Put your Faith in the Murlocs – A Hearthstone Deck Building Chronicle

In the last few weeks Hearthstone’s League of Explorers adventure has gradually been released with a wing of the dungeon and cards being unlocked for purchase each week. The full list of cards being released was presented at BlizzCon, so all the information about what each card did was freely available in the leadup to the launch so people were free to theorycraft potential decks and synergies…

But the staggered release schedule of Adventures meant that you may not have that sweet new Desert Camel you wanted to play with until the 4th Wing unlock. Yesterday, the 3rd wing of LoE unlocked and I can’t say I was particularly excited about any of the cards.

They all seemed like situational Murloc synergy cards for classes that probably wouldn’t fit into existing archetypes… if for whatever reason you’re actually reading this despite not really playing Hearthstone, Murloc cards are all generally small low-cost minions that give buffs to other Murlocs.

So you might have a card that’s a pretty shitty 1 Attack 2 Health minion… but each time you play another Murloc card, it gains 1 attack, so it can potentially snowball completely out of control. The main issue with past Murloc decks is that you basically needed a perfect starting hand to win the game, but you’d eventually run out of cards/steam if you didn’t win right away.

A lot of top-tier decks also have similar “If I have this starting hand, I can snowball tempo for the rest of the game” but they also tend to be far more stable and have much more of a late-game presence. In comparison Murloc decks (really, the only deck I’m thinking of here was Murloc Warlock which was always significantly worse than Zoolock as a tempo/aggro deck) kinda just fizzled out and you’d just lose if they wiped your board.

Anyway, the three Murloc cool/interesting sounding Murloc cards that came out this week are below:

3 Murlocs.png

 

Finley Mrrglton is a Neutral 1-mana card that gives you a choice of 3 randomly selected hero powers from other classes.

Everyfin is Awesome is a fairly amusing pun on the Lego Movie track song/buff for Shamans

And Anyfin Can Happen is totally a reference to an Ellie Goulding Song. Right down to the MURGLGLLFLRLRLGLRL chorus.

 

I had lunch with Salty Pete (who is a massive Murloc fanboy) on the day of wing release, and I mentioned how I wasn’t particularly interested in any of the cards that came out and he said “That’s because you don’t like Murlocs.”

Entirely true.

Then he mentioned there was a pro player doing some ridiculous stuff with Murloc Shaman with the new buff card.

And I asked “So what about the Paladin card?” “I dunno, I think it’d probably be too slow and too much of a lategame card for Murloc Paladin to be a thing”.

So something in my head just clicked and I decided that my mission when I eventually got home was to try and make Murloc Paladin work.

In terms of background to this, I haven’t really completely homebrewed a deck for a long time… essentially there are pre-existing archetypes for most classes and while I’ve tweaked bits and pieces of them I haven’t decided I was going to try lab out and craft an archetype since… like the release of Naxxramas and Undertaker Priest.

My first attempt at making a Murloc Paladin deck was below. I basically decided I’d need to work with a somewhat Aggro Paladin base since I’d need a bunch of card-draw from just burning through my hand and just throwing things on the board. Then I just chucked in some of the Secret Paladin shell (Mysterious Challenger + 3 secrets) & Tirion so I’d have a lategame. Then I basically just chucked in a bunch of Murloc cards… with the end result being below.

Murlocadin 1.0.jpg

I essentially tried to force a low-curve Murloc Warlock style curve into a Paladin midrange deck… the very same MurLock deck that was never really competitively viable/good into a class that didn’t have the card-draw hero power of Warlock.

It… didn’t work. I won my very first game I queued in with this deck, but then proceeded to get blown up in the early game despite most of my cards being early and ended up with no real way to recover to the strong Turn 6 potential of Mysterious Challenger + Secret Bomb.

Competitive Spirit, which I took on as a secret since I thought “Yeah, flood the board then buff it! It’ll be great” rarely ever got play or value since I rarely ever had a great board state.

I half-joked with Pete at this point that as I gradually tweaked this it would eventually just become a Midrange Paladin deck.

So in the refinement process, I tried to look over what did and didn’t work. The list of “what did work” was really short. So looking at what didn’t work:

  • Low Cost Murlocs weren’t resilient enough to have a good early/mid game
  • Secrets Package in Mysterious Challenger wasn’t working
  • Paladin Spawn Token hero power is actually pretty damn good. So you don’t necessarily want to swap it with Finley all the time.

Basically, I was trying to force a square Warlock shaped block into a non-existent Paladin shaped hole.

In reviewing what “did” work. The traditional Midrange Paladin cards like Shieldbot, Muster, Challenger/Tirion were still putting in work… so taking some of the lesser Murlocs and replacing them with a more traditional Paladin early game was probably in the cards.

ANYFING CAN HAPPEN -MRGLLMGRLLGLRLGLLL

In the list of interestings from my initial playtesting and the rare times I ever got to Turn 10+ to drop The Ellie Goulding Special (because I’d probably been wiped by then), some Murlocs had HUGE impacts on the field being insta-dropped like Bluegill Warrior and Murk-Eye who have Charge and can act immediately.

Comparatively, others like Tidecaller would get summoned, maybe get buffed from others being summoned, then get killed the next turn (or you’d just lost from your opponent beating you the next turn). Similarly, Puddlestomper being a vanilla 3-2 also had no immediately board impact, which you really need a 10-cost card (which is in most cases the ONLY thing you can do that turn) to do.

In terms of immediate board impact, the Warleaders who gave +2/+1 synergized insanely with Murk-Eye. Even if you only summoned 2 Warleaders + Murkeye, their collective synergy would make Murk-Eye an 8-6 with Charge. Add in Bluegills to that and the potential burst damage spirals upward significantly.

OME + 2 WLs = 8 Damage Charge

As Above + 1 Bluegill = 9 + 6 (15) Damage Charge

+2 Bluegills = 10 + 6 + 6 (22!) Damage Charge

Considering that one of Paladins major weaknesses as a class is generally their lack of burst/finisher damage and win conditions, this was definitely something I could work with.

MURLOC KNIGHTS – The Strong Independent Black Murloc Who Dun Need No Synergy

MurKnight.png

The other major strength that Paladins have as a Murloc deck over other classes is Murloc Knight, who is a 4-mana 3-4 minion that summons another random Murloc each time you use your hero power. This card sees play in traditional non-Murloc-synergy Paladin decks because its really really REALLY good.

MurKnight + Hero Power ends up spawning a 1-1 Squire token AND another random Murloc which can be anything from a shitty 1-1 Murloc all the way up to a second Murloc Knight. Basically, if it isn’t removed ASAP it can flood the board really easily and cause a tonne of headaches.

The one particularly interesting synergy I found here was with Finley Mrrglton. Rather than using him early on, he can be combo’d with a MurKnight as a lategame board reconstruction play. Because the Hero Power Discover counts as “refreshing” your Hero Power, you can do a Turn 9 Combo of MurKnight > PallyToken > Finley > Discovered Power to end up with two MurKnight summons in a single turn.

The combo can even be achieved as early as turn 5 if you manage to keep a 3-4 Murloc Knight completely unanswered on Turn 4 which is such a HUGE tempo swing in your favour since there’s very little that can do to respond to that much of a board state that early.

ANYFING can bring back dead MurKnights, but the fact the spell costs 10 mana means you can’t actually activate Hero Power on that turn. Since it normally costs 2 mana… however if you use a Fencing Coach beforehand, that hero power CAN be free and combo’d In that same turn.

Adding in Fencing Coach would also give me the benefit of a smooth Turn 3-4 play curve of T3 Coach > T4 Knight + Power if I was playing aggressively.

Fencing Coach

“I am the Dancing Murloc!”

 

Put Your Faith In Version 2.0

Essentially the tweaked version of the deck had 3 core goals:

  • Improve early game with more ‘traditional’ Mid-Range Paladin shell… change Secrets layout… add in Dr. Boom because he’s always huge ass value any turn of the game.
  • Figure out what Murlocs actually WORK with your endgame finisher spell, cull anything that doesn’t have immediate threat/impact in early game or late game with EllieGouldingBomb
  • Add in Fencing Coaches for their potential synergies

Version 2 is below with the gradual tweaks and iterative changes I’ve made so far. Its definitely far from complete and I’m still not entirely sure if it’s a viable deck archetype, but the iteration process itself has been an interesting experience /test of my actual ability to craft a deck.

I’ll probably end up jumping back on the bandwagon of whatever the top tier decks are once the meta settles… maybe it’ll be Pally-Locs

Anyfin Paladin 2.0.png

 

 


SXC 2k14 Day 2: Or That Time Weng Beat Everyone At Stuff

(I normally would blog in day-by-day chronological order, but I feel like Sunday’s events are probably worth re-telling more than “I saw Ben Folds and gypped myself by flying Business Class on a Shorthaul Flight)

So Saturday was a pretty mediocre day. I went 0-2 in Project M Singles (largely expected), Marvel and BlazBlue (also kind of expected, but I had hopes of being a fraud gatekeeper in both). On the other hand, I did fairly well in KOF and Super Turbo (before I DQ’d myself since I was about to get DQ’d from Project M).

Sunday was GGXrd, Ultra SF4, PM Doubles and Third Strike day. The day started with the horrible realization that Adelaide shuts down on a Sunday, what with being the City of Churches and all. Very few cafes or food places were open at all.

