Is the timing for manuals to strict?

Exactly! But Im meaning to do the manual…then it pushes them away and my linker doesnt reach…or my ender kind of stalls or delays…sometimes it catches and sometimes it drops… maybe im just trippin i dont know

was playing casual it was all about reads, my friend never played before but he knew how to combo break all most imeadietly, but then i’d hit em with a counter breaker lol so it was fun

I don’t even try to manual, way beyond my skill level.

Man Im not braggin but i have become really good at manuals with Omen! Not just the shadow linker ones either…i have them all down… med to light…heavy to med/light and even a few heavy to heavy

And Im gonna be honest, not only is it fun…it really helps with the lock outs because alot of people have become really good at breaking. now the CPU though will break manuals because the CPU is a cheap asss mo-fo…but its still really good to learn this…and its not hard… it took me about 1 months to get it down pat.

Now when i first tried manuals i gave up… Im so glad I came back to it and stuck with it because now its 2nd nature

Everything you need to know right here…from Infills guide… I skimmed through this many months ago and blew it off…Im so glad I went back and took the time to read this and perfect it… Im still learning…but now that i have the timing down… it gets easier every match I play.

You may have noticed that every combo mechanic that’s been discussed so far has been a cancel. Auto-doubles are canceled from linkers, while linkers are canceled from auto-doubles, and openers can be canceled into both. SFIV, meanwhile, is a game largely about linksTwo moves will link together if you are able to fully recover after executing one move and still connect another move before your opponent leaves hitstun. Cancels will remove the recovery of the first move and transition seamlessly into the second move, whereas links require you to wait until the first move is fully complete… Killer Instinct’s combo engine repurposes links through the concept of manuals.
Manuals are simply a normal attack executed with link timing, virtually always after an opener or a linker. Barring some character-specific exceptions typically saved for combo video fare, manuals can replace auto-doubles in the combo sequence; any time you do an auto-double, you could have chosen to do a manual instead, and manuals are cancelable into linkers just like auto-doubles. Unlike auto-doubles, you do not get a two-hit version of your normal. Instead, you will get the version that your character would normally perform in the neutral game. Apart from two-hit command normals, this means manuals are distinguished from auto-doubles because manuals hit only once, and they will appear very delayed. Advanced players will mix and match auto-doubles and manuals throughout a long combo to keep the opponent guessing.

It’s very crucial to note that the existence of manuals does not fundamentally change the combo system as it’s been described so far. The thought of constantly performing normals into specials and back again is very much unchanged; manuals simply give you a choice to perform a 2-hit normal by pressing the button early, or a 1-hit normal by pressing the button late with good timing. You must still alternate between normals (auto-doubles or manuals, your choice) and specials (linkers) to perform combos in KI, so it’s best to think of this addition as a very small wrinkle in the strategy, rather than an overhaul of the system.

Because manuals are links and not cancels, you must wait for the entirety of your opener or linker to complete before you press your normal button, and they require precise timing. If you press your button too early, you’ll get an auto-double, and if you press it too late, your opponent will recover in time and be able to block. Some manuals are tight enough to be 1-frame linksThe tightest possible timing for a link. The manual must be input in the span of one game frame (1/60th of a second), or else the move will not connect., while others are significantly looser.
An important thing to realize is that Killer Instinct places restrictions on manuals after linkers. If you execute a linker of a particular strength, you will only be able to follow it up with a manual of the same strength or lower. This means that light linkers only can be followed by LP or LK manuals, while heavy linkers can be followed by any manual. This is an interesting risk/reward balance which forces offense to go for an easier-to-break heavy linker to get access to the full suite of manual options. Attempting the strongest possible manual allowed after a linker is usually pretty tight; light linker into light manual is often a 1-frame link, while heavy linker into heavy manual is usually no harder than a 2-frame link. Meanwhile, attempting a lower strength manual is usually quite easy; heavy linker into light manual can have a 6-frame window or more. Manuals after shadow linkers are not restricted, and slow heavy manuals are usually possible after openers, although this is character dependent.

