Tekken Blog: 16 Oct 2017 — Stealing turns

This is dedicated to cataloging my learning in Tekken. Although I am excited to learn, it has been rather a daunting task to catch up to the scene. With no prior Tekken or other 3-D fighting games to use as a reference, I’m looking to go over what I’ve learned as I grow as a Tekken player.

If something is difficult to understand or you are curious as to what I am saying, you can find some help on the Tekken Jargon page on tekkenzaibatsu.com, which I use frequently to learn Tekken lingo, or you can ask me on Twitter for clarification!

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In other fighting games, there are a variety of ways to guarantee pressure. For example, if Ky gets a knockdown, a Charged Stun Edge is a great way to make sure you’re going to keep your turn going. However, in Tekken, many times it is difficult to make sure the next turn is yours, but what it does is add dimensions to the game. What I mean is that being at advantage does not always mean you’re safe, and being at disadvantage does not mean you’re helpless.

Learning how to deal with Bryan’s B+1 was where I started thinking about pressure more abstractly. Bryan’s B+1 is an advancing mid that is +3 on block, a great button and a very common way that Bryan starts his pressure. At first, I thought blocking this meant I had to be helpless to the mixup, and would have to guess whether he’d go for low, a quick mid, or even another B+1.

Realizing that a common follow up to B+1 is a jab, I decided that it would be worth attempting to duck the jab in order to avoid the pressure. However, I found it difficult to whiff punish quicker high moves with a launcher. Sometimes I would get a good read on a high, but it was difficult to react to, and I would get punished for a blocked launcher. I had to find another, more consistent answer for checking highs that was safer than chancing a launcher on reaction. This is when I learned how to “steal a turn”.

Robot limbs are good for fighting

Stealing a turn is going against the flow of the match, which is why sometimes it is important to risk stealing a turn in order to get into your opponent’s head. If we define a turn as “a moment in which a player has clear advantage”, e.g. putting yourself in frame advantage, then “stealing a turn” is reversing or stopping the flow of the match when it is obviously going in a certain direction.

Why choose to simply steal a turn? The first reason I have already stated, which is that it is more consistent because it is much easier to perform than a launcher. The second reason is that it opens up the mind games. If an opponent knows that they can follow a move with another without challenge, regardless of its frame data, this gives them a free mix-up where they do not have to worry about retaliation. In almost any scenario, this isn’t a good thing to give up to your opponent, and challenging those moments forces the opponent to second guess their follow ups. Once they start doing that, you earn a little more leeway when those disadvantaged moments happen.

Instead of trying to punish with a launcher, I went for a very basic FC 1. Seems simple and nonoptimal, but, especially for a newer Tekken player, optimization is something that isn’t necessarily important early on. This game can be rather finicky at times, and learning how to not only be consistent, but also create consistency, is critical to being a strong Tekken player. Optimization is important for a competitive Tekken player, and I do not want to discredit those who work within those extra frames and damage, but personally, I believe good fundamentals are a stronger foundation to build yourself upon as a Tekken player.

For this specific instance, the way to kill someone using full crouch buttons is an Orbital Heel, Bryan’s U/F+4. While it is safe on block, it does have a long start up, meaning a standing jab can float him out of it and reward a combo. So we have a mind game that has one answer for the next, all which have different rewards. A crouch jab will beat a standing jab, a crouch jab will lose to a Orbital Heel for a full combo, an Orbital Heel will lose to a standing jab for a full combo, and a standing jab will lose to another standing jab from Bryan.

I couldn’t remember the video this quote came from but I trust this to be accurate.

The crazy part is I haven’t even gone through all the answers one can have for these responses. In the wise words of Aris, “You got one piece of the puzzle, and there’s five thousand pieces. Welcome to Tekken, kid.” As daunting as this looks, it’s also what gives this game such a rich, competitive scene. The game is chock full of moments and interactions very similar to this one, and much of this style of breakdown can help you learn what your options are in a scenario that is giving you trouble. I believe that this is a great way to improve as a Tekken player, and hopefully with enough practice I will be able to do this on the fly.

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