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Life Gauge

GGST Life Gauge.png

This gauge displays your remaining life. If the gauge is depleted, the round or match will end.

All characters have a total life of 420 HP, but that doesn't mean each character can take the same amount of damage. Each character has a defense rating that scales the damage they take per hit, and as characters pass certain thresholds of their remaining life they take less damage per hit. See Guts and Defense Ratings to learn more.

Tension Gauge

GGST Tension Gauge.png

Tension is a highly important resource in Guilty Gear. It's located at the bottom of the screen and directly affects what options a player has available at any time. Knowing the features and subtleties of the Tension Gauge system is a definite requirement for high-level play. The Tension Gauge starts every round empty, so don't be afraid to use it all each round if you can.

The Tension Gauge ranges from 0 to 10000 and is divided into two sections, each representing 50% (5000) Tension. The gauge displays one gear for each metered action you can take, for a maximum of two.

Gaining Tension

To increase the Tension Gauge, perform some type of offensive action. This includes attacking the opponent, or simply advancing towards them. As a general rule: the more aggressive the action against the opponent, the faster the Tension Gauge will fill up.

  • Moving towards the opponent slowly builds Tension
    • The rate of gaining Tension varies by character
  • Clashes or being taunted by an opponent builds 10% Tension
  • Normal moves build Tension on hit or block
  • Special moves build Tension on startup in addition to on hit or block
    • The amount of Tension gained varies by special
  • Being in Positive Bonus automatically builds Tension, even during hitstop
  • Getting hit by an attack builds a small amount of Tension
  • Blocking builds a small amount of Tension, Instant Blocking doubles it (except against Guard Crushes)
  • Guard Crushes build Tension identically to other attacks of the same Attack Level

For character or move-specific values, please consult the character's Full Frame Data page for more details.

Block and Hit Values
Level On-Block Tension On-Hit Tension
Lv.0 150 300
Lv.1 200 400
Lv.2 250 500
Lv.3 300 600
Lv.4 350 700
Notes: Tension Gain when blocked by an airborne opponent uses On-Hit values.
Tension Gain is halved for jumping normals (air specials are unaffected).
Tension Gain is increased by 50% on Counter Hit.

Spending Tension

Once you have Tension to spend, there are a myriad of options available, whether it be spending large amounts on a powerful resource or small amounts on augmenting your defense. Be warned however, that playing too passively can result in you losing it all.

Faultless Defense Gauge Consumption
Level Gauge Consumption (Strikes) Gauge Consumption (Projectiles)
Lv.0 250 62
Lv.1 300 75
Lv.2 350 87
Lv.3 400 100
Lv.4 450 112
  • Tension Gauge maximum value is 10000.
  • Holding ground Faultless Defense takes 400 frames to empty the gauge from max, air Faultless Defense takes 200 frames.
    • (Holding Faultless Defense in the air consumes twice as much Tension as holding Faultless Defense on the ground.)
  • During Instant Faultless Defense, Tension is reduced by the normal amount for Faultless Defense and then increased by the bonus amount for Instant Block.

Tension Balance

Tension Balance is a modifier used to determine the final Tension Gain modifier - the more offensive actions you take, the more Tension you will gain. Aside from simply attacking and advancing towards the opponent, performing Overdrives or successfully performing Instant Blocks greatly increase your Tension Balance. Conversely, retreating from the opponent at a distance without attacking will decrease Tension Balance, and by extension, the Tension you will gain. For example, Sol will lose approximately 1100 Tension Balance when backdashing next to the opponent, and approximately 2000 Tension Balance when backdashing at mid range from the opponent.

