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[Character Guide] Your Opponent: Bal-Bas-Beta


#1

This guide was written by @Zejety

Introduction

Maining BBB for the last months, I noticed that many opponents in QM were confused or intimidated by the robot. The long text on his innate and Overdrive, as well as the added complexity from the long-range versions of his face cards makes him difficult to understand and seem more unfair than he really is.
In this guide, I will try to explain his abilities in a clearer form and describe the nature of his mix-ups and general game plan. My goal is not to teach how to play BBB, but understand his mechanics and the basic strategy that emerges from them.

I will start by explaining Long Range before analyzing their implications on BBB’s combat options at both ranges. Finally, I will look at his Overdrive ability and how it alters some previous obversations for one turn.

Long Range mechanics

BBB’s most defining and also most complex ability is his innate, Long Range. Long Range is a game state that is highly advantageous to BBB and minimizing the numbers of turns spent at Long Range is generally a good idea.

How BBB gains Long Range

Under normal circumstances, there are two ways for BBB to attain Long Range:

  • He combat-reveals a normal attack and wins combat or gets blocked.
  • He combat-reveals his K throw and wins combat.

Long Range grants BBB the following benefits:

  • His normal attacks become speed 1.0.
  • He returns to his hand the first face card (J, Q, K) he plays every turn, including after a dodge.
  • BBB’s K is the only usable throw (for both players), making his dodges unbeatable.
  • The ranged side of his Q becomes available, a 2.2 attack that deals 13 damage even if blocked.
  • He takes ZERO damage from the first move that hits him and it can’t be comboed from (though he loses range afterwards).
  • He takes no block damage.

Some of his strong moves become unavailable to him at Range though:

  • His AA super Piston Hurricane, his only move faster than 1.0
  • Robo Headbutt (his 7), his most powerful combo starter
  • The pumpable, linkable side of his Q, his strongest combo finisher (baring 7->AA)

How to end Long Range:

  • BBB gets hit by anything (including jokers!) or
  • both of you block on the same turn.

Mix-up analysis

With range mechanics out of the way, let’s look at BBB’s key options and their place in the yomi triangle at both ranges.

Mix-up at neutral (Close Range) and with a small hand

BBB really wants to…

  • Get to range: Range attempts use either normal attacks or (rarely) a K throw. You can beat both options with attacks that are faster than or clash with his 2-attack (2.8 speed)
  • Block: BBB’s burst damage options are card hungry and he needs one copy of his face cards for his Long Range mix-up to be effective (especially K). This and his opponent wanting to avoid range by attacking make blocking a valuable option for BBB. This is especially true against fast characters against whom he relies on powering up for his fast supers. Naturally, this can be countered by throwing but you’ll run the risk of getting attacked into Long Range.

BBB only plays these for mix-up purposes:

  • Reversals: BBB relies on outspeeding his opponent with his J (2.4 speed) and single A (1.4 speed) in certain match-ups.
  • Normal throws: BBB can get about as much damage off from his throws as from his normal attacks which is… not much. They obviously lack an attack’s benefits (Long Range, normal draw…) and do not even knock down. However, his 7 throw is the fastest throw in many match-ups.
  • Dodges: BBB does not like to play his dodges at neutral. He only has 8 of them and they are important to his Long Range and Overdrive mix-ups.

Converting a big hand into damage at Close Range

BBB can only really deal a large amount of damage in one turn when at Close range.

  • His 2.8 combo starter Robo Headbutt (2.8 speed, 10 damage attack on his 7) which on hit allows him to play a second combo as if it had already hit and won combat(!)
  • The Gyro Spin side of his Q (linker, 15 damage when pumping with two additional cards)
  • And his Piston Hurricane super move (0.2 speed, 2 Aces, 21+7+7 damage if pumped with additional Aces).

The most notable of these options is Piston Hurricane which is the fastest attack in many match-ups at 0.2 speed. BBB may try to abuse your tendency to attack out of fear of Long Range to outspeed you with or dodge into his super. Other than that, these options do not differ from the majority of the cast and you should play around them as usual.

