Combos in Street Fighter give a character a certain amount of uniqueness. They can also be numbercrunched to pieces to give the fighter every possible advantage. Here are some notes and observations on Combos which you may find helpful when considering your fighter’s career track.

Combo Building Concepts

Optimizing Dizzy Combos with Fast Maneuvers
The traditional use of the Combo is to speed up slow, heavy attacks by placing them 2nd or 3rd in the sequence. However, if your goal is to dizzy an opponent, it often makes sense to combo faster maneuvers in later in order to try and get the shot in before a Block can be aborted to. For example, say you want to combo Elbow Smash (speed +2) and Buffalo Punch (speed -2) in order to make sure you dizzy the target. Elbow Smash to Buffalo Punch (Dizzy) gives you an initial fast attack, and a follow up which anyone and his grandmother can see coming and Block or Jump away from. The combo Buffalo Punch to Elbow Smash (Dizzy), on the other hand, gives you a slow, heavy attack up front, with a maneuver at +4 speed as a follow-up… perfect for foiling Blocks and Jumps when you really, really want those few extra points of damage to count. Just make sure you can eat whatever interrupts your Buffalo Punch.

Comboing Off Abortables
The benefit is obvious here. You will need to abort at some time during combat, and if you have a combo based off that abort, you have something to show for your willpower expenditure. A perfect example of this is Arslan from Contenders. He has Punch Defense to Knee Basher and Kick Defense to Back Roll Throw. In a singles match, if he is caught needing to abort to one of these two defenses, he now has somewhere to go with it. Another example is Amanda Raintree’s Jump to Suplex to Neck Choke, a really fantastic combo for a new character.

Multiple Combos Off the Same Maneuver
If you’re a one-trick combo pony, eventuall word will get around that when you Jab, there’s a Stomach Pump coming up next. This can make it rough to pull off your combo successfully versus informed enemies. It may be worth the points, therefore, to have two (or more!) combos which are based on the same starting maneuver, just to keep the enemy guessing.

Zen No-Mind
Many Zen No-Minders eschew combos altogether, preferring to act last in the round, but you only have so much willpower available. If you build a combo with the idea in mind that it will start with a move coming out of Zen No-Mind, you can profitably base your combo on a very slow maneuver. For instance, you can build the combo Widowmaker to Elbow Smash to Backflip Kick, and as long as you have Widowmaker as an option in your choices for Zen No-Mind, you have the opportunity to start a combo with a powerful maneuver.

Combos for Slowpokes
If you happen to be a low Dex wrestler, your choice in combos should be clear: tie a slow but hard hitting grab onto a Block so that you can occasionally land it. It doesn’t have to be a grab either, in case you’re worried about people stepping out of your hex. T. Hawk: Dex 4, Block to Jab to Fierce (Dizzy). Samson Jr.: Dex 2, Block to Deflecting Punch to Fist Sweep, Block to Fist Sweep to Fierce, and Deflecting Punch to Jab for chrissakes. This is the same philosophy used by every speed demon who combos Block to Elbow Smash, but it becomes even more important if you happen to be a Dex 2 wrestler who never ever manages to land an Iron Claw out of the gate.

Basing Combos Off The Character
Combos are most effective when designed with the character’s strengths, weaknesses, and preferences in mind. Starting a combo with a slow and heavy maneuver is a great idea for a high Stamina tank who can eat a few shots on the way in, but not for a Wu Shu speed demon chicken fighter. Dizzy combos that are likely to dizzy an opponent before the combo is finished have to be carefully considered by the honorable fighter… Flaming Dragon Punch to Flaming Dragon Punch to Flaming Dragon Punch (Dizzy) is probably a waste of points for someone on the high road. If your speed nut has a Dexterity of 7, do you really need Block to Elbow Smash for a speed 13 attack? Take your character’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses into consideration before you spend your experience, lest you wind up with a combo you’ll complain about for years.

Surprisingly Good Combos from NPC’s

The big weakness of the typical SF NPC is their lousy choice of combos.  Some of them are better than you would think on further examination, though.  Here are some "questionable" combos from the basic manual which are actually decent when seen in the correct perspective.

Amanda Raintree: Jump to Suplex to Neck Choke (Dizzy)
Starting a combo with Jump? The big advantage is Jump is abortable, and since Raintree doesn’t have Block at this stage of her career, she may well use Jump more than normal. This is then comboed to a fast throw, and then the Neck Choke has a chance of succeeding on a knocked-down opponent. Plus, it’s a dizzy combo ending with a sustained hold… when the opponent is dizzied, she has the option to release him and Jump in place, thus starting the process all over again while maintaining honor.

