Is learning the whole cast of characters a waste of time?


I searched the interwebs and didn’t really find an answer, however I’m sure this is a topic that has been discussed. I know the common wisdom is to pick a main and stick with it, but I wonder, is learning each character a waste of time or does it help in any way?

Knowing a character should probably be defined here because when do you truly “know” a character? So for the purposes of this thread, “Knowing” a character means having completed their trials (at least the first 20, I’m a noob so I have issues with the latter trials), and getting up to around 2000 BP online. Obviously, this will probably only give you a basic fundamental understanding of the character and how it matches up with others.

So here are some more specific questions;

1.) Does knowing other characters help you with your main?
2.) If so, how does it help you? (like does it give you new ideas or help with your execution?)
3.) Does it help with learning match-ups?
4.) Is there an ideal amount of characters you should learn? Or should you learn them all?

Personally, I started out with Sagat and have since switched to Adon, however, I have found that thanks to Adon, my Sagat play improved just because I was able to explore different ways of fighting a battle. Again I’m a noob so that’s just me.

I think I can throw out another advantage; playing the whole cast might give you the ability to find a character you may have previously dismissed but later on found to be extremely fun or more suited to your play style.


Learning more about the game and bettering yourself is never a waste of time.


Learning other characters gives you a feel for their tools and timing. It is very useful. Every time I fight one of my previous mains I’m 1000% more comfortable than when fighting characters I never use.

To make your life easier you should get acquainted ( say 5000BP) with the top tier characters in the game, or the most used ones, like Akuma, Cammy, Ryu, and Fei Long. Some of them (like Bison) are so ridiculously easy to use that this should not take more than 2-3 days of regular play.

As a Dan player I also play other characters sometimes to marvel and get angry at how much faster their shit comes out… like Ryu’s cr.MK for instance

I’m like… aww dude.



learning other characters will definitely throw you off for execution
but you learn the match up without having to vs them yourself

  1. Yes.
  2. Playing around with them can certainly help inspire some new ideas and help execution.
  3. It helps you get to know they work and, thus, helps with matchups against them.
  4. Do you mean learn as in “Play around with them to learn how they work” or learn as in “Become competent enough to beat people with”? If it’s the former, play around with all of them. If it’s the latter, it varies, most people do two or maybe three sometimes, and you should not even bother trying to learn them all.


playing new chatacters always gives me new ideas for my main. very helpful.

just be careful not to spread yourself too thin. you know, the jack of all trades…


I play many characters in this game, not as much as my main and alt, but since where I live the opponents don’t have much character variety, it has helped me understand matchups and character specific stuff a lot.


Like chubbyfingerz pointed out, you might wanna learn the top tiers just to learn how to fight them. Seth is one of my mains so i’m always comfortable in the matchup. He doesn’t seem as OP when you know the character inside out.


I would add that it WILL improve your exe at some point. Some char can use particular shortcuts to do some specials in combo faster, FADC with only 1 input etc, but by playing with other char you’ll be forced to adopt a clean execution for these moves. Result is developing a universal way to execute some moves that work everytime for any char you choose.


Obviously leaning to play all 39 characters competently is a by of a tall order, but if you can learn a variety of characters it will improve your understanding of the game. I’d say I can play around ten characters semi-competently in this game and learning a variety of syles (Grappler in T. Hawk, footsies in Vega, Zoner in Guile, Rushdown with Makoto, Average Guy in Ryu…) has given me a fairly decent understanding of how the different archetypes interact.


If anything, its a decent amount of fun. Try it out.


back in sf2 and alpha days everyone i knew pretty much had 1 or 2 mains but would still play every character. by alpha 3 most of my friends would play maybe 5 characters tops but mostly stick to their mains. most people i know nowadays play 1-2 characters tops but there are a few guys i know who still play over 10. the more you play the more spread out your talent/matchup knowledge will be but then you will never have any bad matchups. if you think of the game as a whole and only use certain characters in certain matchups that will be much easier to learn and master.

just depends how you want to play the game, i mean when the older games were out I was still in school and had all the time to play in the world, playing all 39 characters is one hell of a task but spending 2-3 hours on each character would benefit you playing against some competent friends.

I simply would not have time to develop more than 3 characters nowadays. i am just about to hit A Rank with Honda and have started my Guile for when a low BP opponent rematches me, and once he is at B I am going to start a Fei Long. Committing to any more characters wouldn’t really help my play because i have all matchups covered, my matchup knowledge would likely diminish, and most of the other characters don’t really suit my playstyle. I have always played a Ryu but I don’t really plan on every using him in a tournament.


its useful, but its very difficult with this many characters. In older sf games, especially sf2, it was possible to learn everyone without a major detriment to your main, with the amount of characters that are in sf4, its probably less productive


Isn’t playing video games a waste of time? :smiley:


1.) Does knowing other characters help you with your main?

2.) If so, how does it help you? (like does it give you new ideas or help with your execution?)
For match-up purposes, you’ll know the tools that your opponent’s character can use to really stop you. I honestly don’t believe in “too much knowledge”, although sometimes it can be overwhelming. The idea is that you should know the tools your opponent is using, at the very least. You don’t necessarily have to know, “Okay, he can do X or Y if he does this combo, and I can follow up with A or B given that situation,” but it does come in quite handy.

3.) Does it help with learning match-ups?
See my above answer.

4.) Is there an ideal amount of characters you should learn? Or should you learn them all?
Learning them all is a waste of time, considering that a lot of characters overlap. Learn a few things about each character that are necessary tools (for instance, if the opponent has an SRK-type move, know ways it can be applied) and necessary punishes.

Remember, Bruce Lee said it best, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”