Garou: Mark of the Wolves

Garou: Mark of the Wolves is a 2D fighter and the final game in SNK's Fatal Fury series. It's been called SNK's answer to Capcom's Street Fighter III. The Just Defend guard cancel mechanic gives the defender a parry-like mechanic to turn the tide of battle. Pressure for the attacker is dynamic and rewarding. Normal attacks can be canceled into feints for frame advantage and special attacks can be canceled to return the character to neutral to extend combos. All of these mechanics are free, resulting in a constant tug-of-war between active offense and active defense.

Helpful Resources

The Garou wiki.
The Garou Discord server.

Notation

Attack Notation

A Light Punch
B Light Kick
C Hard Punch
D Hard Kick

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.

Garou: Mark of the Wolves uses Legacy frame data notation. If an attack has 7 frames of startup, it hits on the 8th frame.

Throws are proximity throws performed with 6C or 6D depending on the character. Some characters only have 6C throws and others have both 6C and 6D as throws. Throws are teched with 6/4 and C/D, regardless of the throw.

Throws can be teched with a combination of buttons. This is useful because you don't want to whiff a slow C or D attack when trying to tech. Weaker strength normal attacks have input priority over heavier normal attacks. Tech with A+C/A+D to get an A attack or tech with B+C/B+D to get a B attack.

After a knockdown, press A, B, C, or D to quick recover. Not recovering gets hit by OTG (on-the-ground) attacks. A is a short forward roll. B is a short backward roll. C is a long forward roll. D is a long backward roll.

Guard endurance level is a hidden guard gauge that depletes when an attack is blocked. After blocking too many attacks in a short period of time, the character starts flashing red. If they block again while flashing, a guard crash occurs and the character is completely vulnerable. After guard crash, the guard endurance level refills to its maximum capacity.

Your character enters Tactical Offense Position (T.O.P.) when their health falls between a certain range. Before every game you choose where this range is. Don't place it at the last third of your health bar because you may die before entering T.O.P.

Being in T.O.P. boosts damage on all attacks, increases Power Meter gain, and regenerates health up to the T.O.P. Threshold. Unfortunately, the health regeneration is very slow.

In T.O.P. every character has access to an additional attack. The T.O.P. Attack is very damaging and greatly depletes guard endurance level. It can be used as long as the character is in T.O.P. It's slow enough that it can be reacted to. The best way to counter it is with a backdash or Just Defend.

Just Defend

Blocking a couple frames before an attack connects is a Just Defend. Just Defend recovers health, builds Power Meter, shortens blockstun, and negates guard endurance level depletion. It even allows you to re-enter T.O.P. if you manage to recover enough health.

There is no air blocking but Just Defend can be performed in the air to defend against attacks. Instant air Just Defend is performed with 874.

Even though backdashes are invincible, you will see players create space with a backwards instant air Just Defend because it can punish attacks. Characters with jumping attacks that can hit as they're ascending benefit the most from this.

If your character has an air throw, they get a nice anti-air with an air Just Defend into air throw.

Instant air Just Defend loses to meaties because you can get hit during the pre-jump frames. It's better to backdash against meaties. Backdashes are invincible at the start.

After a successful Just Defend, the remaining blockstun can be canceled into a special attack, super attack, or T.O.P. Attack. This is a Just Defend Guard Cancel.

Multi-hitting attacks or two fast attacks will interrupt the guard canceled attack if it lacks invincibility. It's impossible to react to a Just Defend guard cancel so you need to beat it preemptively.

Jump ins are riskier because Just Defend can be guard canceled into an anti-air. If your character doesn't have a special attack that works as an anti-air that's okay because it can still hit. In games with parry mechanics, you can parry a jumping attack and hit your opponent's landing frames. This fireball cannot be blocked because it hits the opponent's landing frames.

A+B is the universal overhead. The character's lower body is invincible during the attack. It's great for beating low attacks.

2A+B is the universal anti-air. The character's upper body is invincible during the attack. It even beats attacks that aren't air attacks like 5A or other tall attacks. 2A+B is usually special cancelable.

Counter hits only happen when an attack is interrupted by a special attack, super attack, universal overhead, or universal anti-air. Counter hits inflict a lot of additional hitstun and almost always guarantee a combo. Grounded counter hits spin the opponent around. Air counter hits launch the opponent.

Feints are performed with 6A+C and 2A+C. Feints begin the startup animation of an attack but ends before an attack becomes active. One of your feints is faster than the other and you'll probably be using one exclusively for cancels.

Feints can be canceled from certain normal attacks. Generally, your command normal attacks and crouching normal attacks cannot be feint canceled. Feints themselves can immediately cancel into anything. Blocked normal attacks can be feint canceled to be advantageous on block. There's no drawback to feint canceling.

On hit, feint canceling allows you to recover sooner, creating possibilities for new link combos.

Every character has a special attack that can be manually interrupted after it's active. This is called Break Cancel and is performed with A+B. Like feint canceling, this allows you to recover from attacks sooner and opens up new combo opportunities. Only one special attack can be Break Canceled in a combo unless it's a counter hit combo.

On block, Break Cancel makes special attacks safer (but not always completely safe), allowing more special attacks to be used as reversals to get out of pressure. For some characters there is little reason to not Break Cancel every time.

Every character has two super attacks. The Super Power (S. Power) attack costs 1 Power Meter. The Potential Power (P. Power) attack costs both Power Meters. Special attacks cannot cancel into super attacks but you can confirm a super attack by hitting a special attack, Break Canceling it, then linking it into the super attack.

Whiffing special attacks builds Power Meter. Every character except Rock and Freeman can whiff special attacks then Break Cancel them in neutral to safely build meter. Players usually have at least 1 Power Meter stocked. If you don't, simply backdash and whiff some special attacks until you do.