Basics of Observation, Harassment, and Strategy

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Ready for the real battle? This guide will assume that you're capable of making 10+ chains every round under 30 seconds. If you can't do that yet, review the other guides and continue practicing your chains. Feel free to read this guide for fun though!!

Anyways, remember the game-flow outline I laid out in the intro guide? Let's review it. In a high level Puyo match, you should...

  1. Construct a really big main chain to serve as your ultimate finishing attack.
  2. While the main chain is being constructed, fire off harassments (if necessary) to put your opponent in a disadvantageous position by:
    • Provoking them to set off their main chain early, so you can make yours even bigger while the opponent's chain resolves.
    • Sealing off their trigger point, rendering them defenseless until they can dig it out.
    • Outright killing them with a strong harassment.
    • Reducing your opponents damage potential by filling up precious board space with garbage.
  3. Once you have the upper-hand, release your main chain or a sufficiently powerful harassment to finish your opponent.

Basics of Observation

To execute any of the above points, you need to be really good at observing your opponent. How should you do this, and what should you be looking for? Well, for starters, you should consider:

  • The length of your opponent's chain. Your ability to size-up your opponent's chain is dependent on your own knowledge of chaining forms. I hope you've been studying.
  • Potential sources of harassment. If you feel some harassment coming, get ready to (1) counter-harass, (2) build upwards to absorb the impact, or (3) fire your main chain. (See: Garbage Management)
  • Your opponent's NEXT pieces. Depending on what colors they're getting, you can determine whether you can get away with harassing or not. You can also use the NEXT pieces to predict your opponent's moves based on the current state of their field.

However, there's more to observing your opponent than just spotting what's in front of you. Official Puyo Matches are fought to 30 or 50 points - which means that, over time, you can collect data on your opponent. So what kind of data should you be gathering? Well, my way of doing things is to make a run-down of my opponent's stats:

  • MAX Chain
    This refers to the highest chain your opponent can make about 50-80% of the time without heavy harassment. If the most your opponent can make is a 10, you don't want to waste time going for a 14. That's taking an unnecessary risk. On the other hand, if they can churn out 13s like a beast, then you need to stop them with harassment.
  • Speed
    If your opponent can churn out attacks super fast, you're gonna have to step it up. On other hand, if they chain slowly, you can put pressure on them with rush attacks and harassment. Or just outchain them. Changes in placement speed can also indicate uncertainty or plotting.
  • Chaining Forms
    Most players have favorite forms that they feel most comfortable using. If you can learn their forms, you can predict when weaknesses will arise in their chain. If you know what patterns they're using, you can also pinpoint places where their chain might accidentally (or intentionally) cut short.
  • Rush Forms
    Rush Attacks are early-game surprise harassments that consume all of your resources in order to kill or bury your opponent. These attacks are incredibly high-risk, but they're critical in changing the pace and flow of the overall match. Again, most players have favored Rush Forms; if you can spot them early, you can build accordingly.
  • Observational Skill
    Some players won't observe your screen at all, and others will see right through you. Figuring out your opponent's observational ability allows you to gauge whether certain strategies will work.
  • Temperament
    Some players have a tendency to use certain forms or Rush Attacks after a certain number of rounds. For example, angry people will try to do a "revenge" Rush Attack if you beat them in a previous around with sneaky tactics. Reading your opponent's emotional state can help immensely in predicting your opponent's moves. Unless your opponent is a robot like 90% of the Japanese. Then you're probably going to need actual skill.

There's quite a lot to keep in mind, so let's start from the basics.

The Four Sections of a Round

One round in a Puyo Match can be separated into five time frames: 1~5 Chains, 6~8 Chains, 9~11 Chains, 12+ Chains, and After-Chains

