Help me pick my 3rd

I generally play Rook and Setsuki. I’m having some problems deciding who to play for my 3rd though, and I keep waffling between Jaina, Lum, and Valerie. All three have elements I like, but I feel like I just don’t grok them the same way as I do Rook and Sets, so it’s hard for me to commit. What would you recommend, and why? I’m more interested in the thought process than the recommendations.


If you were to look at your play as objectively as possible, how do you play Rook and Setsuki? What do you do during the matches? What tools do you use? What strategies do you try to employ? Why do you do it? If you can answer those questions at least a bit, then I’ll have a better idea on what I would recommend instead of just, quite honestly, a blind guess.

Sure. With setsuki I like to smother. Her kit in general is great, but I like being aggressive with her, jumping in and making blockstrings that are difficult to navigate, and having starlight tumblr and ninjaport as additional ways to confuse the matter. In neutral, I like having air kunai available as way to poke and force my opponent into giving me an opening.

With rook, it’s very similar, just slower paced. I like having what feels like an implacable offense, and once I get in his vortex is difficult to get out of. While I don’t get to do exciting combo chains, typically a throw will lead into 4 or more damage because of bad guesswork from my opponent.

I like Valerie because she also has effective rushdown and high damage output, but I feel like I’m not playing her right because it is much harder for me to get in with her than it is with Sets or Rook.

With Jaina, her zoning game is fun, and I like mixing up fireball locations. Her divekick also feels strong to me, so if I’m being aggressive I have good tools there too. That said, I know I’m nowhere near as good with her as I am with Setsuki and Rook, and I feel like I’m just missing something essential about her playstyle.

With Lum, the items are interesting to play with, and his Blanka-esque normals feel very familiar to me, but I always find myself on the wrong side of keep away, either unable to keep people out, or unable to get in on people keeping me out, so I’m probably doing something wrong there too.

With any of them, it’s probably a matter of more practice, but I don’t know which to commit to.

Since you really seem to like being the aggressor, I would recommend Valerie. It seems that the issue you have with her is approach instead of her basic play style. The other two seems like you’re misunderstanding the basic play style.

Valerie seems to fit because she has built-in mixups. The others, you have to set up the mixup. Both Rook and Setsuki have them built-in pretty much automatically. I think that as you develop how to approach people more efficiently, safely, and aggressively with both Rook and Setsuki, you’ll naturally transition those fundamentals with Valerie. Valerie is just more obvious about the fundamentals of approaching because she doesn’t have, what seemingly is, get in for free moves. You really want to take advantage of her walk speed and her incredible range with fA.

Jaina would be a second choice. Jaina you have to be really aggressive. However, in order to be successful about it, you need to know very critical spacing on where she should use her fireballs. That way you can punish jump-ins with fA or dragonheart. It also requires a steady nerves to actually react to what’s going on the screen instead of jumping the ball. This is opposite of your description of causing the opponent to guess/react to what you’re going to do instead of the other way.

This is why I think you struggle with Lum. He is a character that is all about setups. You want to react to what items are out and maximize their use for restricting the other character’s options (generally through spacing). You actually have to create space for yourself to get the opportunity to set that up instead of aggressively eliminating all the spacing from the other character. He approaches with his items which requires the spacing to throw it in the first place.

A final thought may be you want to look at DeGrey. His is a very aggressive playstyle and the ghost allows you to approach a lot easier. That would probably be my recommendation ahead of Jaina but behind Valerie. The reason is that Valerie has a built-in mixup, but DeGrey is about conditioning the opponent into pressing the wrong button at the wrong time through frame traps. So, it requires a bit more homework on your part about what you can do at what times to try and catch the opponent.

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Thanks Sente, that’s well thought out. If I wanted to improve more with the strategy aspects of jaina and lum’s play, where would I start? Spacing I can practice, but strategy is harder

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As far as Jaina is concerned, I would say you can try starting with finding the right distance where you can fire arrows, but you can safely react to a jump over an arrow with fA or C. You’ll find that as you’re trying to find that spot, the entire battle will revolve around you gaining or losing that spot. These critical spacings will be true of any character. For example, if Setsuki is closer than that spot, you’ll notice that you have to switch to a more defensive strategy or an aggressive divekick strategy. If she’s farther than that spot, you’ll notice that you have to be very careful of firing arrows too predictably because Setsuki may be in the critical spacing where her B (kick version) will combo.

So, to start understanding the strategy aspects, you want to find each character’s “sweet spot” for a particular matchup (or in general). If you’re not at that sweet spot, you have to employ different tactics to try and gain that spot. For example, with Lum, there’s a sweet spot at full screen (he’ll throw items all day), as well as juuuust outside of where the other character can attack you (usually) where he can throw an item and then immediately follow up with some type of attack (he has long limbs and a roll) to take advantage of the item that was thrown.

Once you pay attention to spacing, it’ll become much clearer why people are favoring certain options at certain times. Then, you can start narrowing down what options your opponent can do and respond. I’m not a Jaina player, so I cannot speak to her tips as well as I can Lum. But, you can check my Random Lum Thoughts thread for some tips in general as well as specific matchups.

Just a thought, but picking a character outside of your comfort zone might help you become a more balanced player, shoring up some of your weaknesses in play. Someone like Geiger, Argagarg,or Lum, that is more set up based.

Rook and Setsuki are characters who set up the pace, as Valerie probably is.
DeGrey, Arg and Geiger are maybe a bit more tied to the reactive game. You’ll have to adapt your way of playing the game to win with them, so if you choose to learn them it’s more a long-term approach.
Midori has both approachs depending to if he is in dragonform or not.
In my opinion Grave, Jaina and Lum are different. They are about reacting on the way your opponent reacts to your projectiles. You can’t really set up a pace because once your opponent is close, the only thing you want to do is to block, throw or press the panic button.

My advice would be to use Valerie on competitive play and to keep other characters for casual matchs. The team battle doesn’t incitate you to have a balanced team in particular, just to play the characters you love.