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Melty Blood/MBTL/Ciel/Strategy

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Ciel's midrange buttons aren't fantastic. You'll often get beaten out in this sort of "uhg they're just out of range of the 'right' speed of button". Just play a decent Arc or two and be sad about it a lot. But! We've got awesome projectiles that can be whiff cancelled into supers or MD to keep them safe. And not just safe, you can straight-up punish attempts to shield you from further-than-midrange to full-screen! This will make your opponent want to simply shield your projectiles with no follow-up (or get crafty with close-range shields into BC fatal counters, but there's ways to play around that too of course). Shielding your projectiles heals your opponents and builds them moon - "punish" this by stealing opportunities to charge (2AB) or diving in on them rather than throwing keys.

Seriously, Ciel is incredibly slippery and can schmove. j.236A is a great tool, 2BC is awesome especially in moon drive (you can jump cancel on block/have air options after if you whiff, and MD gives moon skills armor), grounded 4BC is +1 oB so can be used to setup shield baits or just plain ol' pressure resets, 2C is a quick-as-hell 8 frames.

As for taking your turn back/defending against pressure, sure there's always a shield read. But across the course of a match, if you've been playing a strong projectile game, it's pretty likely that you'll have MD available to you and that is almost always a very strong option either on wake-up or in gaps - especially since we can sorta "bail-out" with 2BC and if they did anything other than shield you get away even if you don't get the hit. Personally, I've been using Heat pretty often, especially since I think our cold/hot keep-out game (Falco?) is really strong. I feel like I'd rather Heat off of a distant Black Keys KD or on my opponent whiffing something from afar if it can restore me roughly a neutral losses worth of health than risk getting shielded trying to heat on wake-up.

In my opinion, the strongest common oki we can engage in right now is meaty j.214A. If you Air Throw in the corner with air options left (so only doing j.BC AT instead of j.BC jc.BC AT), you can (delay) neutral jump j.214A while falling so that the key hits them meaty and you are more-or-less already recovered. With proper timing (which gives the proper spacing), it is a shield-proof, burst-safe setup that is also safe to most of the casts reversals. You will be in range to react to a whiffed Shield>A with 1C - 1C and not simply 2C because with practice, a timing that Punishes Shield>A will instead cross-up 3C launch someone who Shield>B'd you. Midscreen is harder to have spacing that will pick-up the j.214A on-hit with 2C, but possible off of both j./236C. When they are blocking j.214A, you get to rotate more standard oki options with all the risks that come with that (j.214A (blocked) > IAD j.B/C, or > (dash) strike/throw, etc). However, you also get to mix up whether you do the j.214A at all - you can do j.236B and throw them from an apparent dive-kick, you can also j.236A into a low after floating like you were gonna j.214A, etc.

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