1~5 Chains 
This time frame represents the start of the match. It's critical that you observe your opponent at this stage, because this is when both players might take a risk with Rush Attacks. If you notice that your opponent makes a mistake that you know they can't recover from, you can rush them by triggering your chain (and take your luck with colors that the other person gets), or build/convert your chain into harassment and hit them.
6~8 Chain 
This is usually when your opponent is building on their transition. Remember, the transition can be one of the weakest points of a chain - have a harassment ready to smack your opponent with if an opening appears. At this stage of the game, you want to use Napalms or Power 2s. If your harassment is too big, your opponent will just release their main chain, and you won't be able to catch up. And even if you do only go for small harassments, you also have to make sure you don't leave your main chain in a weakspot afterwards.
9~11 Chain 
This is when "longer harassments" (3~4 Chains) will get your opponent easier. In a harassment match, if your harassment overpowers theirs, or if their counter-harassment won't be able to handle it, you pretty much win or you force your opponent to release their chain. Yet, make it "too big" and you'll have a hard time catching up. But if you're playing someone who's not using any harassments at all, just smack them with a power 2 chain at a weakpoint to force them to release their chain so you can build a bigger chain and counter it.
12+ Chains 
This is when your opponent is chaining within the top two rows. You can try to hit them with Napalm or small 2 Chain while they have off-colors in order to kill them. But be careful - many expert players might respond with a 5 Chain counter-harassment (done by intentionally cutting the chain) which you could easily mistake for their main chain. Make sure you know what your opponent is up to.
The After-Chain 
This is the period of time after one of the players' main chains finishes resolving. If you were forced to release your chain first, don't give up! For example, even if your opponent sets off a 11 in response to your 10, you can still win. The difference in power between a 10 Chain and an 11 Chain is about a 7 or 8 Chain - if you have some leftover Puyo from your 10 Chain, it's entirely possible to make up this difference if you chain really fast and set it off right before the 11 finishes resolving.

Efficient Harassment

Harassing is pointless if it leaves you in a weakspot. Rather than building harassment separately, you should build chains that can integrate into - or separate from - your main chain if the situation changes. There are multiple ways to do this, but the two ways you should practice first are: cutting your chain, and fusing two separate chains together.


You can cut your chain short by either leaving out a Key Puyo, or by popping a Key Puyo so it doesn't trigger the rest of the chain.

Chain Chain
Missing Red Clear the Reds


Fusion is a technique used to integrate 2 chains together. This technique is useful if your opponent anticipates your harassment and sets off their main chain in response. By fusing your chains together, you can send a chain that is way longer than what they were expecting. However, fusing requires you to be an expert at color management and utilizing multiple forms. If you plan out your colors wrong or choose the wrong forms, then you might not be able to fusion your chain at all.

Chain Chain
Failed Fusion
Chain Chain
... Uh... Damn.

Common Weakpoints

I think "weaknesses" and "weakpoints" might've been terms that were thrown around without any proper explanation. I'll explain it to you now since you need to know what you should be attacking in order to harass properly.

Weaknesses in your chain are generally places where you need several color-specific pieces in order for it to function (See: Color Decisions). The forms you use can also have weaknesses - if you harass certain forms while they're being built, you can completely ruin them. One thing to keep in mind though: most high-level players will cover their weaknesses by simply playing really fast. If want to compete with them, you're going to need equal levels of speed and precision.

There are many more possible weakpoints than I can possibly show you, but here are just a few.

The Stairs Transition

Let's say your opponent typically goes for a Stairs Transition that looks like this:


There are three ideal places to attack your opponent when they make this transition.


You need at least two rows of damage in order to ensure that your opponent can't make contact with the reds in the bottom-left corner. These situations are still survivable if your opponent is smart, however.


If your opponent manages to get the red in before your harassment connects, then their chain will still work. Well, at least you managed to reduce their board space.



Sandwiches become awkward to build if you manage to hit them at the following points (the one on the right is particularly fatal):


Your opponent will have to waste Puyo to clear the garbage if they want their chain to be clean.


As I mentioned in the GTR guide, some players will try to build GTR like this:


Usually, this happens when your opponent tries to make GTR even though they don't have the colors for it. A good 1 Chain or Napalm can disable your opponent completely.


Basic Harassment Strategies and Set-Ups

When you harass, you should have some sort of goal or motive in mind, such as slowing down your opponent, sealing triggers, baiting chains, etc. You should also consider how stable your own board will be if you fire a harassment. Here are some basic motives and techniques for harassing.


In a harassment battle, you want to limit your opponent's damage potential by reducing their board space. But remember, your opponent can do the same to you, so you're gonna have to defend yourself at the same time. If your opponent harasses you, you want to send a small chain, or counter-harassment, to protect your board space.

This is when you know your opponent's harassment is bigger than yours, but you need to set something off to reduce the damage. Depending on how strong the harassment is, the state of your opponent's board post-harass, and your opponent's chaining ability, you need to make a decision between firing your main chain and buffering the attack so you have a chance to continue building.
Perfect Counter 
This is when your counter-harassment perfectly cancels the damage your opponent sends you. Despite how pretty this sounds, this situation is not ideal. You want a tiny bit of overflow so your opponent can get slowed down by the garbage-falling animation.
This is when you sufficiently counter a harassment and send back a few units to 1/2 lines of garbage. Usually, you don't want to go overboard, especially ff your opponent was able to harass you without ruining their field - you need to conserve resources to prepare for the next attack.
If you know that your opponent's harassment will leave them with tons of weakpoints, you can send a super strong counter-harassment to straight-up kill them or block their resources.


