Strategy vs Execution: Where do you stand?


Recently the topic of execution was touched on in the front page of SRK:

Shortly afterwards Sirlin came out with his response:

Both articles sparked plenty of discussion in the comments, and some of that discussion recently spilled over into scrubquotes:

Now the debate was more than a little out of place in scrubquotes, so I created this thread where people can just say whatever they have to say on the topic.


Scrubquotes is back!

Just for a bit of encouragement, I’m thinking of writing a front page feature on the whole “execution vs strategy” debate based in part on what people here say.


Hmm, Well what I say Depends on the game tbh. Older games like Mvc2 and Cvs2 had an execution barrier that you had to get to in order to implement a strategy.

Think of it like playing an instrument, Strategy is your ability to play In key and on Rhythm, Execution is you actually playing the instrument. No matter how well you do in one if you don’t have a good middle ground between both you will project yourself as sloppy.

Sorry my metaphor is lacking its 3 am and Ill think about better words to use in the morning.

Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk 2


Great Strategy with No Execution would mean you’d have to make a very high number of reads and/or mix-ups to win. Great Execution and No Strategy could mean that you win with a TOD combo, but it would be completely random whether you’d actually get that hit in that wins the match for you.

While I lean towards strategy, it really depends on the game. I feel like Marvel is a game that rewards execution more than other games (in that I’ve seen a lot of folks with piss poor strategies get very far off of their high damage combos), but I’d still say it slightly favors strategy over execution. It’s just very slight.

I’ve seen a lot of games going into this idea of rewarding execution more, with games like KOFXIII rewarding combos a lot more than previous KOFs did. If this trend continues, it may well become that execution dwarfs strategy. Hell, we might already be there and I just haven’t seen the full picture.


People should go read Silrin’s responses in his own article. There’s a lot of thought provoking stuff in there.


They are equally important. Strategy has no foundation without execution, and execution is fundamentally useless without strategy.


You missed his points then.
Every real time (not turn based) game will have execution as a requirement in it. The question is “how much”. He wants it at the minimum (which doesn’t lessen the game’s depth and makes sense via design) because the interesting part is the battle of the minds. Just being able to do a move is boring. The interesting part is choosing which move to do and at what time.

Even if you invent a controller that reads your mind, fighting games are still fighting games. The real time and the speed of the game forces you to have skills of split second decision making that other genres don’t have. So why put this beautiful thing behind a wall of mindless execution barriers? It doesn’t make the game deeper, just more exclusive to people with magic hands, regardless of their decision making abilities. It makes the game more physical but less cerebral.

Not that there’s anything wrong with physical, but that’s what actual sports are made for, not video games.

FGC is full of execution fetish players so I’m sure some will disagree and think it’s ok to reward pure execution with tools that are too good and diminish the game’s depth at the highest level of play.


I want MVC2 and KOF98 execution requirements back so damn bad :frowning:


No one has stated: Anime game execution, or ST execution, or KOF execution, etc. Execution at its most basic form is simply doing what you intend to do. Whatever barriers there are in place HAVE to be respected and understood, regardless of the game, or genre. On the opposite side of things, it’s obvious that you must understand WHY you act in the manner that you do, as the best execution in the world will do you no good if you can’t outsmart the person and land that hit.

The fact that both are so neatly bound together is intrinsic to fighting games in general, and frankly the most interesting thing about learning them, in my opinion.


The argument was never about the existence of a hadouken motion but about additions to execution requirements just for the sake of it.
Things that will not change how the game plays at high level if you make them easier.


I’m still waiting to hear about this game that existed that has moves that are so hard dumb threads like this come about.


The argument was never as fleshed out as you make it to be.

Discusses the importance of particular motions for character archetypes, and awareness of execution requirements.

and finally, the scrubquotes argument began with this;

The closest thing to your argument would be Sirlin’s piece, and is honestly something that has been rectified (in different ways, some controversial and some widely accepted) over the decades that we have been playing these games (barring 1f links, but I’ll get to that).

