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A guide to 12.3, Volume II/III (v2.0)

AwkwardSpecimen Jan 24th, 2013 187 Never
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  1. VOLUME II
  2.        
  3. Table of Contents
  4. 1.      Why you are here
  5. a.      The 9 general tips of TH12.3
  6. b.      About the AI
  7. c.      Picking a character
  8. 2.      About frames
  9. a.      Frame advantage/disadvantage
  10. b.      Some (relatively) important frame data
  11. 3.      Advanced maneuvers
  12. a.      Cancels
  13. b.      Border escape
  14. c.      Tiger Kneeing
  15. d.      Land cancelling/Safejumping
  16. e.      Dashblocking
  17. f.      Groundteching
  18. 4.      Game flow
  19. 5.      Offense revisited
  20. a.      Blockstrings
  21. i.      Stagger pressure
  22. ii.     High-low game
  23. iii.    Resets
  24. iv.     Crossups
  25. v.      Spell crushing
  26. b.      Combos
  27. c.      Tech-chasing/Okizeme
  28. 6.      Defense revisited
  29. a.      Attack types
  30. b.      Defensive options revisited
  31. c.      How to use your defensive options on the ground
  32. d.      How to use your defensive options in the air
  33. e.      In the air, after the juggle state
  34. f.      Lying on the ground (groundteching)
  35. 7.      Neutral game
  36. a.      Chucking bullets
  37. b.      Grazing revisited
  38. c.      Options for approaching
  39. 8.      Deck construction
  40. a.      Purposes of cards
  41. b.      Fluidity
  42. c.      Affecting probability
  43. 9.      Weather
  44.  
  45. Section 1: Why are you here?
  46. There are several reasons as to why you are here. The most obvious of these is that you’ve just finished Volume I, thought that everything listed was common sense, and wanted to see what else was written about TH12.3. Alternatively, you might’ve tried a game with a friend (or even a custom AI), only to find that you’ve been beaten silly. Regardless of why you are here, it will be assumed that you are here to learn about the deeper mechanics of TH12.3 and ways to use them properly.
  47. This guide assumes that all you have been doing up until now is limited to playing the AI and beating the stuffing out of it, that you have a general grasp of how the inferface works and how the buttons work, and/or that you have read Volume I..
  48.  
  49. Section 1a: The 9 general tips of TH12.3
  50. If the player you played was well versed in TH12.3, he might’ve told you something like “stop mashing,” or “don’t press buttons.” What does it mean?
  51. Well…
  52. Definition 1: Mash—a technique consisting of pressing buttons other than 4 while in blockstun. The definition of mash is very loose—some people consider failed attacks while in a blockstring mashing, while others consider any non-defensive move in general mashing. Generally, pressing or holding buttons other than back while being attacked “mashing”. We will define it as “not blocking without thinking it over first”.
  53. Tip 1: “Mashing” is not a good idea. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq9Zt79brh0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coJxDZw4GAI for "proof”
  54. Tip 2: After an airtech, unless the opponent is far away and from you, mashing is not a good idea.
  55. Tip 3: Airteching after using all of your flights is not a good idea.
  56. Tip 4: Using spellcards randomly in the hopes of damage is not a good idea. (Reads are fine, though; for example, using a graze attack when you think your opponent will throw a bullet.)
  57. Tip 5: If you choose to try poking, which is generally not recommended against better players, make sure to be ready to follow up with the combo you had in mind. If not, then do not poke either.
  58. Tip 6: If you whiff a melee attack or have a bullet attack be grazed, you should start blocking. Exceptions to this rule (sometimes) includes in Spring Haze, and if the opponent forced you to whiff a low-lag move by using a laggy move (E.G. a backdash).
  59. Tip 7: Unless the opponent is in the air as well, do not airtech right above the ground if the opponent is on the ground. This opens up opportunities for airunblockables
  60.  
  61. Don’t worry too much if you don’t know what some of this means. Some of these words and concepts will be covered in this guide.
  62.  
  63. Section 1b: About the AI
  64. If you have played both arcade/vs. com mode and against a decent player, you’ll notice that players do not play similarly at all to the AI. Decent players will put you in the corner and perform combos and blockstrings (more on that later), but AIs will only chain attacks together on occasion, and block sporadically. In other words, the AI that was programmed into TH12.3 is a horrible training tool.
  65. However, Custom AIs do exist. While custom AIs have many flaws (To use two examples that we haven’t talked about yet, they block all crossups and they can react nearly instantaneously to gaps in blockstrings), they are much better than the standard AI and will use tactics (ranging from combos to blockstrings) that real players use, except on a frame-perfect level. Unfortunately, this will make your chances of winning a round almost zero without abuse of the AI’s programming flaws. Nevertheless, if there is nobody to play against, the Custom AI is better than nothing.
  66. A custom AI and a general guide can be found at http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?10gibsse3j1hakl and http://hisouten-static.koumakan.jp//6/68/AIManager.png, respectively.
  67.  
  68. Section 1c: Picking a character
  69. If you want to play  the game at a moderately competitive level (or just want to get better), it is highly recommended that you only start with one character rather jumping around. To get an idea of what character you should pick that matches your playstyle (or whose playstyle you like), see http://hisouten.koumakan.jp/wiki/User_Talk:Nameless.
  70.  
  71. Section 2: About frames
  72. Before anything can be learned, it’s important to realize that the game of TH12.3, like all computer games, runs on “frames”. 60 frames is equal to 1 second, and all attacks are measured by frames—saying that Patchouli’s 5A comes out in 0.15 seconds is rather inconvenient, especially considering that frames are what game developers use to measure attacks in the first place.
  73. There is a program that lets a player slow down or speed up gameplay, which is useful for viewing individual frames; however, it is only available for version 1.10. Thus, it is recommended that you keep two versions—one with 1.10 for frame testing, and another with 1.10a for gameplay. The program can be downloaded from http://mauve.sandwich.net/misc/th123_110_step.exe
  74.  
  75. Section 2a: Frame advantage/disadvantage
  76. Frame advantage (Or disadvantage, but we will refer to disadvantage as negative advantage) is the speed by which you can act quicker than your opponent after something happens. So, for example, if your opponent uses their 25-frame 5A, and you realize that he missed on frame 9, you will have a 16 (25-9) frame advantage since you can act 16 frames before they can, which you can capitalize on to put your opponent at a disadvantage. This is very important, since it gives a measure on how risky an action in a specific situation is. To win 12.3, you need to minimize risk and maximize results as much as possible, and capitalizing off of frame disadvantage is vital to doing both.
  77.  
