Arcana Heart 3

Arcana Heart 3 LOVEMAX SIXSTARS!!!!!! XTEND (AH3X) is a 2D air dasher fighter defined by its unique Homing mechanic, which gives players 360 degrees of movement. For no cost, players have the ability to fly in the air with control over the curvature and speed of their flight. The series' signature Arcana system gives players nearly two dozen ways to customize their character with new special attacks, abilities, and movement options.

Helpful Resources

The Arcana Heart 3 wiki.
The Arcana Heart Discord server.
Here is a guide with short explanations of the Arcanas.
Here is a guide with more detailed explanations of the Arcanas.
Both guides are slightly outdated with the game's latest update but they're still valuable resources.

Notation

Attack Notation

A Weak Attack
B Medium Attack
C Heavy Attack
D Homing
E Arcana Attack

Directional Notation

up-back up up-forward
back neutral forward
down-back down down-forward

Numpad Notation

7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3

High attacks are overhead attacks that must be stand blocked. Mid attacks are attacks that can be blocked with both stand block and crouch block.

Arcana Heart 3 uses Modern frame data notation. If an attack has 7 frames of startup, it hits on the 7th frame. Attacks performed as reversals out of blockstun come out 2 frames later. An attack that is -6 on block can be punished with an attack that has 4 frames of startup but not 5 frames of startup.

There is air blocking and it blocks both grounded and air attacks. You cannot air block during the pre-jump frames.

Attacks are flagged to be air unblockable. Many air unblockables are part of chain combos or can be canceled into. Every character's 5E and 2E is air unblockable. It's common for players to force their opponent to air block a string of attacks to keep them in the air longer so they can hit them with an air unblockable.

High jump can block during its pre-jump frames. Press 1/2/3 then 7/8/9 to high jump. You still need to properly block with stand block or crouch block during the pre-jump frames.

Learn your jump cancelable attacks for pressure, to use during Clashes, and for canceling into Homing.

Clash

Clashes happen when two attacks are active on the same frame. Or when an attack with Clash frames hits. Both players have the same advantage out of a Clash.

Certain attacks are flagged to be unclashable. Use these attacks to avoid Clashes when it's obvious your opponent wants one.

The attacks that Clashed can be canceled into an attack, throw, Home, dash, or jump. During air Clash you can use the same attack you Clashed with, which you cannot do during a ground Clash. If you don't cancel the Clashed attack it will go through its recovery frames before returning the character to neutral. Clashes in fighting games rarely let the player immediately block.

Who wants to Clash? The defender benefits more from Clashing because it's a way to get out of pressure and return the fight to neutral. The attacker should occasionally mix in unclashable attacks in their offense to prevent this.

Should you try to win every Clash? It's up to you and depends on the situation, the risks you're willing to take, and the resources you're willing to spend. For example if Player 1 has Player 2 in the corner and is winning the round they might just block after a Clash while Player 2 might spend a lot of resources to get out of the situation.

The most common options during a Clash are:
fast(est) attack
invincible attack
evasion to make attacks whiff (roll, dodge, backdash, jump)
blocking to punish invincible attacks
something that beats blocking (air unblockable to beat air blocking, throw to beat ground blocking)

Using your fastest attack is a very common option.

Invincible attacks are also very common.

In Arcana Heart 3, jumping during a Clash is used to avoid attacks because the Homing mechanic can punish whiffed attacks from any angle. Clash can't be canceled into blocking but it can cancel into high jump, where blocking is immediately available.

If your Arcana has an attack that only comes out during Clashes this is the time to use it.

After selecting your character, you can select from almost two dozen different Arcanas. Arcanas modify your character's attacks, stats, and abilities.

E is the Arcana Button. Your Arcana's special attacks and super attacks are mapped to this button. The commands are usually 236E and 214E. All 5E and 2E attacks are air unblockable and can be charged.

Charged Arcana attacks gain special attributes based on the Arcana chosen. This is the magnetism Arcana and the charged attack pulls the character in like a magnet.

Fully charged Arcana attacks guard crush. Backdash is invincible at the start and can be used to avoid them.

Arcanas may have defensive properties. This Arcana changes the character's guard cancel into a pushblock when it is usually a shield.

