Aerial Strife

Again, we start this post with a video, rather than an image:

High quality version: IaMP: All Character air traps

As we can see in the above video, blocking a move in the air can lead to disaster of varying levels. In the first half of the video we see the majority of the roster has a way to deal 100% spirit damage resulting in an air guard crush, which rewards the attacker with a juggle combo opportunity.

In the second half of the video we see that most of these aren't actually air-tight as far as frames go. The defender can drop their guard and intentionally be hit out of these strings in order to prevent themselves from being spirit crushed.

On the other hand, even when the opponent drops their guard, plenty of characters have some sort of follow up combo they can do. For example, Sakuya Izayoi can continue the combo rather seamlessly even if the opponent "takes the hit". But Patchouli Knowledge pretty much gets nothing if the opponent intentionally lowers their guard against j.B book and gets knocked down. But some aren't really even particularly good. Alice Margatroid's is very specific to the corner (and exceptionally difficult to pull off), while Suika Ibuki's also must be done near the corner and yet can be avoided altogether.

Reimu Hakurei doesn't appear in the second portion because Reimu's air string is actually completely airtight, and the opponent can't intentionally drop their guard against it. Hong Meirin and Yuyuko Saigyouji also don't appear in the video at all until the end (where they stand around and do nothing), because they aren't really able to take advantage of this functionality of the game. Both Yuyuko's bullets and melee are far too slow to be used in this way, and Hong simply has no real way of keeping the opponent high enough.

All characters, however, can intentionally land before their opponent and use a ground-based melee attack that can't be air guarded, in order to guard-break the opponent. This was left out of the video because I feel it should be rather obvious and should go without saying (or showing).

So, this brings up the subject of intentionally taking a hit in order to avoid something that's really worse. A sacrifice, if you will. This really isn't a mindgame or a mixup, it's simply a lockdown trap that forces the opponent to basically go kamikazi if they want to avoid a worse situation. But what does that mean for how the game flows? Well it's really rather simple: By being in the air mindlessly and uncovered, you risk being locked down in an air-to-air string or simply guard broke by a ground-to-air break, so don't be in the air recklessly.

Sakuya air tech trap

But more importantly, it also means a player shouldn't be using air-teching (mid air recovery) thoughtlessly. As most of these characters can and will use their air strings to tech trap you. This is particularly common practice among Reimu and Sakuya players, who regularly end their bread and butter combos in a way to provide them with an optimal tech trap situation. If the opponent foolishly techs into the trap they will be met with one of these air lockdown strings resulting in another crush or break, which leads to a reset-combo.

This isn't uncommon in other games with air-techs either. Games like Melty Blood, Guilty Gear, Marvel vs Capcom 2, and Street Fighter Alpha 3 all have players who regularly take advantage of the way tech recovery works in each game. Of course, learning how to do these consistently is also an important part of preventing your opponent from teching recklessly against you.

Remilia airdash

On a final side note, some characters have better chances of escaping air lockdown strings and air tech traps than others. Remilia Scarlet (seen above) has a rather unique airdash due to it's overall speed, and Remilia also comes equipped with the ability to do three of them instead of two, which can help to avoid a lot of traps. Youmu Konpaku also recovers from an air tech three frames faster than any other character. And Yukari Yakumo recovers two frames faster after airblocking than any other character. So it's nice to keep these sorts of things in mind when playing as or against these special characters.

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