Friday, November 20, 2015

Teams for FoxPuff

I have a static fox teammate. I wanted to think about how to better play to long-term and effective strategies so I wrote this in order to brainstorm and distill a bit as well as identify things to talk with him about. Will edit/expand/correct over time.

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PLAYING TEAMS


Teams is really really cool because there’s so much active problem solving. Little situations can make big differences and well executed, holistic goals can dominate.

One of the biggest differences between teams and singles is that advantages are temporary. Everything that you do is on a timer i.e. what can you get away with before you need to split your attention? You rarely have the luxury of stretching an edgeguard out over 10 seconds. That’s way too long to assume their partner won’t interrupt you. But with good positioning you can frequently get away with whatever you want in small intervals. Fox puff might be the best team in the game at literal murder under 3 seconds but they have to work together.

Hypothesis: Better synergy > Better players.
At root, synergy is: you’re both working on the same or compatible plans.

I think that talking a lot is very helpful. Hopefully you and your partner have good synergy naturally or through practice but you can’t expect him to be a mind-reader. If you want him to do something different, tell him what and why, at least in between matches. Make a habit of asking what you can do to make things easier for him.

When there’s an ambiguous edgeguard etc make a habit of verbalizing “I have ledge” or “I have high.”
When a clear structure doesn’t work because someone doesn’t play their role (example, fox has ledge, puff covers the on stage recovery and fsmashes their landing lag but fox gets up and gets hit with it too), quickly say “That was my job.” It may not have been obvious to your partner in the heat of the moment.
Defining situations where you each have a simple and clear “job” is a huge benefit. The more that you can work out and internalize the stronger your synergy and the stronger your team.


OVERVIEW

Fox
Pros: Super fast
Super good at killing the exact characters that puff has trouble killing
Super fast
Super amazing at getting grabs etc for puff to play off of

Cons: Super 2v1able
Super fragile if puff doesn’t babysit him

Puff
Pros: Perpetual threat of instant death off on a laundry list of setups
Auto stage control/safe zone around her
Usually lives forever
Can't be gimped or 2v1ed so she can liberally edgeguard etc

Cons: Soooo Sloooowwww
Super easy to ignore
Can die very early to knee etc

Fox can and should switch targets a LOT. Because puff’s mobility is limited, there are times where he has to pull himself out of a potentially bad situation before it gets bad and fall back to where she can help him. This defensive movement can instantly be turned into an offensive advantage should he catch someone between him and puff for a quick 2v1 rally/kill (Lucky in particular is really good at that).
Puff can and should go on a killing rampage. In teams she’s even more polarized than she is in singles. She can slow the game down and keep fox safe to keep being fox and she can use fox to fish for devastating rests/edgeguards.

I think the simplest way to think about puff fox is that they’re both ridiculous killing machines so you have to use each other to blow shit up but they’re also fragile so you have to constantly take care of each other. Assuming you are watchful and keep your options open every time someone tries to kill one of you they’re leaving themselves open to a quick gimp/grab/upsmash/rest/etc from the other.


STRATEGY

A staple teams strategy is “double team the fast faller.” This works well because a) double teaming the fast character means that he is getting hit and thus can’t move freely, b) presumably their partner is a slower character that can’t rush in to help as well, c) fast fallers can die quickly.

Looking at teams, I think that you can translate that 3 part advantage to any team via prioritizing when to fight where. Quick judgements create sudden opportunities.

a) Rather than double team the fast faller you should double team the situationally more mobile character. This is often the fast faller but may be the better player or the one lower in %. It depends on the situation, hence, situationally.

b) look for/create scenarios where one player cannot assist their partner. If an edgeguard is lengthy, abandon it for a quick 2v1 on their teammate, even if it’s only for 2 seconds. You can always turn around and come back to finish the fight with heavy stage control behind you. Consider putting off killing a high% floaty for a while if their repeatedly getting hit away pays off in time spent 2v1ing their teammate. Etc.

c) Every character in the game can die quickly to foxpuff. Identify and practice setups to kill efficiently.



