Euro Fantasy Strike Players Series: #8 – Janet

This is another part on-going series where I’ve been interviewing European members of the Fantasy Strike community to find out more about them (see #1 Nok here, #2 Kingheim here, #3 Sir here, #4 Webletee#5 Mitarashi Dango, #6 Arnei, and #7 TheZipBon here).

This time I’m talking to a relative newcomer on the European Fantasy Strike scene, but one who’s played a lot, learned really quickly and made a big impact already: Janet.

My name is Janet, I also go by Staccato Semibreve sometimes! I picked the name Janet when I was trying to figure out, well, any name that fit me at all – I thought of it and it felt okay, then I grew to like it more as I tried it out! ^_^ So of course I fully dedicated myself to that name, ’cause nothing else felt quite so right, but I’m fully expecting to find some other random name at some point and decide I like it as a nickname or something, as is trans tradition. 😀

I came up with Staccato Semibreve because I liked the alliteration, and also the way it makes no sense as a music term – a “semibreve” (pronounced like “semi brief” with a “v” on the end) is a note that lasts for 4 beats (usually the longest note you’ll see in a song), whereas “staccato” (pronounced “stack ‘eart oh” is a style of playing a note that’s kinda short and jumpy and which usually isn’t applied to anything longer than 1 beat.

I’m from South-ish England, though I also go to university in North-ish England some of the time.

I’ve been playing since monorail (not, like, a literal monorail, but the cool Fantasy Strike player and glaceon!) persuaded me to get the game, which I believe was on 2019-10-30, ’cause I proudly told her when I first won a match in casual, she asked who it was against, and then went to tease Erick (who had been playing Argagarg for the first time, and in the time prior and since beaten me repeatedly of course!) – so he brought that up when I joined the Discord server because he thought it was funny, thus granting me a permanent marker for when I got the game! I’ve been playing basically non-stop since then, I don’t think I’ve taken a single break longer than a week, and I’ve also participated in most online tournaments since I started doing those too! My initial reason for starting those being “what the heck, why not”, and my reason now being that tournaments are hecking great and wonderful. Thanks to this, my total playtime has got… a bit silly!

My favourite character to play as is Lum – something about how he moves with his rolls, his cartwheels, the way his jumps go, the sheer amount of improvisation with his items, and how many mindgames you can play at any given moment makes playing Lum almost feel more like an art form than a fighting game, it’s so much fun! But character-wise, probably either Valerie, whose sheer determination to live her life her way despite any opposition is something I deeply admire, or Degrey, who is literally an immortal tyrant-slaying Phoenix Wright-style lawyer zombie with a ghost friend.

I least like playing against Valerie, because I honestly just struggle to find openings against her – she’s fun, but the way her most common attack is so devastating and hard to punish is just really difficult to handle. She’s still so much fun to fight, though! I wouldn’t say I have a least favourite opponent, at least out of anyone I ever face in queue. Honestly, I love facing more difficult opponents as it’s a wonderful challenge, and I love facing opponents for whom I fill that role because it feels great to build up a challenge for them to deal with and see them get better and better at it, and I love facing equally matched opponents because it’s just so much fun striving for victory against someone I know I have a chance against, but who also has that same chance against me.

I already gave my favourite characters in Fantasy Strike character-wise, and I don’t know too much more about the in-game world, so I’d say my other favourite characters in the world would have to be Rook’s birds! They’re just little birds who’ve found a friend they like spending time with and/or on, and that’s wonderful. ^_^

Rook’s birds and Valerie! Both great favourite characters to have in my opinion. Also, this is the current season of Fantasy Strike we’re in at the time of publishing too, in case you were wondering 😀

My current team in ranked is Degrey, Lum, and Midori, though my team was originally Degrey, Valerie, and Geiger. Degrey’s been a part of my ranked team since the start, I chose him because he just seemed pretty intuitive to me (not to mention he’s ridiculously satisfying to play!), and he’s served me well as one of my mains since. I originally started with Geiger, who I vaguely “got” at first, and who I could do reasonably well with at first because I played him quite aggressively and people didn’t know how to handle that at first. But my lack of patience meant my improvement stagnated, so I switched him out for Lum who I’d been learning with reasonable success around that time, and I haven’t regretted that since – almost every Lum match has some ridiculousness in it! And even his weakest matchups are pretty fun, versus Valerie you get to be proud of every successful escape, and versus Grave the flow of getting pressured into the corner, then getting out the dice and pressuring back and striving to get just enough damage over just long enough to keep ahead is wonderful. Valerie was the first character I played, and my first main. She has enough variety to her movement options that she came pretty naturally to me at first, and I had loads of fun desperately trying to keep up with using her toolset as quickly and effectively as possible on the fly, making sure that my opponents would have the hardest time possible keeping up. Also she’s bi, which is awesome and I instantly wanted to play the confirmed non-cishet character! 😀 But eventually I just felt like I wasn’t getting any better with her, so I switched her out for Midori who I’m pretty happy with my improvement for, and who I really enjoy the feelings of successfully pressuring with and successfully defending as, both of which lead to victory through damage or the inevitability of dragon form. 😀

I don’t have any changes in mind right now, I’m pretty happy with my team! I’m more comfortable with them than the rest of the cast, and I can play everyone else in the casual queue anyway. Which I love doing, getting the feel for how characters I don’t main work, and the little tricks and strategies you pick up from their playstyles and can incorporate into your other characters, is so much fun! I’m particularly looking forward to this with the secret mysterious upcoming characters of forbidden knowledge, because being able to finally play them in the casual queue will be absolutely wonderful, and I’m really curious how other people will use them and deal with them.

