Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Bonesickle Chronicles - Part 1

Let's get the elephant out of the room. I do not believe that Shinnok is a very good character in MKX.  Currently, I believe he is middle of the road. I do not want to downplay him, though, because I feel like he can be strong with the right amount of effort and smart play. Autopilot is not an option with Shinnok. Perhaps my opinion will change as I go on this journey known as The Bonesickle Chronicles, or maybe it will not. We will find out together!

So, what are Shinnok's problems? At this time I have put the most effort into the Boneshaper variation. The biggest problems are a lack of any safe special moves, meter dependence while not building it very quickly, and general lack of pressure options. I have played some with the Impostor variation, and what little research I have done makes me feel that it is as good, if not a bit better, than Boneshaper. Impostor Shinnok does not have the meter building problem that Boneshaper does, but I feel like the teleport shenanigans will get old with time, and players will adapt. I have yet to put any time into the Necromancer variation, but word on the street is that it is horrible. From what I have seen of Necromancer, it seems like an anti-zoning variation. It is the only Shinnok variation that has a safe, non-enhanced special move, however, so it is notable for that.

Shinnok does have significant strengths. First and foremost, he has good unbreakable damage capabilities thanks to his Hell Sparks special move. That can be very important late in a match because you may not want your opponent to break and put you on the defensive. Shank's defense is not great, even with enhanced Charging Shoulder in your pocket. Next, it seems as if Shinnok has a very good J.1. It has consistently frustrated the opponents I have player against, and it can be easily converted into good damage and Mimicry (Impostor only) or Deity (Boneshaper only) kombo resets. Given that Hell Sparks is very inconsistent as an anti-air at close range, having a good J.1 is an invaluable tool for Shinnok. I have seen Hell Sparks whiff on an opponent who jumps in on me from about 1.5 character spaces away. Also, I have seen Kung Lao dive kick right through Hell Sparks, and it did not even seem that hard to time!

But I digress. I was supposed to be talking about Shinnok's positive aspects, right? Let's keep moving. Shinnok's damage buff after Mimicry is a powerful effect, and the throw / kombo vortex after Mimicry is strong. A similar, but slightly more risky, vortex exists after the Deity kombo. At the end of the day, Shinnok has good tools, but not great tools. The best characters in the game currently get in your face and mix you up far more effectively than Shinnok.

I play Shinnok despite his flaws because I really enjoy his slower pace. When I play fighting games I love slow and steady with bursts of action, and I do what I can to control the pace of the match and frustrate my opponent. Oh, and having a 7 frame low starter for punishing, also known as the Shin Kick, is a great thing. I can punish things that my opponent may consider to be safe, and I greatly enjoy that. So you see, Shinnok is not all bad. In fact, he has a lot of things going for him! He takes more work than average, but I like that. After seeing him on the NetherRealm Studios Kombat Kast, I knew I wanted to try him out. I have been slightly disappointed by him, but overall I am very happy to be sticking with Shinnok. By the time the next characters I am interested in get released, I will probably be well on my way to completing my Shinnok video guide.

This is my current research / training template:

  • Safe Strings
  • Mixup Strings
  • Safe Pokes
  • Hit-Confirmable Pokes / Strings
  • General Playstyle
  • Combos
    • Midscreen
      • 1-3 meter max damage
      • Resets
      • Punishes
      • J.1 conversions
      • NJP (neutral jump punch) conversions
    • Corner
      • 1-3 meter max damage
      • Resets
      • Punishes
      • J.1 conversions
      • NJP conversions
  • Matchups
    • Per Character Tips & Tricks
  • Interactable Strategies
    • Per Stage
My training template helps me organize my thoughts and create the gameplan for my character. At this time, I am happy with my Boneshaper research all the way until Matchups and Interactable Strategies. Of course there is still room to expand on previous research. For Impostor, I am only up to General Playstyle, with Combos coming next. The Combo section for Impostor is going to be insane, because I will not only have to do combos for the regular moveset, but also combos and setups for every character in the game thanks to Mimicry's move stealing effect. The thought of all that work is both exciting and terrifying!

One thing that has become super important to me while playing Shinnok is whiff punishing. He has great whiff punishing kombos such as Deity and Divine Power (Impostor and Necromancer only). I have had to learn on the fly while playing against human opponents, and I have found myself performing better than expected. I started playing fighting games competitively in 2009, and it seems like my maturity as a player is continuing. That reinforces my belief in myself. I may not be EVO champion material (yet!), but I am proud of my process of continual growth.

I firmly believe that choosing the correct variation will, in the future, become the key to victory with Shinnok. This is due to the fact that Impostor and Necromancer do not seem like variations that would be beneficial in all matchups. Impostor is good against a great deal of the cast, due to Mimicry, but it does not have the same level of safety and footsies as Boneshaper. Boneshaper has a meter building problem that I hope to overcome, and it has good, but not great, damage output. Necromancer seems like the answer to zoning characters that Impostor's Air Tricky Portal and Boneshaper's Scepter Slam are incapable of punishing properly.

I look forward to more time with Shinnok, and I hope you look forward to more of The Bonesickle Chronicles! I will include match videos in the future, with commentary, and down the road my Shinnok video guide will be released!

I would also love to hear your training tales! If you have something interesting to say about your fighting game journey, please email me at: powerupfighters"at"gmail"dot"com

If I like your article enough, you may be offered a PowerUp Freelance contract, so that you can earn a little extra cash for your writing! You can learn more about PowerUp Freelance at this link:

Good luck on your personal journey to power up!


You can read Part 2 by clicking here.
Nathan Shields PowerUp Founder

Fighting game enthusiast, martial artist, and teacher. Nathan Shields ran three regional events, two of which were part of the Road to EVO Championships in 2011 and 2012. He continues to run local FGC events and supervise the growth of his scene and the PowerUp brand.

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