Guess Breaking

So how do you guys feel about people guess breaking auto doubles and manuals? This has been one of the most discussed quote “problems” since the beginning of season 2. I guess you could say the reason why it wasn’t such a big deal in Season 1 was because players didn’t really do combos in Season 1; another philosophy is that because of the manual restrictions in S2 it’s easier to guess what strength the player is going to attempt. If I do a medium linker then I have a 50/50 chance to break a light or medium manual.

Now lets cover both sides of the argument.

PRO | Guess breaking is fine the way it is because if all my opponent wants to do is guess break then I get an easy lockout and get to deal massive free damage.

CON | Guess breaking is a problem because it makes the game look silly to watch for spectators seeing a break every 5 seconds and frustrates the player while promoting bad habits of play.

From my perspective there is no “real” problem that guess breaking causes; it’s more of a mere frustration that players seem to have because of it. I do however believe that the way breaking works needs to be changed for the better.

Currently in the game the way breaking works is that you can begin to break a combo after opener on frame zero so basically before the animation even comes out. If IG ever did want to remove guess breaking all they would have to do is make it so a combo can’t be broken unless it’s in-between certain frames while an animation is active. For example if I open my combo with Shadow Windkick and do medium auto-double then my opponent should only be able to break me during frames 1-32 or whatever it may be of that double. The lock-out mechanic would remain the same meaning if you broke at the wrong time or tried the wrong strength then you would get a locked out as normal.

I personally don’t have a stance on either side of the spectrum. If guess breaking stays in then fine. If they remove it then that’s fine too.

I don’t understand what I’m reading.

It’s not guess breaking if it’s consistently successful. Luck doesn’t run that way.

It’s guess breaking if there is consistent locking out due to failing to read the player’s patterns. This occurs when players don’t know the match-up combos and/or opponent animations and especially when players are new to each other.

The players that consistently meet in the top 32 at 8-bit hardly guess break each other. They have faced each other enough to be reacting to patterns felt through the dance of combat.

… I don’t believe how things are should be changed. I haven’t felt the need for my hand to be held in spite of my knowing my current defense SUCKS because I have to catch up on sooooo many AD’s, least alone Manuals.

Linkers and Shadow Linkers are there for those that can’t break the AD’s or Manuals. It’s a hard punishment for not being able to break the other moves BUT it still allows players moments to stay in the game… Especially Jagos, Mayas and Wulfs.

I don’t really think guess breaking is a problem. It’s in the same school as button mashing. Just pushing buttons and hoping for the best doesn’t sound like it’s something absolutely detrimental. It’s a good way to get newbies familiar with the breaking game, and once they get tired of guessing wrong and failing enough they’ll understand that it’s important to learn out to read.

On the topic of the anti-guess suggestion made:
I’d think that the inability to break on the first frame could do more harm than good if you learn your opponent’s patterns and start to punish them for what they do (it’s a common strategy I used for XP grinding, since the bots almost always have the same combo pattern at low difficulties). It’s also a good way to bait counterbreakers of you know your opponent is going to try and first frame guess break consistently.
Just my thoughts on it, anyway.

To be honest, LCD, I think your “pros” are enough reason to not change anything. You also suggest that the developers are able to “remove guess breaking” and they are somehow choosing not to, as per your last sentence… I think you know that there is no possible way this can be done.

People guess all the time in fighting games; it’s nothing new in KI and it won’t be any different in any other fighting game (including the incoming SFV which a lot of people are thinking might be this “pure test of footsies” or something). People guess throw techs, they guess reversals, they guess when to take pressure back by mashing jab, and they guess jump in footsies. And bad players will guess on these things without thinking just like they will guess on 1st frame breakers in KI. You can’t escape guessing by changing the system or by moving to another game… it will always be there. Ask SF4 players how frustrating it was dealing with guess (safe) reversal and guess mash jab for 7 years, their only option to try and frame trap a 3 frame jab that leads to ultra if they’re wrong.

So, the question is… does the system reward guessing or does it punish it? I think KI does a pretty good job punishing guess breakers when you consider all the possible ways you can attempt to punish it. You can make a hard read on counter breaker, you can try to vary the strength, you can try to vary the timing (doubles vs linkers vs manuals), you can vary the combo length, and you can try to frame trap or reset. The odds are brutally against them IMO, not to mention the fact that a correct guess on their part only saves them from future damage (they have still taken damage to that point). An incorrect guess on their part is probably 20-25% more health at a minimum, and probably closer to 40% more in reality.

