Shielding is a key mechanic to keep yourself alive.
After shielding an attack, the defender will enter a state called shieldstun where they are unable to do anything. Both attacker and defender will experience pushback of varying amounts, depending on the damage dealt and whether the attack was parried.
How to Shield
- Press or and hold either trigger button to put up the character's Shield.
To cancel your dash into a shield as fast as possible, you have to press either trigger while holding the left stick in a horizontal direction (as in, while dashing). If you stop and then shield you'll get into an animation before shielding, which is more punishable.
(Assuming default controls)
While in shield and not in shieldstun, you have a few options to exit shield and counterattack. Such options are described as Out of Shield(OoS) options.
Exiting shield results in a universal shield drop lag of 11 frames. Players will usually opt to bypass this shield drop lag by using Jump, Grab, Up-Bs or Up-Smashes, as they reduce the lag between dropping shield and attacking.
Good offensive OoS options are ones that have
- Fast Startup
- Wide Hitboxes
|Jump Attacks||Has 3F of Jumpsquat before startup of attack.||Startup of Aerial Attack + 3F Jumpsquat|
|Up-B||Has no shield drop lag.||Startup of Up-B|
|Up-Smash||Has no shield drop lag.||Startup of Up-Smash|
|Grab||4F of shield grab lockout.||Startup of Grab + 4F|
|Shield Drop Attack||11F of shield drop lag. The slowest option.||Startup of attack + 11F|
Other than these offensive options, you also have the ability to Spotdodge, Roll and Jump towards or away to escape shield pressure.
After shielding an attack or while holding down shield, your Shield HP will deplete. This is indicated by the shield decreasing in size.
Areas of the character's body that the shield does not cover will be vulnerable to shield poking. You can tilt your shield in various directions with the Analog stick to better defend against exposed areas of the character's body. Only Yoshi is immune to this phenomenon, as their shield does not change in size but rather darkens after taking damage.
If the shield's HP hits 0, the character's shield will break.
If the shield takes too much damage, your character will enter a shield-break animation. During this animation, your character launched up, then falls down before entering a stunned animation. The stun animation will end after the opponent uses an attack that makes you flinch, or a period of time passes.
During this period, you are completely inactionable, leaving you vulnerable to a big punish. However, you can mash to marginally decrease the period you are stunned for.
Shield breaks are often done by chaining together several attacks with small gaps between shield stun, or by landing attacks that deal high enough shield damage like Marth's Shield Breaker.
The exception to this scenario is Jigglypuff, who will instantly be KO'd when their shield breaks.
Perfect Shield (Parry)
- After shielding for at least 3 frames, drop shield when the opponent's attack connects(5 frame window)
The defender will flash white and their eyes will glow yellow, with a special sound effect played. You are locked out of perfect shielding attempts after shielding an attack normally for 3 frames after shieldstun ends.
The benefits of Perfect Shield
- No Shield Damage
- Increased hitlag, giving time to react and punish
- Reduced pushback for the defender
- Bypass shield drop lag, giving the defender more options for punishing
- Attacker is generally more minus on shield.
Think of parrying as a minigame: you time your shield release to when the opponent's attack hits. For multihitting moves, you generally want to parry the last hit of the move as it always comes out on a consistent timing. However, this does not apply for all multihit moves(insert moves that can and cannot here)
Perfect Shielding attacks can allow you to punish moves that were either:
- Safe on block
- Unsafe on block but have a lot of pushback that made them unpunishable OoS
How to use the table: Take attack's on shield and add it to the number listed in advantage
|Type of Attack||Advantage|
|Direct, Non-Projectile★ (e.g: Most Sword Aerials)||Shield Advantage -3|
|Indirect, Non-Projectile (e.g: Zero Suit Samus D-Smash, Bayonetta Smash Attacks)||Shield Advantage -12|
|Direct, Projectile (e.g: Snake, Isabelle U-Smash)||Shield Advantage +8|
|Indirect, Projectile (e.g: Most Projectiles like Wolf Lasers )||Shield Advantage -1|
For more detailed explanation on perfect shielding's frame data and why these numbers are the way they are, you can check out SSBWiki here
- Parry normal hits, don't parry projectiles.
- Not all multihit moves can be parried on the last hit
Alongside regular grabs and command grabs, some attacks are also outright unblockable, meaning the only way to avoid getting hit is to dodge with intangibility frames or get out of the way. Examples include Ryu and Ken's Max Charge Focus Attack, which cannot be shielded no matter what.
Other than shielding on the ground, there are other evasive maneuvers that you can take to avoid attacks. They are useful to get out of shield pressure, make an opponent's attack whiff or escape an airborne string of attacks.
- While grounded, or + /
Roll to move away from the opponent. After rolling, characters will always end up facing the direction they came from.
Rolling allows you to evade attacks due to intangibility frames during the roll. However, the intangibility frames does not last for the entire duration of the roll. They are best used when you want to avoid specific attacks. Exact duration of rolls and intangibility varies between character and is listed in their frame data.
Rolling contributes to the dodge staling counter.
- While grounded, or +
Dodge on the spot to avoid attacks.
Spot dodges allow you to evade attacks and grabs due to intangibility frames during the animation. Most spot dodges have intangibility starting on frame 3, with exceptions Mythra(7F) and Bayonetta(6F). However, they have their own fighter abilities that grant them the ability to dodge attacks earlier.
The last 5 frames of a spot dodge can also be cancelled into Jabs, Tilts, Smash Attacks and Special Moves, allowing you to dodge attacks and retaliate in their end lag. This is also known as spotdodge cancelling
Spotdodge contributes to the dodge staling counter.
