Spinal's general gameplan/strategy?

So I have decided Spinal will be my main. I am still new to the game and am learning more as I continue to play and practice, but I still have a long way to go. I know I will eventually figure things out on my own but I tried looking up some guides/tips for Spinal and really didn’t come up with much other than Maximillion’s first impressions when the character was released, and TrueUnderDawgGaming’s video.

So are there any Spinal mains here that want to give a new player a few tips for using this character?

Not a spinal main, but I think I’ve got the jist of it.
Spinal relies heavily on his skulls. They give moves new properties, and allow him to cancel teleports and other moves for some safe set ups. Whenever possible, get yourself some more skulls by a)throwing your opponent, b)using the spectral manual combo trait by hitting a button of the same strength as your autodouble to sneak in an extra hit/gain a skull, or c) use his Searing Skull/Fireball ender, which acts as his battery ender by giving him skulls in proportion to ender level.

Once you have skulls, you can use Searing Skulk to send out a fireball that, on hit, drains Shadow Meter. Light is a low, medium is a fast middle hit, and heavy is an overhead that rains down on your opponent. Once you’re sucking their shadow meter out, you can use that to either get mad damage or hit them with Shadow Searing Skull, which drains Instinct.
Once you get instinct, spinal gets scary. His instinct gives him regenerating -and therefore practically endless- skulls to use. This means he can do a lot of safe stuff and gets a lot of mix ups. Most importantly though, it’s the final link in a feedback loop. Skulls give Spinal Shadow, Shadow can be used to steal instinct, which grants him more skulls, which gets him more shadow, which gets him more instinct, which gets him more skulls, which gets him more etc.

He’s a very heavy momentum based character. He starts out the game on the back foot, struggling to keep up in a lot of situations, but once he gets resources he’s a terrifying character to fight against.

Edit: Note that teleport isn’t safe unless you have skulls. Don’t just throw it out, even if it is super cool.


Listen to @Fwufikins; he’s giving good advice here.

Just some things I’d like to add though:

  • Many players will juggle you with his sword-slash special move, and then do a standing HK into shadow seariing skull, followed by a regular searing skull to drain both at the same time. Oftentimes, if they have full shadow meter, they’ll hit you with 2 shadow searing skulls in quick succession. This is a common setup that you, yourself, could try.
  • Curses, as they’re called, stack up to 3x, so you can hit your opponent with 3 blue skulls and 3 yellow skulls (searing skull and shadow searing skull, respectively) to drain your opponent’s resources EVEN FASTER. Please note, however that if you get hit, these curses get removed from your opponent.
  • Spinal’s heavy teleport becomes safe and can be special-move cancelable (you can teleport and IMMEDIATELY follow-up with another special move) with skulls.
  • Spinal’s heavy shield charge becomes projectile invulnerable with skulls.
  • Spinal’s heavy sword slash gets 1 extra hit for damage and juggle purposes with skulls.
  • All of Spinal’s searing skulls (light, medium, and heavy) become true, slow-moving projectiles with mixup potential (great for teleport crossups and other shenanigans) that can drain your opponent’s shadow meter (as explained above).
  • Spinal can also gain skulls via his absorb command normal (hold b+LP), which is used to “absorb” special and shadow moves (only).
  • Spinal has an overhead command normal with b+HP that can be used to defeat low-blocking opponents.
  • Spinal has great reach with his d+HK, standing HP, standing HK, jump HP, and d+MP - use them to your advantage (but be careful, as some are not safe on block - d+HK comes to mind).
  • Use Spinal’s teleport ender for damage, as it’s his damage ender, if you want to end the fight quickly; it’s best used after you get momentum going with skulls.
  • Use Spinal’s searing skull ender for his skulls, as it’s his resource ender, if you want to start gaining momentum quickly.
  • Spinal can run simply by holding forward. It can be canceled into any normal (such as b+HP), special, and shadow moves, and even his throw for great mixups.
  • Spinal can perform a normal attack-into run cancel with skulls, once for each skull. This works great for some truly unique and crazy mixups your opponents may not expect. Simply perform a normal attack followed by a run into another normal into run, and so on… Throw in some specials, shadows, throws, etc. for even MORE mixup potential into virtually anything you want.

Final point to add to the detailed tactic mentioned above that have covered basically everything. Watch UA Bass’ matches, he’s arguably the best Spinal I’ve seen and does really well in most tournaments. Crazy tech to learn there once you understand Spinal’s buttons.


@Fwufikins, @GalacticGeek & @DoobyDude23: Awesome stuff guys. Thank you all for the input and tips. I am going to have to read over this a few times and maybe even keep it up next time I practice, there is a ton of stuff here I didn’t know of so this is very helpful, so thanks :smile:


No problem! If you ever want some hands on practice, I’m available most days. My GT is the same as on here, but with a space in between the 2 words (so, instead of GalacticGeek, it’s Galactic Geek).

1 Like

Awesome! That would be great, I do think I could use the practice against a human player soon. The AI has been good to let me get the real basic stuff down, but in order to really get better ill need to start playing some of you guys real soon :slight_smile:

I am still kind of learning the game, I have had it for about 3 days now and feel like I am improving a bit but I still feel like I am missing a lot of things, im just not sure what it is though lol. I do know my defense needs to major work. I am not used to back to block so that is something I am still adjusting to. Properly breaking is also something I need to work on, though I have read thats something you get better at the more you play and learn to recognize the different movements and speeds between all of the characters light, medium and heavy attacks.