  78. . Section 2b: Some (relatively) important frame data
  79. Note that this should actually be in Volume III or late Volume II, but it is best to mention this here, simply because there is relevant information here. As such, some vocabulary might not make sense yet. Refer back to this section later if necessary.
  80.  
  81. One can play 12.3 effectively without knowledge of how many frames each attack or movement has. However, some frame data should be known.
  82. While highjumping, any landed melee hits in the first 24 frames is a counterhit.
  83. It takes 6 frames for a highjump or a regular jump to leave the ground. In both cases, you cannot block and are completely vulnerable to melee (and bullet attacks, if regularly jumping).
  84. Not frame data, but highjumps have graze frames until the apex of the jump. This is usually after the 24 frames of counterhittability, meaning that there exist some frames of both graze and block.
  85. If blocking an airtight melee blockstring, it takes 10 frames from the beginning of the blockstring to begin a border escape. After this, border escapes are instantaneous. Border escaping a bullet-based blockstring is also instantaneous. (This is semi-important due to spellflashes; much more on that later.)
  86. Forward border escapes do not permit you to act (blocking included) before the 25th frame. Upwards border escapes do not permit you to act until you reach the apex of your highjump, which varies depending on character.
  87. You can block straight out of the midphase of a dash, but not before. This is usually around 10-15 frames.
  88. If you stop dashing and begin to block, there are graze frames for 15-20 or so frames that act in conjunction with the block. This means that, during this duration, bullets will be grazed, while melee attacks will be blocked. Keep in mind that attacking during this duration forfeits your graze frames.
  89. You have 20 frames to buffer a highjump with 2->8, and 15 frames to buffer a special (In other words, if you press 6 and 236B in the 15 frames afterwards, a 236B would come out, while inputting the command faster would result in a 623B. (Keep in mind that the priority for registering inputs goes as 421 & 623 > 214 & 236 > 22; so if you input 2236236 really fast, it’d come out as a 623)
  90.        
  91. Section 3: Advanced maneuvers
  92. While most of the possible actions that can be taken in TH12.3 are obvious, there are a few that are not. All of these should be practiced in some form and well-known.
  93. Section 3a: Cancels
  94. Besides having the ability to chain attacks together according to the general attack chain, TH12.3 has 3 other types of attack cancels:
  95.  
  96. 1.      Highjump cancelling—This is the most common form of attack cancelling other than going down the attack chain. To perform it, simply hold up while performing a bullet or special that can be highjump-cancelled. If the attack is highjump-cancelable, your character will cancel the attack being performed into a highjump. It is also possible to highjump sideways during a highjump cancel, by holding 7 to highjump backwards and 9 to highjump forwards.
  97. (Note that, by highjump cancelling, you may end the move early, omitting some bullets)
  98. 2.      Backdash cancelling—Done in the same manner as highjump cancelling. To activate a backdash cancel, use a bullet or special that can be highjump/backdash cancelled, and immediately hold 4D (or tap backwards repeatedly). This will omit some ending lag in exchange for a backdash and the ending lag associated with that.
  99. 3.      Airdash/flight cancelling—A cancel available in the air. While doing a bullet move or a special that can be airdash/flight cancelled, double tap forwards or backwards to cancel your current action into an airdash, or hold the flight button and another direction to cancel your attack into flight. Some attacks have convoluted rules for airdash and flight cancelling.
  100.  
  101. 3b: Border escape
  102. A border escape is a technique used commonly to escape from pressure. To perform a border escape, hold a direction and press the flight button twice. If you only hold 2 as you tap DD, you highjump straight upwards. If you hold 1, you will highjump backwards. (Highjumping forwards is not possible in 12.3)  If you hold 6, you will dash forwards, albeit at an extremely slow pace. If you hold 4, you will perform a backdash. (In the air, border escapes result in a backwards airdash if 4 is held and a forwards airdash is 6 is held)
  103. A border escape allows you to cancel whatever blockstun—stun that you get from blocking an attack—you currently have into one of the aforementioned movements. Thus, it negates any frame advantage that your opponent may have from performing a move that has high blockstun, and makes it easier to escape. On the downside, movements from border escapes (other than the backdash for most characters) are more limited than their regular counterparts. If you highjump, you cannot act until you are at the apex of your jump, and if you dash forwards, you cannot do anything for nearly half a second.
  104. Upwards border escapes are special in the sense that they do not result in counterhit if hit out of startup.
  105.  
  106. As stated before, a border escape is sometimes used to refresh orbs.
  107.  
  108. 3c: Tiger Kneeing
  109. A “tiger knee” is not a particularly advanced maneuver; chances are that if you played the AI long enough to develop your own strategies, you indirectly found out what a tiger knee is. A tiger knee (abbreviated as TK) is basically performing something as soon as you leave the ground, whether it be through a highjump or a regular jump. For some characters, this may not seem special, but if you TK moves like Youmu’s j.6a, you’ll find that Youmu cancels the j.6a early and lands on the ground.
  110. Keep in mind that, since a highjump travels vertically much faster than a normal jump, it is more difficult to TK effectively using a highjump as opposed to a regular jump. Thankfully, since TKs are possible on highjumps, that means that highjump-cancelled moves can lead into a TK.
  111.  
  112. 3d: Land cancelling/Safejumping
  113. Essentially the reverse of a tiger knee, instead of performing a move as soon as you jump, to land cancel something, perform a move so that as soon as the move ends, you land. This is beneficial, since landing lag of something is usually much less than its normal ending lag, thus giving you very high frame advantage. Thus, a good move to land cancel is one with high ending lag but low startup; if you try using Patchouli’s j.5c normally and try using it land cancelled afterwards, there will be a significant difference in speed.
  114. Land cancelling/safejumping a move is also advantageous if the opponent uses a counter move, since you can block the resulting attack if the triggering attack was land cancelled.
  115. Keep in mind that some moves move you upwards when the attack starts, meaning that it cannot be land cancelled.
  116.  
  117. 3e: Dashblocking
  118. This isn’t quite an advanced maneuver either, though its uses before were limited. To dashblock, simply dash and hold back at a certain point. This will automatically cancel your dashing frames into a block. This is more of a fakeout move than anything else, and usage will be discussed later.
  119.  
  120. 3f: Groundteching
  121. This technique is not too advanced either; sometimes (but rarely), it is utilized by computers. However, it is important to throw your opponent offguard. To perform a groundtech, right before you get up, you must be holding left or right and the flight button. Instead of getting up in your usual animation, you will slide, jump, or otherwise move to the direction you selected. Groundtech time and distance lengths vary, but the longer they are, the longer they will last.
  122. Yukari and Suwako have gimmicky groundtechs where they disappear and reappear after groundteching, giving no indication of appearance other than screen shifting.
  123. Keep in mind that, at advanced levels and during serious play, non-gimmicky groundtechs will almost always be caught. However, any uncaught groundtech is a free escape from pressure.
  124. A good way to mix up your groundtechs to avoid patterns is to hold the flight button and tap 4 and 6, simultaneously, before you get up. Since there is a certain window for groundtechs, if you miss that window, you simply stand up. Meanwhile, if you tap during that window of time, you will be able to groundtech randomly enough that your opponent will not be able to predict it. (Of course, if you’re in the corner and you have a particularly long groundtech, you may want to consider only tapping 6)
  125.  
  126. Section 4: Game flow
  127. When you first started playing TH12.3 against the AI, chances are that you spammed bullets, waited until the AI was knocked down in the corner, and proceeded to mash A until it fell over. If you were knocked down yourself, you would get up, spam bullets, and repeat the process until one character was standing and one was on the floor.
  128. Quite obviously, the game isn’t as simple as this. There are two human players, and while the AI might accept being constantly knocked down in the corner, real players will try their best to get out and knock the other player to the floor.
  129. Game flow works surprisingly very similar to how most people play against the AI. However, players will not simply let you spam bullets when you get up. They will close in on you so that there’s no time to do anything other than act defensively before you get hit.
  130. With this in mind, usually the game works as such: Before the round starts, both players get into their preferred positions. Once players are allowed to attack each other, “neutral game”, or the phase where the two players have no real advantage over each other, will begin (unless one player decided to force themselves into the corner, essentially omitting neutral game). Once a player (let’s assume this player is P1) manages to close in on the other player (P2) and either hits or makes P2 block, P2 is put on defense. Once P2 escapes from defense, neutral game will restart, where players will once again vie for the offense. (Note that, neutral game will sometimes be omitted during this transition. This will be discussed in more detail in section 6)
  131.  
  132. Section 5: Offense revisited
  133. If you have played against a good opponent, you’ll see that said player kept you in the corner, perhaps guardcrushed you, proceeded to do additional damage through a combo, and followed up with an attack once you got up.
  134.  
  135. Section 5a: Blockstrings
  136. Assuming that you block, a blockstring is what usually begins the offensive for your opponent. A blockstring is a string of attacks one does to encourage the opponent to guard (because obviously, if they don’t guard, they will get hit). Thus, a blockstring starts with a blocked attack, and continues as the player chains into their other moves.
  137. It is possible for a certain string of attacks to be “airtight”. In other words, a move is airtight off of another if you can chain the first move into the second move while the opponent is still in blockstun—the amount of stun the opponent gets while they are blocking a given attack. In this case, the opponent will automatically guard the attack.
  138.  
  139. There are generally four aims for continuing a blockstring. They are, in the list of most to least used:
  140. 1.      Waiting for the opponent to get impatient and do something other than block so that a free hit can be dealt.
  141. 2.      Guardcrushing the opponent to allow for a followup combo
  142. 3.      Drawing more cards
  143. 4.      Causing chip damage (Damage the opponent takes from blocking. Chip damage is usually 25% of the original move’s damage, and is limited to spellcards and skills)
  144. Usually, if goal 1 is not possible, the blockstringer will aim for goal 2, all the while indulging in goal 3, whether it be intentional or unintentional. On the other hand, some characters (most notably Reisen) go for goal 4.
  145.  
  146. Learning your options during blockstrings is important in TH12.3. By using multiple blockstrings (I.E. performing mixups), you can raise your chances of managing to accomplish at least one of the above 4 goals. There are a few special types of blockstring options that one should keep in mind.
  147.  
  148. Section 5ai: Stagger pressure
  149. Stagger pressure is basically staggering out or delaying your attacks in the hopes that your opponent stops blocking. For example, you can 4A twice very slowly, and 5AA. If your opponent falls for the stagger pressure, they will think that they can poke out of the gap between the 3rd and 4th attack. However, since the gap between the first and second hit of 5AA, if done right, is large enough to let the opponent start up an attack but too small for the attack to actually occur, they will end up eating a full BnB (In other words, “bread and butter”, which is a synonym for their generic combo).
  150. The good part about staggering is that, if done unsuccessfully against more indecisive players, they will often fail to follow up on the hit they got. However, at higher tier play, it is high risk, high reward.
  151.  
  152. 5aii. High-low game
  153. The reaction time of most humans is generally not able to catch and rightblock most 4/5As and 2As on reaction. Thus, by mixing up high and low attacks, you might be able to eat some of the opponent’s orbs and keep them at a negative frame advantage. Since this form of pressure mostly uses 2As and 4/5As, while it is a viable method of blockstringing nonetheless, it is highly recommended if you yourself are low on orbs.
  154. Note that this form of pressure is prone to falling apart if your opponent rightblocks. It can be easily border escapable, considering that it only takes 16 frames to become airborne after vertically border escaping something, and it can be mashed out completely by some characters even if wrongblocked. For example, if you have a +1 advantage, 9 frame 4A if wrongblocked, and the opponent has a 7-frame 5A, your opponent can hit you first even if you manage to score a wrongblock. Coupled with the fact that you would probably need to dash up to maintain pressure, with some characters against certain other characters, engaging in a high-low mixup is not recommended for longer periods of time.
  155. Keep in mind that, if a high low game is viable and if the opponent rightblocks, you can cancel into the next attack in the chain (usually 3A or 6A). This catches any escape attempts, and from there you can either continue into a full-blown blockstring with bullets, or reset to yet another high-low mixup.
  156. Make sure that, if you land a stray hit, you have a simple knockdown combo to capitalize on it. While counterhits from 4As and 2As extend hitstun, they have more pushback, and you need to dash up to your opponent to keep up the pressure (during which they can potentially mash out).
  157.  
  158. Section 5aiii: Resets
  159. Most blockstrings start at 5A or 2A, simply because they can cancel into more attacks. With that being said, the further down the attack chain you are, the fewer attacks you have to pressure the opponent and try to force a guardcrush. To avoid this problem, you can opt for a reset, which basically resets the blockstring back to usually 5A. This is where your blockstring is highly vulnerable, and so it is recommended to only reset a blockstring if you are confident that the opponent will not poke, and to hold back while resetting to block if applicable. A well-known reset is Youmu’s TKj.2a, where a Youmu can jump up and return back to the ground without much lag.
  160.  
