Carl Clover, the son of Relius Clover, was a student at the Military Academy along with Jin, Noel, Tsubaki, and Makoto. However, he dropped out, and is now a vigilante who travels with the Nox Nyctores Nirvana, believing that Nirvana is his sister Ada.
Guard Primers: 4
Movement Options: 1 Double Jump/Airdash, Hop-type Dash, Command Dash
Carl's Drive revolves around controlling Nirvana. Pressing and holding the D button will cause Nirvana to become active. Once active, she can move forward (by holding 3, 6, or 9) and backward (by holding 1, 4, or 7), attack by releasing the D button while either holding a direction or after completing the inputs for one of her special moves, deactivate by releasing the D button without any directional input, or get hit by an opponent.
Nirvana has her own life bar at the bottom of the screen, above Carl's heat gauge. It goes down when Nirvana is active, uses an attack, or gets hit by the opponent. Most of Nirvana's attacks have a continuation cost that make it so that if she uses another attack before being deactivated, it will cost even more life. If Nirvana's life bar reaches zero, she will be disabled and recover health slowly, but you won't be able to use her again until a short time after her life bar completely refills.
Other than her Distortion Drives and Astral Heat, Nirvana's moves act independently of Carl, meaning they don't put him in any kind of vulnerable state and can be used even if Carl is already doing something else. However, if Carl blocks or gets hit, most of Nirvana's moves will stop and she will deactivate, and she can't be activated until Carl recovers from the blockstun or hitstun.
- See also: Carl Full Frame Data
|Rhapsody of Memories
|Deus Ex Machina
Potentially, Carl has amazing combo damage, insane pressure, ridiculous mixups and crazy resets. The catch is that this is only true if both Carl and Nirvana are in position. Carl or Nirvana alone can't accomplish much; it's the synergy between them that sets Carl's offensive game apart from the rest of the cast.
Your main goal on the offensive with Carl, outside of simply hitting the opponent, is to put your opponent in between Carl and Nirvana. This is often called "sandwiching" the opponent. This kind of positioning gives Carl pressure opportunities until Nirvana runs too low on life.
Pressure and Mixup
If you get the opponent to block one of Carl's moves, but Nirvana isn't in position and isn't doing anything else, you can try teleporting Nirvana in with 22D while Carl does a crossup j.2C allecan (short for "allegretto cancel," do j.214C when j.2C connects: rather than bounce away, Carl will land on the ground quickly). To do the crossup, make the opponent block a jump-cancellable normal (5A, 2A, or 5B), then jump and instant airdash over them. The crossup is rather hard to react to, but it is also punishable in a variety of ways if the opponent is ready for it. Depending on how you expect the opponent to react, some alternate options Carl has are to:
1. do a frame trap instead - this beats people who are trying to jump out
2. do the airdash, but instead do j.A or airthrow. If they jump out, j.A should put them in a blockstring so that you continue pressure and then can go for another mixup, and airthrow is good if you think they won't be ready to break it.
3. do a j.2C allecan, but don't make it crossup - this is useful against people who don't jump out, but instead either block the other direction or try to do an option select to beat the crossup (example: with Litchi, 421D+A+B to get a reversal if Carl crosses up or to get barrier block if Carl doesn't). While this may not result in a hit very often, it allows Carl to continue pressure, and if Nirvana was just teleported in, he gets more pressure options off of that.
Doing basic gatlings long enough for Nirvana to recover from whatever she may have been doing and then doing 6D is a good way to reset pressure in Carl's favor. Usually, the best Carl can get off of this is to try many frame traps, which catches opponent's trying to mash or jump out of pressure. Note that frame traps lose to reversals such as Ragna's Inferno Divider, so you have to constantly be on the lookout for attempts to escape with these kinds of moves. Some of Carl's gatlings have gaps where the opponent is not in blockstun, meaning this is automatically a frame trap; there is no way to perform this gatling without it losing to those reversals.
The only overhead Carl himself has on the ground is 6C. This is very slow and has very few gatling options (only off of 5A, 2A, and 6B). It is also even on block, meaning if the opponent blocks it, especially with Instant Block, the opponent could get an opportunity to get an advantage on Carl unless Nirvana's available to follow it up with another move. Overall, this move is not very useful, but it can be used very sparingly to catch people off guard.
Doing a blockstring into 236A/B to switch sides while Nirvana performs a move can cross up the opponent. This is a pretty strong mixup option, but you're at risk of losing your pressure if the opponent successfully blocks it. The best Nirvana moves to use for this are 2D and 4D due to how much time they give you to combo after them.
Nirvana's 2D is generally the most threatening mixup tool Carl has. Using it while the opponent is sandwiched often forces the opponent to guess what you're going to do next rather than try to react to it. Carl's options are:
1. Do a blockstring ending with a low move that hits at the same time as 2D to create an unblockable, or at least make it very hard to block. Usually, the best low to use for this is 6B.
2. Cut the blockstring short or jump cancel to bait the opponent's reversal.
3. Do the safest blockstring into 2D, then do a fuzzy guard mixup after 2D is blocked. For the overhead, do dash j.A into j.2C allecan to continue the combo, and for the low, just do 2A after blocking for a little while in case the opponent tried to reversal before 2D hit.
