General tips on doing combos that are hard to break

I admit, that I still have scrub-like tendencies. Thats why I like the Auto-Double combo system. The AD combo system is great because it 1) allows creativity with your combos at an intermediate level and 2) allows you can focus on hit confirming and other footsie like tactics rather than execution and memorization long strings of inputs to apply significant damage.

But part of the high level meta of the game is to find combos that are hard to break and/or have less opportunities to break while still applying a significant amount of damage. That is why the Combo Assist mode can be a crutch for novice players and actually be a obstacle that prevents them from leveling up their skills.

With that said, what are some general tips on making your combos hard to break?

Of course using manuals and juggling is a must for decreasing the window of opportunity to break. But sometimes there is more subtle tech that all of the cast of characters can use. Lets discuss them.

  1. I’m learning that if I ever land a Shadow Counter, I should NEVER go for an auto double because it gives my opponent an opportunity to read the level of my AD and combo break it. What I should always do in this situation is perform a Linker after each Shadow Counter because reading a Light, Medium, or Heavy Linker is much more ambiguous and is therefore harder to break.

  2. Keep the combo short and try to end it in a wall bounce or some other situation that gives you an opportunity to reset the combo. This resets the KV meter and damage scaling to allow you to apply more damage.

That is really all I got. That why I’m asking all of you for more input on this subject. Are they any more general tips that you can give? Are there character specific tips that you can share? (I know omen has some nasty stuff).

If so, please provide.

PS: I know some of you pros might find might not find this topic helpful because you may already know a lot of this stuff, but sharing the knowledge with intermediate level players will help us immensely.


There are a few ways to make your combos tougher to break:

  • Opener->linker. You said it above, but worth mentioning again for the simple fact that opener into linker will always generate a timing lockout on someone who is mash breaking.
  • Delayed autodoubles. You do not have to immediately go into autodoubles after a linker, and putting a slight pause in between can often trick people who are looking to break manuals (they will think you are restricted by manual strength rules when you are not) as well as catch people trying to guess break your AD’s (will give them timing lockouts) The amount of delay varies between character and linker chosen, but the entire cast has access to this tool.
  • Delayed linkers. Similar to delaying AD’s, linkers can also be delayed. After your AD, put a slight gap between when you do your linker. This is very, very good for catching people trying to break your linkers, as it puts a timing lockout window where most aren’t accustomed to having one.
  • Don’t “go fishing”. When someone gets broken on a particular strength, oftentimes their instinctive reaction is to use a different strength the next time they land a hit. Particularly when you think someone is guessing, I think it’s best to not change the strength. People often guess around, hoping to catch you trying to run. If they break your same strength again, then you modify your strength (because they are guessing the same thing every time), but otherwise, just stick to the same option. Works very well when someone guess breaks a heavy, and against “good” guessers (as opposed to the guy who just mashes MP+MK the instant he gets touched).
  • Learn to mix up combo “chunks”. Because we are human, we are generally predisposed to patterns, even when we mean to be random. People’s combo strings are normally quite consistent, in that they are likely to perform the same pieces of a combo without even realizing it (ie, doing a light linker after heavy AD). Learn to recognize that in your own play and swap in and out between different combo patterns. It is unlikely you will ever remove them from your play, but you can minimize their effect.

And not quite about making combos harder to break, but certainly important on making them matter - remember to always confirm your lockouts :slight_smile:


Really? Is it breakable at all?

That’s great to know in either case.

It’s breakable, just not on the frames before the linker actually hits.

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As Tusk, I prefer to do some cheeky HP auto doubles in my opponent’s unexpecting face, and then feed off his salt when he locks himself out.

Can you elaborate? How is doing Tusk’s HP auto doubles cause your opponent to lock out easily?

A lot of the breaker game is expectation. In my experience, more people lock out on stuff that is wildly reactable than on things that are quick. People expect you to go for hard to break stuff, so when you don’t, they often get caught guessing on a lower strength than what you’ve gone with.

Nobody is expecting something that stupidly slow as Tusk’s HP autodouble.

Lololol. That may work for scrubs

It works at high level too because heavies are obvious counter breaker bait that people let the slide. It’s more at the mid level where heavies get broken all the time.

I’ve been rather curious about this and how it would work with Jago. Would that mean that I shouldn’t do a command normal like Forward HK into Heavy Laser Sword? Or should I use an opener like Laser Sword opener into Laser Sword linker?

Works at high-level as well. A good chunk of the lockouts I’ve earned in tournament settings came from heavy autodoubles and linkers.

Again - expectation drives a lot of people’s break patterns. You think you’re the only person that recognizes that heavies are slow as heck? That makes them a less common option, so when someone is feeling guessy, which option do you think they glide right by?

Don’t remove options for yourself because you’re afraid to toss something reactable at someone. It’s a whole lot easier (and safer) to guess break someone who only ever uses lights and mediums than someone who tossed in heavies as well.


Opener->linker isn’t related to either of these. Feel free to forward HK->heavy laser sword all you want - just be sure to do a windkick linker after the heavy laser sword (which is the opener in that example). Opener->shadow isn’t really anything. While I suppose the opponent could lock out early, the screen freeze kind of makes it harder to do I think. It’s a big audio/visual cue that’s pretty hard to miss or elide.

Windkick->windkick is more what I’m talking about here, or laser sword->windkick, or windkick->laser sword. Et cetera, et cetera.

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Well I think you guys are touching upon conditioning.

With every new opponent I have to throw some stuff out there to see how they will react. My thinking process goes:

“Ok I opened them up. Lemme jus-- Oh! He broke lights??? They may be mashing. Let’s try to bait a counter breaker immediately.”


