Monday, July 6, 2015

The Bonesickle Chronicles - Part 3



Shinnok is Top 10 now? Holy cow! Throughout my time lurking on the Test Your Might forums, I have never seen something quite so shocking. This news comes from the YOMI v1.0 tier list posted by YOMI DJT. You know the YOMI crew, right? They're the cats who took CEO 2015 by storm and brought home a lot of money while awkwardly wiggling their tongues at the camera. So, in theory, they are the current MKX experts.

I believe that Shinnok will drop out of Top 10 as the game ages. He still suffers from meter starvation and while his mixup potential is great, he has a harder time applying consistent pressure if the opponent is defending well. However, if the game remains as is, or close to it, I do not believe Shinnok will ever drop below Top 15. He is definitely that good, and can most certainly compete with the top characters thanks to the significant strategical differences inherent in his variations. You can read more about how important I think Shinnok's variations are to his tournament viability in Part 2 of the Bonesickle Chronicles.

Learn all three of Shinnok's variations, against all of the characters, if you wish to continue seeing tournament success. Yes, the risk of a counter pick will loom over your head, but that is why analyzing each matchup with each of Shinnok's variations is so important. His variations give him immense flexibility that you should use, rather than shelve in the name of playing only the "best" variation. That is laziness. I look forward to doing my matchup research and eventually publishing my Shinnok guide where I will explain which variations I believe are most useful in every matchup.

I am truly in shock because I have never found myself in the position to play a top tier or upper-mid tier character in the history of my playing competitive fighting games. It is very funny to me that I now find myself worrying over nerfs to my character. That is a strange, surreal feeling. However, I am ready for potential nerf, and in fact here is a suggested one:
  • Impostor  damage buff reduced in strength by 25%. Sure it is a little difficult for Impostor to open you up if you have a solid defense and punish game, but sometimes the damage can get out of hand just because of a couple bad guesses. Then again, them's fighting games y'all!
But enough speculation, Shinnok did get nerfed! Oh what a horrible thing. Hell Sparks meter burned on block is now a paltry +14 instead of the much more fair and balanced +24 frames on block. Shinnok is ruined. His pressure is now nonexistent, blah, blah, blah. This is a fair change that keeps Shinnok from getting in that extra bit of chip, and forces the player to meter burn the first hit of the Hell Sparks. Shinnok is thus closer to the opponent and more vulnerable than he was before. It takes away the braindead nature of pressure that comes with a move that is +24 on block. I welcome this change.

