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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I play for score?

This guide is courtesy of RebotOva

In this guide I will explain everything that you need to know, to get started on scoring the Touhou games. This guide will contain basic information and some of the methods that you should use when approaching the learning process.

English is not my first language so please excuse any weird mistakes that you may read here. Also if you have suggestions about something I should add or change please contact me, criticism is welcome.

Contents

Introduction

We can start by saying that by default, you should expect scoring to take more time than your average survival clear. Scoring tends to have way more strategies that you need to execute correctly.

Now, do you already have a plan on what category you want to score? I think most people would be inclined towards scoring their favorite Touhou game. however, I suggest looking into all the Touhou games. More specifically you should focus on the main, core gameplay SCORING mechanics. It's possible that a game that you like in survival MIGHT have a scoring system that you dislike playing. On the contrary, it is possible to have a game you dislike in survival, but you would to like play for score. If you are looking to read about the main scoring mechanics of the Touhou games, they can be found in the Touhou wiki, under the gameplay section of each specific game. There is always a "Scoring" section. Do note that the wiki page does not often contain EVERY detail about the scoring system. It's just a base so that you can at least take the mechanics in consideration. This guide also contains a section where I quickly describe the main mechanics of the main windows games, and what to expect if you decide to play them for score. To confirm if X scoring system is something that you might like, consider watching some score runs of that game. Not only the world record (which might turn you off because of the difficult tricks) but also lower score runs (which usually feature more comfortable strategies).

Another thing I want to add: lots of times in this guide, I will mention "asking a good player" as a solution or method for a lot of things that you might want to know. If I have to be honest, directly asking a good player about any doubts you might have is the best solution for most problems. this may however not be easy to do, most of the good players interact with the community and are willing and glad to help if asked about their favorite category, but there may be exceptions. Asking for help is not mandatory, but it is surely a huge help if possible. Make sure to be really interested in the category. Most people won't mind you randomly asking for tips... unless you stop playing altogether after a few hours. this is common sense but.. yeah.

Goal Setting and Replay Gathering

You should first choose a goal. If you have no idea what a good beginner goal is, what you could do is scout different replays of different scores. See what scores and strategies feel completely unreasonable, so you can discard them until you find what feels and looks doable. If it is your first scoring experience, maybe even choosing the lowest scoring runs is plausible. The easiest solution, would be to just straight up ask a good player for a good starting goal for your skill level.

It is important to download as many replays as possible. More recent ones are a priority.
Scoring runs are pretty much never perfect, even the WRs. If you only watch 1 replay, which might have weird mistakes, you might get weird ideas. Having multiple replays with multiple mistakes and maybe even different routing, helps you understand the actual game plan of said game: why players do X strat, what is a bad mistake, what is not a bad mistake, etc. Not only this, but some replays have good early games but bad late games. Others have bad early games, but good late games. This way having multiple replays helps you understand what is a good score/PiV pace with an average early and late game. Recent dates are ideal because recent scores tend to have more refined/easier strategies than older ones. Old replays might contain suboptimal/harder strategies for equal score gain.

Now that you have a score goal in mind, you should be looking for 2 kinds of replays:

  1. replays that are extremely close to your score goal, if not the score goal itself.
  2. replays that have a higher score than your goal (about 10-15% higher).

The first type of replays help you understand what numbers are MANDATORY if you want to get that score goal. If you practice and score less in the early game compared to the first type, then you are probably not gonna be able to get your goal, unless your late game is better than the replays themselves. This is especially important in the early game, where the PiV buildup affects the entire run. Since most replays have different early games, the best way to estimate what is the mandatory number, is to just average out the numbers of all the replays... or just ask a good player if you have the chance.

The second types of replays are also important. If you just practice routes that can just barely score your goal, your play is gonna require perfection, which is unlikely. What is more ideal, is to just practice for a route that scores higher than your goal, that way you CAN make mistakes, but you will still be on pace for your goal.

OPTIONAL THIRD KIND OF REPLAY: the WR. The WR contains what is (most likely), the best possible currently viable strategies done in a run. Should you consider this? Maaaaaybe, I honestly do not recommend this when you start out. However, if you improve in said game, and once you develop a good understanding of said game, you can start looking at the WR for reference. Knowing what is the best possible execution can also make you understand how the game truly works, and what you should focus on learning, but again you need some experience first.

Practice and Routing

You got the replays, where to start now? The best idea is to create a route that you can roughly follow to get the score goal you need. A perfect execution SHOULDN'T just barely get you the goal, a perfect practice execution SHOULD allow you to score higher than your goal. That way you have leeway for mistakes.