The inner workings of the manual system are, of course, based on frame dataFrame data exposes the inner workings of every move in the game. It will measure how many frames a move has on startup and recovery, as well as how advantaged you are if your move hits or is blocked. Moves that leave you heavily advantaged on hit are prime candidates for manual follow-ups. KI’s training mode shows you the frame data for every move… Most Killer Instinct special moves are not massively advantaged on hit (most in the +1 to +3 range) but many close normals in the game have high startup. To allow links to be possible, Killer Instinct has a special move-dependent buffer window which allows a normal attack to execute slightly before the linker fully recovers; for most linkers, experimentation has shown this window to be about 5 frames, although some linkers adjust this window slightly in order to better enforce the manual limitation system. This means if a linker leaves you at +4 on hit, a 9-frame normal can be performed as a manual by pressing the normal 5 frames before the linker finishes. Fortunately, you don’t need to go into training mode and memorize a bunch of frame data to perform manuals in Killer Instinct. Simply remembering the manual restriction rule is enough; light linkers lead to light manuals, medium linkers lead to medium or light manuals, and heavy linkers lead to all three manuals. The frame data has been carefully constructed to make these rules always true.

Comparing Auto-Doubles & Manuals

Since manuals can take the place of auto-doubles, it’s important to understand when and why you might choose to use each.

Auto-doubles do more damage: Because an auto-double is two hits while a manual is most often one, auto-doubles will do more damage. If your opponent is locked out from a missed combo breaker, you should never be using manuals to perform a max damage combo. Auto-doubles also do more white damage, which means they raise the ender level faster, but they also raise the KV meter faster.
Manuals are considerably more difficult to combo break: This is the main benefit that manuals provide; if combo breakers did not exist, manuals would not serve much purpose. This will be covered a bit more in-depth in the Combo Breakers section, but the window for breaking a manual is much less than an auto-double, and you are given much less of a visual cue. The window is small enough that breaking a manual requires a guess, instead of a reaction.
Manuals require more difficult execution: The window for inputting manuals is considerably shorter than any auto-double window, so bringing manuals into your game will require some practice. Whether the benefits are worth it depends on your interest level; it’s entirely possible to fully enjoy and compete at an interemdiate level in Killer Instinct without ever performing a manual (that is, they are not nearly as fundamentally important as links in SFIV), but you will not beat the world’s best players without some of the variation manuals provide.
Switching often between manuals and auto-doubles will throw off your opponent’s timing: Manuals must occur right at the end of your linker, but auto-doubles will cancel the recovery of your linker, which means being unpredictable with how you use auto-doubles and manuals will require your opponent to constantly switch when he looks to combo break. If he is expecting a manual but you do an auto-double instead, he may become confused at the varying pace of your combo and miss an opportunity.
Manuals have restrictions: Because breaking manuals is so difficult, the strength of manual you can perform is directly related to the linker that preceded it, which can lead to some predictable offense at times. These restrictions can be mitigated by switching between manuals and auto-doubles (which have no such restrictions), as described in the previous point, or by performing surprise resets when the opponent is looking for an “obvious” manual, but it is nonetheless a weakness of manual-only offense.
Good players will understand the strengths and weaknesses of both auto-doubles and manuals and use both regularly to keep their offense unpredictable and strong.

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The text dump is a little hard to read (and you don’t get the videos along with it), so it’s probably best to read that on the guide page itself!

Glad you’re getting used to manuals though. Once you learn how to do them, you probably wonder why it was so hard in the first place. Once they “click”, it’s not too difficult.


Learning manuals for me just kinda happened, whilst messing around in Practice and listening to podcasts or something. It’s what convinced me that link execution isn’t a reverable skill, so much as just a thing you do over and over whilst your mind is on other things, so it seeps into muscle memory. Whilst not a huge advocate for high execution, nowadays I can do a lot of high-level things with Jago that would normally count as excessive stylistic flair.

