Advantage

In most games there's a few types of advantage, and in IaMP there's actually several.

Frame Advantage, Yuyuko 5A vs Yuyuko 5A.

In the above image we see a timeline example of Yuyuko's 5A used twice against an opponent Yuyuko's 5A, which is an example of Frame Advantage. The different colors represent the different status during an action. Yellow, Red, Turquoise, Blue, and Purple represent: Start up frames, Active hit frames, Recovery frames, Block stun frames, and Frames on a timeline (respectively). If both Yuyuko's used their 5A's simultaneously then they would collide on the same frame and trade hits. However, when blocked, Yuyuko's 5A gives a +3F frame advantage, which literally means the blockstun caused from this move lasts longer than the recovery frames of this move, and therefor the Yuyuko who uses it will recover a full three frames sooner than the opponent Yuyuko. In the timeline image above we see that the top (player one) Yuyuko's second 5A begins three frames before the bottom (player two) Yuyuko's 5A. Thus, the first active hitframe from Top Yuyuko collides with the Bottom Yuyuko's startup frames on the fifth start-up frame (which is three frames before the Bottom Yuyuko's hitframes). Therefor, due to frame advantage, Top Yuyuko's 5A wins.

The exact numbers aren't particularly important though, except for very particular situations. This is because what's really important is whether a move has Frame Advantage or Frame Disadvantage, because that's generally what's going to decide who's next attack is going to win after a block or hit. Concerning yourself with the exact numbers is hardly important, unless you want to find out if something is technically possible or impossible with perfect timing (though keep in mind that perfect timing isn't practical 100% of the time, especially online).

Direct Advantage, Alice knockdown into late j.A.

In the above image we see something that is more along the lines of a Direct Advantage. The Yuyuko player is knocked down and Alice is clear across the screen, so it appears as though there's plenty of time for Yuyuko to get up off the ground and do some sort of movement or action, but this is not the case. As we can see in the second section of the image (center, circled yellow) Yuyuko does get up off the ground quick enough to at least fully recover before Alice is in range to do anything, but it would not be wise for Yuyuko to move or attack at this point because it will only be a few more frames before Alice's j.A connects with Yuyuko. If Yuyuko moves backwards, up+back, up, up+towards, or towards then Yuyuko won't get very far before Alice's j.A starts hitting, even if Yuyuko backdashes. Additionally, it isn't a good idea for Yuyuko to attack either because there isn't enough time for any of Yuyuko's attacks to fully animate before Alice's j.A connects, much like the timeline example in the first example above. Even Yuyuko's 6B "Flip" move which awards temporary invulnerability is not a good idea in this situation because Alice's j.A has no hittable box inside the doll. The "Flip" move would completely whiff Alice's body and do nothing against Alice's doll, so Alice is quite safe even from a Flip or bomb. Fact is, the only and thing Yuyuko can do is block, which isn't such a bad idea since blocking avoids immediate damage anyhow.

Indirect Advantage, Yuyuko 236A j8 vs Alice.

The above image is an example of Indirect Advantage. Here we see that Alice appears to be in no immediate danger and with plenty of room to move around, however despite how it looks, this is actually a disadvantageous situation for Alice. This is because there are butterfly bullets on the screen fired by Yuyuko flying right towards Alice, and Yuyuko is close by and directly in what is known as a Blind Spot for Alice. The reason this is a blind spot is because Alice has no attacks that can immediately hit the space that Yuyuko is currently in other than j.B or bombing. However, if you notice Yuyuko is not trailing blue shadows, which means Yuyuko can block both Alice's j.B or bomb. What this situation boils down to is; if Alice attempts to graze in any direction or graze attack, then the Alice player risks getting hit with Yuyuko melee (typically Yuyuko j.B or j.A in this situation). If the Alice player instead attempts to attack with a bomb or j.B, then the Yuyuko player can simply air block and allow the bullets to hit Alice, then continue with a melee afterwards. Even if Alice backs off with a backdash, the odds of escape are not in Alice's favor since both melee and bullet are going to be hitting soon. The proper action Alice should take here is to block.

General rule of thumb: When in doubt, just block.

Trying to highjump or backdash away from stuff will often get you CH, and airblocking with a normal jump will often get you guard broken in the air by an anti-air, so blocking in generally your best option. Especially if you know you can't beat an oncoming attack with a melee or bullet (normal/special), in this situation you should usually just block instead of trying to get away.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Controls

In IaMP there's usually multiple ways of doing things, and usually multiple reactions for every potential action.

Dashing or Grazing and HighJumps can be done in two ways, for example. You can hold the D button and push a direction to get a dash. Or you can input forwards or backwards twice for a forward and backward dash, or input down and then up for a highjump. This can be pretty important for graze attacking and movement in general. The preferred method for most movements is to use the D button and a single direction. For example, after landing Hong Meirin's AAAB string, it's ideal to use to hold 3 (down+toward), then immediately tap D as soon as she recovers from the B kick, and then immediately tap A as soon as you begin to dash, and that should allow you to juggle with her palm thrust move. The method of inputting D3A (D+down+toward+A) should be significantly easier than inputting 663A (toward, toward, down+toward+A). The example given for Hong Meirin can be seen below:

Hong Meirin AAAB D3A

Another simple trick involves using Bombs as stated in my previous post. Rather than inputting 22 (down, down) you can instead input 11 (down+back, down+back). The main advantage of doing it this was is that you'll be inputting a block command instead of neutral down, which means while you're trying to input the bomb inputs you'll be blocking oncoming attacks that may have potential gaps in them. If, for example, you attempt to bomb using 22 in between Alice 5A 6A, you may be hit because there's a small gap in there just large enough for your guard to drop. If you input a bomb with 11 instead then odds are you'll continue to block until the bomb begins, so you should not be hit.

And another shortcut involves HighJumping backwards. When highjumping backwards (HJ7) it can be difficult to use the D button in order to move the way you want. Often, when using D7 you'll accidentally get either a backdash or a vertical highjump instead of a diagonal highjump. To avoid this it can actually be better to manually input the highjump motion with 27 or ideally with 17 (down+back, up+back). The advantage to this is that you'll first block low, and then transition into a diagonal highjump backwards without the risk of accidentally backdashing or vertical highjumping. Although this is much easier to do with a Stick controller or Pad controller than it is on a keyboard. But regardless of the controller, backwards highjumps should be easier with manual inputs than with D7. However, for vertical highjumps and forward highjumps, ideally you would use D8 and D9 (or D69) respectively since it's faster and easier.

Controllers have been the subject of some debate for with competitive Fighting game fans. However, the majority of competitive Fighting game players who attend major tournaments and compete at high levels of competition prefer to use custom-built Arcade Sticks for Fighting games. A nice thread regarding arcade sticks can be found on Shoryuken.com forums. Most serious hardcode Fighting game fans agree that Sticks are the way to go.

Game Pad controllers have often been rather taboo when associated with Fighting games because the majority of people who play on pads tend to use their thumbs for attack inputs instead of their finger tips. This is not really ideal because of the difference between using thumbs and finger tips. If we examine the difference, we can clearly see that finger tips are able to rapidly tap buttons much faster than thumbs. Finger tips also allow you to input any kind of two or three button combinations much better than with thumbs. While thumbs can put two buttons that are vertically aligned with one another, it's difficult to input diagonally aligned or horizontally aligned buttons, as seen below:
PS2 Pad multiple input combinations.

There's also several other techniques which finger tips allow you to do that are difficult to perform with thumbs, such as: Tapping, Drumming, Pianoing, Sliding (kara/RC), and - as previously mentioned - simultaneous inputs.

These techniques may not seem to apply to IaMP, but some of them actually do. The ability to hold the D button and input another attack such as A or B while dashing or highjumping is the same as a duel-input, which is significantly easier with finger tips than thumbs. This applies to things like Meirin's AAAB D3A (seen above) and lots of characters j.A and j.B loops that require you to to dash or highjump during them (such as Sakuya, Marisa, Remilia, Yukari, etc). Additionally, having one finger over a specific button like D, and another finger over a specific button like C, allows you to quickly highjump cancel or airdash cancel without having to move your thumb from one input button to another. Since your fingers are already in-place, you need only press the buttons without having to move any fingers. And lastly, drumming and tapping can assist with timing for reversals such as a 623 (dp) uppercut move in between hits or while getting up off the ground (example: Marisa 623 in between Yuyuko 6A 22B).

The good news is that IaMP only has four input buttons, so even if your controller is limited to four input buttons on the pad's face, you'll still be able to use finger tips for playing IaMP instead of thumbs. The downside is that many players feel that using thumbs for directional inputs is still not ideal in comparison to using a stick (since with a stick you'll be using finger tips and wrist for directionals).

Popular gamepads of choice are: Japanese Sega Saturn pad (AKA. satapad). Japanese PS2-Sega Saturn pad (Saturn pad built for the PS2). The Saitek USB-pad series (ideally P220 -- P220 > P2500 > P990). And the default PS2 pad.

Using a Keyboard is a bit of a gray area. In theory, since you'll be using finger tips for both attack inputs and directional inputs, it would be acceptable. However, many keyboards are limited in how many inputs it can process simultaneously. Additionally, keyboards are rather bulky and blocky, so it can be difficult to input motion/directional inputs such a 214 (qcb) or 421 (rpd). The good news is that you'll most certainly not have difficulty inputing commands from the left or right side, which is something that many Fighting game players have an issue with on Sticks and Pads. For the sake of IaMP you can probably get away with using a keyboard, provided you're able to perform simple special and super movements.




- Copyright © Xenozip.

