Baiken got a lot of buffs after the patch. These will force people to learn how to deal with her improved risk-reward game. These are some of my thoughts after +250 games and over 8 hours of training mode.
Azami during blockstun (red azami) now has a success window of 1-7F instead of 1-3F. This has short-term and long-term effects. In the short-term, Baiken will score CH starters on multi-hit moves and certain gattling routes. These CH starters do high damage when coupled with combos, which forces the opponent to study how to beat it. In the long-term, opponents will either opt out of using these moves, or go for (hard-)reads against red azami that scores them juicy CH starters. (This was another change come the patch, meaning that Baiken is in CH state after a whiffed azami done during blockstun.) This development either forces a slug fest when Baiken is on the defense, or makes it easier for Baiken to defend as certain offensive options are sealed. Regardless, if the opponent DOES NOT show that they acknowledge the threat of red azami, Baiken is likely to score A LOT of damage, and gain A LOT of meter. As long as aforementioned mind games are not estabilshed, Baiken will have a much easier time winning the overall risk-reward game.
Baiken got a noticeable health buff. This obviously matters a lot as it gives you more chances to win neutral and to survive on defense. Almost needless to say, this matters a lot for the overall utility of her game design that more so relies on reads rather than reactive neutral.
Rokkonsogi moves significantly faster, and covers a longer distance. Three points: this improves her neutral, improves her conversion options, and improves her defensive options. First, It improves her neutral as suzuran into rokkonsogi becomes stronger, still giving you good reward on CH. This is true for both raw suzuran-rokkonsogi, and suzuran that blocks a hit into rokkonsogi (yes, these are different). Second, suzuran-rokkonsogi now combos from ranges where it did not before. Third, you can more often counter projectiles in pressure strings by absorbing the projectile with azami and following up with rokkonsogi. Let me use Ky’s stun edge as an example. Since rokkonsogi moves faster and longer, Ky cannot cancel normals into stun edge without the risk of eating azami-rokkonsogi at even more ranges than before.
The far-hitting hitbox of jS comes out earlier. This indeed made more conversion options possible. Where you before would only get xxx-5H rokkonsogi you can now do xxx-5H tatami dash forward jump jS! This gives you more damage, more meter, and a better knockdown.
Cancelling azami into block is much easier. Before you had to input a direction after absorbing an attack with azami. Now you just have to press S+HS and then release the buttons during hitstop to cancel azami into block. This makes it easier to absorb projectiles in neutral and built some meter (imagine Venom’s shooting game). It also resets your jump options if you do it mid-air (like IB). Also, I’m honestly not sure if it also builds your tension pulse… Another utility can be exemplified with Johnny’s s coin pressure. Since the Baiken-player can now just press 1S+HS (to azami a coin on reaction), they can choose to either: (1) release the buttons immediately to enter block (e.g. block a 5K or 2S) or (2) do an azami followup of their choice. This allows for the Baiken player to force a risky mindgame (block or azami followup): a mindgame that basically did not exist before since threat with the block.
5HS hitbox buff is noticeable and definitely added new combo routes. For example, 2H Rokkonsogi RC dash 6P5H Kuchinashi 5KjSD is my go to convert from 2H on most midweights nowadays. It was also slightly improved as a counter poke, but mainly because of the changes on rokkonsogi (e.g. 5HS buffered into suzuran, reacting to CH with rokkonsogi) A couple of “happy little accidents” also occurred as my throw mash tagged opponents that tried to bait throws by jumping…
5HS: Left/top = after patch. Right/bottom = before patch.
6P was buffed! Even more solid AA, covering more angles.
6P: Left/top = after patch. Right/bottom = before patch.
HS-Kabari on air hit can now be converted into rokkonsogi followup. This actually happens more often than you might think! Not much damage, but at least you can avoid a wonky air-tech situation.
S-Kabari on low-air hits actually resulting in the vacuum effect means tons for converts from rokkonsogi CH! Before, if you were slightly off, the opponent could tech from S-Kabari, since the game registered the S-Kabari hit as OTG if the opponent was too close to the ground. Hence, this change means MORE (reliable) DAMAGE and MORE (reliable) METER GAIN from (midscreen) rokkonsogi CH!
Overall, Baiken’s character design still premiers heavy and risky reads over reactive and solid neutral.