First of all, I'm afraid I have to give away two secrets that Blade players don't want their opponents to know.
1. Almost everything Blade does on the ground is unsafe on block AND on hit!
Notable exceptions are 2A and A-Falchion. And yes, even his 5A is unsafe on block and on hit.
2. After blocking 2B, the opponent can safely mash 2A and beat ALL of Blade's options except for 4C (super armour)!
In fact, they can start mashing after 5B if the 2B isn't delayed (5B delay 2B is a frame trap). Blade has to cover this weakness with a properly-timed assist, or Baroque the 2B, or pray his opponent doesn't know about it.
In fact, mashing 2A beats most Falchion cross-up attempts, unless they are timed correctly with an assist.
(TODO: investigate how safe/unsafe a blocked 3C is when cancelled into specials like Baselard or Falchion. I've never done this before but I saw Keits doing it, so maybe Blade has some safe options here, too.)
Well... as a Blade player, that really sucks, doesn't it? So what can we do to avoid losing to players who mash 2A?
Section 1: Frame Traps / Stagger Strings
(dustloop calls these "frame traps" in its glossary so I'm going to use that term here :P)
A frame trap / stagger string is a blockstring that has small gaps where the opponent leaves blockstun for a few frames -- a gap that lets the opponent attack/jump, but small enough that your next hit will stuff their attack/jump attempt. Why is this useful? In TvC, like many modern fighters, when you are in blockstun you will automatically block everything
as long as your high/low is correct. You can mash buttons, try to jump, even hold forward / down-forward vs high / low attacks: as long as you stay in blockstun, you will keep blocking. Note that this means you can't be crossed up in block stun, either, because you will keep blocking even if you are holding fowards.
Some things that frame traps are useful against in TvC:
- people who mash buttons
- people who mash jump
- pushblocking (advancing guard)
- VCs (variable counters)
(Obviously it doesn't completely stop pushblocking or VCs, but if someone tries to pushblock or VC in the hole in your string, then they'll fail and you'll get a combo out of it.)
Moreover, frame traps in TvC generally combo on hit
, so you don't really lose anything by using them. (Technically, your opponent could
DP or super through it, but the timing should be so strict that they can only do it if your trap has the exact same timing every time.)
For Blade, frame traps are useful for making the opponent afraid to mash, which will let you get away with some unsafe options or tournament mistakes.
Without an assist, and without using Baroque, there are 2 (possibly 3) frame traps that you can insert before your 2B is blocked:
- 5A to 5B is a frame trap.
- 5B to delayed 2B is a frame trap.
(TODO: check if 2A to 5B is also a frame trap, or 2A to 2B.)
Now 5A to 5B isn't a very useful frame trap because no one has any reason to mash after 5A (unless you like doing 5A xx A-Falchion
). But after 5B, mashing can stuff 5C and Falchion cross-up attempts. So it's useful to use the 5B delay 2B frame trap to teach people to just block until they see your 2B.
I have yet to utilize 2A in my blockstrings, but it could be something to integrate to add variety to Blade's pressure.
So now we have ways to hit people who mash buttons before 2B, and this might let us get away with an earlier-than-usual Falchion. That's kind of nice, but not very useful. So let's look at the bigger picture...
Section 2: Mash-Safe, Ambiguous Falchion Crossup With Ryu/Morrigan Assist
Since my team is Blade/Morrigan, I've only practiced Falchion and assist timings with her assist, and a few times with Ryu's assist. This section is mainly applicable to them. For other assists, you will have to figure out the timing yourself, and you might need different attack strings entirely, but hopefully this section can give you some ideas.
Basically, there are two attack strings that you want to use here:
String #1: 5A 5B P 2B 214A (cross-up) (assist hits) (Falchion hits) 5A ground combo
String #2: 5A 5B P delay 2B 214A (assist hits) (cross-up) (Falchion hits) 5A ground combo
For these basic strings, the timing is pretty regular / rythmic:
String #1: with a fast tempo, you want to hit A-B-P-2B-214A with regular, fast beats.
String #2: same as #1, but skip a beat between P and 2B
Notice that to block string #1, the opponent has to block "cross-up" (switch directions) before the assist hits, but to block string #2, they have to block "normal" (don't switch directions) when the assist hits, then switch after the assist to block the Falchion.
Also, string #2 has the aforementioned frame trap between 5B and 2B. In general, there is no place in either string where mashing 2A will stuff it.