4. Crossup with 236A/B while 2D hits. 236B should also beat most reversal attempts.
Due to volante's low blockstun, it can be an effective way to setup a throw mixup. For example, end a blockstring with 6B > volante and then go for a throw or for a throw reject miss with something like 2A > throw.
While it might be tempting to use Rhapsody of Memories in pressure to get lots of mixup opportunities, it is not recommended against a well-prepared opponent due to how easy it is to IB and jump out of it while Carl is still in recovery.
Some uses for Carl's meter in pressure: 1. j.2C RC to continue pressure from positions where j.2C allecan normally wouldn't work, or just to go into an overhead before landing. In particular, j.2C RC > airdash j.B j.C can work. 2. 6B or 3C or 623C RC to frame trap and continue pressure when the opponent expects the blockstring to end, potentially counterhitting them out of something. 3. Cancel a ground dash into allegretto, then RC it. From this, you can do a falling aerial, or an airdash j.B, etc.
Carl's okizeme options mostly rely on using Nirvana while they're waking up to catch rolls and/or to perform a completely safe meaty. Carl's options are mostly similar to what they would be in a normal pressure situation, so this section will only list the oki setups that give results that stand out above the rest.
If Nirvana is not too close to the opponent, such as when you end a combo with 2D (and possibly 8D), Con Fuoco combined with Carl's 2B or 5C should catch any roll attempt, be a meaty attack, and go into a mixup afterwards: after the opponent starts blocking, jump and do either empty jump 2B or airdash j.B j.C.
Nirvana's 3D hits on both sides of her and allows plenty of time to react and continue the combo, so it is also pretty good at catching rolls. Since it also hits low, you can try for an unblockable on the opponent's wakeup when you end a combo with j.C; if they emergency tech, you hit them with an aerial and 3D, and if they don't emergency tech, all they can do is neutral tech to avoid getting hit.
IAD j.2C is still strong as an okizeme option. If properly spaced/timed, it even beats some wakeup reversals such as Ragna's Inferno Divider.
Carl does not have much in the way of defensive options. 236B travels far and has head and body attribute invincibility, so it can be used to dodge some attacks, but loses to 2As, lows, and throws. It is most useful when the opponent is in the air or throwing projectiles at you.
Since volante doesn't go away when Carl blocks something, if you used it before the opponent starts his blockstring, it will force the opponent to work around it to try to not get hit by it. This is most often done with Nirvana being completely off the screen, so there's less indication of when the projectile is going to come.
While Carl is teching, he can control Nirvana. The best use for this is to do Brio while waking up to try to catch the opponent doing something if Nirvana is next to them. This can be used to get around various okizeme setups, such as Litchi's Thirteen Orphans (if Litchi will get hit by Brio, do 236B to escape; this kind of trick can be used on other setups as well, if Nirvana is in the correct position). Another important option is teleporting Nirvana with 22D while Carl is waking up to get her to a better position.
Overall, the best defensive option Carl has is probably to just save meter for Counter Assaults. With Nirvana behind the opponent, you have options to make it safe or to even combo out of it. The main issue you need to worry about when using his CA is that the range is quite short.
The most important part of Carl's neutral game is that you need to use Nirvana to control space. This is a difficult concept to explain in depth, but the basics boil down to some important concepts: 623D (Brio) and 8D (the clap) are extremely good at limiting the opponent's air options due to being fast moves with gigantic hitboxes, in addition to 623D even having guard point against aerials; j.A and j.B are both great air-to-air moves while j.C is a decent air-to-ground, so combined with Nirvana's anti-airs, Carl's air game is very hard to deal with; moves like 6D and 41236D (Fuoco) can be used to pressure a grounded opponent into jumping out of the way or punishing slow enough projectiles; 421D (Volante) is a projectile that goes across the entire stage along the ground, but is only a real threat if Carl is very close to the opponent when the projectile gets there; and 5C is Carl's longest-reaching normal and is good at threatening people who are hitting Nirvana, although you have to worry about the opponent jumping over it and countering you.
Because Nirvana has such great tools for stopping an opponent from doing what they want, Carl will often want to stay behind Nirvana and slowly approach the opponent with her leading the way. In this situation, Carl must react to or predict the opponent's actions and try to counter them, primarily with the aforementioned moves. The best time to try to approach the opponent without Nirvana in front is when a Volante is coming in soon from off screen. Be careful not to get hit, though, because this will cause the Volante to disappear. In addition, since Volante has so little blockstun and so little hitstun on the ground, you might need to be careful even if it connects. However, if it hits an airborne opponent, they can't recover until they hit the ground.
Since Nirvana is where most of the neutral game threat comes from, most opponents should focus on weakening Nirvana before confronting Carl. Part of playing Carl is to also manage Nirvana's life bar correctly, and try to allow her to recover life when possible, and to not use her moves without reason so that she'll be healthy enough when you need her the most. Carl's best tools to stop an opponent from hurting Nirvana are 5C and 623C (very risky on block or whiff, but it's Carl's highest range attack and doesn't extend Carl's own hurtbox as far as 5C does), while Nirvana's best are 4D due to having super armor against everything through the startup, and 236236D due to super armor and starting up very quickly.