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Guarding, commonly known as Blocking, is the fundamental form of defense in fighting games.
Most special moves also inflict a small percentage of their damage through guard. This is known as chip damageDamage incurred when blocking an attack. Typically, only Special Attacks and Super Attacks have chip damage, but there are exceptions.. When a player guards, they are put into a state known as blockstunWhen a character successfully blocks an attack while standing or crouching, the defender is forced into a stun animation for a set period of time where they are incapable of acting. This period of time is called blockstun. during which their ability to act is mostly taken away.
Hold 4 or 1 Hold G or 2+G
Basic ground guarding is the most common defensive option. Also known as blocking. There are 2 types of ground guard: standing guard and crouching guard. Standing guard will block high and mid attacks, crouching guard will block mid and low attacks.
If you guard incorrectly you will get hit. A single "!" will appear over your character if you incorrectly guard a low, and a "!! " for incorrectly block a high. Remember, you cannot block against throws. Additionally, some attacks are unblockable or will cause Guard Crush.
Some attacks cause a Guard Crush state on block where you become stuck in a reeling animation and cannot block. Depending on the attack, you can even start a combo on Guard Crush.
When you're in a Guard Crush state, you may spend a Bravery Point and 50% of your Skybound Gauge to perform a Brave Counter to launch your opponent back.
 or  while on the ground Walking is the most basic form of movement by holding or . While to the untrained eye, walking seems so basic that it's boring, it's actually very useful in GBVS. You can immediately cancel walking into any other action, thus giving you the most flexibility to immediately react to the opponent's actions. Players often use walk to safely reposition themselves slight distances in order to maintain optimal range for their attacks.
Each character has different walk speeds, and different speeds between forwards and backwards. You will also slowly build meter by walking forward, good in a pinch if you're almost at 100% Skybound Gauge.
6 while on the ground, or Dash Macro
There's always three key parts to basic movement, and running is the second and can be done by either double tapping and holding forward (ex: ) or by pressing the Dash Macro, which by default is bound to L2/Left Trigger. Running is faster than walking, but comes with certain drawbacks - specifically you can not cancel running into guard. You can still cancel run into all other actions (including Jump, Evade, and Cross-Over). Letting go of forward stops your run and puts you into a ??F stopping animation when you slightly slide towards the opponent before coming to a full stop. This stopping animation has the same properties as when you are running (i.e. no guard, all other actions available).
Running is a medium risk/reward option - you can quickly advance on your opponent, but you will need to compensate for the inability to guard. Just like walking, each character has different run speeds.
Momentum gained from running in GBVS (and all Arc System Works games) carries over into most other actions.
This means running then forward jump will travel further than a normal forward jump, and a running f.L will have more range than a regular f.L.
Momentum can open up new punish and combo opportunities.
44 while on the ground
The tertiary form of movement and is catered to more of a defensive retreat, back dash is inputted by doing either double tapping back (ie: ). Back Dash is often used for quick retreats and has a slight amount of invincibility on startup, allowing you to escape the opponent's block strings if you can time it correctly.
Be warned that unlike most other ASW games, backdashes in this game don't have any invincibility, though they are considered airborne during the first part of the move, thus making them naturally invulnerable to ground throws. The rest is completely vulnerable to attack, and can easily be punished!
4+G while on the ground
Evade is useful for dodging attacks while standing your ground. The duration of an evade is long, so there's usually not enough time to punish the opponent afterwards, but it will throw off the opponent's gameplan. An Evade can dodge all attacks, but won't be able to avoid throws.
6+G while on the ground
Cross-Overs will dodge incoming attacks while moving the character forward; however, the player is vulnerable to low attacks and throws while performing this method of defense. Still, it's a useful tool to get through standard projectiles while still advancing forward.
Any Upward Direction while on the ground
Jumping is performed by inputting , , or . You can control which direction you jump by using , , or . Jumps are generally the highest risk/reward movement option, since your options are the most limited - you are in a set jump trajectory, and you can not guard certain attacks.