One thing I’d like to point out, is that once I learnt to manual, I dropped combos a whole lot less often. The pause, and the fact that you’re inputting your next action after a linker when you want it to happen rather than before the linker even hits, provides a whole lot more time to think and sequence my stuff. For whatever reason, doing only auto doubles can throw me off of what part I’m up to in my combo and what I’ve inputted already, especially when I’m having to vary up what I am doing, and then it can all just fall apart, or I’ll rely on heavy doubles to “stabilize” before an ender or something, which then becomes a bad habit and makes my combos easier to break. With practice this has become less of an issue, but I still struggle with Fulgore’s auto triples.

Because of this, I’m inclined to think of SF-style link combos as easy mode. Even if you’re worried about dropping a 1-framer somewhere along the line, banking an optimal link combo to muscle memory and breaking it out when you get the hitconfirm is a lot less taxing than performing, let alone optimizing, a combo on-the-fly, or even worse: banking a range of difficult combo pieces to muscle memory and assembling them on-the-fly, as you’ll likely do if you want to improve in KI.

EDIT: I’d be all for a ~3-frame manual link buffer, SFV-style, though. I know some people value that the tension of maybe dropping a 1-frame link in the heat of the moment adds to the experience, but I don’t feel the same way about it.

EDIT2: Also, solid frame trap pressure is a lot harder to master than link combos. You often have to be frame-perfect, and you don’t get any indication that you nailed it in practice. This motivates me to have a of respect for players like Rico Suave: the way he is able to seamlessly frame trap with a variety of characters is super impressive.
So…maybe having easier links risks making learning pressure harder, relatively speaking?


Yeah, good frame trap pressure is hard, especially in KI IMO. There are lots of non-invincible shadow moves that come out in less than 5 frames (your fastest normal), so to trap them requires a ton of precision and it’s pretty annoying to get hit by these moves. Also, because you usually can’t combo out of your frame trap normal on hit as a hit-confirmable link (unlike SF4, where it’s both common and easy), you tend to have to just cancel into specials right away to get your combo started (the exception being 2-hitting command normals that you can NOT do a special on block on reaction, like Jago’s fwd+HK). So really, it comes down to “one shot” where you try to get your frame trap button to hit, because you’re canceling into a special right away. And any delay means you’re giving your opponent a chance to squeak one of those dumb shadows through.

Also coupled with this is the fact that each character has different timing for their pressure. It’s not like it’s easy to just say “oh my character has a 4f safe jump setup, I’ll just learn that” like SF4, and then all frame trap pressure after that “feels the same” among the cast. KI is a really scrambly game, so you really have to practice “making up” frame traps on the fly, in a sense.

As for your note about manuals giving you time to think about your combo, I agree fully. Since my muscle memory is still largely tuned to SF4 (since that’s what my local friends play), I struggle with this quite a bit, and I’ll try to “stabilize” via a heavy double or heavy linker because it a) gives me time to think and b) lets me do a bunch of easy manuals if I’m freaking out a bit. It’s bad news though, because it makes me easy to break. At least I’m cognizant of this pattern, though… when my opponent online locks out 1st frame against me, I just think “man, if only he would recognize I’m always doing heavy linkers”. The worrisome part is when I fight better players, even knowing that I’m doing it, I won’t be able to convince my muscle memory otherwise.

I also think it’s why a lot of pros do short combos. I think it’s fairly easy to do an opener, “press a random button”, then do an ender, mixing up the button every time and not getting out of your comfort zone. I’m really impressed when a good player turns a scramble situation into a counter-breaker, because it shows they were pretty on top of their mental stack. But a lot of the time, they’ll turn a scramble situation into a one-chance and do an ender, probably because it’s actually quite hard to do otherwise.


Anybody know if there are the old school combo strings where would tell you what move do then what’s a link it with excetra excetra. I miss those like they used to have guidebooks where would tell you how to do exact combos I don’t know if that’s possible with this killer instinct since there’s so many different ways to do combos

I agree those were cool…I havent seen any for KI 2013 though…maybe you could make some ???