UPDATE: This guide was written for Super. In the video section there was a new video to show the new AE possibilities, and now there is also a USF4 change video added.
Most of the things are still relevant, although after 4+ years how we play the game may have changed a bit. Everyone’s better now
*But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose. *
- Getting damage
- Tips and tricks
- Match-up vids
Luffy is another guy. My French is not that good. I’m not a tournament player, I gave up on fighting games overall after SF Alpha 1. So this guide is not on that level, nowhere near pro-level. It does try to convey the experience I build up from maining Rose since the beginning of SF4 though. More than 15000 matches of online heroism? Hopefully you can use this as a quick reference, the kind of guide I wanted when I was trying to learn other characters like Cammy or Balrog. The information comes from my interpretation of what works for me, and what works for others in the SRK forums.
*In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be. *
In my opinion Rose is a pretty straight-forward character to start with. She has more than decent speed; her walkspeed is average like Ryu’s but her amazing dashes can only be rivaled by Chun in length. Her stamina is nothing to complain about as she is just slightly lower than the usual (950 instead of 1000) and thus up to par with Cammy, Juri and Adon, and even above Chun, Viper, Fuerte and Gen. Her special moves feel familiar to shoto-players. With a few minor twists it’s just the quart-circle type of moves: a fireball, an anti-air (Soul throw instead of SRK), a horizontal attack (drill instead of hurricane) and super-fireball. This gets you going quickly. A bit more surprising are her normals, more due to their animation than due to their characteristics. These are again the expected kind of moves: light attacks are quick 3-framers that start trouble, medium attacks have decent reach and speed and form the basics for cancels, and hard attacks are mainly situational spaced pokes. You won’t have much trouble going from the well-known shoto-style to Rose, like you woulds have when switching for example to Rufus or Viper.
But you - and that’s a good thing - will have trouble getting any good.
*The Rose is without an explanation; She blooms, because She blooms. *
She has a toolset that can compete with the best in the zoning game (how many can force Guile to come to them?), that can play a pure spaced poking game and that can apply a strong pressure game up close. This is a possible mixture of 3 different playstyles, that allow her to adapt to and counter strategies quickly without entering dark waters. Her zoning game relies on the reflect which nullifies fireball wars, her poking game use her strong normals and dashes and her close-game benefit from the 3-framers that are linkable plus the top-tier throw range she has. In fact, Rose is often - albeit jokingly -called a grappler. She doesn’t have Cammy’s walkspeed, while she does have more range on her throws, which makes it as threatening. Oh yes, the new Ultra 2 is a god-send.
Alas, not all is sweet even called a Rose.
*I never promised you a rose garden. *
She plainly doesn’t do much damage. You have to wear your opponent down. If you calculate the averages on her normals, she is bottom-tier for damage-output. If you do a meterless punish the best you can get is 200 damage. One EX stock nets you nothing more. 2 EX stocks gets you in the 260 range in Super, but in Vanilla it required a 2-frame FADC to get any good. You need some pretty tight links to score consistent damage. Her main combos are all 1-framers. Once you grade up from simply blind cancelling into confirmed linking, it’s Sparta. Things do get better in the corner though, more on that later. When things get rough, she lacks a valid reversal. The reversal for her is EX drill, and oddly enough, it isnt even invincible until the hitting frames. It’s close, but it’s not. This means it usually works, but never guaranteed, even though you guessed right. That’s a bummer and it makes you really attentive not to get mixed up in, well, mix-ups. Worse, it requires 3 EX to do a ‘safe’ reversal, that isn’t even safe. Her Ultra 1 is useless on any good opponents. It works as anti-air only on those who actually jump, and still, not on those who jump with special trajectories. Too slow, too vulnerable. All weaknesses together make a character that hates to be rushed down, knocked down and in blockstun. Luckily this isn’t Vanilla anymore, she did get options.
*Love thou the rose, yet leave it on its stem. *
You can control and win entire matches using her normals. That’s where the focus should be. I will list cryptically the startup, active frames, damage, advantage on hit and range. Not the recovery as they are usually safe, not the stun as it is normally in the same scale as damage output.
 S LP (4/2/20/+1/1.06): At 4 frames startup with 2 active frames and merely 20 damage I see no use in using this. C LP hits better where this can hit.
 S MP (7/2/70/+3/1.23): Actually a decent poke due to it’s hitbox. The startup is a bit slow, and range no better than C MK. but the +3 advantage and cancelability can lead to further pressure, especially on counterhit.
 S HP (11/5/100/-1/1.6): The S HK is faster and has more reach, so this one suffer usage. But it does get a whopping 5 active frames giving you a window counterhit stuff.
