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Fighting Fundamentals with JD - Learning the Basics

Blocking, BnB’s and More.

You’ve got your game and you’ve got your character, so the next step is potentially one of the most difficult – learning the basics. At this point, assuming you’ve fiddled around with the game, and at least have a handle on the game’s systems, there is still a lot to learn in terms of playing the game properly. Learning the basics at times makes people feel like they don’t know how to play the game at all. It can be frustrating, but the payoff is well worth it, because not only will it you progress in your game of choice, but it will improve your success rate with many other fighting games.

Before I dive into character specifics, I’ll start with the most basic, yet forgotten aspect of fighting games – defense. When most people start up fighting games, their first instinct is to attack the opponent. Many beginners, and even some experienced players will fall into this trap. It’s understandable – you’re eager to try out that new combo you learned, or curious about what attacks will work best. Despite that, that mindset can ultimately lead to one’s downfall. As you mash the buttons trying to figure out what will work, you constantly leave yourself open to getting punished by your opponent. Inexperienced players will likely not understand why this is happening. Heck, even I’ve been in situations where I’m trying to do something, screw up, attempt to defend and fail, only to blame the game for not blocking when I wanted it to. This is natural, and happens to many players. So, as I’ve been saying, it’s important to remember to defend.

Defense works differently depending on the game you are playing. Many fighters employ the classic “hold back to block” function, where you hold back to block high, and down back to block low. Blocking and waiting for an opening is often the most crucial part of a match because rushing in like a madman will (more likely than not) lead to a mistake that can cost you the match. This is especially true in fast paced games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Other games like Super Smash Bros. have a more reactive shield and dodge system, which is also important to master, but is indeed more difficult due to the flexibility of that particular game. Blocking well also has to do with knowing the best times to punish attacks that have delay when blocked, and looking for openings in your opponent’s attacks. This takes a bit more research on the player’s side, but generally trial and error will lead to the best results.

But of course, you can’t win a match by simply defending. You have to know how to attack too, and that is where most of the fun lies. The reason I recommended you choose a character to dedicate to is because that will be the character you decide to learn in terms of mobility and move set. Trying to learn the whole cast is oftentimes too overwhelming and makes it so you don’t get a good grasp of any particular character. Specializing in specific characters makes it a lot easier to manage. Of course, as you get the hang of certain characters, you can move on and pick up others to expand your roster.

Nightwing vs harley quinn

There are a few things to do when learning the basics of a game. First off, go into training mode and take a good look at the move set for your character. Whether it’s Street Fighter, Marvel, Tekken or Injustice, reviewing the move list is the best place to start. Take a look at each move, and give it a try. Training mode is obviously the best place to do this, since there is no pressure, just a dummy for you to beat up on for a while. While, this sounds easy, it might be harder than it seems, especially if you are a beginner. Many games with directional inputs (ie: Street Fighter) will challenge you right out the gate, because you have to learn the motion and timing in order to perform the move properly. Not only that, but even if you get it once, it’s best to repeat until you get it down. Repetition is your friend here. Whether it’s a combo string, or a special move input, these are best learned through basic repetition. It can get annoying, especially if it’s difficult, but eventually you will improve your execution and even develop muscle memory for the move. Moves that initially seem difficult to pull off will eventually become second nature – it just takes time.

That’s honestly the most difficult part of it. At first, it may seem like the game is too challenging, or unforgiving with inputs. In these cases, I’d advise looking to the internet for assistance. Thanks to Youtube, there are a ton of ways to learn about your game, and character of choice. There are hundreds of match videos, tutorials and combo videos to get ideas and advice from. For example, one Youtuber I can greatly recommend is Maximilian. His beginner friendly tutorials are great for anyone trying to get into certain games, and while he hasn’t dipped into EVERY fighter out there, he’s covered many – ranging from Street Fighter, to Soul Calibur and Injustice.

Maximilian's Assist Me Tutorial Series for UMvC3.

For me, learning the basics of Injustice took a bit longer than I expected. Though I followed the game pretty closely, getting my hands on it made me realize how much I had to learn. When I entered training mode with Nightwing, I tried to find out which of his combo’s would be the most practical, and which ones had the most combo potential. I quickly found a few BnB’s or Bread and Butter combos (which are essentially your Go To combo’s in matches) and played a few rounds with my brother and a friend of mine. I quickly realized that even though I thought I learned these combos, there’s a big difference between executing them against a dummy, and executing on a real human player. That’s part of the process, and that is honestly best solved by playing more and more matches. It’s daunting, and at times discouraging, but eventually it begins to click. If it doesn’t click, then don’t be afraid to switch your character. Remember, the character you like at first may not be the character you end up sticking with. Plus, you could always go back to them once you understand the game more.

This brings us to next week’s installment – Practice. While learning the basics is essential, the real challenge comes in once you try to put these fundamentals to work. Feel free to drop a comment below about your thoughts on the basics of fighting games, and places people can go to learn. 




05/31/2013 at 11:47 AM

Max is great, got into him from his vids last year

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

05/31/2013 at 03:51 PM

Yeah he really is, does a lot of good for beginners and intermediate players.

Vice's Assistant

05/31/2013 at 09:06 PM

Max is boss, albeit a bit Capcom focused. Still, he's my idol because no one gets to people better than him.

Vice's Assistant

05/31/2013 at 09:10 PM

Good read, Jon. I would add to that if people get physical versions of fighitng games to keep the manuel around. Sometimes, when its not just a piece of paper with adds on it, it contains vital info that the game doesn't have and is a really good place for people to start with learning the real basics about the game. Also, people should look out for fighitng game websites, espcially specicalized ones. Many websites like that contain really good beginner's guides to understanding the basics, lingo, and other general knowledge the game may lack. However, sites that cover many other fighitng games such as Shoryuken and Eventhubs also have really good and detailed beginners' guides.


05/31/2013 at 11:34 PM

I love the Mvs.C and Soul Calibur series, it's just that I really suck at them. I always have to play on the easiest setting, and almost never win on multiplayer or online. heh


06/01/2013 at 01:01 AM

I think it's great that you covered the range of styles from Tekken to Super Smash Bros. Now I wanna play P4 Arena! xD

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