Does guess breaking make the game look silly? Only if the offense doesn’t correctly punish it IMO, but that’s true of every fighting game. SF4 looks absolutely ridiculous when Viper does one of her 7 different wakeup options and you aren’t able to set up a safe jump and magically have an all-encompassing OS. To me, what is actually fairly silly is KI players complaining about guess breaking and then not using one of the myriad of tools provided to them to stop it (and then they handily win the match anyway, muttering under their breath the whole time). I understand it’s frustrating, I really do… playing fighting game players who don’t think at all (or think the way you expect them to think) is something that will bring you to the brink of insanity in any game. Your best option is simply to make the hard reads you know you need to make and kill them for it. You block reversal DPs in SF4 and punish. Sometimes you’ll be wrong and he’ll do something stupid like wake up dive kick and take back pressure. Whatever… it doesn’t change your strategy. Sometimes you’ll be wrong on a counter breaker in KI and the guy will punish with a bad combo or a throw for 10% damage. You move on, because you know you will be right and you will kill him eventually.

I’d also like to comment on your suggestion to make doubles not breakable on startup… in general, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea or one I would oppose, but I also don’t think it does anything to stop guess breaking. Smart players will learn to guess slightly later to cover all options anyway, and you already have a tool for locking out people who mash on breaker (linkers are NOT breakable on startup, so if you go from opener to linker, 1st frame mashers will 100% of the time get an orange lockout), so I don’t think it actually adds anything to the strategy.

I’ve had a lot to say on this topic over the last year or so I’ve been involved with KI… I think guess breaking in general is a bad idea for the defense because the game is so incredibly punishing for it (and IMO tournament results have proven this to be true), but it also exists and has its place in moderation; because breaking is so hard to do consistently on reaction, guess breaks are needed to survive in this game sometimes. Some people try to avoid guess breakers by keeping combos short… others try to make combos long so that lockouts are as damaging as possible and mix in some counter breakers (IMO this is the most sound strategy because it maximizes your return on your opponent’s unfavorable guess), others try to do as many unbreakables as possible (always a good idea if you can spare the resources)… there are lots of different approaches and we see many different styles emerge.

I’m probably just rambling now so I’ll stop. I just want people to think about why guessing is necessary in fighting games, and why KI’s breaker system is designed as best as possible to punish guessers without making every opening a guaranteed 50% damage either. It’s a delicate give-and-take ecosystem and I think KI handles it pretty well, even if it’s easy to get salty when short-term variance allows a worse player to break more combos than he should for half of a match.


How do you say it better than @Infilament?

Foregoing any sort of patterning or the ability to counter break, guess breaking is a bad idea 66% of the time and works 33% of the time. I’ll take two lockouts for every random breaker any day. If you can get that percentage up in any way - by patterning your opponent, observing their linkers for expected manuals etc. then that’s good strategy. It’s not just random guessing. 50/50 odds for a break sound good, but if you are consistently breaking you are going to get counter broken (see EVO 2015 finals).

If Jago is pressuring me with his fHK he can follow it up by blocking, DP or with a shadow windkick. I have to decide if I want to block, tech throw or counter attack before I know what he is doing. No one is suggesting we get rid of that “guessing.” This is part of fighting games - that’s why we play best 2/3 and first to 5 in tournaments. If there was nothing but pure strategy/skill in every match we would have one round, single elimination tournaments and be happy knowing that the best player must have won.


I was going to write a long missive on why the current system works well, about how the punishment for consistent guess breaking is severe, how there are multiple options to punish the tendency, etc, but Infil pretty much covered it. There isn’t really a way you could ever truly “end” it, but the game ensures that the scales tip considerably toward that not being a viable strategy long term.

I merely created this thread to create some hot discussion about the subject; but as I stated in the OP I could care less about guess breaking.

Ummm… It’s basically playing rock paper scissors. Guessing is part of the game, only high-end players are going to delve deeper than that and memorize the animations for dozens of characters to break on reaction. If top players are salty that lower class combatants are “guess breaking” then they need to up their game and make their attacks harder to break.

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The problem is everyone will jsut use manuals which will make it impossible to break if you can only break auto-doubles.

Unless you’re saying this applies to manuals as well.

Long story short, if someone want’s to stop “guess breaking” to stop than switch it up.