 S LK (4/2/30/+2/1.2): This can confuse the opponent for tick-throws. Thats about it.
 S MK (6/2/30/+2/1.5): One of her main poking tools thanks to the reach and angle. She floats over low attacks (think Ryu C MK) and punishes those easily. Important move.
 S HK (9/2/100/+1/1.88): When S MK would fail, this one can succeed. Logically the follow-up to a blocked S MK poke. Hits a bit higher though, so you may whiff against active low attacks.
Connoisseur’s Choice: S MK, S HK
(I list solely startup, advantage and damage for close attacks)
 Close LP (4/+2/20): At 4 frames startup with 2 active frames and merely 20 damage I see no use in using this. C LP hits better where this can hit. That sounded familiar.
 Close MP (6/+4/70): Yes, this is a close attack of choice. The +4 advantage is together with C LK the best starter for links. You can link this into her pretty good C MP for damage. I like this anywhere I think I have 6 frames of room.
 Close HP (6/+1/90): Would be a combostarter thanks to its cancelability, where it not that C HP is better in each way. Unused?
 Close LK (4/+2/40): I once heard a top-player say he uses it in strings (instead of C LK) to mix-up the tick-throw setups. Otherwise, C LK is better overall.
 Close MK (7/+3/70): This wouldn’t be any big deal if it weren’t for the remark ‘1~20 cannot be thrown’ on the side of the framedata. That little note makes this move awesome. It gets her out of any grabs, whether normal throws, command throws or Ultra throws. Amazing stuff. It gets even better, the +3 advantage makes it linkable. Better than that? It has the habit of scoring counterhits, making the 1-frame link afterwards a 3-framer. Her match against Abel for example relies on this move.
 Close HK(7/+3/100): Flawed in design, can be used to start punishes (just cancel to drill) but you would prefer C HP as that always hits, while this whiffs randomly.
Connoisseur’s Choice: SC MP, SC MK
 C LP (3/3/20/+3/1.01): Together with overall damage reductions it got nerfed to 20 damage in Super, but that’s ok. It still is the goto move for a pressure string. 3 frames startup is up to par with the best, the reach is okay and the chainability to C LK very handy. Pity that it has just +3 advantage, while normally jabs go to +5 for easy links. You’ll need to chain to C LK to get into the better combos.
 C MP (4/3/60/+0/1.53): Spammable move, easiest setup into a basic special-cancel. You can play Rose decently by just relying on this move canceled into the right sparks or drills. Very safe, very good reach for it’s startup. When in doubt, use this.
 C HP (5/5/100/-10/0.9): Minus 10 on hit, really? Anyway, doesn’t matter. Either this is used to cancel into a special or it is used as her main anti-air. Without this move she would have no way to keep people from jumping in. In Super they gave it +5 startup instead of +6, even better. Lots of active frames too. You can’t miss. There are jump-ins that beat this, but generally, this shuts down the air. Don’t bother with Soul Throw, since Super, Soul Throw is for combos. If you can punish: this is the hardest hitting normal.
 C LK (4/4/30/+4/1.18): being able to link into C MP afterwards is why this move lives. A 1-framer though, but it gets her the knockdown afterwards. Good move on wake-up, either into a tick-throw string, bait or combo. Surprisingly good on priority too a bit further away than point blank.
 C MK (7/2/70/+3/1.64): Not the C MK it looks like. Too slow, and - when used at it’s best distance - the cancels afterwards may actually end up blocked anyway. I end up using it on wake-up a few times to catch people who thought legs were safe. In most other cases C MP is a lot faster and safer.
C HK (9/2/90/-/1.9): One of the furthest sweeps in the game that are actually pretty safe on block. Still, -10, but you should be using it far out of reach of possible punishes. It’s a poke. Sweep the leg. But look out for the Crane. As a knockdown move however you will likely be using Spiral, so, well, this doesn’t get that much use. Does keep the distance though.
Connoisseur’s Choice: C LP, C MP, C HP, C LK
For the jumping normals I’ll list the major ones:
 J LK: The familiar quick short strike. Good for tricky tick-throws as blockstun is very short.
 J MK: Crossup of choice, easy to place correctly. Will lead into her cross-up tricks.
J HK: Hardest hitting jump-in, best use for punishes. Best reach, too. Still, J HP is almost as good and hits a lot easier.
 J MP: Best air-to-air (tied with J MK)
 J HP: Main jump-in move from the front.
 NJ HP: Look scary but doesn’t where it looks it would. Best hard-hitter though.
[*]NJ MK: Easiest to tick with
Connoisseur’s Choice: J HP, J MK, NJ HP