A novella on chainstabs

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    Saturday-Saint
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    A novella on chainstabs

    Post by Saturday-Saint on Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:08 am

    Some guy asked how to avoid chainstabs on /vg/, so I wrote this. It's rambly and not organized well because it's 4chan and I wrote it off the cuff and I got more tired the longer I spent writing it, but I thought maybe some people might learn something. Direct copy/paste:

    First, you need to understand wake-up. 'Wake-up' is just a term used to describe getting up from a knockdown. After you are knocked down, you are unable to act for a period of time, but you are also invulnerable during that time. As soon as you are able to act again, you become vulnerable.

    Wake-up after being backstabbed is different from wake-up after most knockdowns. The wake-up from a backstab has two phases. The first phase is like a regular wake-up. During the second phase, however, you become vulnerable to normal attacks and your character will automatically rotate 180 degrees. You remain invulnerable to backstabs during the second phase. As soon as you take any action, the second phase ends. Your character will stop turning, and you become vulnerable to backstabs again.

    You will also need to understand how performing an instant-tracking move works. Most attacks, spells, and some items in Dark Souls have 'tracking'. That is after you begin to perform one of these actions, let's say an attack, you are given a window of time during that attack where you can adjust your character's facing angle. Instant tracking allows you to do this before the weapon's start-up even occurs, and it causes your character to rotate in whatever direction you want in the space of 1 frame (1/30th of a second).

    Instant tracking cannot be performed with spells, blocking, kicks, or the Thrusting/Curved Swords' evasive attacks. It can be performed with almost any other action, including attacks, parries, item usage, etc. To perform any instant-tracking action, press the button to input whatever move you want to do, then immediately press the left analog stick in the direction you want to face. If you do it fast enough, you will face that direction instantly and perform the attack. With an instant-tracking backstep (sometimes called 'ravioli step'), you have to delay the analog input slightly, or you will perform a roll instead.

    -Continued-

    Performing a wake-up backstab off a non-backstab knockdown is simple in concept and execution. Performing a tickstab is conceptually very similar to a wake-up backstab, except that instead of BS'ing somebody out of their wake-up, you're BS'ing them as soon as their hitstun ends. How difficult or easy it is to execute varies a lot based on your positioning and the duration of your attack's hitstun. Tickstabs can also be performed after your opponent's guard is broken. Performing wake-up backstabs after a backstab (henceforth referred to as chainstabbing) is the least reliable and most complex form of wake-up backstab.

    To perform a wake-up backstab, position yourself behind your opponent as gets up. As soon as his wake-up ends, press R1. With practice, you should get the timing down and be able to perform this pretty reliably.

    To perform a tickstab, position yourself behind your opponent while he is in hitstun. As soon as his hitstun ends, press R1. Again, how reliable this is will vary with how much hitstun your attack has and how you are positioned. Perhaps the most common form of tickstab is following up Wrath of God, especially dead-angled WoG's.

    The simplest method to counter well-performed tick and wake-up backstabs is to roll towards your opponent. This is easy to perform. You just unlock, push your analog stick in their direction, and mash roll. It can be punished very easily if your opponent predicts it, however. To punish a roll like this, your opponent just has to lock on and move forward. If you roll past him, you'll expose your back and he'll BS you.

    On less-than-solid tickstab attempts, simply kicking is often a good option. The kick is fast and bypasses poise, so as long as you land it, you're guaranteed not to take backstab damage. You'll either receive a 0-damage backstab, which gives you the security of a two-phase wake-up, or you'll put them into hitstun, allowing you to escape.

    -Continued-

    Instant tracking actions are a good option against both tick and wake-up backstabs. If your weapon will win trades with your opponent's attack, then just IT (instant-track) attacking can work quite well. You can also try to IT a parry, which will get you a lot of damage if successful. IT backsteps are a bit difficult to execute, but give you some invulnerability against your opponents' attack, hyper armor for a large period of time, and are difficult to punish since they carry you away from your opponent. You won't get a punish on your opponent for doing them, but they are probably the best option for getting out of pressure.

    If you are trying to tick or wake-up backstab your opponent and they are using instant-tracking attacks, then you have a couple options. A reliable, though low-reward, move is the dead angle option select (henceforth, DAOS). DAOS works by pressing R1 to attempt a backstab, and then holding back on the analog stick. If you land the backstab, the analog input will do nothing. If you do not land the backstab, you will swing your weapon behind you or to the side, dead angling your opponent. This is good if you suspect your opponent might try to parry or roll past you.

    If you are fairly sure that your opponent is going to IT a parry or attack, you can just walk/roll behind them and BS them that way. You can also do this against IT backsteps, but it is a bit harder. You need to sprint straight past them as they backstep, then BS them out of the backstep's recovery.

    Chainstabbing is a bit more complicated than this due to its two-phase wake-up. While most of what was said about tick and wake-up backstabs is true of chainstabbing, there's a bit more involved as well.

    -Continued-

    Because of the second phase in the wake-up after a backstab, your opponent cannot reliably know when they need to press R1 to land a backstab. If they press the light attack button to backstab you during your wake-up, they will instead perform a normal attack. A good strategy for the person getting up is to lock on to their opponent, do nothing, and then roll backwards or to the side on reaction to their attack.