There is a caveat, though: sometimes your Falchion will magically whiff
. I really can't explain it yet. Example: pick Blade/Morrigan and use string #1 with fast timing against an opponent's Morrigan: usually you'll see Morrigan get hit by your Morrigan assist, then you'll see your Falchion go right through her
while she's in hitstun, and you won't be able to combo afterwards -- in fact, she'll be able to combo you if you don't block.
Fortunately, I've only seen this happen when I did string #1 very fast. With a slightly slower rythym, the Falchion should hit correctly, but I'm not 100% sure (maybe only 90%) that the opponent gets crossed-up by the assist with this timing. Hopefully I can verify this soon (I don't own a Wii).
Now, if you only use these two attack strings, then eventually your opponent will be able to block them 90% of the time. It's pretty easy: just watch if the 2B comes early or late, and block the fireball accordingly. So you have to mix up your timing even more. I haven't done much testing beyond this point, but I believe if you do 5B-P-2B quickly, then delay the 214A, that you can cross them up just after the assist hits. In fact, this is probably the most ambiguous timing: search for the timing where your Falchion crosses up at the same time that your assist hits. Then you can intentionally do it slightly earlier or later, or just aim for that timing every time and get a random result.
You can mix up your timing even more by inserting 2A into your blockstring, or calling your assist slightly earlier or later (but I recommend changing the timing of your Falchion and not your assist: if you call your assist with the wrong timing then it's easy for them to mash out). You could choose to skip the cross-up entirely and do 5C. If you have Baroque, then you can get really creative. I've always wanted to try 214A (cross-up) (assist hits) Baroque 214A again, but I think this loses to mashing (unless your assist leaves them in longer blockstun...). And then there's the obvious 214A, Baroque before you cross-up. Or how about late 214A (assist hits) (cross-up) Baroque and throw / instant j.2C overhead, if you just need 1 hit to kill. And so on.
Section 3: Safe 4C and Safe j.2C
4C is useful because its super armour will beat 2A mashers, among other things. It can also be your "panic button" in case you go too far in a blockstring and can't end it safely. For instance, say you accidentally did 5A 5B 2B (all blocked) and you forgot to call your assist or it wasn't ready yet. At this point, they can mash and stuff you for free. You can go on to 5C or Falchion and hope that they won't mash out, you can Baroque to be safe, or you can use 4C to stuff their mashing.
j.2C is also useful. I think this needs no explanation.
But ordinarily, these moves are both unsafe on block. Even if you cancel into a special move, all your options are either 2A-mashable (e.g. Falchion, Shamshir) or unsafe on block (Baselard).
You can make them safe, however, with the help of your assist! With Morrigan or Ryu, the timing is:
Assuming you cancel 4C / j.2C into Baselard right away
, and piano A~P quickly, the opponent cannot hit you between the hits, and you'll actually be left with frame advantage (albeit with no assist for a while). This trick should work with any assist that starts up as fast as or faster than Morrigan/Ryu, timing adjusted appropriately.
Unfortunately, you have to do the 236A~P right away, so it's not something you can do on reaction to seeing either move blocked.
On hit, 4C 236A~P should combo into a super (level 3 even?).
But j.2C on hit knocks down. With Morrigan, this isn't a problem: if the opponent neutral-techs, they stand up into Morrigan's soul fist, and if they roll behind you, you might not get frame advantage (TODO: test this), but you'll at least be safe. With other assists, you will have to test this carefully. E.g. if done too early, Ryu's fireball might travel past them by the time they wake up. Other assists (with fast start-up and not enough active frames) might actually need to be block-confirmed. Some assists might never be safe on both hit and block.
I suppose I can talk a bit about how I test all of this, too...
Appendix: How I Tested All of This
Unfortunately, TvC's training mode doesn't have an easy way to test vs mashing opponents, so I had to use the following methods:
1. Use a friend (shoutout to Leo7ard).
2. Use a joystick with turbos and my feet.
The testing I've done is nice for a start, but there is a lot still to be done:
- Test attack strings with other assists.
- Integrate 2A into attack strings.
- Test against throws (I think
all of the above is safe against mashing throw, but I'm not 100% certain).
- Test against pushblockers.
- Test against short characters like Roll and V.Joe.
(I'd like to know if Blade has any option-select attack strings or reset mixups vs mega crash, too. Like a surprise Falchion reset that misses the crash.)
I'm pretty unreliable when it comes to keeping OPs up-to-date, I'll admit, so anyone can feel free to mod-edit this to add new and useful info, or even start a new topic with organized links to info like this.