Monday, September 6, 2010

FFYL - Round 3: Blocking Evades and Throws.



This week we'll be talking about three things of great importance. Blocking, Evading, and Throws. These three things are crucial to your success in defeating the computer generated and human foes in fighting games. Each one opens up a new level in your training. So let's jump right into it shall we?

Heaven or Hell?

Let's Rock!!




Round 3: Blocking Throws and Evades


The biggest question that people seem to throw out there is about blocking? How do we block? When is a good time to block, what works best when blocking?  Well to answer that question let's throw a little scenario, hotshot; Say I threw a ball or a pillow at your head. what would you do?...what would you dooooo? Well, the logical answer would be to either Catch the object that i'm throwing at you or put your arms up to guard your face before you get socked. The latter is the most instinctive action, because we're hardwired to do anything to protect ourselves (especially our heads) from harm. This is blocking in it's most basic essence.

In fighting games the concept of blocking isn't really that far off other than the fact that it's not you that's facing certain harm, it's your character. so in order to protect your character from being attacked you're going to have to develop an instinctual need to hold back on the joystick/joypad during certain oncoming attacks. There are three types of blocking stances, one is rarely used with the exception of some games, the other two are standard. Let's go over them.

Air Block- Performed while jumping. This block protects you from jumping and anti-air attacks

Standing Block - Protects you from standing jumping/overhead and mid-range attacks.

Crouching Block - Protects you from low attacks and roundhouse kicks.

Now that we established what these types are effective against, let's get a little bit more in depth. To help better explain this I'll be using excerpts from an article about defense on Everything2 by Myrkabah. 

On Blocking: 



A character may perform either a standing block, or a crouching block. To perform a standing block, press away from your opponent on the lever. To perform a crouching block, press away and down from your opponent on the lever. Your character will *only* block if the hit box from an attack is near you. So if a character is backing away, throwing jabs from the opposite side of the screen will not force them into a blockstate. Standing blocks will deflect high, middle, jumping and overhead attacks, while a crouching block will block middle and low attacks, such as sweep kicks.
Once an attack is actually blocked, the character enters a blockstun state. This means that the character, until the blockstun passes, is unable to perform any actions besides switching from a standing block to a crouching block. If you are hit again during the blockstun state, you are forced into it again, meaning that until the attacker finishes their combo, you have no choice but to continue blocking it. (On a plus note, at this point the character is also immune to throws, and will automatically stay in a standing block state until the blockstun passes, although you still have to specify a crouching block.)
If the blocked attack is a normal attack, your character will take no damage, although in some incarnations of Street Fighter they may take guard damage. (Usually guard damage is represented by a meter below your life bar.) Once your guard damage meter runs out, you suffer from a guard crush. When your guard is crushed, you are stunned momentarily, and unable to defend any attacks. Once the guard crush passes, though, your guard damage meter will reset. Also, if you go for a period of time without blocking any attacks, the guard damage meter will refill.

If your character blocks a special or a super, on the other hand, your character will lose a very small amount of their life bar for each hit of the special or super that is blocked. So if Ryu opens up with a Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku (Super Hurricane Kick), and you block it, you'll still take a bit of damage from all the blocked hits, as well as guard damage.

It is impossible to block a throw.
In certain cases It is possible to use specials and supers in order to whittle away damage, and it tends to be very effective against enemies who are guarding to protect what little lifebar they have left. This is called Chipping or Chip damage. More recent fighting games include a guard meter which regulates the amount of blocking you can do before your blocking is rendered temporarily useless. In cases like these you want to use your blocking sparingly while waiting for your opponent to make a mistake.

The best time to punish an opponent is to block their combo until it's very end and attack as they're recovering. This provides you with a little window of opportunity to get in a quick 2-in-1, knockdown or a combo of your own.

Blocking too much leaves you open to Throws, but We'll get into throws in a little bit, but before that let's see what he has to say about Air Blocking.




On Air Guard:


Basically: The ability to block while in the air. 

Air guard only works against certain attacks, though. The best way to realize which ones will work and which ones won't is that if a character hits you with an attack while they are still on the ground, air guard will not defend against it. So if Sagat hits you with a standing h.kick while you are jumping toward him, you will not be able to block it, although you would be able to block a jumping m.kick.

As for the shoryuken style moves, only the first few execution frames of the attack are registered as being on the ground. So if you time a shoryuken correctly against an air-guarding character, they will eat the uppercut.
There are a few moves which *look* like air moves, but still aren't defendable by air guard. These include moves like Terry's standing h.kick, and Mai's standing m.kick.
          Air guard also does not work against supers.

Air Blocking is only found in some of the older fighting games like SF Alpha/ Zero , and Versus series games and more recently they're found in the Guilty Gear games. Street Fighter 3 replaces the air block option with the use of Parrying which is far more versatile than standard blocking, but we'll cover that in the "Evades" section. SF4 has no air blocking due to the fact that it's gameplay mechanics are closer to Street Fighter II, and that the removal of that feature makes the game more tactically deep.

