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Tension Gauge

GGReload Tension Gauge.png

Tension is a highly important resource in Guilty Gear. It's located at the bottom of the screen and directly effects 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% - 25% 25% - 50% 50% - 75% 75% - 100% 100%
Blue Green Red Purple Gold

Blue: Faultless Defense

Green: Force Roman Cancel

Red: Roman Cancel, Overdrive, or a combination of 2 FRCs

Purple: Any combination of Roman Cancel, Overdrive, and FRCs that add up to 50% Tension

Gold: Any combination of Roman Cancel, Overdrive, and FRCs that add up to 100% Tension

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

Tension Pulse

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.

Different characters have different Tension Pulse thresholds. Johnny happens to have the highest. Zappa is another person who has a high possible threshold for tension pulse and his backdash reduces his pulse less than most characters.

Bonuses and Penalties

As mentioned above, generally the more offensive action you take, the more Tension you will gain. The more defensive play, the less Tension gained.

One major bonus has to do with Instant Block. After a successful IB, your meter will increase faster than it normally would for a certain period of time.

It actually increases the max potential of your tension pulse! Normally, via offense/blocked normals/hits and forward dashing/airdashing etc all offense related moves, you will eventually hit a limit where your tension pulse is "maxed" out. IB actually goes beyond this limit to make your tension gain even higher than normally possible. To show this, pick Johnny again. Have Johnny IB about 3-4 of Sol's hits then have him walk forward. He will gain 50% tension in about 60-90 frames - it's extremely fast!

After using FD, Tension gain is decreased by 80% for 1 full second after the FD stops. When a Roman Cancel or Dead Angle Attack is used, Tension gain is decreased by 80% for 4 full 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.

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 them using long-range attacks, they 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.


GGReload BurstMeter.png

Possibly the most misunderstood feature of the GG engine is the Burst. While at first glance, it it 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+3 after landing 2 1-25 ??
Gold Burst 19 6 26+3 after landing 3 Entire Move
  • Bursts become airborne on 1F
  • Recovery frames are listed as "In Air + Landing Recovery"
  • Invincibility is ONLY to Strikes; Bursts can be air thrown at any point, even during startup!

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, his 623H, and Anjis 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 can be interrupted by a Gold Burst (for example, against Sol's 214K off the wall).

Gold Burst 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 23F.

Blue Bursts can be disabled
GGReload 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 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 = 600 Burst per 10 seconds
  • 50%-26% health = 1200 Burst per 10 seconds
  • 25%-0% health = 1800 Burst per 10 seconds

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, the player will also gain some Burst. The formula that determines exactly how much Burst gained is:

(100 + Move Damage x 3) x (1.0 + Combo Count x 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)
  1. The Move Damage section is 100 + 90 x 3 (270) = 370
  2. The second part becomes 1 x 1 x 0.03 = 1.03
  3. Now multiply them together: 370 x 1.03 = 381.1
  4. Potemkin's 6H gives the opponent back 381 Burst if it is a solo hit or the first hit of a combo.

If Potemkin's 6H was the third hit of the combo, the second part of the formula would be 1.0 + 3 x 0.03 = 1.09. Then the total would be (100 + 90 x 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.

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