Bomb Games

"Bombs Part 2; Rock-Paper-Scissors, anticipation and reaction".

The concept of the child's game "Rock, Paper, Scissors" is very simple; It is an anticipation based guessing game. Both players select from one of the three options, depending on what both player picked the result is either a win, loss, or tie (draw game).

To simplify the concept of anticipation even more we can use the analogy of a single playing card; if someone places a card face-down and asked you to guess which suit it is you would need to guess in anticipation to the card being flipped and the answer being revealed. Since there's four suits and you only get one guess we can assume you'd have roughly a twenty five percent chance of getting it right (unless you were psychic or something). Which is entirely different than if you were allowed to answer a few seconds after the card was flipped, since then you can react after the card has been flipped and can clearly see what the answer is, therefor we can assume you'd have a one hundred percent chance of success (unless you were blind or something). However, if we reduce the amount of time you were allowed to answer to a fraction of a second, let's say one sixtieths (1/60th) of a second, then it becomes a great deal more difficult to do on reaction to the card being flipped because you simply do not have enough time to clearly see the card before making your answer -- and so we are back to an anticipatory guessing game and your odds of success are reduced again. However, it's not completely reduced back to twenty five percent like in the no-reaction example because two of the suits are colored black and two of the suits are colored red. Even with just one sixtieth of a second you still can recognize the difference between colors, which increases your chances (unless you're colorblind or daft or something).

Sakuya 22C bomb hitbox

What does all that have to do with bombs? Well, in the situations where you would use D-bombs in particular you are at a disadvantage. Against a decent opponent, you're not actually sure if your opponent is going to attack or not, and because a great deal of attacks are fractions of a second you have to anticipate whether or not your opponent will attack. And that brings us back to the card game. If you guess wrong and your opponent blocks you will most likely be punished and eat a combo. If you guess right you score a knockdown against your opponent. This is very clearly a big risk; guessing wrong means a huge loss, and guessing right means a minor gain.

The important thing to understand about the risk, however, is that it's relative to what the results would have been if you hadn't taken the risk in the first place. In other words, if you had chose to try and block instead of trying to bomb. Remember that by bombing you are actively attempting an offensive action, which is a risk, to try and escape from being pressured. In reality, blocking is a much safer option. Particularly in IaMP where blocking wrong doesn't immediately break your guard. The opponent must first crush your spirit before they can break your guard, and even after your spirit is crushed some mixups will only cause stagger instead of a guard break -- so you get two or more chances instead of just one (unlike most other 2D fighters).

In order to properly take advantage of bombing you must avoid patterns and predictability. The more predictable you are with bombs the more punishable you are. After all, the opponent isn't able to block on reaction to your bombs either, they will have to anticipate your bombs. Therefor, you must remember to use that to your advantage instead of to your disadvantage. You may not necessarily bomb at a given situation, but if you get your opponent to block because they were expecting you to bomb, then that means they are trying to block and therefor they are not attacking. That means there's a gap in their offense while they are blocking and you can therefor take advantage of that gap. Thus, it's not a good idea to always bomb at every opportunity, which is why you want to use it as a potential threat and not as a direct tool. This is the same concept as was Bellreisa calls "Equity" which you can read about in my Mixups and Spirit post.

More information about the concept of RPS can be read in my Tunnel Vision post. And more information about why it's a good idea to block on wakeup can be found in my Wakeup Monkeys post.

Bellreisa says: "Do you wish to be the cherry blossom, fluttering uncertainly beneath the breeze that commands and compels you? Does your tenacious dance quiver with uncertainty, fear, or harmony?"



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Bomb Types

"Bombs Part 1; What are they".

Bombs are a universal tool in IaMP, and they pretty much work just as you'd think they would; an explosion occurs around the player. Of course, there's a lot more to in than just that. The explosion will not interact with the opponent's projectiles (unlike a lot of shmup games), but rather the explosion will only interact with the opponent's hittable area (opponent's body). While the explosion can not be grazed, it can be blocked.

Each player has two bomb stocks that start filled at the beginning of a match. These stocks can be used by inputting a universal input (22C or 11C), however there are three types of bombs: Neutral Bomb (N-bomb), Offensive Bomb (O-bomb), and Defensive Bomb (D-bomb).

Due to the fact that all three are executed the same way, and partially due to their names, one might suspect that the only difference is when or how you use them; but in actuality all three bombs have different properties and effects when used in different situations. One major difference that should be noted is that N-Bombs and D-bombs have start-up invulnerability frames, while O-Bombs have no invulnerable frames. N-bomb and D-bomb's invulnerability starts on the first frame and lasts to either the thirteenth or fourteenth frame depending on your character.

Generally speaking: O-Bombs are useful for extending combos or making unsafe attacks safe on block, D-Bombs are useful for canceling blockstun and knocking your opponent out of a string, and N-Bombs are useful for recharging spirit while gaining a knockdown which opens an opportunity for rushdown (okizeme).

Reimu 22C bomb

N-Bombs: Neutral Bombs occur when you perform a bomb while you're not attacking or defending. If you cancel an attack or a blocking state into a bomb it will either be an O-Bomb or D-Bomb (respectively), not a N-Bomb; which is performed without canceling anything into the bomb. These bombs have invulnerable start up from first frame to thirteenth or fourteenth frame depending on character. These types of bombs are often likened to Gold Bursting in Guilty Gear, since they have a very similar functionality. If this type of bomb hits the opponent it will restore all your spirit and knock the enemy down, but it deals no damage on hit/block. It can be punished if blocked, though the frame disadvantage is character specific -- generally somewhere between -8 to -11, with Alice's and Remilia's having the fastest recovery. The primary times you would use this is when you see a blatantly obvious attack coming your way that you can't necessarily beat with a anything other than a bomb. While this can be effectively used on anticipation when you read your opponents patterns, it's generally better to use on reaction to situations where you're likely to succeed (such as against an obvious jump-in).

O-Bombs: Offensive Bombs occur when you cancel an attack into a bomb. These bombs will also restore your spirit to full when they successfully hit the opponent. A major difference with this bomb type is that it has no invulnerability frames, but is also less punishable on block. They are a little disadvantageous on block (-3F for most characters, and -4F for Alice), but not technically punishable on block. Another major difference with these bombs is that it will lunch the opponent vertically, which allows for a follow up juggle combo. The primary uses for this is to extend combos, since you are able to cancel normal moves, command normals, graze attacks, and special moves into bombs, and then continue the combo after the bomb hits. Another use is to make some moves safe on block by canceling into the bomb, such as a special move that you can't cancel with a high jump that leaves you vulnerable to punishment on block. This can also be used as a bait, since some characters have attacks with extremely long recovery periods, the attack can be canceled right before the opponent's retaliation connects. If the attack was canceling into the bomb the result will be an O-bomb, which has the potential to hit the opponent when the opponent was trying to punish. A common example of this is a blocked Remilia's 22B canceled into an O-bomb very late into the move. The opponent may try to punish Remilia's 22B, only to eat the O-bomb while trying to perform their attack. Keep in mind that baits like this are risky though due to O-bombs not having any invulnerability frames.

D-Bombs: Defensive Bombs occur when you cancel blockstun into a bomb (meaning, when you bomb while blocking). These bombs have invulnerable start up from first frame to thirteenth or fourteenth frame depending on character. These bombs are even more punishable on block, though the disadvantage is character dependent ranging from -24F to -31F depending on character -- with Alice and Remilia having the fastest recovery once again. While these types may sound good for breaking the opponents attack strings, they often fail to bullet strings and can be easily punished on block if properly baited. Many novice or lazy players will abuse D-Bombs on block or as a reversal, thinking that it's an easy escape, only to get baited and punished. Therefor, it's important to use these bombs very sparingly (perhaps it's a good thing you only get two stocks at a time).

To regain used bomb stocks you need to collect point items. A description of this point system can be read on the Bomb Section of the IaMP Wiki.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Rushdown (Okizeme)

If you've read my previous posts you may have wondered why I keep relating this game to Guilty Gear. Well, aside from the aforementioned reasons in my previous posts, IaMP also has a Rushdown (okizeme) game that is very similar to Guilty Gear as well. And as said before; it's also got a lot to do with controlling space and zoning, which is heavily seen in both games.

In Guilty Gear, once a player scores a knockdown they generally have a projectile attack or projectile based attack that they can use as a meaty. The projectile itself is a hitbox, but contains no hittable box. And for the most part, projectiles in Guilty Gear either leave quite a bit of frame advantage or move slowly enough to leave an advantage on hit or block. Therefor this makes for a splendid meaty attack because if the defender performs an invulnerable reversal the reversal can then be blocked by the aggressor and then punished, but since the projectile connects meaty there is no other options that to either block it or eat it. Once blocked (generally speaking) the aggressor can take advantage and perform a long string of attacks in order to try and break the opponents guard with mixups. And the same holds true for IaMP.

In IaMP most characters have a projectile that gives enough advantage for them to use in the same fashion. The projectiles themselves can land meaty and can not be wake-up grazed. Therefor, the opponent must either reversal or block (or eat it), and in the case of reversals those can be baited and punished with proper blocking and timing, especially if the aggressor's projectiles have a very delayed hit.

