DNF Duel

DNF Duel is a 2D fighter featuring characters from Arad of the beat'em up series Dungeon & Fighter. Special attacks are performed by spending Magic (MP), which continuously regenerates. This allows players to constantly perform their flashy attacks in neutral and in combos. It's common for special attacks to naturally combo into other special attacks. Characters have attacks with tremendous range and fighting can take place anywhere on the screen. Players from the Dungeon & Fighter series will be happy to know that all attacks in DNF Duel can be performed with the press of a single direction and button.

Helpful Resources

The DNF Duel wiki.
The DNF Duel Discord server.
Youtuber rooflemonger has created a a video overview of all the characters in the game.

Notation

Attack Notation

A Standard Attack A
B Standard Attack B
S Skill
M MP Skill
G Guard
AS Awakening Skill

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.

DNF Duel uses Modern frame data notation. If an attack has 7 frames of startup, it hits on the 7th frame.

Blocking can be performed by holding 4 for stand block or 1 for crouch block but there is also a dedicated block button with G. The character blocks sooner with the block button because they block before proximity guard is triggered. The character can stand block without moving backwards with the block button. The biggest advantage is holding G blocks cross-ups.

The disadvantages to the block button are you can't walk backwards or attack while holding the block button. Techniques like fuzzy mash jab are not possible with the block button. The biggest drawback is that you can't tech throws while holding G. A technique you'll see players do is fake a cross-up then throw their opponent.

So many attacks in this game have very long range and are unpunishable because of distance. Even special attacks that are unsafe on block are not punished because the opponent is too far away to punish.

Press 66 to run. Running can be canceled into an attack. There is a skidding animation at the end of running that can be interrupted by blocking with the G button. You can block while skidding by pressing 1.

Press 44 to backdash. Backdash is airborne and will avoid throws. The character's lower body hurtbox becomes smaller during backdash so it may avoid some low attacks.

Counter hits inflict more hitstun, creating new combos.

The Guard Gauge depletes when attacks are blocked. When it is empty, the character suffers a guard crush and is vulnerable. Guard Gauge regenerates after not blocking for a certain amount of time.

Indomitable Spirit is performed 4B+S while blocking an attack. It fixes blockstun to about 24 frames, reduces pushback, and reduces Guard Guard damage.

Throws are performed with A+B and are teched with the same input. There is a whiff animation if unsuccessful. The defender is +1 after a successful throw tech. The throw tech window is 4 frames, which is very short so throws have to be teched on prediction and not reaction. Throws have 5 startup frames, 2 active frames, and around 22 recovery frames for most characters. Characters are throw-invulnerable 8 frames out of blockstun, 7 frames out of hitstun, and 7 frames after wakeup. If a throw and strike are active on the same frame, the throw wins.

Throws don't inflict a lot of damage and half the damage inflicted is recoverable damage. Throws reset the fight to neutral and don't result in okizeme outside of the corner. For these reasons, players willingly get thrown instead of trying to resist it.

The health bar is represented by permanent health (red life) and recoverable health (white life). Recoverable health heals with time. Normal attacks, throws, and Skills inflict damage as half recoverable damage and half permanent damage. Magic Skills and Awakening Skills inflict only permanent damage and remove the opponent's recoverable health. When recoverable health is removed, the words "Critical Hit", "Brutal Hit", or "Fatal Hit" appear on the screen to indicate how much recoverable health was removed.

Instead of inflicting chip damage, Magic Skills inflict recoverable damage. There is no chip kill in this game.

Skills & Magic Skills

Skills are performed with the S button. Skills resemble special attacks but they are normal attacks and can be special canceled. Every character has 5S, 4S, 2S, and 6S.

Special attacks are called MP Skills in this game. MP Skills require different amounts of MP. MP automatically regenerates with time and attacking also builds MP. MP regenerates quickly and players are encouraged to spend MP frequently. The maximum size of the MP Gauge increases as the character's health decreases. The MP Gauge starts at 100 MP and can increase to a maximum of 200 MP.

Every character has at least four grounded MP Skills and one jumping MP Skill. All MP Skills can be performed with a simple input as 5M, 4M, 2M, and 6M.

MP Skills can be performed with insufficient MP. When this happens, the character enters Exhaustion and cannot perform another MP Skill until they've regenerated the MP spent. Exhaustion does not have any additional drawbacks.

4M, 2M, and 6M can be performed with a technical input instead of a simple input. Technical inputs recover MP sooner than simple inputs. This makes a notabe difference in combos that use multiple MP Skills. The word "Good" appears on the screen during a successful technical input. The technical input for 4M is 214M, 2M is 623M, and 6M is 236M.