Should someone be able to perform the move they intend to? Absolutely. However, what would you say if there was a game that allowed you to map your own inputs, with a # of motions necessary (to stop people from doing 236P for a SPD, or 636, etc)? It would be an interesting experiment, to say the least. What about simplified inputs? Isn’t precision under duress also a factor to be considered? Or has that gone the way of the dodo?

And in regards to 1f links. Some are clearly unnecessary. SF4 has an incredible amount of 1f (2f links provided it’s not a jab or a standing short), many of which I would argue are unnecessary as you’ve already done what you intended to, and thus fall into the category of extension. However, think about KOF13. Would it be fair if Shen could easily link off cr B to cr C and cancel to super, simply because you wanted to? What about Marvel 2? Should you be able to guard break a person, just because that was your strategy? Should you be able to JD and GC everything in Garou just because you want to? Doesn’t it make sense that these are inconsistent enough for balance’ sake?

To keep it short, execution and strategy complement each other. A talented strategist will ensure his execution is precise in order to perform.

No one is asking for pretzels to DP.


all i do is strategize - barely ever get to play and actually execute my ideas.
mostly because i work so much, atleast i get to day dream about how i’m going to kick butt…


Inconsistency is not a balancing tool! Either you want something to be possible all the time, or never.
Also a parry window is not the same as a combo. It also depends on predicting the timing of the opponent’s attack.


According to whom? Developers for the last 20 years have thrown a cog in that argument. They design the characters to inherently have 1f gaps in almost EVERYTHING.

And not to nitpick, but I was never discussing combos by themselves, I was discussing the broad subject of execution. Parry windows do a great job of displaying this in particular, as they bridge the gap rather nicely between both concepts.


SF4 being my first “serious” fighting game has probably skewed my attitude on execution (Sakura 1-frame link whore). Now that I play SFxT, I’m an EWGF whore Kazuya player. Maybe I’m have an execution fetish? :oops:

Execution does not take away from strategy; I think that’s a pretty serious cop-out. Deciding to go for a difficult link/juggle (which usually guarantees additional damage) is a strategic decision. I don’t EWGF every time I touch someone. I have to make the decision to do it based on what I’d like to achieve (positioning, setups, tagging, meter, damage etc). Removing the execution barrier (stupid boost combos in SFxT for example) doesn’t focus the game on strategy; it allows lazy people who don’t want to put in work to level the playing field and deprives those that do of additional strategies, damage etc. People will always gravitate to the easiest method for the win.
That said, option selects, “unblockables”, wildly overlapping inputs, and extremely difficult-to-input specials to are terrible and I find it hard to understand their strategic benefit.

The Sakura example is pretty silly. Sakura (along with many characters in SF4) is obscene with the right execution, but James was flat out wrong about the 1 frame combo requirement. Chris G does not do those combos (90% of the time) and neither to a majority of Sakura players. Skatan Milla, Humanbomb, DragonballJoseph and others are exceptions.

Games need to get harder; this softness is getting annoying.

Edit: Edited for clarity.


What I mean is that it shouldn’t be. You should not be making a move too good, only balanced by hard execution because someone out there will be able to do it, and then what? The move is still too good, and at the highest level it will harm the game.

How about playing a game where training mode grinding isn’t a cop-out itself? A game where if you can’t make the right decisions you have NOTHING else to rely on? You know… a battle of the mind?


At the highest level, wouldn’t that become a non-issue?


“Strategy” and “execution” aren’t balancing each other on a scale. Increasing the importance of one doesn’t necessarily decrease the importance of the other. To stick with the SF4 Sakura example, it doesn’t really matter if her best combos are 1f links or 5f links, you’re still going to do the same stuff with her, and you still want to land those combos. It’s just easier for more people to do it with 5f links.

What changes the balance is the reward. If you have a character that converts to 100% damage off random hits via very difficult combos, then execution becomes more important than strategy. It doesn’t really matter how you get those hits, only that you get them and convert. If you take that same combos and make them do 25% damage, then execution becomes less important. Granted, that’s an extreme example.


sirlin said execution reduces strategy

thats where i stopped reading :coffee: