Home > Answered Questions > Mixups<Execution<Landing a Hit, & Frame Advantage Basics

Mixups<Execution<Landing a Hit, & Frame Advantage Basics

Talon on FaceBook asks:

“Hey, I have really good execution, and I need help with the other parts of my gameplay. I can get my resets in and my mixups, but I have a lot of issues initially opening people up with my combos. I want to know how to differentiate safe and unsafe moves, on block and on hit. I know there are guides for this, but they’re difficult to find, and I need to better understand the concept of frame advantage. Any tips?”

From the comments you mention you play MVC3, but these ideas are universal and fit all games.  Taking your question one part at a time:

Execution is key to any fighting game and will lead you to consistent damage.  And mix-ups keep your opponent guessing, allowing you to continue to pile it on.  But if you can’t open up your opponent, you’re missing out on the most vital part of a fighting game.  You need to land that first hit of the combo.  This is where smart play comes in.  The majority of your game revolves around trying to land that first hit to open up your opponent for a combo.  Execution then follows, so you complete the highest damage combo you and your characters are capable of.  This is followed by mixups in order to keep the flow of offense in your favor.  It’s like climbing a ladder – one step at a time.  Skipping one is possible, but not recommended for safety.

This is one of the biggest problems with coming into the fighting game scene.  While the combo is the flashiest aspect of the game few players recognize that the read, the bait, or the punish is what leads to these moments.  Whomever your team is in MVC3 try to focus on the matchup outside of your combos.  Figure out what the ideal spacing is for your team so that you are prepared to rush in when needed, be able to react to and block/punish moves, or back away when things get rough.  What are your movement options?  If you’re Magneto or C.Viper you should have excellent control of your air dashes.  Do you have a flight mode?  A normal air dash or 8-way dash?  A teleport or other useful movement special?  Use it and stay mobile.  You don’t always have to move forward towards your opponent when you can dodge first.  This mobility is key and will help you find those openings in your opponent when need be.  Good mobility and defense can frustrate an opponent, and a frustrated opponent makes mistakes you can use.

Your focus should be on getting in and landing simple, hit-confirmable moves that will allow you to follow into your combo execution.  MVC3’s system lends itself nicely to hit-confirms with the ABC magic series combos.  You need to be able to recognize when your combo is not landing and stop it or change to a safer alternative before you put yourself in a punishable situation.  Let’s look at Dante for this example.  In practice mode, set a computer to block randomly, and try air-dashing in with jumping B, land, crouch AB.  See if you can tell if these moves are blocked or hit.  Practice continuing the combo if it does, or stopping if it doesn’t.

The other part of this question involves frame data.  This is akin to knowing exactly what a player’s stats are in any sports, only much MUCH consistent.  Rather than having an average sprint time or free throw percentage you have the speed of a move and how much block and hit stun it does, that is accurate 100% of the time.  This will be covered further in another article, but for now here’s what you need to know for safety.

Startup – The number of animation frames a move has before it gets a hitbox (and can therefore, hit the opponent)

Active – The number of frames a move’s hitbox stays on screen before dissappering

Recovery – The number of frames after the hitbox fades before the character can move again (Does not count if the move is canceled into another)

Hitstun – On hit, the number of frames that a character will reel from an attack before they recover

Blockstun – On block, The number of frames a character will still be blocking before they recover

Advantage/Disadvantage – The attacker’s recovery frames subtracted from the opponents stun frames.  Noted as a positive or negative number such as +2 (advantage) or -10 (disadvantage)

Moves are “safe” when the attacking player does a move that places him at such an advantage, that the defending player has no move fast enough to hit back after recovering.  Of course this is matchup specific.  Just because the move is safe on one character does not make it safe on another, for they may have a faster move that can punish you.  The best example (and one of the most complained about) is Wesker’s launcher.  On block, he is left at -1.  The fastest startup normal in the game is 3 frames.  By the time you try to hit Wesker he’ll have been able to block or move for 2 frames (-1 + 3 = +2).  This is, without a doubt, a “safe” move.

On the flip side, moves are “unsafe” when they leave you at such a disadvantage that your opponent can hit you.  Certain moves are obviously unsafe and should be punished such as dragon punches or whiffed command throws.  But there are normal moves that have such terrible disadvantage on block they should be punished regardless.  Dante’s launcher leaves him at -28.  Dorm’s Chaotic Flame is 8+3 frames startup, or 11 frames total.  This means that if you were to block Dante’s launcher, Dorm could punish with this super with 17 frames to spare.  This is a glaring example but there are other more subtle moves that are still punishable based on matchup.  If you think a move is punishable, check its advantage/disadvantage on block, and see if you have a move that will hit before their frames returns to 0.

In short – If you’re attacking, you want to be in the positive or as close to 0 as you can be.  If you’re defending, you’re looking for the lowest number possible.

(Credit to Tau for helping with the frame data numbers)

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