland before...or I might've I just don't know what the flag looks like.

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