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Tension Gauge

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 is emptied at the start of every round, so don't be afraid to use it all each round if you can.

The Tension Gauge is divided into four sections, each representing 25% Tension. The gauge also changes colors to quickly show how much Tension is available at any given time.

GGXRD Tension Gauge.png
Tension 0-25% 25-50% 50-75% 75-100% 100%
Color Blue Green Orange Red Gold

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. Performing these kinds of actions increase Tension Balance, which in turn dictates the amount of Tension gained.

Normal Attacks have a base Tension Gain on hit or block. Special Attacks have a base Tension both on start-up, and upon touching the opponent on either hit or block.

Ground backdashing, backward airdashing, walking backward, standing still etc. will contribute towards Negative Penalty and the Tension Balance will slow down. Experiment and notice that if you sit still or backdash a few times your Tension Gain off of movement, random hits, and blocked normals go down drastically.

Spending Tension

  • Faultless Defense: 0.25% per frame (green), on block (blue) it costs ((damage of the attack * 0.25)+2.5)%
  • Dead Angle Attack: 50%
  • Red Roman Cancel: 50%
  • Yellow Roman Cancel: 25%
  • Purple Roman Cancel: 50%
  • Blitz Shield: 25%
  • Overdrives: 50%
  • Burst Overdrives: 50% + 100% of Burst Gauge
  • Negative Penalty: 100%

Tension Gain Penalties

The amount of Tension you gain after performing most actions that cost Tension for a period of time.

Action Penalty Duration
Faultless Defense 20% of normal 60F
Dead Angle Attack 20% of normal 240F
Roman Cancel 20% of normal 360F
Negative Penalty 20% of normal 600F
  • Overdrives and Blitz Shield have no effect on Tension Gain.
  • Penalties do no stack, but if a new penalty is incurred, then the penalty timer is reset to the larger value.

Negative Penalty

GGXRD 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 over 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. Try to avoid this situation at all costs.

Tension Pulse

Tension Pulse is a modifier used to determine the final tension gain modifier - the more offensive actions you take, the more Tension you will gain. You can vaguely tell your current Tension Pulse by the white pulse that goes through your Tension Gauge. The faster the pulse, the higher your Tension Pulse.

The faster the white "<" moves, the higher your Tension Pulse
Tension Gain Modifier
Tension Pulse Tension Gain
Pulse < -12500 25%
Pulse >= -12500 50%
Pulse >= -7500 75%
Pulse >= -3750 90%
Pulse >= -1250 100%
Pulse >= 1250 125%
Pulse >= 5000 150%

  • Has a minimum of -25000 and a maximum of 25000
  • Having a Tension Gain Penalty adds a 20% modifier as stated above.
  • For example, doing an attack that gains 50 Tension while Tension Pulse 5000 would mean gaining 75 Tension (50*150%)
  • When running forward/forward dashing:
    • Tension Gain * 60% during the first 9 frames of a run/dash
    • Tension Gain * 50% during frame 62 onwards of a run/dash
Actions that Affect Tension Pulse
Positive Actions Negative Actions
  • Landing an attack will increase it by 5 * base damage
  • Having an attack blocked will increase it by 2 * base damage
  • Instant blocking increases it by 1000
  • Walking forward increases it by .07 * tension gain modifier truncated per frame
  • Airdashing forward increases it by .05 * tension gain modifier truncated per frame
  • Running or dashing forward increases it by .12 * tension gain modifier truncated per frame
    • See the running frame modifiers under the tension gain modifier section
  • While 280,000 Guiltymeters or more away (
    • Note: Guiltymeters is the game engine's arbitrary distance units
    • Walking backward decreases it by 6 per frame
    • Backdashing decreases it by 100 per frame during the first 6 frames and by 30 during subsequent frames
    • Air backdashing decreases is by 150 per frame during the first 6 frames and by 45 during subsequent frames
  • Note: all values are truncated, meaning all values after the decimal are cut off. Ex: 2.7 becomes 2.
Tension Pulse Naturally Changes Over Time
Tension Pulse slowly changes even when no action is taken.
  • -1 per frame when 7500 or below and above 0
  • -3 per frame when above 7500
  • +1 per frame when below 0
  • -8 per frame when Tension Pulse Penalty is 360 or greater
  • These per/frame increases/decreases still take place during hitstop, but not during super freeze

Tension Pulse Penalty

Tension Pulse Penalty is a way of affecting Tension Pulse, thus indirectly affecting Tension gain. This value is separate from Negative Penalty.

