Mind-Games

This will be a follow-up post for my previous post regarding Bullet Traps and Coverage, so make sure you view that a bit first.

The Yomi Therein;

When looking at the way corner bullet traps work (more specifically, bullet cancel traps), it may appear to be a mixup at first glance, but it is actually a "mind game", not a mixup, which is very significantly different, and I'll try to first explain how before I explain why.

Now as we see in the second video I posted "All Character Tech Traps" in my previous post, if the opponent chooses to highjump through the bullets, they risk getting counterhit by Marisa's j.B or j.A for a whopping 4,600 damage which is nearly half their lifebar. The punishment for moving forward is decidedly less, but still quite a bit being somewhere in the 3k damage area (and possibly more).

However, the punishment for simply blocking the bullets is only spirit damage and some very minor recoverable chip damage. On the other hand, as we see in the last Marisa clip, the situation loops back in on itself if Marisa chooses to cover forward movement with an instant air dash and the opponent blocks. Marisa can do it again, and again, provided the opponent either blocks or moves forward and doesn't move upward.

The result of these facts is what causes most top players not to recklessly highjump through bullets or spam laggy graze attacks. They are fully aware that choosing the incorrect option could lead to a loss in a heartbeat. Instead, they choose to block and be patient.

The reason is because, particularly against Marisa, blocking the bullets doesn't immediately result in a GC or any real direct damage. And even when it actually does result in a GC, they still have one more chance to block correctly or allow themselves to be staggered before they take any real damage. And even if Marisa manages to do all this, they really can just block low and the only way Marisa can hit them is with a 22A or a jumping attack, both of which are telegraphed and they can react to them with a high block. And even if Marisa manages to hit with a 22A, the defender will simply be knocked down and will take some minor damage and give the aggressor chips/point items, but the defender will also be able to tech roll out of the corner.

And then there's other important things to remember, like being able to D-Bomb a melee attack, or backdash through a 22 attack, or being able to reversal/DP through gaps. And then there's also the option of dashing forward and immediately blocking by inputting D6 [4], which is a pretty good option select for those with very quick dashes.

So, you might be thinking "So I should never move? Just block?", and the answer is actually "You should do both moving and not moving". If you simply block all the time, the opponent will have free reign to chip you, guard crush you, and possibly combo you if you block wrong. In the case of Sakuya and Alice, its very important to move when you are aware of the correct direction to move in. If you don't move they can 100% spirit damage GC you very easily and once that happens; Sakuya's 22s can actually lead to a B&B combo anyway, and Alice's boot attacks can keep you permanently staggered or break your guard into a 'boot loop' combo.

Thus, what they are doing isn't just pestering and baiting you into moving, there is actually a real threat in not moving as well, it's just that you have a lot more options when you block and you have a better chance of using reaction to your advantage. Since blocking means you will be reacting to what they do and trying to confirm before doing anything, but moving is entirely based on anticipation and is a guess where there is a right and a wrong with huge risk and low reward.

Mind Game;

So, as a result, we have a mindgame. The intention of a mindgame is to use a certain set of moves in order to force your opponent into making a bad decision, in which you can capitalize on. But there's much more to it than just that. To use a chess analogy, you can sacrifice several Pawns in order to bait out a really valuable piece like a Bishop. In fighting games like this one, the analogy applies in the sense that you can risk punishable movement for the opportunity to take away their life if they fall for the bait and allow themselves to take the risk of guessing right/wrong at the cost of potentially very high damage.

It becomes a mindgame when both players are aware of that and take carefully calculated measures to play to each other's yomi. After all, it isn't a mindgame if one of the players is mindless.

Here's the breakdown; In the case of Reimu, Marisa, and Sakuya as examples, if they go for that upwards movement coverage they have to highjump9 in order to do it. In the case of Marisa and Sakuya, if they do this when the opponent blocks they can simply take a step forward out of the corner and get behind Marisa/Sakuya, putting them in the corner. This is particularly bad for both of them since Sakuya can only hit behind her with her aerial 623 move and Marisa can't hit behind herself at all. Now that means they'd be put into the corner and the opponent would have direct frame advantage in which to do a jumping guard break or anti-air guard break for free damage plus corner knockdown. In the case of Reimu the opponent could D6 [4] to front step and then block, allowing them to jump up and hit Reimu from behind who is also unable to hit behind her with anything but her 421 teleports or air 236D Balls spellcards.

therefore, when the aggressor assumes the defender is a smart conservative player and will defend by blocking, they will ideally low IAD in order to keep the pressure string going and do additional spirit damage, as seen with the Sakuya and Marisa clips against the blocking opponent. The aggressor won't risk fishing for that huge damage with the highjump9 option because that risks completely losing momentum and they assume the opponent isn't crazy enough to risk using that option.

Now, a really smart and conservative aggressor would simply not cancel the bullets at all and wait to react to what the opponent does. Such as, if the opponent does a highjump, they lose the opportunity to net huge damage with a counterhit, but they still have the ability to chase the opponent out of the air with ground dashes for positioning and a quick jump string for a guard crush or a good solid anti-air for a guard break. Doing all this in-action allows the aggressor to take mental note of how the opponent reacts in a situation so that they can get a "read" (yomi read) on the opponent and familiarize themselves with the opponent's habits, perhaps even subconsciously.

If the opponent doesn't move then the aggressor still has frame advantage and they can smack them with another melee or another bullet and keep going, so they don't lose any momentum or initiative by doing this.

Thus, when better players see the opponent constantly doing highjump8 in any situation where they are at a disadvantage, the better player is thinking to themselves "Why would you do that? Don't you know if you keep doing that you'll eventually get CH to death?". And that's when they flip modes and start fishing for it.

If the situation was reversed and the smart player was on the defensive, the correct option is to play conservatively while mixing in some well educated guesses in order to keep the opponent from getting a read on you and getting in your head (if you're predictable, you die). Since if you do things intelligently-random it forces the opponent to guess what you will do, and the act of guessing is technically risky (as outlined above).

A well informed and patient opponent might simply allow themselves to be hit by a bullet out of a low jump (non-HJ jump), or be hit by a 22x move rather than trying to block it, simply so that they can be knocked down and tech out of the corner, which gives them much better chances of escape against certain characters, since a lot of characters will be forced to use melee in combination with bullets for okizeme rushdown. And it is the predictable melee attack that can be countered by DP's and D-Bombs or possibly even escaped with proper footing or backdashing, which is what the defender is banking on. Once you've teched into mid-screen you have slightly better movement options as outlined in the following section.

But really, that is quite literally the true definition of playing a mind game. A player who blocked intelligently and waiting for the right moment to either take the hit or sacrifice a bomb in order to get out of the corner and switch momentum was playing a counter-mindgame. They knew that they were being forced into making a bad decision, so they chose not to make any really bad choices and just take the hit that was least painful. In a way, it's a lot like a classic ST Ryu fireball trap, except that you can graze the fireballs.



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