Tension Gain Modifier
Tension Balance Tension Gain
< -20000 50%
≥ -20000 70%
≥ -15000 80%
≥ -10000 90%
≥ -5000 100%
≥ 5000 110%
≥ 10000 120%
≥ 15000 130%
≥ 20000 150%
25000 Positive Bonus
Tension Balance Gain on Attacks
Level On-Block (Defender) On-Block (Attacker) On-Hit (Attacker)
Lv.0 10 15 40
Lv.1 20 35 90
Lv.2 30 55 140
Lv.3 40 80 200
Lv.4 50 100 250
Note: Tension Balance Gain is doubled on Counter Hit.
  • Tension Balance minimum value is -25000 and maximum value is 25000.
  • Positive Bonus is only received upon performing an action such as landing an attack or clashing, and won't passively occur from movement alone.
  • Positive Bonus keeps Tension Balance at 25000 for the entire duration regardless of player action.
  • Once Positive Bonus ends, Tension Balance is reset to 12500.
  • After receiving a Negative Penalty, Tension Balance is reset to 0.
  • Overdrives immediately grant 5000 Tension Balance on activation.
  • Roman Cancels, whiffed attacks, and getting hit does not change Tension Balance.
  • Instant Blocking grants an additional 1000 Tension Balance on top of the amount gained from normally blocking the attack.
  • The farther away from your opponent, the faster your Tension Balance naturally decreases.
  • Tension Balance will automatically decrease and eventually reset back to 0 if standing still and not pressing any attacks regardless of current Tension Balance.

Full details on how actions modify Tension Balance are currently unknown, but it is believed to function similarly to previous titles. See the Xrd section for details.

Tension Gain Penalty

After using any Roman Cancel or Overdrive, the amount of Tension any action builds is reduced by 90%. The duration of the penalty varies based on what is used, and begins once the move has fully recovered or is interrupted. Using another penalty-causing action during penalty will have no effect unless its duration is longer than the current remaining duration.

Tension Gain Penalty
Move Tension Gain Penalty Duration
Blue Roman Cancel 120F (2 seconds)
Purple Roman Cancel 240F (4 seconds)
Red Roman Cancel 240F (4 seconds), or until opponent leaves hitstun
Yellow Roman Cancel 480F (8 seconds)
Overdrive (Standard) 180F (3 seconds)
Overdrive (Extended) ※ 460F (7 2⁄3 seconds)
Negative Penalty 600F (10 seconds)
Note: If you cancel the Roman Cancel, the duration is reduced by half.

※: Most Overdrives use a standard 180F duration, but a few exceptions exist that use a much larger 460F duration, including:

  •  Potemkin's Giganter KaiGGST Potemkin Giganter Kai.pngGuardAllStartup10+1Recovery17Advantage+100
  •  Zato-1's Sun VoidGGST Zato-1 Sun Void.pngGuardAllStartup11+14RecoveryAdvantage+3
  •  Jack-O's Cheer Servant OnGGST JackO Cheer Servant On H Buff.pngGuardStartup3RecoveryTotal 15AdvantageSee Notes
  •  Happy Chaos' Super FocusGGST Happy Chaos Super Focus.pngGuard-Startup5RecoveryTotal 11Advantage-
  •  Testament's NostroviaGGST Testament 236236P Cinematic.pngGuardAllStartup11+19RecoveryTotal 53Advantage+63
  •  Bedman?'s call 13CGGST Bedman 632146S 2.pngGuardStartup4RecoveryTotal 14Advantage-

While almost all moves only begin Tension Gain Penalty from after recovery,  Sol Badguy's Heavy Mob CemeteryGGST Sol Badguy 214214H.pngGuardGround ThrowStartup13+7Recovery49Advantage- is unique and begins it immediately after super freeze, giving it a functionally much lower duration.

Tension Gain Distance Modifier

A general Tension Gain modifier can take effect depending on distance from the opponent, stacking multiplicatively with other Tension Gain modifiers.

  • Outside of round start range (≥504 distance) and until 3/4 screen away, the amount of Tension characters build is reduced to 80%.
  • At 3/4 screen away (≥1009 distance) or further, the amount of Tension characters build is reduced to 60%.

Tension Gain R.I.S.C. Modifier

A general Tension Gain modifier takes effect depending on one's current R.I.S.C. Level, stacking multiplicatively with other Tension Gain modifiers.