Remy77077: Janet is referring to what Patreons of Sirlin Games already know about regarding new content coming for Fantasy Strike!
I also noticed the way Janet was describing her playing style really reminded me of, well, myself at times, and I asked if she felt she shared a similar “growth” mindset to playing fighting games to me.

I’d say that’s accurate, I love improving in this game, whether it’s just by learning a small cool thing, improving my general mindset, helping others improve, or learning key aspects of the game I was previously missing out on. Right now, for instance, I’m working on improving my reactions to Setsuki’s ninjaport as Degrey, as my instinct is to block or punish the throw for 3 with njA into nAA, but you can always punish ninjaport with BB for 2 damage, on hit or on block regardless of throw or kick. Unfortunately, Setsuki players know this and so avoid using the ninjaport against Degrey in general, and it’s hard to build up that instinct, so I’ve been having trouble.

I still have trouble considering myself as a “good” player, honestly – there are aspects of my play I’m proud of, and I feel like I have a good knowledge-base and experience-base from which to build off, but I’m not sure that adds up to being “good at the game”, but then again I’m not sure I even agree with the concept of being good at it in general – you can certainly be a challenging opponent to people, and you can be very good at parts of the game. But for the game as a whole, everyone has different goals and aspirations, and there’s so much to it that I honestly feel like it’s too complicated for a simple word like “good” – but that’s just me and my tendency to overthink stuff like this.

Remy77077: Do you ever find that playing with an experimentation, learning or even a teaching focus you can find it hard to move into full “try hardest to win” mode at times? I definitely have this problem.

I do, actually! A lot of the time in a match I’ll realise that I have an option I’ve never tried before and don’t know the outcome of, so I’ll try it out. And it rarely works in my favour, but I think learning that is worth it. But also in general, I find that “try hardest to win” mode is hard to leave in the match, and will generally leave me more easily frustrated. So mostly I try to have fun with it, which I seem to do better from anyway as I don’t get so distracted by my frequent mistakes. 😀

Remy77077: I find it interesting how different mindsets affect how people play at competitive games. I am wondering if the way we tend to think reflects how we play. Does it perhaps limit us to being “just” a “very strong player” but never “the best” when it comes to FG tournaments and stuff… but like you say, it also maybe means we have more “fun” to us anyway? I can only usually give full focus to ‘trying to win’ when I’m in a real-life tournament (and even then, I have lapses), and if I ever want to try to get that in other settings, especially online events or matches, I have to almost play mental tricks on myself to try to get myself to focus harder.

It probably does limit us from being the best, just like anything else might! But I don’t mind, because I don’t want to be the best anyway, I just wanna keep playing the game. 😀 Playing mental tricks on yourself like that feels very familiar to me, I used to do that a lot to motivate myself to do the things I had to when I was growing up, though now I mostly limit it to using it to keep myself from getting frustrated! I’ve always had frustration issues (though they used to be a lot worse than they are now), so everything I can use to keep myself from getting annoyed in the first place is extremely valuable to me – it’s much easier to stay calm than to make yourself calm, I find. One of my favourite such tricks is to make myself come up with at least one thing I can compliment my opponent for – it means I can’t just dwell on how I messed up, I have to think of how well they made use of that! So if I lost badly, it becomes a compliment to them, and if they lost badly then it becomes a reminder that you can do well and still lose in any game (due to how the outcome is a product of multiple skills, factors, and luck), especially in a competitive game where your opponent is in the same position. Plus, it tells people what they’re good at, which I think is always valuable.

My greatest personal achievement in FS is probably that time I won a tournament that had shobbs (“the rook hugger”) in it – I mean, sure, he was having an off-day, but I’m still proud! There are also a few moments I’m especially proud of, most particularly a match of my Lum vs TurboTaco’s Argagarg in a Toronto Top Tiers online tournament where I just barely managed to win the match by chip-out before he won through poison, and a round in a different Toronto Top Tiers tournament of my Degrey vs Organous’s Lum where I absolutely should have lost, but somehow managed to dodge their entire item setup while getting the odd bit of damage and chip in until I eventually somehow took the round! I still don’t know how I managed either of these, honestly.