D is the Homing button. Most attacks can be canceled into Homing for 1 bar of Arcana Gauge when it connects. This is a Homing Cancel and is used like a Roman Cancel.

Homing Cancel turns special attacks that are unsafe on block into a mixup opportunity. Only attacks that connect can be canceled so players make their opponent's attack whiff to prevent it from being canceled.

Homing is possible during blockstun as Guard Cancel Homing. Backwards Guard Cancel Homing is invincible like backdash.

Forward Guard Cancel Homing is a shield with Clash frames.

The shield loses to throws and unclashable attacks. If the attack that caused the Guard Cancel is jump cancelable, you can jump over the shield to make it whiff. It's not a punish but you got your opponent to waste a bar of Arcana Gauge.

The Arcana Gauge is the gauge on the bottom of the screen. It's used for Homing and super attacks. The gauge continually regenerates but only to the amount of meter you've built yourself. You start with 1 bar of Arcana Gauge and can hold a maximum of 3.

There is a 1 bar super attack and a 3 bar super attack. The 3 bar super attack is called Critical Heart and sometimes has special requirements before it can be used.

Next to the health bar is the Force Gauge. Force Gauge starts at 100% and is used for Extend Force and Arcana mechanics. It automatically regenerates but the rate at which it regenerates is affected by your actions. For example, using a super attack makes the Force Gauge regenerate slower.

Extend Force is performed with A+B+C (on the ground) and puts the character into a state where their movement is faster and they recover from attacks about 2 frames sooner.

During Extend Force, an Arcana Eclipse can be performed with 214B+C or an Arcana Blaze can be performed with 236A+B+C. Both options spend all of your Force Gauge. Arcana Blaze is more powerful than Arcana Eclipse but makes the Force Gauge regenerate much slower.

You also have the option of performing an Extend Force into a Critical Heart. This is your most powerful attack but it spends all your resources.

Arcana Burst is performed with C+E during hitstun or blockstun. It consumes all your Force Gauge.

Bursts are difficult to punish in this game even if you anticipate them. You can air throw Bursts. To do this, jump to air block the Burst, do a forward Guard Cancel Homing, then air throw your opponent.

Throws are performed with A+D and are teched with the same input. There is a whiff animation if unsuccessful. There are air throws as well. Neutral throws launch the opponent into the air for a juggle combo. Side throws are faster than neutral throws and are more difficult to tech but do not start a combo.

After a knockdown , getting hit out of the air, or getting wall bounced hold A, B, or C to quick recover. There are OTG (on-the-ground) attacks if a character doesn't quick recover after a knockdown.

Homing

The Homing mechanic is Arcana Heart's defining mechanic. Your regular air options are available during Homing including air blocking.

Neutral Home with 5D. It has the fastest Homing Speed and you can attack out of it sooner than the others but it has a small delay before it reaches its maximum speed.

Directional Home with 8D, 9D, 6D, 3D, or 2D. Its maximum speed is slower than Neutral Home but you can start Homing from different angles to avoid attacks with Directional Home.

Backwards Home with 7D, 4D, or 1D. It is invincible at the start.

4D and 6D on the ground is a Homing run. You can't block during it but you can press 5A/2A to cancel it.

During Homing press D again to boost your speed.

During Homing you can input directions to curve the trajectory of it. Trajectory is based on your opponent's position on the screen. Curving Home is the fastest way to move around the screen.

There are a couple of things you can do with curving. You can use it for cross-ups by holding 8 to Home around your opponent's head. You can make your opponent's anti-air miss by slowing down by holding 4.

You can curve to the ground with 2 or 1. Use this for empty jump mixups, feinting, or for landing early to avoid air unblockables.

Triangle Homing is a common form of pressure. Connect with a jump cancelable normal attack, jump cancel into Neutral Homing, then attack from the air.

A common mistake I see from newcomers is they become too obsessed with Homing and forget about their other options. Homing is not the only way to approach in the air as you also have double jump, air dash, and high jump. You can't perform another air option after Homing so try to use it after you've used some of your other options.

The timing to beat Homing is tricky because the character can air block, then can't air block, then can air block again. Air unblockables never fail.

Homing has startup and can be interrupted. When you expect your opponent to Home, do a forward jump and hit them out of it with jump A. This is a prediction more than a reaction.