A serious discussion about mechanics (Charge vs Command)

Note: I was A on PC with Dictator and am currently B, I was ranked 59-54 or so before the reset with him. Currently I am rank 13 on Decapre I was rank 9 but time makes fools of us all. I am not a n00b so please let’s discuss this like adults.)

This topic has been up numerous times no doubt. Each time with a certain ‘edge’ to it that I think obscures the main point which the poster had in mind. I would like to bring this discussion to light without the typical “Learn to play n00b” or “You’re obviously doing it wrong,”

So for credentials I’ll post a few things about myself to help support my side of this debate/discussion.

My Steam name is ‘Blacque’ (sans quotes of course) I’ve played Street Fighter since the good ole arcade days and started with Street Fighter II, then I migrated to the consoles with the same, then Turbo. I played Alpha 1-3, played Street Fighter Ex Plus Alpha (How great was that sound track?!) and I of course jumped into Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, having unfortunately missed out on the prior version due to ignorance (I’m old and forgetful!). I am now in Ultra.

I’m loving it…but.

I sincerely think that Charge Characters as a whole are at a disadvantage. I know that many players will bring up subjective arguments and that’s fine but I’d like to look at a few things to set the tone.

For one we have the largest bit of evidence being the tier lists. These lists while being highly malleable due to the player base do have a trend going for them (Fei Long, Yun, Cammy etc?). I submit to you the reader that in the majority of the high end player base you find mostly command based characters. I submit that the advantages of the command characters outweighs the charge characters and the learning curve for both is tipped into the command characters favor.

I main Decapre now (formerly Bison(Dictator) and in AE I mained Dictator. The charge characters must always end their combo with a charge move. Jab varieties, maybe a hard hit somewhere to start, follow through with your charge move and if you’re specific characters (Decapre) you may follow it up with something tasty provided you have the training or meter.

Where as your command characters may fireball, grab, etc during, after, before. Having a Ken SRK you, then SRK you again, or Ryu fireballing you EX style and then performing an Ultra puts these characters on a tier of their own.

Before the hate pours in I would like for the community at large to look at the EVO tournaments and look at the ratio of charge characters that make the top tiers, the finals or even victories. Is it balanced? Are there more command based characters in the finals? Is it even? I’ve seen a few EVO tournaments and can’t remember them all. For the purpose of this post I’ll be checking over them in my spare time.

I’d wager that the majority if not all of the main winners of Evo were characters with command inputs. I’ve seen the argument that Balrog/Honda are ‘high tier’ but what does that mean when in the practical arena the matches are taken over and won by any number of command based characters? At the end of the day the time it takes to learn the charge characters, how to combo with them, partition with them etc, seems to take longer than simply learning the SRK, Fireball maneuvers that are so incredibly popular that we’ve seen it across the board in video game culture. It stands to reason that charge characters lack advantages to make them serious competitors when money is on the line.

If 100,000 thousand was on the line for a tournament, who is going to pick Decapre? Or DJ? When they can pick Ryu? Fei Long? Cammy? Akuma? Even characters like Zangief seem to have a better margin of victory given his increased life and damage.

So this discussion is open and that is my position. I would very much like to see other opinions and some attempts at factual evidence to the contrary of my points. Subjective statements are all well and good but when the gaming community has over 3000 Ryu players and only 1000 Hondas (hypothetically of course I’m sure it’s much different) there must be a reason.

So let the discussion begin!


For those interested in duking it out again I can be reached on Steam as Blacque in game name is the same!

For the most part the results aren’t there, however there are also not that many charge characters in SF4 to begin with and most of them are defense oriented characters.

Bison, Chun, Balrog, Vega, Decapre, Guile, Deejay, Blanka, Honda. Only 9 (10 if you want to count Gen’s crane stance) not even 1/4th of the cast.

That said, Nishikin just won a pretty major tournament with Blanka, Chun Li has had a couple of top 8s in USF4 already with Valmaster winning Hypespotting 3, Dieminion consistently does well with Guile and just BARELY missed top 8 at EVO2014 and was in top 8 at evo 2012. PR Balrog consistently does well with Balrog and was in top 8 at evo 2012 and 2013.

There are SOME results showing that charge characters are quite viable and capable of winning majors. They may not be the top of top tier but there are quite a number of motion characters below some charge characters. Japan actually thinks Vega (claw) is pretty strong.

charge and motion both suck

Game mechanics definitely don’t benefit them, but that is why charge characters tend to have strengths in other ways to compensate (faster/safer charge specials, better normals on average than motion chars). Due to this they are still viable through solid play, even though there is usually nothing that can be exploited with charge chars.

