Tech Guide – Fuzzy Guard and Its Hidden Attack Option-Select

In Final Showdown fuzzy guard is still as important as ever and fundamental to every player’s defense especially if utilized in tandem with its attack option-select to instantly punish throw attempts.

In this extensive tech article I go over every important aspect of fuzzy guard but expound also, for the more advanced user, on its powerful attack option-select, hidden deep within Final Showdown.

With the new influx of players the Virtua Fighter series has received in the light of Final Showdown arriving in the west, an argument could be made that fuzzy guard has reclaimed its place as one of the most misunderstood techniques by beginner players – a technique often disregarded as useless appendix for the theory-book fighter to philosophize about.

Therefore, before I go into the more advanced concept of the “hidden” option-select layered underneath fuzzy guard, let us expound on what fuzzy guard actually is (and what not), why it is so good, and how and when to actually perform the technique.

Players already initiated to the specifics of fuzzy guard may want to skip ahead to the second part of the article on the attack option-select to punish throw attempts.

Fuzzy Guard

As with all option-selects in Virtua Fighter, fuzzy guard is a powerful technique. If your opponent attempts to make you guess between a mid-hitting attack and a throw when you have a small disadvantage of up to –5, you can use a technique called fuzzy guard to avoid both options.1 This is called an option-select in Virtua Fighter.

Inputs

Fuzzy guard involves buffering tab_dfDFg (or holding Dg for the far slower version) when coming out of a mild disadvantaged situation, like after having your elbow blocked, then releasing DF (or D) after a tenth of a second (5 frames) while continuing to hold g.

pencilIf that input description sounds too complicated, try tab_dfDFng instead, or tab_dftab_dtab_dfng for the alternate crouch-dash input. Note that the “dot” (n) stands for returning the stick to neutral position.

Active and Passive

Fuzzy guard can be used actively as well as passively. If you’re on the offense, poking away with your safe-on-block tools such as your elbow, while employing fuzzy guarding on block, you are actively fuzzy guarding.

On the other hand, you can also use this technique to your advantage in passive situations as is explained by LA_Akira in one of his excellent tutorial videos. Crouched and at a distance, you may lure your opponent into assaulting you with a mid/throw mix-up. However, his attempts will be futile since you can rise from the crouch into a standing guard just past the earliest possible time a throw could have come out, and just ahead of the time in which a dangerous mid-hitting move can become active.

Training

Since Final Showdown hosts a couple of excellent tutorials already, you can train fuzzy guard in the tutorial mode of the home version for starters. Load up tutorial 18. Evasion – 2, eat the CPU’s pk, then fuzzy guard as described above under Inputs.

In order to get routine at fuzzying after specific moves of your character, it is important to practice this technique in Free Training as well. To do so, configure the CPU in the following way:

  • CPU settings > Reaction > Guard and counterattack 5

Then poke away with a fuzzyable attack and fuzzy guard in response to avoid the mid-throw mix-up of the CPU.

This is exactly the point where command lists with all the frame data for your character come in handy (such as these for Final Showdown). Fuzzyable attacks are –5 or greater on block, so just have a look at a command list’s GRD column and find any attack with these frame-wise properties.

pencilTaka players should note here that the sumo wrestler lacks a 5-frame crouch dash (it’s slightly slower – 6 frames – instead). Therefore, keep in mind that Taka can only successfully fuzzy guard after moves of up to –4!

On Frames

But why exactly are we able to crouch dash a throw attempt in time after certain moves? The math lying behind it is rather basic:

  • Facts: It takes 10 frames for a grab throw (only catches standing players) to become active in Final Showdown, and it takes 5 frames to crouch-forward dash from the standing position into a crouched state. Transitioning from crouched to standing state is instantaneous (i.e. 0 frames). Most dangerous mid-hitting attacks take 14 frames or longer to become active.
  • Situation: We swing with an attack that gets blocked and which leaves us at –5 disadvantage as a result, and decide to fuzzy guard afterwards to avoid the mid-throw mix-up of the opponent.
  • Calculation: –5  [from the blocked attack] – 5 [from crouch dashing] = –10
  • Deduction: That means we can still duck in time before the throw becomes active since we do not exceed our frame budget of 10 frames. Since attacks take longer than throws to become active, we are also safe from them in this particular example.

A DIY exercise to test yourself: Analogue to the calculation above, can you come up with your own calculation in order to demonstrate why Taka cannot fuzzy guard at –5? Take into account Taka’s special crouch-dash properties mentioned earlier.