  161. Section 5aiv: Crossups
  162. Some characters have access to moves that allow them to perform the often dreaded crossup. A crossup is a maneuver where a player moves to the other side of their opponent and performs an attack. While the attack will be oriented as coming from the other side, the opponent may or may not have enough time to react or decide. Fortunately, most skills that perform crossups (E.G. Remilia’s Trickster Devil) are fairly laggy and give players a good amount of time to react, but for some crossups (Many properly spaced j.2As fall into this category), the hitbox of the attacking player is often almost exactly above the defending player, forcing the defender to guess whether or not a move will cross up. This can only be done in midscreen; however, it’s effective for landing stray hits that can potentially be capitalized on.
  163.  
  164. Section 5av: Spell crushing
  165. All characters have no airtight blockstring that crushes 5 orbs through using regular moves. In other words, you cannot crush with your normal moves unless you engage in a high-low mixup, a reset, or manage to catch an opponent without full orbs. Thus, spellcards are often used to aid crush attempts. Since border escapes cannot be inputted after a spellcard is declared, this is particularly useful since properly done spell crushes guarantee a crushed orb and damage (assuming that they don’t border escape beforehand). For example, a crush string for Patchouli (in the corner) is 5AA 4B 5C 2-card Noachian Deluge, which forces the opponent to take at least 500 damage if the opponent highblocks everything and does not border escape before the spellcard comes out. This can function as yet another mixup, because the held spellcard can be substituted with an escape catch.
  166.  
  167. Section 5b: Combos
  168. Surprisingly enough, arguably the easiest part of the game is inputting combos. To actually play a character properly, in addition to their blockstring options, you must memorize at least 1 air combo (with an easy starter) and 1 midscreen combo, and optionally, a corner combo (since most midscreen combos are corner combos as well). As stated previously, these are your “BnBs”, or “Bread and Butter” combos. Of course, much like blockstrings, after some practice with usage combos can be improvised. However, nevertheless it is best to have at least the combos for your character on http://hisouten.koumakan.jp/wiki/User_talk:PhoenixM memorized.
  169. It is highly recommended that all of your combos limit or otherwise knock down in order to maintain the advantage by removing your opponent’s ability to escape hitting the ground.
  170.  
  171. Section 5c: Tech-chasing/Okizeme
  172. After you knock down the opponent, it is recommended that, if you have enough orbs and your character is capable, you set up a delayed attack (which are usually projectiles). For example, if you are Patchouli, it is recommended that you use Dew Spears (B) right after a knockdown. While opponents can easily graze this on wakeup, you should set this up for two main reasons:
  173. 1.      If they forget to graze/block, they will get hit, allowing for an additional followup and more tech-chasing.
  174. 2.      If they choose not to groundtech and just get up, as long as you follow up with a melee move, they will either take spirit damage from the delayed projectile or get hit by the melee.
  175. Some characters (I.E. Patchouli) have great projectiles for tech-chasing; others (like Youmu) do not, but usually compensate for it in movement speed.
  176.  
  177. After delayed projectiles are set up, it is recommended that you jump into the center of all potential groundtechs (so that you are in the air and can utilize flight) and fly towards where the predicted groundtech will be. In other words, if you just finished comboing someone in the corner, you would want to jump backwards (since they can either forwardtech or stay in place), and if they are midscreen, you would probably want to jump upwards or forwards, since they have 3 tech options and you’d want to be in the middle..
  178. Some characters have invisible groundtech options. For example, Yukari and Suwako both disappear and reappear when groundteching. In these situations, a guess should be preemptively made and adjusted if incorrect.
  179.  
  180.  
  181. Section 6: Defense revisited
  182. A common piece of advice is to “keep blocking”. But to play without your opponent beating down on your shield, potentially guardcrushing you, and dealing damage is impossible in this case. To deal damage to your opponent, you have to either get out of the corner or somehow hit him and knock him away or down.
  183.  
  184. Section 6a: Attack types
  185. In the previous volume, we found that there are a total of 12 types of attacks. However, among these attacks the same hitboxes do not come out. For example, some bullets have drain orbs on graze, and others are simply unblockable.
  186. A total of 7 types of attacks (or 9, if the subtypes of bullets are counted as separate) are present in the game.
  187.  
  188. 1.      Bullets
  189. a.      Type 1 bullets—These can be grazed, and always drain orbs and cannot be “rightblocked” to prevent orb drainage. (Of course, there are some exceptions, like Marisa’s j.6[A]/j.2[A], which drain more orbs if wrongblocked)
  190. b.      Type 2 bullets—These bullets can be grazed, but drain orbs on graze (and on block as well).
  191. c.      Type 3 bullets—These “bullets” cannot be grazed and must be block. Atttacks are generally limited to spellcards (I.E. Suika’s 2-card rock throw). Some skillcards (I.E. Tenshi’s earthquake) also have this.
  192. 2.      Mid-hitting attacks—These attacks cannot drain orbs and are always melee.
  193. 3.      High hitting attacks—These attacks are usually melee attacks, and drain orbs on lowblock. Sometimes they guardcrush on lowblock, if it’s a guardcrush attack or you have no orbs left. Some attacks of this type cannot be lowblocked (I.E. Cirno’s Ice Crusher)
  194. 4.      Low hitting attacks—Essentially the same as a high hitting attack if you replace all of the instances of low with high.
  195. 5.      Air-unblockables—These attacks can be bullet or melee-based, but cannot be blocked in the air, going through any types of guarding. Very common; all 5As and many grounded moves are of this type, though some are not too easy to land.
  196. 6.      Unblockables—These attacks cannot be guarded at all. Examples include Yukari’s 5-card train and Reisen’s “level 4” potion. Sometimes they can be grazable, as in the case of Utsuho’s Abyss Nova—a type-2 unblockable bullet.
  197. 7.      Grabs—Rare in 12.3, these are often mediocre moves against skilled opponents but will often catch lesser skilled people offguard. Grabs have little priority in this game and will often whiff if the opponent crouches, jumps, or does anything but stand there. However, these usually lead to a (low-damage) combo or deal damage by itself and limit. Grabs are usually unblockable, though some attacks like Suika’s Atlas 5-card can be blocked.
  198.  
  199.  
  200. Section 6b: Defensive options revisited
  201. In the previous volume, the only two actions that were classified as defense were lowblocking and highblocking. There are seven defensive options in total:
  202.  
  203. 1.      Highblocking—Discussed
  204. 2.      Lowblocking—Discussed
  205. 3.      Airblocking—Also briefly discussed.
  206. 4.      Dash/6BE—This allows you to pass through bullets without blockstun or spirit damage, while approaching the opponent and sometimes receiving an opportunity to attack.
  207. 5.      Highjump/1/2BE—This works much like dashing, except you jump up to distance yourself from your opponent or to space yourself better.