Alice 6B meaty 236A spinner

Here we have Alice kicking Youmu down with her boot, then using 236A "spinner" to throw a projectile over the fallen Youmu. This projectile lasts for a while and is worth four hits. Youmu can't graze this projectile when getting up off the ground, so the player has little choice but to block it. Once blocked, Alice can take advantage of this by hitting Youmu before Youmu leaves blockstun. Mainly because the projectile's active frames begin at roughly the same time Alice recovers from tossing it. However, that brings us to our next point:

Alice 6B meaty 236A spinner, Youmu reversal 623B, Alice blocks

Some characters have special moves that award graze frames on the first frame they are executed at. Even though Youmu can't use a ground dash or high jump to graze as soon as she gets up off the ground, she can instead do a special move that has first-frame graze; in this case it's Youmu's 623B uppercut. However, because Alice had already long since recovered by the time the "spinner" would have connected with Youmu, and that means she is free to block whatever Youmu does in return. So, what we see in the above images is Youmu using 623B to graze through Alice's spinner, but Alice simply blocks Youmu's uppercut. This leaves Youmu very open for punishment since the uppercut has a great deal of recovery time. If you're familiar with Guilty Gear; This is basically on par with I-No's Music Note or Dizzy's Ice-Bit -- even though some characters can reversal through them, by the time the reversal begins the aggressor can block the reversal anyway. This leaves no choice but to block the meaty, which allows the aggressor to continue with an attack string while the defender is still in block-stun.

However, this game does have "Tech-Recovery" on the ground and in the air, which is sometimes called "Tech-Rolling" or simply "Tech". It refers to the act of moving your character either forwards or backwards by a character-specific distance after being knocked down, or not moving at all. However, due to the fact that ground bullets can be canceled into high jumps and air bullets canceled by air dashes; what this leads to is "tech-trapping" which is basically covering two or more spots that your opponent could stand up at.

Patchouli meaty 2B 236C (bubble, sprout)

Here we see Patchouli has knocked down an opponent Youmu into the corner and has done a 2B to throw a Bubble near-by, then canceled the Bubble into 236C Water Sprout. If the Youmu player decides not to tech forward then they will have to block the Water Sprout when getting up. If Youmu decides to tech forward then the Youmu player will roll right into the Bubble and again be forced to block. This is an example of covering multiple areas with projectiles where the opponent could tech to. However, it really only works effectively in the corner, since if done midscreen then the Youmu player could tech backwards away from both the Sprout and the Bubble.

Some characters don't really have the arsenal to cover multiple spaces at once, but they can still cover at least one spot while guarding another spot at point-blank range and risk planting a meaty melee attack. This is generally a good idea, but it should be noted that doing so will leave the aggressor open to being hit with a reversal from the defender. On the other hand, this also gives an opportunity to the aggressor to play meaty crossup games. Because you can switch sides with a tech-rolling opponent simply by walking through them, if the opponent techs in the aggressor's direction they can position themselves on either side of the opponent very quickly and hit from either side (either ground or air).

* Note: Holding D and a direction input to graze meaty bullets when getting up off the ground will cause the graze to fail. However, there is a 1F gap where inputting the dash command (tapping D or pushing the final direction) will allow you to graze through meaty bullets. What this means is that you can not normally graze meaty bullets by simply holding inputs, the only way to graze meaty bullets is to use reversal (1F) timing.

- Bellreisa says: "And when you reach the higher level of understanding you will see that indeed, a droplet of water falls only from the cherry blossom if it wishes so, not because it is compelled by gravity".



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Overwhelming and Zones

"Defense Part 2; Overwhelming, Zoning, and Controlling".

Due to the nature of bullets in IaMP, mid-range bullet wars become inevitable. However, because not all graze attacks are all-purpose it's sometimes necessary to rely on bullets in order to either limit your opponents options or defend yourself. It almost becomes a mathematical battle, since each projectile can clash with and negate with an enemy projectile, therefor bullets that have more projectiles and are more densely packed tend to "overwhelm" enemy bullets.

Overwhelming Bullets 1, Sakuya 5C vs Alice f.5A

Here we see Alice Margatroid firing some bullets with her f.5A. In response, Sakuya fires 5C which fires many more bullets than Alice's f.5A. Thus the knives begin to trade with the shots, and after all the shots from Alice's f.5A are subtracted from the field we are still left with some knives that continue firing past the point of impact. This is a very basic example of "Overwhelming", and probably wouldn't occur much in battle anyway since Alice has better bullet attacks in her arsenal.

One advantage to this technique, as you might guess, is the option of dealing with bullet+melee combinations that your opponent uses. Rather than relying entirely on Graze Attacks or avoiding your opponent's setups, you can try overwhelming them. Which takes us back to Sakuya:

Sakuya j.2C D6

As you can see, Sakuya airdash canceled the j.2C rather quickly, so there's only six knives on the screen. Rather than attempting a graze or an air-to-air beat, it stands to reason that a bullet attack that fires more than six projectiles would overwhelm Sakuya's knives. Once the bullets pass through Sakuya's knives, Sakuya is forced to either block or graze the opponent's overwhelming projectiles which grants a little more leeway to the defender. Unfortunately for Yukari, none of her bullets are well suited for this. But in the case of an opponent Sakuya, the defender Sakuya could use 2C to quickly overwhelm the knives.

Overwhelming Bullets 2 Yukari fj.A vs Yuyuko j.C

As we see here, simple numbers aren't always the cause of bullets being overwhelmed. This is Yukari's fj.A knives against Yuyuko's j.C butterflies. Both attacks send of three waves, and five projectiles in each wave. Thus, because of numbers, we could assume that they would simply collide and break even; canceling each other out. This is not the case though, because Yuyuko's butterfly bullets actually have rather large hit areas (like the fat cow herself), and that leads to multiple butterflies trading with a single knife. The end result is that there are some knives that did not collide with anything, and therefor persisted through the waves.



Here we see the opposite happen. This is Yukari's fj.A against Yuyuko's fj.A fired at slightly different heights. The hit areas of both types of bullets is quite small, so what ends up happening is they pass by one another without collision. Despite Yuyuko's fj.A not firing as many bullets, the end result is actually more in Yuyuko's favor than if she had used j.C in this situation. This is because if she had used j.C then all of her bullets would have been negated and nothing would have reached the opponent, and yet Yukari would still have succeeded in getting a few bullets past Yuyuko's waves. But with Yuyuko's fj.A, she is able to at least sneak some bullets past the enemy's bullets.

Overwhelming Bullets 4 Sakuya f.2A fj.A vs Patchouli 236A

Here we have an interesting situation. Not all projectiles in IaMP can be overwhelmed -- some are indestructible like Patchouli's 236A (seen above), and some do not collide with enemy bullets such as: Youmu's far-A attacks (all three types), and Yuyuko's far-B (standing and jumping).

However, rather than trying to overwhelm Patchouli's fireball (because it can't be overwhelmed), we see Sakuya use the bypass method with a f.2A which sends knives slightly below the oncoming fireball. At this point, Patchouli has no choice but to high jump cancel the recovery animation for the fireball, otherwise the knives will impact before the recovery ends. The Sakuya player, knowing that Patchouli's only option for avoiding the ground knives is to high jump, sends off another set of knives with fj.A. This puts bullets in a horizontal area that Patchouli will eventually cross while moving upwards. Therefor, Patchouli can not stop in that particular area to fire more bullets, the Patchouli player will need to continue grazing higher into the air, or use an air dash to pass through the second set of knives.

While both sets of knives are likely to whiff an opponent that is paying any bit of attention, that does not mean the act of tossing the knives was worthless/pointless. In reality, the point of throwing the knives was for two reasons:
* First, to force Patchouli into the air. Because Patchouli's arsenal is reduced once in the air, Sakuya will have an easier time advancing on the opponent than against a grounded Patchouli.
* Second, to "buy time" to move forward against Patchouli. Because Patchouli will be busy grazing the knives, Sakuya is free to either throw more bullets or move freely while Patchouli is grazing. After all, if Patchouli is busy grazing then she can't very well be firing bullets.

This is essentially the same as limiting your opponents options through the use of "zoning". By forcing them into the air, and then forcing them higher, you have both limited what they can do and "purchased" time to take initiative by "controlling" specific areas where you know your opponent is likely to move.

More information regarding zoning can be found here and here



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Mixups and Spirit

Once you've gained advantage on your opponent by forcing your opponent into a disadvantageous position; next comes the question of how to hit them. The answer is quite simple if your opponent simply allows you to hit them, however, most competent players will not simply allow themselves to be hit. Rather, competent players will tend to block correctly against your attacks, making it difficult for you to do any real harm.

Thus, in order to deal damage you must apply mixups. In order to mixup, you must unpredictably select an attack from a set of moves that must be defended against in different ways than each other. In IaMP, there's universally four kinds of mixups, and in the case of Youmu Konpaku there is also a fifth. But first, we must understand how the "Spirit" gauge system works in order to understand the virtues of mixups.

First of all, the spirit gauge is what allows you to fire bullets and perform special moves. However, it also allows you to air block and auto-block. So, what is auto-blocking? Well, in IaMP, blocking an attack incorrectly -- such as blocking a low attack with a standing block, or blocking low against a high attack -- will not immediately result in damage to your life and your guard being broken. Instead, blocking an attack incorrectly drains a chunk of your spirit. There are also guard crush attacks that are done with a 22A/B input that hit either high or low and will instantly drain all of your spirit if blocked incorrectly.

When the spirit gauge is drained it turns red, and this is called a "drained state". During this state, a few critical things change:
- You can not fire any bullets or special moves.
- You you can not air block any attack.
- You can not autoblock. Blocking an attack incorrectly will result in a hit or stagger.
- Your spirit recovers half as fast.

Most experienced players will manage their spirit gauge rather well so that they don't accidentally drain their own spirit. Therefor, it's in your best interest to forcefully drain your opponent so that you have an opportunity to land hits. And so that takes up back to mixups.

