Linker scaling

I know that some people are aware of this bug (EDIT: NOT A BUG,) but I don’t think anyone’s done any real digging into it. I decided that, you know what, it’s time someone did this thing! But to explain this, let’s take a hop, skip, and jump right on over to @infilament’s guide at

Now, something that’s stuck out to me for a while is that some characters in his counterbreaker combo section couldn’t get to level 4 on their counterbreaker combos. At first I didn’t think this was so odd, but the more I messed around with various characters, the more it stuck out to me. Barring exceptions like fulgore and cinder, each character’s doubles and linkers generally do about the same damage; most of the damage variance comes from unique combo routes, shadow linkers, ability to frontload damage, and enders. And yet, characters with doubles that appeared at first glance to be perfectly normal were struggling to reach that crucial level 4 ender. It turns out that, barring cinder, every character unable to reach level 4 from an immediate counterbreaker in his guide was suffering from the Scaling Bug. (EDIT: NOT A BUG WOWOWOW)

To talk about what the bug is, though, we first have to talk about how damage scaling works in KI. This honestly deserves a whole topic to itself, but to get to the most important bits: linkers and doubles are supposed to advance combo scaling by a fixed amount, regardless of strength. Manuals are supposed to advance scaling by a lesser amount, unless they’re more than one hit. I say “supposed to” because this is how most of the cast works.

But for some characters, this is not so! TJ, Maya, Riptor, Aganos, Kim, Arbiter, Rash, Gargos, and Eyedol all suffer from what I’m going to be calling the Scaling Bug. Kan-Ra and Aria suffer from a variation of it, but we’ll get to them later.

So, what exactly is happening? Simply put, for these characters their linkers are scaling per hit, rather than per move. This means that combos from these characters that include medium and heavy linkers will do much, much less damage. Because all counterbreakers trigger medium or heavy linkers (depending on if you hold the buttons or not,) this means that for these characters any counterbreaker combo they use will take a significant damage hit from the start.

But forget counterbreakers, let’s talk about the real consequences of this bug: essentially these characters cannot reliably build ender levels in combos that aren’t extremely predictable. As far as I can tell, these characters have always been like this, but various factors probably obscured this from most players. In addition to this version of the bug, there’s also some weirdness going on with Kan-Ra and Aria. For these characters, their medium linkers are normal, but their heavy linkers, well…for Aria, her heavy explosive arc linker counts as two moves for scaling. Not so bad, yeah? But for Kan-Ra, every hit of his heavy linkers advances combo scaling. This means that a sequence of, for example, heavy scarabs into heavy whirl linker results in scaling so intense that whatever combo that follows can’t even reach level 3 without spending meter.

EDIT: Also, not sure if this is intentional since it seems to be consistent across the cast, but shadow moves (normally unscaled in combos at 60% of total damage) scale per hit in juggles!

In the end turned out to be an intentional part of the game’s balance. Maybe not one I necessarily like, give how opaque it is, but it isn’t a bug.


Well this topic should be interesting. For some of those characters it seems to me this could pretty well be intentional, as a backend way to artificially gatekeep damage from these characters. It could also be a bug though - the Aria and Kan versions would appear at first glance to be more bug than intent. But though it’s perhaps a little wonky in execution, the amount of damage for all the characters listed above feels about right to me given their archetypes and toolsets, so I dunno that messing around with it is necessarily the best option. Plenty of other things can break when trying to fix simple things in a complex coding environment.

I am curious now though. @TheKeits, would you care to weigh in at all? Intentional scaling mechanism, or weird code glitch that kinda just gets baked into the cake of damage balancing?

Part of what makes me think this is a bug is that this isn’t the case for any of the season 1 characters. It makes me think that double helix implemented damage scaling in some weird, nonsensical way that caused this to happen for some characters. Also, there are other characters intended to do less damage than average–fulgore, omen, cinder, sadira–that have this implemented in ways that make much more sense. Lesser damage on doubles or linkers, limited access to meter, or weaker enders…these are all things they’ve used to cut characters off from damage. Also, keep in mind, Kim has this bug, someone explicitly stated to be intended to hit very hard.

I agree that it could cause more problems to rock the boat, but I think that if they can fix it without causing the game to implode, they should.

I’m still waiting on the reason why some throws scale and others don’t. :confused:

Which throws scale?

Cinder, ARIA, mira. Basically anyone with combo counter throws except kim’s…

Interesting thread. I had been very curious why some characters can’t get to level 4 on a counter break combo if no white life is on the character. I had just chalked it up to some characters having less damaging auto-doubles or something, but in hindsight that was probably a bit naive.

I think it makes a lot of sense to fix the bug, as long as they take a bit of care in making sure the damage doesn’t get away on them for some characters (Riptor comes to mind first). But in general I don’t think a ton of character-specific changes would need to be made… in fact, probably very few, or zero, changes are necessary. For example, I don’t think Kan-Ra would be markedly more strong if his heavy linkers didn’t immediately make sure he couldn’t get more than level 2 enders. If you got hit by a “new” Kan-Ra combo that involved some heavy linkers and he got to level 3 for 35% cashout, you’d probably think “ah that makes sense”, not “man that’s so high”.

And in practice, the fix it would make to counter breakers is only going to push the numbers more consistent across the board. Like, look at Riptor’s CB numbers: according to my guide, they are 39, 57, 67 for 0 meter, 1 meter, 2 meter, assuming no white life on opponent to start. That 0 meter combo is unnecessarily low, right? If that was 47 or something because he could get to level 4, I don’t think anybody would be thinking it’s out of the ordinary at all.

My guess is this is because juggled shadow moves are manuals, and all manuals seem to scale on a per-hit basis.