  208. 6.      Backdash/4BE—Backdashes provide invincibility frames for the first few frames, and graze for several more.
  209. 7.      DP/reversal/graze attack—A DP/reversal/graze attack is a move with startup invincibility/graze frames, allowing you to negate your opponent’s attack while attacking said opponent instead.
  210.  
  211. Section 6c: How to use your defensive options on the ground
  212. The aforementioned 7 defensive maneuvers can be used in neutral game as well as on the defending side. On the ground, here are your options:
  213. 1.      Highblocking—Highblocking is the most basic of defensive maneuvers. However, there is no particular advantage to highblocking other than the fact that it walks backwards and highblocks. Thus, unless your back is to the far corner and you would like to distance yourself from your opponent, highblocking usually is not advantageous at all.
  214. 2.      Lowblocking—Much like highblocking. However, when lowblocking, there are two differences—you do not move, and you have a smaller hitbox (For Suwako, both highblocking and lowblocking keep the same-sized hitbox, placement aside). This smaller hitbox can cause many attacks to whiff; for example, ducking Patchouli’s 5C as a result of lowblocking the previous attack will cause half of the fireballs to miss. Holding your ground while lowblocking is also occasionally a useful feature; if your back is near the corner but not at the corner, you can crouch and block so that it takes longer for your opponent to push you to the corner (and thus make a mistake. As stated before, escaping at midscreen is easier than escaping from the corner)
  215. 3.      Airblocking—Airblocking is usually done as a result of highjumping out of a blockstring. This will be covered later.
  216. 4.      Dash/6BE—As stated before, dashing out of a blockstring allows you to graze your opponent’s projectiles while closing in for an attack. Since many bullets disappear on graze, this is highly useful since there will be nothing stopping you from hitting the opponent. Note that this cannot be done if the opponent’s blockstring is airtight. If it is airtight, you must border escape to punish the opponent’s attack.
  217. Keep in mind that, when 6BEing, your attack’s startup frames+25 must be faster than any melee attack the opponent can u/se at that particular moment.
  218. a.      Dashblocking—As stated before, dashblocking is when a player dashes and blocks as soon as possible. For a short period of time, the player cannot block, but for a longer period of time than that, the player obtains graze frames. This means that, against bullets that disappear quickly on graze, dashblocking can be used to cause some of the bullets your opponent threw during the blockstring to disappear and not hit your shield. This conserves orbs. Additionally, if your opponent tries to catch your dash,
  219. 5.      Highjump/1/2BE—Highjump can be called the defensive version of dashing forwards. By highjumping or BEing upwards, you usually lose the ability to retaliate (Though you could potentially shoot a quick downward bullet if you choose to highjump), but it’s much more difficult for the opponent to punish. Once again, if you choose to highjump, you cannot do so during an airtight blockstring.
  220. 6.      Backdash/4BE—The invincibility frames of backdashes are best utilized in situations of temporary but high danger, like being stuck in Yuyuko’s timebomb or avoiding Suika’s Massacre 5-card. However, it has several uses in midscreen. Especially during groundtechs, where your groundtech may be too far or fast for the opponent to space their attack properly, you can backdash to potentially make the opponent’s groundtech catch attack whiff. Some characters, like Youmu, are also bad at pressuring against a backdashing opponent.
  221. 7.      DP/reversal/graze attack—A DP/reversal/graze attack can be used once a usable gap is seen or predicted in the blockstring. For example, if your opponent chooses to use a bullet move, you can use a graze attack to punish. Note that some reversals and DPs give complete invincibility and thus, as long as a blockstring is not airtight, it can be used at any time. These are good because they immediately give you the offensive; however, they can be baited and are highly punishable.  More on this in Volume III.
  222. 8.      Mashing/Poking—This is not a defensive option, and in this case you are trying to poke out of a blockstring  with an attack. Depending on how fast your poke move is, this may or may not be a good idea. If you poke, you have to keep in mind that if your frame disadvantage plus your attack startup is higher than the sum of your opponent’s ending lag and subsequent attack’s startup, they will hit first and possibly land a full combo. Considering the cancellable nature of most attacks, however, this is highly not recommended. Against more inexperienced opponents though, this can be used to take the offensive immediately instead of trying to gain the advantage in neutral game.
  223.  
  224. Section 6d: How to use your defensive options in the air
  225. Let’s say you’re in the air, and your opponent’s closing in with an attack. How did you get there?
  226. Usually, it happened from highjumping/border escaping (or even regular jumping and blocking) out of a blockstring. This is usually a bad idea in the case of the latter, since you are still close to the ground, allowing the opponent to hit you with airunblockables. In this case, you are probably better off border escaping forwards behind your opponent as soon as possible than airblocking much.
  227. However, airblocking after a highjump is a good option. Although airblocking drains orbs on both melee and bullet block, and usually has long blockstun, if you are up high enough, your opponent must chase you to the ceiling. If your opponent wants to cancel his attacks after going far enough in the attack chain, they must use flight (or a spellcard, which isn’t viable at times). Once your opponent uses one of their flights, they must either choose to fly towards the ground to refresh their flights or continue their assault.
  228. If your opponent chooses to refresh their orbs, you are free to escape assuming that you have at least 1 flight intact and enough orbs to fly away. You can also choose to land and begin your own blockstring with j.2a or something of the like. However, should your opponent continue their assault, you can counter by grazing the bullets in their blockstring. This is best done with either flight or a forwards border escape. After this, they are vulnerable to punishment, assuming that they used a laggy attack that made them float. If the move that they used was easily airdash-cancellable or simply not laggy, chances are that you are now on the offensive
  229.  
  230. Keep in mind that some opponents have aerial melee specials (E.G. Rocket Dive), which can be used to punish. In this case, it would be best to mix up both blocking and grazing the second wave.
  231. Also make sure to watch your orbs. You can also refresh your orbs by border escaping during the first wave of bullets, and blocking more (since they will probably airdash and follow up with melee.)
  232.  
  233. Section 6e: In the air, after the juggle state
  234. When your opponent inevitably gets you in an air combo, sometimes they will not limit the combo and you can airtech, or fall down, invincible. Should you airtech (and block immediately afterwards, of course)?
