With the official release of Killer Instinct Season Two comes the addition of Maya and TJ Combo. When new characters are released for Killer Instinct, they seem to have more unique gameplay mechanics when compared to the existing characters. Maya is no exception to this, as her play style revolves around the use of her two daggers, which create some very unique situations, but also make her a little hard to adjust to.
Maya has two daggers, Temperance and Vengeance, that she can throw at an opponent from various angles. When an opponent blocks these projectile attacks, the daggers gain a charge. Each dagger can gain up to two charges, which are used when Maya performs the Enmity Strike projectile attack. The properties of Enmity Strike change depending on Maya’s dagger charges. With one Temperance Strike charge, Enmity Strike gains the ability to ricochet. Two Temperance Strike charges make Enmity Strike home in on the opponent. One Vengeance Strike charge gives Enmity Strike durability, so it not only goes through other projectiles, but destroys them in the process. Two Vengeance Strike charges makes Enmity Strike unblockable.
Your entire game plan with Maya should be to use these daggers to build charges and open up the opponent. The trick is to maintain constant pressure while either forcing the opponent to block the daggers, or starting a combo if the daggers connect. Many of Maya’s attacks automatically pick up the daggers if she’s close enough to them, and she can use Dagger Pickup to manually pick up the daggers as well.
Generally speaking, you want to start with a grounded dagger toss, then jump into the air for a second one to keep an opponent blocking, or give you more time to close in to start a combo if the first dagger connects. Dashing forward or back, or using the Tumble Kick or Shadow Tumble Kick will pick up the daggers automatically. The forward dash (Hunter Dash) can be canceled into Maya’s Axe Kick overhead, or jump canceled into what essentially becomes a short hop that covers a lot of horizontal distance. In addition, if the dagger makes contact with Maya before hitting the ground, she automatically grabs it.
When you add all of this up, it translates to a wide variety of ways you can keep dagger pressure on an opponent, without fear of dropping your daggers. For instance, from mid-screen, toss a dagger at the opponent. Immediately Hunter Dash forward, then jump cancel into an aerial dagger toss with the other dagger. Maya should grab the first dagger in the air as it bounces off the opponent, then land right in front of the opponent, ready to make full use of the frame advantage from the second dagger toss, or start a combo if it connected.
You can also vary your distance when using the first dagger toss so that the jump cancel puts Maya in prime position to hit the opponent with a cross-up jumping attack instead of a second dagger toss. This not only mixes things up and keeps the opponent guessing, it also adds a second guess between a cross-up jump attack (usually jump medium kick or heavy punch) or a non-cross up jumping attack (Air Mantis).
Once you’ve started a combo with Maya, you can use the daggers for easy manuals. While the dagger projectiles are technically Linkers (and very easy to break), you can’t Auto-Double after them. Because of this, the special mechanics surrounding the daggers allow for easy Manuals. Manuals are harder to break than Auto-Doubles, but be careful, because if you’re too predictable, skilled opponents will still be able to break with relative ease. Either way you look at it, you’re going to need to use a lot of Manuals with Maya.
Most of Maya’s combos should include at least one dagger toss, mainly because she only has one true Linker, which is the Tumble Kick. Skilled opponents won’t have too much difficulty breaking that Linker, which means using Manuals and dagger projectiles offer a good way to mix things up and make it more difficult for an opponent to use a Combo Breaker.
When you’re fighting against a defensive opponent, start using the Air Mantis. This is an attack that Maya can only use when she has both daggers in-hand. It’s basically an air throw that hits aerial or grounded opponents. It can be interrupted by a well-timed attack, but it cannot be blocked and executes fast enough to make it difficult to react to. It can be used during a normal jump, or after a jump canceled Hunter Dash. With proper timing you can use it very close to the ground, but it doesn’t have a large hitbox so make sure you’re close enough to the opponent for it to connect.
Finally, Maya’s Instinct ability recalls her daggers after every toss. Activating Instinct draws Maya’s daggers to her instantly if she doesn’t already have them, then every time she tosses them they come back after a few seconds. Using aerial dagger throws work better while in Instinct mode because they’re harder to dodge and will generally return to Maya faster if they miss. When used on the ground, the daggers almost always fly to the far side of the stage (sometimes well beyond the visible camera range) if they miss an opponent. Using them in the air causes the daggers to instantly drop to the ground instead of flying to the end of the stage.
If you can stay close to the opponent and force them to block the daggers, you can quickly build two charges of each dagger to unleash an unblockable homing Enmity Strike that easily opens up the opponent for a combo. This can be done even without Instinct, but it’s much easier to execute in Instinct mode. Be careful of opponents jumping into the air once you have a full charged Enmity Strike. If they get hit in the air, it’s much harder to capitalize on the situation. Also be wary of attacks with invincibility that are used to go through the unblockable Enmity Strike.
Stay tuned to Prima Games as we’ll have more information on all of the Killer Instinct Season Two characters as they’re released.