I think guess breaking is a hot topic because it’s pretty contentious in the scene. I’m not pointing the finger at LCD directly here or anything (and I wasn’t trying to in my previous post either, but maybe it looked like that because I was responding directly to his forum post), but it’s becoming pretty common for some top players to chastise people who guess break, and then immediately turn around and guess break themselves (but when they do it, they do it more intelligently or something, and if they lock out they just complain about the character). I just really don’t like the double standard I’m seeing, so I wrote that long post (probably my 4th or 5th long post on the topic of guess breaking on the various forums) as sort of a rant against this type of behavior.

I just think some people lack a bit of perspective that I want to try and impart. I fully understand that something about guess breaking is particularly frustrating, perhaps more so than other guesses that go against you. Your opponent stinks and got hit, and then guessed out of more damage, and he won’t stop doing it. Really, I get it. But… I want to encourage these players to REALLY dig into some other fighting games to understand that this is not a KI-specific thing. It’s a “bad player”-specific thing, and there are very bad (or new) players in every game. In fact, because of the way KI is designed, guess breaking can hurt a lot, which is a heck of a lot more you can say than, say, trying to bait mash jab or safe DP in SF4 for the first 3 years of its life. When some players in twitch chat try to point to SF4 as an example of super honest footsies, where fundamentals are rewarded and bad habits punished, I basically just have to laugh at them. They are not playing the same game I studied, played, and watched intensely for 7 years.

KI without counter breakers is a bad game, full stop. Players should use them, especially considering the risk-reward for using it is not nearly as bad as some people suggest, and especially considering that some players are > 95% to guess break in certain key situations, the “what if I’m wrong?” scenario should be weighted accordingly (*). Also, do these players know that linkers cannot be broken on startup and generate lockouts? I wrote a bazillion page guide for this game and even I didn’t fully realize this until just a week or two ago. People can use this information to trap guess breakers. Knowledge is important. I want players that are better at KI than me to start using this knowledge.

(*) It reminds me a bit of trying to explain the Monty Hall problem to people who insist that it doesn’t matter if you switch doors at the end, the odds remain 50/50. It seems like no amount of explaining mathematical concepts or providing real world examples can convince these people that they are looking at the problem with incomplete or faulty information. This is more frustrating than any guess break in KI has ever been.


Finite Math. It’s a wonderful tool :smiley:

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I love the fact that KI has a high level competitive community and that the games features are being debated. But I think people also need to realize that high level players can be subject to the same biases and delusions as low level players. They want to win - in fact their status as competitive players probably indicates they want to win more than the average player. So we have to be careful about just accepting a complaint because it is coming from high level players. One of these misconceptions is that somehow there is a fighting game out there that never involves luck or guessing, and that we can take those “impurities” out of a game and make it better.

Also, I’m always baffled by the semi-religious devotion to “footsies” as the ultimate expression of competitive fighting…

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But no one is accepting his complaint, in fact everyone in this thread so far is against it.

To be fair to LCD, he’s just bringing it up here; I don’t think he’s really “complaining” about it per se. But yes, there are many top players who complain about it regularly.

This is actually very true, and can be verified if you spend time around any number of high level FGC players. As I’ve said in other threads, when Capcom was planning to balance USF4 for the first time, they asked the community what they wanted to see changed. Lots of players spoke up, including many high level players, asking for changes to characters they mained, characters they wanted to main but couldn’t, and characters they disliked. I was absolutely blown away by how poor the suggestions were from some players I really respected as great talents in the game. They suggested things that would absolutely neuter characters to unplayability (surprise; often a bad matchup for their main), inconceivable buffs that would make certain characters terrifying (surprise; often characters they related to), or just plain misinformation about game systems or frame data. It wasn’t ALL top players, but it was more than I thought it would have been.

So yeah, just because you’re good at the game and place well in tournaments doesn’t necessarily imply you have a good understanding of how to balance characters or game systems. Their statements should be discussed and debated just like any other person’s.

They mean to say Dive Kick, it’s the ultimate FG! :wink:

After all, it’s guessing who flinches first in a game of footsies, no?

Some people like footsies because it’s like small ball poker. You’re tasked with dozens of decisions, each for a small portion of life or screen real estate, and if you make slightly better decisions than your opponent on the whole, you’ll come out on top. The top players like to reduce variance and increase their advantage by forcing you to outplay their sense of space and reaction dozens of times per match, and not just 3 or 4 for big damage.

However, I also think top players are particularly good at the big gambles (Daigo in particular is well known for it), so I don’t think they should shy away from the opportunity to win a big p o t with a bold play (to take the poker analogy again), but lots of people do shy away from this… you can see it in KI with the unwillingness to counter break even 99.999% sure break attempts or extend combos past lockout windows.