I went to one of the few cafes I could find that was open, in a food court somewhere and ordered a takeaway coffee and a takeaway of some kind of vegetarian butternut pumpkin, feta cheese, some-sort-of-nut “piadina” which is apparently what Adelaide people call a “Pita” (just like they call a kebabs yiros and they serve Schnitzels everywhere.)

Adelaide is weird.

Then this happened. I don’t really want to describe this in any more detail.

Adelaideplz

So we got to the venue, eventually my Street Fighter pool happened. Luke was in Blazblue finals at the time as well. Nothing of great interest happened here… Then some guy came up and was like “Hey, Project M doubles are happening and if you don’t come soon you’ll get DQed”.. meanwhile Luke and I were doing it way too big in our respective games, but fortunately we lost and we trudged to the other side of the building.

Luke and I play Project M doubles as Weng + The Whiteman, and we basically have anti-synergy since I play Charizard, who is a slow character with a huge hitbox who throws out stupidly large normals that control half a stage – while Luke plays Captain Falcon who is all about running around trying to knee people… and since Friendly Fire is on in Doubles, we spend most of our games hitting each other with our respective normals.

We normally do terribly. In fact, prior to SXC I don’t think we’d ever won a tournament game, let alone a set in Perth.

I’d been slowly trying to pick up Wolf, who is more of a technical character, but who also throws slow-moving lasers at people and doesn’t have half-stage covering normals. So considering I couldn’t do any of the super technical crap I just threw lasers and large (but not screen filling) normals.

We got to the Smash area and then were told that apparently they’d forgotten to put us in the bracket, and since they’d already gone a little while into Winners they could drop us straight into Losers. Sure, whatever. We had no aspirations to win or anything anyhow.

It turns out Wolf/Falcon actually have some degree of synergy since all of Wolf’s stuff launches upward which sets up for #FalconKneeHype. So all I had to do was jump around, try not to get hit, throw lasers at people and occasionally hit people upwards and then Luke would hopefully do the rest.

Like Volleyball, I just had to set the ball up and Luke would do the Spiking or whatever.

At some point we even did something super cool where Luke got hit off stage, I shot a laser at the other guy trying to edge guard him (which he had to block) which allowed for a Falcon up-B unblockable grab setup.

Then I realized we weren’t actually losing and we were kind of almost dead even in terms of Stocks Remaining… it ended up with Luke against 2 of them, one on extremely high % and the other one almost completely fresh.

At that point, I think I popped off and yelled “YOUR TIME IS NOW LUKE! YOU’RE JOHN CENA” and started doing the “Da-Dada-Daaaaaaaah” of the John Cena theme (in a capella). Then Luke bopped the one guy on high health, and it was down to a 1v1 #realmatch.

Luke managed to clutch it out and we popped off ultra hard. Orin from QLD, Chappos from WA and anyone else in that room can attest to that fact. #FGCHypeTrain is too real some times.

The next game went much like the first, except we actually had set the 2v1 up before I accidentally suicided trying to do Wolf’s side-B HAM Elbow and failed… then Luke died and it was down to me to not choke and fail miserably.

It was awful and probably the single most stressful moment of the weekend.. then it was my turn to pull the John Cena tech and I #RoseAboveHate and #HustleLoyaltyDownSmashed my way to knock the other guy off the stage and win the game.

The subsequent popoff was ridiculous. Then some of the Smash people were like “Yo was that like friendlies (they don’t call them “casuals”, so they sometimes get confused or offended if you use that term) cause we heard a bunch of yelling and like singing and stuff” and then I’m sure one of us yelled something about #FGCHypeTrain, #PERFFFFFFFFFFFF and #WengAndTheWhitemaaaaaaaan #WHITEMAAAAAAAN.

We lost our next game, but whatever.

We won our first tournament set, popped off about it absurdly hard. We did what we sought to do.

As far as I’m concerned we went 1-1 and we were never really eliminated from that tournament so the Legend of W+tWM never died.

We hung around the Smash area for a while after and played some PM “friendlies” with Orin from QLD (and apparently we showed him the light of PM being the superior to Smash 4 with our distinctive brand of HYPETRAIN, so we did a good deed that day) until we got told that we had to come up for Guilty Gear Xrd, or we’d end up getting disqualified.

GGXrd aka the Birth of the #RainbowSerpent Meta

So Luke and I rushed back up to Guilty Gear only to be told “Oh, Weng you and Luke are playing first round”. Wait where’s the region seeding? Why are we playing first round at all?

This is one of the main reasons why I think TIO is a superior program for tournament organizing than Challonge. In TIO this could be resolved by just drag-dropping and swapping names around, in Challonge everything is a massive headache. Oh well, shit happens. Day 4 Free Entry Launch Tournament, can’t hate that much.

Its always interesting to see how other people perceive your stories. And it just so happened that I was dedicated a whole paragraph in Pichy’s SXC Blog:

The greatest upset of all was Weng though. The guy’s one of those “pretty solid” players who goes to every major because he likes to hang out. He usually loses to the other Perth guys whenever they fire up GG. Last year I had a great Loser’s Final with him in +R. I’d thought he was already eliminated and thus gone over everything I could about how to beat Justice as Potemkin, then had to work around it all when Nerk called us up to play. Anyway, he just went with Ky this time as he thought the new 5D animation was a hella hype “raise the roof!”

He got second.

This is a very interesting example of the power of stray hits in GG. Just catching people with far range slashes and swatting them whenever they’re in the air can rack up pretty hard. Nerk at some point remarked about grand finals: “I thought I was dominating him, but then I looked at my health and like half of it had just kinda disappeared when I wasn’t looking.”

Weng Factor is real. Don’t trust that man.

So l already decided weeks (months?) ago that I’d be playing Ky in Xrd. I enjoy playing “boring”, “uninteresting”, “solid” characters. And who is more Vanilla than Guilty Gear’s Ryu?

My only experience with Xrd Ky was doing the first like 21 Trial Mode combos for Ky. It took me much longer than it should have since (like Pichy said) I realized that his 5D animation was a “hella hype RAISE THE ROOOF” – which is totally true, he like turns to the camera raises one of his hands up and totally pops off.

He’s totally raising the roof.

So instead of “doing trials” I had brief moments where I just spent like 30 seconds mashing D and getting hype about it. Anyway, after finding out that Ky’s D is super fabulous, and he has an Overhead Rainbow Sword (that’s safe, if it hits with #JustTheTip) and his D move also create Glory Holes (that are actually called Grindrs) where if you throw a fireball through them they get super-powered up, I was well on board the Ultra-Fabulous Yaoi Power Ky train.

I’d played a total of 5 games of GG casuals against the Perth guys late on Friday night, won them all and then said “fuck this, I’m eating my Yiros and going to sleep”.

Luke ended up beating me in my first game and I realized I was going to have a long ass climb if I wanted to “defend” my third place “Medal Club” position from the year before. But it turns out that losing at that stage was really a huge blessing in disguise.

My first losers bracket game was against Heretic aka Scott the SXC Stream Wizard. He was as inexperienced as I was, so I had a lot of time to try and piece together a gameplan and various mixups and how to actually use my normals and things properly. My overall gameplan was fairly straight forward, control space with big normals + fireballs, throw DPs and “random” supers in places where I thought they’d hit. It worked disgustingly well.

Scott and I actually had a DANGERTIME moment which is some weird new mechanic where, randomly, if two moves clash the game starts a countdown timer and enters a period where everything is a counter hit and does every damage or something. We didn’t know what was happened so we were like “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT~!!!! AHHHHH AHHHHHHH” then some nerd behind us explained it to us while we were still both yelling “AHHHH AHHHH HAM DANGER YOLO FAHK”.

Or maybe it was just me yelling, I don’t know. I do yell a lot.

The next game was against Mooseking, who being in TO mode, was probably sleep deprived and not in game state, so again the RAINBOWSERPENT gameplan kept getting hatched in my head and I got a bunch more actual game time to finetune my unique brand of dumb.

The next match was against AwakenedBeing from Sydney who bopped me the day before in Blazblue, but was playing a super technical weird-mechanics character in a Day 4 tournament (without having a grasp of those mechanics). Repetitive Rainbow Serpent Overhead into Block_RainbowSerpent_Backdash_DP also worked ridiculously well here too, and I was eventually making a fine art out of it.

Then I started mixing it up by intentionally whiffing rainbow serpents and buffering in DP for if they tried to whiff punish from too far away… or throwing out half-screen slides as they’d been so conditioned that there’d be a RAINBOW SERPENT incoming.

At this point, I think I’d probably played more tournament matches of Xrd than I’d played of casuals ever. And as I looked at the bracket (since I was running between Xrd and 3rd Strike and was bottlenecking the bracket super hard), I realized I’d have to go and Teamkill Alex and Luke if I wanted to get any further in the tournament.

They were playing Ramlethal/Zato respectively, both ultra-technical nerd characters, and I’d figured out a few dumb basic mixups over the course of my losers bracket run so I managed to win both games which put me into Top 6. At this point someone mentioned I was one game away from Top 4, and then another game away from a Top 3 repeat.

My next game was against Nedjoe who was playing I-No another nerd-character, Rainbow Serpents and DPs happened. It was glorious. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but I think at some point around here (after winning ANOTHER game with Rainbow Serpents), I yelled “They call me the Rainbow Serpent!”

