Learning the cast


In any of the fighting games I play, should I be striving to learn the entire cast, or at least a majority of it, to a feasible level?

I notice a lot of top players are able to play a good portion of the cast in their fighter at a decent level, outside of their mains. Basically, how important would you say the principal/act of playing and learning the cast in any fighter is overall?


There is a correlation there. For now dont worry about it unless you play shitty character and you have to have many counter picks at the ready.

You really only need a basic knowledge of all the characters. Such as, dont punish Sakura’s EX Tatsu because it’s safe on block. Be careful punishing Decapre’s sharp sting move because she can frame trap with psycho sting after even with no meter. Punish the psycho sting instead. Or in 3rd strike dont punish any of Dudley’s supers after blocking, under any circumstance unless you red parry the last hit and get in a hit confirm before recovery.


I find that playing every character each for a day or two helped me see vulnerabilities and timings that I would otherwise not get translated into number form (start up, active and recovery frames). It helped me become a more capable punisher than I was before and I definitely recommend that you do it before putting massive amounts of time into mastering a single character. If you’re more numbers oriented or feel confident in your abilities to read you can always just loop up these moves and their numbers prior and save some time, but I find that most people learn better by feel than by reading.


Playing all the characters(or the ones you expect to fight) grants you a tremendous insight on how fast they recover and can react. If you have that information in your pocket, it’s easier to focus on the opponent’s habits instead. The sooner and the more things that are in muscle memory, the better you will do in matches. Any time I’m getting destroyed over and over by one consistent character, I go and learn that character. All of a sudden attacks and defenses don’t seem so intimidating, and can ultimately be overcome.

  1. You should not be striving to play the whole cast at a decent level. Top players can noodle with a lot of the cast, but they’re really seldom “good” at any of them other than their main/alts. They pretty much rely on their superior fundamentals, not a lot of match up experience.

  2. Some people argue that learning a character is a good way to learn how to beat them. I’d argue that past the most very basic of levels, you’re much better off just putting time into your main and learning the matchup that way. If you ever wonder if something is punishable, you have frame data and training mode.


You learn your character, then your match ups, then you learn your bad match ups in depth and finally you learn your good match ups from a point of view where you could be out-played and why. Simple. As you progress, you’ll learn pretty much every character in terms of your main’s match up. Reasons for learning other characters can be: sometimes you need a counter character, other times characters are similar enough that you can convert easily to the next and other times a character is just interesting to you…


Learn a main character, after you have fundamentals you can learn a secondary or whatever. However, you should at least screw around with other character just to see their mindset.

Realistically, top players can do this mostly because of game knowledge of system mechanics and great fundamentals. In KOF for example, if you have really good fundamentals and know the system, you can use anyone since the cast’s combos really all work the same and start from the same moves (St.C, Cr.A, Cr,B, etc). That’s why you can see guys like Reynald, Romance, Woo and Xiaohai pull out Athena or Daimon from their ass and win tournaments.

You don’t need to learn the entire cast, just know the basic game plan of each character and how to punish them and their gimmicks. If there is a character you consistently lose to, going into training mode and using the character you hate can be eye opening and fun.


For me playing the whole cast in AE 2012 in ranked matches made me a better player with my main, not only because I understood the characters better, but I was on the receiving end of beatdowns by players using my main against me. Anything you do with street fighter will make you better at street fighter.


Although this might be true (and I’m not really sure that it is), what we’re really talking about is efficient ways to learn. Sure, you can learn some about the game by say–doing C to shining C–but is it an optimal/efficient way to learn? If the goal is to learn how to beat other characters with your main, then no, learning the cast is probably the least efficient way to do so.


When I was learning sf4, with Ryu, I kept losing to Zangief players and couldn’t find a way in at all. It wasn’t til i played as Zangief that I knew what other Zangief players were looking for, in terms of command grab opportunities and punishes. Learning everyone would be a waste, but getting the general idea with a charge, a grappler, a shoto will help you know when those styles are at their most vulnerable (ie when a charge character is walking forward) and it’ll help you push your opponents around a little more. Likewise you’ll know when to back off, which moves you shouldn’t do when they have ex/super/ultra…the list goes on! You’ll learn it all with one character through matchups, but if you’re particularly struggling against someone, stepping in their shoes speeds the learning curve up.

I now main Abel, partly as a result of trying out Zangief, after learning how intimidating grapplers can be on the edge of command grab range. Completely changed my game.