Any Downward Direction > Any Upward Direction while on the ground
High Jumping is one of the secondary means of getting around from ground to air movement and can be performed by going from neutral , then tapping any downward direction (), then tapping any upward direction (). Pressing will change which direction you high jump, just like normal jumping. If I high jump passes over an opponent, your character will continue to face towards them even in the air.
Jumps and High Jumps are not instantaneous - before going airborne, your character will enter a state called prejump, where you can not block, but are invincible to throws. If you are hit during prejump, you will enter crouching hitstun.
Characters have different amount of prejump frames, but the rule of thumb is that the heavier/slower your character is, the longer the prejump. Exact values for prejump can be found in each character's frame data.
It is actually possible to cancel prejump into Skills and Skybound Arts, though for most characters is not used very often. The reason for this is that Skills that involve an Up input, such as Charlotta's Holy Ladder (8X) or Ladiva's Jewel Resort Screwdriver (360X) can be used without going through hoops to hide the jump input (such as whiffing moves beforehand).
Landing from the air has recovery. This recovery comes in 2 kinds: Standard Landing Recovery and Special Landing Recovery.
Another quirk about landing is that the frame before actually landing is considered grounded. Meaning during this frame, getting hit will result in ground hitstun and ground throws can hit.
Ground Recovery and Knockdown
or + Any Attack right before touching the ground
will recovery in place, while will shift back before recovering. Ground Recovery is the preferred way of recovering after getting knocked down, the down version is faster, while the back version will put some distance between you and the opponent. Force the opponent to guess between the two options to make their okizeme weaker. If you don't perform a Ground Recovery, then you will transition to a Knockdown state automatically.
When a character is knocked down, they are unable to move and are usually vulnerable to more complex okizeme options since the attacker has more time to prepare. Certain attacks disable ground recovery, and the defender will be forced into a Knockdown. As a rule of thumb, all Normal Throws (ground and air), Skybound Arts and Ultimate Skills all cause Hard Knockdown. The HUD will show "Down!" after hitting a character with an attack with the Hard Knockdown property.
Air recoveries are automatic. You are fully invincible until landing and are invincible to throws until landing + 9F. If you touch the ground before you can air recover - common on Counter Hit, then you can do a ground recovery unless you are hit by a Hard Knockdown.
L+M or L+U Within close proximity of an opponent
Throws are proximity based attacks which the opponent cannot guard against.
In order to throw an opponent, a few conditions must be met:
- The players must be in a similar grounded or airborne state.
- To throw a grounded opponent, the attacker must also be grounded.
- To throw an airborne opponent, the attacker must also be airborne.
- The defender must not be in hitstun or blockstun, nor have throw invulnerability.
- The players must be within the throw's activation range of each other.
If all of the conditions are met, then the attacker can hit the opponent with a throw.
The horizontal range of throws is measured from the edge of the attacker's collision box. The vertical range is measured from the origin of the attacker's collision box, which is at the bottom-center of the box.
Priority of Strike vs Throw vs Command Throw
When two strikes hit each other, either a clash happens or a character(s) get hit, but what happens when throws are added to the mix?
- Throw vs Strike: The throw will win
- Normal Throw vs. Normal Throw: A Throw Break occurs
- Normal Throw vs. Command Throw: The Command Throw will win.
Input Throw While Being Thrown
You can break the incoming throw by inputting your own normal throw, but you can not input a throw break while holding . You have 22 frames to break a ground throw and 10 frames to break an air throw, however the result depends on how fast you input the throw break.
Most attacks in the game deal standardized amounts of hitstun, blockstun, etc. depending on their Attack Level. Note that some moves override these default values, which will be noted in the frame data. In addition to these exceptions, some attacks knock the enemy into the air, wallbounce, crumple, etc.
When two strike's attackboxes intersect, they may clash, or one might crush the other. This depends on each attack's clash level; equal level attacks will Clash, higher level attacks will crush lower level attacks. This priority system only applies to strikes. Projectiles and throws follow their own priority systems.