How do you even deal with mistakes? This heavily depends on the game. In some games for example, an unexpected death causes no route changes, you just keep going and accept the score loss. In other games, a random death forces a complete re-route to get back on the original one. Either that or you just skip strategies.

Two Important things to understand are:

  1. What you SHOULDN'T DO, understand which mistakes are gonna cost you a lot.
  2. WHY replays do what they do, recognize if the deaths or bombs you see are a mistake or if they are actually routed

Try to question everything that feels strange: "Why are they doing this? what is the point of this? I tried this, but they gain more from it, what is causing those differences in gains?" Asking those questions will help you figure out how to game is played. Getting used to your route is the important part. You could start practicing starting from STAGE 1. if you do this and progress stage by stage, it's gonna help you build your route while you learn the game. If you just for example skip a stage, learn it, and then you go back to a previous stage, you might realize that a realistic execution of the previous stage does not bring you on the next stage with the resources you had planned. This forces re-routing the later stage. There is However also an advantage in skipping. By skipping you can prioritize learning the longer/harder stages first. This is beneficial time wise. Once learnt, you can keep practicing it and increasing your consistency on it, while you learn the rest of the game. Both methods are fine, it's mostly personal reference, if might even manage to do both at the same time. The imporant thing is prioritizng CONSISTENCY. What I advise doing no matter what, is practicing single patterns of later stages, for example, you are practicing stage 2? If you know later stages have some hard single patterns, you should start practicing them from this very start.

Getting a route down requires learning all the different strategies for all the stage sections/boss fights. Depending on the game, you can probably learn simplified versions of the strats, or even just simply skip some strategies (this is where asking for help from a good player of your category can come in clutch. They can help you figure out which strategy to nerf/drop entirely for your goal). As a general rule of thumb, your strategies need to be as consistent as possible, and the score gain should be as high as needed. Easy to execute, consistent simple strategies that give lots of score are a priority to learn. Hard to execute, inconsistent complicated strategies that give you little score gains, should mostly be avoided (most of them are tiny optimization that don't matter for beginner goals).

Once you finish routing, you should try to clear each stage at least once in practice. Ideally, the stages should follow the correct route. If you miss items, or go behind in PiV it doesn't matter much, the route execution being correct is the important part. With the stages done, you can now make a Sum of Bests (SoB) of your stages, with this, you can keep track of this SoB in a run for example. Depending on how behind/ahead you are compared to your SoB, you can make choices: if you should play safer because you are very close to it, or if you should play risky when you are very behind (as we said your SoB should be above your true goal, so being a bit behind is fine, but if you are very behind it's ofc not good).

You can now start attempting credits whenever you feel ready honestly. I personally recommend doing some credits even when you aren't consistent in practice yet. this helps me familiarize with full runs early, but this might just be a personal thing.

Lunatic Scoring Gameplay Summary Game by Game

Remember that these are short gameplay summaries, I will not go into detail. Any curiosity you may have can be found on the gameplay wiki page of each game, and if you are curious about one specific game I advise watching a run.

the explanation will also be for lunatic difficulty. I will not go into the difference in difficulties.

EoSD: The core gameplay in EoSD revolves around the collection of Point and Star items. The point item value does not increase through the course of the game. The value of star items is based on graze. Most of the score comes from star items, so maximizing graze, and the amount of star items is the key component. Star items are spawned by canceling bullets, via power cancels, spell/non-cancels, and bombing (star items generated by bombing have their value dropped to 100. However, when a bomb ends the star items that are still on the screen will be collected at full value. Players abuse this mechanic to bomb in corners and still collect good chunks of score from bombs). Bombs are used in stage portions to grant Iframes to graze. During certain boss fights (mainly Meiling and Sakuya) bombs are spammed on specific patterns to generate star items. Lives tend to be used to suicide for more bombs. One last important Remember that these are short detail is that the value of graze is reset at the beginning of each stage. Keep in mind that this game has a lot of survival moments where you just dodge, you need good survival skills overall.

PCB: The core gameplay in PCB revolves around the collection of point items and Spell card bonuses (SCB). The value of point items (the cherry value, C) can be increased by shooting (90% slower if focused), and collecting cherry and star items. C decreases if you die or bomb. C has a maximum number it can go up to (CherryMax, CM) which can be increased using Borders. Each bullet grazed during a Border increases CM by 30 when focused, and 80 while unfocused. Grazing also increases the value of the spell card bonuses, this is especially important in Stage 6. PCB is routed to allow players to collect as many point items as possible, while also increasing your CM asap, otherwise, your C will eventually stop increasing. To do this damage is strategically dealt by switching to focus and unfocus to time your borders on the patterns where you can do heavy grazing. The C and CM decrease when focused also forces good Unfocused dodging as a requirement for this category. Bombs are occasionally used to generate star items for c+ to route borders. Lives are occasionally used as bombs restock. Unnecessary deaths hurt, as they give a nice score boost in the end clear bonus.