If a charge char was balanced like a motion char, you would wind up with a char like deejay that is pretty much terrible.

SSF4 top tiers were Guile, Honda, Bison, Chun-Li and Fei Long.

I’ll respond to each post as the conversation goes to keep things up to date and fresh! Thanks for the legitimate responses and opinions.

From Eternal it seems as though you’re providing my point. Charge characters can do well and can reach the highest tiers. That was never really the argument. What was the point of discussion was the viability of them to be a consistent factor. It seems lacking. A lot of the charge characters reach the very bottom of the high tier

Isn’t it far easier to get to A rank with someone like Ryu than it is for someone who plays say Honda or Dee Jay? You might get there with Blanka because newer players get confused but again this is from the basis of a new player base. Most would I imagine pick up the command characters.

As for the tier list the one from event hub states this: http://www.eventhubs.com/tiers/sf4/ Tier lists are subjective and Street Fighter IV might have had a solid tier list including a slew of Charge characters. If that’s the case then please link me the EVO videos where those charge characters were the majority of the top ten.

You’ll never see it. Charge characters are at a disadvantage is my point.

Threi brings up a valid point. Charge characters often have amazing normals that help them in the upper levels.

My problem with this is that every character has normals that are meant to inflict damage. Every character has punches and kicks that they can use to link into their moves. For command characters their normals can mix up with their specials that are easier to pull off, easier to learn and not always reliant on meter. For charge characters the learning, the linking and then the timing of the charge execution might just make it very unappealing.

Here’s another point. You don’t have command characters losing the ability to throw a fire ball by jumping over them or changing directions. A charge character in the middle of a cross up fiesta without a viable anti air is doomed to lose his charge. In fact it’s a tactic for some characters to try to ground enemies (Honda etc)

I think it’s a bit absurd really auto correct is hardly reliable enough to validate it.

Thanks so far for the responses. This is a great discussion so far please keep it coming. I’m not at all cementing my opinion on the matter I just want to bring to light what I think is an injustice to some of the best characters in game.

I love Dictator, Decapre I HATE fighting Blanka but he’s one of the core players so right on! (HATE HIM)

Command characters are intended to function as a normal fighting game character, have access to all your moves at any given time. Charge characters are a variation on that, only having access to specials and higher once you’ve fulfilled a prerequisite charge time. In return these specials are usually better in some way than their command counterpart.

Guile’s fireball is better than Ryu’s, for instance, and Bison’s scissor kicks are completely safe on block, I believe, so it’s free corner push, chip damage, and meter even if your opponent blocks them. Very few non-charge characters have specials like that, not counting hundred hands-type specials, so that’s one unique thing charge characters have over command characters. Another is that these specials usually control a large amount of space. Going back to Guile’s fireball example, he’s able to move out his fireball more quickly than Ryu and the projectile itself travels very slowly, allowing him to follow it in somewhat. Bison’s scissor kicks cover a large amount of space, as do Honda’s headbutts, and as I mentioned before are safe once they connect, for the most part, and give you damage meter and corner push.

Because of the charge time, however, they can’t react with special moves unless they’ve already obtained their charge, which means they don’t have any invincible anti-airs on command like a dragon punch. Charge characters have to predict a jump and either obtain charge for their anti-air special, prepare a grounded anti-air, or jump and air-to-air to stop their opponents from jumping at them, whereas command characters with invincible specials can react to a jump with an anti-air.

I think that charge characters can function just as well as command characters, but they require a bit more foresight and prediction to be as effective, which means they’re going to naturally be used less than command characters. They have different strengths and weaknesses from command characters, but that doesn’t make them innately worse.

People still think this? Only actual top tier charge in Super was Guile. Everyone else was barely high tier or worse.

Does Guile’s Sonic boom, EX or otherwise allow for juggle state? I think Ryu’s does in fact I know his does. You cannot follow up Guile’s sonic boom with anything substantial. Even if the damage is ‘better’ the margin is probably negligable. Bison’s scissor kicks are not safe on block. The only scissor kick worth doing is the light and it’s no longer safe on block at specific ranges. Compare also the combo damage of command characters versus charge. Sakura can combo half of your life away with EX, most charge characters can only hope to do a bit more than a quarter of a character’s life, ex or not. Many characters can punish Honda after head butt, in fact it’s a tactic to watch for it and exploit it, same with any of Bison’s scissor kicks unless it’s light sk whch does the least damage of the roster.

RadicalFuzz: You do raise many good points but I think you’re misinformed with the characters you listed above. Let’s boil it down to a very simple formula for further commentary.

If you were to bet 100,000 dollars on a match. Same tier, same experienced fighters.

