Hey, I’ve noticed that quite a few people have picked up Soul Calibur V and are coming from games such as Marvel and SF. So here are a few tips that I believe will help anyone who is struggling. (in progress)
Need help with 234536754 numbers + letters terminology? Take a quick read before hopping in
[details=Spoiler]Q: What’s with A, B, K, G?
A: These are the basic buttons for soul calibur.
A = Horizontal Attack, It’s when you swing the weapon on a left/right plane. These attacks are usually weaker than the other types but they specialize in catching opponents who use 8-way run sidestepping to evade your attacks. In general when you see an opponent who likes to dance around the battlefield a lot you should switch your offense to these moves.
B = Vertical Attack, It’s when you swing the weapon on a linear up/down plane. These attacks are usually the strongest in your arsenal but they can be sidestepped by 8-way run evasion leaving you open to whiff punishment.
K = Kick Attack, these are your physical moves that can either be horizontal or vertical. You should play around with these in training to figure out there properties. Kick attacks in general are where a lot of your low hitting moves come from.
G = This is the button you press to block a move. Blocking is an extremely important aspect of Soul Calibur.
Q: How should I use 8-way run?
A: You use an 8-way run sidestep (double tap either up or down) for a number of things. The two biggest reasons is to escape the edge of an arena and to cause an opponent to whiff an attack with an extended/long start-up. Generally, if you see a move that has an obvious start-up animation you should try side-stepping it to avoid guard damage and then back-throw the opponent for high damage once you’ve evaded them.
Q: Guard Damage? How does that work?
A: Guard Damage is an invisible meter that builds with each successive attack that is blocked. You’ll notice it getting to danger levels when your health meter starts flashing yellow or red. Eventually it leads to a guard break which leaves you in massive hitstun. Usually you should immediately input your critical edge attack after you cause a guard break on your opponent.
Q: How much health does each character have?
A: 240 points.
Q: How should I block most of the time?
A: Blocking - For those of you coming from Marvel I suspect that you have been trained to crouch block. In Soul Calibur you must negate that thinking and re-train yourself to stand block. Simply because in Soul, 2/3 types of moves must be blocked while standing in contrast to how 2/3 types of moves can be crouch blocked in Marvel. In Soul, low attacks in general do not lead to high damaging combos as often as Mid attacks to.
Q: Explain to me the properties of High/Mid/Low
High Attacks are the easiest to evade but mostly come with some sort of special property like fast start-up, wide horizontal arc, knockdown etc. High attacks are evaded by crouching or using a move that causes the character to crouch while attacking (commonly known as a Tech Crouch Move)
Mid Attacks are usually the strongest attacks in your arsenal and are usually vertical type attacks (attacks which can be sidestep evaded). These are your combo starters, damage dealers, and the bread ‘n’ butter type of moves you should be relying on. Mid attacks also share a number of special properties.
Low attacks: low attacks are usually pokes that you use to break down the defense of your opponent. They don’t do much damage in general but nonetheless they are valuable mix-up tools. You should switch to low/mid mix-ups (switch from a fast low to a fast mid) when you have your opponent cornered. Also, fast low attacks are great moves for interrupting your opponent using slower types of moves.
Q: I want to choose a character but I don’t know which one!
A: Choosing a character in Soul Cal depends on how you want to play. Most of the time it’s complex, but for the sake of this starter guide I’ll narrow things down.
Rushdown characters – These guys have a high attack rate, as in their moves link smoothly from one to another. Giving the opponent little chance to counter.
Natsu, Leixia, Devil Jin, Pyrrah, Alpha Patroklos, Tira,.
Power Poking Characters – These guys have moves that are safe from mid distance and can pester the opponent with said moves until landing a solid hit. Then they can follow-up for big damage.
Hilde, Mitsurugi, Xiba
Grown Ass Men – These characters cause enormous damage in some form or another. In general they require you to play a spacing game (keep opponent at Mid/Long distance with ranged attacks) because they are slower than others up close. Easily cause guard break as well.
Nightmare, Siegfried, Astaroth, Algol,
Mix-ups – These characters specialize in confusion. They may not be the fast as rushdown characters but their game is much less linear and harder to counter. Specialize on close distance.
Voldo, Maxi, Yoshimitsu, Dampierre.
All Arounders – These characters are proficient at nearly everything. They usually lack one trait but can do the rest very well. Overall, they can zone, rush, poke, punish, and can cause big damage in nearly any situation.
Patroklos (can’t zone) , Ezio (can’t poke), Cervantes (slower up close), Raphael (lacks combo damage)
Brawlers – Rushdown characters with high damage. They focus more on blocking/punishment than swiftness of moves. They are slower than pure rushdown types but make up for speed in damage.