Balrog: Jab to Turn Punch to Head Butt Hold
This makes sense when you consider that the Turn Punch in SFSTG works very differently from the video game… you can execute maneuvers while setting up the Turn Punch, at reduced effect. Jab is a good choice for the last setup maneuver… it’s fast, mobile, and with Balrog you actually have to think about eating a jab. Head Butt Hold is a natural for a no-honor fighter, assuming the enemy has a decent chance of being dizzied by the force of the 20 die Turn Punch. This is a good combo not only mechanically, but as far as the particular fighter’s temperament and makeup goes.

Dee Jay: Roundhouse to Jab to Hyper Fist (Dizzy)
Roundhouse at first glance seems to be a fairly slow start for this combo, but it’s not a bad idea. If it does connect, the quick follow-up Jab at speed 9 is a good choice to attempt to dizzy an enemy who didn’t take quite enough damage from the kick; if he’s still on his feet, the Hyper Fist on 8 should do the trick. If it doesn’t connect (the enemy moved away) then the Jab on 9 is a good way to chase him down, and the Hyper Fist is a good followup. Note that most players would opt to start with the Hyper Fist in a dizzy combination, hoping for a dizzy result immediately. This is also decent, but could lead the fighter into expending tons of willpower early in the match.

Dhalsim: Jab to Jab to Slide Kick (Dizzy)
Dhalsim’s low Dexterity and Strength (for a rank 9) seems to weaken the idea of the Jab in a serious combination, until you realize that Dhalsim can Jab from 6 hexes away. This is a decent surprise dizzy combination which doesn’t eat his valuable Chi or Willpower, and allows him to maintain a defense… after the first Jab, the second Jab goes off on 7, which is reasonably fast for moving away from an opponent who closes with him. Ending with the Slide Kick allows him to close the distance his arms covered earlier in the combo, and will at least knock the target down if not outright dizzy him.

Ryu: Improved Fireball to Dragon Punch
This seems horrible at first glance… start with a ranged maneuver, and follow it up with a very low mobility one. How do you close? The answer is you don’t… the enemy closes for you. Nobody wants to eat an Improved Fireball because of the Knockdown effect, so they might use an abort Jump or a jumping attack to dodge and evade. Once they’re in close, then you use the Dragon Punch for full effect and knock them back a hex to boot! If they stay out of range, just keep pelting them with chi… Ryu is honor-conscious, not glory-mad. Note that the knockdown properties of the Improved Fireball are what makes this work, far superior to the analogues of Ken (Fireball to Flaming Dragon Punch) and Sagat (Fireball to Tiger Uppercut).

Munchy Combo Concepts

Don’t Hit Me
Combos which avoid at all costs the possibility that you may come into contact with the enemy. These combos concentrate on maneuvers which put space between you and your enemy after damage is dealt. These maneuvers can start with purely evasive maneuvers like Move, Drunken Monkey Roll, Yoga Teleport, Wall Spring, Jump, Grappling Defense, etc., in addition to displacing attacks like Backflip Kick. Since the idea is to avoid ever being attacked, maneuvers tend to be of high speed. These combos can be very willpower-intensive.

Advantages: Avoids damage

Disadvantages: Willpower-heavy, light on damage to the enemy, tough enemies may ignore you in a team fight and beat the crap out of your partners

Favorite maneuvers: Backflip Kick, Rolling Attack, Flying Heel Stomp, Heel Stamp

Keep Him Down
These combos concentrate on keeping an opponent knocked down all the time, out of the same fear that causes the Don’t Hit Me combo phenomenon. These are usually a little harder hitting, but a little bit slower, which is somewhat compensated for by the knockdown. Fast knockdowns are preferred so you have a shot at getting them off, and knockdowns with move over one are also preferred so you can avoid taking damage. Enemies who get wise to this strategy tend to plan appropriately and execute Blocks and Moves when this silliness begins.

Advantages: Avoids damage, keeps the enemy knocked down, good as a setup in team fights

Disadvantages: Hard to pull off vs. an opponent with a clue

Favorite maneuvers: Forward Slide Kick, Fist Sweep, Slide Kick, Suplex, Tiger Knee, Back Roll Throw, Choke Throw, Flying Tackle

Maximum Dizzy Effect
These combos include multiple hit maneuvers with Dizzy. Most commonly the multiple hit maneuvers come after a Block or a setup maneuver so one can maximize speed, but it’s also good to lead off with a multiple hitter, so even when you perform the maneuver by itself its hits are combining to dizzy.