  235. Here’s a checklist that should be gone through:
  236. 1.      Do I have any flights left to get away after airteching? (Must have at the very least 1 if high up; if very low to the ground, irrelevant unless the opponent has good bullets)
  237. 2.      Is the opponent nearby? (If so, branch into the following scenarios:
  238. 2a. How many orbs do I have? (4+, usually it’s safe)
  239. 2b. How many flights and orbs does the opponent have left? (If the opponent has at least 3 orbs and 2 or sometimes 1 flights left, don’t)
  240. 2c. Is the opponent grounded? (If so, don’t; most grounded attacks are airunblockable)
  241. 3.      If I fly straight to the ground, will the opponent be able to close in on me? (If not, then do it)
  242. 4.      Do I think that my airtech not be capitalized upon by the opponent? For example, do they think I’m going to airtech all the way up at the ceiling, or did they just whiff an attack? (If so, betray their expectations and airtech)
  243. Obviously, this checklist omits a few obvious no-nos (E.G. Is the opponent starting up Royal Flare while I can airtech and can’t be hit?). Use your own judgment too.
  244.  
  245. Section 6f. Lying on the ground (groundteching)
  246. If you chose not to airtech or get caught in a limiting combo, you will fall to the ground. Your options when lying on the floor are very limited—forwardtech, backwardtech, or stay still. However, if you move in an unexpected way, opponents might react too slowly to effectively cover your groundtech location. In other words, if your opponent isn’t in the air in the middle of all of your groundtech options, pick the side your opponent is farthest from and tech there. (Alternatively, if your opponent tends to do techchase fakeouts and go in one direction but quickly switch to the other, you might want to surprise your opponent by teching in the direction at which they’re supposedly waiting for you)
  247. Keep in mind that, by standing at where your groundtech would end, your opponent can use it as a crossup.
  248. Long story short: Memorize your teching distance and duration, and mix up your groundtechs as much as possible (within reason; don’t repeatedly groundtech into the corner if you can get up faster by standing up).
  249.  
  250. Section 7: Neutral game
  251. As stated before, neutral game is the stage where both players fly or dash around, chucking bullets at each other, trying to get into an advantageous position so that they can hopefully force the other player on the defensive. Each character has a different approach to neutral game, and it is usually character dependent. For example, while Patchouli might opt to use 4B against a character with weak projectiles, which sets up a weak bullet wall, against one with stronger projectiles a Patchouli player would probably prefer to opt for the much stronger 6C, which is much stronger and faster but weak for defensive purposes.
  252. Section 7a: Chucking bullets
  253. Bullets are classified by rank and health. Ranks are sorted, from strongest to weakest, into S, A, B, and C tiers, with B and C for normal moves only; thus, B and C tier bullets are usually the most important for neutral game. A bullet of a higher tier will completely eat a bullet of lower tier, regardless of health, so Meiling’s 5C will completely go through Yukari’s 5B, without question. Each bullet also has a specific health value, and when it clashes a bullet with equal rank, the one with higher health will go through the one with lower health, albeit at the cost of the health of the lower bullet. So, Patchouli’s 236B (B10) will become a B4 bullet once passing through Utsuho’s 5C (B6). More information can be found on http://hisouten.koumakan.jp/wiki/Projectiles
  254.  
  255. Obviously, for neutral game, the stronger the bullet, the better. Unfortunately, the spread of bullets are often inversely proportional to their strength. Patchouli’s 4B makes a wall of projectiles that is great for eating weak bullets or bullets that explode on contact (Like Suika’s 6B), but only creates many C projectiles; meanwhile, 6C creates dense projectiles that are good for sniping an opponent from far away, but fail to eat bullets coming at another angle. Thus, before using a particular bullet, it may be best to ask yourself the following questions:
  256. 1.      What opponent are you facing? Against rushdown opponents with weak bullets, like Aya, you would probably want to use zoning bullets, or bullets with massive hitboxes but very low priority. However, against characters with strong fast projectiles, it would be best to use a strong fast projectile yourself or simply approach. This question is important, since you need to know all of your opponent’s options to figure out how they can punish your bullets and how you can punish theirs.
  257. 2.      How easily cancellable is the attack I’m planning to use? If the attack is laggy enough to let the opponent punish with a graze attack, you may be better off using another bullet. The best zoning attacks are both unpunishable and capable of limited your opponent’s options.
  258. (Keep in mind that, if you use a B or C bullet with high ending lag, cancelling into an appropriate special is also viable.)
  259. 3.      How far away are you? Much like the previous question, some laggy bullets are safe if used from far away. Utsuho’s 6C is easily punishable if one grazes to the blindspot in front and starts an attack, but from far away, 6C will likely be over before the opponent can get anywhere close.
  260. 4.      What character are you using, and what are your options? Probably the most important question; you should know all of your options before actually firing any bullets. For example, some new Patchouli players may forget that the default 421 altogether is less laggy than 5C’s ending lag.
  261.  
  262. In this case, it is important to keep an eye on spirit as well. As a general rule of thumb, while zoning, if you have 2 orbs or less, you should focus on grazing to let your orbs recharge.
  263.  
  264. 7b: Grazing revisited
  265. Grazing bullets is easy, considering that holding 6D gives continuous graze. However, what if you’re in the air, or you want to keep your distance from your opponent so that you can shoot bullets safely?
  266. Repeatedly highjumping, assuming that you are not Remilia, solves both of these problems. If you’re stuck in the air, an easy way to graze continuously is to fly down, and, right before you touch the ground, let go of D and tap 2->8. Graze from flight persists for a few frames after actually letting go of the fly button, and landing by letting go of the fly button early lets you move as soon as you hit the ground. Therefore, as soon as you hit the ground, you can start up a highjump, which gives you more graze. Since you are now in the air, you can repeat the process.
  267. (You can also use 6D as soon as you hit the ground. This saves orbs that are lost from using flight, but it requires relatively strict timing, because if you do it too early, you’ll end up flying forwards. However, practicing this is important for higher-tier play.)
  268. Keep in mind that flying directly into the ground incurs a large amount of landing lag, and will leave you vulnerable for several seconds.
  269. Also note that there are many variants of this. For example, you can mix in airdashes in between highjumps and flight (Highjump->airdash->fly down->highjump), or you can highjump and fly sideways
  270.  
  271. 7c. Options for approaching
  272. There are several ways to handle neutral game approaches, with the following being the most common:
  273. 1.      Set up cover bullets and dash/fly in—This is the simplest approach. If your opponent is competent, they will set up zoning bullets, forcing you to either graze or block, or take damage. However, if you have cover bullets, your bullets may negate some of your opponent’s bullets, or might even hit them if their bullets are weak.
  274. Note that if you choose to approach from the air, your approach is prone to be stuffed by airunblockable attacks.
  275. 2.      A graze attack or a DP—If your opponent likes to run up to you and attack, or zones very heavily with projectile-based attacks, your best option may be to use a DP or a graze attack. This essentially negates your opponent’s attack, and though the attack might not do much damage, it will more likely than not knock down the opponent, putting you on the advantage.