Pyrrah Omega, Aeon
Zoners – Try to keep the opponent at a ranged distance. Fast Attack Rate from a far, lacking damage overall. Extremely safe characters as well.
Viola (mid/long and can rushdown as well), Ivy (long distance zoning) , Z.W.E.I (mid-distance zoning)
Q: So how should I play Soul Cal? Should I take it slow like SF or fast like Marvel? Also what else should I know?
A: Soul Calibur should be played in a way that’s a mix between Marvel and Street Fighter. You don’t want to turtle too much because guard break is a very bad thing. But you’ll definitely lose the match just by running in swords flailing like a maniac. In other words, try to keep your attack and defense rate moderate.
Learning Soul Calibur is all about trying to master a concept deemed Safety and Punishment. You want to keep your own playstyle safe while punishing your opponents. Here’s an example of what I’m saying.
Patroklos’ main tool is his 66B move. It’s a mid-ranged attack that’s only -2 on block (meaning it’s very safe) and causes a crumple stun on impact. Also it can be followed up for a big combo. This move exemplifies being safe and effective. A person who played a spacing game built around this move would probably come out with success in a variety of match-ups.
Patroklos main’ punishment tool is his 236B move. It has a very fast start-up of only 15 frames (the speed of a light attack in Soul Calibur games) and causes 38 points of damage. So about 1/6th of the opponent’s health. With 66B and 236B I have two moves that can apply pressure and counter pressure.
Now obviously, I can’t solely rely on these two moves. But if I built my playstyle around safe offensive moves and very punishing defensive moves I’ll have a strong style to use against opponents.
To find out which moves of your character are safe, go into training mode and set the cpu to counterattack after guard. If you can consistently block the cpu’s attack afterward then the move you used is probably safe.[/details]
II. Brave Edge, Guard Impact, Punish/Block
[details=Spoiler]Q: So you said blocking is a pretty big deal. But didn’t you also say that blocking too much is bad? I don’t get it.
A: Yes, blocking is an intricate part of Soul Calibur but you don’t want to solely block. Ideally you want to punish the opponent at the end of their attack string or after a move you know is unsafe. Thankfully, most unsafe moves look unsafe. Likewise, most fast moves are decent punishers. In layman’s terms block an unsafe move, punish with a move that has fast start-up.
Q: What’s a guard impact?
A: A guard impact is an instant counter to every non-critical edge, non-unblockable attack. You use it by pressing 6 + (ABK). Truthfully you use it to counter moves with obvious start-up animations and you time the counter just before the move hits you. In technical language you have a 27 frame window to be hit before the counter ends. Don’t use Guard Impact liberally because it uses half a bar of meter. Use it when you know a character is going for advantage string such as Pyrrah’s 66B Brave Edge. Or when the move looks unsafe but very powerful.
In that specific situation I would use guard impact to nullify the attack when Pyrrah obviously winds up for the second hit.
Note: Some characters have moves that will auto GI certain types of attacks.
Q: What are…When should I use Brave Edge Attacks?
A: Brave Edge Attacks are performed by inputing a move + (ABK). Brave Edge Attacks are usually advantage strings, meaning you can attack before your opponent even if they block it. For characters like Pyrrah, Patroklos, Leixa, Natsu having attack advantage is very valuable because they have fast attacks they can pressure the opponent with. In the aforementioned list of characters it would be smart to use a Brave Edge String at the beginning of a match to get a head start on the match or when the opponent is low on HP and you need to kill them off quickly. Other characters like Nightmare and Siggy should use BE attacks in combos for higher damage. Cervantes has a BE command throw which does very high damage. In other words use BE attacks in a way that you think will help your character at what they do best.[/details]
III. The OTG State and Ukemi
[details=Spoiler]Q: Why do I have unblockable moves if they’re so slow? Only an idiot would get hit by them!
A: You never use raw Unblockable attacks. End of story. You use unblockables in “Ukemi Traps” which are described below. But first lets talk about the OTG state in Soul Calibur.
**Q: The OTG state? Shouldn’t I be invincible except for certain moves like in Marvel or something? **
A: Yes, correct. But in Soul Calibur if you are lying on the ground you can be susceptible to OTG mix-ups. Meaning if you don’t get up fast enough to block I can continue my assault while you lay on the ground as long as I use specific OTG attacks (which can be low/mid). Or I can charge up an unblockable that leads to guaranteed damage when you do get up. Either way, it’s not a favorable situation. You should always try to Ukemi as fast and safely as possible after being knocked down.
A: A Ukemi is a recovery roll. In SC you can Ukemi either backwards (typical roll) or 8-way run Ukemi (leading to a roll). Don’t ever believe that you are completely safe after a Ukemi Roll, Experienced players know to grab you or go for a quick hitting low move after you recover (dashing 2K is very popular). If you see a running player be prepared to block low.