Then Mooseking who was around said “Fuck off Weng, no-one calls you the Rainbow Serpent. You aren’t the creator of life in Aboriginal mythology. Stop saying people call you names that no-one calls you.” Then Fireryda from Sydney who happened to be around yelled “YEAHHH~!!!! LETS GO ATB|RainbowSerpent; LOBSTER META OIOIMOI” or words to that effect.

Anyway… there was a lot of yelling from a lot of people.

I was now sitting in Losers Semis waiting for the winner of UndyingMage/Rob and Falco. I was kind of secretly hoping that Rob would win since Falco had bopped me in so many other games over so many other tournaments, and his overall fundamentals are better than mine so I probably wouldn’t be able to fraud DP him as well as I did other people.

I ended up getting my wish and Rob ended up winning. So here I was, one game away from a Medal Club repeat (except this year, there were no medals). Top 4 of GGXrd was meant to be streamed, but because there were delays in Smash it ended up canned which was kind of a blow.

To use another wrestling analogy, it was like CM Punk getting screwed out of his Wrestlemania Main Event again. Just like how every single time I ever make Top 8 for KOF its only Top 4 that gets Sunday time. But regardless, we were late enough in the tournament that even though we were huddled in an upstairs side-room recording setup, people were cramping in and around to try and see stuff.

Rob was playing May, a character who I knew had weird Blanka-style rolls (except she rides Dolphins). I didn’t really know much else.

I won game 1, then in game 2 we got a Double KO at 1-round a piece and I’m sure I yelled “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENS NOW!?” only to find out that the game decides to just re-do that round instead of rewarding a game each… to which I replied “FUCK. I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS SHIT AGAIN!” (I’m not very PG in tournament hype popoff mode). Then that round went to timeout, with bars looking almost exactly even… luckily I ended up winning that round.

I think I slumped back in my chair put my stick down popped off extremely hard at this point. I could be wrong, but from what I remember, I stood up, did the Daniel Bryan “YES!!!!” a few times then did the “TOP THREE!!! FUCK YOU ROB!!!!…. sorry I didn’t mean fuck you, I’m sorry, I got too hype” popoff that I did on Derrace once after I won a FT5 KOF13 set.

I’d hit 3rd place, at minimum, and losers finals. People wandered about the room, saw I was sitting there and went “How much is left to go in tournament?” “Losers Finals” “WTF, WENG is in Losers finals!?”. Yes. I was. Hold Dat L, everyone else.

So my opponent was Javi from Melbourne, I introduced myself and said “Sorry, I won’t tell you to fuck off” and he replied with something like “Do not worry. I will win.”

He picked Millia Rage which was kind of extremely fortunate on my part. I don’t know what half the characters in the Guilty Gear series actually do or what they’re capable of. But Millia I spent like 2 weeks trying to learn back in GG XXACP+R or whatever dumb acronym it had, before giving up because she was too much effort/execution and I was too lazy.

What that did vaguely give me was an understanding of how she functioned and her various high/low/throw-the-big-hula-hoop-on-top-of-you setups.

The rounds ended up being extremely one-sided either way, either I got Millia-HAM-Vortex’d or I managed to block/DP my way through it and slapped him with normals and overheads all day.

Then DANGERTIME happened. The crowd got all crazy-hype; I yelled “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SHIT!?” and, to quote New Romantics by Taylor Swift 

We’re so young. We’re on the road to ruin.

We play dumb. We know EXACTLY what we’re doing.

As I feigned total ignorance, I knew that My Time Is Now and that I needed to HAM it up like John Cena. Eventually after that DANGERTIME ROUND, I was 2-0 up, the crowd kept getting hype every time I threw an overhead, or overhead/DP (and there were a LOT of those).

I ended up having the phrase #MentalGuardbreak coined after me at the Buttonsmash tournament in Brisbane earlier that year, because I managed to completely break down after having a huge lead in a first-to-5 set, then end up losing it 5-4. But I could vaguely feel the mental tension was on my side at this point.

I then decided to go to ultimate disrespect mode and use some tech that I’d learnt from Street Fighter 4. Basically, there’s a Perth player from Hong Kong called Tommy who is absurdly good and plays Sagat.

Occasionally, in casuals, he’d call out moves before he did them… “Fireball. Fireball. Uppercut. Throw!” and they’d hit more often than not, because you’d have that cognitive dissonance between “Is he REALLY telling me what he’s doing? Or is he lying and trying to fake me out or something?”

Basically, it gives the other person a bunch more information to process, and in an already tense situation I felt it’d probably work out. So it began. “Overhead. Overhead. Overheaaaad. Uppercut. Knockdowwwwwn… Squiggle-Step… Throwwww… Neutral Jump…” Round 1 ended up in the bag. Then I glanced over and said “Bro, watch your toes.”

Round 2 began. I opened the round with a low slide. It hit. #MentalGuardbreak totally happened and for once I wasn’t the victim of it. After losing 2-1 to Luke in Round 1 Winners, I’d managed to get all the way through losers bracket without dropping a single game.

Which brought me to Grand Finals against Nerk, SA’s resident anime king who bopped me the previous year in Guilty Gear casuals. He was playing Sol, so it was Sol/Ky canon Ryu v Ken final. Totally appropriate for a launch tournament.

At this point I had nothing to lose or play for per se, and he was the only person in the tournament that actually worked around or tried to bait any of my DPs (by doing a bunch of Yellow Roman Cancel fake offense).

There was a bunch of yelling and shit-talk mid game as per the norm with the SA/WA sort-of-anime rivalry. I landed an Overhead à Uppercut thing on Nerk and said “Bro, come on, you’re better than that. I’ve been doing that all day.” Then  he pulled the same on me and said the same line, and I snapped back “No I’m not, I’m a scrub, dawg.”

I won game 1, Nerk won game 2 and someone in the background said “Aww the Weng Fanclub is awfully quiet now” and as I mashed rematch I yelled “I AM THE WENG FAN CLUB~!!!!” I lost 3-1, but ultimately the best player won and I couldn’t be all that upset.

In fact, I had a cheesy shit-eating grin that lasted the rest of the day.

Hold Dat L.

ATB|RainbowSerpent.


Project Beng: We Came To Smash

A fighting gamer’s journey in to the realm of competitive Smash-platforming”

I figured the blog title would just look messy with that much in the title, so I decided to put it as an obnoxious by-line. I know, I’m a terrible writer. Lets move on from that.

Smash Brothers has never been a series that I’ve had much of a history with. I played Smash 64 and Melee as a kid, but I didn’t live anywhere near any of my friends, so I only really played through the Arcade and Event challenge modes.

(Forever) Alone.

The entire concept of “Competitive Smash” is something I have/had very little comprehension of.

In contrast to my complete novicedom in Smash, I have a long history with “traditional” fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken. I ended up getting into  fighting games around 2006, when I started playing games like Street Fighter Alpha 3, Third Strike, Super Turbo and X-Men vs Street Fighter online via MAME emulators, on a keyboard.

When Street Fighter 4 revitalized the fighting game scene, waaaay back in 2009 (I feel really old now, reliving all this history), and there started being regular events and tournaments being organized, I jumped right into the newly-formed Fighting Game Community. From SF4, to the MVC3 series, to Blazblue, to the King of Fighters, I played everything. I was a self-described multi-game whore. Every time I traveled interstate to tournaments, I’m sure I was that one guy that gave organisers headaches by being entered into like 5 different tournaments.

Some games I was fairly good at, there was a period where I basically won every single Perth tournament for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 for a solid 8 months, and supposedly “killed the scene” by playing an ultra-lame zoning team. Other games, I knew some character specific gimmicks for, but very little else, like Tekken.

There’s often a lot of shit talk and general elitist derision about Smash Brothers from the FGC:

“Its not a reaaaal fighting game”

“Its just a casual party game, special moves are one button lolol BBBBBBBBBB lol Mew2King is a massive scumbag and hes the face of ur community lel”

I was entirely guilty of that myself at some points. Salty Pete, who was a Smash player that jumped into the Perth FGC, at one point was talking about Brawl tournaments that he organized where “Top 8 Gets Cake” was a thing.

That subsequently became a running injoke that:

“Top 8 Gets Cake. Everyone Else Gets Fairy Bread. lolol Kidz Party Game”.

Prerequisite Fox v Fox gag

Despite my trolling, I did sort of feel there must be something to competitive Smash.

When the Perth Marvel scene was at its peak, the top 2 Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 players in Perth, Trav and Alister, were both Smash players.

When I went to Shadowloo Showdown in Melbourne last year, Bubblan, a top player from Sweden was talking about how one of his main training partners in UMVC3 and KOF13 was a top-level Smash player called Leffen who’d been banned from local events for apparently keeping it too real and being a massive jerk or something. And apparently he got extremely good at both games (which are extremely technical fighting games) very quickly.

So whether it’s just a work ethic, ability to understand game mechanics, “winning mentality” or something else entirely, there was definitely something there.

Do you believe in RN-Jesus?

I play Hearthstone, there is so much RNG in that game that you need a little RN-Jesus/Heart of the Cards to pull a win out of the hat sometimes. Sometimes RN-Jesus is merciful. Sometimes he’s a massive jerk. But you learn to appreciate those moments where he’s telling you “This is your time, dawg.”

I ended up getting into Project M by random accident/fate/RN-Jesus Intervention. I happened to be at an Ultra SF4 tournament at Game City, where there were also some Project M setups.

