SC2 is a 3-d fighting game. It might be more accurate to call it 2.5-d, though, since the Z-axis only matters for the three discrete attack heights in practice (air is not nearly as important as in 2-d fighting games). You need to have a solid understanding of engine fundamentals before you can be good, and once you do, you can be good with any character.
All characters in the game start with 240 hitpoints (if no handicap is set). All characters take the same damage from a given attack, i.e. no character has more "armor" than another.
Play takes place in a bounded ring with walls and cliffs. A round ends when one of the players reaches 0 hitpoints or leaves the ring (referred to a ring-out or RO).
See Notation for a guide to notation.
Tapping 6 makes your character step forwards, towards her opponent. Tapping 4 makes your character dash backwards, away from her opponent. 2 makes your character move towards the camera, while 8 makes her move away from the camera. If your character is on the left side of the screen, then 2 makes her step to her right, while 8 makes her step to her left. 1, 3, 7, and 9 make her step in diagonal directions (e.g. 9 makes her step diagonally forward and to the left if your character is on the left side of the screen).
"Side-stepping" refers to tapping 2 and 8. It is extremely useful for dodging vertical attacks and even some horizontals.
Jumping and crouching
You can jump by pressing 7_8_9G, and crouched by pressing 1_2_3G. You remain crouched as long as you hold the directional button. While you are jumping or crouching, you have access to a different (and smaller) moveset than while standing. Thus, jumping and crouching can be viewed as stances.
There is an intermediate stance between crouching and standing, called While Rising (abbreviated WR), which is accessed by crouching, then letting go of the directional keys. Your character will stand up, and while she's standing up, she'll have access to a few moves unique to this stance. Of course, the stance ends once your character is fully upright.
If you hold any of the directional keys for about half a second, your character starts to run. This stance is called 8-way run (abbreviated 8WR), so named because you can smoothly roll your d-pad in all 8 directions without leaving the stance. Try it. While you are in 8WR, you have access to a different set of moves than while standing. You can also execute 8WR moves without entering 8WR by double-tapping the required direction. For example, 8WR 8B can be executed from a standing stance as 88B, without causing or requiring you to run first.
Finally, your character can roll on the ground by pressing 2, 4, or 8 while grounded. If you hold the direction, your character will keep rolling for a few seconds before standing up on her own. You can also stand up quickly by pressing G.
If you perform an attack from the ground, it will execute as a WR attack. For example, if you hit A+B while grounded, your character will perform WR A+B.
All attacks have several fundamental properties:
- Physical motion (broken into horizontal coverage, attack height, and range)
- Frame advantage
- Execution time
In addition, some attacks have special properties, like stunning your opponent and lifting him into the air.
All attacks hit at one of five heights: high, mid, low, special mid, and special high. There is an intimate relationship between attack height and movement, summarized by the following chart:
Note: all attacks, of course, can also be evaded by being out of range
|Attack height||Hits...||Evaded by...||Block with...||Comments|
|High (H)||Standing, jumping||Crouching||Standing guard|
|Mid (M)||Standing, crouching, jumping||None||Standing guard||Most mids are verticals, and so can be sidestepped|
|Low (L)||Standing, crouching||Jumping||Crouching guard|
|Special Mid (sM)||Standing, crouching||Jumping||Standing guard or crouching guard||An inherently weak type since it can be blocked standing or crouching|
|Special High (sH)||Standing||Crouching, Jumping||Standing guard||All throws are Special High. Very few moves are sH besides throws. Take note that throws are unblockable in addition to being sH, so you can't block them by standing. Also take note that throws can be sidestepped.|
As you can see, horizontal mid is the most powerful inherent type. Horizontal mid attacks cannot be evaded by ducking, jumping, or sidestepping, and they can only be blocked standing (they will hit you if you crouch guard). There are, consequently, very few horizontal mids in the game, and most are impractical for some reason (like being slow or only being accessible from certain stances).
If you succesfully hit your opponent while he was moving or in the middle of his own attack, you will score a counterhit (CH). Counterhits do about 20% more damage on average, and many moves gain special properties on CH that they don't have on normal hits. For example, Ivy's toe stomp, k2, causes the opponent to grab his foot and hop around on CH. This leads into a followup k2. If k2 lands on a normal hit, though, the opponent doesn't fall down.
You can perform a standing block by pressing G. You will continue to block as long as you hold G. Standing block will guard against high, mid, special mid, and special high attacks. Standing block is vulnerable to low attacks and throws.
You can perform a crouching block by pressing 2G. You will continue to block as long as you hold 2G. Crouching block will guard against low and special mid attacks, and avoid high and special high attacks. Crouching block is vulnerable to mid attacks.
There is generally no reason to stand or crouch without blocking. Blocking is performed instantly and released instantly, so there's no cost to blocking.
If you succesfully block an attack, you will take no damage from that attack.
Guard Impact (GI)
You can parry an opponent's attack with 6G or 4G. This move is called a Guard Impact, or GI. Press 6G to GI a high or mid attack, and press 4G to GI a mid or low attack. You must time the GI so that it's active right before your opponent's attack would land. The timing is difficult and varies depending on what move the opponent performs and how much frame dis/advantage you have.
If you miss a GI, you are exposed for a good half second or so where you cannot perform any actions.
Why would you GI instead of blocking? GIs have a big payoff. If you succesfully GI your opponent's attack, you'll see a green flash, hear a distinctive CHING!, and your opponent will be unable to block, move, or attack for about half a second. Be aware, however, that your opponent can re-GI you very quickly, so nothing you do is guaranteed to hit.
Typically, you GI to break your opponent's flow. If your opponent keeps executing a predictable string of moves, you can anticipate him and GI to gain a (probably) larger time advantage than you would gain just by blocking.
All characters can perform at least two different throws by pressing A+G or B+G, referred to as "A throw" and "B throw" respectively. A throw is a short-ranged unblockable Special High attack, which shifts to a long and distinctive animation if it connects.
If you press the corresponding button-- A for an A throw and B for a B throw-- within 1/6 of a second of being thrown, you can escape the throw without damage. After you escape a throw, you and the thrower are at equal frame advantage (unless you use TER).
Throws are useful as an alternative to low attacks in defeating a standing opponent. Throws typically do more damage than low attacks of the same or faster speed (but they have poor range, slow recovery if they miss, and they can be escaped for zero damage). Like low attacks, throws can be avoided by ducking or jumping.
Most throws leave the opponent on the ground, setting up a ground attack game. Many of them also have RO abilities (e.g. Ivy's A throw ROs to her back).
All characters can perform a slide kick by running forward for a couple seconds and pressing K. All slide kicks are identical: low attack that rings out forward.