As a rule of thumb, each attack's clash level equals their Attack Level. Exceptions to this rule will be noted in the frame data.
A Crush occurs when two strike's with the different clash levels intersect. You will see the word "Crush!" appear on the HUD. This means that one attack beat the other, commonly known as having higher priority.
Clashes occur when two strikes with the same clash level hit each other at the same time. During a clash each player can cancel into almost any attack, run, Evade, or Cross-Over, and each player also gains 10% Skybound Gauge!
- Specifically you can cancel into any attack except itself, but c.L, f.L and Skills can cancel into themselves indefinitely, while 2L and j.L can only cancel into themselves a max total of 3 times.
Because of the unpredictable nature of clashes, they are often difficult to take advantage of, but some players understand how the attack interact well enough to intentionally cause a clash to cancel out the opponent's attack, then retaliate with their own!
You might think that thanks to the Clash and Crush systems, it is impossible for two strikes to trade (aka both characters get hit), but this is not true! Trades are still possible, just fairly rare.
Remember, Clash and Crush only occur when two attack's hitboxes intersect. If you can have two attack's hit each other's hurtboxes without touching attackboxes, you can make a trade, regardless of level!
L/M/H after c.L/c.M/c.H
All characters have a close normal followup, called a Double Attack, which is then followed up by a |Triple Attack Ender.
Triple Attacks act as an easy way to tack on a bit of extra damage, but compared to other combos they usually don't as much damage. As well as this, they're minus on block - so it's best to use them only when you need them for a specific combo. Most midscreen combos will use a character's Triple Attack, however Triple Attacks in the corner are often not advised due to their lower damage and/or ability to add to Combo Limit with little reward.
Triple Attack Ender
and L/M/H after a Double Attack
After connecting a close normal followup on either hit or block, you can input and an attacking button for a different Triple Attack Ender.
and L will perform a fast attack that's safe on block and can be cancelled into Skills.
and M will perform an attack that must be blocked crouching. This attack cannot be cancelled into Skills.
and H will perform an attack that must be blocked standing. This attack cannot be cancelled into Skills.
2U Sweeps must be blocked low, and trigger a hard knockdown, making them a great way to set up okizeme, though usually at the cost of ending a combo early.
While running, and either L/M/H
Dash attacks are performed while running, and will have different properties depending on the strength of the attack button pressed.
and L while dashing results in a fast attack that'll leave little room for counterattacks.
and M while dashing results in a mixup attack that'll either need to be blocked crouching or standing depending on your character. For example, Gran's Dash Medium is a long-range low attack, while Ladiva's Dash Medium is a running kick that hits overhead.
and H while dashing results in a strong attack with unique properties, such as crumpling your opponent on counterhit, or side-swapping on hit. Experiment with each character to find out when's best to use this move!
5U Unique Actions provide an extra option to a character, such as attacks like Gran's Power Raise and movement options like Beelzebub's Shadowstep.
Attacking, blocking, and walking towards the opponent all gain Skybound Gauge. The Skybound Gauge is reset at the beginning of each round, so it's best to use it each round if possible.
When your Skybound Gauge reaches 25%, you gain access to Raging Strike, an attack that Guard Crushes a blocking opponent. At 50%, you followup with Raging Chain, allowing you to combo off a successful Raging Strike, spending 25% for each component.
When your Skybound Gauge reaches 50%, you can peform Brave Counter, a defensive action that can relieve some pressure on your block or prevent a followup from a Guard Crush. You also gain access to Ultimate Skills, powerful variants of a character's Skills.
At maximum Skybound Gauge, you gain access to both Skybound Arts and Super Skybound Arts, the latter of which additionally requiring having 30% HP or lower to activate.
Bravery Points are spent to perform a Brave Counter, or are depleted when trying to block a Raging Strike. You have 3 for each round, but be careful - once they're gone, being hit by a Raging Strike will leave you especially vulnerable!