IN: the core gameplay in IN revolves around the collection of Point items, time orbs, and Spell card bonuses (SCB). IN features the "youkai gauge" in in the bottom left corner. Various actions cause the gauge to be pushed to either the left (human) or right (youkai). Being between 80% and 100% of either side causes different effects. The value of point items shown in the bottom left can be increased by collecting time orbs, while the value of time orbs themselves is based on the number of point items collected. There are many ways to generate time orbs, such as capping spells, shooting while human (-80% or less), grazing while Youkai during bosses (+80% or more), and familiar cancels. Spell card bonuses in this game are very big and are a priority to collect. Knowing all of this, the main goal of score runs is basically managing your youkai gauge, and the times at which you shoot to familiar cancel efficiently, to generate as many time orbs as possible, all while also collecting items (which are worth double when collected as human). Bombs are occasionally used to graze for time orbs. When it comes to lives it's better to preserve them as much as possible for the end clear bonus.

MoF: the core gameplay in MoF revolves around the collection of Point items and Spell card bonuses (SCB). The value of the point items written in the bottom left corner can reach up to 999990 value. The value can be increased by collecting Faith items, doing bullet cancels by ending a spell/non, and doing bomb cancels on non-spells. A bar under the PiV is constantly decreasing, when it reaches 0 your PiV will start dropping rapidly. Stages are routed to avoid dropping the PiV value as much as possible. The bar can be charged by collecting items, and killing enemies. You chain items and enemy kills to maintain the bar high. The SCBs increase the higher your PiV, capping as many spell cards as possible is ideal. Clearing with as many lives as possible is also ideal because not only does dying lose a huge amount of PiV, each life gives a strong boost of score in the end clear bonus. bombing also decreases PiV, but death bombing does not. Keep in mind that this game has a lot of survival moments where you just dodge, you need good survival skills overall.

SA: the core gameplay in SA revolves around the collection of Point items. The value of the point items written in the bottom left corner ,can be increased by collecting green items. In SA the value of the point items unlike in other games, is directly connected to your Communication gauge (CG). Items collected with a full CG are collected at full value. Doing a PoC instantly fills the CG and the CG is normally filled by graze. A multiplier acts on the base PiV value. The Multiplier starts at 0, and it can be increased by 0.01 for every 100 graze. CG also increases the multiplier by up to 1.00 at full CG. An important detail is that dying resets PiV, which is bad normally, but on some patterns, it is actually more worth it to suicide if it makes you graze (mostly on Parsee, but not only her). SA routing tends to suicide a lot in early stages and then stops in the late game once you have high graze, since lives do give a sizable amount of score for the End clear bonus.

UFO: the core gameplay in UFO revolves around the collection of Point items. PiV is increased by grazing and consuming UFO tokens during summons (1000 PiV per token). Item collection is mostly done through Blue UFO summons, which have an x8 multiplier on the PiV. In the first 2 stages, it is more worthwhile to summon flashing UFOs instead, because the bonus token from the reward helps with building PiV. Flashing UFOs also switch power items into point items when they are collected and vice-versa, so they are also used in sections mostly containing power items (with an x4 PiV multiplier). Players may also opt to summon Red UFOs instead. Touhou 12 requires high survival skills, more resources can help with keeping a run alive after accidental deaths. Ichirin, both mid-boss and boss, is a huge graze cash in. Blue summons start in stage 3, the usual route goal is: to collect as many point items as possible with as few summons as possible (to maximize PiV from tokens). Keep in mind that this game has a lot of survival moments where you just dodge, you need good survival skills overall.

TD: the core gameplay in TD revolves around the collection of Point items and spirits. PiV is increased by grazing and collecting blue spirits (10 PiV each, 100 PiV in trance). Gray spirits don't give PiV but act as Point items. Routing in TD is done to maximize the number of spirits spawned to increase PiV and score. This is done by killing enemies quickly (which spawns more spirits) and chaining enemy kills. If a 1-second chain is held for 10 blue spirits spawns, gray spirits will start spawning. They will stop spawning if the 1 second chain is broken. Trances are routed to be used on sections that have large amounts of blue spirits to cash in PiV. Bombs are used to kill large amounts of enemies quickly, or more importantly, on boss fights to point blank bosses. This is because the closer you stand to a boss while damaging, the faster spirits spawn. This works very well with bombs, which stacks the 10 spirit chain almost instantly. Lives are used as bomb restocks.

