Euro Fantasy Strike Players Series: #9 – darkness

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, #7 TheZipBon, and #8 Janet here).

I’ve been talking to darkness this time around, or as I sometimes refer to him in commentary; “THE darkness”.

darkness has been an extremely prolific player in Fantasy Strike’s European and international scene for a long while now, but has been shrouded in mystery for so long. It took me a long time to even discover whereabouts in Europe they were from…! But now, finally & exclusively for Agoners, the darkness allows some light to be shed on their shadowy background.

I like philosophy, and one of the interesting questions in the world is “What am I?”, “What is “I”?”.
One philosophy, which resonates with me is Lao Tzu’s teaching about the way, which in one translation starts like this:

The Tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnameable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realise the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise for the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
the gateway to all understanding.

Since my honest answer to the question “What am I?” is “I don’t know”, I found “darkness” to be a great nickname 🙂

I prefer not to share too much real life info online, since the internet is a wild place, but I’m from Bulgaria. Currently I live, work and play from Sofia, the capital city.
Bulgaria and particularly Sofia have some well developed fibre-optics internet network, so it’s great for gaming 🙂

I’ve started to play Fantasy Strike around April 2019, it was still in early access on Steam, and there had been a significant optimisation of the graphics already in place when I started.

I found out about FS from a video by Core-A gaming about the simplest fighting games. At the time I was 1.5 years into playing Tekken 7 (which was my first fighting game), and I was looking for guides and tutorials about how to improve. I think, before starting with Fantasy Strike, I’d also read Sirlin’s book “Playing to Win”, where he promoted his games as designed to be interesting & deep on the competitive level. So I decided to pick Fantasy Strike as a means to improve my fighting game fundamentals. I also found that playing Tekken helps my Fantasy Strike play – so I alternate both fighting games.

Remy77077: I asked darkness if, like me he was a big fan of Babylon 5, and of course he was! He also mentioned he was really into many other sci-fi shows, including one called “Dark Matter” (makes sense!)

My favourite currently playable character in FS would probably be Jaina, because of her recklessness. I like her story in the arcade mode, using a bow which shoots fire to learn patience. Fire and patience seem controversial. Her ‘Dragon Heart’ move is also controversial, but hey it will not kill you, only makes you stronger 🙂

Against a good player, all characters become hard to play against. But in general I like least to play against Setsuki and Valerie. As rush down characters they have very damaging punishes, so that, combined with my unsafe play-style has caused me many fast losses!

My favourite FS world character would be Persephone (she is not in game yet).
She is a supernatural being, dressed in black, who in Yomi the card game, can gain control over the opponent’s actions for a turn.

Persephone as she appears in Yomi. She also appears in DeGrey’s Arcade story in Fantasy Strike

My FS ranked team is made of Grave, Jaina and Geiger. They all happen to be zoners, but what I’ve picked them for is that they all have invincible moves.

I like the idea of invincibility. When I started playing Fantasy Strike I picked Argagarg, and tried to abuse his “travelling” bubble, because it’s invincible when popped. Then, in one of my first appearances online, it was on your (Remy77077) Friday night “Euro Rank Up” streams, I learned that “travelling” is not a good move to use so often. I tried to use it some more, but then I found that the reversals of Grave, Jaina and Geiger are much more spammable :). So since the time of the first ThyPirateKing tournaments I’ve kept Grave, Jaina and Geiger as my ranked team, and queuing in casual with my weakest of them, who most of the time is Jaina. I don’t think I’ll make any changes to my ranked team for now. Maybe if Persephone is added to Fantasy Strike I’ll add her in place of Geiger (I don’t want to separate brother and sister Stormborne). I find Onimaru and Rook fun to play in casuals, but I’m not good enough with them to chose them for ranked matches.

I don’t feel like I have any remarkable achievements in Fantasy Strike, I usually place around the middle, with 50% win rate – win some lose some 🙂
I did win one one of TPK’s weekly tournaments (#29), but I haven’t actually reached higher brackets in the bigger FS events (yet). I do enjoy if I can pull off some YOLO reversals, N-consecutive-throws sequences or other hype moments… but those things don’t win tournaments!

I also haven’t competed in other video games before Fantasy Strike. Probably because I switched to Linux in high school, around year 2000. At the time there was no Ubuntu or other “user friendly” distributions, and Linux was not a gaming platform (probably still isn’t). One of the more interesting games I’ve played on Linux was ADOM. A text based adventure, something like a single player Dungeons and Dragons, or Diablo game. Where the main character is an “at” symbol “@”, and the “D”s are scary dragons.

