Movement is key in ARMS. Having the ability to simultaneously weave between your opponents punches while being able to move into the perfect position to land a shot of your own is pivotal to one’s success. In particular, dashing sideways has become a popular technique for evading punches, as it becomes increasingly difficult for the attacker to land a clean punch as you weave in and out of view. Spring Man players tend to use this maneuver a lot in tandem with their parry, as they get the benefit of parrying your punches while moving into the perfect position to counter.
Strafing is a very powerful tool in the arsenal. Players who don’t know any better can easily get frustrated as their punches continually whiff against dashes. Thankfully, there’s a way to blow this tactic up, especially against players who abuse it. The trick is exploit the fixed trajectory of their dash.
Why is strafing so effective in the first place?
Before you’re able to effectively punish the tactic, you should understand why it works in the first place. There are a number of reasons why this tactic works so well in ARMS:
- Players move faster and farther laterally than punches
While every arm has the ability to curve with varying degrees, the angle at which you can curve most arms can’t keep up with a sideways dash. As players get closer to each other, it becomes increasingly difficult for punches to keep up, making the gap between punch and face even wider.
- The camera struggles to keep up
There are a few aspects in this encounter that you can’t fully control. One is the position in which your opponent sits relative to your viewport. The game tries its best to keep your opponent in the middle, but as they get closer, the camera can fall behind. This becomes particularly problematic as you throw more punches, as your view will be locked to where your punches go, not to the opponent who is now left or right of centre.
Because of this, you can oftentimes find yourself spinning in a circle, repeatedly whiffing punches as your opponent gleefully circles you before finally punching or throwing you.
Side dashing has a ton of benefits, but there is an exploitable weakness to it. As soon as you commit to dashing, you’ve locked your character into a set movement path. If your opponent knows where you’re going, they can lead you with a punch or a throw towards the position you’re going to be when the dash ends.
Just like in football, a quarterback wants to throw the ball where their receiver is going to be, not where they currently are. As such, instead of committing to an attack that can easily be avoid, attack in the direction of where your opponent is going to be, causing them to dash right into your fist or throw.
How to lead your opponent into the counter
- Move back
The closer your opponent is to you, the harder it will be for you to land the appropriate counter attack. Create a decent amount of distance so that your arms and the camera will have enough room to follow your opponent and to curve your arms in the appropriate direction. Also, you want to create enough distance to make your upcoming attack or throw relatively safe.
- Anticipate their dash
Follow your opponent’s movement patterns and anticipate their next move.
Just before or just after they dash, make a hard read and toss out either a punch or a throw in the direction you believe they’re going next. You can also dash while throwing or punching to get further in line with where they’ll be next. Preferably, I like to start with the throw, as it puts them more on notice that you know what they’re going to do. If you got it right, they’ll run right into your punch or throw. Guess wrong, and their ability to punish is slim if you stood at the right distance.
Some examples of the counter in action
Spring Man is trying to dash side-to-side, using his parry ability as cover. However, he’s particularly vulnerable during the recovery of that parry. Having read his movement to the right, he was a sitting duck for the grab.
Max Brass tried to dodge to my left. But as you can see, I was already expecting him to, as I preemptively dashed left, making the grab even easier to land.
Can’t keep running away
Your opponents might be slippery, but they don’t need to be untouchable. With correct positioning and a bit of guess work, you can shut down the strafing shenanigans quickly. If they don’t come to grips with your counter, simply throw them repeatedly until they lose. If they start to punch while dashing, the anticipatory attack won’t work, but then you can punish their incoming attack as you normally would, essentially resetting the meta.