DDC: the core gameplay in DDC revolves around the collection of Point items, SCB, and PoC bonuses. The value of point items can be increased by grazing bullets, canceling bullets via nons/spells cancels and bombs on nons (SakuyaB can also bomb spells). Doing a PoC gives the player a score bonus based on the items collected. The bonus is a multiplier applied to the total score gained from the PoC. Routing is done to collect as many point items as possible, but also collect them with the highest amount of items in a single PoC, to maximize the score bonus and resources given by the PoCs. Bombs are used to cancel bullets, graze with Iframes, and often to also PoC. Lives are used to suicide at opportune times to reset bombs and graze with Iframes. SCBs in DDC have a higher value than usual. There is a strong emphasis on trying to cap spell cards.

LoLK: the core gameplay in LoLK revolves around the collection of point items and chapter bonuses. The value of point items can be increased by grazing [only regular graze, not Graze items (GI) collected with slow-grazing], green items spawned from cancels and chapter bonuses (the PiV bonus is equal to graze, this PiV bonus does benefit from GI). The chapter bonuses give a score equal to a formula of graze and % of enemy shootdown. LoLK has more lives and resources than most games. Almost all of them tend to be used to suicide repeatedly to graze with Iframes or bombs. The best example of this is Ringo's second spell. Spawn grazing and GI items make up for most of the graze gain. the best shot that can make use of the mechanics is Reisen, thanks to her ability to graze effectively with big graze hitbox with shields active, cancels with shields breaks (breaks also collect items on screen) and 0 damage bomb, which gives more time to graze.

HSiFS: the core gameplay in HSiFS revolves around the collection of point, power and green items. The value of point items can be increased by collecting green items. While green items themselves are worth 1/10 of the PiV, once full power is reached, power items are worth like point items. Green items make for most of the score gain in the late game. Green items are spawned by canceling bullets with releases. The higher the release level, the higher the number that gets added to PiV for each bullet. Green items are worth 1/10 of PiV, no matter the release level. What this means is that in the early game, routing prioritizes few well-placed high-level releases to quickly increase PiV. In the late game release level doesn't matter for PiV, but only for length of the release. Bombs are occasionally used to graze bullets for season items. Lives in the early game are used to reset bombs, but in the late game losing as little lives as possible is ideal to not lose the power to point item conversion at full power.

WBaWC: the core gameplay in WBaWC revolves around the collection of point, power, and green items. The value of point items can be increased by collecting green items. While green items themselves are worth 1/10 of the PiV, once full power is reached, power items are worth like point items. Green items make for most of the score gain in the late game. Green items are spawned by shooting down enemies with any hyper, and by canceling bullets with Otter spirits or nons/spell cancels. Most of the green items are generated by otter spirits. WBaWC routing is done to allow players to hyper as many times as possible on the juiciest sections in the stage. To do this players have to manage and predict the behavior of multiple tokens at the same time. Bombs are used to make use of Iframes to collect tokens. Lives are used for bomb restock but more importantly to spawn bonus static otter tokens, which are used to hyper the same pattern more than once if there is enough time.

Just a bunch of useful links in no particular order.

Touhou World Records has the world records list.

Royalflare Archive archives Royalflare. Royalflare was a site that used to archive replays. It shut down in early 2022. Any scoring replay reference from before 2022 can be found here.

As of currently writing this guide, there is no big replay archive for everything, but some other helpful links to find and post replays can be Lunarcast and ISN's site.

PND's site is an archive personally owned by PND. Replays here require a minimum score to be added. The minimal entries here vary from simple for some games, and very hard for others. What matters here is that, as of me currently writing this guide, the minimal scores here are often known in the community as "PNDs" (example, people often would just say EoSD PND, instead of just saying 500M). In general, PNDs are considered as arbitrary pre-set goals that people can aim for. Some people do prefer having an arbitrary pre-set goal as an encouragement to score, instead of their own chosen goals/goals suggested by other players.

Touhou Replay Community is currently, the biggest hub for the western discord community. Anyone is welcome here, we have new players, old-time players, big community figures, and scorers. This server is your best chance to interact and talk with other Touhou players, it's also your best chance of trying to ask a good western scoring player of your category for help (assuming they are in here, which MOST are, but it's not guaranteed).

Thanks for reading!

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