Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Michigan, USA
Firstly, I will state that I think special moves should be "special." That is, useful in a few situations, but foolish to use as a primary method of attack. I won't let myself be dragged back into battles of DFA, medium finisher, DFA, backsweep, strong sideswipe, DFA, DFA, DFA, medium finisher, 3-swing medium combo, medium finisher, backsweep, etc. because frankly I believe it's quite retarded and by no means even semi-realistic.
Now before you flame me in retaliation, hear me out. I'm not implying that's what you want. However, in my experience with other games and past versions of JK2, moves like this always upset the balance. On paper, they may have their counters, sure. But they act as high-order terms in a equation; as the parameters (mostly of battle length and skill level) increase, the special moves will always become the thing that defines the outcome of the fight. The most obvious case of this is the 1.03 backsweep vs. backsweep duels. Who cares about chaining combos or timing your strong swings when you have a simple yet overpowering move at your disposal? I know you don't want 1.03 backsweep back, just the rotation, so hold back.
Or 1.02 DFA. Yes, it's counterable, but you'll never say "I should do a DFA, he's in a great position to punish me for it!" You are going to always minimize your risk by positioning yourself properly and keeping his force pool low. So you minimize the risk, and 1.02 DFA still gives you the ability to fly through the air twirling with a defense-shattering strong swing toward your opponent. The only thing that can reliably trump this attack is, guess what, another DFA. So, you have two outcomes: 1) DFA vs. DFA, or 2) The non-DFAing guy is done for unless you let yourself make a mistake and leave yourself open.
I could go on, but the gist of it is that special moves should not give control of the fight to the user. When they do, it doesn't take long to realize, and so special moves always become the primary form of attack. I do not believe that special moves should force the victim to come up with a counter; they should unconditionally leave you open to attack. "Nerfed" DFA and backsweep finally do this; less may not be more, but more can certainly be less when it causes the pool of viable moves to shrink to a handful.
However, I do believe the role of special moves is to serve as counterattacks in of themselves. I do think that if the enemy is in such a bad position that you can line up a DFA into him and make it hit, he should be done for. If you can plant your feet and nail someone directly behind you with a backstab, great.
The thing is: now you are taking advantage of the opponent's mistake. You are not screwing up the game by forcing the opponent to evade until you let yourself be taken advantage of. Saber combat is no longer decided by a handful of moves, but forces players to vary their tactics.
The briefer version:
Special moves until recently were a low-risk/high-reward deal. Skilled players understand how to minimize the risk associated with their moves. Game balance was upset when the special moves gave substantially higher reward than any other moves, yet with the same or less amount of risk.
When special moves are higher risk than reward, it no longer makes sense to spam them. However, they are still valuable tools in the arsenal for exploiting an opponent's mistakes. This leaves the standard light, medium and strong attacks as the mainstay of offense, as it should have been from the beginning.
- Don't break the system again by putting the spin back into DFA, backstab and backsweep. But I would support making the moves more damaging/penetrating when they hit.
I haven't gotten started on the regular attacks, but I guess I'm still forming an opinion on them anyway.
Also, as you said yourself, Promod blocking is near perfect, so I don't see why backward running speed is an issue.