In fighting games, I’d say my biggest achievement is certainly the gradual shift from button-mashing to vaguely knowing what I was doing in the Smash Bros series, that’s a big one. But in gaming in general, probably my experience of Bloodborne, as I managed to get through most bosses in just a few attempts and got a very intuitive sense of how the combat worked. But there’s quite a few programming-based puzzle games I’m also quite proud of my performance in too, particularly Silicon Zeroes and TIS-100.

My all-time favourite videogame is Sonic Adventure, that has the combination of huge nostalgia and genuinely ambitious goals with the story and gameplay (people joke, but it was literally a Dreamcast game with 6 different gameplay styles and stories, each with different themes and perspectives – they even re-recorded people’s lines for the same cutscene from different perspectives!), but a few others are up there too. I mentioned Bloodborne earlier, which has utterly fantastic gameplay and an excellent story (that you can consider through all sorts of thematic lenses and it’ll work! But I’ll stop myself here on that, I have literally done a presentation on that before, there’s a lot to unpack with it), but most importantly the overall experience of the world is masterful. There’s also The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which hugely refined its genre in incredible ways, and just feels… right, like the world is somehow comfortable and enjoyable to just exist in, and there’s always fun to be found. The damage scaling can be a bit silly though, particularly with how tanky the enemies get by the end, but that’s basically the only criticism I have for how the game feels. Last but not least, there’s Celeste, which is an incredibly well-made platformer with an extremely well-told story that is honestly one of the few pieces of media that makes me tear up, and at the same time gives a huge sense of accomplishment.

Honestly though, Fantasy Strike is my biggest and most consistent hobby right now – most things I tend to get distracted after some amount of time. But right now I’m also learning to program in Haskell, which is fun – I used to program lots as a kid, but I lost interest in it, and it’s been fun re-experiencing it. Also, I really like puzzle games, particularly Zachtronics ones.

I like how Fantasy Strike feels so natural to play and learn – it’s like there’s nothing holding me back but myself, and I really appreciate that! The movement and movesets are intuitive, there’s no need to spend ages practising combos or anything, and most improvement you can get just by playing the game lots and asking for advice occasionally.

My advice for new players would be: Don’t just go for the flashy stuff! Go for the stuff that’s much easier for you to do than for your opponent to deal with, and do it a lot – for instance, DeGrey can use nA then pause then either nA or throw – it can be kinda hard to time this perfectly, but the basic idea is really easy to perform and really hard to defend against. Oh, and ask people questions, you can learn so much that way. Other people’s experience is one of the most valuable tools there is.

As for new characters on the horizon for FS, as I mentioned I don’t know too much about the world of Fantasy Strike, but I guess I’d like to see how BBB or Zane work? I’ve heard interesting things about how they work in Yomi, and while I don’t fully understand that, it sounds like it’d be fascinating to see them in the game.

Further thoughts? There’s some stuff that can never be said enough: trans rights, black lives matter, non-binary folk are awesome, everyone’s social experiences, sexual or romantic orientations (or lack thereof!), etc are perfectly valid, and we will make it through this!

Remy77077: I do of course need to ask you more about the FS event you are running most weeks now, Garden of Chaos:

Where did the idea come from? Well there’d been a few discussions about silly tournament ideas, and I figured “why not?” – there’s no reason I couldn’t run it, and there were definitely plenty of ideas around. So I went for it, realised I personally couldn’t stream it for technical reasons, and Daniel Stetulch (who is awesome by the way) offered to help! My main thoughts about it are that I’m so glad people seem to be having fun with it as that was my goal all along, and that I hope the resources I’m making for it on the website (because I might as well) help people out too! Also that I hope other people get inspired to run their own tournaments, because I’m sure we can do more than 4 weekly events! 😀

Remy77077: Hahah, well I definitely think there’s certainly a huge variety of great events in the Fantasy Strike community and it’s great to see another one. I’d like to thank Janet for such a great interview, especially with her going into so much depth in her answers & generating a lot of extra questions from me!

I’d also like to thank Janet and Daniel Stretulch again for their support for my streams and especially for running the Garden of Chaos (I recommend you click the link to find out more!). I’m not usually available to enter it and I must admit some of the rulesets are a little bit “too crazy” for my taste, but it does hold a special place in my heart for being the first (and currently only) Fantasy Strike event I’ve ever won! For which Janet provided me with this very special reward image, which I shall no doubt treasure forever amongst my greatest gaming accolades!

The last time I got a personalised prize like this, was actually after my first ever Street Fighter tournament, which I wrote about long ago, here.

I should also mention I didn’t include any match footage of Janet in action, but there is plenty out there by now. You can look through the archive of Cyber Stun City Fantasy Strike events (run by Toronto Top Tiers) as mentioned in the interview here:

You can also check out an archive of Garden of Chaos events here:

And last but not least, Janet is a regular competitor on my regular Monday Night Strike twitch streams, and you can find some of her most interesting archived matches on my youtube channel here:

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