So, you’ve just got Fantasy Strike!
Noice! It’s a truly great fighting game no matter your background and experience level, and it’s an especially good game if it’s your first time starting out with fighting games, or if you’re re-trying the genre you’ve not played in a while perhaps. In short, Fantasy Strike is good for everyone, and here’s a link to a fantastic article with more about why that is.
But in any case, whilst the points made here will be valid for everyone to an extent, it’s those who’ve got a lot of prior experience of fighting game experience that I’m especially thinking about with this post.
Have you ever been playing a fighting game like Street Fighter and thought about just how good you would be if you never dropped a combo, or never messed up that perfect-frame dragon punch motion. Imagine if you could always get that Super move out, on reaction, exactly when you wanted it… with skills like these you could be unbeatable!
I’ve definitely felt this kind of thing before, especially as it’s generally the execution of difficult moves and techniques that I struggle with the most in any fighting game, and it takes me literally years to develop the muscle memory to be able to reliably do even fairly simple combos & techniques by modern FG standards.
When you see and experience how much easier it is to execute moves in Fantasy Strike you might be forgiven for thinking you’re gonna be the hot stuff and kick all kinds of ass from the moment you jump into Fantasy Strike…
But I just want to tell you to hold up there for a moment and think more deeply about it.
- The first, and by far the biggest point to realise about FS is that whilst you can now execute moves more easily – everyone else can too. So you don’t actually have any advantage here.
FS is still a 1v1 competitive game where someone has to lose. Played competitively (locally or online), by it’s nature this just isn’t the kind of game where everyone can be a winner all the time.
Of course, if you just want to beat up on a clueless opponent who cannot learn or adapt, well that’s what the fun single player modes are for!
- Whatever the case though you will need to learn and adapt to the unique mechanics of FS that are different from most other fighting games. Whilst you have an advantage with understanding a lot of things common to fighting games, especially the game flow, there are some things here where your prior experience and even muscle memory may even hold you back somewhat at first. Here’s some of the unique things in FS to consider:
No down/back – this is actually a much bigger factor than you may realise at first. It’s very likely (especially if you played ‘charge’ characters in 2D fighters the majority of the time like myself) that you are used to naturally holding down/back almost all the time you’re not doing anything else. Because there is no crouching in FS, if you hold down/back in FS though, you will actually instead be holding Back – meaning you will be backing away and losing ground if your opponent isn’t putting a move out for you to block or proximity guard. This naturally makes FS a more aggressive focused game than some other fighting games, and it’s especially useful to learn NOT to hold down/back if you want to play one of the more close-range focused characters such as the rushdown or grappler archetype players. Also conversely, it’s particularly important for Geiger too, to be able to maintain a charge for his special moves vs crossup situations. Learning to “just defend” (block at the last moment) to avoid losing unnecessary ground is also very useful in Fantasy Strike, even though you don’t need to be frame-perfect to do this in FS.
Yomi counter – “doing nothing” is easy right? Well actually, if you’re experienced in FGs you will likely know exactly how tough this can be to do. Especially if you’ve got the ‘always down/back’ habit mentioned above. But even if you avoid that, you’ll still usually want to block when you’re under pressure, or do some kind of ‘active’ defence by pressing buttons in most other FGs (eg: back dash, throw tech). To get good at yomi countering in FS you’re going to have to unlearn that desire to ‘press something’. It’s also worth being aware of the interaction of yomi counter with absolute guard. Like 95% of FGs, FS has absolute guard, meaning if you start to block a true blockstring, your character will continue to block throughout the blockstring no matter what direction or buttons you push. So in FS this mechanic is extra important to take advantage of, as it will enable to be ‘ready to yomi counter if they throw’ by not holding back unnecessarily when blocking a true blockstring – and sometimes even whilst being hit!
‘Fuzzy yomi’ – this is another aspect of the interaction of a ‘just defend’ and yomi counters. There are some situations in FS where it can be a good idea to ‘do nothing’ for a while, and then block (or sometimes do something else). This is because Throws are the fastest move in the game, so it is possible to ‘be ready to yomi counter’ for those first few frames where only a throw could catch you, and then block or counter any slower moves later than that. (Note: this isn’t a true option select; there are other ways to beat this, and it’s your timing vs your opponents, both of which can vary). Again this may run counter to your usual muscle memory from other FGs where you usually need to be blocking firstly and then ‘teching’ a possible throw afterwards (due to slower throws and larger throw tech windows).
Payoffs for situations – Whilst FS makes things far clearer to understand than almost all other FGs, there’s still a lot to learn and different factors to consider. FS has more rounds than other FGs (either 3 or 4 depending on the game mode) which you can think of as a guaranteed “reset to neutral” in a way. There are segmented health bars with a much lower health pool than most FGs, Super bars grow over time at different rates for different characters, can be stored into a next round (but only 1 stock). Yomi countering fills your super bar, as well as damaging the opponent (ie: it’s the best throw tech ever!). Taking all of this into consideration in the heat of the moment is not an easy task, even for a seasoned FG player, and a lot of it is very different to whatever ‘rules of thumb’ heuristics you may have learnt from other FGs – such as winning 1 round being ‘less valuable’ to the match overall in FS, or repeatedly doing moves to gain meter – which won’t work in FS.
In summary, while there may be less moves or ‘less buttons to press’ in FS than other FGs, the importance of each button press, or even not pressing anything, is magnified.
