FG – Blocking

Sucking Less at Fighting Games Part 3: Defending Yourself

(Make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide series!)

You’re sick of getting blown up by your friends every single time you play against them in fighting games. They keep using the same moves over and over and over against you, but you keep getting hit by them like a scrub. Maybe you’re trying to do something to prevent this and are just not quite getting it, or maybe you just are failing because you have no goddamn idea what you’re doing and you’re sick of it.  This is because most of the time new people don’t know when it is proper to defend yourself in fighting games, and it leads to repeated soul-crushing defeats. When you look at how a lot of new people play you never see them blocking. It makes sense when you think about it, because you can’t beat your opponent simply by being defensive and possibly taking chip damage, but knowing when and how to block and what attacks can be used defensively is probably the most important skill that fighting game players can possess.

Blocking is a part of fighting games. There’s no way around that. Don’t just attack and never block. You can’t win by just constantly attacking and hoping that you’re opponents will crumble under the pressure from your attacks. It may work for a couple rounds, maybe even a few sessions, but eventually your opponent is going to figure out what you’re doing, and then you will just get punished for your constant assaults.  The point is that it’s a good idea to learn how to block, because eventually your opponent will attack you in some shape or form (it is a fighting game after all), and it’s better to block the attack instead of just taking that punch straight to your face.

Blocking in and of itself is very easy. All you do is hold back on the directional pad or analog or the specific block button, and your character will either block while standing or crouch and block, depending on if you’re holding back and down at the same time. To block properly though, you need to have a basic understanding of your opponent’s attacks and attacks in general. Crouching and blocking blocks low and mid attacks, and normal blocking blocks high and mid attacks, so its important to know the distances at which your opponent can throw out certain types of moves. Basic knowledge of attacks is what’s important when it comes to blocking. For example, when an opponent is in the air and attacking you, they cannot hit you low, so you only need to block high when an opponent takes to the air (this is disregarding assist-type games such as Marvel vs. Capcom or Skullgirls)

For example, if an opponent is at mid-screen and attacking you while they’re on the ground, you need to know a few things. Can your opponent hit you with an attack that hits high from where they are standing? If they can, you have two options: You block high, or you crouch block. What you do from there depends on what your opponent can do. If they have a long-reaching low attack that would punish you for not crouch blocking (Dhalsim from Street Fighter has a lot of these sorts of attacks) then you block low and react accordingly if they attack high and if they don’t have that kind of attack then you block high.

 

Knowing to block high or low is the basics of blocking and defending yourself.

Knowing to block high or low is the basics of blocking and defending yourself.

Several kinds of attacks can be used defensively.  Counterattacks are one of these defensive tools.  Certain characters possess counter attacks either as normal moves, super moves, or both. Normally, these moves have a very fast startup and either do boatloads of damage or set the opponent up for a combo. What’s important with counter-attacks is to know the proper time to use them. If you can 100% guarantee that you can land your counter without fear of your opponent being none the wiser to your dastardly scheme, then go for it. This is not the case most of the time though, and your opponent is aware that you have a counter and can bait it out. So normally, when using these counterattacks you want to use them when your opponent is committed and can’t stop themselves (or if they can stop themselves it will consume meter or special bar). While it may be the best comeback ever if you manage to land your counterattack on your opponent during the one or two available frames during his pressure, a lot of the time you end up just getting blown up either because of the pressure or because you weren’t fast enough.

Sometimes characters come with attacks which can be used defensively when you’re in a pinch.  Examples of these attacks would be the Shoryuken or the Flash Kick from Street Fighter. Normally, these attacks have frames of invincibility as they startup so you have the option when under pressure to use one of these attacks and hope that the invincibility frames will let you power through your opponent’s attacks and punish him for not respecting the attack. The downside to these attacks though, is that there is normally an absurdly long recovery time on them, so it is very easy for your opponent to go over and annihilate your health bar if you miss with one of these attacks. Remember, baby steps. You aren’t top 8 at EVO if you’re reading this, so just take small steps that lead to bigger things.

 

The famous shoryuken is an example of an attack which can be used defensively to escape pressure. Your opponent can bait it out though in an attempt to punish you.

The famous shoryuken is an example of an attack which can be used defensively to escape pressure. Your opponent can bait it out though in an attempt to punish you.

 

Characters sometimes come with attacks which can be used defensively when you’re in a pinch. Normally these attacks have frames of invincibility as they start up, so you have the option when under pressure to use one of these attacks and hope that the invincibility frames will let you power through your opponent’s attacks and punish him for not respecting the attack. The downside to these attacks though is that there is normally an absurdly long recovery time on them similar to counterattacks, so it is very easy for your opponent to go over and annihilate your health bar if you miss with one of these attacks.

Certain fighting games themselves try to spice up the defensive game by having specific features or attacks available to all characters. Focus attacks in Street Figher IV which allow you to armor through one attack and restore any health that you lost from it, a universal reversal in Persona 4: Arena that gives every character an invulnerable option for pressure, Combo Breakers in Killer Instinct that punish and force opponents to end combos if they are predictable, or Bursts from Guilty Gear and BlazBlue which just blasts the opponent back if it connects. Most fighting games nowadays have this sort of thing in place to give each player a second chance and to extend the lengths of matches. Its important to be able to know how to do these attacks

 

Understanding a game's specific defensive mechanics can go a long way to improving yourself at fighting games. Its also important to remember you have these tools.

Understanding a game’s specific defensive mechanics can go a long way to improving yourself at fighting games. Its also important to remember you have these tools.



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