There’s also a bit of a weird notion of “what is footsies” in KI… lots of people seem to think footsies involves only normals at or around sweep range and is largely reliant on whiff punishing and walking slightly in or out. While this certainly qualifies (and in some matches, is very prevalent in KI), I think that definition is pretty narrow. Lots of characters play “full screen footsies” in KI, just because special moves are strong and characters are able to safely attack or set up space from ranges well outside sweep range, while this is largely untrue of characters in most SF games (although characters like Dhalsim do it with normals, and characters like Cammy do it with specials). But yeah, if you think specials are too good in KI, go play Guilty Gear or CvS2 against someone who can RC and come tell me KI specials are too annoying, lol. Anyway, rambling again. Dunno why I’m typing so much in this thread!

I’m not good at breaking on reaction. So I break on anticipation. Patterns I see. Would that be considered “guessing”? Or are you talking about just a pure throw it out there and hope?

The only time I get frustrated at guess breaking, is when I get broke on frame 0 or frame 1 while trying to help a new player, and they have the nerve to tell me they are breaking me on reaction. When I play Thunder, and go from back throw straight into auto double 5 times in a row all differing strengths even random at times, and I get broken all 5 times before I can even see what animation I did, that’s a problem. Not within the game, but a person’s willingness to improve. As far as guess breaking, they have a 1/3 chance to break everything you do. Better than average odds sure, so throw in a tricky manual or just sit there and reset them with 1 frame misplaced manuals until they fail miserably that round. I have a highlight playing against a Sabrewulf where I take half of his life with 3 cr MK’s into laser and just poke him 3 times into a short wall splat, do a mixup and take the match.

The thing a lot of people miss in this game, and I mean a lot, any skill level included here, even myself I have been victim of my own words. You get really frustrated with something, and before you actually go to the lab and see why it happened, you complain about it. Infil you know me from the last forums on all of my Fulgore stuff. In all my frustration I have learned a HUGE amount, regardless of all my rants, despite how many times I came back to complain again and again, I took the time to just put my butt in the lab and figure it out. I decided, I’m going to see why I’m complaining, and decide if I can work around it, or if I can actually make a legitimate argument. I will say as far as I could make logic for most of my arguments from experience, they were attributed to things that I could not control. Lag spikes in rounds, players just having a better fundamental game than mine, or just being out played (some cases my dying controller). I’ve learned a lot about me as a player, and the character I main. So much so that I am actually confident and can be assertive in my arguments with him without looking like I did in the past.

I know his only weakness, I know ways to cover it up, there are a few tweaks I would like to see but I have found my own ways around it. Ways I don’t even see players like Rico Suave, Ricky Walker, Nicky Vengeance, or even Saltface use. Remember that battery ender I wanted? I have been using his battery ender this whole time… Never realized it… Remember that extra damage I wanted? I had been using that this whole time too… He is a dirty dirty robot, I have been slowly unlocking his full potential and it finally showed a few days ago when I dominated a lobby full of Killers. The reward from that experience was from all the hard work I put in, realizing where my mistakes were, figuring out that some of my complaints, even though they made sense to me, were already in the game and I just overlooked them. I earned a spot in Killer Tier and it felt good, I feel I earned it finally.

Back on the topic of guess breaking though, button mashing has always been around, and will always be around. If you’re an experienced player, you know hands down every way to counter this already. Do dirty openers, shadow openers, delayed manual forced resets, hard counter breakers, punishing counter hits, it’s a matter of taking advantage and reading your opponent.

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I’m on the same boat as LCD. My thoughts on this is to make the manual window breaking a bit smaller, and also on medium, heavy linkers/auto doubles. So that we actually react to it instead of guess what your opponent is going to press. Just a thought, obviously there would have to be other changes as well.

A smaller break window does not lessen guessing… in fact, it makes it worse.

If your suggestion is to try and make the game give out more orange lockouts, because the various windows for breaking stuff will not overlap with each other anymore, I disagree that it will make for a better game, because in order to make the windows small enough that there is no overlap (and therefore no guessing), you will have to make them SO small that you won’t even be able to reliably input a break for something you do react to.

It would also drastically increase the amount of esoteric and character-specific knowledge needed to play this game. “You can break Jago’s HP doubles on frames 40-48, but Aria’s on frames 32-45 because her heavy doubles are faster, and the linkers between both of them are all way different too” = good luck getting anyone to play the game.