Advantages: Maximizes effects of individually weak multiple hit attacks

Disadvantages: More chances to botch while rolling 1-2 dice 5 times in one round, tends to be spendy in chi and willpower

Favorite maneuvers: Hyper Fist, Hundred Hand Slap, Double Hit Kick, Double Hit Knee, Lightning Leg, Turbo Spinning Clothesline, Air Hurricaine Kick, Whirlwind Kick, Tumbling Attack, Spinning Knuckle, Scissor Kick

Unblockable Me
This generally starts off with a Block for a high speed bonus, is followed up by an insanely fast and hard attack going off on speed 4 billion, followed by a tricky block defeater. The idea of the second maneuver is to be so fast the enemy will have a hard time aborting, and the second hit punishes those who figure they should keep the block going for another round just in case.

Advantages: Can do insane amounts of damage if it gets off.

Disadvantages: Suicidal or tactically sound enemies will easily defeat this by relentlessly attacking.

Favorite maneuvers for 1st attack (after Block): Elbow Smash, Tiger Knee, Cannon Drill, Rekka Ken Fierce, Flying Knee Thrust, Forward Backflip Kick, Knife Hand Strike, Shikan-Ken

Favorite maneuvers for 2nd attack: Most grabs, Monkey Grab Punch, Lunging Punch, Reverse Frontal Kick

Sang Shun’s Comedic Value Combo Plan

Sang Shun, at the time that campaign ended, had a billion maneuvers and no combos.  I wish Derek hadn’t been so damn stingy, or he could have explored the stupidity of the following:

Suplex to Hair Throw to Rising Storm Crow (Dizzy)
Three throws in a row, all in a straight line. The best part of it is after the Hair Throw when the enemy thinks he’s safe from another throw.

Deflecting Punch to Triple Strike to Hundred Hand Slap (Dizzy)
3 multiple hit punch maneuvers, if you count Maka Wara in the Deflecting Punch. Triple Strike is the most useless attack form there is, and… yippee… Majestic Crow gets it at a discount. Hundred Hand Slap is also terrible when compared to decent maneuvers like the Hyper Fist. This is the only way I could think of to make them useful, and visually appealing as a series of ever-accelerating hand strikes cumulating in a big girly fight slapfest.

Double-Hit Kick to Double Hit Knee to Lightning Leg (Dizzy)
It would be some time before Sang "No Can Kick" Shun could get this, but the principle is the same as the above. The Double-Hit Knee goes second for the extra speed, important in a dizzy combo, and one would probably Zen No-Mind into the Double-Hit Kick unless the enemy has been set up, or if it’s Zangief. 😛

The John Calbot Maneuver

Derek’s character never actually got to try this, but it sure was funny to think about.  In order to perform the John Calbot maneuver, you need the following:

Style: Thai Kickboxing
Tiger Knee to Wounded Knee to Wounded Knee (dizzy optional)
Knee Basher (Turn Punch) to Turn Punch (dizzy optional)
Big fat Stamina and Strength and some health to eat a few shots
Grab of at least 3, optimally 4

Here’s how it works…

Step One: Block
+2 speed bonus, duh.

Step Two: Tiger Knee
Goes off at speed Dexterity + 5. Hard to jump out of the way or abort to Block. Knocks the enemy down, to set up the next maneuver.

Step Three: Wounded Knee
Goes off at Speed Dexterity. -2 to Move for the next 2 turns.

Step Four: Wounded Knee
Goes off at Speed Dexterity. Now he’s at -4 Move next turn, and -2 move the following turn. This is where it gets funny.

Step Five: Knee Basher
Now while he’s at -4 Move, step into his hex!. Hard to abort to a Jump to get out of this.

Step Five: Continue Knee Basher with Turn Punch card
While he’s in the hold, you start setting up the Turn Punch. You normally can’t play this as you set up the Turn Punch, since -1 to Move would make you immobile.

Step Six: Hold enemy as long as you can
Keep charging up that Turn Punch.

Step Seven: Turn Punch
If you’ve managed to hold him for 3 turns in the Knee Basher, the Turn Punch with 2 phases of waiting will be at speed Dex +2 and +6 damage… if 4 turns, then Dex +3 and +7! This is ridiculous… and the opponent will be knocked down when you hit him.

This would be rough to actually pull off, but it sure is funny to think about.  😛


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