A question regarding target combos

How exactly do they work and how can they be broken?

In S1 Sabrewulf, and Sadira have them.
In S2 TJ, Aganos, and Cinder have them.
In S3 Arbiter will have them.
Others will have them in S3 if they didn’t already have them prior to its release.
…and I’m sure I’m likely forgetting some or a lot that aren’t necessarily listed here already.

I worry that my ignorance regarding this mechanic (even though I know how to do a lot of them and what they are for the individual characters) will basically leave me more vulnerable than those of you who know how to, well, deal with them.

So, what are some benefits/drawbacks to using them and how can you stop/counter some of them?

Depends on the target combo. Some lead to unique opportunities (i.e. some can lead to certain juggles or air combos, and some can be used as manuals) but most act as fancier poke or block string opportunities. Some have benefits, but they also have drawbacks like adding extra KV if used before an opener, and if it can be done on whiff/block it can probably be shadow countered.

I’m not an expert but that’s what I can see in it.
Also, I think Kim may have a target combo if I remember?

I know all target combos have different properties and are different from character to character (perhaps this thread could be a spring-board for discussing ALL of them), but what I’m asking is if there’s a universal rule or something that can be used against them, like trying to counter or something. I distinctly remember there being a combo-break rule after 3 hits in a combo, but many target combos only count as 1 attack for the purposes of that rule, so…

Well, if you figure out each character’s target strings, they become easy to shadow counter and predictable to break, so there’s that.

…but many of them are too fast for certain shadow counters (which would only work if you blocked it anyways), and that’s not even counting air-target combos, which can’t be shadow-countered at all.

Am I at least correct in saying that target combos fill up the KV meter faster, making that player’s combos shorter?

Well the issue of slow shadow counters is being alleviated in Season 3, so that will be less of a problem.
Besides, you can still break them if they hit you in/from the air, so if you begin to recognize the pattern of a target combo you can catch them off guard.
I’m pretty sure that yes, they add up KV really quick. My best experience is with Wulf, who’s chain adds up to 49 KV before you can even get to opener.

Yeah, except I recently learned how to break Sadira’s air-target combos since she always has to start with a light attack to start them in the air - except every time I got hit by them, I would get locked out for a wrong guess. A timing lockout I can understand, but a wrong guess? Believe me when I say, I was disappointed and still can’t figure out how to combo-break it outside of practice mode against an even half-way decent Sadira player.

I will say that you’re right about the shadow counters being adjusted in S3 though. I had thought about that already, but the same issue will still arise (in that some attacks will still be faster than the shadow counters) - it’ll just be more uniform across the board for all characters, so if 1 character misses it, then they all will.

Can you give specific examples of such attacks? I’m struggling to think of any that couldn’t be shadow countered.

Shadow counters are all fast enough to catch jabs now, which target combos recover faster than jabs?

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From what I understand they can be broken on the last hit strength of the target combo.

SO cinder, HVY target combo… break HVY on 3rd hit

Wulf …if he stops at medium, you break medium.

Thats what I understood from Keits explaining on one of the most recent streams, maybe at World cup?

Is that something that’s possible now or post-S3? If it’s possible now, I’d like to try it. Still, even if it’s true, it may be really hard to predict certain target combos. For example, you never really know where Cinder may end his target combo since his target combo is basically any combination of 3 hits using LP, MP, or HP - there’s no restriction there for you “figure it out” which is unfortunate. Of course, the opposite is true for others as well - Sabrewulf, for example can only do LP, MP, HP as a target combo, which is easily predictable since there are no variations for it.

I could be totally wrong, but I m not for sure…only one way to find out…ask Keits!

Because of how different everyone’s target combos are, there really aren’t very many hard and fast rules to them.

Benefits are primarily that they tend to allow you to string together things that would otherwise not normally be combo-able. Sadira’s target combo of MP->Fang would not not be possible absent the special target combo rules allowing it, as the medium punch doesn’t normally have anywhere near the hitstun it would need to let Fang combo afterwards. Other benefit is that the first normal of the target combo can often be manualed into, allowing you to do things within combo that are outside normal combo rules.

Drawbacks are generally just on predictability and, depending on the target combo, scaling. Some target combos are also unsafe on block, but this is character and target combo specific.

I don’t believe so, unless you’re counting her ability to string her nuchuk katas into one another.

There aren’t any universal rules for them that I’m aware of, on account of the first part of your sentence. All target combos were shadow counterable, for instance, until Cinder came out and suddenly they weren’t. As a general punish though, shadow counters are generally a solid option, and some target combos are often used mid-combo and can therefore be broken. Others, as stated above, are negative on block and be punished accordingly.

Again, would depend on the target combo and how it’s used. Target combos initiate scaling when done before an opener, but not all target combos begin with low strength buttons. Sadira gets to start hers with a MP, which isn’t a bad button in terms of building up KV, and Cinder could rock out with nothing but heavies if he wanted to. Some target combos are also used more within combo than without, and in that case they’re basically just multi-hit manual strings. So yeah, it’d build the KV a bit faster, but it wouldn’t be by all that much.

Sadira has a single aerial target combo, yes, but she also has other options to combo with in the air. I actually didn’t even know she had an air target combo until nearly a year after I started played her. She can do any strength button->widow’s bite->button, her mediums can hit twice, the juggle can change depending on which strength widow’s bite she uses, she can TK the widow’s bite for a completely different juggle option, she still has the target combo…it’s kind of a lot. Assuming that she is going to go for her air target combo is a guess, and not necessarily a good one considering how many other things she can decide to do instead.

Post S3. As of right now, target combos count as 1 “move” throughout their duration. It’s what allows Cinder to have his nonsense juggle target combo unbreakables right now.

Sorry for the length. Hope that helps! :slightly_smiling:

Think about this:
Everything in MK is a target combo leading up to a special move.
So think of them in the same way you think of MK combos. They arent “special” for either player, they just offer alternate methods of reaching a special move or juggle. There are probably lost of easy juggles with Target combos in KI, But they havent been found yet because of how much they add to the KV meter and how easy they can be to break. When the KV meter gets its adjustments, im sure target combos will become common corner juggling tools.