So, let's see what kind of mixups we have:
- High / Low
- Left / Right
- Melee / Bullet
- Attack / Defend

And in the special case of Youmu Konpaku we also have: Throw / Attack

However, it is very important to note that blocking is a very critical and ever-present third option in all of these mixups.

Sakuya High or Low mixup

Here we see Sakuya performing her 2A and then canceling into either 22A, which hits high -- or canceling into 22B, which hits low. If either of these 22* attacks are blocked wrong then the opponents spirit gauge will be instantly drained. The concept of unpredictably selecting either 22A or 22B after another attack is a basic High/Low mixup that most characters are able to use (with a few exceptions).

Yuyuko j.A Left or Right

Here we have Yuyuko Saigyouji performing a Left / Right mixup using her j.A, which is called a Cross-up. This attack has quite a huge range and hits from both sides of Yuyuko's body, making it an ideal crossup. In this picture, the image on the left shows Yuyuko timing her j.A a little late while above the opponents head, it hits from the left side (so the opponent must block right). And on the image to the right we have Yuyuko timing the attack a little early which causes a crossup, therefor it hits from the right side (so the opponent must block left). Crossups are universally familiar concepts for many 2D fighting games. However, it should be noted that a lot of crossups can be performed in this game using bullets: bullets can be fired at the opponent, then while the bullets are about to hit your opponent you can perform a crossup so that when the bullets connect the opponent must either block left or right, depending on where you are.

Sakuya Bullet or Melee

Here we have Sakuya performing a 5B in the first image. Next, Sakuya chooses between a 5C bullet string, which we see up top, or a 22A melee attack which we see on the bottom. This is a mixup because in between 5B and 5C there is a gap, which means the bullets don't connect quickly enough before the blockstun ends from the 5B. Technically, Sakuya could do a 2C instead and then the bullets would connect fast enough, but leaving a gap in between 5B and 5C is intentional. This is because it allows the opponent to graze through the bullets with either a high jump or dash. However, this is when it becomes a mixup. If the opponent attempts to high jump or dash after the 5B, and Sakuya did a 22A instead, the opponent would be hit by the 22A. The method to prevent getting hit with Sakuya's 22A is generally block, but the action of blocking allows Sakuya to continue the string by high jump canceling the 5C and then immediately performing an instant air dash into a j.B, which then allows her to continue the string further leading into more chip damage, spirit damage, and another mixup.

So, this is what the permutations would look like:
  • Opponent grazes : Sakuya 5B 22A -> opponent is hit, opens up a combo
  • Opponent blocks : Sakuya 5B 22A -> Safe on block, neutral position
  • Opponent grazes : Sakuya 5B 5C -> Opponent grazes, Sakuya chases with j.A or j.B
  • Opponent Blocks : Sakuya 5B 5C -> Sakuya IAD j.B j.C D6 j.B 2B/5B -> etc. Opponent takes spirit damage, chip damage, and must face another mixup when Sakuya lands.

And the final type of universal mixup is a mixup based on anticipation. Or rather, it exploits anticipation. Basically, it is taking advantage of an opponents poor reaction, or takes advantage of moments where it's impossible to react in time even with really good reaction. In other games, this is generally referred to as somewhat of a "Mindgame" moreso than a "Mixup". The well experienced player Bellreisa has dubbed the concept in regards to IaMP as "equity". To quote Bellreisa: "Basically, I use it to mean training the opponent" - "You're basically investing in using a certain action that gives you match equity in the form of reducing their potential reactions, giving you more freedom to work with". Sounds complicated, but it is actually quite simple and makes perfect sense. Let's take a look at a simple example:

Yuyuko 6B or 2A mixup

Here we see Yuyuko performing her 66B, and then either performing a 6B or 2A. Yuyuko's 6B may not look like much, but it's one of the more feared attacks in the game and is dubbed "The Flip". But before we get into that, the thing about 66B is that it is actually -7F on block, making it a disadvantageous move to use on block. However, the opponent Alice Margatroid's fastest move has a 7F startup, which is her 5B. So, in this situation Alice can not actually punish Yuyuko's 66B because the recovery ends fast enough for Yuyuko to block Alice's fastest retaliation. However, Alice is technically at an advantage here, if Alice performs a 5B it will technically beat almost anything that Yuyuko does, simply because the hit frame of Alice's 5B will connect on the first frame that Yuyuko recovers. Therefor, if Yuyuko performs any action then Alice's 5B will connect during that start-up of that action (including 2A).

That's where 6B comes in. Technically Yuyuko's 6B has invulnerability frames, including the first frame. Thus, if Yuyuko performs a 6B immediately after a 66B and Alice sticks out a 5B, then Yuyuko's 6B invulnerability will allow her to pass through Alice's 5B.

However, this is not particularly useful on it's own because if the opponent Alice simply blocks then Yuyuko's 6B will whiff, and Alice can punish the 6B with 6A. And that's where the mixup begins. Because if Alice anticipates that Yuyuko will perform a 6B, then she will block. If Yuyuko instead performs a 2A, then it will connect against the blocking Alice. On the other hand, Alice's 5B will beat Yuyuko's 2A after Yuyuko's 66B, but keep in mind that if Yuyuko does 6B instead then it will beat Alice's 5B.

So, labeling Yuyuko's 6B "The Flip" the permutations would look like this:
  • Yuyuko 66B, Alice Blocks, Yuyuko 2A -> 2A is blocked, Yuyuko continues attack string.
  • Yuyuko 66B, Alice Attacks, Yuyuko 2A -> Alice connects an attack.
  • Yuyuko 66B, Alice Blocks, Yuyuko 6B -> Yuyuko's Flip whiffs and Alice can punish with 6A
  • Yuyuko 66B, Alice Attacks, Yuyuko 6B -> Yuyuko's Flip counters Alice's Attack due to invulnerability frames.

As you can see, it's technically a disadvantageous situation for Yuyuko. However, if Alice always attempts an attack then Yuyuko can always beat this attack with 6B. Therefor, if Alice understands that her attacks will lose to 6B, she can instead choose to block, which is more advantageous because in every situation blocking doesn't result in failure for Alice, it only potentially results in blocking Yuyuko's 2A which leads into a blockstring and potential mixup.

Keep in mind though, that Yuyuko also has the option of simply blocking after the 66B, much as Alice does too. If Yuyuko chooses to block after the 66B she isn't technically vulnerable to a hit, although she is vulnerable to a mixup from Alice.

However, knowing this, Yuyuko can still take advantage of Alice's blocking by continuing the block string. And this is what Bellreisa refers to as "equity". But constantly using 6B after 66B, you "train" the opponent into blocking because you force them to fear/expect/respect/anticipate the 6B Flip, which they can not beat with a melee. And once you have gotten your opponent to fear/expect/respect/anticipate the 6B, you can take advantage of this by instead using 2A and continuing with a block string. To put it simply: Yuyuko's 6B can and should be used as a "threat", and not as an actual "weapon" (Such as: "All bark, no bite").

This concept in particular is nearly as old as the Fighting Game genre itself, or at least as old as Street Fighter 2.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Defense and Graze Attacks

"Defense Part 1; Melee, Graze Attacks, and Cover"

Defending yourself in IaMP is somewhat like defense in other games. But once again, the bullet and graze systems existing in IaMP modify a lot of how players perform even the simplest of actions.

Yukari 2B Hitbox
Yukari 6B Hitbox, close hit
Yukari 6B Hitbox, far hit

Here we see Yukari Yakumo performing her 2B and 6B (respectively). As you can see from the approximate (now exact) hitboxes placed in the pictures, these attacks appear to be incredibly good. In the case of the 2B the slash is the hitbox, and it extends very far vertically into the air, which seems to make for a wonderful anti-air attack. Likewise, Yukari's 6B appears to be an anti-ground attack because the majority of her body sinks into the ground so that her hittable box becomes very small, while she extends some signs that have no hittable box, but are actually just solid hitboxes. These hitboxes are quite large and start right in front of Yukari and extend a large distance forward in a sweeping fashion. These attacks might well be considered on the same level as Cammy c.HP / s.RH (of Capcom's CvS2 fame), and Chun c.HK / s.HP (of Capcom's 3S fame). But in this game, these moves alone don't quite cut it due to bullets and Cover.

Sakuya j.2C 6D Sakuya 214B

Here we see a couple pictures (scaled 50%) of instances where Yukari is at a disadvantage due to the bullets that Sakuya has placed on the screen. In the first picture we see Sakuya performing j.2C then air dash canceling; this sends off some knives diagonally downward and lets Sakuya follow closely behind. Against this, Yukari can not use her 2B for anti-air against Sakuya because the knives already on the screen will hit Yukari out of her 2B. If Yukari instead tries to graze with a high jump then Sakuya can hit with her j.A, and if Yukari tries to graze forward then Sakuya can hit with j.B.

In the second picture we see a rain of knives from Sakuya's 214B. In this instance Yukari can not use 6B to keep Sakuya away on the ground due to the knives that would hit Yukari out of the 6B. And again, if Yukari tries to graze by high jumping then Sakuya can hit with her j.A, and if Yukari tries to graze forward then Sakuya can hit with whatever melee she likes.

This is where Graze Attacks can become useful. They are attacks that are performed while ground dashing forward and the attacks themselves are able to graze while their hitbox is extended. Thus, you are able to attack while grazing. Every character except Remilia Scarlet comes equipped with four dash attacks, although some graze while attacking and others do not, therefor some are certainly more useful for grazing than others.

