(be warned, gigantic post incoming)
First of all, Happy Easter! I don’t really celebrate it myself, but to those who do, enjoy it.
On to the subject. I’d wondered for a while if I should post my thoughts on Jago’s recent nerfs. I know it’s been a month since the 3.7 patch, and what with me coming back of retirement for Killer Instinct - or trying to, anyway - I might not feel fully qualified to give my thoughts on them. Then I was just like, what the hell.
For those unaware, I’ll keep it simple: all versions of Wind Kick got nerfed, even the shadow version which is now -1 on block. His fireball damage, regular or charged, got a slight reduction. His overhead lost some range and was slowed down to 22 frames. Finally, his double kick is now +2 on block instead of +3.
You might be thinking to yourself that as I’m a Jago loyalist, I’d be displeased with these changes, but here’s where it gets surprising: I actually APPROVE of them. Why?
I never did agree with the community’s shared opinion that Jago was among the top five characters before these nerfs, despite Thompxson consistently winning majors or otherwise maintaining respectable placings. I’d always felt there were plenty of characters that had stronger dirt than Jago did - more than five, actually. That being said, in the times where I’d actually watched a KI stream, I did notice that certain parts of Jago’s playstyle were becoming a tad…repetitive and understandably annoying.
it became incredibly common to see Jago throw out a Wind Kick after completing a blockstring, whether he was negative or positive. Typically this happens after the blockstun pushes him back a slight distance, so if their normals won’t reach, they throw out a Wind Kick out of the desire to maintain pressure, usually with no consequence. If you tried to counter-poke with a normal, you would lose due to the priority system. You had to trade with a special or block and take your turn, provided Jago doesn’t rob you by using his DP.
how does a Jago typically close distance? Wind Kick, of course, especially if you have Instinct to make it safe. Shadow fireball will also make it safe…ish, as it’s -6 on block but still has some pushback meaning that punishes are limited. If the opponent has no meter, cancel into Shadow Laser Sword or Shadow Wind Kick and enjoy your plus frames.
in relation to the above two items, all versions of the Wind Kick except the heavy were safe. A few characters could punish a poorly spaced medium Wind Kick with reversal DP (Jago and Fulgore, obviously), but the problem is that not every character shared this option. Additionally, as unsafe as heavy Wind Kick is, there were still characters like Orchid who had to use meter to punish it. As frustrating as it is for me to fight her, even I thought that was stupid.
one of the reasons Jago’s fireball damage got regularly nerfed is due to what is perhaps the most frustrating thing about him: his ability to regenerate health. Even if we opted not to cash out, we were still getting the best of both worlds: unbreakable damage and extra health. The nerfs will now force a Jago to decide between dishing out damage or recovering health, and perhaps we’ll also be encouraged to explore the other benefits we get from our Instinct, specifically increased block advantage and extra possibilities for manuals due to improved hitstun.
when you consider that our overhead has excellent range and is able to be cancelled, the fact it was 18 frames on start-up made this move difficult to react to and therefore overwhelming in the neutral. It’s POSSIBLE to react to it, but it’s one of those things you really have to be looking for. If you wandered inside the range of his crouching medium kick, you were subjected to practical 50/50s. The change to our overhead will force us to explore mix-up options outside of the low/overhead scenario, like shimmying and throwing.
TL;DR - we now have to use our walk speed to close distance instead of just leaning on Wind Kick. Our hit-confirms will have to become less brainless. Our neutral will need to be revamped. We have to get more creative with mix-ups. And of course, our Instinct will require us to commit to one benefit instead of getting the whole pizza.
I can totally get on board with this, especially since I’ve already been playing a defensive Jago since my entrance to the scene, whilst the majority of Jagos I’ve fought were batshit crazy. Now I have to get more creative with my use of Jago’s tools? All the better!
BUT, I do have a gripe with this…specifically, consistency.
I never liked advancing special attacks being safe, so I totally understand the nerf to our Wind Kick, but here’s what some may not have considered: why didn’t other characters with a similar tool get the same change? I won’t list ALL characters, but here’s some examples with explanations attached:
Fulgore (charged or not, all versions of his Blade Dash are safe. The only way to punish it is if you played Jago or Fulgore, since their reversal DPs can punish any medium or heavy dashes that aren’t charged, but otherwise, it’s just as overbearing)
Glacius (yes, his Cold Shoulder got nerfed already, but the frame data to our Wind Kicks were more or less the same as what his shoulders are now. Due to pushback, you aren’t punishing any shoulders unless it’s heavy and even then, you generally have to use meter to compensate for the distance. When you also consider that his Ice Lance AND his close-ranged normals are less negative on block, what’s up with that?)
Thunder (yes, his Triplax can be Shadow Countered, but while meter builds fast, we’re not always going to have it. And I’m fairly certain we all hate having to deal with his mix-up game between DPs and command grabs. Seriously, must I go into detail? No? Okay, then)
I could go on, but you get the idea.
I’ll give Iron Galaxy the benefit of the doubt, though. They are probably planning to introduce changes to better equalize the roster so that they follow similar rules. If you recall, when Gargos was introduced to the game, his air grab was breakable. Therefore, Orchid’s became breakable for the sake of consistency.
Anyway, these are pretty much my thoughts on Jago’s adjustments. Feel free to discuss.