Mix-up at Long Range

Now this is where people usually get confused. BBB’s Long Range mix-up seems complicated at first but becomes clearer when broken down by his options:

  • His normal attacks are his fastest attack option (1.0) and are especially strong against knocked down opponents. Note his only odd normal attack is his 3 for the purpose of knockdown mixup.
  • Junkshot (Q) is slightly slower (2.2) but deals high damage on block.
  • Extensor Grab (K) loses to all attacks but is BBB’s only way to punish dodges. Knocks down.
  • Cog Shot (J) is a risky and rare reveal, being mostly a slower (2.4) and generally worse Junkshot. Sometimes used for its knockdown.
  • Dodges are BBB’s safest option since you cannot throw at Range, and therefore can’t punish him for it. Considering BBB’s low number of dodges, he doesn’t like it to clash with another dodge or block though. He will usually follow these up with a knockdown if successful.
  • BBB plays blocks to conserve dodges when he expects you to dodge but isn’t confident enough to throw. If you block as well, you return to close range!

Summary: Your fastest attacks beat everything but block and dodge. Slower attacks will beat successively less options but can still beat K. Dodging beats BBB’s fast attacks or forces him to take risks by playing said K.

For these reasons, it is generally advised to save fast attacks -especially those 1.0 speed or faster- for Long Range. Characters without reversals should strongly consider gold bursting with a Joker, especially considering BBB’s low combo potential.

Overdrive

BBB can activate a state called Overdrive by discarding a 9 after the draw phase. This buffs his face cards by 3 damage and gives them certain additional effects for one turn. I’ll break down the implications by range:

Overdrive at close range

At close range, Overdrive heavily influences his mix-up and makes your attacks very risky:

  • BBB’s boosted Long Arm (J) cannot be interrupted and can lead to quite a bit of damage from a boosted Gyro Spin (Q).
  • In addition, his dodges lead to Long Range (if followed up by a K) now, breaking the previously established rule of attacks countering range attempts.
  • Blocking and Dodging avoid both special effects but are the most predictable response. Most BBB’s will mix-up their desired options with throws because of this.

Because of the high risk that comes with attacking against a BBB in Overdrive, going for a mix-up normal can also be a good option for BBB against knocked-down opponents.

Overdrive at Long Range

Overdrive has less severe effects at range:

  • An uninterruptable Long Arm can be good against opponents with fast reversals, but so are blocks and getting hit will still end range.
  • The other effect makes Junkshot unblockable. Seeing how it already deals full block damage, this usually only means denying you two cards but can be more powerful against certain special blocks.

Closing Notes

Let me summarize some key points that bear repeating because they are either that important or because they got burried between more important information.

  • Without overdrive, BBB can never achieve Long Range when you play an attack with speed 2.8 or faster.
  • BBB’s dodges are very precious to him because he has only 8 and needs them for his Long Range and Overdrive mix-ups.
  • A combat-revealed Joker can be a strong tool to get back to close range again.
  • BBB’s only odd normal attack (for mix-up normals) is his 3.
  • BBB’s attacks are relatively slow at close range but look out for his 0.2 speed AA!

Afterword

This concludes the guide for now, which ended up WAY longer than I expected or aimed for. Even then, I still feel like it lacks a sense of closure at the moment…

Anyway, i’d like to give a shoutout to @Zexx The Reaper who made a similar guide about Quince:
Learn the ConseQuinces

I’d also like to thank everybody who gave me feedback on my first draft and especially @Dietz who helped improve the first iteration’s spacing, highlighting and other small things.

Appendix

I’ll drop some numbers here for quick reference (all damage values without Overdrive) in hope that they’ll make for a nice appendix:

  • Highest damage combos: Close Range
  • 7 -> AAAA for 45
  • 7 - > Q++ -> Q++ for 40
  • Highest damage combos: Long Range
  • J -> A for 19
  • Highest damage dodge follow-ups: Close Range
  • AAAA for 35
  • Q++ for 15
  • Highest damage dodge follow-ups: Long Range
  • Q for 13
  • Fastest attacks: Close Range
  • 0.2: AA
  • 1.4: A
  • 2.4: J
  • Fastest attacks: Long Range
  • 1.0: all normal attacks
  • 1.4: A
  • 2.2: Q

This guide was written by @Zejety


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