    In order to counter this, the person trying to chainstab can kick the instant you enter the second phase of wake-up, and then try to tickstab you out of it. Kicks are fast and bypass poise. While the amount of hitstun from a kick is not normally enough to land a reliable tickstab, kicking somebody from behind will result in them facing away from you while in the hitstun. Note that you need to do this as soon as they enter the second phase of their wake-up, or else they will continue to spin around even after they are stunned by the kick, making them difficult to backstab.

    To avoid a kick, roll away as soon as you get up. While this cancels the second phase of your wake-up, leaving you vulnerable to backstabs, you will avoid a kick and be safe as long as your opponent has dedicated themself to performing the kick. Your opponent CAN option select a kick/backstab by performing the kick late, doing the input when the second phase of wake-up begins, but it makes tickstabbing out of the kick very difficult.

    Some players will circle around during your second phase, following your back, then try to BS you either as your wake-up ends, or as soon as you perform an action. Against these players, it is USUALLY safe to manually turn your character around. While this leaves them with a fairly large window to backstab you in, it's a small enough window that reacting to your character turning around is difficult. If you don't want to try that, instant-tracking actions are a good choice.

    That covers most of the basics of tick/wake-up/chainstabbing.


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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by crbngville2 on Thu Apr 04, 2013 3:48 pm

    Well done. Thanks. You actually covered some mechanics I was not aware of.


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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by twilightwarwolf on Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:07 pm

    this was very helpful thank you


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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by befowler on Thu Apr 04, 2013 5:47 pm

    Very nice, thanks.

    Kinda weird question: have you ever noticed a different backstab hitbox with certain weapons? I almost never use a regular rapier, but was playing around with one recently and found it really easy to not only BS people, but to chain BS people (something I almost never attempt or manage). I actually chain BS'd people several times without even trying to. Both the physical window (distance/angle on their back) and timing window seemed more generous than other weapons I normally use, like straight swords and greatswords. Was it all in my head?


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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by Jansports on Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:39 pm

    I think it was in your head, maybe something about the length or overall size of the rapier leads you to just position yourself slightly better. I know I get much less backstabs when I'm using a UGS because that R1 sweep is so wide I can be more lax in my positioning, where with a small weapon like the Falchion I NEED to be closer to my opponent
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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by Saturday-Saint on Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:35 am

    Oh I totally forgot to mention it, but there's a second method for instant tracking. If you're in the middle of an animation - like hitstun, knockdown, recovering from an attack, etc., then you can hold back on the analog stick, then as soon as that animation ends, input some action. This is a lot easier to do IMO, so it's usually the best way to do instant tracking. The other method I mentioned is useful if you're in a neutral stance.


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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by Sasaki on Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:12 pm

    I'm surprised this topic has little to no comments/views. Thanks for putting this together. I was actually expecting DkS to have a decent Oki/Wakeup system, regardless of all the crying concerning chain backstabs. I have one more really important question though:
    These mechanics kinda prove that there are ways to get out of chain and tick backstabs (and that there even might be interesting guessing games involved) - so why is nobody using them, and why is chain backstabbing still so frowned upon? Correlations here?
    It's as if meaty attacks weren't allowed to be used in a fighting game like ST. Are people not realizing that it's kinda normal to be in a rather tough position when getting knocked down?
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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by crbngville2 on Fri Apr 05, 2013 12:31 pm

    befowler wrote:

    Kinda weird question: have you ever noticed a different backstab hitbox with certain weapons? I almost never use a regular rapier, but was playing around with one recently and found it really easy to not only BS people, but to chain BS people (something I almost never attempt or manage). I actually chain BS'd people several times without even trying to. Both the physical window (distance/angle on their back) and timing window seemed more generous than other weapons I normally use, like straight swords and greatswords. Was it all in my head?

    I think the answer may lie in swing speed. The same way it applies to escaping stunlock.


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    Re: A novella on chainstabs

    Post by Saturday-Saint on Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:02 pm

    Sasaki wrote:These mechanics kinda prove that there are ways to get out of chain and tick backstabs (and that there even might be interesting guessing games involved) - so why is nobody using them, and why is chain backstabbing still so frowned upon?

    Short answer: Dark Souls PvP community.

    Long answer: Back in Demon's Souls, chainstabs were really unthreatening. This is because during a roll, you were immune to backstabs. So as you were getting up from a kockdown, you could just mash roll and at the worst you'd take a 0-damage backstab. Dark Souls comes out, and suddenly that option is gone. Spamming roll on wake-up is now one of the best ways to get yourself chainstabbed.

    So now you have this really powerful move that can be chained over and over and the one way of preventing it (that we knew of) doesn't work anymore. Cue every DeS veteran throwing their hands up in the air and declaring chainstabs unbeatable. I guess maybe there was this attitude
    of, "we already know how to deal with chainstabs, so we don't need to re-learn how to deal with chainstabs" or something? I dunno.

    In any case, everybody decided that chainstabs weren't okay, and started playing without them and banning them from tournaments/fight clubs. People slowly figured out ways to avoid chainstabs, but by the time the knowledge was out there, people were so used to this idea that chainstabs were taboo.

    So now even if people learn how to deal with chainstabs, they won't want to use them or have them used against them.


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