So what is on my Shinnok training to-do list? Matchup training is priority number one, and consists mainly of the following at this point in time:
  • Backdashing opponent's strings and punishing
  • Punishing unsafe strings and special moves
  • Memorizing the high/low mixup built in to each character's strings
  • Neutral game strategy in every matchup
As I mentioned previously, I already have a good idea of which variations I believe are the most useful against each character in general. Of course the list could change over time, but I will post it here for posterity. From left to right are what I consider the most effective variation to the least effective against that character. The differences that make one variation better than another are often minuscule. Also, choosing variation should also take into account your opponent's tendencies just as much as the character they are playing. Lists are lists, though, and some things will get lost in the simplification process. Lastly, big shout outs to Test Your Might user Shamwow0w0w's thread Impostor/Mimicry Vortex Options Megathread. This was a wonderful resource that helped me make my list.
  • Cassie = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • Necromancer acts as a counter to her zoning attempts. Frustrate the rushdown character rather than compete with her at her own game. Impostor allows for full screen pressure and reads on gunshot, and even though there is no Mimicry vortex, the damage buff and safe blockstring is good. Boneshaper will not likely win the full screen zoning war and allow Cassie to get in close too often in order to run its own mixups.
  • D'Vorah = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • See Cassie
  • Ermac = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • Dat vortex, baby. Nothing beats it. Necromancer can attempt to counter zone, but both it and Boneshaper need to be wary of teleports. Boneshaper's zoning is just so slow that I worry Ermac will get in too often, whereas he must respect Necromancer more at full screen.
  • Erron Black = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • Impostor vortex is only possible with meter, so it makes Boneshaper a bit more useful for the zoning possibilities and better footsies.
  • Ferra/Torr = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • Necromancer acts as a pestering barrage of zoning against the poor brawler with no teleport. Abuse, abuse, abuse. For Impostor and Boneshaper, see Cassie's reasoning.
  • Goro = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • See Ferra/Torr
  • Jacqui = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • See Cassie, but with a vortex possible. 
  • Jason = Necromancer / Boneshaper / Impostor
    • See the Ferra/Torr reasoning, with the addendum that stealing Jason's damage buff and its cooldown vulnerability is probably the worst thing ever for Shinnok, especially since Jason hits so hard. Avoid Impostor at all costs. Try not to use Mimicry if you get locked in and counterpicked. A good reason to start petitioning for no variation lock for the winner of a match, ha!
  • Jax = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • What a shame that Shinnok no longer steals the unblockable ground pound. Would have made this matchup 10-0 in Shinnok's favor, in my opinion. However, stealing the rush punch and its overhead component is not a horrible consolation prize. Impostor can also get around the Jax zoning fairly easily. For Necromancer and Boneshaper reasoning, see Cassie.
  • Johnny = Boneshaper / Necromancer / Impostor
    • See Jason, but without the ability to pester quite as effectively at full screen with Necromancer. Also, the kick is not a horrible Mimicry move, but it certainly is not good.
  • Kano = Necromancer / Boneshaper / Impostor
    • See Cassie
  • Kenshi = Impostor / Necromancer - Boneshaper
    • See Ermac, but without the worry over teleports. The Impostor combos here are also a bit harder and lack a bit of luster, but a vortex is a vortex!
  • Kitana = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • See Ermac, but without the worry over teleports.
  • Kotal Kahn = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • See Ermac for vortex potential, and Ferra/Torr for Necromancer potential.
  • Kung Jin = Necromancer / Boneshaper / Impostor
    • Another almost useless Mimicry steal. Pester this guy at full screen and avoid the footsie game at all costs. Yes, Boneshaper has good footsies, but guess what? Kung Jin has better footsies.
  • Kung Lao = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • Necromancer gets the boot here because of teleport. Unlike Ermac, Kung Lao thrives up close. Necromancer can make Ermac respect you. Kung Lao respects nothing except vortex, so that's what we'll give him!
  • Liu Kang = Boneshaper / Necromancer / Impostor
    • See Johnny
  • Mileena = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • See Kung Lao, minus the worry over super aggression.
  • Predator = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • See Erron Black, but without the vortex possibilities. Also, no Mimicry while invisible is very bad for Shinnok. Necromancer could be good, but Predator throws a lot of quick projectiles itself. Even without a vortex, Impostor is a bit better just for being able to get around Predator's zoning while putting on more pressure. Again, the difference is very slight between these two variations' usefulness in the matchup.
  • Quan Chi = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • See Ermac
  • Raiden = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • What a mess of a matchup, because Raiden has some good options in his variations that I also believe people should be using more rather than going solely to Thundergod. The differences here are minimal. Impostor is good for the damage buff, but Necromancer is better if the opponent does not use Displacer. Stealing the flying slam is okay, but not great since there is no vortex potential.
  • Reptile = Boneshaper / Impostor / Necromancer
    • See Erron Black, but without the vortex possibilities. Poison ball pressure is cool, though.
  • Scorpion = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • See Ermac, with extra worry over the footsies game, though.
  • Shinnok = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • Hilarious. See Ermac, but switch Boneshaper and Necromancer based on the tendencies of your opponent.
  • Sonya = Boneshaper / Necromancer / Impostor
    • See Johnny. She did.
  • Sub-Zero = Necromancer / Impostor / Boneshaper
    • Another tough one. See Erron Black, in general, but switch Necromancer and Boneshaper depending on the tendencies of your opponent. Necromancer if they are more lame, and Boneshaper if they are more aggressive. Vortex is possible off Mimicry, but does require meter.
  • Tanya = Impostor / Boneshaper / Necromancer
    • Gross matchup. Impostor vortex is solid. The other two are really dependent on Tanya's variation choice and your opponent's tendencies.
  • Takeda = Impostor / Necromancer / Boneshaper
    • Surprisingly, a vortex does exist, but it is a bit tougher to pull off. Boneshaper has a hard time in the footsie war, though, so beware.
  • Tremor = I will make a point to update this list once I get my hands on the character. 
Let us finish up with my training to-do list, starting with good news! I have completed the first drafts of the general gameplay strategies for Shinnok's variations at Range 1 (full screen), Range 2 (jump in), and Range 3 (point blank). There are nuances in between these ranges, but I find the more general range designations to be sufficient. My last topic is a reiteration of the importance of practicing option selects. The Shin Kick xx Hell Sparks / Mimicry option select is particularly important. The f.2 xx Hell Sparks / Mimicry option select is also going to be key in the footsie game of Impostor, and to a lesser extent the footsie games of Necromancer and Boneshaper.

Good luck on your personal journey to power up!

#Bonesickle
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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