Patchouli 33B Patchouli 66B

Here we have Patchouli Knowledge performing her 33B and 66B (respectively). Despite how they look they are both technically melee because they can not be grazed. But these are also graze attacks which means they can pass harmlessly through bullets while active.

As you can see, Patchouli's 33B is angled diagonally upward, making it a rather good anti-air for situations outlined previously, such as Sakuya's j.C airdash cancel: Sakuya j.2C 6D

In that situation, Patchouli's 33B can pass through Sakuya's knives while attacking at an upward angle and hit Sakuya out of the air.

However, Patchouli's 33B is angled upward and isn't particularly effective against grounded opponnets. So in the case of Sakuya on the ground; Patchouli could instead use 66B to attack in a horizontal path.

These types of attacks aren't all-purpose though and can be baited. In the situation of Patchouli using 33B, Sakuya could simply air block the 33B and punish, or airdash out of it's hit area and punish from a different angle. On the ground Patchouli's 66B has a fairly sized hitbox, but it's not large enough to beat all of Sakuya's moves. If Sakuya predicts Patchouli's 66B then Sakuya can counter with her own 66B or 6B, or some other move that directly counters Patchouli's melee hit area.

Thus, baiting becomes part of the game. It is important for players to be aware of their opponents potential reactions to each movement. When you're aware of their potentiality, you can take steps to bait these reactions and punish. Such as in the Patchouli vs Sakuya example; one might expect Patchouli to anti-air with the 33B, but knowing that Patchouli is capable of this the Sakuya player can take steps to avoid being hit by it and punish it.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Gaining Advantage

As outlined in my previous post, there is an interesting dynamic involving the "first step" for advancing in on your opponent successfully in IaMP. In most older 2D fighters; every action is a short, deliberate, and generally direct action. Although the game of footsies can sometimes seem indirect because you are pushing your opponent into the corner and advancing on your opponent slowly, but after a certain amount of experience the concept becomes more obvious and and seemingly more direct.

The fact is; if a movement doesn't immediately lead to you punching your in the face, that doesn't mean the movement was a failure or worthless. In most older Fighting games, it is more ideal to control the area around yourself with hitboxes and potential hitboxes, while slowly advancing forward and forcing the hit-area "bubble" more and more toward your opponent, thus pushing your opponent further into the corner -- because obviously they don't want to be inside your bubble unless they can guarantee an ideal outcome (countering/beating your attack). Yes, it seems indirect to the untrained player, but in reality it is brute force and very direct -- the aggressor is pushing and shoving their opponent into a very bad spot where they have less options.

IaMP, however, can at times feel even more indirect due to the movement system that allows characters a large range of motion. However, deep down it's really quite the same, it just doesn't appear that way superficially. In order to advance on your opponent you must purchase a particular area in order to own that area, and once that area is owned you must react to your opponent in order to gain advantage. In IaMP this is called "Cover", though in other games it's generally referred to as "Zoning" and "Controlling Space".

In short: there's multiple steps that you have to take before you can hit your opponent without fail, you can't just go from point (A) to point (Z) without stopping at all the other points first.



Here we see Sakuya performing her 236C bullet attack, scaled at 50% size. Another particularly strong bullet move. The bullets fired spread out rather erratically by shooting in a random direction angled forwards, and thus it becomes a swarm of knives that travels gradually horizontally. By spending some of her meter she has partially purchased the area in front of her. The projectiles move horizontally slow enough for Sakuya to dash into them either from the air or ground. And now that area, plus the area she is able to cover with melee, is "owned".

At this point, with Sakuya you can choose what to do depending on what your opponent is doing. If the opponent attempts to overwhelm your bullets with their own bullets then you can graze or graze-attack through the opponents bullets. If the opponent attacks from the ground (generally with a graze attack), then you can attack from the air. If the opponent goes into the air, then you can chase them with a jumping melee such as with her j.A. And if the opponents gets hit or simply blocks, then you now have momentum.

Sakuya j.236C 6D j.B hitbox Sakuya j.236C 6D j.A hitbox

As you can see from these two pictures (scaled 50% again), Sakuya has purchased a great deal of vertical and horizontal space by firing her 236C (in these pictures, a j.236C). But she does not control that space with the bullets (knives) alone, since the opponent can simply graze through the bullets. However the opponent can't graze forward against Sakuya's j.B because they will run right into the j.B hitbox. They also can't high jump graze or they will run into Sakuya's j.A hitbox. They also can not attack with melee because the bullets will hit them out of the melee. And they can not use bullets because Sakuya's bullets will trade with them, leaving her melee to smack the opponent in the face.

The correct answer for this trap is to either block, or avoid it in the first place by using your own bullets and melee to control the space that Sakuya would normally try to perform this string in. Basically, push comes to shove, much like in other 2D Fighters.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Bullets, Graze, and Cover

One thing that makes IaMP very unique in comparison to other 2D Fighting games is the bullet and "graze" systems.

Each character has the ability to throw a variety of projectiles (called Bullets or Danmaku) with a wide range of properties at the opponent, at the cost of some meter (called spirit) -- which recharges on it's own. These projectiles will dissipate if they collide with enemy projectiles.

All characters also have the ability to pass through these bullets with a dash or high jump which is called "Graze". There are also ground-based graze attacks that all characters posses that allow the character to transition from a dash into an attack that also has graze properties.

What's more, most projectile attacks can be high jump canceled after firing on the ground, or air dash canceled if fired in the air. Due to this, characters are generally able to perform melee attacks (which cannot be grazed) while their projectiles are still on the screen. What develops from this is a very dynamic and deep controlling, zoning, baiting, and trapping game. To put it simply, each character can fill specific areas with their bullets in order to control that area and force the opponent into some kind of reaction. Once this reaction takes place, the aggressor can take advantage of this by using projectile and melee attacks. However, it's not as clean-cut as simply that and there's much more to it.

Sakuya j.C

This is Sakuya Izayoi and she is performing her jumping C bullet attack. As you can see, she is firing multiple knives. Three per set, and five sets, making it a total of fifteen knives. That's quite a lot of projectiles. This is one of the better (and easier to use) bullets in the game. The main reason is because it's so fast and so dense. Because there's so many bullets fired and because they are so densely packed, it's difficult for the opponent to overwhelm these bullets with their own. Meaning, if you only fire one or two bullets of your own they will quickly be destroyed by Sakuya's j.C, and more knives will continue to fly past your projectiles and at you.

There is the option to just block it, but that means that Sakuya gains direct advantage and can begin trying to use attacks to break your guard or chip away at your life. There is the option of grazing, but while you graze you can not block which leaves you vulnerable to melee. And thus, the trap becomes apparent:

Sakuya j.C

Again we see some knives on the screen from Sakuya's j.C. But now we also see that Sakuya has thrown some knives, air dash canceled the knife toss, and the performed a j.B melee. Kind of a puny looking kick, isn't it? In most games we have attacks that could easily beat it with superior hitboxes, either with anti-airs or air-to-airs. Most fighting game players are use to this sort of concept of using the correct hitbox to counter the opponents hitbox, which is called a "Beat".

But wait, there's projectiles. Thus, the game changes. You can't use a melee attack on the ground or air to beat Sakuya's j.B because the bullets directly in front of her will hit you. You will also have a lot of trouble passing through her bullets with a ground Graze dash because as soon as you pass through her bullets you will run right into her j.B. You simply do not have enough time after passing through her bullets to perform your attack because you will be far too close and your attack will have too much start-up. You will also have trouble with air-to-air for the same reasons, if you try to high jump Graze through the bullets then you will immediately run into Sakuya's j.B. Your air attacks will be simply too slow to beat Sakuya's because hers is already out, and yours has start-up frames that it needs to go through before the hitbox comes out.

So how to beat this attack. Well, there's a couple ways, but for the most part it's situational (like almost everything else in IaMP). There is the option of Graze Attacks which are ground-based attacks that can pass through bullets. Sounds pretty good, but it's character-specific and can be baited. Again, because Sakuya's j.B is already out you have to begin your attack early while inside the bullet wave in order to really have a chance at beating her j.B, but if she faked and did not do the j.B attack she can instead punish your attempt with her own action like another bullet wave or special move or even another airdash to avoid your graze attack. The other thing is that a lot of graze attacks are very specific (character specific, at that) and the attacks that you get might not beat Sakuya's j.B. Or rather, Sakuya may place herself in the air at the correct height to avoid your graze attacks knowing what your character is capable of. Another option that some characters have is to overwhelm the bullets with their own, if they have an attack that is simply more dense or persists through bullets.

However, the final option is to simply avoid both attacks with proper movement. Since you have attacks of your own, you can control specific areas and make these areas "safe zones", which allows you to move into a position of your desire safely. Therefor, if Sakuya is high in the air you can pass below her, or if she is low to the ground you can pass above her and use attacks to ensure your safety while moving. Doesn't sound like it achieves much, but it does; you avoid Sakuya's trap.

You see, in most 2D Fighters you can't simply run up and punch your opponent in the face. In these games the opponents will be using their own attacks to prevent you from advancing close enough to "punch them in the face". IaMP isn't much different, you can't simply run up and punch the opponent in the face. However, it's a lot less of a question of using the correct hitbox to counter your opponent's hitbox, and more of a question of dominating specific areas and forcing your opponent into making bad choices. Sounds kind of familiar actually, sounds a lot like MvC2 and the mindgames that exist in ST -- I know that's a bold statement, but in reality it's very very similar.

