Samurai Shodown

Samurai Shodown (2019) is a 2D fighter all about slow paced footsies. Every attack is deliberate because attacks are very slow and very damaging. Backwards walkspeed is very slow but forward movement is not, which means walking backwards to make attacks whiffs is not practical. Reactive footsies is less viable thus proactive footsies and preemptive footsies have more importance. This is the game for you if you love meticulous footsies.

Helpful Resources

The Samurai Shodown wiki.
The Samurai Shodown Discord server.


Attack Notation

A Light Slash
B Medium Slash
C Heavy Slash
D 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.

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

A is light slash, B is medium slash, C is heavy slash, and D is kick. 5B+C is the universal overhead.

Walkspeed is very slow and it's much faster to run than walk. There is a short delay before blocking during running.

Everything is negative on block. There's a joke in the community that there's only two types of frame data in Samurai Shodown: unsafe on block and VERY unsafe on block. If you predict your opponent will do something unsafe, you may be able to run in and block it for a punish.

Blocking a couple of frames before an attack connects allows you to Just Defend it. Just Defend negates all chip damage, builds Rage, and gives you an opportunity to counter attack. Just Defend makes safe multi-hitting attacks a liability. Because there is Just Defend, there is no absolute guard in this game.

Press A+B after performing a Just Defend to perform a blowback. This is an Alpha Counter that causes a knockdown and does no damage. It is unsafe on block and on whiff but that doesn't happen often.

There is an invisible Guard Crush meter that increases when an attack is blocked. When the meter is full, the character glows red. If 5C connects when a character is glowing red, a Guard Crush occurs and the character is completely vulnerable. 5C then becomes special cancelable if it wasn't before. The Guard Crushed character can still Rage Explosion to avoid the punish. Just Defending does not add to the Guard Crush meter and prevents Guard Crush when glowing red.

Dodge with 5A+B. It is invincible but has recovery at the end. Dodging does not guarantee a punish because of how slow attacks are. Think of the reward of dodging as the Guard Crush meter not increasing.

The only attacks you can punish after a dodge are C attacks and special attacks. You usually get an A or B slash as a punish so you need to be close enough for those attacks to reach.

This is the first Samurai Shodown game where DPs are invincible. You can DP to get out of pressure or to beat meaties but if it's blocked you're going to lose half your health bar.

Jumping is another way to move around. Jumps can be canceled into another one by jumping during landing frames. Everything is negative or unsafe on block in this game and jump-ins are sometimes an exception. Jump-ins have to hit very deep to not be negative on block. That's a problem for the jumper because the deeper the jump-in is, the more time the defender has to react and anti-air.

Many characters have trouble anti-airing because they don't have attacks that hit at an upward angle. It's common to see players anti-airing deep jump-ins with air-to-air attacks.

However, if the jumper anticipates the defender wants to air-to-air their deep jump-in, they can do an early jumping attack instead to interrupt it. If the defender doesn't air-to-air, then the jumper is getting punished because early jumping attacks are unsafe on block.

When two slashes are active on the same frame, a mini-game may start. The player that's better at mashing buttons will win the mini game and disarm the loser. This mini game can only happen once a round and under certain conditions like both characters must have less than 160 health and there must be more than 16 seconds left on the clock.

Special cancelable attacks can also cancel on whiff. Special attacks have utilities like ending combos, invulnerability, or zoning. Damage is not one of those utilities. This is one of the few games where special attacks do less damage than normal attacks. 5C is your most damaging attack outside of super attacks but there is a risk to every C slash.

After a C slash is blocked, the attacker enters a Recoil animation. The attacker is vulnerable and the defender can punish the Recoil. For the attacker, the Recoil state can be canceled into a special attack or Deflect, even if the attack is not regularly special cancelable. This is called Recoil cancel and creates layers of mind games.

The attacker can Recoil cancel to interrupt the defender's punish. If the defender does nothing and blocks, the attacker will perform a whiffed Deflect or unsafe special attack and get punished.

Deflect is performed 236A+B. It beats slashes but loses to low attacks, jumping attacks, multi-hitting attacks, melee attacks, and throws. Deflecting A slashes gives a little bit of frame advantage. Deflecting B slashes gives a lot more frame advantage. Deflecting C slashes disarms the opponent. Weapon Flipping Technique is guaranteed after Deflect. When players don't want to get disarmed, they use 2C instead of 5C because low attacks cannot be Deflected.

Disarmed characters take chip damage from normal attacks. After being disarmed, Deflect becomes Weapon Catch. This catches slashes that aren't low attacks and disarms the opponent as well. This is a mini game in itself as players want to pick up their weapon while trying to deny their opponent the opportunity to pick up theirs. Walk forward to make your opponent's weapon go off screen but don't walk forward too much as that'll make your weapon go off screen. To pick up your weapon press A.

Throws are performed with C+D. There is a whiff animation if unsuccessful. There is no way to tech throws. You'll have to jump or backdash if you expect a throw. Back throw has more startup than forward throw but it has more frame advantage and starts a better combo. Weapon Flipping Technique is guaranteed after a throw.

Throws have a lot of recovery. You can avoid a throw by backdashing and still have enough time to get a 5C punish. When punished this way, it's a counter hit and an extra 10% damage is added to the 5C.

After a knockdown, hold 4 or 6 to wakeup roll. The rolls are invincible and cannot be punished. Forward roll can be used to switch sides. Neutral wakeup is not invincible but it is throw-invulnerable.

What happens after the roll is what's important. Because there's no throw teching, you can throw someone the first frame after they've finished rolling. It means the defender has to backdash or jump immediately out of a roll to not get thrown. The attacker can wait to anticipate both options and punish them.

There are three super attacks in Samurai Shodown. A super attack that can be used any time for free but can only be used once. A super attack that is done during the state after Burst. And a super attack that can be done after building enough meter.

Rage builds when you take damage or Just Defend. When the Rage Gauge is full, your character gains a 20% damage increase and at least one of their attacks is enhanced. Rage is temporary so take advantage of your limited time.

Weapon Flipping Technique (WFT) is the super attack that can be done anytime you have full Rage Gauge. It's performed with 236B+C. It disarms if it hits. It doesn't spend Rage unless it hits and can be performed as long as Rage hasn't run out.

Rage Explosion is a Burst that can only be performed once a game. It's performed with A+B+C in neutral, hitsun, blockstun, or Recoil. It is unblockable and completely safe. In this state, the timer stops and the less health you have the longer it lasts. You are given a whopping 40% damage increase and unlimited Weapon Flipping Techniques. After the Rage Explosion state ends, you lose the ability to build Rage for the remainder of the game. Good times to use Rage Explosion are after getting Deflected or thrown.

Issen is the super attack that can only be performed during Rage Explosion with A+B+C. It is a fast attack that travels full screen and has invincible startup. Issen is fast enough that it can be comboed into. The more time you have left during the Rage Explosion state, the more damaging it will be.

Super Special Move is the super attack that is completely free but can only be used once a game. There is a little invincibility at the beginning before the character does a pose and the sound effect ends. That means startup is partially invincible and loses invincibility before it's active. You can't combo into Super Special Move except off of Deflect.