One playing Cammy, one playing Decapre, who would you put your money on?

If you had to pit Ryu versus Dee Jay, Honda, hell any charge character, who would you bank on?

It takes MORE work to use charge characters effectively is my point. And any time you have to do MORE in order to accomplish the same task, the risk of failure is harder making the reward harder to achieve. Take Decapre for instance.

You can score some serious damage very quickly meter or not. Guess work allows you to keep your charge. You have to make sure that you mix up correctly so that your opponent doesn’t guess your next move. If they do then you’ll be punished severely since most of her moves if not all of them are unsafe on block. She does have some invincible frame moves on EX which is fantastic, but again Charge/situation doesn’t equal success. If you drop a combo you will be severely punished for it, more so than anyone else because the time it takes you to accomplish a combo of any substantial damage, a command character can do it easier with less chance of dropping it. Why? Because they don’t have to worry about timing/spacing. Hurl out a hadouken, hurl out an srk.

It simply seems to me that you must work harder to play a high tier charge character. Where as a command character can be a great high tier without putting in that much effort. If a command player does put in the effort then you better be a Godly charge player to compete.

Yes or no?

As a side note I’m not dissing charge characters. I play charge characters. I love Dictator and Decapre I just feel that the hours upon hours I play would be better served with someone like Ryu, Ken, Oni, Cody, because all of that effort would yield far more success.

I’m sure each of us (charge players) have gotten to A or B+ and wondered how a C or C+ command character can dish out so much damage and give you such a headache.

You say your opinion isn’t cemented but you’re very defensive about your current view.

Command characters do more damage, for the most part, but they control space less effectively than charge characters, as a whole. Thanks for correcting me on Honda & Dictator. While it doesn’t apply for Honda, Dictator can still cancel into light scissor kick and use it to harass and gain advantage, but that point isn’t relevant for every charge character, but neither is high damage for all command characters. Guile’s fireball and any possible followups do less damage than Ryu’s fireball and any possible followups, but that fireball doesn’t stay relevant for more than a second while Guile’s slow boom will stay out for several.

Your comments about command characters having to ignore timing and spacing seem far-fetched. Ryu has the ability to throw a hadoken at any range and time, but that doesn’t mean he can ignore where his opponent is on the screen. Any character, charge or command, can jump at Ryu and punish him for throwing a bad fireball. And by command characters having easier combos, do you mean less links? I’m not really following you on that one.

In that betting situation you brought up (assuming both players are equal skill etc) I’d bet on Cammy because I know she’s pretty good and simpler than Decapre, not because Decapre as a charge character is inherently inferior to Cammy, a command character. I honestly don’t even know what Decapre can do at high levels of play, while I have seen high level Cammy players. You’re also generalizing all charge characters as objectively worse than command characters. While I wouldn’t bet on Dee Jay versus pretty much any other character, command or charge, I’d bet on Guile over Ryu.

While it may take different skills or flat out more work from charge characters, I don’t feel that they just accomplish the same thing as command characters. On average, charge characters control more space with their specials than command characters. Guile controls more space than Sakura, Honda controls more space than Ken, etc. Even if there was a quantity that could measure how much “work” went into playing a character and charge characters were objectively higher on that scale than command characters, that doesn’t mean they’re worse. To make an extreme example of things, in Marvel 2 playing Magneto was significantly harder than playing Ryu, but Magneto did things that Ryu couldn’t do and was a much better character overall. That’s a very obvious statement since Magneto just had so many more tools than Ryu, but I want to scale it back a bit and ask you these questions about Ultra specifically:

-What command characters can move before their fireballs hit the opponent? I’m talking enough time to actually do something, not just having a frame before it hits at fullscreen
-What command characters have medium-range horizontal specials that are safe on block? Let’s assume ok spacing, not great but not terrible either
-What does a charge character need to have to compete with a command character? As it is now you make it sound like any command character will beat any charge character, provided they’re played with the same skill

And are you saying that charge characters as a whole across all fighting games are inferior to command characters, or just in Ultra?

I’m not good enough at the game to have a real opinion, but it seems this is an underappreciated point. If there are 9 charge characters, then you’d expect 3 to be in the top 3rd, 3 to be in the middle third, and 3 to be in the bottom third. That’s exactly what http://www.eventhubs.com/tiers/sf4/ says:
[] Top third: Chun-Li, Bison, Guile
] Middle third: Balrog, Vega, Decapre
[*] Bottom third: Blanka, Honda, Dee Jay

Obviously that tier list is wrong/subjective, but that’s unavoidable if the topic is tier lists. It’s true that there may be no charge character in the top 5, but that could just be bad luck—if you pick 9 of 44 characters at random, it’s quite possible to end up with none in the top 5.