An example of what I mean is to say Sakura c.HP, Cammy c.HP, and Chun-Li c.HK (of Capcom fame) are all good hitboxes for countering a jump-in attack. However, even if such attacks existed in IaMP you could only use these attacks as anti-air against an opponents melee-only jump-in. However, the players in IaMP would not simply come at you with a plain melee attack and allow you to beat them with a superior hitbox. Instead, the players will use a combination of bullets and melee to ensure that you can not directly beat their melee so easily, such as the Sakuya example. This is called "Cover", and what it means is that the c.HP's and c.HK's anti-airs will fail to the bullets.

And that takes us back to how to beat such an attack as Sakuya's j.C airdash cancel j.B. And once again, you can not directly beat it with a simple melee -- in order to beat it you have to indirectly beat it with stratagem. You can not simply run up and punch her in the face.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Immaterial and Missing Power

Immaterial and Missing Power is a PC doujin 2D Fighter that supports online netplay. Based on the Touhou series, it was created by Tasogare Frontier and developed by ZUN of Shanghai Alice, which is a doujinshi game circle.

The game generally plays like a cross between Guilty Gear and Marvel, except without all the ridiculously long dial-a-combos. However, the strong emphasis on controlling space, zoning, trapping, baiting, and momentum exists in IaMP.

The game aesthetics are rather deceptive. At first glance it appears that a bunch of chibi lolita girls "farts rainbows and sneezes pixie dust" at each other, then "shit out stars and spin around like crazy bitches on counter hits" (quotes taken from Bellreisa and Lovely_K, respectively). However, there's quite a bit more to it than just the aesthetics, actually playing it is quite a different experience.

The purpose of this blog will be to depict some of what I've learned while playing and spectating other players, so that others may share and possibly benefit from my observations and analysis.

To learn some of the basics of IaMP, read the IaMP Basics and/or read the IaMP Wiki.





- Copyright © Xenozip.

Option Selects (Guarantees)

There are many different types of Option Selecting, but unfortunately none of the different types have been given unique titles. Most forms of Option Selecting are simply known as "Option Selecting". I prefer to call the offensive form "Auto Selecting" while I call the defensive form "Option Selecting". In other words I refer to Auto Selecting as a form of Option Selecting that is an offensive action used to counter all of your opponent's defensive options. Option Selecting generally refers to a defensive action that counters all of your opponent's offensive options.

Simply put, Auto Selecting is what an attacker does to beat all of the defenders possible actions, while Option Selecting is what a defender does to beat all of the attacker's possible actions.

There are quite a lot of players out there that utilize these techniques without even knowing that they're doing it, and then there are players who don't utilize them and aren't aware of them (but probably should be informed), and lastly there are the people who know of them but aren't particularly good at executing them. Thus, the world of Option Selecting tends to be a little gray for a lot of players, but it doesn't have to be and probably shouldn't be.

Auto Selecting is what I call an offensive action that counters all of your opponent's potential defensive options (including offensive maneuvers used to defend) in a particular situation -- generally in an advantage situation where you're unsure of what action the opponent will perform.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 had quite a few Auto Selects in it, for example A-ism tech trapping: after knocking your opponent into the air and while both players are close enough to the ground, it was possible to perform a quick light attack and then quickly executing a super to guarantee a hit. What happens here is if the opponent does not manually recover in the air they will be hit by both the light attack and the super, but if the opponent manually air recovers they will avoid the light attack but they will not be able to avoid being hit by the super and will thus eat the full damage of the super due to combo damage scaling being reset. This is a simple form of Auto-Selecting because it beats all of your opponent's counter-actions -- it beats both tech or no tech.

However, some Auto Selects aren't necessarily totally fail-safe, but are still useful for preventing a worst case scenario or preventing some sort of loss. In Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike there's another form of Auto Selecting used simply to avoid wasting a super bar while attempting to land a super: A character can perform a universal overhead attack and then immediately input the command for a super. What happens here is if the opponent blocks or parries the overhead then the super will not come out, but the if they do not block/parry and the overhead hits then you will quickly land and immediately perform the super (usually comboing). In this case the Auto Select was simply used to avoid wasting a super because the super will only come out if the opponent guard was down. Incidentally, Street Fighter Alpha 3 also had this kind of Auto Select in the case of Chun-Li (and Karin): Chun-Li could perform a jumping stomp kick (air down+medium kick) and input the command for a VC activation (V-ism custom combo), if the kick hit the opponent or the opponent blocked, Chun-Li would activate her meter and could perform a combo (hit or block, the combo would succeed because it was unblockable), but if the stomp attack missed the opponent because they performed an invulnerable move to avoid the stop then Chun-Li would not activate the meter, thus saving her from wasting her super. Karin also had something like this, but I'll spare the details.

One of the more classic Auto Selects is known in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo where it's possible to knock the opponent down and then perform a specifically timed jump-in attack -- The attack is times so that if the opponent blocks, jumps, or attacks then the jump-in attack will connect, but if the opponent does an uppercut reversal then the invulnerability will make the jump-in attack pass through the defender, but the aggressor will land before being hit by the uppercut. What this means is that the jump-in will connect regardless of anything the opponent does except an invulnerable reversal, but the start-up frames for any reversal attack is too slow to counter the jump, so the aggressor will be able to defend against any reversal and thus beating any action the defender does automatically (Auto Select).

Another form of Auto Selects are sometimes called "sliding" techniques by Japanese players where you quickly slide your finger from one attack input to another so that you are inputting two different attacks at nearly the same time (but not at the same time). This exists in games where different strength attacks have priority over other attacks and can cancel a previous input within the first few frames. This kind of technique is seen in Garou : Mark of the Wolves and Guilty Gear. What happens with these slide inputs is the game will automatically choose the attack that would normally be successful. In the case of Dizzy from Guilty Gear, you are able to perform a close crouching kick, then slide from Slash to High Slash while pressing toward -- if the opponent is on the ground you will quickly cancel the Slash attack into a throw, but if the opponent tried to avoid the throw by jumping or backdashing then Dizzy will instead perform a regular close Slash attack. This sliding input technique has a similar function in Garou where you are able to cancel a lower priority attack into a throw or throw defense, but only if the opponent was within grab range, otherwise the light attack would come out.

The primary use of Auto Selecting is either to avoid negative outcomes from potential counter-actions or to guarantee success regardless of what action your opponent performs. You don't know what sort of action your opponent will perform: will they jump, block high, block low, attack, super, or some other action? You don't know for sure, but with an Auto Select you can counter all of their options at the same time with just one input action, therefor it does not matter what your opponent does you will still succeed at least on some level, thus removing the need for anticipation or reaction.

As said earlier, Option Selecting is the term more commonly associated with a defensive action to prevent damage from all of your opponent's offensive options. Similar to Auto Selecting, but in reverse. Option Selects come in many forms as well (just like Auto Selects).

In Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike, you can block/parry defensive Option Select to help deal with crossups, due to the way parries inputs are performed. If a player attempts to hit you with an ambiguous attack that can either hit you from the left side or right side, you are able to tap either direction the moment of impact to either block or parry. What happens is because parries are inputting by pressing toward the direction of the opponent at the time of impact to high parry you will either parry the attack or block, if the attack comes from the left and you pushed left you'll parry but if the attack comes from the right and you pushed left then you'll simply block -- either way you avoid damage.

3rd Strike has has another defensive Option Select you can perform by pressing down+back and Light Punch + Light Kick to perform a grapple defense/low punch Option Select -- what happens is if the aggressor attempts a throw then your LP+LK input will be read as a throw defense and will tech-recover the throw (breaking the throw attempt), but if the aggressor does not throw then you will perform a crouching Light Punch instead which is less punishable than a whiffed throw animation, additionally if an attack connects before you input the command then you'll be holding down+back to block.

In Capcom vs. SNK 2, Roll Canceling gives another form of defensive Option Select. Rolling in CvS2 gives invulnerability frames to you character to all attacks except throws, however, you are able to kara-cancel the roll within the first few frames of animation into a special move, but the special move retains the invulnerability from the roll. Additionally, you can not be immediately thrown when getting up off the ground, so when recovering you are able to perform a reversal roll cancel into a move that can not be thrown to avoid being both hit and thrown. For example Vega (claw) can Roll Cancel into a Wall Dive which leaves the ground quick enough to avoid throws, and the invulnerability gained from the Roll Cancel last long enough for him to avoid most meaty attacks.

In Marvel vs Capcom 2, there are a few defensive Option Selects. One such Option Select involves using the Delayed Hyper Combo system to cancel an extremely fast super such as Magneto's into an extremely safe super that will likely allow you to escape pressure strings that contain frame gaps. Another function that exists in Marvel is the Variable Counter canceled into a safe Hyper Combo. The Variable Counter allows you to cancel block stun by tagging (switching) to another character on your team and having them perform a special move, which can then be canceled into a Hyper Combo, if the Variable Counter happens to have invulnerability frames then this is a great way of escaping ground-based block strings at the cost of a few bars of meter. These are simple mechanics implemented in the game, but when utilized a certain way they can avoid all potential offensive variations and are therefor able to be used as defensive Option Selects.

In Monster, Auto Selecting and Option Selecting is a little interesting. Auto Selecting in other games isn't "free" because they require a setup. Much like the concept of Domination as stated in my previous entry, you can't simply Auto Select at any time, you must first put your opponent at a disadvantage so that you can capitalize on the technique. In Monster there's an additional requirement due to the points system. Any Auto Select could possibly fail if your points are lower than your opponent's points due to Power Breaking. The proverbial sword swings both ways though, since having more points than your opponent makes Auto Selecting much easier due to Power Breaking as well.