I’d pulled the old excuse line of:
“Naaah I don’t want to get into [Current Gen Version of Game], I’ll wait till [NEXT-GEN GAME] comes out”.

Which I know, after seeing it occur from the other side with Guilty Gear and numerous other fighting games, absolutely never happens. That or people get into it then subsequently quit when they get bopped by the people that have been playing it forever.

But it was cramped, I was standing around not doing anything, and there was a spare seat at a Project M setup where Alister said I should play casuals.

I believe my exact quote was:
Fine, but I’m Randoming, and I’m going to end up playing whatever lame ass character it lands on.”

RN-Jesus Happens.

I end up landing on Wolf.

The Space Dog. He has a scouter, and a pew pew ray gun/slow moving projectile he can follow behind for pressure. He has crazy long range on some of his moves. If you were to like draw up a template of what a “Weng Character” in a fighting game constitutes they’d have many of these tools.

Also in Project M he has a custom mod costume where he has an eyepatch and is basically Sagat.

The super brief mechanics tutorial Alister gave me (or what I remember of it) ended up making my head hurt a little bit. In terms of what I remember from it, it went something like this:

“So… you have tilt normals, Smash normals. Your B is a slow projectile that you can like use to start offense behind. So what you want to do is like run at them do a Short Hop. Yeah. Like KOF you have different jump heights and stuff… So Short-Hop Laser No you want forward momentum to go with it, so you want to do a Running Short Hop Laser. 

Oh, yeah, so you pressed his Side + B while holding forward to run when doing that, so you did that flying headbutt and ended up killing yourself. You need to like dash + forward, then go to neutral then press B OR YOU DIE AND KILL YOURSELF.

Ok. So like do you know about L-Cancelling? No? So as you land from a jumping normal you have to like press shield just as you land… you can’t mash it or it locks you out… and you have to do that to cancel the landing recovery frames of your air attacks.

So yeah, you can also Fast-Fall, kinda like Tetris, when you hit the peak of your jump arc… so you can vary your like speed of descent/recover fast from attacks and stuff.

Basically, for a lot of space control you want to be doing (caps for mental emphasis in my own head, he wasn’t actually yelling) ALL THREE THINGS AT ONCE.

So you want to be SHORT-HOP, FASTFALL, L-CANCELLING MOST OF YOUR AIR NORMALS.

[I later found out that apparently there’s an acronym shorthand of that called SHFFL. It amused me.]”

This went on for a while with all the various things I needed to know:

  • The 3/4 different ways I could cancel Shielding
  • Wave Dashing
  • Directional influence
  • Your like 3-4 different options out of grabbing a ledge
  • Sweet Spots/Sour Spots

The list went on forever. Alister and Trav probably mentioned a hundred other things that I probably forgot.

About a month later, and I still can’t do most of these things (though it doesn’t help I don’t have a copy of it at home. I might have to dust off my old Gamecube and try to practice them in Melee)

Day 1 Realization: Smash is not an executionally easy game.

Like if you ever watch a Smash stream on any major fighting game tournament (especially if its before Marvel) you get a tonne of Stream Monsters on both sides shitting on how each game is dumb/for scrubs/stupid/easy. The misconception that “special moves are easy, therefore game = easy” is really a stupid argument.

Supers in Marvel are simpler than in Street Fighter.

Most touch-of-death combos aren’t particularly hard.

But those two things don’t make Marvel an easy game, because much of the technical finesse/differentiation in skill in Marvel comes from a player’s ability to use all of their movement options and tools to control space in order to get that initial hit.

If you picked up UMVC3 and played Magneto for the first time, without knowing how to tri-jump, wavedash, plink airdash or Plink Mag-Blast and so on, you’ll be moving like an absolute slug in comparison to someone like Filipino Champ’s Magneto. To the extent that it looks like you aren’t even playing the same character.

It’s the exact situation with Project M/Melee.

You can do that the motion to do [Magneto/Wolf]’s [Magnetic Blast/Pew Pew Lazer], but can you do the [Plink-Dash FlyCancel/Running ShortHop FastFall] variant of the move that you need to do for it to be an effective offensive tool?

Smash also has the concept of “Sweet Spots” for moves. Where moves do different damage/knockback depending on where in the hitbox you hit them with.

Imagine Ryu’s jumping Medium Kick only did full damage if you hit with the tip of his foot (i.e. like a kick SHOULD work) rather than in the case of landing a crossup where you’re basically kneeing them in the head/tea-bagging them, where it had significantly less hitstun/damage.

Street Fighter 4 players collectively lost their shit because of the Delayed Wakeup Mechanic stopping Hard Knockdowns from resulting in guaranteed setups (heaven forbid there be a real oki/wakeup guessing game!)

In Smash you can directionally influence (DI) the way that your character moves off Every. Single. Hit.

Your character may be able to land an extra hit/do a combo off of a throw, but you’d also have to consider that they may DI left or right slightly. So you’ll possibly still hit with your move, but will you hit with the sweet spot point of the move that will actually do optimal damage?

My main point of this circular journal/rant would be: Someone might have watched the EVO Ultra SF4 grand finals between Louffy and Bonchan and said “That was mad lame, they were just spamming fireballs”, without really understanding the footsies, intricate spacing and mindgames involved by both parties.

Smash, without a doubt, has the same concepts of movement, spacing and mindgames just applied in a different format.

And me starting from absolute zero, to hopefully not-being-a-scrub at Smash Brothers is going to be a long, long, painful journey.

 


Heroes of the Storm (Alpha) – Impressions

The other day, I managed to get a first round Australian Alpha invite to Heroes of the Storm, the Blizzard MOBA.

I finally won something. 

The last time I won a game-of-chance luckbox game was when I was in Primary School and I won a huge Easter Egg in a raffle at the school assembly. I went to pick it up and random people I didn’t know started swarming me trying to get in on MY hard-earned RNG Egg Winnings (I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate, I’m still not, but that’s besides the point. Parasitic Vultures, the lot of them.)

Because I do have dat Exclusive Scoop access, I feel vaguely obliged to post impressions.

I have a decent amount of MOBA experience, on a relatively casual level.  I used to play DotA as a small primary/high school scrub, then got into LoL for a while before playing DotA 2. My main issue with both DotA and LoL is the time-commitment, games can go like 30 minutes and sometimes close to an hour depending how they play out. I don’t like the concept of having to commit to a solid 1 hour chunk of time to play a game. But anyway, forget about circular rants. Game. Talk. Stuff.

Initial System Impressions

I always found when playing a new MOBA there’s the initial immediate jarring difference point. When I first played LoL, I didnt understand that heroes weren’t “Strength, Agility or Intelligence” types. Those stats didn’t exist and there were all these scary brave-new-world concepts like “Ability Power”, “Hiding in the Brush” and “Summoner Skills”.

The System-Shock with HotS was the opposite.

There are no items.

There is no gold.

You start with ALL of your abilities unlocked (except your Ultimate). They all scale with level.

Last hitting is a non-concept.

Experience is global and shared across your team.

“But all these things are MOBA staples, how the crap does this game work without these things?”

It didn’t help that the first thing the game does is drop you into a “My First MOBA” style tutorial, with Jim Raynor as your playable character. My first impression of Raynor was that he is archetype of boring ranged DPS character. Shoots things, long range AOE Q Skillshot (think Caitlyn, or Windrunner). Press W for AOE damage/attack speed buff (think Tristana).

“What’s his E then?” Passive. When you drop below 30% you start healing. Fine. It’s the tutorial. Maybe it gets better. Maybe… A lot of my friends describe Hearthstone as “dumbed down Magic”, and in a lot of ways from my literal first impression I could see this as “Dumbed Down LoL”.

Fortunately when I got out of tutorial hell and into a real game (with Bots, they force you to grind a couple of “Practice with AI games” before they allow you to do versus match making), it got significant more interesting.

The major point of difference with HotS is that it strips away all of those MOBA conventions and is much more of a focus on Global Map Objectives and team fighting. There are 4 different maps that the game randomly selects when you queue for a game, each with a different global objective that is huge in determining the overall momentum of the game.

For example, in one stage there are two shrines on opposite ends of the map that activate a few minutes into the game. They basically serve as a “Stand in this point long enough to claim it” Battlefield style control points. If your team controls both shrines, you can activate a statue in the center of the map to become The Dragon Knight for a period of time. A big ass armored dude that has tonnes of health, does extra damage to buildings and can Shoulderbop people into the horizon.

The strategy, rather than being “Lane Control. Buy items and stuff. One guy on their team is Super Underlevelled, one on ours is Super MVP Fed Guy” then becomes ensuring you have lane control so you can claim the shrine to become the HAM Dragon. Or being able to push the other guy away so you can break off to the other side of the map to try kill the team at their shrine. While it lacks depth in the traditional sense, the fact that “Getting Dragon/Baron/Roshan” is far more frequent and is significantly more important to the overall game is kind of cool.

Games are extremely fast-paced and most games go for like 20-25 minutes tops. So essentially, Blizzard has gone and addressed my whole “I don’t have time to play a full 60-minute-game” concern straight up.

My Mum Says I’m Talented 😦

The other difference is in the levelling system. Rather than unlocking skills and powering them up individually, at certain milestone levels you get a choice of Talents, kind of like in World of Warcraft. You can only pick one talent in each tier so there are lots of forced choices in how you want to build your character for that map/against their character line up.