You can’t have a discussion without opposing views. That may be while my view seems so ‘cemented’. Also bear in mind that I never stated that: Charge characters will always win. Or that my views are anything other than a broad look at the mechanics. This is in reference to the post from Radical Fuzz.

I’ll begin by saying that terms like “Are you trying to say,” don’t help the argument because I’ve written what I intended to say. I don’t think that I made it foggy or unclear. My statement is that Command characters have an inherent advantage over charge characters. I pointed to what I thought were good examples, some factual some opinion. I’ve invited others to bring their observations, experiences to the table as well.

Let me also continue by saying that in my years of playing I doubt I’ll ever think that charge characters are as equal to or greater than command characters. I do believe they have their advantages in game play but I think that the advantages of the command characters outweigh them.

You mentioned Ryu’s fireball being relevant versus Guile’s sonic boom. I refer you to top tier players who use the fireball for spacing very well and manage to compete in high level competition. Ryu has the option to control space with his projectiles as an option. There are also Ryu players that will nary through a single fireball. Given that Guile has 2 moves to his name you’ll always see a Guile through a Sonic Boom. This isn’t a snapshot comparison of Ryu is better. It’s simply a fact. Fireballs tend to be for spacing over their raw damage.

To clarify ‘easier combos’ for command characters I’ll reference Ryu once more. Ryu can EX Hadou you into his Ultra. He can shallow Dp you… again into his Ultra. He can Ex Tatsu into his ultra. Most command characters can execute their move into their ultra. Poison can do it, I believe Ken can. Some may have to FADC for it and not all of them can but it is an option for many of them.

Now if we look at the simple idea of Performing a Special and following it up with an Ultra. The effort it would take someone to learn Ryu’s SRK, FADC into Metsu probably takes less time than someone trying to link a Flash Kick into a Flash Explosion. The timing on the charge, the way you have to perform it etc is quite difficult across the board (Though I’m sure there are people who found it easy with a stick or dpad etc).

Links are another topic but even I’m not so pro that I know all of them. Ryu can hard punch hit twice then uppercut. Bison can light kick chain 4x into scissor kick for possibly the same amount of damage but it’s a more difficult maneuver for less gain as I believe 2x Hard Punches into srk(hard) will do more damage.

My responses to the following!

-What command characters can move before their fireballs hit the opponent? I’m talking enough time to actually do something, not just having a frame before it hits at fullscreen
"Throw out a fireball and then move afterward? Seth? Akuma? I believe Oni but I’m not certain."

-What command characters have medium-range horizontal specials that are safe on block? Let’s assume ok spacing, not great but not terrible either
"Which characters have a very specific special that is safe on block. Safe on block always? Cammy has her drill which on light is safe on block. Isn’t Cody’s kick safe on block? Bearing in mind that Honda can be punished, as can Bison, Blanka, Dee Jay if they time things poorly. "

-What does a charge character need to have to compete with a command character? As it is now you make it sound like any command character will beat any charge character, provided they’re played with the same skill
"I do sometimes wonder if that would be the case. If two A+ players took on two different characters according to tiers let’s say; a Bison versus an X (Insert relatively same tier command character) who would come out on top? It’s very hard to say. Depending on the character it really is hard to imagine who would come out. But again I’m saying that character characters are at a disadvantage in the areas of learning their combos, pulling off their combos perhaps even marginally in areas where it comes down to their specials but that’s in relation to their comboing potential. Bison’s 6 hit combo with a sk at the end does less damage than Ibuki or Cody’s 5 hit, or even some of Sakura’s combos that are based around whirl wind kicks (multiple hits = more stun) and easy commands."

And are you saying that charge characters as a whole across all fighting games are inferior to command characters, or just in Ultra?

I’m saying in Ultra and in Street Fighter in general charge characters are at a disadvantage yes. That’s my point. I’m discussing it not for the purposes of going “Well yeah you’re right, charge characters are equal to command characters.”

I’m posing this discussion to see if it points out the advantages of them versus their disadvantages. So far you’ve brought up some fair points in their advantages, but they… actually seem to apply just as much to command characters.

I would like to see solid evidence of where charge characters shine. Whether it be their damage, their comboing ability, easier links, or maybe they DO have better spacing. What is it that makes them capable of going top tier and winning competitive tournaments? And if it does exist why don’t we see more people using them in the top five, or top ten slots of big tournaments? Why don’t we see them winning the tournaments?