Jumping normal attacks can be canceled into jumping MP Skill.

2M is a defensive MP Skill for every character. For most characters it is an invincible DP. For other characters it is a parry or invincible movement. 2M is counter hit punishable and typically a character's most expensive MP Skill.

Parry 2M and movement 2M aren't invincible on frame 1 and can't be used successfully on wakeup or against very tight blockstrings. DP 2M is invincible on frame 1 but doesn't hit until at least frame 10. Every DP 2M loses to safe jump setups.

Guard Cancel is the game's Alpha Counter. Press 6B+S in blockstun with 100 MP to perform it. Unlike MP Skills, Guard Cancel cannot be performed with insufficient MP. It is strike-invulnerable and projectile-invulnerable but not throw-invulnerable. Guard Cancel cannot kill.

Because characters have attacks with very long range and Guard Cancel has relatively short range, it's common to beat Guard Cancel by making it whiff and whiff punishing it.

Conversion is a Roman Cancel performed with B+S that consumes all your recoverable health and 5% permanent health. It freezes the screen and returns the character to neutral. Conversion converts recoverable health into MP and gives the character a damage boost. Most attacks except throws, Awakening Skills and some MP Skills can be canceled into Conversion.

If you have even a pixel of recoverable health, you can perform Conversion so players are encouraged to perform Conversion when they have a little bit of recoverable health. If you have a lot of recoverable health, it may be better to try to recover some of the health or to activate Conversion during a combo after you've exhausted all of your MP.

Conversion stops a character's air trajectory. This is great for instant overheads and jump mixups.

Dodge with 6G or 4G. It moves the character and is strike-invulnerable and projectile-invulnerable. Use Dodge to get past your opponent's long range attacks.

Ground recovery and air recovery are automatic. There isn't a lot of okizeme outside of hard knockdowns. Characters are invincible after air recovery until they land. This invincibility disappears if you attack.

OTG (on-the-ground) attacks hit characters during hard knockdowns. There is no strict limit on OTG attacks in combos.

DNF Duel uses hitstun deterioration for its combo system. It is the same system as Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Dustloop has a detailed explanation of it here. There aren't strict rules for combos in this game so it's normal to see incredibly long and damaging combos.

As you select a character you are given the choice between selecting Clear Cube or Gold Cube. The character enters Awakening at 50% health in Clear Cube and at 30% at Gold Cube. Gold Cube Awakening is more potent than in Clear Cube, but you can enter Awakening much sooner in Clear Cube. When a character enters Awakening they gain their Awakening Effect and Awakening Skill. Awakening Effect is a passive power up ability that is specific to the character. Awakening Skill is the character's super attack. It is not invincible or invulnerable and should not be used defensively as a reversal. Performing Awakening Skill ends Awakening Effect.

Pre-Jump Cancel

Pre-jump frames in most fighting games can be canceled into a special attack. This exists for the same reason kara canceling exists, fighting games have a bit of leniency when it comes to inputs and will autocorrect when executing complex motions like special attacks. It's common for beginners to accidentally jump while performing a special attack command. If a special attack command is [down, down-forward, forward, punch], a beginner may accidentally input it as [down, down-forward, forward, up-forward, punch]. The game assumes up-forward was accidentally pressed and autocorrects this by canceling the jump with the special attack.

Canceling the pre-jump frames of a jump into a special attack results in the character entering the pre-jump state for a few frames then performing the special attack and staying on the ground. This is primarily used to avoid throws because pre-jump frames cannot be thrown.

Pre-jump canceling is possible in most fighting games but it's not commonly used because of its drawbacks. Special attacks are typically very unsafe on block and punishabe. Characters are vulnerable and can get hit during their pre-jump frames. Pre-jump canceling special attacks can be difficult to execute. And the addition of pre-jump frames means the special attack hits a few frames later and is "slower".

Pre-jump canceling is more common in DNF Duel than other games because many characters have a special attack that is safe on block, throw teching is difficult because the tech window is very short, and special attacks can be performed with a single button so execution is not difficult.

Another application of pre-jump canceling is performing it after jump canceling an attack. This allows you to cancel into attacks from attacks that weren't possible before. Lost Warrior can cancel the recovery frames of his special attack into a jump but not other attacks. However, he can hit his special attack, cancel his special attack into a jump, then cancel the pre-jump frames of the jump into another special attack. This trick lets him cancel a special attack into another special attack, which he wasn't able to do before.