WindyMan’s Helpful Guide to Using N-Groove
Let’s get one thing straight, N-Groove is not an inferior groove, not at all. The reason why people think this is that they use the groove improperly. I personally started using N-Groove in the beginning of my playing days, but became frustrated with it and switched to K. After I found that K-Groove wasn’t doing it for me, I went back to N, and suddenly it all became clear: I was using N-Groove the wrong way for almost a year.
So then, let me give you some helpful tips on how you should use N-Groove, and why it’s better than a lot of people think it is…
Power Up mode gives 20% extra damage when a stock is broken.
In other words, all your attacks, nomals and specials, do 120% damage. This is a lot. Unlike in K-Groove, where you need to take a few hits to get your offensive damage bonus, in N-Groove you can use it whenever you have meter available, which is good. Because of this threat, being powered up will relieve pressure. If you’re in a jam, breaking a stock will make you more dangerous in both damage and super potential. This means people will usually back off a bit when you’re Powered Up, giving you time to recover. If they’re stupid and keep coming at you, a nice Level 3 super in their face will remind them who’s in charge.
Don’t be afraid to break a stock when you only have one available.
Don’t you just hate it when you lose to someone by a few pixels? If you broke that last stock you had, your hits would have done 20% more damage, and you would have won. If it becomes obvious that you’re not going to get enough meter to go Level 3, or your Level 1 supers won’t be of any help to you given your situation, don’t let that damage boost go to waste. It might be your ticket to victory. Conversely…
Never, never, NEVER sit on a full 3-stock meter for any period of time.
You get no damage or defensive bonuses for holding a full meter. If you’re pretty sure you can finish off someone before they cause you some trouble, and you want to save the whole meter for the next round, that’s fine. However, you’re not getting a 20% damage boost, or using Counter Attacks or Counter Movements, all of which will help you finish off characters a lot faster than if you just save them for supers you’ll probably never get off.
Sometimes it’s more efficient to break a stock and do a big combo than it is to burn it on a Level 1 or 3 super.
Okay, so you stun someone, and have plenty of time to get something to drink, take a nap, and put the hurt on your poor, defenseless friend. You have three options: a) Do a super, b) break a stock and do a MAX Level super, or c) break a stock and do a damaging combo. If you chose option A or B right away, you’re not using N-Groove properly. Like with C-Groove and Level 2-into-1 cancels, some characters are better off with a big combo at 120% damage than a Level 1 or MAX level super.
Kyo is a perfect example of this phenomenon. His d.mk XX qcf, qcf+p super does a modest 3000 damage. While this is pretty good damage using a stock for a super, if instead you break the stock and do his big-money launching kicks combo, you can get 4000+ damage! The damaging part of his Level 3 flame super doesn’t even do that much. To top it off, when you’re done with the combo, you’ll have a good 10 seconds of activation left too, so you might yet get to land a Level 3 super, or land another big 120% combo.
Counter Rolling, when done right, can make you a tough opponent.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to use the counter (forward) roll. The wrong way is blocking a projectile super from mid-screen or more, then rolling right into the lap of the fully-recovered thrower of said projectile. The correct way of pulling off a counter roll is to wait before or until the hit before a long, laggy move that people think are perfectly safe to end a poke combo with, then as they throw out that move, you’ll roll through it and be behind them to start a combo. Don’t throw them, because you’re giving them a chance to tech out of it. If you can hit then with a combo, by all means.
For instance, a couple of characters you could really put the hurt on with a counter roll would be against Yamazaki and his B&B swipe combo (roll before the last, low one), as well as Hibiki and her distance slashes (roll as you block one, you’ll get there in time). Look for other common patterns in laggy or slow moves to exploit (like Ryu ending every combo with a “safe” Hadouken), and start taking risks with it. Rolling in itself is a risk, but with a counter roll, you can roll at virtually any time.
You’re not “wasting” a stock doing this, because you’re letting the other person know that you can get out of any move at any time, which is worth the price of admission.
Oh, and it goes really without saying that counter rolls are the perfect anti A-Groove. Just remember that it’s not wise to roll when their CC is a bunch of normal attacks chained together (Ken), but rather, when a bunch of specials are chained together (Sakura). CCs with nothing but normals are completely harmless when blocked, so there’s no reason why you should roll away from them. (As an aside, if you block a Special-chain (Sakura) A-Groove combo, wait a bit for some free meter, and see if they try an overhead reset or something else that you can easily shake off without burning a stock. Otherwise, get out of their combo and punish as they recover from their whiffed special move.)
Counter Movement Back Step has a use after all.
When that annoying Blanka player does the wakeup Electricity act on you, the smart players (alpha) counter attack them out of it after the RC invincibilty wears off. The smarter players, however, will perform the Counter Movement Back Step, and do onto the recovering Blanka whatever his heart desires. Whatever (usually) free move you get, it’s going to do a lot more damage than the 600 you get from the AC, and you have the added bonus of being able to safe fall check it. You could also always pull off a super on them to get them in line.
While this senario is the best use for it, it’s not the only one you can use the Back Step for. If you feel you’re in a situation where you can gain any advantage but putting a little more space between you and them, use the Back Step. You can also use it to get away from something that normally can’t be stepped away from, like Cammy’s or Sagat’s poke chains. (You’re going to lose half your guard crush anyway, so you might as well tell them that you’re in control of the match.) Whether or not positioning is worth using a stock is up for debate, but it is something else no other groove has, and like in the Blanka example, it can be quite effective in places.
The myth that the meter is slow-buliding is utterly false.
The reason for this is twofold: One, it looks long. It appears to be a really long K-Groove meter that needs to be bulit up three times before it needs to be filled. Not the case. One N-Groove stock = 50% of the A-Groove gauge. That is, a full A-Groove meter = two N-Groove stocks. If you can fill the A-Groove meter quickly, you can fill the N-Groove meter quickly. It’s just that there’s more of it to fill, that’s all. The second reason stems from the fact that people who say this are using the groove incorrectly. If you use all the tools mentioned above, you will have more opportunities to attack and stay alive longer, which means more chances to bulid up meter. If you use the groove properly, you’ll always have meter when you really need it. When you don’t, you’ll do fine with the run/small jump/roll setup to bulid enough back up quickly.
Another myth, or rather, misconception, about what Groove meter is used for is to deal damage, and nothing else. Not entirely true. In grooves with a single meter, like P, S and K, it’s only useful to you when it’s full, and almost entirely only for offensive purposes. For the other 3 grooves, you have a way of avoiding damage with a meter that’s not so full. Once you realize that a well-placed alpha counter, counter roll or back step in N-Groove can save you from eventually getting hit with some big damage, you’ll see why using a stock defensively instead of offensively is extremely useful. If can dish out 3000 damage with a stock, or avoid getting hit with 3000, the smart choice would be to avoid the damage, because you only have so much vitality to work with in this game, and every little bit that you can get helps.
I hope this info was helpful. Needs more N-Groove love.