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Tension Gauge

GGAC Tension Gauge.png

Tension is a highly important resource in Guilty Gear. It's located at the bottom of the screen and directly affects many of your attack options. Perfect utilization of the Tension Gauge can often be the deciding factor of a win or loss. Knowing each of the features and subtleties of the Tension Gauge System is a definite requirement for high level play.

The Tension Gauge changes colors to better show what options are available at any given time. The colors of the meter are as follows:

0% - 24% 25% - 49% 50% - 74% 75% - 99% 100%
Blue Green Red Purple Gold

Blue = Faultless Defense, Slashback

Green = Force Roman Cancel, Force Break

Red = Roman Cancel, Overdrive, Dead Angle, or a combination of 2 FRCs and Force Breaks

Purple = Any combination of Roman Cancel, Overdrive, Dead Angle, FRCs, and Force Breaks that add up to 75% Tension

Gold = Any combination of Roman Cancel, Overdrive, Dead Angle, FRCs, and Force Breaks that add up to 100% Tension

You can also use the stored tension for Faultless Defense instead.

Tension Pulse

The speed of the pulse is the rate of your tension gain

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.

The Tension Pulse dictates the amount of tension gained. Attacks have a base tension gain on hit or whiff listed in the frame data, and tension pulse alters the amount of tension you gain.

Notice the little pulse running through the tension bar like a heartbeat? The faster the pulse, the more tension you will gain per blocked normal/hit.

Ground backdashing, air backdashing, walking backwards, standing still etc. will contribute towards Negative Penalty and the Tension Pulse will slow down. Experiment and notice that if you sit still or backdash a few times your tension gain off of random hits/blocked normals goes down drastically.

A simple example of this is Johnny. Backdash with Johnny 3 times then walk forward until Johnny has full tension and note how long it takes. Now, reset training mode, and simply walk forward with Johnny. Notice that he gains Tension a lot faster. Try backdashing a bunch then pressuring the opponent. Your pulse will eventually go up a lot staying on offense but at the start you won't be gaining much tension by doing so.

All characters have same the same tension pulse thresholds as listed below. Note that tension pulse caps out at -25000 and 25000

Tension Gain Modifier
Tension Pulse Tension Gain
-12500 25%
-7500 50%
-3750 75%
-1250 90%
Default 100%
+1250 125%
+5000 150%


  • After using FD, Tension gain is decreased by 80% for 1 full second after the FD stops.
  • After using Roman Cancel, Force Roman Cancel, Force Breaks, or Dead Angle Attack, Tension gain is decreased by 80% for 4 seconds.
  • When Negative Penalty is incurred, Tension gain is decreased by 80% for a full 10 seconds.
  • Performing Overdrives has NO effect on Tension gain, which makes ABA very happy.
  • Being more than 50000 units away adds a 80% modifier and at 75000 units away it's lowered to 60%

All the modifiers from this and the tension pulse stacks together multiplicative

Negative Penalty

GGAC Negative Penalty.png

Negative Penalty is basically a feature designed to keep gameplay interesting. While the common misconception is that it actually stops people from turtling, it really just deters players from avoiding any type of contact for a prolonged period of time. If a character consistently attempts to backdash, jump back, and air backdash (or sits in one place and does nothing... which most opponents won't allow) a warning will appear on the Tension Gauge. If the player still keeps avoiding all types of contact "Negative Penalty" will appear, and that player will lose all stored Tension.

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.

As mentioned in the above section, when Negative Penalty is incurred, Tension gain is decreased by 80% for a full 10 seconds. Don't turtle sucka!

Negative Penalty also reduces your "stun ceiling" (the value over which your character will be stunned) by 12.5% (with a minimum of 40 points) and sets your current stun value to a minimum of 90% of your stun ceiling.

Advanced info
The specifics of how it works is that there is two hidden values in the game, one for each player, a timer that naturally ticks up by 1 every frame and caps at 1800

And an invisible meter that goes from 0 to 10000, at 6001 the negative warning is displayed and when it reaches 10001 the negative penalty occurs

The Idle Timer

When it's above 360 (6 seconds) the player's tension pulse starts going down at a rate of -8 per frame

When it's above 1080 (18 seconds) it makes the negative penalty meter raise at a rate of 40 every second frame

At any time when it's under 1080 the negative penalty meter will naturally go down at a rate of 20 every second frame

The timer goes down by 3 every frame that you're moving forward in any shape (walking/running/airdashing foward etc.)

Every attack that hits the opponent reduces it by 600 this is reduced to 60 on block

Blocking an attack reduces it by 25%

The Negative Penalty Meter

Doing certain actions like backdashing will make the negative penalty meter raise

Walking backwards reduce it at a rate of 30/20/10/0 based on the distance to the other player


Burst is only available when the meter is full (top)

Possibly the most misunderstood feature of the GGAC engine is the Burst. While at first glance, it is merely a "combo breaker", there is actually much more to it. There are two different types of Bursts: Blue and Gold. Both have different effects, and understanding how each can be used is crucial to high-level play.

To perform a Burst, press D plus any other button with a full Burst Gauge (example: H+D, P+D, etc). The Burst will be Blue or Gold depending on what the character's current state. The differences between each are described below.