One really simple form of Auto Selecting in Monster is simply a C attack/throw Auto Select with Katze against a cornered opponent. If you're close to the opponent and press toward and C then you will throw, but if you opponent jumps you will do a standing C instead and knock them out of the air. The opponent can't backdash in the corner to avoid the throw either because either the C attack will connect forcing the opponent to block, or it will throw them out of their vulnerable backdash frames.

Delga has a less strict Auto Select that is to simply perform a dashing charged C (66[C]) then cancel late into his command grab (41236a). What happens here is if the opponent jumps, attacks, or does not block they will be hit by the C attack -- however, if the opponent blocks then the C attack will cause enough guard stun for the command grab to recover safely (if charged long enough) -- and if the opponent back dashes the will be grabbed by the command grab during the backdashes vulnerable frames. This can be performed anywhere, unlike Katze's, but it's also potentially unrewarding if the opponent simply blocks, unlike Katze's. The reason Katze's is practically guaranteed a reward is even if the opponent backdashes and then blocks, Katze is able to cancel into a dashing C or dashing 2C to continue pressure and mixups. Although a minor reward, it's still better than frame neutrality.

Another valid Auto Select exists with T-Orju, where you can combo during or into a Shift, and then activate Orju's T-Enchant 236a and whiff 5C while the opponent is down, then instant air double jump B against a cornered opponent. Lots of requirements there, but it's actually fairly simple. After a combo you will probably have more points than the opponent and T-Orju's shifted Enchant acts as like a Power Break shield, if the opponent attacks the ring they will automatically cause a Power Break to whoever has less points (either Orju or the opponent). Throws that simply toss the opponent rather than hitting them can bypass this, but if Orju does a quick instant air double jump then he can not be thrown. There is no action that can be taken to get out of this except backdashing, which is vulnerable to a throw once Orju lands.

T-Orju also has the option of using his T-Enchant green dot instead of the Enchant ring 5C. Basically he does a combo either during or into a shift, does his 236a Enchant, then places a meaty 236b green dot, the dot then "poisons" the opponent and slowly drains their life. This is an Auto Select because there's no way to avoid it, the dot lasts long enough to connect with some one who back dashes, it will Power Break an opponent with less points that attempts a reversal or shift and poison them anyway, and they can not avoid it with a T-Shifted auto guard move or jump. The damage is only as good as the amount of time Orju can avoid being hit, but at least it's unavoidable damage and therefor an Auto Select.

Probably the best Auto Select is simply Katze's absurd. Once activated Katze is at such a huge advantage for such a long duration that it's practically guaranteed damage. Although not literally guaranteed damage, it's definitely practical to net a large sum of damage at little to no risk.

Defensive Option Selects exist in Monster as well, and are also made more interesting due to the point system for the same reasons. Most Option Selects can fail if you have a point disadvantage when performing them, but could also just as easily succeed if you have a point advantage.

Once again a simple Option Select belongs to Katze. On wakeup or during a frame neutrality or frame disadvantage situation Katze is able to perform his DP "wing" move (623a) then quickly cancel it into a shift and backdash. If he has point advantage this isn't entirely an infallible defense but it's fairly close. He can not be thrown due to wake-up throw invulnerability frames, and the DP's recovery is cut short by canceling into Shift, which he can then cancel into anything else, including (but not limited to) an invulnerable backdash. The DP itself trades with almost every form of attack there is, or beats it. Though the weak spot here is very long range and low hitting moves that completely avoid the DP's hitbox area such as Ryougen's 2C at max distance, but against a character such as Aleksander it is definitely infallible (assuming point advantage).

Another Option Select exists for pretty much any character (except Aleksander) while in Tranquility Shift, as that shift awards certain special moves with auto-guard frames. Characters like T-Orju can perform a T-Shifted 214a on wakeup and use the autoguard frames to avoid most attacks. The interesting thing here is it almost ignores point imbalances because the move instantly has auto-guard frames, but the hitbox (attack frames) does not occur until much later in the move. Therefor even if it collides with the opponent's attacks it will not cause a Power Break because the move has no active hitbox until the end of the move, it only has auto-guard frames. This isn't entirely infallible either though as the move itself can be thrown, but it's a pretty good Option Select for getting out of the corner and avoiding high/low mixups and pressure strings. The Option Select here is simply to avoid the implied damage that the opponent can potentially cause, and limit the opponent's potential damage to simply a throw's worth of damage.

In closing, I suspect that there are people who wonder if Option Selecting and perhaps Guarantees in general are a good thing or not. I'll probably delve into that subject in my next entry.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Domination

The concepts of Domination and Guarantees are unfortunately a little gray for some players. They exist very strongly in some video games and also in some sports, and they are very watered down in other video games and other types of sports. It tends to be more of a personal preference for a lot of people for one reason or another. I've been examining the concepts and I've formulated my own opinions on the subject, but I'd also like to explore both sides and try to see it from every point of view.

Domination is probably self explanatory for most people. But for the sake of clarity; Domination refers to the act of controlling the match in a competitive setting by using tools to shut down your opponents chances at winning. There are some players who view this as "cheap" or "unfair", and often it's because they think that if their chances at winning are shut down then that gives an unfair advantage to the person in control. However, I believe they are missing a step: the first step. The first step in dominating your opponent is to first take control of the match by force. Since your opponent is trying to win too this is not an easy task, the opponent isn't going to simply let you take control. But you must be superior to your opponent in the first place in order to gain advantage when you're both trying to take advantage. Since most matches consist of more than one round you must do this more than once, and in a tournament setting you must do this against many different people using different styles, techniques, and tactics in order to gain control. The first step is not entirely luck-based in most games, and it is not "unfair" or "uneven" in any way since during the first step both players are in a neutral/even position. Although due to the variety of characters there is certainly a possibility of an uneven first step in Fighters, due to serious disadvantage between character matches (or mis-matches if you will). Ironically, there are some people who strongly dislike mirror matches in Fighters despite mirrors avoiding a possible unfair advantage, due to character strengths and weaknesses being identical in a mirror match.

I've always wondered what makes Domination fun for some and not fun for others. Aside from the presumed "unfairness" I also believe some people also feel Domination is boring. Once a player takes control of the match it's probable that they feel it's not fun to either experience or watch a player dominating for most of the round. In my experiences Domination has always been extremely fun, both experiencing and spectating dominating and also being dominated. The reason is because as long as there is still a chance to take back control then it's interesting experiencing the struggle for power, from both the dominator's point of view and also the dominated point of view. Trying to take back power when "your chips are down", so to speak, is extremely challenging and rewarding. On the other side, trying to control something that could potentially "break free" from your control and turn the tables on you is also rather thrilling.

One of my favorite experiences with Domination was with the First Person Shooter (FPS) game Quake 1 by ID Software. A huge part of this game relied heavily on Domination when playing on particular playing fields, due to the nature of the game. Both players started with no weapons or armor and at default health value, but there were weapon/armor/health upgrades on the map. So, immediately both players vied for control of the map by grabbing what weapons and armor they could, then strategized and maneuvered around the map in order to get the first kill. You could not simply rush into your opponent and hope to win with aim alone since that would not ensure a desired result, instead you had to take advantage of the playing field which required a lot of planning, maneuvering, anticipation, and reaction as well as aiming. You had to calculate your opponents movements and counter them baiting your opponent into making a bad move or being into an unadvantageous location on the map. Once you got the first kill the opponent would be respawned in another random location with default weapons/armor/health. It was then time for the winner of the first step to take the next step which was to control the rest of the match by shutting down the opponent as much as possible by controlling the weapon/armor/health upgrades on the map. This was called "running the map" and is somewhat similar to a Fighter's "Rush Down". The idea was that if you forcibly took the weapon/armor/health that was on the map then the opponent would be at a constant disadvantage (since you had the upgrades and they did not).

Again, some players cried fowl at this while others reveled in it, both on the performing end and the receiving end. However, it would be unfair to say that the match might as well be re-started to square one immediately after the first kill because the first kill did not guarantee victory, but some players felt this way anyway. Although it is true that it did put one player at a strong disadvantage while another player was at a strong advantage but it was still not a guarantee. Especially if the player who was killed first was in reality the better player. For a player to lose control and then forcibly regain it, having to take it from the opponent, was a true testament to a player's skill in my opinion. It was fun for both players who enjoyed the concept of Domination because it was still a struggle for both players during the whole match. If a player was carelessly acting on auto-pilot and not paying attention to what the opponent was doing, then it was very possible that the dominated could take steps towards gaining a safe advantage on the map which could lead to a possible kill in the dominated's favor. The wonderful thing about Quake was that if you killed your opponent you could pick up the weapons that they were carrying, thus the dominated now becomes the dominator. When both players were equally good at both dominating and regaining control things became very interesting and intense. When I think of it, I get the picture of trying to hold down a wild beast that could potentially break free of your control and slash your throat.

Boxing also uses Domination. In boxing it is the goal of the boxer to dominate the match by controlling the ring and controlling his opponent. It is advantageous for a boxer to move into the middle of the ring and ware out his opponent by staying there, poking at his opponent and controlling the space in front of him/her. This is an advantageous technique because the player who is controlling the middle of the ring is exerting less effort and therefor can reserve stamina while tiring out his opponent. It's also advantageous to force the opponent into the corner where the opponent is at a strong disadvantage. Quite a bit like some Fighters, isn't it.