Thanks for your input Fuzz and Grey. As for Grey the tier list there is what I referenced just randomly. I know there are dozens of tier lists and they vary from community to community but a lot of times you see the trends. You do raise a good point about them existing in each tier. It’s not as though every charge character is mid or low tier after all. However in most cases from what I’ve seen in the top 10 you have the command characters.

Ugh again as a side note. Love Dictator, Loving Decapre but I admit when I lose to a Cody or a Ryu I just groan sometimes thinking that the effort I put into Decapre would be better spent on one of those characters. It’s so damn easy to do some of those moves and succeed and get great damage without the tricks of Decapre to make up for it, or the need for mind games via Dictator.

Decapre is better than Ryu and Cody

Think I ran across you in ranked. Don’t remember anything except that you’re pretty good.

Maybe he means he thinks they’re easier to play at an intermediate level.

Just a question: have you played SSF4 on 3DS? Because that gives a pretty good perspective on what would happen if you didn’t have to charge for charge specials 8D

That half-joke aside: I do think there are problems with charge characters in SF4. Focus attacks usually don’t benefit them as well as motion characters, because the act of dashing forward after a focus attack or a focus attack cancel causes you to lose your charge, limiting the damage they would get off of it for several characters. 3rd Strike had the same problem: the act of parrying caused you to lose charge.

Then again, the fact that this game isn’t well set up for charge characters doesn’t mean that charge in itself is inferior. Just look to ST or CvS2 for good examples of how strong charge characters can be if the mechanics are set up for them.

Thanks for clarifying, you made it sound like charge characters of equal skill would almost inevitably lose to command characters. You seemed somewhat snippy at times in your first response so that’s where I got the idea you were ingrained in your original opinion.

I agree that command characters being able to perform their specials whenever they want are inherently better than charge characters in that respect, I think we can agree on that pretty easily.

I’d rather ask what you mean if I don’t understand something than assume.

That’s the point I was trying to make with Guile’s fireball, it doesn’t lead to more damage but because the light version travels so slowly and Guile recovers so quickly it lets him move to anti-air a bad jump, or do whatever he wants, before Ryu has even blocked or avoided the fireball. Walk up low forward fireball is something Guile can’t do, so Ryu has better damage and/or spacing in that context.

I see what you mean about easier combos now. Not only are their combo paths usually more varied, but they end in significantly more damage, barring difficult stuff like flash kick FADC ultra. You’re right about links, for the most part, as well. While Bison has very few relevant links, Guile does have a few. His aerial spin kick linking into crouching strong, crouching jab linking into crouching strong, there are a few. And Ryu has a very high amount of relevant links for a command character. Zangief’s in the same boat with Bison in that he only has one significant link and it’s not easy.

-Okay, Seth can do things after throwing a light boom, that’s true, but Akuma and Oni can take no relevant action to threaten the opponent after throwing their hados.

-Real quick, Bison’s light scissor kick is -1, so it’s safe on block against everybody but a handful of characters with Ultra 1 stocked. I’m counting that as “completely safe on block” for reference. Cammy’s spiral arrow is -17 unless you hit just the tip and then it’s, I believe, completely safe. However, I specifically asked you not to include those examples where the spacing of the move is borderline perfect. Ruffian Kick is -7 and pushes back a decent amount I think, so that’s fair enough.

I still hold that charge character’s special moves are on average better than command characters, if only slightly, particularly for spacing. They also usually have a few good normals, but not enough to conclude that the reason is because they’re charge characters. I believe that the reason you don’t see them in tournament top 8s as often is because they’re more difficult to play and control, and because their advantages in spacing are minor.

You said you play Decapre, what other character can force a mixup off a blocked low forward? And can cancel that mixup if they just want to get out and back off? She’s not a normal charge character by any means, but because she has that charge restriction on her specials they can afford to be much more dramatic when you do use them. Punish opponent for advancing while you jump backwards or teleport and mixup into Ultra 2, stuff like that. Again, I’m aware that she’s not representative of most charge characters but maybe the Ultra dev team agrees with you and wanted to make a charge character that could do unique things in exchange for the restriction on her specials.

Yeah in retrospect Honda, Bison and Chun probably weren’t really top but back then they were perceived as such. Charge characters can be on top in games using the SF4 engine.

Guile was S tier.

I think at absolute top level play (Daigo, Sako, Valle) charge characters in USF4 are at a disadvantage, but still a large number of smaller European and American tournaments/ranbats are won disproportionally often by Balrog- and Bison-players. A lot more often than by Ibuki-, Fei-, E.Ryu- or Adon-players.

Suggestion to make charge characters more competitive at the highest levels: bring back charge partitioning (with some restrictions for booms/air slashes).

Man, charge partitioning would be awesome to have.