Figure I would repost this here. Here is a general take on the various approaches to fighting as Lion that I’ve written up. It is very general, it isn’t specific to moves, but somehow a lot of people found it useful so I hope it will be as useful to people here too
I am currently working on a Move-Specific Interpretation (it’s like a very subjective Mini-Guide). I won’t say what move I will be covering with this, just that I have spent a lot of my free time over the weekend testing a lot of things out for it to make sure it is more objective.
I hope to have it out soon, but since the work week has already started, we’ll see how long it takes from now but much of the material is already set.
That said, I do want to add more to this thread so I’ll at least tease at some topics I find of interested to Lion. I also hope to write more content talking about these approaches to Lion in the future.
I have kept this post general on purpose–I intend to go more in-depth with these topics (and more) later and one at a time
Lion’s Many Approaches to Combat
With certain changes made to Lion in VF5R and in VF5FS, his core and more straight-forward game has improved greatly over VF5 Vanilla Lion. I believe this has made Lion’s game easier to learn for much of the VF population and it is easier to point to a more standard way of playing Lion.
That said, Lion has always had interesting tools in his toolbox that catered to a variety of playstyles. I believe this is still very much true, maybe even more true as Lion can be played as straight-forward, as indirect, as passive, and as aggressive as the player wants to play, and he can be effective at all of these.
In this post, I am merely listing some of the approaches that I myself implement in my own Lion game. How much I use or refrain from using these approaches depends on the opponent and sometimes even the opponent’s character.
Because of this versatility, Lion can be as fun or boring as you would probably want him to be, and still be effective!
Word of Caution: There is a lot of overlap between these “Approaches.”
Lion can play the classic VF-game and with his overall power level increased and an easier time punishing low attacks compared to Vanilla, Lion’s standard VF theory game is strong. Lion can also force various guessing games up-close. While Lion’s fast launchers usually require a counter-hit or a mistake from the opponent, he pretty much has all the mixups covered decently: mids that can extend damage, low attacks that can combo, a quite good (if not great) throw game, a guard-break that ensures a very worthy combo, a decent set of half-circulars and full circulars to give evaders a headache, enough bounds to enable greater combo damage as well as greater carry towards the ring out zone or the wall, and an array of attacks that can hard-counter (as in beat low punch or sabaki certain kicks or punches). Lion also has an aggressive as hell side-rape game (abusing an opponent who is side-turned). Lion has all the tools to mix-up however you personally want to mix-up. All of this adds up to a character who can play incredibly well with aggressive mindgames and 50/50s.
He can do what the aggressive rushdown player wants to do: press the opponent into questions he will answer incorrectly.
On top of this, he can aggressively slip (see Slippery Lion) and it is no secret that Lion can be pretty mean on okizeme which only adds to rushing down with Lion.
Lion has so many tools to out-space opponents and encourage the opponent to make record-amounts of mistakes. He can bait everyone including the other master-baiters (sorry I couldn’t resist).
A very reactive player playing a footsie Lion is very dangerous–especially offline.
To aid in this, much of Lion’s ranges are “slightly off” and he has attacks that cover practically the full spectrum of close, mid, and even long range. A good Lion player who understands the ranges of his full arsenal is incredibly deadly and can punish a lot of range-based mistakes by the opponent.
This style of Lion can avoid much of the difficult guessing games if he wants, to play a more movement and reflex oriented game and can even pile on the damage with a lot of Lion’s current tools at the longer ranges.
It does not matter if the opponent has great lows, special highs, or mids at almost any range, Lion can find a way to whiff punish it usually.
(Ring) Positional Lion
It’s no secret that Lion has ALWAYS been a very good spacial character in the VF games. He has had 3d movement since the linear VF2!
On top of an annoying footsie game and a lethal capacity for rushing opponents down, Lion has the ability to reposition much of the fight and also carry the opponent long distances towards the wall or the ring out zone. Lion also has an easier time launching people over half-walls.
Lion has always been good with ring position, this hasn’t changed ever.
This is one area where Lion players should tread carefully. Lion has arguably the best low attack arsenal in VF, but all of his low attacks carry a good amount of risk.
That said, these low attacks have their role and how much one implements Lion’s low game should depend on the opponent one is facing.
Opponents who fail to block low because of option selects or a fear of mid attacks must beware of Lion’s low-whoring abilities.
