Hi everyone. You may know me as Ueshiba in the current closed beta. I’m a constable, an avid dueler, and an expert (maybe not a master) in Yin Yang Sword. I’ve fought in probably a hundred combats and won a lot more than I’ve lost, and virtually all of my 1v1 fights after I hit about level 18. I’ve sent quite a few criminals to jail, beaten virtually every top tier school style in duels and learned most of the ins and outs of each.
What I’m trying to say is that I know what I’m talking about, and that you’re probably bad at dueling. I know very, very few people (mostly people from Wudang since I end up dueling them more) who are actually -good- at dueling. Most people just smash their face into the 1-7 buttons and hope for the best. Don’t let that be you.
The first element of dueling is understanding your style and becoming really comfortable with your buttons. Don’t level anything but neigong until at least level 15, and play around with each style to find the one that feels best. There are some styles that are good at dueling and some that are bad at dueling. For instance, if you’re a scholar and you want to duel well, you should probably use leisure kick. Shaolin should use long boxing. The best styles for duels are the ones with some kind of ranged attack option or the ones with hard controls. Wudang is a bit weird because both YYS and breeze have good CC, but YYS has health sustain to make our OP neigong more OP. When you’re picking an art, you want those options. Lots of damage is nice, but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t hit the opponent.
So when a fight starts, look at the distance between you and your enemy. Virtually all styles except Tang styles and to a lesser extent RG chain style wants to get in close to do the most damage. What this means in practice is that unless you’re fighting -against- Tang or RG, your opponent will probably want to charge in at you and flail his swords or fists around. Stupid.
You can win a lot of fights almost for free by beating your opponent outside melee range. Most people don’t know how to deal with someone patient, and if your opponent jumps at you, you can either block (to beat dash-in attacks or lunges) or attack (to beat a dash-in feint). You can also use a ranged poke as he’s jumping up (since he won’t be blocking) and just slide away to reset. If you have some kind of stunning attack, you can just use the stun as he comes in; you’ll trade but he’ll get the worse end of the deal. You can also slide to the side to dodge; if he does a lunge you can hit him for free while he whiffs with a ranged poke.
This game doesn’t favor the attacker much unless they’re Tang or RG. Keep that in mind.
So let’s say you want to get in, your target is an enemy spy or someone who wants to get away. How do you get in safely? If your opponent is turtling, you can just airdash forward and block at the end of your airdash. Either he blocks and you block, so you get in for free, or he attacks and you block, which is free rage meter. Win-win. A smart Shaolin player might use the long boxing feint to beat dash-in mixups, but I’ve never seen it yet. Besides, you shouldn’t be trying to get in on a monk using Long Boxing, as he’s got no ranged options and is strongest in close.
In close range, all your options are viable, but so are all of your opponents. I think that the #1 mistake here is spamming attacks. In most cases, you either want to dash out of range, since you’re probably more skilled at long range than he is, use feint aggressively, or block. You can also use a CC-type attack to try for a stun, then follow up with the best damage you can. If you ever land a feint, you should probably just use a super. If you land a stun, you should also probably super. Some people will slide away if their guard gets broken, but they’re generally good and you can tell that just by how they fight at a distance. In that case, you’ll need to break guard, then stun/knockdown, then super (or just stun/kd, then super). If you’re blocking a lot, you should be able to get enough super meter to use it frequently. Most supers hitstun your opponent and are uninterruptible with normal attacks, so use them when your opponent can’t block (and most people are bad and will try to keep attacking).
However, in close range, I generally just do a little bit of blocking and/or feinting, then slide out. I don’t like rolling dice, which is what close-range fighting basically is. If you have a fairly short cooldown stun or knockdown, you can also use that in close range. Even with Long Boxing I’d probably spend a lot of time out of range, because most styles can’t do anything at that range except fill my rage bar. If I think I can win the damage race, I’ll keep fighting, but generally if I miss a feint (it doesn’t get blocked) I will just dash out. Obviously if you’re Long Boxing, you feint and it knocks down on hit or block and you super, lol. Best feint ever.
Dealing with styles that have a ranged feint, most specifically the Tang dart style and RG chain style are a bit tricky. The Tang dart style is most annoying because specifically I do not know whether my opponent is using that style. A smart Tang player will style switch just to mess with people, though I rarely see it. RG chain style, at least I know whether he’s using it or not since he has the claw and chain visible.
The trick to dealing with ranged feints is to trade the feint. What I mean is that you block (to bait the feint) and then when you see him attack, you do a lunge or a ranged poke. If you guess right, you get way ahead on damage and if you did a lunge you’re probably in attack range. Additionally, you can block for about 3 seconds and he can’t do anything to you except fill your super meter if you’re still at range. This is gambling but it’s pretty safe gambling. If you’re holding block, the vast majority of players’ next attacks will be feints. If you actually get hit by an attack, beware because your opponent is really good so you’ll have to actually learn his habits and tricks. Even I would feint at long range unless I knew my opponent was specifically trying to do this strategy, so it would definitely work on me.
If you get in on a Tang, most of them will try to slide or jump out. A few will actually try to fight you in close. The ones that will fight are the dangerous ones, because you’re probably so excited to get in close and you probably have a wallet full of super meter to blow, so he’s probably gonna block and let you waste your offense. Stick to the plan; knockdown or stun ONLY and then super. Don’t waste super by whiffing or getting it blocked.
The ones that run away are the easiest to deal with for me, since I can just jump and use YYS’ ranged poke which does bonus damage to jumping people and knocks them down. In general, it’s not okay to let him get away without dealing some damage but it’s also not okay to mindlessly chase. If you feel solid about your airdashing skills, chase, but be ready for any sort of counterattack and look for a good opportunity to hit with a feint, kd, or stun. Don’t chase with your lunge, they tend to whiff on people who are running away. Chase with dashes or slides and use quick poke attacks. One trick I use is to airdash, use a fast aerial poke, then airdash again so I don’t have to jump. Practice it!
Against RG is a bit tricky. RG are really, really imba in duels. Even if you get in, it’s a giant coinflip. My personal advice is to bait the feint, trade with it, block everything else for 3s, then trade with the feint until you have 50 rage. Then next time, trade the feint for a lunge instead and mash out your super. If you only have a lunge as a ranged attack, use your lunge, block until you either see him do his spin (then slide away) or the 3s comes and he has his feint back. Don’t ever block the feint or it’s pretty much over. The sad part is that if he guesses right EVER you get knocked towards him and eat huge damage, like 50+% life, where if you guess right you maybe get in. The only real reason I beat RG chain style players is because the style is so good, none of them really know how to duel. Most of them just mash, so it’s pretty easy to win.
In summary, if you want to be a duel master, just pick RG and chain style. I hear it’s pretty good.