  276. 3.      Dashblocking—If your opponent approaches with a punishable move, dashblocking can bait and counter a DP or a graze attack (More on this in Volume III). However, this gives opponents not using laggy attacks the advantage.
  277. 4.      Don’t—If you have good zoning projectiles (Or even zoning melee) and your opponent does not have any graze attacks, it may be best to set up a good defense so that if your opponent slips up and takes a hit, you can capitalize on it. This is an easy way to build cards as well, while your opponent focuses on grazing. Of course, at certain ranges where your zoning options are nonexistent, you will have to choose one of the above 3 options to avoid being defenseless, or block.
  278. As stated before, to pick the best approach, weigh all of your opponent’s options before selecting one.
  279.  
  280. Section 8: Deck construction
  281. Much like in a regular TCG, deck selection is fairly important in TH12.3, and decks should be picked wisely. As stated before, your deck affects your skillset, as well as your general maximum capabilities. Thus, it is important that you optimize your deck in order to construct a character that you can play to its maximum potential.
  282.  
  283. Section 8a: Purposes of cards
  284. Cards, skillcards included, are grouped into the following categories, and should be picked as such.
  285. 1.      Damage dealers/combo enders/card breakers—If you have extra room in your deck (not likely), these can be picked. Fortunately, they usually fall under the same category as guard crushers.
  286. 2.      Reversals/DP/defense—If your defensive capabilities and prediction skills are relatively lackluster, then you would want some reversal spellcards, maybe a DP, and perhaps coins. Note that picking two DPs (For example, Patchouli’s Emerald City and Static Green) is a bad idea since you can use the deck space for something else more useful, and coins negatively affect fluidity (more on that later).
  287. 3.      Guard crushers/blockstring tools/support fire—If your character has a difficult time guardcrushing (or if you would like to guardcrush more), these help tremendously in forcing guardcrushes, especially considering the fact that BEing out of a spellcard is impossible.
  288. 4.      Approach tools (E.G. Dragon Star)—If your character has poor melee or you are just bad at getting the offensive in neutral game in general, investing in these may be a good idea.
  289. 5.      Levelup cards—Some cards, like Reisen’s 3-card potion, increase stats. These are usually picked if your character’s cards really don’t help much at all.
  290. 6.      Weather manipulation cards—Some cards help change the weather intentionally or unintentionally. Generally, these cards fall into other categories, but if they do not, these should mainly be picked if there is a weather that your character benefits greatly from that the other character does not, or a weather that your character is severely limited in. A little more on this later.
  291. 7.      Drawing power/Deck thinning (E.G. Ibuki Gourd, skillcards)—If you have some cards essential for gameplay, you might want this. Alternatively, if you don’t go through most of your deck by the end of 3 rounds, you may want some of this (assuming that you haven’t tried to increase fluidity already).
  292. 8.      Gimmick cards (E.G. Stopwatch)—These cards often give you the upper hand, but only if your opponent does not know how to deal with these. These should be used sparingly.
  293.  
  294. Section 8b: Fluidity
  295. Much like regular TCGs, your deck should be fluid and cards should be easy to use. In other words, if in any case you are stuck with 5 cards and can’t get rid of them easily without wasting them (For example, 4 pennies and 1 Youmu 5-card counter), your deck fluidity is bad. To increase deck fluidity, you can pack your deck with skillcards or cheap spellcards (this is why most decks have many 2-cards relative to 5-cards). As a general rule of thumb, if you play a 2-1 match, you should be able to see the end of your deck.
  296. Note that some 5-cards are ridiculously good (like Suika’s 5-card Atlas), and one should sacrifice some deck fluidity for these
  297.  
  298. Section 8c: Affecting probability
  299. For some characters, some skillcards are essential for optimal gameplay. For example, a Youmu would benefit greatly from leveling up their 623 by 1 level. However, sometimes that level is all they need, and any other cards used would be considered wasted. Since Youmus would really benefit from using said card ASAP, though, it is recommended to get more than 1 copy of the card, and use the rest as spellcard fodder
  300.  
  301. Section 9:Weather
  302. If you’ve played a good number of games, you’ll notice that there are quite a few weathers. This is a list of the weathers other than Clear, which doesn’t do anything at all; memorize them carefully. Next to each weather is a number of stars, ranging from 1 to 5, indicating how important the weather is for memorization. Keep in mind that importance does not equate to memorizability; tempest is easy to memorize but is overall not too important.
  303. 1.      Sunny****—Allows you to border escape for free, but does not restore orbs from border escaping. Characters can fly twice as long, but cannot turn as fast.
  304. a.      This weather is mostly used for the border escape aspect; be ready to catch border escapes at any time during pressuring, and while on the defensive, keep in mind that border escapes are free of charge.
  305. 2.      Drizzle*—Spellcards are 25% stronger.
  306. a.      For spellcards. Of course, landing the spellcard is still more important than its raised damage output, so this weather is of relatively low priority.
  307. 3.      Cloudy***—Players gain cards twice as fast, and cards require 1 less card to use. Does not apply to 1-cost cards. Using a card ends Cloudy.
  308. a.      If this weather is active, you can gain spellcards rapidly. If you have a full gauge, try to use a low-cost card. This both denies your opponent the ability to gain cards quickly as well as the ability to save cards by using them. Cheaper spellcards are also highly recommended in this weather, since usage promotes deck fluidity and halves the cost of the card.
  309. 4.      Blue Sky**—Allows players to chain specials into each other, so 236C can cancel into 22B. However, during the course of one chain, one skill of each kind can be used, so 236C->22B->236B does not work. Does not work with skillcards.
  310. a.      This weather is great for some characters with punishable melee moves, like Utsuho’s Rocket Dive, since you can cancel into a less laggy move on hit. For a good portion of characters, though, this weather does next to nothing.
  311. 5.      Hail*—Specials are 25% stronger, orb regen is twice as fast.
  312. a.      Much like Drizzle. Slightly more important, though, since orb regen is affected and may change the viability of some combos.
  313. 6.      Spring Haze*****—Allows players to graze melee attacks at the cost of ¼ of an orb per frame grazed. Bullets will also have a graze cost. Grazing makes the weather end faster.
  314. a.      Graze moves become DPs in this weather. If you have a meaty move over or very close to 20 frames long, and your opponent has no DP or graze attack, use it and try to hit the opponent. If you don’t, and your opponent also has no meaty moves, then graze until your opponent performs an attack. You can counter the attack with your own afterwards. On the other hand, if your opponent attacks you with a meaty move, highjump or fly away ASAP.
  315. 7.      Heavy Fog**—Provides 50% lifesteal.
