Ok, so for the time being I'm just going to assume you know what the Critical Gauge does, looks like and how you generate said meter. I was thinking about doing a primer for total noobs to begin with, but there are a few of them around already. If you don't know that much check out Primer X on game mechanics or read up on it in the Future Press guide for SCV...
Don't be scared if you actually are a noob. We all started there, you just have to choose to level up and do it. What I want to cover this week is mostly just how to get the most out of your meter. This falls under 3 basic categories understanding, holding and wasting.
For the sake of simplicity I will almost completely ignore GI in this article. The mixup that creates is rather dynamic and will get it's own article in time. Also I will be using this metric:
Full meter = 200%
CE = 100%
BE = 50%
GI = 50%
Don't look like a derp... Know how to use your meter
Understanding your meter is rather character specific. We can start with Ezio, here is a breakdown of some of the basic tools he's got that are enhanced by meter. The math is fairly simple, you simply weigh the gain in damage vs the meter expended.
Now you can see the discrepancies in how some of this all scales. 6B BE seems to be his most efficient expenditure of meter even in combos followed by CE, BB BE and 66BB BE. The examples at the end are simply to show that just being able to hit the CE doesn't make it worthwhile, you need to evaluate what the meter gets you and compare it to what you get otherwise. In the case of Ezio I would say any 30+ for half a bar is a good use of meter. Interesting point, at that meter GI into CE at 150% for 90 damage is a pretty good use of meter.
There are also points of time where the use of meter isn't a matter of added damage so much as total damage. Such is the case of choosing your guard burst combos:
The reason the 44K is listed is 66A+B is not always free, depending on how you break and it will also whiff against many small characters. Now you see the +10 damage from 66A+B 50% combo to bust that CE for 115. But when you compare the CE combos Ezio has, this is far and away the biggest CE damage compared to the biggest BE combo in his arsenal. Both are the most efficient ways to spend meter he has for that class of move... Choose your own fate.
Sometimes holding it is the best choice
Holding meter is an important concept for many characters like Ezio, who needs his meter for punishes in many matchups. This becomes more apparent with his CE punish in a matchup like Oprah (Omega Pyrrha), where her DNS B is -14. That means if you're in a 5th round with 2 full bars she really can't use the move, it also impacts how the game plays out earlier.
A smart Oprah player will choose not to use that move when you have 100% or more, this reduces the move to just a whiff punish. That means when you spend down under 100% she will be able to use it to pressure from midrange and not care if you block... Which makes her rather scary.
Now this doesn't just have to be a block punish... If you need certain combos for you to be able to shut down option X or Y for a whiff punish or step punish. The same mentality can apply or you should just stock that meter to have more damage when you hit what you want to hit. Now you add this on top of wanting to maximize your meter usage and you may not want to take something like a BB BE if a CE punish matters in the matchup. That might even change as the match progresses, but that matters more in the next section.
Don't waste your meter either
Wasting meter is a huge huge problem for many players, many of which don't realize the concept for what it is. The main wastes of meter come from sitting on 200% and losing the 2nd round at over 100%. Even BE moves for pressure are a waste in many circumstances such as a BE throw, but in many other circumstances it's a great idea. Many of these ideas are based around not being able to generate over 200% of meter and then some of them are based more around turning meter into damage.
Sitting on 200% is something of a character specific thing, many characters like Algol have 200% meter combos that are worth wasting a bit of bar. But if you look at Ezio for example, sitting on 200% meter gains you nothing and denies you any further meter gain. Simply put, unless you want to hit a 200% meter combo, sitting on that 200% is denying your meter gain. So unless you're in the final round there is long term loss received by sitting there.
Now you have the concept of losing that 2nd round with over 100% meter. You gain 100% meter so if it pushed you over 200% you have “wasted” but it's not quite so clear cut. This ties as much into the round count as anything, I'm going to stick to a basic example of the 1-1 round count. This puts you either on match point or with 100% more meter at it's end. So any way you cut it spending down to under 100% is a good idea. Either you have 2 rounds to end it with 100%ish or you have 200%ish with an extra meter usage for pressure + 0 wasted meter.
Then we have the illustrious BE for pressure, this can range from a BE you plan on your opponent blocking or a BE grab or any other mixup. The grab's are technically a “waste” as they can be broken and end up netting 0 damage for 50% meter... This doesn't apply to Astaroth because he can spend the meter after seeing the grab not get broken. The BE you plan on someone blocking can still be an effective use of meter, provided you break someone's guard in a situation you wouldn't otherwise be able to break them. The trick with that is you need to weigh the meter cost to include the break move... I can't think of a good example for this one outside of some killshot attempts that are intended to burn off a bunch of meter.
Now if you have a character such as Algol who wants to sit on 2 meters, the whole sitting on 2 bars may not be such a waste. You have to find a way to weigh the value of that 2 bar combo vs losing a portion of your meter. So if you don't plan on using that 2 bar combo the round you're in, spend down with a BE when you get 2 full or close to it. This applies to some degree to any character that wants to use 2 full meters in a combo, because when you look at what you get from it many characters that can don't really want to in most circumstances. Just like learning what your meter gives you it comes down to your character, so figure it out for yourself :)
That's a lot to take in at once... I didn't think I was even gonna get this done this week after spending so much time on the player wiki. Next week should be a bit easier, because I pretty much based my Leixia gameplay around the guard meter. Make sure you guys check out the other stuff we have going on the front page and thanks for reading my column.
This is Tim "@BrewtusBibulus" Fennessey saying thanks for checking out 8wayrun this week :)