Shenanigans vs Stable Strategy

Playing SSF4 online a bunch, I’m seeing a lot of this. I see a lot of players who are downright doomed never to improve. Whats worse, I sometimes lose to these players! Thats a bittersweet thing, but it’s something I have to accept. The difference comes to trying to win with stable strategy vs tryin g to win with shenanigans. The goal of stable strategy is to try and develop habits and techniques that will potentionally be able to win in any situation. Shenanigans on the other hand is doing what would normally be incredibly stupid stuff. In SSF4, Ken doing his fierce DP over and over again, T.Hawk spamming dive and spinning 360s every possible moment. In Starcraft it’s like 2 pooling as Zerg and rushing every game. None of these tactics are ‘good’, but they can win from time to time against bad players. In games like SSF4 which are populated by bad players, they can win a LOT……. up to a point.

Now, it’s hard to explain to someone who wins like this that it’s a totally awful idea. I mean, they’re winning! Thats the point, right? Well yes and no. I could win a 100% of the time against my cat by pressing jab all day. The idea is to be able to win against the best opponents possible, as consistently as possible. Shenanigans can win because they are unexpected, or the player doesn’t know the counter (usually easy) or can’t effectively punish it with their level of knowledge… but once one plays against a sufficiently skilled opponent, the Shenanigans are no longer not effective, THEY ARE DETRIMENTAL. You give up so much, for such an easily counterable strategy. You are merely led on by those who do not understand the tactic. You write off your losses, focusing on your wins…. But you will never catch up to the players who beat you with that mentality. They practically have you beaten forever until you change your game at a fundamental level.

Shenanigans have their uses (though rarely are they the same shenanigans the player is using currently, but thats another story). Sometimes it’s good to throw something wacky out there to catch someone off guard. The problem for these low level players is that not only is shenanigans their ‘plan A”………… There is no ‘plan B’. Thats it — beat their trick and they flail in panic. Sometimes its hard to tell — sometimes you can throw out tons of shenanigans and actually beat a player better than you occasionally…. but for what? You are throwing your win to the random number god. Sometimes you get lucky with your BS, other times (most of the time) he’ll just punish you. I get this with a lot of people I play with. I will lose to them occasionally, but they will mostly be in a spot where they will have little luck improving. It’s useful for me, because I can use this to clear how to properly deal with such nonsense and move on eventually…. The player will likely be stuck where he was though, making tiny improvements at best. Instead, they should be developing solid, safe and consistent play while not being deterred when they lose. Switching to that style may represent an actual increase in loses at first, but the rewards are CONSTANT wins and the ability to beat much stronger opponents. It also leads to near limitless improvement!

Moral of the story: Don’t cheese your wins until your good enough to realize how cheesy your cheese is. Otherwise you’ll confuse ‘cheese’ with something more substantial. Besides, when you get better you’ll learn about some HIGH LEVEL CHEESE you can use occasionally and that cheese is just soooo much more taster. So go read up on your game and try and find the best way to improve!