This sort of thing does happen in many Fighters as well. The first knockdown is taken, then from there one player will attempt to control the rest of the match by dominating the playing field and forcing the opponent into the corner while forcing mistakes, so called "rush down". And in Fighters it is also not a guaranteed victory due to the dominated still having options for regaining control. Although, naturally it's in both players best interest to out-play the other, therefor strategies are always developed for countering both control and for regaining control, as well as counter-countering and counter-counter-countering and so forth. This is what is called a "Mind Game". It is not luck based, but rather it is strategy based since both players are intentionally executing their strategy and counter strategy and counter-counter strategies.

But is it possible to avoid and still have fun?

Well, with Quake there was a time when certain pools of players began to level up very rapidly to extreme heights, and other pools of players who did not. This caused a large variety in skill levels which led to a lot of lopsided Domination. When a low-level plays against a high-level you can expect the lower level player to be completely dominated, rather than it being anywhere near a close match. This caused some players to analyze what was going on and protest the concept of Domination. However, people were enjoying the game so much and had such faith in the game, so rather than giving up they sought ways to avoid Domination. This lead to the player-made modifications (mods) called "Arena" and "Clan Arena". What Arena basically did was replay the first step over and over by resetting the game after the first kill. After the first kill both players respawned back to square one. Later this concept was refined to something called "Clan Arena" by my brother blip (AKA "Mungo", at the time) which allowed teams of players to take on one another in a repeated first-step style fashion. This modification was widely popular and eventually became so popular that the designers from ID Software created Quake 3 based on this concept (Quake 3: Arena).

So the answer would be yes. It is definitely possible to create a game that removes Domination and "levels the playing field", and still have fun with it.

Have Fighters done that?

In my opinion no, not really. Though they have certainly tried, which unfortunately lead to watering down Domination instead of either improving upon it or eliminating it. Many games have attempted to create mechanics which can help a player quickly take back control of the match and avoid being dominated, such as: invulnerable attacks, dodging, rolling, invulnerable backdashes, pushblock, guard cancel, burst (hitstun cancel), and parrying. However this only waters down Domination rather than eliminating it. Though, I have to wonder if a Fighter would be fun at all if Domination was eliminated instead of watered down. Personally, depending on the game style I think it actually could be fun.

It also makes me wonder if Quake would have been any fun if Domination was watered down instead of eliminated. I can't even imagine what the game would be like if there was a parry function put into a Quake Mod. Not just to parry projectiles though. In Fighters the parry system almost guarantees a knockdown off a melee parry, and that will flip control of the match to the successful parryer, but off a substantial amount of risk of course. In Quake that would be that a shot would instead be lethal to the shooter instead of the target based on an anticipation-based educated guess. To me that makes my skin crawl.

But why is either Full Domination or No Domination so much more appealing to me than Watered Down Domination?

To continue using the parrying system as a bit of an extreme example; I suppose I feel that you didn't really work very hard to take back control. Although there is of course some calculation and effort involved with Fighter's "anti-Domination" mechanics (including parrying), they still feel like a gimmicky wildcard that could just as easily fail if you anticipate wrong. It's not even really about strategy, reaction, maneuvers, or even aim; It was just an anticipation technique which could have just as easily failed if counter-anticipated. In my Quake example, where a parry could kill your opponent, I would feel that you did not have to rely on your skill to take back the map and you only needed to correctly anticipate the attack. From my perspective it's not much more complex than that. I also couldn't imagine what would happen to a game like Chess if parries were added, so that when every time a player took a piece both players would play a Rock-Paper-Scissors side game to determine who's piece actually got eliminated. Again I'd feel that the successful parryer did not counter-strategize but just correctly anticipated. I believe it to be a true folly to water Domination down instead of separating it into "Domination" and "No Domination" games, which I suppose would be synonymous with Quake's "Deathmatch" and "Clan Arena" respectively.

In the end I still believe it boils down to personal preference rather than logic/reasoning, or anything else. While some people will always enjoy Arena, others will always enjoy Deathmatch. Likewise, some people will always enjoy Rock-Paper-Scissors while others will enjoy Chess.

How does this relate to Monster?

Interestingly, Monster has taken the route of invulnerable backdashes which is more of a way of avoiding attacks rather than countering them. It has also given more tools for countering Domination to the Tranquility shift by giving it auto-guard attacks or invulnerable attacks. Monster also has the PointBreak system, which when utilized defensively can turn the momentum/control of a match completely around. On initial inspection you might say that it's watered Domination down, but on a closer look it appears that it actually just made it a little more complex. The point system can be used both defensively and offensively. So, when a player lands a successful combo the player gets points added to them, which means their advantage is actually increased because with a lot of points they can safely rush your opponent down and not have to worry about getting Powerbreaked. But, when a player successfully blocks then points are added, so successful blocking increases their advantage and that means they can regain control by Powerbreaking the opponent. Backdashes may also universally help to avoid meaty attacks but there are actually some interesting ways of punishing these backdashes. As it turns out, backdashing is not really a good idea to spam on wake-up, particularly in the corner. Tranquility gives players a "get out of jail free card" by giving their moves auto-guard or invulnerability, but this is balanced out by the fact that it's not as strong offensively as either Freedom or Monster shifts, with the exception of the character Maya.

I would say that Domination is really quite interesting in Monster.



- Copyright © Xenozip.

Competition

Hopefully this post isn't too difficult to follow for those of you who actually read this stuff. However, I will inevitably always use outside sources and analogies in order to describe what I'm talking about, which inadvertently tends to make things more difficult to follow. Alas, old habits die hard, so here goes.

The concept of domination is actually part of what makes games a lot of fun for some people, but I'll get into that in another post. Another thing that makes games fun is competition. There are moments in life that cause an adrenaline rush, sweating, breathing heavily, clinching teeth, and white knuckles, all leading up to extreme breath taking moments that leave you in awe and shock. These moments are sought after by sports players through means of competition and training. Pushing yourself to the limits and doing your best in order to out-play your opponent. Things are absolutely the most fun when competition is at it's absolute highest and two players come together with almost equal or close to equal skill levels. It may surprise some people out there that it is actually possible to get an adrenaline rush and one of those "breath taking moments" from playing a video game, but it's true. Problem is that it's difficult to find for a lot of people. Video games aren't really refined well enough to be on the same level as sports, but in recent years they are certainly coming very close.

For me, one of my greatest experiences with this was with the First Person Shooter (FPS) game Quake 1 by ID Software. I mention this because I'll be referencing it in regards to both domination and guarantees. But before I get to that, please bear with me. There was a time when I played the game very regularly with many different people all over the country who had become quite good at the game, and thus I also became quite good. The more I played people better than me, the more I "leveled up" my own skill. To me, the game was so very interesting because the results from competition in the game was not truly random, and in fact there was quite an enormous difference between player skill levels because there was so many different skill-based factors that contributed to a players ability to win. In order to beat your opponent you needed to do much much more than just aim your gun properly, you also needed to have the ability to out-strategize, anticipate, react, play defensively, play offensively, and maneuver, as well as aim. Having acquired a certain level of skill at performing all those techniques, then finding some one who was equally good as me at playing, and playing several sets always winning or losing by a very small margin was nothing short of an amazing and easily memorable experience for me.

Does this exist in Fighting games, and more to the point, in Monster?

The answer is undoubtedly yes. Although, personally it's been a rather difficult task getting there for me. But the good news is that I have had a few experiences with Fighters, and with Monster, that somewhat mirror my experiences with Quake. That isn't to say that Fighters are inferior. No, certainly not inferior at all. I'm just saying that in my own path into the world of competitive gaming, Fighters have proven more difficult for me to achieve the same level of comp as with FPS.

One of the biggest hinderance with Fighters is accessibility to top-level players on a daily basis. Having online play has always increased accessibility to many levels of skill for FPS games, since online play is rather viable for FPS and widely popular. Though with Fighters, even in recent years where online play has become more and more common with Fighters, it's still not quite the same as with an FPS game since online and offline play in Fighters is significantly different.

Another big hinderance has been variety and tools. There's a lot of variety in Fighting games with multiple games that play very differently and multiple characters that also play very differently. Not all games and not all characters are created equally in Fighters, which makes the playing field a little awkward, so to speak. Back in the day, for me there was Quake and only Quake, and in Quake there was only one character, so the playing field was even and standard, with the exception of tools.

For Fighters there's also a need for proper tools such as functional arcade cabinets and/or consoles with proper gaming controllers, and preferably nice TV's as well. But then that also occurs with FPS games as the need for high quality computers and controllers -- generally a good processor, vid card, and ram, plus a nice keyboard and mouse is required for a good FPS game experience, not to mention a fast and reliable internet connection for online gaming.

Fortunately I believe Fighters have been taking large steps in the right direction for online functionality. Particularly with Monster, in my opinion. Which is really good for opening up access to many different players with different styles and levels of skill at all hours of the day, and on a regular basis. I would probably never grow as a player in a game like Monster if it did not have online play, because in my local area the gaming pool is simply too shallow and I would be unable to play even with the local players on a regular basis (probably only on weekends or bi-weekly). But with online play I can play pretty much anyone on the East Coast almost any day of the week.

And yes, because of this I have achieved a nice comp experience in Monster. Though, the game is still relatively new and there's still a relatively small player base, so I'm not really expecting to get an ultimate experience out of it for a while longer, but at least I know we're progressing in that direction which is really quite exciting. The only thing that could really squelch progression would be a significant decrease in player base due to loss of interest. In the mean time, I'll be rooting for an increase.

PS. Throughout my competitive gaming experiences, it's also been a really sad experience for me to come in contact with people who are afraid of losing or people who strongly dislike losing, since to me losing is an indication that you have found a person able to level you up (learn from) and I personally find that very exciting.



- Copyright © Xenozip.