Funny, all my 3 main characters are affected by this(Aganos, Gargos, Eyedol)

This is very interesting, and @DEClimax had a really clever and analytic approach for this “issue”. I’m really impressed, well done :slight_smile:

Ahhh, like the airborne state is causing the manual properties of juggles to override the unscaled damage of the shadow move? I could see it.

It’s probably true of all manuals? Like, try doing wall splat into shadow, does the shadow scale per hit there? Or how about Fulgore shadow laser, pip cancel teleport, shadow blade dash? Or Cinder shadow trailblazer, link air shadow trailblazer?

Nope, nor will it scale from jump attacks into shadows or manuals from grounded normals into shadows. Nor after staggers, etc etc. It’s definitely something caused by it being a juggle.

Maybe it’s related to not being a regular combo. Sounds like a way to decrease the damage of juggles, making juggling characters less damaging since they are harder to break(Kinda)?

That’s what I thought at first, but now I’m doubtful. The shadow moves that would be most useful in juggles either cash out or, in the case of cinder’s shadow pyrobomb, are single hits. Like, think about air shadow trailblazer. Even if it didn’t scale, I don’t think you’d see it used much; if you’re going to make your juggle as breakable as a grounded combo, you might as well just do a grounded combo. It might see some narrow application to tack damage onto juggle lockouts then recapture into ender but overall I imagine cinder players have other things they’d rather spend their meter on.

Yeah, as Cinder, I only use aerial trailblazer to fish counterbreakers or to avoid projectiles. Two very situational and sometimes suboptimal uses.

Shadow Ruin is a single hit shadow move. How does it scales according to this?
I would ask about Fulgore’s hyper beam too, but that attack already scales heavily when follows another attack

Hmm, I’d thought since shadow ruin was an ender it wouldn’t be affected, but it is. However, the wall damage that follows is unscaled.

Also, fulgore hype beam doesn’t scale outside of juggles. It misses out on first-hit bonus damage, but it behaves like any other shadow move in combo, doing 60% of its total damage on every hit.

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Ruin is a curious move. Quoting Keits:

Since it’s affected, maybe it’s Shadow ruin taking the scaling of the regular version?

Yeah, I noticed this with Gargos. While I was grinding for LVL 50 fighting AI in Survival, I realized that while I was doing portal punch combos, doing heavy linkers actually made the combos do less damage.

Heavy linkers are really only good for setting up manuals and some corner carry (unless you’re Mira obviously). And I would like to see an explanation from @TheKeits about whether or not this should be kept in the game. I know it would affect damage across the cast and maybe cause some problems, so I’m not sure the devs would risk changing this.

Not to mention all the salty players will be like “They changed stuff nobody asked for” smdh

Yeah, there’s been some weird stuff in general with Aganos’ ender level building. I’ve had many situations where I end the round with a Shadow move (I think a Shadow Counter), then do nothing but heavy ADs and light linkers, but it’s still impossible to get a level 4 ender without blowing out first. I always thought that was due to guts scaling, which it still might be.

Aganos’ linkers are pretty bad, even without the knowledge of this bug. I just tested this now - It is practically impossible to get timing locked out between his linkers and a subsequent manual because the break window on the linker is so large. In fact, it feels easier to get a Counter Hit Combo Breaker on a LK manual than it is to get locked out. You can see the whole animation of the linker, eat a sandwich, then break it. With this scaling bug, there is almost no value for Aganos to do heavy linkers other than baiting for a counter breaker.

Also (kinda unrelated), since he was released, doing Cr. MK > Medium Natural Disaster > Cl.HP manual would result in a level 2 ender. Then at some point (the Mira patch?) it stayed at level 1, meaning it became harder to get ahead in the resource game.


On a bit of a side-note, I’m thoroughly enjoying this conversation because I have wondered about a lot of this myself in regards to the golem. Please, by all means, do continue. I think all of you are onto something here.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the impact of returning scaling on all of these characters to normal is smaller in combos that use meter, due to shadow linkers ignoring scaling anyway. Using riptor as an example (tested by doing the optimal counterbreaker combo after a light linker instead of a counterbreaker) without the bug her counterbreaker damage would be 50%/59%/68%–a major increase at the low end, but very little difference in her metered combos.

Actually, I might as well compare what all the characters affected by this would get without it…

Currently: 41%/52%/59%
Normal scaling: 42%/54%/59%

Currently: 38%/51%/55%
Normal scaling: 47%/53%/56%

Currently: 39%/57%/67%
Normal scaling: 50%/59%/68%

Currently: 36%/56%/63%
Normal scaling: 37%/56%/63%

Kim Wu
Currently: 38%/53%/63%
Normal scaling: 39%/53%/63%
Normal scaling from LK instead of HK dragon dance opener: 48%/54%/64%
note: even with normal scaling, the two hits of heavy dragon dance scale it enough anyway to just barely prevent it from reaching level 4.

Currently: 33%/42%/49%%
Normal scaling: 36%/44%/50%
note: arbiter gains almost no damage from ender levels. he probably wouldn’t need a damage adjustment after all.

Currently: 41%/52%/61%
Normal scaling: 46%/52%/62%

Currently: 40%/51%/58%
Normal scaling: 47%/53%/61%

Currently: 34%/48%/54%
Normal scaling: 43%/50%/56%

Currently: 31%/42%/46%
Normal scaling with LK stomp strike opener: 36%/43%/47%
note: like kim, opener changed for lesser scaling

So overall, I think that at the very least counterbreaker damage would still be reasonable if all these characters had normal scaling. Riptor does stand out though; her damage in normal combos could get a bit high.