Q: Now about those…Ukemi Traps
A: Typically a good Ukemi Trap is an unblockable charge move that is done against a cornered opponent. Natsu’s unblockable 2(AB) bomb is a great trap that launches the opponent high into the air for a fresh combo. Ukemi Traps are usually avoided by 8 way run rolling if possible instead of back rolling (since unblockables usually aren’t tracking.
Note: Tracking attacks are horizontal attacks that have a wide arc hit box. Think of a Tatsumaki for a second. If Ryu was in Soul Calibur that kick would be considered “tracking”.
IV. Critical Edge Properties
These are new “super-moves” in Soul Calibur that cost one bar of meter and do unparalleled damage in addition with other unique properties. Below are the damage/properties of each Critical Edge. Remember Criticals are scaled in damage if tacked on to the end of a combo. To use CE’s input 236 -> 236 (ABK)
Mitsurugi – 60 Damage – OTG’s but resets damage.
Maxi – 88 Damage – Ring Out Possible has a chance for a critical hit for extra damage
Voldo – 100 Damage – leaves Voldo in Mantis Crawl State
Siggy – 93 Damage – Initial Swing Hits Air/Ground, OTG’s, Across the map shockwave
Ivy – 80 Damage – Inescapable Throw
Nightmare – 80 Damage – Guard Impact that repels all everything except unblockable and throws. Does 160 damage if the opponent waits until the attack is fully charged to attack Nightmare.
Astaroth – 50 Damage – Inescapable throw that you can combo after.
Cervantes - 60 Damage - Unblockable. Almost impossible to react against.
Raphael – 75 Damage – Can combo into it from a mid-air combo
Tira – 57 Happy, 91 Sad – Can combo into it
Hilde – 95 Damage – Really long horizontal range
Algol – 15 + 125 Damage – you basically need 2 CG Bars.
Dampierre – 80 – Auto-GI’s like Nightmare except it has a 0 frame start-up. Meaning
“YOU WON’T STAND A CHANCE” strike
Z.W.E.I – 36 Damage – It just launches into the air.
Viola – 11 Damage + extra stuff – puts the opponent in long hitstun if it connects.
Pyrrah – 85 Damage – Can combo into it, really fast start-up
Pyrrah O. – 90 Damage – Inescapable Attack Throw
Patroklos – 96 damage – Can combo into it, really fast start-up
A.Patroklos – 55 Damage – fastest start-up of all CE, invincibility post-flash
Natsu – 82 Damage – Launches into air
Lexia/Aeon – 70 Damage – Can combo into it.
Yoshimitsu – 110 Damage – MUST BE BLOCKED LOW!
Devil Jin – 90 Damage – Can Combo into it.
Ezio – 90 Damage – really fast Start-up, Causes Saltiness.[/details]
V. Just Guard, Just Inputs, Air Control, Jump Attacks.
[details=Spoiler]Q: What’s a Just Guard? -
A: A Just Guard is a defensive option similar option to Guard Impact. You can use it to block any move besides throws. To perform a just guard tap G (no meter required) just before your opponent’s attack is just about to connect (Ex. The sword is about to shave your nose). Usually you have to time your Guard about 2 or 3 frames before the opponent’s attack connects. If successful you’ll release a white energy field, pushing your opponent back and leaving you without any blockstun, you can freely attack after this. Note: G can only be held down for a maximum of 4 frames. Once you release G you have a 6 frame window where the JG will connect.
Q: What’s a Just Input?
A: A Just Input is simply an input with very strict timing, such as A.Patroklos’ Sakura Air Combo (One frame between each attack). A:A:A. The semicolon’s represent the one frame delay in the attack. Just Input Attacks and Combos are usually extremely strong and useful…in offline play. Lag delay would make it nearly impossible to pull-off continuous Just Inputs.
Q: What’s Air Control?
A: Air Control is movement that you can use when being comboed in the air to “escape” pressure. Air Control kicks in after your opponent lands one hit on you while you’re still airborne Use Air Control wisely, characters like Nightmare and Siggy would be put in a more advantageous position if you Air Controlled farther away from them. In general, in dealing with long ranged Characters Air Control toward them. If dealing with Short/Mid ranged characters Air Control away from them.
Q: Why should I use Jump Attacks?
A: Jump Attacks are usually used as evasive counters to opponents who like to use low attacks a lot. Or they are used as counters to specific attack strings such as Pyrrah’s Luminous Angel, where the first strike must be blocked and the second low-strike must be jumped over with a jump attack.[/details]
VI. Counter Hits and a Lengthy Lecture on Safety.
I’ll be updating this guide later on with more tips Enjoy!
Coming Soon: Auto GI properties, know what your stuff actually blocks!