Now for offensive techniques. If you see that your opponent's chain has a particularly bad weakpoint, you can use a Napalm, Hellfire, or 3 Chain to disable them. How strong and fast your harassment has to be depends on two factors: (1) how weak the weakpoint is, and (2) your opponent's chaining ability. If your opponent has high levels of creativity and speed (and luck), then they might be able provide a clever fix for their chain. Which means your harassment will be for nothing.

"Bad GTR" Napalmed
Chain Chain
... Completely disabled.

Once you disable your opponent, finish with a Follow-Up attack.


If you have useless Puyo on your board that you need to clear because they can't be fusioned, don't be afraid to clear them. If you get lucky, spamming small 1 or 2 Chains can disrupt your opponent's board by forcing them to build around the garbage. Small chains will also slow down your opponent by forcing them to watch the garbage-falling animation. Basically, Pokes are small chains that are used to disrupt your opponent's rhythm (or to punish them if they're building terribly). Pokes can also double as a Provoke (see below).


Usually, you want to be the second one to fire your main chain. To force your opponent to set their chain off first, your harassment needs to have sufficient power and timing.

If your harassment isn't strong enough, your opponent might decide to just eat the harassment instead, which means they can save up their resources to hit you back harder.

... Harassed! But...
Chain Chain
Huh?! Eh, it wasn't that bad.

On the other hand, if your harassment is too strong, then you won't have enough resources to catch up and your opponent's main chain will just kill you.

If you want to increase the success of your Provoke, attack when your opponent's trigger-color appears in the NEXT Window. Your opponent is more likely to set off their chain if they actually have the colors to do so.

Now Yellows... Forced to take the hit.
Chain Chain
Yellows in view High Prob. of Accepting Provoke
Chain Chain


A Follow-Up is when you continue your assault by firing off your main chain or more harassment. Usually, you should only do follow-up attacks if your first hit will disable your opponent. However, you might be able to get away with simply applying pressure, as Kumachom (2P) does in the video below. Luckily the garbage landed right on Misuken's trigger.


A lot of times, people make harassments that leave their chains in bad position afterwards (either by using too much resources or breaking things). A sneaky way to get some revenge is to eat your opponent's harassment, and then unleash yours immediately after. Most people won't be expecting payback after harassing you, since they'll usually assume that they sealed your resources. Be careful though. If your opponent decides to follow up with their main chain or more harassment, then you don't gain anything out of this strategy; you were probably better off buffering the garbage.

... Return the favor
Chain Chain


This technique is an extension of Follow-Up. If you see that your opponent has a ~4+ Chain harassment that they will definitely be using to harass (not fusion), you can bait the harassment with a small two chain or Napalm, and then immediately send a huge Hellfire while they're locked into their chaining animation. Once their chain finishes, they'll get hit with garbage that they have no way of countering. This harassment technique is very risky: you have to be really quick, and if your Hellfire isn't strong enough to completely debilitate your opponent, you basically have nothing left to fight with.


Reload is when you harass in such a way that it leaves your chain intact afterwards. This is helpful for making sure you have a stable field build on, but if your opponent spots this early and rushes you with their main chain, then you might have a problem if you can't fusion your harassment and your chain back together.



You can obfuscate your intent by clustering your colors in a confusing way. Don't make confusing chains just to make confusing chains, though. (Unless you can handle it). Make sure your chains have a decent level of versatility.


Rush Attack

This is when you rush your opponent early in the round with a Power Chain (usually a Hellfire or Killer Ice). If your attack is successful, your opponent might overcompensate defensively in the next round. Play this card sparingly, and make sure it's a surprise; if your opponent manages to set off their main chain before the attack connects, then you pretty much lose.


Power Up

This is when your harassment can double as both a Power Up on the Tail End of your chain or as a Hellfire.

Chain Chain Chain
Power 8 that beats a 10. Hellfire Dmg Absorb + Weaker Hellfire

As I said in a previous guide, this is a very difficult strategy to combat; even I don't know a full-proof way just yet to fight a player who uses this strategy.

Closing Thoughts

Unfortunately, my own skill in Puyo Puyo isn't high enough to where I can give you a truly detailed guide on harassing, so most of this guide ended up being theoretical. Still, I hope this guide has given you a better understanding of how complex fights in Puyo Puyo can be.

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