The turnout on Saturday was pretty good. In total, there were five of us who played Marvel and a couple of people who were there just to hang out (my money is on converting them to players in the near future). I’m told that there were two people who came to the previous gatherings that weren’t able to make it out this time and I know that I have at least one more friend who intends to go to the next meeting, which would bring our total up to eight. Eight people. That’s a very respectable amount of like-minded individuals who intend to throw hams with one another.
We ran two setups and people traded off spots with the odd man out at random–but fair–intervals. Obviously, once we have more people attending we’ll need to either get a third setup going or run matches in a two out of three or first to three format to keep everyone playing and involved. I think I’d prefer the option of keeping two setups and rotating people in; it will allow people to take time and watch each other play, which can be just as important as actually sitting down and unleashing a dark Wesker of your own.
Perhaps the most interesting element of the entire evening was seeing the array of different teams used and the skill range present. I was pretty securely in the middle of the pack with my Zero/Wolverine/Doom team. The people who were able to beat me, though, did so with finesse. These near-perfect victories (as most of them were) for my opponents came in two forms: armored attacks from Hulk covered with a Haggar assist–and me, stupidly, pressing buttons–or, level four Frank West. Once those chainsaws are out, man, somebody is going to lose an arm. I lost several.
The obvious solution to dealing with the Hulk team is to just not get fooled into hitting buttons when I shouldn’t. That’s harder than it sounds, especially when I’m used to teleporting around like a crazy person with no ill effects and tossing out pizza slicers as often as my H button will allow. As for the Frank West team, well, I just need to learn to deal with his pressure without getting hit. It all comes down to a lack of being able to maintain an active defense while still putting out damage, something that I’ve always struggled with in Marvel. This is the kind of thing that can only truly be improved through play.
Playing with a variety of new people showed me that I’m basically back where I was with this team before I stopped playing several months ago, and, just like several months ago, I’ve fallen into a comfortable, predictable pattern of play. Every match would look exactly the same if my opponent did nothing. I can watch replays of myself using Zero/Wolverine/Doom and say out loud, “next, I’m going to back dash twice and fire my buster,” which, without missing a beat, unfolds on the screen. I can predict the angles of approach I’m about to use on Doom (which are always incredibly rushdown heavy, something that I naturally favor) and I can tell when I’m going to use a berserker slash with Logan. It’s just too predictable overall.
It’s a tough rut to get out of, and it’s one that I fell into with Ibuki a while back. Granted, I still have bad habits with Ibuki, but not nearly so many as I had. The way that I was best able to overcome the issues that I had with her was to spend a great deal of time with other characters. I picked up Evil Ryu and played him exclusively for a few weeks. I went back to Chun-Li and played her for a couple of weeks after that. Taking time away from Ibuki made me miss certain tools that she has that other characters don’t, specifically her command runs and her back+MP. Once I went back to Ibuki with fresh eyes, I was able to put these tools to better use.
That means that I’m going to try messing with some different characters in Marvel. Right now I only have one requirement for the team: at least one character must be able to tri-jump. I’m leaning toward Storm, but I have no idea who to put with her. I’ve seen some team compositions that use Strider, Dante, Wesker, Akuma, all sorts of characters to take advantage of what Storm brings to a team, but I have no idea how to play any of them. This will undoubtedly be an adventure. If I had to pick three characters that I have no idea how to play, it’d probably be Dante/Storm/Strider, but that’s a lot to learn from a few very high-execution characters. I’ve got a month to pick up some new stuff, though, so we’ll have to see how it goes.
In other news, I recently had the pleasure of playing several matches of AE with my overseas friend from the blogosphere, o0 InFraRED 0o. I was surprised by how good our connection was. Sure, we had red bars, but there were maybe two incidents where the game actually stuttered noticeably. It was, overall, just a touch sluggish, but I’m so accustomed to online play in that game that I can adapt fairly quickly to that sort of thing. I’ve got a mean under water Ibuki and I always pack my snorkel.
Be sure to check back Friday for a video. It could be pretty much anything at this point.