- Neutral: While Airborne, press or without moving the Analog Stick
Directional: While Airborne, press or and move the Analog Stick
Characters can only air dodge once in the air until they land, get hit, or grab a ledge. You cannot use a neutral air dodge followed by a directional air dodge, vice versa. They are often used to escape strings/untrue combos due to their fast startup and intangibility frames. However, opponents can read this and frametrap you, so be wary of this!
(Placeholder table for now)
|Much less endlag||Position your character away from your opponent|
|More intangible frames||Example|
Air dodges contribute to the dodge staling counter.
To penalise players for overusing dodges and rolls, dodges will stale, causing them to become slower and more vulnerable. Note that ledge rolls are not affected by this mechanic.
Staled dodges have less intangibility, while ground dodges have more endlag and directional airdodges grant less distance. For a full list of the full mechanics, you can check out SSBWiki here
Directional Influence (DI)
- While in hitlag, move and hold the Analog Stick in a direction
Anytime you are hit by knockback, you are sent in a particular direction; DI can be used to adjust, but not completely change this trajectory.
The direction of DI is determined on the last frame of hitlag before the defender is launched. Note that DI only applies for hits that do not send characters into tumble
When DI is applied, the final launch angle of the defender is also shown as a blue light streak. Do note that this direction may not be the final direction of DI applied by the defender; defenders can mix up and attempt to trick opponents who attempt to use this DI angle shown.
During Zoom hits, the window for the defender to DI is not affected by the slowdown effect. So you need to input your DI before the slowdown effect, or your DI will not count.
Launch Speed Influence (LSI)
- While in hitlag, move and hold the Analog Stick in an Upwards or Downwards direction
LSI is similar(but not the same as) to DI and obeys the same rules as DI: Direction is determined on the last frame of hitlag, and only applies for non-tumble hits. However, LSI is not possible if the attack launches you at an angle between 65° and 115°, and 245° and 295° (i.e: Vertical Launches).
LSI affects the launch speed of a character depending on the vertical direction titled: by x1.095 if tilted upwards maximally, and by x0.92 if tilted downwards maximally.
With both LSI and DI mechanics in mind, there are 2 kinds of DI used after getting hit: Survival DI and Combo DI.
Survival DI is used to survive strong hits that are used to KO you. The angle that you DI differs based on the angle of knockback. Optimal Survival DI is one that angles you towards the corner of blast zones, so you have the most distance to cover before getting KO'd. It's important to note that DI is prioritised over LSI as DI is much stronger than LSI in terms of effect.
Attacks With Horizontal Knocback
For attacks that send you horizontally away from the opponent, you want to DI in the opposite direction of the knockback; i.e towards your opponent. Simple.
Utilising LSI for attacks with mostly horizontal knocback is ineffective due to DI's much stronger effect. Angling your Analog Stick downwards would result in you losing out on DI's effectiveness and thus getting KO'd earlier.
Attacks With Vertical Knocback
For attacks that send you directly upwards, you'll want to hold the Analog Stick to the left or right / . However, most attacks that send you at a vertical angle are usually not at 90°, but at a slight angle. Thus, you must angle your Analog Stick in a direction that is in the opposite from the direction of the knockback. For instance, an attack that launches you upwards but at a slight right angle must be DI'd rightwards such that you are angled towards the corner of the blast zone. Angling DI leftwards would KO you at earlier percents.
Utilising LSI for attacks with mostly vertical knockback is useless since the angle covered will disable LSI, thus ruining your DI and allowing you to get KO'd easier. However, if the attack launches you at an angle that is less than 65°, the optimal DI would be to DI away from the opponent, and slightly downwards
As a general rule of thumb, DI away from opponents for vertical knockback attacks. However, there are exceptions where an attack can send you in an opposite angle from the opponent, such as Luigi's Up Smash
Combo DI is used to make comboing harder, or get out of combos. You'll usually want to DI away from the opponent, thus increasing the distance between your character and the opponent and making it harder for them to continue the combo.
Take note that while Combo DI may allow you to escape a combo, it could also make you more susceptible to getting KO'd earlier at horizontal blast zones. Survival DI ensures that while you may not get KO'd, you might be easier to combo.
Smash Directional Influence (SDI)
- While in hitlag, wiggle the Analog Stick in any direction
Not to be confused with DI, SDI allows players to slightly change their character's position during hitlag by wiggling the control stick in any direction. SDI can only be done on attacks that possess at least two frames of hitlag (as it only registers as early as the 2nd hitlag frame) and don't have a 0x SDI multiplier. When an SDI input is made, the game won't register another one for 3 frames, although the latest SDI input during this time is buffered. All moves have SDI multipliers, which can either increase or decrease the strength of SDI with higher or lower values than 1 respectively. SDI is also visualized by white effects created around the victim, which can be used to react to SDI mid-combo.
To effectively SDI, you should wiggle the analog stick in a small arc around the direction you intend to SDI in. SDI is most effective in escaping moves that have multiple hits- and therefore have lots of hitlag. Even if you do not escape the attack, shifting your character into a position that prevents followup attacks is also useful in escaping combos.
Automatic Smash Directional Influence (ASDI)
ASDI is done simply by holding the control stick in a direction, with no requirement to wiggle the stick. It only exists for moves that have electric, paralyze or crumple effects, as well as on Kazuya's 10-hit combo.
Shield Smash Directional Influence (Shield SDI)
Similar to SDI where you can move slightly during shieldlag by wiggling the stick. Shield SDI inputs don't prevent another one for any amount of time. Also only applies horizontally; vertical inputs are ignored.
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