Lion’s Evasiveness has always been record-setting annoying for opponents. While his 2_3P uppercut doesn’t carry the same amount of BS as in prior VF games, it’ll still break the rules on some attacks (just not as many as before). But his 2_3P is just icing on the cake–Lion has a lot of evasive attacks from his momentum-breaking 4P that slides under high attacks and can reset the flow of battle to his various low and mid attacks that can slide under many attacks including mids! He also has hard-counter attacks for everything for when Lion has a real read on the opponent–he can bust up predictable low attacks out-right, sabaki or slip through certain kick attacks, and he can even manually slip through certain predictable offenses.
Lion has always been a slippery character, he’s still a damn good slippery character–a good slippery Lion player can steal turns in so many ways.
A note on “Poking” Lion
VF is generally a poking game. If I tried to explain what a poking Lion is, I think I would pretty much just overlap the above approaches to playing Lion.
An aggressive rushdown Lion is more or less poking, slipping, and forcing some hard guessing games through an opponent’s comfort and discomfort zones.
A footsie Lion is “out-poking” his opponent from various ranges and taking advantage of Lion’s full arsenal having control of almost all ranges in the game.
A low whoring Lion could even low poke his opponent, though at smaller gains without a knockdown.
A slippery Lion is clearly poking using the more evasive attacks in Lion’s arsenal.
Because of all of this, I don’t really think of “Poking” as an approach to a character in VF. Rather, I think poking is just something you’re generally doing in VF because that’s how the system is built. Lion just happens to have a lot of tools to make pin-point attacks and encourage opponent whiffs.
These are approaches, they don’t have to be “styles”–they are more like approaches to problems
It is my belief that a great Lion can solve problems. In VF5R and VF5FS, Lion is given greater strength in solving problems simply and conventionally.
That said, all these approaches should be a part of every Lion player imo (even if an approach is only a small part). Lion’s complete game is such a joy in Virtua Fighter–it is incredibly rewarding to play to Lion’s depths. He has a lot of options.
You don’t have to be a rushdown, footsie, low-whoring, positional, or slippery Lion player. You can be capable of utilizing all these sets of tools and choose when one of these approaches is best suited to the character matchup and more importantly when they are best suited for your opponent’s game. You can make it even just a part of the round.
These are really just a way of categorizing a set of answers into overall packages to work on at your own pace.
We could even categorize different approaches to Lion, but these are the core approaches in my personal Lion handbook/toolbox. I’ve found it incredibly useful in my Lion play and also very rewarding. Some opponents just see certain moves of Lion that have hurt them the most–but they often miss that I’m tuning my play on these dimensions to eventually find some hard-answers for the questions they are posing.
If I try to explain my current way of playing Lion, which could change on the day… I usually start playing a safer Footsie approach against my opponent to try to encourage mistakes and get a sense of what the opponent is going for. I do play mix-ups here and there, but initially I’m just trying to play it more safe and build up reads. If I see a low weakness in my opponent, I might go after it for a bit to see how long it takes for the opponent to adjust to that, or I may just stay footsie. I do mix in aggression to test the opponent early, but again, I want to understand my opponent–conscious or sub-conscious (sadly, it is often sub-conscious). As I feel my game has adapted to my opponent’s, I will go on the rushdown game at some point, at least most of the time, and this is where my reads are truly tested. I am playing Lion in a slippery fashion when I am playing footsie as well as when I am aggressive–I’ve just found that Lion is so good at stealing turns with slippery attacks that he can create some interesting opportunities to force a real guessing game once the opponent has been stalled in this way. Most opponents are better equipped to deal with a fuzzy guard turn-steal than getting their turn-stolen by a successful attack from disadvantage. However, I cannot let the opponent catch on to this too fast or over-prepare for it, so I’m not always trying to slip him in any one way, often times the slipping is sprinkled here and there based on lighter reads and the overall safety of the slipping attack. Typically, my game does elevate in aggression over the course of the match.
I am not saying I am great at all of this, but this is generally my current approach to playing Lion. I definitely make mistakes, I definitely have bad habits that are hard to fix, and there are situations where I repeatedly answer one-way at my own peril and there are also non-mixups that I do that should be mix-ups (like constantly going for mid instead of something else). Life is constant improvement till the end, VF is like that too
The versatility of Lion is like VF itself, it is incredibly rewarding and keeps on impressing you with how much more you could be trying to do.
Lion (and VF) is more than max-damage