How To Play Arcana Heart 3 – Part 6: Spacing and Spacing Mind Games

This is where we will talk about the start of any offensive or defensive strategy: landing that ever important first hit, how you can go about getting that first hit, and the mind games and interactions that go into getting that first hit.
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For the first portion of this week’s guide, we will actually talk about playing the game. This is where we will talk about the start of any offensive or defensive strategy: landing that ever important first hit, how you can go about getting that first hit, and the mind games and interactions that go into getting that first hit. This is less of a lesson strictly on Arcana Heart 3, but more of a lesson on fighting games in general, so this may actually be a review for some.


Spacing – Known as many different terms across many games and languages, “Spacing” is a concept that exists in any game played in real time, and is oftentimes a primary mechanic of how the game is played. Arcana Heart 3 is no exception to this; Spacing is the first and foremost mechanic you will utilize when fighting an opponent of any kind.


So, what is this mysterious term defined as “Spacing”? In simple terms, the idea of proper spacing is to always attack at the proper range and at the proper time. You may be vaguely aware of this through your adventures in the original Street Fighter IV, where Sagat repeatedly kicks you with his Roundhouse and there’s really not much you can do about it from that range besides block it or do something totally crazy. As a game with plethora of mobility and different attacks, deciding on the correct option is very difficult.


So how can we go about exploring the difficult concept of Spacing? Let’s go through it step-by-step.


Temporal and Spatial Elements – In a Heart mirror match, each player will have the exact same tools, and thus the spacing battle is strictly an issue of time and place.


In terms of just time (Temporal Spacing), if you attack with the exactly same attack, but 1/60th of a second earlier, you will hit your opponent before they hit you. The player that hits that button faster will always win, and in the event that both players actually pressed the button at the same time, a trade or clash will occur.


In terms of just space (Spatial Spacing), if you attack with an attack that will strike your opponent’s body or outstretched limbs, you are playing the spatial game correctly. Obviously, if you attack with an attack that is too short, you will not hit your opponent and will be stuck in an uncancelable animation (because remember, you can’t cancel most attacks if they miss), so this is also a very important concept.


Now the difficulty we face is actually combining the two concepts of space and time together. For each character, their long range attacks tend to be slower than their close range attacks. Thus, if you want to win with speed, you will need to get closer to your opponent to use close range attacks. However, if you want to get closer, you must use time to cover the distance. This is the basic relationship between time and space in Arcana Heart 3.


Combined Elements – Make sense? That might be a little bit tough to wrap your head around, so let’s try to take it in the context of a different Arcana Heart 3 match-up.
Scharlachrot has incredible range on her Normal Attacks and will effortlessly defeat all of Heart’s offense if she is able to stay at a range where she is very effective. This is a key example of using Spatial Spacing to defeat an opponent.


However, when Heart is much closer to Scharlachrot, many of Heart’s attacks are much faster than hers at the same range. Heart will be able to beat out the majority of Scharlachrot’s offensive attacks at this range due to time. This is a key example of using Temporal Spacing to defeat an opponent.


Thus, begins the true battle of Spacing. Scharlachrot will use her long Normal Attacks to prevent Heart from getting close enough to attack with a faster, close range attack.



Turning the Tide – Mobility and Spacing

At first glance, it looks impossible for Heart to ever get close to Scharlachrot. If she needs to move to get close and Scharlachrot can attack to prevent movement, how will Heart ever get close to attack?


This example is perhaps best illustrated by mid-level Street Fighter IV players. At the proper range, Ryu can throw Hadoukens, and a fireball-less character, say, Honda for example, has no choice but to Jump over them. This is how Honda must close in on Ryu, because he can’t exactly walk through fireballs and none of his attacks (except EX Headbutt and Ultra, which we’ll ignore for now) will be able to hit Ryu at this range. However, while this seems like an earnest strategy, there just becomes a moment in space and time where you are still too far to attack, and if you Jump over the next fireball, a Shoryuken will be waiting for you. How do Honda players ever win if that’s the case?


The answer is to Jump right as Ryu is throwing his next fireball. If done properly, Honda will be able to land before Ryu recovers from throwing his fireball and actually hit him. The same exact idea works in Arcana Heart 3 — you must move to a place where Scharlachrot is NOT attacking and use the gap in time to approach.


Because Arcana Heart 3 has so much mobility, this is a feat that can be theoretically easy to accomplish through the use of Homing…is what I’d like to say, but remember that these movements always take some sort of risk. Your opponent may be waiting for you to make that move and then respond accordingly, whether it is with a Shoryuken or some other type of attack.


Luckily, because of the Arcana system, there are additional options available to you in order to help you win against an opponent at Spacing. This helps many characters deal with harsh character match-ups and gives you more options for fighting an opponent who naturally has better spacing tools.



Conclusion – Spacing Mind Games

This is where the first mind game occurs in Arcana Heart 3, and in basically any good fighting game. It is a situation that asks the question: “Is it appropriate to move or attack here?” It is a question I still spend many nights tossing and turning over, and something that only experience with your character and match-ups can teach you. Next time, we’ll talk about what happens after this Spacing battle and how it leads to victory.


As always, I am accepting any and all questions in the comments! If you have a question about Spacing (or anything else I’ve covered), please ask me anything and everything!

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