Tekken Tag Tournament 2/System/Frames Part-3
This series of lessons are aimed to introduce the offensive systems Tekken has, which include hit ranges, throws, crush system, frames and the combo system, in a way that the readers can take advantage of this system in a fight.
- Strikes and Hit Ranges
- Frames #1: Explanation
- Frames #2: CH-Hunting
- Frames #3: Block Punishing
- Crush System
- Hitboxes and Range
- Parries and Reversals
- Throws #1: Front, Side, Back
- Throws #2: Crouch, Ground, Air
- Throws #3: Shifts, Chains, Tackles
- Combos #1: Launchers and Bounds
- Combos #2: Stage Gimmicks
- The Art of Buffering
Frames What? pt.3
- To show tactics where frame data are of vital value
- To introduce block punishing
- To give tips to block punishing, especially when fighting a unfamiliar character
- To re-introduce block stuns and pushback
We previously talked about counterhits (hitting the opponent during impact frames) and some tactics about it. But we still have yet to talk about "recovery frames", the time when your character is unable to guard after an attack. Even though there's no extra damage done (like on counterhit), the fact still remains that you still can't block during that frame interval. In this page, we're gonna focus on taking advantage of this, which is widely known as "block punishing."
A Legendary Strat
Remember Muhammad Ali? He had this historic match (Rumble in the Jungle) where he created a genius strategy to defeat a stronger opponent. Seeing a stronger puncher in front of him, he got his back to the ropes and blocked every powerful blow and combination his opponent threw at him, while patiently waiting. Finally, his opponent got tired and started swinging slower and wider, creating many openings. Seeing that opportunity, Ali started to do flurries of vicious strikes and knocked his opponent out. That strategy is now popularly known as "rope-a-dope" strategy.
Now, we're going to borrow the same idea for Tekken. The idea is, we continue to defend and block our opponent's attacks patiently, and instead of waiting for the other character to tire out (well, they're video game characters... they don't tire out), we wait for them to throw a wide-looking move, properly block it, and unleash your fury afterwards. This is called block punishing, and this is the most common way to get big damage in this game. Block punishing takes advantage of a move's recovery frames (where he cannot block) to ensure that the attacker can't retaliate.
On technical terms, if a move isn't a frame trap, most of the time, it gives frame disadvantage (its recovery frames are longer than your block frames, enabling you to do an attack earlier). And many times, a move has so big of a frame disadvantage that a specific move is guaranteed. These kind of moves are referred to as unsafe. Let's take a example; the last hit of Devil Jin's 1, 2, 4 string gives a -10 frame disadvantage on block, meaning any move that has 10 impact frames will successfully hit. Good thing is, jabs (1) have 10 impact frames, and you can use them to attack your opponent. There are other moves that have worse recovery frames, ranging from -12 (allows a more stronger attack) to even -20 (usually a guaranteed combo opportunity). That's why you need to know your character's punishers (specific moves to "punish" a specific frame disadvantage) to maximize the damage you can get. Some characters, like Kazuya, excel at block punishing, having a strong block punishers in their arsenal.
Note: in practice mode, the game recognize a attack that hits in recovery frames and label it as PUNISH, so use this feature to see if you get the right punishers for specific moves.
An Intimidating Problem
However, a problem emerges from this strategy. To be able to punish properly, you gotta know a character's unsafe moves. But look, there are at least 65 moves for each character, and also, there are 50+ characters around! If we're gonna memorize all the frame data of all characters, they might as well give us a Ph.D. of Fighting Games and let Namco pay us 6-figure salary (If that's the case, I'm down with it :P ). But let's be honest here, we're not gonna memorize them all. But the good thing is we don't need to.
First of all, frame disadvantage isn't just a random number assigned to a move, it's an actual data describing a thing we see. The things you see on a frame data table are the differences of each move's recovery frames and the block frames it produces. So, as long as the move doesn't do some sort of block stun (like flinging your hands, staggering of some sorts, the things frame traps usually do), the move will give a frame disadvantage. That means how a specific attack "recovers" back can indicate its frame disadvantage. In many forms of martial arts, it's not always advised to do wide-swinging attacks because you leave yourself open. The same thing applies here. Fortunately for us, many attacks (especially those which give big frame disadvantage) usually look like they don't recover quickly. Severe examples are Devil Jin's SS+2 uppercut (a wide swing uppercut that leave the body open), Armor King's f+1+4 (a right shoulder block that leaves face open) and many others. There's a visual cue to these things, but it'll also take a while to recognize them, but it'll eventually come.
Remember though, these are just a rule of thumb. There are exceptions like some moves which don't have a fairly obvious block stun animation, and some give pushback (meaning the move will "push" your character away, making many punishers out of range). This makes the moves safer than they should. In other words, you need to rely on your good ol' memory and experience. I'm not saying to memorize all the moves of your opponent, but be sure to take notes of the most important moves a character has. Just like in any combat sport like Boxing and MMA, someone should look at how his/her opponent fights and look for her go-to moves. It's the same thing here. All characters have their own set of go-to moves that you can prepare for. You should take notes on what properties these moves have and practice doing the right punishes for them.