- No matter how experienced you are at fighting games in general, there are lots of players out there with a lot more experience than you have at Fantasy Strike. Some players, like myself, have had this game throughout it’s life, from earliest pre-alpha, through to beta and Steam Early Access stages. And some players (unlike myself) have played a lot and really tried to “git gud” throughout this time period too! So whilst you have all the execution skills you’ll likely need to fight them, when it comes to matchup knowledge, subtle timings and spacings, “meaty” timings, ambiguous crossups all that complex interesting FG stuff, these players will be far far ahead of you! Fantasy Strike is still a true fighting game – so whilst FS lets you get past many of the usual barriers to entry, in some ways it’s much harder than it looks, as it also opens up many new layers of strategy you may not have been exposed to very much before. This is a great thing, as it demonstrates the depth of the game, but it can be surprising and eye-opening for some who’ve played fighting games a lot before, but never really got to experience this side of them.
- And along those same lines, you’re about to be exposed to higher level mindgames much sooner than you’ve probably ever experienced in other fighting games. In most fighting games at an intermediate level (or even high level) of play, simply being able to execute things better than your opponent, or being able to do a more damaging combo or being able to do the Super move when your opponent can’t, will be enough to get you a whole lot of wins. Back to point number 1 on this list – you won’t have any advantage here for long at this kind of thing in FS. What happens in FS is that much sooner you get to the point where both players can do all the options – and now you get to the decision based “mindgames” part of a fighting game, that you often only get to see at the very very highest levels of play in another fighting game.
Even in a situation as simple as a knocked down opponent, in many FGs I will be pretty easily be able to do a “meaty” attack to hit them on their wakeup without any real risk when I am confident my opponent is not able to reliably perform reversal special moves to interrupt me. However, in FS, some characters are able to do a reversal special or super – and it will be as easy as mashing that button for them to do so, so this kind of easy “I can execute better than you, so I get to play without considering what you are wanting to do” situation just doesn’t occur much at all in FS. (Note, in this particular wakeup oki situation, good players will now want to learn safe meaty timings like ‘safe jumps’ to get to the next level of skill in fighting games).
- The ‘bedroom champion’ effect- anyone who’s played other FGs within the “FGC” or online a lot, especially in the past, will already be familiar with this one. ‘Back in the day’ many players only used to experience competitive fighting game play within their small circle of friends, or maybe if they were lucky, a small group at an arcade perhaps. Very few players got to play in a large competitive arcade scene, or a tournament scene, and of course online play didn’t exist back then. Even today, online play is so poor in many FG titles it is barely worth playing… so, this has led to a particularly large & persistent group of, as I like to call them, ‘bedroom champions’, in the fighting games scene. This is a player who thinks they are ‘unbeatable’ or ‘the best’ purely because they are (or were once) the best amongst the small group they’ve ever played at a fighting game.
I’ve played against quite a few people with this kind of mindset in the past, and well, quite frankly, unintentionally embarrassed them – even at fighting games I wasn’t especially good at. So in a nutshell – Don’t Be That Guy, especially at Fantasy Strike with it’s amazing online play – you can easily go online and see how well you can do vs the world, and matches are even playable way outside your region in Fantasy Strike. For example, UK vs Japan…
Online in FS you can optionally set Casual Match to matchmake vs “any players” to take on a wider skill range, or see how good you really are in Ranked Matches, or even online tournaments (we may run some more!). The main thing is to realise that just because you can beat all of your friends locally, it doesn’t necessarily make you a big shot at FS – at least not yet!
In summary: despite all the easy execution, better accessibility, enhanced clarity over the gamestate & situation, and everything FS does to help you get to the real meat of the higher level fighting game experience much faster than other games: The better player wins very consistently at FS. You’re going to need to play, learn and improve to actually get good at Fantasy Strike, just like any other skill-based competitive game.
Sirlin himself said this about Fantasy Strike:
It’s a strategic, difficult-to-be-good-at game that’s also easy for beginners to understand the basics of.
Just like when playing any other fighting game it’s important not to be disheartened by losses. You need to try to look upon each game as an opportunity to learn. I like this Frabisaur tip for the best way to mentally approach a fighting game, and your opponent:
Frabisaur’s Fighting Tips: Approach the game with a mindset of discovery rather than decisiveness. Find what beats the guy in front of you then do exactly that. It’s not about what you want it’s about what works.
— frabisaur (@Frabisaur) September 19, 2018
One thing I would really recommend, especially if you’re struggling at first, is to take advantage of the different online modes and matchmaking options in FS. Whilst Ranked match is a lot of fun and highly recommended even for new players to try it, playing 3 characters at once on a team can make things harder to learn, so Casual match where you play simpler 1v1 matchups is very useful. You will also want to change the setting to “Near My Skill” as that can be advantageous for learning – of course taking on all comers can be a good idea at times too (Although the matchmaker will always prefer players close to your skill and with a good connection to you if it can find them).
When you need more tips, I highly recommend this great article about learning to improve at Fantasy Strike. Also, why not check out guides or ask questions in the Fantasy Strike forums, or on their discord channel too. To date, the FS community has been incredible, and there’s almost always someone around to help you out with tips and ideas. Good luck kid!
5 thoughts on “Thoughts for experienced fighting game players starting Fantasy Strike”
This clip says it all about an experienced FG player getting into Fantasy Strike!
Absolutely phenomenal article! Love the breakdown, and it’s clean and simple to understand!
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Thank you so much Andy! 😀 (and especially thank you for commenting here, it’s so rare people drop comments on blogs these days it feels like!)