Generic Ranged DPS Raynor has choices between “+2 Damage per level” or “10% increased damage to structures”. Later on you have a choice between “20% extra attack range + sight radius” or a talent that’s effectively the ability to do Critical hits. When you start, you only have a choice of 2 talents, but when you hit Level 8 out of game (there’s an account levelling system too) it opens up a total of 4 talents to choose from at each talent level that end up being more niche/specialized (e.g. Damage Per Level, Damage to Structure OR your E autoheal heals for 30% more).

Out of Game Level System

Basically stuff unlocks as you level.

The talent system also applies at (ingame) Level 10 when you get your Ultimate ability. You have a choice of 2 that might be functionally quite different. Raynor being Generic Deepz either gets a slow-moving AoE Battleship Bombardment (think Gangplank Ult from LoL, but travels along super slowly in a direction) or the ability to summon 2 Drones that attack as he attacks increasing his DPS in a more direct function.

Uther (who is your basic heal/stun support) chooses between a melee AoE stun or DIVINE SHIIIIELD which makes the target momentarily invincible (think Kayle, think Divine Shield full stop.) So again, in that sense, there’s a little more flexibility than “I’m levelling my skillshot Q for more damage over my easier to land E” style choices in levelling.

Specifically, when you hit L20 and get your final talent, you have to choose between extremely powerful skills. I’ll keep coming back to Generic DPS Raynor, because I guess you can tell a lot about a game by how their Generic Ranged DPS works.

Raynor at 20 has to choose between a chaining ability to his attack (attacks bounce to 2 other targets for 50% each, effectively a 100% on-paper damage boost); a short-ranged teleport ability on a brief cooldown (think Blink Dagger in DotA, or Flash in LoL) OR a significant powerup to whichever Ulti you picked at level 10.

F2P Hero Impressions

Heroes are divided into 4 broad “Class” archetypes: Assassins, Warriors, Support and Specialist. Similar to LoL there’s a Free to Play hero rotation with a mix of these archetypes (specifically, 2 Assassins, 2 Warriors, 1 Support, 1 Specialist).

Your Warriors are essentially your Bruiser/Tank archetypes. Melee, might have disables and things, tanky/beefy but lower damage output than a pure squishy ranged damage dealer. The 2 current F2P Warriors are Tyrael and Elite Tauren Chieftain (E.T.C).

Tyrael is practically a carbon copy of Jarvan from LoL. He throws an AoE Sword out and can teleport to it (Flag + Spear). He has an AoE “Give Shield to Dudes”. One of his ults is basically DEMACIAAA (he flies at them, stuns them, and if you upgrade it you can make it so others cant enter in a circle around the target)

ETC has an AoE charge stun (think Sejuani), a closerange AoE knockback effect thing and Pantheon’s Global Sky Dunk ultimate (which is called Stage Dive, which is a badass name for a Tauren Rockgod).

Assassins are (generally) squishy damage dealers. The 2 F2P ones are our good friend, the French Space Marine, Jacque Renoir. He shoots things. Not much to say.

There’s some other Space Marine Guy on F2P who has a Minigun. Essentially he has shorter range and a much faster attack speed, but he needs to “wind up” his gun before he can start firing. His skill-set is a hybrid between Graves/Corki. His ulti-choice is between becoming a Warhammer 40k style Dreadnaught temporarily or dropping a Laser Tower that attacks enemies and is basically a zone-control/stationary team-fight nightmare if ignored.

Supports vary. They do different things. They support. They don’t do a tonne of damage but are obnoxious. Uther is the F2p Support. He’s basically Taric. Melee dude, sorta-tanky. Has a direct heal. Has a close-range Hammer of Justice stun. Nothing exciting. Supports are lame anyway :p

Specialists – I’ve used the term “point of difference” like 30 times in this post already. But Specialists really are. Because of all the system engine changes that they’ve done, I guess Blizzard could afford to try and make some interesting new archetypes. Like the specialist slot for the current rotation was the one that unlocked at Level 7. The hero that I got at this point was some Zerg Hivemind Slugmonster thingy called Abathur

Google Image Search also tells me Abathur is the most Kawaiidesudesu moe Animu Zerg

Abathur is basically the single coolest idea/concept in HotS and as a character, I can’t really parallel it to any other character very easily.

Basically you’re a walking sandbag. You’re a “Melee Specialist” but you have no health and no damage. Essentially you’re a global puppeteer hivemind type hero. Passively, Abathur summons minions that push the lane closest to it. It also has the ability to drop small poison spore mine things (think Teemo) at a near global (or map-wide global if you have the Talent).

Its main ability makes you a weird symbiotic entity. You target it on another hero or building and you then basically become a “Tower” that sits on that hero. You can then use your other 3 abilities while in that hero to give it a shield, do damage in an AoE around them and you also have a short-cooldown single target skillshot attack. So while you don’t have a physical presence on the map per se, you have the ability to turn tides of minor battles by buffing up one of your dudes.

The fact you function independently of them, means that while they’re chasing/moving you can shoot spikes at the enemy heroes, or while your host is running away you can still do the same, slowly chipping away at the health of the pursuing heroes and giving the opportunity for them to turn around and slap them.

Abathur only has one ult, and it essentially clones the target hero of choice from your team and gives you full control over it and all its abilities. After a brief 15 second period you can also use that character’s ultimate. This essentially means you have a tonne of flexibility. Do you need another tank to bait out the main damage abilities? Clone Tyrael. Do you want more crazy HAM DPS? Clone Jacques Renoir.

Basically Abathur is a total maddog.

There are also a bunch of other super cool/interesting specialist heroes that have relatively unique designs and things but I’ll save those rants for another post.

So yeah, Heroes of the Storm. A very Blizzard-ized MOBA. Definitely has potential, definitely fun. Fills that void of “I like MOBAs, but games take too damn long.”

Add me on ATBwkc#1833 if you want some games.


Meh: An Ultra Street Fighter 4 review-of-sorts.

I haven’t called myself a “Street Fighter 4” player for a very long time.

I played it when it first came out and there were no prefixes or suffixes. It wasn’t Super, or AE, it was SF4. That would have been the last time I’d have directly identified myself as an SF player. Basically, when Street Fighter was the only game that existed with a competitive scene at all.

When Marvel 3 first came out, I gravitated to that, even when SFxT came out, I briefly played that much more than I did SF4 at the time (mainly because Julia was in it, who is my Tekken waifu). I haven’t really been super serious into Street Fighter since probably Super or early AE. Basically I would have said “I’m a Marvel player” or “I’m a KOF player”, if you asked what I’d played any time over the last 2 years probably.

When Super SF4 came out, there insane levels of hype, I wrote a shitty blog post probably on a different long-forgotten blog about scrubby Day 1 character impressions and how cool characters X,Y and Z were. We had meetups at houses, and we formed Team Dudley as we tried to pick up a brand new character and failed to beat a Zangief in casuals. At that point, it was “Fun”.

Ultra SF4 Changelog: “Its Hard For Yun to Get In ™”

So when Ultra SF4 came out recently, I ended up reactivating Xbox Live and getting it a couple of days after release, mainly because Facebook and Twitter was blowing up. People were streaming it and so on.

I decided I’d go back to playing Juri.

I’d had a fun ride with Adon, trolling people with JAGGAKEEEKZ, Overhead Whiffs and RAISIN JUGGA FADC fiddy-fiddys (shoutouts to Muttons, Goomba, HeavyWeapons, Abel-from-QLD, Muttons and co.) but given the nerfs to my Adon gamestyle (namely DP Fiddy Fiddy) I decided to go back to Juri since DWU would be huge for her. I went online and was instantly reminded when I stopped.

Lag makes Juri painful to play. Sudden spike and all of a sudden your perfectly placed/spaced c.MP/HP is early or late and you get kicked in the face for 30% of your life. Or you can’t tech throws because of minor hiccups in your connection. Its just the worst.

Instead of being a small child that was giddy with excitement about new characters, I’d turned into a grumpy old man who wanted all these new strange foreigners to get off his damn lawn. New characters were now “the enemy”. “What is this dumb shit?” “Why can this character do half-screen high-low mixups? This is stupid.” There was no hype.

Then I played casuals offline. Everyone was like “Wowwww Juri’s so goood!!! Its so hard to like keep pressure on with like delayed wake up now!!! Aww this is laaaame.”

Juri hardly changed. She’s fundamentally exactly the same character she was prior. Delayed wakeup just means you can’t do your dumb Throw –> Autopilot Safejump into 5 consecutive frametrap/throw mixups any more.

And maybe that’s my problem with the SF4 series. It has hardly changed. Fundamentally its the same game from 5 years ago, with a couple of new stages and an oversized cast of characters. There’s something like 44 characters now. UMVC3 has 48, but you have 3-character teams in that game so its comparatively not as large of a roster. KOF13 has 36, but again 3 characters per team.

There aren’t 44 local Street Fighter players, and if only one person plays a character you’re going to end up learning a Player Matchup rather than a Character Matchup. Ultra hasn’t brought along a brand new boatload of new players, because essentially it IS just the same game people have been playing for 4 years and by this point people pretty much know whether they like the game or not. And that’s really what makes it completely unexciting.