  316. a.      This weather can be useful if you have less HP than your opponent—if you deal 25% of your opponent’s healthbar, you gain 12.5%. At equal health, this is equivalent to dealing 33% of your opponent’s health bar in damage. Ironically, this makes heavy fog a better time for spellcard usage than in Drizzle (as well as a better time for special usage than in Hail).
  317. 8.      Snow****—Breaks your held card when an opponent hits you or your block.
  318. a.      This weather is horrible if every card counts. For example, Reimu’s level four 623 is worth much more than a level three 623. If even one card is broken, the other three 623 cards might as well be card fodder. In other words, once you see snow come up and you have an important card, make sure that card is last, or use it ASAP. Alternatively, you can stall out the weather.
  319. Keep in mind that if you break a card and your opponent regains a card shortly afterwards, the next card can easily be broken, making stagger pressure and similar tactics fairly deadly. A player with full cards will get one card broken on block, so it is highly recommended that a player with a full gauge use some cards.
  320. 9.      Sunshower*****—Wrongblocked attacks guarantee a guardcrush, but orbs heal much faster. Guardcrushes change weather quickly.
  321. a.      Staying on the ground is very dangerous on this weather, unless you are confident that you can block any high-low mixups your opponent sets up. If you are knocked down, it is highly recommended that you try to escape with a DP or a highjump. Be wary that your opponent will be looking for those options, though.
  322. Also keep in mind that broken orbs regenerate ridiculously fast, so border escape whenever feasible.
  323. 10.     Sprinkle***—Specials are temporarily given level 4 status.
  324. a.      Characters with strong level 4 moves, or good moves to level up, benefit greatly from this. Many players will use their strongest specials for neutral game; for example, many Reimu players will try to use their default DP whenever they can.
  325. 11.     Tempest**—Allows for much faster movement and 3 flights instead of 2.
  326. a.      Mostly ignorable weather, but usually makes techchasing much easier. Also allows for an unexpected flight—you can airdash forwards, airdash back when your opponent tries to hit you, and airdash forwards again to capitalize on your unsuspecting opponent’s fault.
  327. 12.     Mountain Vapor***—Hides your spellcards, and selects a random card for you to use. Keep in mind that if you have no spellcards, no random card will be selected. Disappears if a card is used.
  328. a.      This weather depends greatly on your deck construction. If you have a varied deck, it may be best to wait out the weather; if you have a deck limited to a certain purpose (E.G. guardcrushing), this weather gives you deck fodder
  329. Note that if you have important skillcards to use for levelup, it is highly recommended that you wait this weather out.
  330. 13.     River Mist****—Causes the characters to oscillate back and forth.
  331. a.      This weather screws up spacing greatly. Combos and even pressure will be very hard to maintain; players should engage in neutral game during this weather, and limit any combos to easy hitconfirms and spacing-irrelevant combos..
  332. 14.     Typhoon*****—No hitstun, no blocking.
  333. a.      This weather allows both players to go on the offensive. It’s still recommended that you avoid hits whenever possible, though, so try to maneuver out of the way when an opponent does a laggy attack and counter with bullets of your own. Bullets with good hitstun are generally good for this weather. Be wary that more weather crystals will drop from attacks, so prepare for sudden weather switches.
  334. 15.     Calm**—The person who landed the last attack slowly gains health.
  335. a.      When you have the spotlight, odds are that your opponent will be much more aggressive than usual; capitalize on that. Stalling is also viable. More or less an inconsequential weather.
  336. 16.     Diamond Dust****—No groundteching, and lose 500 HP standing up.
  337. a.      This weather is great for pressure; without the need to techchase, you can focus all of your attack power on one location. This makes guardcrushes much easier for some characters. However, be wary that people in the corner will be tempted to DP out; bait and punish accordingly.
  338. 17.     Sandstorm**—All attacks that can counter hit will counterhit.
  339. a.      Not an important weather, but some attacks and combos will fail on counterhit. Also, if you score a counterhit, it doesn’t mean that they are mashing, so don’t berate them for it.
  340. 18.     Scorching Sun***—If you are high up, you take passive damage, but you draw 1 card for every 1000 hitpoints you lose.
  341. a.      This weather prevents air camping and stalling. It also makes some attacks, like Aya’s 5-card, deal much more damage. Obviously, stay away from the sun. However, if you have very little HP, it may be a good idea to fly around and camp to draw more cards for the next round.
  342. 19.     Monsoon****—All attacks willl have one instance of wall or groundslam, if it does not have it already.
  343. a.      Monsoon gives the attacker another option to cover (If you get groundslammed by a non-groundslamming move, you will only bounce and can airtech for a short period afterwards), but at the same time, it opens room for more combos. Some monsoon combos are much more damaging than their regular counterparts, so take advantage of it.
  344. 20.     Aurora*****—Random weather
  345. a.      Guess the weather; if you guess before your opponent does, and it’s a significant weather (I.E. sunshower), then you’ll have the upper hand. For example, it’s easy to deal 2k+ damage on the offensive during Typhoon Aurora since your opponent will probably be walking backwards in the corner.
  346.  
  347. Weather changes can most easily be recognized by a spellcard sound effect. While this sound effect plays, the name of the weather pops up, and on most stages there is a visual cue indicating the current weather; for example, for mountain vapor, wind lines will move across the screen.
  348.  
  349. Contrary to initial belief, the weather is not random. The initial weather selection is always clear weather. During clear, after a player hits the wall or the ground, or a player uses a spellcard, the weather in the weather indicator cycles once. This cycle goes in the previously listed order, returning back to Sunny from Aurora. Once the weather timer hits 100 during clear, the weather in the weather indicator will activate, with a timer of usually 99 but sometimes lower. Once the timer reaches 0, clear begins with a time of 0, with a random weather on the weather indicator.
  350. (Of course, the initial weather selection on the clear indicator as well as the weather selection on the clear indicator after a weather ends is indeed random)
  351.  
  352. The speed at which the weather changes can be influenced by two things—weather cards, and weather crystals. A weather card allows a player to automatically change the weather upon use. If a weather is active, the weather will end quickly, and if Clear is active, the weather indicated on the weather timer will activate automatically.
  353. On the other hand, a weather crystal, which can be dropped upon hitting the opponent, will move the timer forward by a fixed amount—0.5 seconds per weather crystal. Weather crystals can also be found if you hit an opponent out of a projectile attack. More often than not, the projectile will disappear and be converted into weather crystals. Many offensive spellcards can also release a huge number of weather crystals on hit, which can be used to influence the weather without using a weather card.
  354.  
  355. Weather manipulation is possible, and highly recommended at more advanced levels of play. See Volume III for more details.
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