POSITIONING

Your goal is to establish a position to pincer and incapacitate the more mobile character while maintaining control. This is not your only strategy but I think it is the primary one for foxpuff.

Just like in singles, while damage is valuable it is NOT an end-goal. Wherever possible volleys should have a purpose beyond damage, largely to link into a strong kill setup i.e. to set up one of several specific hits for your partner (dair to grab to rest, bair to uptilt to bair to rest, bair to upsmash, upair to upair, bair to edgeguard, etc). Maybe it’s not always possible but a melee 2v1 is sooo crazy that I think if you’re creative enough you’ll find something.
Many exchanges are not strictly sandwiches but offer similar opportunities to slip in and mess someone up. Puff can jump into fox’s fight w/ nair rest on a distracted opponent etc.
Similarly, you can often force their hand in some way that helps your partner a lot. Puff’s aerials (on hit or on shield) translate very often into a free grab for fox. A puff in the air cuts off a large number of escape options, making his neutral easier. If fox can force out a double jump from below with an upsmash threat then puff can WoP them to oblivion.

Personally I think that while the Support/Carry model might not be a false paradigm it isn’t a sufficient one. FoxPuff in particular benefit immensely from making instantaneous changes in position in order to create/exploit a setup to rest/edgeguard/etc. Positioning and strategy is not so simple as one player attacks a lot and the other supports him from behind.

Puff in front
Puff’s wide vertical range of effectiveness commands space and funnels the opponent for fox to pick up. Fox can then be more surgical with his attacks as they are forced down under the approaching puff.

Fox in front
Fox's neutral game is godlike. Puff can interfere whenever fox slips up, making fox’s biggest weakness (gets heavily punished) negligible.

Neither of these takes full advantage of puff/fox’s joint ranges.
I think as a rule of thumb puff should stay over fox at ~45 degrees. Fox shouldn’t stray much farther than in reach of 45 degrees. This is of course a little lenient because puff just needs enough time to get to 45 degrees and then descend by the time anything goes down. If she’s free to move then the angle is more forgiving than if she’s occupied. This maintains the advantages of both fox and puff in front over a wide range of situations.
If you picture puff’s range as a big X shape (diagonals being her potential jump/fall path) and fox’s as a sort of V with a line under it (like a K turned 90 degrees counterclockwise) then puff over fox covers an absurd, dense, and complimentary range. They should both constantly try to maximize this.


BASIC ADVANTAGEOUS POSITIONS

__PF___XX_
__FP___XX_ (these seem neutralish but because of threat ranges foxpuff is better at it than most other teams).
_____P_FXX (this is amazing, one of the best positions)
_X___F_PX_
_X___P_FX_
_X_F__P_X_
__F_XX_P__ (good but can go bad fast. ___FXXP___ is great but _FXX_P____ is bad)


 ____F_XPX_ is better than ____P_XFX_ because puff can’t be gimped or 2v1ed very well. They are like a happy neutral.
I think  ____F_XPX_ is generally ok but ____P_XFX_ is horrible and fox should just jump to top platform/roll toward puff/something dramatic to get out.



BAD POSITIONS


_P__X_F_X_
_P__X_X_F_

Basically in any position where there’s lots of space between puff and fox (puff can’t move fast to save or to take advantage, even worse when fox doesn’t have horizontal space to stall for time in) foxpuff is losing.
The closer fox gets to the ledge the bigger the risk. Jigglypuff doesn’t need much stage to play with but fox does. He’s allowed to pursue edgeguards etc but they should be plays, not positional stances.

When stuck in a bad spot fox needs to prioritize changing the game by running through or over to arrive back at center/in reach of puff. Puff’s job is to establish a safe zone without getting hit back out. If either are too desperate and pick a bad moment then the bad position can get worse or get one of them killed.