Strengths and Weaknesses

So far we’ve only covered the strengths of fuzzy guard – it protects you formidably against the grab-throw/mid-attack mix-up. However strong in Final Showdown as opposed to Vanilla 5 with its 0-frame throws, fuzzy guard is not unbeatable; it comes with certain weaknesses well known to the initiated player who watches out for your fuzzy-guard habits.

Fuzzy guard will be thwarted if the opponent slightly delays the throw attempt rather than doing it at the earliest possible moment. As well, some characters possess low throws with which they can catch you during fuzzy guarding (since you’ll be in a crouched state).

Both these weaknesses can be overcome if, rather than fuzzy guarding, you decide to go for an attack, preferably a launcher that leads into a combo. This rather risky play (the opponent can still make you eat his attack, which will come out faster since you’re disadvantaged while he is not) is called abare in Virtua Fighter.

However, there is another method to make up for some of the weaknesses of fuzzy guard described here. And that brings us to the next section of this article, namely to the more advanced stuff you can do with fuzzy guard in Final Showdown.

The Attack Option-Select

During fuzzy guard you can buffer a fast attack as an additional option-select. If the opponent responds with a mid, you’ll successfully guard as usual. However, if he goes for a throw attempt (delayed or not), your buffered attack will punish him for a minor counter hit.2

Inputs

Buffer the fuzzy-guard motion when coming out of a mild disadvantaged situation, then quickly enter an attack move that executes within 15 frames or faster.

As an example, let’s take Goh’s Soukyuu – a 14-frame, 20-damage high that combos – to further demonstrate the command inputs: tab_dfDFng > tab_btab_fp > (on hit continue w/ combo) p > tab_btab_fp+kptab_fp [67 DMG].

pencilFor you need to transition from crouching to standing during fuzzy guard, attacks that end on a horizontal motion (tab_b or tab_f) and lead into a combo are to be preferred. For practicing this technique, go into Free Training mode and use the same settings as described above under the Fuzzy Guard section.

Strengths and Weaknesses

This may sound like a bit much to take in all at once, so let’s have a look at the technique in action demonstrated by Japanese player Doranekoakira in his video from late 2010:

As the video demonstrates, the attack option-select not only protects you from the throw/mid mix-up and punch-into-throw setup, but it also allows you to immediately punish any grab-throw, whether delayed or not, with a minor counter-hit combo, and thus effectively makes up for one of the weaknesses of fuzzy guard (delayed throw attempts) while providing you with a proactive attack option out of a passive, defensive situation, which effectively comes close to stealing your opponent’s turn of applying mind-game pressure on you.

However, its weaknesses should be called out as well: the attack option-select loses to strings, delayed attacks, and low attacks (such as low punch, sweeps, etc).

Conclusion3

In a game which relies heavily on pressuring the opponent the attack option-select can end up very underwhelming in high-level play. Should you decide to build your whole game around fuzzyable moves alone, you are prone to becoming very predictable, and a good opponent will certainly adapt in short time. Then there is this other, crucial problem: your opponent would have to fall for throwing you after blocking your fuzzyable moves in the first place.

However limited this technique may be in high-level play, it nonetheless works against certain kinds of opponents such as:

  1. the very moral player, who attempts to use the best option for a given situation (offensive while advantaged, defensive while disadvantaged);
  2. the player who fails to react quickly to blocking such fuzzyable moves (which in turn allows you to continue to attack, effectively minimizing the gap in-between your attacks);
  3. players who predictably lead their offensive with standing punch.

Final Words

I left out the throw-escape option-select on purpose from this article (you simply combine fuzzy guard with throw escape guard into one technique) since it’s not useful at all in actual play. In Final Showdown the general rule goes that you want to apply pressure at all times, and fuzzying into escaping one throw direction is as unproductive as it gets. With the attack option-select you at least cover some of your bases in a proactive way, allowing you to turn the table in a fight and stealing your opponent’s turn when he, perhaps, least expects you to do so.

Thanks for reading!
—Leonard

_____________________________
1. Definition taken, but revised for Final Showdown, from Virtua Fighter 5: Official Guide by BradyGames.
2. It is interesting to note that, apparently, this attack option-select within the fuzzy-guard shell (which is, curiously, “in itself” an option-select) has been around since Vanilla 5. It is likely that due to 0-frame throws fuzzy guard was overall seen as less useful in the original Virtua Fighter 5, which is why the attack option-select, while known, has never resonated within the fighting games community.
3. Much of the conclusions drawn in this section of the article stem from Virtua Fighter veteran Srider, who has given us insightful advice on the attack option-select and helped correct some aspects of this article.

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