  • Has a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 1800
  • Resets when Negative Penalty is incurred
  • Always +1 every frame
  • Landing an attack halves it and -300
  • Having an attack blocked -60
  • Moving forward -3 per frame
  • While 280,000 Guiltymeters or more away (
    • Walking backward increases it by .2 * Tension Pulse Penalty gain modifier truncated per frame
    • Backdashing or air backdashing Increases it by .5 * Tension Pulse Penalty gain modifier truncated per frame
  • Being less than 437,500 Guiltymeters away adds a 50% modifier (
  • Being 875,000 Guiltymeters or more away adds a 150% modifier (

Confusingly, Tension Pulse itself also affects Tension Pulse Penalty. The lower the Tension Pulse, the higher the Penalty.

Tension Pulse Penalty Modifier
Tension Pulse Value Modifier
Pulse < -17500 350%
Pulse >= -17500 250%
Pulse >= -12500 200%
Pulse >= -7500 150%
Pulse >= -5000 150%
Pulse >= -2500 100%

For some reason, all of this resets if both you and your opponent have both AFK'd for 360 frames


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

Following its introduction in Guilty Gear XX, Psych Burst is possibly the most misunderstood feature of the game. 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 Psych Burst, press GGD.png plus any other button with a full Burst Gauge (in other words, either GGP.png+GGD.png, GGK.png+GGD.png, GGS.png+GGD.png or GGH.png+GGD.png). 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 Blockstun Invincibility
Blue Burst 18F 6F Total: 54F + 3F after landing 11F 1~23F
Gold Burst 18F 6F Total: 50F 13F 1~End
  • Bursts become airborne on frame 1.
  • Invincibility ONLY applies to strikes and projectiles; Bursts can be air thrown at any point, even during startup.
  • Landing recovery can be canceled into non-movement options.

The Burst Gauge starts the match 100% filled and it 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.

Gold Burst

GGXRD Gold Psyche Burst.png

Bursting while at neutral will produce a Gold Burst. Hitting an opponent with a Gold Burst will instantly max out your Tension Gauge, ignoring any Tension Gain penalties. It is not possible to combo into a Gold Burst, however.

Gold Bursts are invulnerable to strikes. However, at any point in the air during or after a Gold Burst you can be air thrown (Note: Potemkin's Heavenly Potemkin Buster and Heat Knuckle technically aren't throws). With perfect timing, Gold Bursts can be air thrown out of start-up. This is the only drawback.

Regardless of whether the Gold Burst hits or misses the opponent, the Burst Gauge will be reduced to 1/3 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 Potemkin's j.D).

Blue Burst

GGXRD Blue Psyche Burst.png

Bursting while at in a defensive state (being hit, while blocking, while knocked down, etc.) will make it blue. 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 get 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 1/3 full. However, if the opponent blocks/throws 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, remember an astute opponent can anticipate when you are basically "forced" to use a Blue Burst, bait it, then punish you for FREE afterward (since you won't have another Burst to use).

Disabling Psych Burst

The X means that you cannot burst

Psych Bursts (namely Blue Bursts) can be temporarily 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.
  • Being hit by an Overdrive Attack or an Instant Kill Attack.
  • Being stunned (the X will not be shown however).
  • Getting hit by attacks that force the opponent in place in non-standard hitstun, such as Axl's Spindle Spinner and Leo's Siegesparade.

Building Burst

The Burst Gauge grows over time, and when taking damage. The exact formula for this is unknown, however, it is likely very close to how the Burst Gauge works in the XX series. See here for details.

OTG Burst

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 The act of hitting the opponent when they are knocked down. Short for "off the ground" or "on the ground." 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 Sol's Bandit Bringer), 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.

*(Note: Getting your OTG Burst thrown reduces the damage of the throw and disables the hard knockdown, letting you get up immediately. This is not a common occurrence but it does exist.)


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