My gaming environment changed when I saw the first trailer of Blizzard’s Overwatch. I liked the game atmosphere, the graphics from the video, and the catch phrase at the end – “You know… the world could always use more heroes”. So, when the game came out one year and something later, I geared up from an average laptop to a desktop PC which could run Overwatch with a steady 144fps and started to train my aiming skills :). I haven’t reached any heights in Overwatch, I almost always finish in gold ranks. But Overwatch being a team game has one flaw, you have a team, who sometimes have their own ideas about how you should play, which is not always fun. I mean, I like Zenyatta, and I want to play him, because I find him cool. So what if he’s not good in the meta or against the team composition… But in such situations talks start, the team is not focused, and losses follow.

After some not-fun team experiences like that, I was browsing on twitch and there was a big fighting event for Tekken, and it looked fun. I’d known about Tekken 3, which was available on Playstation in the 90s, and I’d played it a few times with friends, but I never owned a Playstation myself. So after the tournament on twitch, I found out that Tekken 7 is now available on PC, so I got the game. The next day I got a control pad, two weeks later an arcade stick, and my journey into fighting games started. I’ve started to learn the game with Ling Xiaoyu, stuck with her for around an year, reaching the last green ranks, at which point my tricks stopped working, then I decided to work on my fundamentals and switched to Shaheen. Around that time was when I found out about Fantasy Strike, read “Playing to Win” and joined the Fantasy Strike discord community, and started to participate in FS tournaments.

Remy77077: Here’s one the earliest streams of darkness I can find from my youtube channel

Apart from the above computer games, I like the game of Go. I like it’s aesthetics, and how insightful it could be as a self discovery tool. A lot of your character is revealed in a game of Go. In that relation it’s similar to fighting games. As Seraph in The Matrix said “You do not truly know someone until you fight them.” I’m not a sports person, and apart from fighting games as a hobby, I very much like to do nothing! So I usually try to dedicate some time for nothing, no commitments, no plans, just being.

Remy77077: I can immediately see why Go appeals to darkness’s style!

In Fantasy Strike I like the minimalism, in the character moves, the interface, the graphics. I find it clean and beautiful. I like the lower execution barrier; that the character does what I’ve thought to do in my head. I like that there is one global region, both geographically and for all the platforms. I like that FS runs natively on Linux (although I play on Windows). I also like how helpful the community is, you can always ask in discord how to deal with particular situation you struggle with.

For new players I recommend reading “Playing to Win“. Also, you should try to experiment when playing – press more buttons; don’t press more buttons; play mini-games within your game – like trying to win with only select few of your moves. Try using more reversals (that may be bad advice, but it is fun) …if a reversal has failed 6 times in a row, will it fail 7th? Make more mistakes, see all the things that don’t work and learn from that.

Remy77077: Astute observers might recognise this from a t-shirt I’ve worn on-stream a few times too and figure out why this image is so appropriate here…

For the new characters in FS I like Onimaru, with his ton of damage and the Sun Tzu references. He is a bit harder to play with all the stances, and the slow movement speed, but it is satisfying if you land a high damage combo, or prepare a check mate trap. He also has one of the best alternative skins (the Oni Daemon). I don’t have a clear picture for Quince, maybe he’s a bit too confusing! He’s hard to play against, and I’m not very comfortable playing as him either. What I like about them both is how different they feel from the rest of the cast though. If more characters are to be added to FS, as mentioned earlier, I’d like to see Persephone.

Fantasy Strike at AnimEVO 2020 a few weeks ago was great. It was the biggest Fantasy Strike tournament I’ve played in, great organisation and streams too. There were many interesting high level matches. Top 32 is a delight to watch! I wish I would’ve found a place in Top32, but after losing to CWheezy, I also lost my match to get back into the top 32. The bright side of that is that I could relax and enjoy the rest of the tournament 🙂

I don’t have any other links I wish to share, and I don’t have any motto or quote to add really. It would be too fixed and the world is always changing, I haven’t found the “one true thing” to say ‘this is it’.

And here’s a very recent darkness match from my youtube channel – vs ME!

Thanks so much again to darkness for such insightful answers into his life, games and thought process!

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