Sorry, only just getting around to this.
Well, no and yes.
No, in the sense that it doesn’t invalidate that strategy. To get technical about it, that strategy is derived via a minimax approach (which pretty much make this, and not one-chance break combos, the definition of conservative play), and it also happens to be a (subgame-perfect) Nash equiibrium because of the way the math works out. Less technically, the solution has the property that all strategies your opponent can use against it have the same expected outcome in the long run – that is, your opponent is indifferent about how to play against this.
As an example, let’s say that for whatever reason you decide to do opener -> heavy auto double. We’ll assume that
- you can find 40% (ignoring opener damage, so this might be 50% with a typical opener) off of a successful counter breaker;
- your opponent can deal 30% if they punish a failed counter breaker attempt;
- a combo breaker is worth 0% damage to both sides (which’ll be more-or-less true in season 3, but is pretty close to the truth now tbh);
- if both sides let the auto double rock then you’ll find 20% on top of opener gamage (i.e. 30% total).
The advice was to counter-break with probability 1-in-4. So, let’s say your opponent always breaks the combo. Then you’re getting
(10% + 0%) * 3/4 + (10% + 40%) * 1/4 = 20%
damage on average by following the advice. Way over on the opposite side of the spectrum, let’s say your opponent never breaks. Then you’re getting
(10% + 20%) * 3/4 + (10% - 30%) * 1/4 = (90% - 20%) / 4 = 17%
damage on average by following the advice. These numbers are a little ad hoc, and the precise solution would involve the kind of precision that we’d struggle to assign meaning to (what does it mean to counter-break 27.9% of the time?), so I’m not expecting them to exactly line up – but hopefully you can see that your opponent can’t change their outcome by much by even radically changing their break habits. It’s not like there’s some magical strategy for your opponent involving breaking with probability p that lets them push the expected outcome below 17%, either: for any value of p, the expected damage looks like
20% * p + 17% * (1 - p)
i.e. they’re going to get a value somewhere between the two (not very far apart) extremes.
Going back to the question of what happens if they’re mashing mediums when they see a linker: well, hopefully when you do a light and they lock out you’re getting something like 40% from the combo, and you’re probably over 10% before they break a medium, so that averages out (assuming you’re evenly split between light and medium linkers) to 25%, which is roughly where I expect it to be.
Anyway, yes it affects my recommendation because if you ignore an opponent’s predictable behaviour then you’re leaving damage on the table. Don’t forget that you’re playing a two-player game. Notably, a Nash equilibrium basically never capitalizes on an opponent’s suboptimal habits, unless they’re doing things they should never be doing (technically, using strategies that aren’t in the support of the equilibrium strategy). So if you want to take advantage of your opponent mashing medium breaker every time they see a linker, then you have to leave the safety of the “optimal” solution and start throwing a lot of light or heavy linkers, or even counter breakers out there to punish their bad habits.
I mean, I guess I set out to find this strategy (to win arguments on the internet, and) to provide a baseline, for new players and also for players who have been doing the same opener one-chance launcher sweep garbage for two years, for whom it might be fair to say they are struggling to find their way to the baseline naturally. Similar baselines exist for oki and footsies in any game, although they’re a little messier to identify, and fighting game vets come in with a sense for those things and tend to adjust to the risk-reward details of the specific game fairly quickly. That doesn’t mean they start ignoring their opponent, it doesn’t mean they don’t develop a unique playstyle or try to make reads based on all manner of things. As far as I can tell, the breaker system in KI is no different.