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In an effort to combat ignorance on the internet, welcome back to Dustloop's BlazBlue Tier List Thread! In this thread, yes, we will delve into the mysterious concept of "character strength" and what that entails!
First and foremost, the general top level Japanese consensus on character strength in BBEX with a (paraphrased) quote from Satoshi:
Okay, okay, I took like a 15 minute discussion from him and boiled it down into a two sentences. But the take home lesson is, characters do differ in strength, just not to the extent where characters can't win particular matchups. To fully understand this assessment, continue reading the next section. If you're okay with just believing me, feel free to skip down to the next post where we'll start talking about tiers for real!There aren't really any weak characters in this version. While character ranks DO exist and they can influence gameplay, in this version, it's more of what good (with regard to risk vs reward) option X can a character perform in Y situation, given that Y situation can come up a total number of Z times per round.
II. Understanding Tiers
The following is slightly WIP, I wrote this in one sitting, so it's bound to have some errors or incomplete thoughts. I'll be updating this as time goes on.
In this thread, and in this thread alone, a character strength is determined by a character's collective available options in each of the constantly shifting game states.
In BlazBlue, this is very complicated as characters have numerous particular options that can influence the game state in a way both players probably can't realize until it actually occurs. The stronger an option is, as in, the chance for it succeed versus the chance for it to fail, the better off your character is if your character has access to it. From that, you can extrapolate that the more strong options a character has in any given situation, the stronger the character is in that given situation. Thus, if a character is strong in many situations, that character is likely to be a strong character in BlazBlue.
Let's think about this in terms of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Character A can use Rock, Paper, and Scissors. Character B can use Rock, Paper, and Rock(2). In our model game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, it only has a single game state, which is where both players have made their choice and thrown Rock, Paper, or Scissors. Of course, Rock beats Scissors, Paper beats Rock, and Scissors beats Paper.
In this model, Character A has more options that do different things, and given the game state situations that could possible occur versus Character B, the Paper option has a good chance of succeeding, and absolutely no chance of losing. Between the two characters A and B, because Character A has more options, we may draw the conclusion that Character A is the stronger one, given he has more strong options in the same situations.
Of course, in this model, because Character B has access to both Rock and Paper, he can actually still win as much as Character A. How can he do so? Well, that's something that will go unsaid for the time being, but it's extremely obvious, so please think about it on your own time for the time being.
The next point of particular interest is the amount of reward a character receives upon choosing a correct option. The term "reward" is extremely loosely defined, as a reward can be something simple, such as dealing damage and building heat, something complex, such as being able to make an easier choice in an upcoming situation, or often times, a combination of the two. Being rewarded is essentially the way you win a game of BlazBlue, as you must deal damage to your opponent in order to win a round. The better the reward a character gets from an option, the more useful that option is in terms of any particular game state. Thus, characters who receives high or powerful rewards from their options tend to be strong characters in BlazBlue.
Looking back to our Rock-Paper-Scissors game model, what if Character B was rewarded twice as much for winning with Rock(2) versus just Rock? Given Character B gets a higher reward for using Rock(2), he may actually gain the edge over Character A in terms of who the stronger character is, as we now have one character with higher rewards and one character with better options in the given situation.
Empirically, there is certain to be a stronger character, but no need to do all that complex numerical analysis, the only thing that's important here is that we realize that rewards matter as much as options do.
Of course, we can confound our model even more by asking the question, "What if Character B lost twice as badly for losing with Rock(2) versus just Rock?" Fighting games are complicated aren't they?
That said, this is the end of the brief explanation on character tiers and strength. After reading this short exposition, you are intelligent enough to understand the abstract mechanics behind our tier list discussion.
III. The Existence of Opinion and Need for Assessment
The "strength" of an option is never absolute, given that players are making choices with incomplete information in real time. Thus, intelligent discussion and assessment of characters is an absolute necessity in order for progress.
I'll probably write something more long winded about this in the future, but that made sense right?