Direction + S Skills are attacks that have unique effects and properties. A list of your character's Skill are presented under the HUD, once the input is recognized, that Skill will be activated and will be rendered unusable until the cooldown has passed.
The H versions of Skills are called Plus Skills. They have the longest cooldown, and generally have other properties such as wallbouncing or additional hits.
When a Skill is used, the Skill will go into cooldown and can not be used until cooldown period passes. ALL VERSIONS of that skill (L/M/H) can not be used during cooldown. The corresponding icon for that Skill will turn gray and will slowly refill over time.
Direction + S + U or motion + U with at least 50% Skybound Gauge
Ultimate Skills are a powerful version of Skills that cost Skybound Gauge to use and often have drastically different properties.
All Ultimate Skills share the following properties:
- Cost 50% Skybound Gauge to perform.
- Will recover 25% Skybound Gauge on hit, and 12.5% on block.
- Cannot be cancelled into from normals.
- Slow down the opponent on use.
- Have a shorter cooldown compared to the Plus Skill version of the Skill.
- Will immediately hit Combo Limit once connecting.
As well as this, Ultimate Skills with reversal properties, such as Invincibility or Super Armor will not recover any Skybound Gauge on either hit or block.
M + H with at least 25% Skybound Gauge
Raging Strike is a fast, 18f startup attack that costs 25% of your Skybound Gauge to perform. When connecting with an opponent's block, it depletes one Bravery Point from them as well as inflicting them with the Guard Crush state. When connecting on hit, Raging Strike acts as a universal launcher to continue your combos from, or to connect into Raging Chain.
Upon a successful Guard Crush from a Raging Strike, your opponent will be able to perform a Brave Counter if they meet the requirements.
If your opponent still has remaining Bravery Points, you will not be able to follow up with a successful attack before they can block again. However, if your opponent had no Bravery Points remaining once being Guard Crushed, they will be in recovery for longer, leaving them open to attack. Additionally, if your opponent is cornered, you can combo them without them needing to have their Bravery Points depleted.
If Raging Strike is used in a combo, it will not deplete a Bravery Point from your opponent.
After successful Raging Strike, M + H with at least 25% Skybound Gauge
Raging Chain is a followup attack after a successful Raging Strike, either on hit or on block. For an extra 25% of your Skybound Gauge, Raging Chain will force a crouching counterhit on your opponent, allowing for a punishing combo.
While blocking or during Guard Crush, G + M + H with at least 50% Skybound Gauge and at least 1 Bravery Point
Brave Counter may be performed either while blocking or during Guard Crush, and will sned your opponent flying away from you upon a successful hit. When being used from blocking, Brave Counter will send your opponent a short distance away. When being used from a Guard Crush, Brave Counter will send your opponent fullscreen.
Activating a Brave Counter will consume both 50% of your Skybound Gauge and a Bravery Point. If using Brave Counter after being Guard Crushed from a Raging Strike, the depleted Bravery Point from being hit by the Raging Strike will be used up instead or an extra one.
Unique Command (usually S/H) or L + M + S with 100% Skybound Gauge
Skybound Arts (or SBA) are attacks that are even more powerful than Skills, cost 100% Skybound Gauge, and can be most often activated by inputting S or H. Note that some characters have more than one Skybound Art, with different inputs for each.
Super Skybound Art
Unique Command (usually S + U/U) or L + M + S + U with 100% Skybound Gauge and 30% or less HP Super Skybound Arts (or SSBA) are even more powerful than Skybound Arts and give a different cinematic winscreen if you end games with it. To perform this Super, your health must be at 30% or lower, and your Skybound Gauge must be at 100%. Your health bar and Skybound Gauge will turn blue and your character's icon will flash white when you meet the requirements. Some Super Skybound Arts may need additional requirements to be activated, such as Soriz's Way of the Fundoshi Fist or Gran's Eternal Edge.