With Tekken Tag Tournament 2 quickly approaching, more and more fighting game players are becoming interested in Tekken. In part two of “Iron Fist 101” I cover topics like formulating a game plan and dealing with long move lists for multiple characters. If you haven’t already, check out my introductory article, Iron Fist 101: The Competitor’s Guide to Playing Tekken.
Formulating a Game Plan
A common problem for new Tekken players when playing against human opponents is understanding how your character's move list is applied in game. Having access to such a large number of moves can make move selection very difficult. The first solution to this problem is to watch matches featuring well known players of your character. When you watch these matches, look specifically for the moves that are being used the most. For now, you don’t need to think about how or when these moves are being used. Simply focus on which moves are usable and abusable at a high level and take note of these. Keep your list of moves short at first, focusing on between five and ten moves. When deciding which moves you want to focus on, try to cover as many offensive categories as possible. Once these moves have been selected, ignore the rest of your move list for the time being. What you are trying to do is take a move list that has hundreds of moves, and simplify it to a more manageable number.
Once you have your list of moves, take them into practice mode and explore their uses. Separate moves by attributes. This list of moves should include a small handfull of each move type (throws, lows, mids, etc). Keep in mind that in Tekken, launchers are always more valuable than pokes. However, pokes are essential to setup your launchers. I’ll use Jack-6 for example.
Usable Move List
2,1 - i12 punisher and solid poke. Standing 2 alone can be used for poking and starting offense.
df+1 - Safe on block, mid poke, advantage on hit.
ff+1 - Good pressure tool, mid, unparryable, safe on block, some tracking, knock down, free db+2 on hit.
df+2 - Main juggle starter, mid, -14 on block, Some tracking to the right, use to punish whiffs, launches crouching opponents.
WS 1 - Mid, launching mix up when crouching in front of opponent. Mix up with FC db+1 or throws.
db+1 - Unseeable low, -12 on block, slight frame advantage on hit.
FC db+1 - Unseeable low, safe, frame advantage on hit, use to manipulate opponent into ducking.
db,f+1+2 - 1+2 throw of choice.
Once you have this list of moves memorized, use them for their most common and simple uses. If your opponent is standing, do a low, if they are ducking, use a mid. Focusing on a small list of core moves will allow you to understand them thoroughly without wasting time using moves that you don’t need at your level. Take your character’s move list one step at a time.
Each character has a core set of moves that will undoubtedly be used by anyone who plays the character. For example, every Jack-6 player will use moves like ff+1, df+2, FC db+1, and 2,1. However, Jack-6 has hundreds of other moves that only should be used for situational purposes. As you put more mileage into the game, problems will come up. This is when you expand your move list to solve your problems.
Let’s say your opponent is laying on the ground after being knocked down, or started side walking heavily to your left. It is then time to head back to your character's move list and solve these problems by exploring it further. This also applies to punishing. If you block something that is unsafe, and you find out that it’s -14, you then need to head back to your move list and find out what your best 14 frame punisher is, then set a goal for yourself to punish said move, perhaps 3 times in a row. This method of formulating a gameplan is the the most efficient, and in my opinion, the most fun way to learn how to play a character.
Dealing With Over 50 Characters
This is often the most intimidating concept for new Tekken players. Over the years, the roster of unique characters has grown to a point which makes learning how to defend against every move in the game impossible. For this reason, the best way to approach character knowledge in terms of defense is to follow a similar formula to the one suggested above. Try to simplify your opponent’s character by reducing their movelist to a small number of moves. Take it one character at a time, usually focusing on characters you play against most often or popular characters (like Lars). Look for a list of key problem moves that are being used heavily by your opponent. Take note of these key moves and focus on how to deal with each one individually. Once you are able to show your opponent that you are prepared for their abusable moves, they will be forced to diversify their movelist. This process of learning will continue throughout your entire Tekken career.
If you take this approach, slowly adding to your list as more problem moves come up, you will not only learn how to correctly defend against each character, you will also retain the knowledge because it was gained incrementally rather than all at once.
Tekken is a very unique and complex fighting game with a high difficulty barrier for new players. However, this barrier is complemented with a limitless ceiling for improvement. I suspect that this endless process of improvement is the reason for Tekken’s consistent popularity in both Japan and Korea. As soon as you begin to actually see major improvements in your game, you will be hooked.
If you have suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in future Iron Fist 101 articles, please feel free to comment.