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EXCEED: Red Horizon – Reese & Heidi vs. Vincent & Nehtali» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Zoey: A Quick-Start Guide rss

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Jay Green
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Welcome to my quick-start guide for Zoey. The goal of this guide is to help you become familiar with the basics of how to use this character well. As always, if you want to really master Zoey, you will need to play a lot of games.

Zoey is a flexible zoner who specializes in finding an opponents weak spots, and then hitting those weaknesses relentlessly. The nature of Zoey's UA and overall kit allows her to keep her options open to a wide variety of situations, while building up resources that make spending force fairly easy.


Gauging Interest


Zoey has a lot of ways to build up her gauge fairly quickly, and gains some useful benefits for doing so. The boosts of Household Chores, An Apple a Day, and Possession all allow her to add cards directly to her gauge. Gale Blade adds the other copy of itself to gauge when it hits, as long as that copy was in the discard (you can set this up pretty easily by using Gale Blade as an EX attack. The copy you want to go to gauge will be in discard right after attacks are revealed). And of course Zoey's UA allows discarded cards to be turned into gauge.

The point of building gauge with Zoey is that doing so gives you an extra pool of force, which can be used to move more easily, draw more cards, and pay other costs. When Zoey exceeds, she adds cards that she spends from her gauge to her hand, which not only allows her to spend those cards as force in two different instances, but also gives her even more options for striking and boosting. For this reason, I'd recommend getting Zoey into exceed mode very quickly.

Once you are in exceed mode and have built up your gauge a bit, there are a lot of cool things you can do. Running across the board and still having a massive hand size is of course nice. And you can do some pretty massive change cards actions, essentially sifting through huge chunks of your deck in one go to find just the right cards. Of course, going too far with a change cards action might push you towards decking out sooner than you want, so don't go overboard. You can pull off an amusing infinite block loop if the opponent isn't wary, by having one copy of block in gauge, playing one as an attack, and spending the one in gauge as force to generate armor. This bounces the one in gauge back to hand, puts the one you strike with in the gauge, and readies you to repeat ad naseum. Finally, Both of Zoey's ultras have massive potential the more gauge she has. Neo Cosmic Flare is a fantastic knockout punch, and even if it doesn't finish off an opponent, you'll probably have enough cards in hand afterwards that you can figure out a way to get the rest of the damage you need later. Tsunami Slicer gets its damage in smaller chunks, but its ability to gain advantage for gauge makes it very spammable.


In the Zone

Zoey's UA allows her to return her attack to her hand after she hits with it. Furthermore, in exceed mode, she returns gauged cards to hand after she spends them. This, of course, allows her to spam attacks at an opponent until they find an answer, but if we look at what Zoey's specials all have in common, we will discover the real potency of this UA. Every single one of Zoey's specials has some movement effect attached to it, allowing her to dance around an opponent and get away from whatever counterattack they have planned. For this reason, Zoey is particularly good at fighting in an opponents blind spot. She can pick ranges they have limited options for and continually return there to abuse this fact.

Most of the fighters in exceed have some particular range where there advantages shine brightest. For Lily and Mei-Lien, this is usually range 4. Morathi and Bealkhor like staying at range 3. Ulrik and Miska are both very happy to be on opposite sides of the arena with their opponents. Gabrek badly wants to be at range 1. And so on. But since Zoey can reuse her attacks, she doesn't have any one preferred range. Rather, she is best off finding a range that works particularly well for whatever matchup she is in, and then leaning on those particular cards that work at that range, as well as those attacks that help get her back to that range when the opponent tries to reposition.

However, even though Zoey is versatile in her preferred ranges, it is very important to note that she is not a ranger. A lot of Zoey's tools to zone opponents will create a gap. Zoey has to be very careful about doing this against opponents that can fight at longer ranges with higher speeds than she can. Its very good to push Morathi across the board with a Focus Charge attack. She can handle the spacing better than he can, and has more productive things to do during the lull that a long range waiting game has. But doing the same thing to Lily or Miska is likely going to result in some pretty hard punishes in the followup.


Don't Give Them Time to Breathe

For all the utility Zoey has, she still isn't a stat monster. Her only defensive options are in her normals, her speeds and ranges will lose to opponents that specialize in speed or range, and her power is not impressive. So Zoey has to plan on winning the long game. Death by a thousand cuts and all that. She is certainly up for the task, as all her dancing around and attack recursion lets her pull off a lot of shenanigans. But this means a clever opponent will try to take advantage of her reliance on chipping them down over time. In addition, the fact that she returns her attacks to her hand can make her very predictable. Its easy to counter an attack you've already seen. And its very easy to get a free reading boost off when you know what cards your opponent has. So when an opponent gets too much time to setup what they want to do, they can turn Zoey's advantages against her.

The solution to this, of course, is to keep up a constant stream of pressure against opponents, so they don't get the opportunity to dictate the pacing and terms of the strikes that happen too much. A lot of times, it can seem risky to spam the same attack multiple times in a row, because you don't know if they are holding the counter to it. But it can be even riskier to play a passive game and wait to see what they do before committing. Remember, every successful strike Zoey makes gives her card advantage over an opponent, so being able to chain together several hits makes it more and more likely that the next hit will be one that the opponent can't answer without a wild swing. You want to avoid situations where you have nothing to do but wait, while the opponent can choose between building up or going aggressive.


Weaknesses and Vulnerabilities
-The Reading boost can be completely free for an opponent
-Spamming attacks makes it easier for counters to be planned
-Stats are okay, but nothing particularly stands out as amazing
-Lots of tools for getting to range, but only a few that exploit range


Strengths
-Key attacks are reusable, so you don't have to worry about running out of a necessary counter
-Very capable of dancing out of opponent ranges
-Can exceed very quickly, and gain a massive pool of force for later use fairly quickly
-Can customize game plan based based on opponent by spamming key attacks.


Starting Hand and Mulligans
Zoey's preferred cards tend to be very matchup dependent, so her starting hand preferences will be that as well. However, her specials tend to be very good tools in general, and boosts that allow her to build gauge on the first turn of the game are very nice to have. I always enjoy using Possession on turn 1 to hit 3 gauge and exceed at the next available opportunity, even in matchups where a bit more caution is advisable.
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Jay Green
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Zoey has a lot of small tricks which are pretty nifty, but which didn't get mentioned in the guide. I'd love to see you guys post any that you are fond of.

One that I particularly like is using Maori Defender when cornered and cross is in my hand. If I hit, I can play the boost effect on cross to get out of the corner, and let the after trigger on defender increase the gap even farther. An opponent who though I was trapped suddenly finds they have to deal with a massive gap.
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Bryan Rosander
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She hates whiffing or getting stunned out. Dive, Cross, Grasp, all have potential for making her lose her favorite attacks.

If she can keep attacking, she can build a massive hand and never hit the draw / discard phase. If she needs more cards, she can spend guage by playing a super or using it for force. Repeated Focus is also great for building hand size.

Gauge also acts like a second hand to store cards that she might want later. Organizing her attacks to get the right ones in gauge might be an important skill. This is especially true if you want to reuse her boosts, like the gain 4 life on her ultra.

Playing an ex attack will put one of the pair in gauge in most cases. This can make your ex attacks a little safer if you want to pull the second one back in hand later.

Zoey's UA works during strikes that either side initiates. She wants to be doing strikes as often as possible because that's how she get's hand advantage. In order to counter this, you should be playing boosts and moving to reduce the number of strikes needed for you to win and reduce her chances of getting a hit in. A +2 speed bonus will often be better than using sweep for a strike.
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