 


Living in a Tinder Box – It’s Going Down. I’m Yelling __________

Like many things, technology diffusion, or the rate of which people take up new technologies can be plotted on a normal distribution. And I’m seemingly on the late-majority-to-laggard end of the curve.

Apparently there’s some brand new fancy app out called Tinder. It’s not brand new. It’s been out for about 16 months now. It was probably mainstream last year. I’m clearly just ridiculously out of the loop.

Conceptually it’s Hot or Not crossed with a dating app. You see someone’s picture, you Like them or X them out and if they happen to also Like you, it pairs you up and you can begin messaging one-another. Simple enough. It also tells you if the person has shared friends or common interests based off the information from your Facebook profile.

In essence, its probably just another app that provides some free service in exchange for leeching a bunch of information from your Facebook profile and then makes money through the subsequent selling on your interests and preferences. That and supposedly its less of a dating app and more of a Hookup Locator populated by creepy horndog dudes and people who describe themselves as “imma bad bishh n if ur nt DTF [down to ____] dn GTFO”.

Despite knowing that, it interested me. Like a strange 21st century Pandora’s Box of the unknown.

Partly due to sheer curiosity;

Partly “I’m a Psychologist. I’m fascinated with human behaviour. This is just a social experiment… totally a social experiment, #FORSCIENCE”

Partly #THIRST

Who am I kidding? It’s probably 95% #THIRST

So I downloaded it. The opening screen you’re greeted with is a picture of someone. You have their name and age, and if you pry deeper into their profile you can get a few more pictures and information about interests and mutual friends that you have in common. You swipe left or right to accept/reject people and you move on down the conveyor belt of pictures. Its strangely addictive and strangely reflective of the culture of instant gratification that we live in.

In talking to various people about this process I’ve used the terms: feels really really fucking Skynet (which led to a Terminator bot account on Twitter messaging me), ThirstRoulette & “Like a bitch vending machine” (I have a very unique patois depending on situational context)

In hindsight, bitch vending machine is probably not the best way to describe it. It’s more like the greeting card section of a newsagents. You’re presented with the front of a billion and one different cards. Its a sensory overload. Hypothetically, lets say I’m looking for a Happy Birthday card.

If you’re looking for a Happy Birthday card, you aren’t even going to bother looking at a “My Condolences for your Illness Diagnosis” card. Why would you want that? No. Just. No.

Also a card might be really nice but at the same time, completely inappropriate for the circumstances. Like a birthday card that has some extremely hilarious but lewd joke. Except the card is for your grandmother.

But if you find a birthday card, you have to look inside the birthday card to see if its actually what you want. Alternatively, a card is just so well designed that you know you’re probably going to buy it but you just want to see the rest of it.

That’s pretty much the exact same approach I’ve used in my Tinder Yes/No process.

Ugly people –> “My Condolences for your Illness Diagnosis” –> Insta-No, no consideration

“Conventionally attractive” people (aka badbitchezWIFFdukfce#yolo#STDtf) –> Circumstantially inappropriate

The Maybes are like the cards that have the start of a message on the front and you need to see the rest of it. In humanoid Tinder-form these are represented by people who run the 50/50 Here’s a Picture of Me + My Attractive Friend mixup. You need to dig deeper to try and figure out what the rest of the card message is and whether they’re the hot one, or the unhot one and if they are the unhot one whether you’ll settle and throw out that Like anyway.

There’s been at least one person who’s run the Ultimate 50/50 setplay where every single one of their profile photos was Hot Friend + 1 and you couldn’t tell who was who.

It really brings out the insanely shallow vanity-obsessed beast within.

Conceptually, the thing I’ve found strangest is the Shared Mutual Interests. It’s based entirely off of Facebook pages that you both have Liked.Lets roll with the assumption that its meant to be a dating site. Knowing people’s mutual interests are great! You know things you have in common and can use that as a Launchpad for whatever conversations you want to subsequently have.

You’re into WWE, Anderson Silva, Stupid Sexy Flanders, Community, Marvel, Taylor Swift AND Hans Moleman!? I’m sorry, I don’t just want to Like you I think I probably want to propose marriage.

Then you end up with people who end up with really inane mutual interests like Rekorderlig Cider and “Perth WA Revenue Raisers Alert”

“So hey… I heard you like overpriced cider (that I only liked the page of for a contest) and knowing speed camera and booze bus locations… we’re totally going to get along and connect on a deep and meaningful level. Yo where do you live? Thornlie? You better watch out for the intersection of North Lake and Canning Highway then.”

So as any half-way decent competitive gamer would do, now that I had my vague understanding of the metagame, I attempted to copy it. I made my profile. Found a photo of me + more attractive friend to use as a profile picture (though it stops being a 50/50 mixup when they’re white, you have an ultra-Asian name and you’re the Asian in the photo). Threw together a pretentious quote for my About Me section (which was imported from Facebook and was the line: It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times).

I still need to add my “insta: 420sxcchick6969/snapchat: XOXOsupamoistXOXO” line.

 


Shadowloo Showdown 2013 Recap – Day [EVERYTHING ELSE]

So I’ve kind of hit this point where it’s been so long since the events (and frankly that first landing experience in Part 1 was the most notably exciting part of the blog) and everything else is all just kind of injoke-y stuff that wouldn’t make sense anyway. Also, Southern Cross Championship is happening THIS WEEKEND in Adelaide. And I don’t want to not have this done by then. So this is going to go from story-mode to short ass dotpoint mode… except when it’s still me writing far too many words for all of this.

So Last Time On Day 0. I’ve not died in a taxi. I’ve booked the wrong hotel then booked a hella baller hotel. Then I went on some long absurd walk around Melbourne for hours.

DAY 0 (Continued)

We got to J-Fizz’s apartment (in fact everyone there had a J-sound name, Javed, Gerry, Jay and eventually George). I played a few games before collapsing on their couch and drinking tap water while watching Alister play Jay for most of it. At this point Alister declared he had his second wind. I was still tired as fuck.

When we did eventually decide to walk across the bridge to get lunch at the Crown Casino complex, we saw the Merrywell right at the start – which does American burgers and steaks and so on, and were keen on that… but we then all decided to scout out what else was on the board walk.

So we walked ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BOARDWALK past all the super-expensive restaurants (e.g. Nobu, Rockpool, some Chinese place, Chez Le Super Expensive French) only to decide that we were going to eat at the Merrywell after all. MORE WALKING!!!!!!!!

After that, Alister and I had to leave for the hotel to meet DarkChaotix and finally check in. It was a pretty sweet room. It had 2 Queen beds. And it came with two bottles of wine (though we weren’t sure whether it was part of the mini-bar or included with the package). At this point I felt like I needed a nap but we all finally showered, brushed teeth etc then decided we had our THIRD WIND (the worst illusion of all) and would head straight to Shadowloo HQ.

I did the usual “Say Hello To Everyone” rounds that you always end up doing at majors. I had a million people going “WHAT THE FUCK WENG!? HOW THE FUCK DID YOU BOOK THE WRONG FUCKING ROOM” during this period, after my initial Facebook post. Fahhhk 😦

Stekoh and Alex (also from Perth, but who came separately) were already here and playing casuals/hanging around already. Stekoh had been here since the start of the week and was going HAM on Street Fighter all week and had got sets in against Luffy and others in that time and seemed to really be enjoying himself.

  • The Shadowloo HQ venue is really nice. It’s in a warehouse in what looks like an industrial district of Melbourne (think Osbourne Park if you’re from Perth) which they’ve converted. I didn’t take pictures. I was too damn tired for that. They have this like ‘stream setup’ up the front with all these really sweet comfy leather chairs. Mago was KO’d on one of them.

 

  • I played a KOF set on stream against Colin. I got bopped. It was awful. I was so tired. I didn’t play many casuals that night, I was far too steamed from the lack of sleep. I vaguely remember having a conversation with Muttons while sitting down watching Ranmasanma bopping dudes on stream.
  • He kept popping off after every time Haggar did something while I had this incredible look of boredom and unimpressedness on my face”. Half of that was the fact I’d seen many of those Haggar setups before because Hobobloke/Trav does many of them, so it’s not as insanely impressive when you know what’s happening to some extent… The other half of it was the fact I was literally microsleeping during that conversation and would zone in and out of consciousness. By this point I think I’d been up close to probably 36 hours, and while Alister was smart enough to sleep in all the taxis we took, I had to be awake the whole time since I was in the front-seat.

 

We eventually had dinner with Marthicus from Melbourne who took us to this fancy pizza place (and also gave us a lift to the train station too, thanks!), we all wanted to order something different and share but we somehow ended up ordering two Lamb Souvlaki pizzas. This wasn’t a bad thing at all, since they were AMAZING.

We got there seconds before the last train to the city left. We ran straight on through without buying a ticket (since you needed that stupid card to buy a ticket officially) and in my sleep deprived state, after someone mentioned “Yeah I saw an inspector on this trainline earlier this week” I had a small heart attack every single time we stopped at another station. The last thing I needed was a stupid fine.

After we got to the city, I bought a train card, just to save any potential issues down the track and on the walk back to the hotel, Stekoh decided to go get a “Free Tea and Coffee” from a stall just outside the train station. Little did we know that it was actually like an Asian church group doing that Street Missionary thing they normally do on a Friday night. So Stekoh got a coffee and talked to some Asian girl while the rest of us got accosted by some Korean guy trying to talk to us about Jesus Christ – our Lord and Saviour in broken English.