THEORETICAL IDEAL POSITION FOR 2V1 VS CHARACTER X

You've got 3 seconds to mess someone up. Where do you want to be?
I thought about it and don’t think that they vary based on who they are teaming with. A 2v1 is a 2v1 and the only difference should be how frequently they come up/how long you can stay in them on average, no?

fox
____FXP_
(sandwich with goal being push him off or up into bair into off
puff keeps ledge safe for friendly fox to use)

falco
____FPX_
(force him off into gimp, puff as barrier to prevent autocombos on fox out, fox whiff punishes hits on puff into edgeguard)

falcon
____PFX_
(fox has stronger edgeguard vs low, puff backs him up/kills falcon that goes high)

peach
      P
_X__F____
(high % combo/pin into upsmash, low % catch her slipping and rest
rare to want to engage in a 2v1 vs peach. Position isn’t as strong as move-based setup. Maximize fox’s usable stage and puff cuts off her float/pins her for grab/upsmash. Puff is better in front than fox because she can’t screw up as hard. 2 deep might be better than sandwich when peach is free to move. Peach is more likely to die off of pickups that fox has to keep an eye out for but not obsess over.)

sheik
P_X_F___
(either force grab/shine or damage by forcing her up so that fox can upsmash later (sheik and peach die to upsmash at ~ same range because identical weight).
sort of weird to double team, mostly just gonna try to bair her into something juicy.
Where is sheik weakest? Away from the thick. Strongest at center stage or gimping. So if you keep her out of center then she is not so able to play her game unless you give her what she wants.
The trouble with sheik/peach is that they live for a while regardless of position etc. And we can’t rely on cheese or edgeguards that will get interrupted. So we have to accept that and a) leave them be when we can be doing better on their partner and b) develop team combos when possible via move choice. When we are just trading hits/exchanges then they are winning handily.)

puff
P_X_F___
(puff eliminates fadeback option so fox wins neutral for even more free than normal. Like peach, no reason to bother most of the time.)

marth
P_X_F___ (I think)
(marth seems like an easier version of sheik to me. He can surprise us but doesn’t have much to his name. He’s very very very vulnerable when forced up, so prioritize nudging him onto/above the platforms when it isn’t better to ignore him.)


samus(?)
P_X_F___
(seems like peach but slower so potentially easier to lock into rest setup.
a problem is that if you ignore her she gets a charge shot and then puff can die at 40. So whoever is closer has to baby sit her a little bit but it just takes bairs from either of fox/puff.)


RULE OF THUMB

At highish but not killable%s in a 2v1 be aggressive because if you get hit and don’t die then fox gets a free grab upthrow upair upair or something.




TACTICS

in sandwiches if they DI up then we combo to upair(if it will kill)/WoP. If they are sent low then we combo to fox’s grab.

if they tech on a platform they die. If puff is close let her cover every option. Fox just immediately runs to other guy. If puff is not close enough to cover everything then let her cover tech toward her.
I think there are lots of places in this team where while fox does have a combo it’s better to let puff take it and to go open up the other guy. If puff converts to a rest it’s better than what fox could have done. If puff drops it no big deal because you get some damage/more opportunities on both.

a 2v1 that kills is an immediate 2v1 on the other dude.

Don’t stagger invincibility if you both die, use your double invincibility to kill someone

Attack through each other’s shield. You break up the situation.

Fox can go to platforms vs double floaties because his gameplan changes to “bair a lot.”

vs lots of characters’ recoveries fox on ledge puff rest landing lag on stage

vs other characters fox covers low puff jumps over his head with fair then keeps fairing if it hits

when puff aerials low to ground, fox can grab for free (beats sheild and hit) and then puff is right there for grab rest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxpl5mc2Vmg&t=11s and after at 27s

bair rest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ndPgWfPUoI&t=4m47s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfZSAxNIncs&t=11m5s

shinegrab rest

drill grab
drill shine rest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxpl5mc2Vmg&t=1m22s (see him in position then run in on reaction to grab?)

running shine is very strong vs light characters because it ejects them and commits them to a tech as well as recovery time.

look for these shines near the ledge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfZSAxNIncs&t=11m55s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfZSAxNIncs (leffen and hbox both preying on the other getting attacked. Not all of them work but leffen does a lot of move choices that he can’t follow up on but that hbox can kill from)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-sb6EWoPUY (look at how lucky runs through a lot and that enables mango)

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