Burst Frame Data
Type Startup Active Recovery Level Invincibility
Blue Burst 19 6 27 2 1~31F Strike
Blue Burst ( Justice) 19 6 27 2 1~37F Strike
Blue Burst ( A.B.A) 17 6 24 2 1~31F Strike
Gold Burst 19 6 26 3 1~1F after landing Strike
  • Bursts become airborne on 1F
  • Air versions are in recovery until landing
  • Initial Prorate 25%
  • Blue Burst gains same invincibility as Gold if it successfully hits opponent
  • Standard landing recovery still applies

Gold Burst

GGAC Gold Burst.png

The Burst will be Gold if performed while the character is in a neutral state. Hitting an opponent with a Gold Burst will instantly give your character full Tension, ignoring any Tension Gain penalty. It is not possible to combo into a Gold Burst, so don't even think about RCing an attack > Gold Burst!

Gold Bursts are invulnerable to strikes. However, at any point in the air during or after a Gold Burst you can be air thrown (this DOES NOT include Potemkin's 236236S, 623H, and his j.632146D, and Anji's 623H anti-air command grabs). With perfect timing, Gold Bursts can be air thrown out of startup. This is the only drawback.

Regardless of whether the Gold Burst hits or misses the opponent, the Burst Gauge will be reduced to 30% full.

Proper use of the Gold Burst can quickly give a player the advantage by knocking the opponent down while simultaneously gaining full Tension. Discover what attacks and patterns opponents commonly perform so that they can be interrupted by a Gold Burst (for example, against Sol's 214K: Riot Stomp).

Gold Bursts have 19F startup.

Blue Burst

GGAC Blue Burst.png

A Burst wil be Blue when performed while in a defensive state (being hit, while blocking, while knocked down, etc.). The major drawback to Blue Burst is that unlike Gold Bursts, the recovery is completely vulnerable. So, if you Blue Burst out of a combo and your opponent anticipates this and blocks the Burst, they are free to punish you for free as you fall. Blue Bursts can also be air thrown at any point - even on startup!

If the Blue Burst hits the opponent, the Burst Gauge will refill to 30% full. However, if the opponent blocks the Blue Burst (or it whiffs completely) then the Burst Gauge will be completely emptied.

Using a Blue Burst can often save a player from taking massive damage, or ultimately receiving the round-ending blow. However, an astute opponent can anticipate when you are basically "forced" to use a Blue Burst, bait it, then punish you for FREE afterwards (since you won't have another Burst to use).

Blue Burst strikes in 19 frames since Accent Core (23F for older games).

Blue Bursts can be Disabled

GGACR Burst Disabled.png

Blue Bursts can be disabled even with a full Burst Gauge. A red X will cover the Burst Gauge during this time.

Blue Bursts will be disabled while:

  • Being thrown
  • Getting hit by an Overdrive or Instant Kill
  • Bear Stunned (Dizzied)
  • Getting hit by other certain attacks, such as A.B.A's Dangoku or Axl's Rashou Sen

Building Burst

The Burst Gauge is 15000 units. There are two ways for the Burst gauge to increase: over time, and when taking damage. Expanded explanations for each are below:

Building Burst Over Time

The Burst Gauge will gradually fill at a rate that depends on how much health a character has. There are three different rates at which a character will gain Burst back:

  • 100%-51% health = 1 Burst per frame
  • 50%-26% health = 2 Burst per frame
  • 25%-0% health = 3 Burst per frame

As you can see, the less health you have, the faster the Burst Gauge will increase. Keep this in mind when you are low on health and your Burst Gauge is nearly filled. It may be beneficial to play defensively for a few extra seconds so your Burst will be ready for the next round (if there is a next round)!

Building Burst While Taking Damage

Whenever a player takes damage (excluding chip damage), the player will also gain some Burst. The formula that determines exactly how much Burst gained is:

(100 + Move Damage × 3) × (1.0 + Combo Count × 0.03) 
  • Move Damage - amount of damage the move does in the combo
  • Combo Count - number of hits in the current combo (1 being the first hit, 3 being third hit of combo etc)


Potemkin 6H (90 damage, solo hit) The Move Damage section is 100 + 90 × 3 (270) = 370. The second part becomes 1 × 1 × 0.03 = 1.03. Now multiply them together: 370 × 1.03 = 381.1. Potemkin's 6H gives the opponent back 381 Burst if it is a solo hit or the first hit of a combo. Not bad.

If Potemkin's 6H was the third hit of the combo, the second part of the formula would be 1.0 + 3 × 0.03 = 1.09. Then the total would be (100 + 90 × 3) x (1.09) = 403.3. However, one thing you can't overlook is the fact that there is still damage scaling to take into account. Depending on the damage scaling effects, Potemkin's 6H may do less damage than 90. This would change the overall Burst added, but the formula is still identical. Check the Damage Scaling section for more info.

OTG Burst Glitch

Blue Bursting while knocked down will leave your character in OTG state during recovery! This means that even if an opponent is able to block your Burst, the opponent will not be able to perform a standard combo since you will be in OTG state and will take less damage and be able to tech out very quickly! At best the opponent will be able to air throw the recovery.

The disadvantage of this glitch is that it requires you to Blue Burst while knocked down, which is usually enough time for the opponent to recover and block the Burst and guarantee that the opponent will retain offensive momentum.

There is a way past this shortcoming: If you Blue Burst while getting ground bounced (for example, from Axl's Axl Bomber), it behaves just like bursting while knocked down! If you know your opponent's combos and want to burst out of the combo, execute your burst exactly when you ground bounce and you can minimize any punishment from the opponent baiting your burst!


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