At that point, I decided I couldn’t handle it and opted to go walk back to the hotel alone instead of taking the tram or whatever they planned on doing. I enjoy “people-watching” and wandering alone through cities, so I did that. I walked past a bunch of nerds lining up for something and then realized it was the midnight launch for Pokemon X and Y. As well as your usual array of crazy drunk people. Then in collapsed in bed and apparently sleep-talked to everyone as they came in the room without realizing. And finally Friday was over. And finally I got sleep ready to be completely average at a tournament the next day.

Day 1 – Saturday – POOLS DAY

Alister was meant to get up super early to go play Melee, but since he’d been up till god-knows-when o’clock playing AE with Stekoh in our room he definitely didn’t make it. We got there just in time for KOF to start which was the first thing I had to actually physically be there for.

KOF13

  • This was the game I was hoping most to do well/decently in. Prior to SS I’d mainly been playing KOF and Marvel. Everything else was kind of a secondary/barely there game.
  • I ended up in Pool C – which was the ABSOLUTE POOL OF FREAKING DEATH. While every pool was stacked, this one was particularly so with: Colonov, Bubblan from Sweden, Huoshen from the US, Dixon from Singapore as well as Nerk and Burnout.
  • My first match was against Bubblan who made this combo video prior to coming to SS. He was running Kim/Benimaru/Ash… first game was a complete Kim OCV with me barely getting anything in.
  • Second game, I managed to kill Kim which meant I had to deal with Beni. I remember very little else of what happened other than the fact he landed the lightning loop infinite on me and it was very quick and brutal.
  • At this point, I assumed my next game would be softer, I mean SURELY it had to be less painful that that…
  • Sadly I was wrong, I ended up playing DJHuoshen, who’d lost to Nerk from South Australia in the first round. He was probably in Losers Bracket Hate Salt Mode at this point.
  • First round we were probably both far more respectful that we should have been. It ended up being a Kula v Ryo timeout that he won slightly, then eventually Kula died shortly after and his second character (I THINK it was Shen?) proceeded to mop up everything in his path… the next game was similarly one sided.

And like that. I went 0-2. I was a little bit crushed, but that kind of pushed me to try and do better next month (i.e. now about 3 days away!) in Adelaide… where I DEFINITELY won’t get 2 international players in the first two rounds. I’ll probably still end up choking and going 0-2 somehow. It always ends up that the games I “care” about are the ones I bomb out in somehow.

Ever since I lost to Ero Oyaji to a super close 2-1 set at OHN in February 2013, then didn’t take a breather afterward ran head long into my next game then lost 2-0 to Tom from Queensland (who is definitely pretty good at KOF, but also probably not as good as Ero is/was), I’m assuming I have a KOF curse that I’ll have to dispel.

ULTIMATE MARVEL VS CAPCOM 

So the next game up at this point was Marvel. My last Marvel tournament I travelled to was South East Asia Major where I managed to get Top 16 before losing to CTRL.Trix (prior to his CTRL sponsorship) 3-2. I’d been playing Morrigan/Doom/Vergil at that time. While at Tough Cookie Gaming Center, and also at the hotel room since we were staying in the same place, Tri and I played a lot of casuals. He was running a Morrigan/Doom/Dog team and when I eventually got back from Singapore I thought I’d try that team out because I’ve always loved the Doom-Dog shell and the FAHHLOW MILEY~!!! THC madness. J-Fizz called it the Two Button Delicious when we played casuals and that name for it has stuck ever since.

So for Shadowloo Showdown I was running the Tri Team of MorridoomDog. My pool for Marvel was infinitely LESS stacked than my KOF bracket. In terms of names I recognized, I had:

  • Ranmasanma (US)
  • Mago (JP)
  • BunJovi (Melbourne)

And assuming I could get past at least 2 of those I could definitely make it through pools. SS really did end up mirroring SEA in a lot of ways. My execution was off the whole time. My Morrigan was straight up trash-tier the whole time, but regardless of that fact, most of the people I played were playing weird oldschool, suboptimized teams and had seemingly 0 Morrigan experience.

On the Beyond the Hype stream that Colin and Baxter did from Singapore, when I was talking mad shit, I think I described south-east Asian Marvel as having a “third world metagame, even though its not a third world country” in that they were still running DARK WESSSKERR~!!! and so many people played characters like Nemesis, CapAm and Chun-Li.

The first few games I played were definitely against Third World teams that didn’t have much of a way to deal with Morridoom. I just auto-piloted flew around, threw fireballs for ages and waited for them to fuck up.

So I won a couple of games, and ended up playing against a top US player (Justin Wong at SEA, Ranmasanma at SS) and got completely steamrolled. Ranma’s Haggar had his pre-round setplays down to a fine art and caught me with it the first two games. Game 1 I NEARLY frauded him out with XF3 CRAAAACK DAWWWG~!!!!!!! to the extent that he changed his meta game from Kill Straight Through In Order to Kill Morrigan, Snap Doom, Kill Dog… then in the third game I think he realized my Morrigan that day was complete trash tier mode and he SNAPPED ON MORRIGAN to kill CrAAACAKKKK DAAAWWWG~!!!!!!

I did slightly better against Ranma that I did against JWong. I didn’t get a character against Wong and barely got a chance to move, at least against Ranma I got Haggar a few times, then got slapped by Dorm (who I definitely lacked matchup experience for since no-one in Perth actually plays him. I got hit by every single incoming mixup since I had no idea what they actually entailed or how to defend them).

In losers bracket, the next person I played was mauling me in Game 1 and hadn’t even lost a character. In SEA they screwed up a blockstring, then I Dark Vergil’d on a pixel of health and made a full reverse OCV… at SS for whatever reason Doom was the only guy left and he managed to avoid most of XF3 Doom’s HAMTIME… but eventually a Footdive or a Random Ass Airgrab happened and I got a character. Then another… then his 3rd (I think it was Doom mirror) got away slightly. While I’m not the best Doom in the world I’ve played the Doom mirror so many times that I was pretty comfortable with it and I somehow got an abare stray hit and converted to a full combo (with 3 bars)… so I decided to pull out my best “Psychopathological Empathy” as described in the previous article and put myself in that guy’s shoes.

“What the fuck? I was just blowing this guy up and now I’ve throw this round away goddamn it I’m 1-0 DOWN instead of being 1-0 up. SHIT GODDAMN IT!!! Oh well, move on to game 2.”

So being a massive scumbag (I had the Pikachoe hat on. It brings out Shin Weng/Weng From the Darkest Timeline), I teabagged him immediately prior to doing the L3 super for the kill. #SCUMBAGMOVES.

While it was a jerk move, it clearly threw him off since the next two games were FRAAAAY~!!!!!!!! I feel justified in my actions. Sorry, bro (my generic statement since I honestly can’t remember what he looked like, his game handle OR his team). Hold Dat L.

So in Singapore at this point, I had a Nail-Biting Game Versus a Top Tier Zero/Vergil Team. In Singapore it was a 3-2 victory in my favour and it put me into Top 16. At SS, it was against Mago(!) who was playing Zero/Doom/Vergil. I owe a lot of what subsequently happened here to Alister. Because he’s been playing Zero (and he’s damn good at Zero too) I had a lot of matchup familiarity. The fact he picked up Vergil recently also meant I had a LITTLE bit of practice against Dark Vergil. I also hugely underestimated the power of just having someone behind you on your side telling you to just keep calm or that everything is alright.

The fact I had Alister behind me reassuring me shit was going fine, was a huge help in that situation. It was pretty apparently Mago was inexperienced since his Zero movement was pretty average. If he got a touch he did have combos, but he didn’t tend to get that touch very often. I ended up being in the absolute zone for that game and was blocking Zero and Vergil mixups at a far higher percentage than I usually ever do. The fact I played Doom/Dog and had the fraudulence of the 2 Button Delicious was also a huge boost since I’m guessing Mago hadn’t had much experience blocking that or knowing how to not get caught in neutral with it. I ended up with a 3-1 victory over the 2D God and had a relatively subdued pop off.

I kind of fist-pumped to myself, threw my stupid Pikachu hat off then shook his hand… then ran around bragging that I’d beaten Mago to absolutely anyone who’d listen. I was subsequently dubbed CoolzHAM2DSATAN by Vitriol, and my $20 QANBA (which I won at a UMVC3 launch tournament with a $20 entry fee) I’ve claimed has been enchanted with a Grand Soulstone containing the Soul of the 2D God.

This then put me in Losers Finals of my pool (which is something I don’t want to relive, writing about it). It was against Bun (so my predictions for my pool were pretty spot on, Mago, Ranma, Bun) who played Mag/Dorm/Doom. The fact he was playing well and my Morrigan was beyond worthless was really frustrating and I was effectively only ever playing Doom/Dog in my games. I can’t remember much except for the fact he had Ranma and a whole bunch of people on his side.

I think the score was 2-1 in his favour and I was down to CRACKDAWWWG when I pulled off a whole bunch of flying around and pressing buttons and managed to kill Magneto and Dorm. At this point all I had to deal with was a Doom with 0 meter and L3 XF in the bag. Time was slowly ticking down, I knew it was possible to win Ammy v Doom in neutral as long as I swapped between reflector/beads and ran away well enough… and I did exactly that, fly airdash, stance cancel, sword dive etc and trying to punish his attempts to move with super. Eventually time was down to about 20 seconds and I heard Ranma yell “X FACTOR NOW!!! JUST GO HAM!!!!!” which Bun did…. I ran around and managed to evade all of his attempts to footdive and then at one point I saw the twitch of a footdive from superjump height.

