Several weeks back, Extra Credits ran an episode about “Perfect Imbalance,” a concept I first became familiar with from arcade fighting games like Street Fighter and Guilty Gear, though I didn’t play any of them at the time. My understanding was later expanded when my friends got into Guild Wars player versus player.
After reading through some of the obnoxious comments on the EC video, I thought I might point out that as with most of Chess theory, Perfect Imbalance is primarily a tournament concept. You will see it most active in games that feature large, recurring tournaments that involve lots of people. You need a pool of players for it.
The purpose of the metagame, if such a thing exists, is to help prepare one for competitive play. You need to know what sort of strategies your opponents will employ because there is rarely such a thing as a “perfect strategy.” And if there were a perfect strategy, you’d still need the perfect counter-strategy. Hence, perfect imbalance.
Yesterday I was going over basic rules interactions, and I was worried about a particular combination of powers: Cheer >>> Guard + Dodge
My concern was that if a party of all harriers Cheered each other, they’d be nigh-invincible. Well, the first attack wouldn’t hurt them anyway. So if they faced a group of enemies who all attacked only one target (not the brightest move), the harriers wouldn’t take damage from any of the attacks. But there’s more to it.
See, by Guard only causing the *next* attack to miss, ganging up on a single enemy is the most straightforward solution. Surely, the second, third, and fourth attack will prove more effective than the first. But you can also inflict status effects like Battered and Staggered, to prevent effects like damage removal and damage reduction.
Even if the party were to somehow make it possible for their harrier to Dodge all the attacks against them, it’s pretty rare to find someone who can also become immune to two status effects – even if they can achieve immunity to one of them.
So, there’s your beginner’s strategy: build a harrier immune to the status effect that prevents damage reduction, then get your friend to Cheer you so you can Guard. The first attack against you take each turn will deal no damage. You can even build a whole team like that, as long you keep in mind that it isn’t a perfect strategy.