“Ok, lemme try a heavy auto double.” LOCKOUT “Oh snap, is he guessing? I’m going to throw out more of these”

Works at high-level as well. A good chunk of the lockouts I’ve earned in tournament settings came from heavy autodoubles and linkers.

Really? I hear a lot of you high level players hate the counter-breaking mind games a lot. I usually see you guys ride a combo out most of the time because you do elaborate hard to break combos that don’t do a huge chunk of damage anyway.

True. But that’s why I said that the breaker game is largely one of expectation. Anything above light linkers is reactable offline at high level, and even juggles often can be sussed out based on spacing. If I’m familiar with your combo patterns or your tendencies, then your hard-to-breakables mean nothing to me. I don’t think you can have a serious conversation about how to do hard to break combos without delving at some point into what your opponent is looking for.

This is exactly the mindset you should have! :slight_smile: I’m just saying that it’s good to do a delayed heavy linker at the start instead of a light. If they lock out you can confirm it into good damage, and if they break it you’ll get access to good information based on when exactly they broke it. Did they actually react to the linker, or was it just a delayed guess? How willing are they to soak up combo damage? And so on and so on. Use your combos to figure out player tendencies and expectations, and then use that to inform your next move within the combo system.

-shrug- Depends on the player really. I don’t use counter breakers unless you make me (i.e., you are capable of consistently breaking my combos), but I’m perfectly fine with the meta. They are risky, but the reward is incredibly potent.

More to the point, I said I have earned many of my lockouts on heavies at tournaments. I don’t have to play the counterbreak game, because people will be expecting something unreactable and lock themselves out for me. Again: breakers are largely about expectation.

Haha. You haven’t seen me play too much have you? :smile:

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The characters you use, Hisako and Sadira, hit hard no matter what. Your elaborate and hard-to-break combos deal a lot of damage anyway with them. I’ve played against your Sadira, it was a ■■■■■.

When I say:

I usually see you guys ride a combo out most of the time because you do elaborate hard to break combos that don’t do a huge chunk of damage anyway.

I guess I talking about high juggle potential and low damage output characters like Cinder, Kan-Ra, Gargos, and Omen. IMO they need to go for resets, set ups, or burnouts (Cinder Specific) to get the scary damage.

Some chars hit hard and have pretty good hard-to-beak combo potential outside the AD system as well. Chars like Sadira, Hisako, Killgore, Maya, and Rash.

There is a difference between this:

and this:

Dayton’s Gargos combos were hard to break, put you in a vortex, but had low damage output compared to somebody like rash. Most of those Rash combos were hard to break and it did almost twice as much damage.

I’m not complaining, I’m just pointing out the differences.

EDIT: Bonus Gargos BS because it’s super sick! It still didn’t take the lifebar though.

Hm. So I’m going to challenge you a bit on this. To start with, Sadira doesn’t hit hard (at all), so let’s just toss that right out. But moving right along:

I think this is worth unpacking. I would contend Hisako is a generally medium damage character. If she wants to melt your lifebar, she’s going to have to reset you to do it. Take her into the lab and try out some “elaborate, hard to break” combos, and see what kind of damage you get.

Sako’s one chance combo damage is pretty similar to the rest of the cast, which is to say, generally not great. Similarly, her “elaborate” or hard-to-break combos, are mostly only possible in instinct. And incidentally, they don’t really do all that much damage.

The point I’m driving at is really your topic question - how do you make combos that are a bit tougher to break, while still applying good damage? The answer is generally to do things within the combo that are in fact reactable. My combos with Hisako don’t hurt because she does uniquely high amounts of damage - they hurt because I use a lot heavy AD’s and resets. To be sure, Sako gets to do this a bit more freely because she can delay things quite a bit and because of her windup doubles, but the basic premise is pretty simple. She hurts because I’m willing to be broken, not because her “hard-to-breakables” are damaging. I don’t manual with the character after that first “forever and a day” confirm; all the difficulty in breaking her is coming from delays and staggered combo strings.

That’s the guiding philosophy of KI’s combo system, that we trade reactability for damage. Kan-Ra is actually not an especially low-damage character. For that matter, Gargos isn’t either. Certainly neither are in the running for most damaging cast member, but both are quite capable of hurting you a lot if you mess up against them. The only question is if the player is willing to play the combo game long enough to cash in on those mistakes.

To be sure, Rash’s juggles have much more damage potential than Gargos. But I think you kind of answered your own question (such as it was) in your description of it. Gargos’ juggles lead into a potential command grab vortex with minion support, while Rash’s act of even cashing out his juggles away from the corner stops his pressure. Comparing juggle/cashout damage in isolation isn’t really possible, because of how differently a lot of these characters play around those juggles. Cinder doesn’t do good damage - until he one-chances you for 60%. Maya (now) can’t really get good damage unless she throws a reactable tumble kick break or two at you, and Rash isn’t going to hurt you on a juggle unless he started the string with an overhead or an HK or something.

If you want to hurt someone with a combo, then you generally have to be willing to actually play the combo game. But the tips above, and others that are character specific, are tools that can allow you to play that game more safely. You’d be really surprised how effective staggering your combo components can be.

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Hmmmm… I might have to do a set with your Hisako and work on my timing then.

I’m down :thumbsup:

I get your point but I don’t think you can can dismiss his normals. They’re pretty great. His HK is fast and has good range. It seems like players can just throw it out most of the time and be safe, especially with instinct popped. If his HK hits, he can confirm his crazy juggle combos to deal good damage.