It was my chance. I twitched out Ammy Super…. and the crazy-fastness of XF3 Doom stomped on Ammy’s face before it came out and stomped on my tournament dreams, one match away from Top 16.

At this point Alister’s pool was starting, but I was super salty so I didn’t really get to back him as much as I could or should have. His first game was against Colin, who hasn’t really played much Marvel for a long time. It was much closer than it should have been because of tournament nerves for Alister though but he won. Alister played against Burnout and managed to win, subsequently lost to Tokido and eventually ran it back against Burnout in Losers Finals. I think at this point I was called away from AE so I didn’t see it but apparently it was an ultra-tight 3-2 game that Alister clutched out… and with that in his first interstate (International even?) tournament Alister managed to make Top 16.

His next game was against Antman on the main stage and I think Alister’s lack of major tournament experience meant he got nerves and ended up dropping a lot of combos he’d hit with absolute accuracy in casuals. While it was a convincing 3-0 victory by Antman, it was definitely a really good showing by Alister for his first tournament.

AE 2012 (Yaaaawwwwwn)

I entered AE for shits and giggles. I don’t know why I entered, I didn’t even really want to play to be honest. I’d moved on from playing Juri to Adon since Juri took too much effort and didn’t have a legitimate GTFO DP FADC shenanigans. In contrast, Adon is a massive asshole with a super invincible DP and an obnoxious style. While I tried playing Adon when Super came out I don’t think people really understood the character at that point and I didn’t understand his strengths.

At this point though, I now kind of understood that I could just play footsies and mash random Jaguar Kicks or at very least threaten with them to force the other guy to do stuff, without necessarily committing to anything. Then I just mixed that ‘legitimate’ play in with my own brand of Wengsanity.

Randoms DPs, jumping all day. And the piece de resistance of my entire mixup: the Whiffed Overhead Insanity.

Prior to Adon (who I picked up on a whim) I was mashing around with Ultra 2 Ryu (REAAAAL Ryu). None of this Uppercut FADC shit, commit to your HP DPs all Day. Ultra 2 frame traps etc etc. It meant I always had a tonne of meter to do stuff like EX Fireball and Super because of that style. The one weird thing I noticed when I played online though was the fact that if I got a hard knockdown (e.g. Forward Throw) and whiffed an overhead then did a meaty crouching medium kick, that MK would almost always hit. Was it because people were throw teching? Was it because people thought I fucked the overhead up and would do another? I have no idea. But it seemed to be a trend. So regardless of what happened I’d throw whiff f+MP then do c.MK xx Super. I didn’t give a fuck if it didn’t hit, Ryu’s super is safe as hell. And its not like I needed meter to FADC.

From there it’s almost become my trade mark and I’ve gradually started building extra layers of options into it off various things that spawn into different options. f+MP into [c.MK_throw_DP_nothing_jump].

The other theory I have about why it works is because if you think about boxing or combat sports, often a stronger strike is set up by a jab – or a quick strike that obstructs the opponent’s vision of what you’re doing. In using the f+MP animation I’m crawling forward slightly and then while they’re focussed on that they aren’t necessarily thinking about the next option.

My first match was against Bun(!) and I think my first reaction was “NOT THIS MOTHERFUCKER AGAIN!!!” which I think I actually yelled. It ended up as 2 Marvel players who don’t play AE any more trying to outscumbag each other in Adon vs Seth diceroll contests. I ended up winning 2-1, and I also somehow beat Seth DP with an ultra-delayed Adon DP. I was impressed by that. It was a pretty hollow win.

Eventually I ran into Heavy “Bad Matchup for SageT” Weapons in the bracket. We sat down introduced ourselves then chose characters and we ended up having a hilarious conversation that went a little like this:

W: Adon vs Sagat? Hahaha, that’s a canon matchup (they’re storyline rivals)

HW: Naaaaaah I don’t like Tiger Cannon in this matchup, like I don’t think its as useful as Ultra 1

W: No I mean like canon as in like… storyline.

HW: What?

At this point the game was starting so I told him not to worry about it. I played ultra-respectful round 1 and just happened to throw out a heap of JAGGA KEEKZ just as he was throwing fireballs (completely YOLO, no reaction at all. Just doing it.) and I think he ended up giving me far more respect than I deserved playstyle wise. I ended up taking the first round somewhat fraudulently and then he took every single round after that. I got him with the WENGSANITY Overhead into c.MK at least once and I think I cancelled it into Jagga Keeeeek for a stupid frametrap.

Heavy was super cool after the match and I explained the concept of canon to him and what I meant by that. Then he asked me “What’s Adon’s overhead on block? I like blocked one then tried to press crouch light but your crouching medium kick beat it.” to which I responded “Nah, I think I whiffed it then did a meaty crouching medium kick… also I have no idea, I don’t play this game. I Just mash uppercuts and troll” and he was like “Nah I’m sure I blocked it, but my move was stuffed?” I then explained that as a weird ghetto mixup I like to do whiffed overhead into c.MK  after knockdowns and so on…

THE WENGSANITY STRUCK WITH SUCH AN EFFECT IT LEFT A SCAR AFTER THE GAME!!!!

Is that really a win at all?

Hold Dat W (it’s really just 2 diagonal Ls.)

I went through losers bracket, surprisingly far and won a game or two, then I asked to check where I was and the bracket runner said “You’re in Losers Semis, you’re playing the winner of these 2 guys” – pointing to an Ibuki and a Sakura player. I then ran over to find Stekoh who was spectating the stream games and said:

W: Yo Steve, I need your help.

S: What’s up? What with?

W: Well, I’m in Losers Semis, I’m either playing a Sakura or an Ibuki. I don’t know what to do. Help.

S: WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE IN LOSERS SEMIS!?

W: Yes.

Stekoh ended up with the Pool of Death in AE while I had a comparatively soft pool, he seemed mad envious of that fact. His observation of those players was like: “That Ibuki’s setups aren’t that tight. That Sakura’s dropping his combos a lot.”

The Sakura ended up winning and I ended up playing him. Prior to the game Stekoh told me “Just do Jaguar Kicks. Air ones. Ground ones whatever. Just keep doing them until you realize whether or not he can punish them” which reminded me a lot of this article by Sirlin about the idea of Brickwalls and Sirlin’s infamous Low-Strong metagame.

After losing round 1 Stekoh said “He knows how to anti-air. Don’t jump at him so much. Don’t do air ones. Just the ground ones.” Ground JAAGGAAA KEEEK became my brick wall. I’d throw it out there willy nilly. There was a point in the round where I backed off to about 3/4th screen distance and did about 10 or so in a row to build that elusive second meter (So I could Dee-Pee Eff Ayy Dee Seeee!!!) without him actually advancing at me at all. I eventually did a whole bunch of random actions that weren’t really actions. At the start of one round I backed off a little bit then did nothing but neutral-jump whiffing j.HPs randomly for about 8 seconds, before Sakura advanced forward at me. I then somehow won the entire set 2-0 and was in Losers Finals of my pool and one game away from Top 32 (WTF.)

After the game Stekoh asked “What the hell was that neutral jumping all about?” and the Sakura player said “You were trying to bait me into advancing weren’t you?” to which I responded: “Nah. I just wanted to see what’d happen.”

Stekoh then asked him why he wasn’t punishing the Jaguar Kicks when I was spamming them so much, all day err day and the Sakura said he “Wasn’t looking for them.” which I thought was a little funny since it was almost all I actually did in that entire match… I guess doing random stuff like neutral jumping all day can make people ignore other more important things after all.

Losers Finals ended up being a runback of my match against HeavyWeapons. To which we both said “NOT THIS GUY AGAIN!!!!!”

Despite the fact I said I’d be more “legitimate” this time around, by picking the anti-fireball ultra instead of the YOLO DEE PEEE ultra, the game went exactly the same way. I won Round 1. I lost every other round. The main highlight of this was the fact I landed WENGSANITY again. I whiffed the overhead (I think it was after a sweep) and then did a meaty throw immediately afterward and I heard Heavy give off a little HAH at that point. After the game he was like “Haha man you hit me with that again even though you told me about it”

Except I told him about the low after the overhead, not the throw or that that was even an option… “^_^ #WENGSANITYSTRIKESAGAIN

And with that my tournament ended. I over-performed in all the games I didn’t really care about (AE and at that point Marvel) and got SLAPPED at KOF which I did actually care about. I could write about Finals Day but that’d be a far more boring blog “I sat down and watched finals. And played casuals” and some of the better stories from the post-event trip to Crown Casino don’t really deserve to be aired in a public forum – and possibly shouldn’t be retold at all.

They were definitely a “You had to be there” type experience…  you can ask me to tell the story about how we trolled a creepy potentially-incestuous couple who played Second Life and talked about “Pushing G Buttons” or about Bubblan’s Swedish import tobacco pouches pulling the ultimate Salty Runback on Abegen in person if you’re really that curious… shit happened that night… shit happened that weekend… and what a weekend it was… so much so that this blog is pushing 4700 words already. Fahhhhk. Who’s even still reading at this point?

Bring on Adelaide and all the Annie-May games. #whensnigri