R.I.S.C. Level Modifier
R.I.S.C. Level Tension Gain Increase
0% or less 0%
1% to 50% +20%
51% to 74% +50%
76% or more +100%

Burst Gauge

Top: Half-Full Burst Gauge
Bottom: Full Burst Gauge

This gauge can be consumed to perform either a Wild Assault (consuming 50% of the Burst Gauge), a Deflect Shield (consuming 50% of the Burst Gauge) or a Psych Burst (consuming 100% of the Burst Gauge).

The Burst Gauge starts the match 100% filled and is carried over between rounds; if you use your Burst at the end of one round, you will be waiting a while before you can use it again. An opponent can also deplete 7.14% of your Burst Gauge by connecting with a Wild Assault on hit or block.

Building Burst

A fully filled Burst Gauge is 15000 Burst units. There are two ways for the Burst Gauge to refill: over time, and when taking damage.

Passive Burst Gain

The less life a character has, the faster their Burst Gauge builds.

  • 100%~51% life = 30 Burst units gained every 15 frames
  • 50%~26% life = 50 Burst units gained every 15 frames
  • 25% life or less = 60 Burst units gained every 15 frames

Additionally, characters also gain 180 Burst units every 15 frames while they have Positive Bonus.

Burst Gain on Hit

The amount of Burst Gauge gained by getting hit is proportional to the base damage of the attack, increasing by 5% per hit in the combo. The full formula is given below:

(50 + Damage × 5) × (1 + (Hit Count - 1) × 0.05)

Some attacks deal additional scaling when used as the first move in the combo. Subsequent hits in the same combo will have an increased hit count value for Burst Gain calculation.

Universal examples include:

  • 5P: Hit Count +1
  • 2P: Hit Count +1
  • Throw: Hit Count +4

Being wall stuck or wall broken also instantly refills a base 375025% Burst units, increasing scaled by the above formula. Being wall stuck and then wall broken in the same combo only grants the Burst units once.

R.I.S.C. Level Gauge

GGST RISC Gauge.png

This gauge shows your current R.I.S.C Gain, which builds as you block the opponent's attacks and depletes as you get hit. As long as the gauge isn't empty, you will continue to take unscaled damage from attacks, even in a combo. When the gauge is full, you also run the risk of taking a powerful R.I.S.C. Counter Hit. See here to learn more.

Positive Bonus

GGST Positive.png

By breaking the wall, hitting the opponent with a Finish Blow or Gold Burst, or maxing out Tension Balance, you enter Positive Bonus state, during which "POSITIVE" will appear in the corner of the screen next to your character's portrait, denoting Positive Bonus, and the player will have the following buffs for 5 seconds (300 frames):

  • Automatically gain Tension over time, at 8.4% Tension per second
    • Increases even during move hitstop
  • Tension Gain Rate increased by 50%
  • Tension Gain Penalty duration decreased by 90%
  • Damage for all attacks increased by 10%
  • Damage taken from all attacks decreased by 10%
  • Automatically gain Burst over time, at 4.8% Burst per second

Needless to say, this is an extremely powerful state, allowing the player to build a huge amount of Tension and spend it all without fear of Tension Gain penalties. This creates situations where you can conceivably pressure the opponent and then continually Roman Cancel or Overdrive to extend that pressure, or open the opponent up and still have Tension to spare on converting the hit into a full combo. Even if you are put on defense, the enormous Tension Gain and reduced damage taken makes it much easier to escape pressure and avoid being defeated.

Negative Penalty

GGST Negative.png
By continually performing actions that lower your Tension Balance, you enter Negative Penalty state.

If a player consistently attempts to walk back, backdash, or air dash backward at range from the opponent (or sits in one place and does nothing), "DANGER" will appear in the corner of the screen next to your character's portrait. If the player still keeps avoiding all types of contact, "NEGATIVE" will appear, denoting Negative Penalty, and the player will have the following debuffs:

  • Immediately lose all stored Tension and Burst
  • Enter Tension Gain Penalty for 10 seconds (600 frames)

Keep-away or run-away tactics will not incur Negative Penalty if the player is actively using some form of offense. Even if it's passive, it's more than enough to not get penalized. For example, if an Axl player remains full screen and tries to keep the opponent away from him using long-range attacks, he will not get penalized.


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