Throws

Throws are just as much important as blocking; I can't stress this enough. Remember Newton's third law of motion; "Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction"? Well, your reaction to people who block consistently is to get in close and throw them like a hot potato! Throws are unblockable so they work in close quarters combat, and serve as a really good wake up for turtlers, or Chargers trying to hold for a projectile. Throwing also takes a pretty sizable amount of damage depending on what game you're playing. (SF2 a throw could take a little under a quarter of a lifebar and when done after a combo could go just about half a bar to about a full bar's worth of damage to add insult to injury. 

Throwing works differently from game to game. In Third Strike and SF4, throws are performed by pressing two buttons (P and K) when near an opponent, while other games like SF 2 Throws were performed by holding towards or back on the joypad/joystick to specify the direction of the throw, and Fierce Punch/Kick.

Note: There's a growing concern on message boards about the cheapness of throws. Many consider it dishonorable to throw a person when they're attacking you or blocking your attacks, but I say this is complete crap!. If you ever find yourself playing against professionals you will get thrown. They are featured in the game for a reason, so you have to accept the fact that they're necessary for advanced play as well as accomplishing the task of defeating anyone and everyone in your path to glory.

Despite the fact that throws cannot be blocked, they can be defended against. The trick is to anticipate when an opponent will throw you and attempt to throw him at the same time. In some games this creates a throw stun animation that will push both characters back and throw their arms up over their heads. To better understand how to anticipate throws you should have this mindset; If you're close enough to throw them, they're close enough to throw you! So in knowing that you should take every opportunity possible to throw like your life depends on it.

Command grabs and Air throws

Certain characters have specials that grab and throw other characters, like Makoto whom we talked about last week. These are called Command Grabs, which are different from your normal throws. Command Grabs may have range or more priority involved which could easily work to your advantage. Other characters can grab a character from midair and throw them back to the ground. These are called Air Throws, and work only when both characters are in the air and as a method to deter your opponent from making the mistake of jumping at you.

The best way to figure out how these work, is to try them out in the practice mode of your particular fighting game. You can set up the training dummy to jump repeatedly in the air, or to block all your moves in order to try out all your throwing options. Remember this is just as vital as blocking so be sure to get a strong understanding of how to implement these moves flawlessly, and victory shall be yours.


Evades

I shouldn't even have to explain how useful evades are. In games like KOF you can press the P+K buttons to sidestep during an oncoming attack which will leave an opponent completely open for punishment. Sidestepping creates invincible frames, which are frames where your character can't be damaged. (For the sake of  discussion, There are actual special moves that have invincible frames in them like E-Honda's headbutt, but we'll talk about that at a later time). There are evades in some capcom games, like Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, but the alternate method of evasion in CVS2 is rolling. 

Rolling has the same capability of evading with some invincible frames, but rolls work differently on a character-to-character basis; IE. mainly each character's roll is different in speed, and can be interrupted into a special, a super , or even throws. This maneuver is called a Roll Cancel. I'll let the Shoryuken Wiki further explain how this is done.


Roll cancelling (RCing) is a very exploitable glitch in CvS2, accomplished by cancelling the first 3 frames of any roll directly into a special move (and certain other things, like supers and stuff). This gives the roll-cancelled special move the properties of the roll in addition to whatever special properties it already had. Translation? Your roll-cancelled special move becomes invincible. It's important to note that like rolls, most RCed moves can be thrown as well. The only exception are moves that are airborne (shoto hurricanes) or are naturally invincible anyway (shoto uppercuts). Contrary to popular belief, the length of invulnerability time on the RCed move is NOT the same as the character's roll. RC invulnerability time is somewhere between 17~21 frames for every character. This last part should be common sense, but RCs can only be performed in grooves that have the ability to roll.
Performing roll cancels are just like what was written above: you cancel the first three frames of your roll into a special move. Translation? Do a motion for a special move and throw a LP+LK somewhere in there before you finish it. As the 3 frame window above suggests, RCs must be done very quickly to work. If you've ever done kara throws in 3S or Hwoarang's RF 3~4 in Tekken, you should have a general idea of how fast you have to press the buttons.
Advaced Strategy: Proper application of your teachings...

In the following video is a match between Nakasone and current world record holder for most tournament wins, and champ Daigo Umehara. In the following video you'll see blocking, throws, evades and cancels used to the maximum degree of effectiveness, and if you're not careful you might just learn something.



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I know I've been a bit behind on my update for this series. Life gets in the way sometimes and you have to kind of put things like this to the side in order to sort out what you can. However I'm not abandoning this project at all, and Next week we'll be covering what you've all been waiting for. Performing Supers and Specials. I have a feeling that I'm going to just combine that with the final part of this series in order to make  the obligatory "hour special" which won't....really be an hour long.... maybe that's the wrong terminology to use in this instance? anyway expect to see part 4 and 5 as we reach the thrilling conclusion of FFYL.

Game on!

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