What is "good defense?"

Its a simple concept, but i got curious after reading other stuff here on the forum. I read how certain fighting game characters have “terrible” or “awesome” defense. Basically, i was wondering what things determine that.

I feel it more depends on the player then character. Plus blocking stuffs 90% of everything anyway.

It’s a combination of a few things. In order of importance:

  1. How good their invulnerable options are for wakeup, or if they even have any.

Jago has a totally invulnerable Dragon Punch that hits in 3 frames. Sabrewulf has to spend a bar of meter to get his invulnerable wakeup, which hits on frame 8 (I think). Obviously, Jago’s is better.

Other characters like Hisako and Aganos don’t have anything fully invulnerable. They have wakeup options that are only partially invulnerable and will lose to certain types of attacks, like throws/projectiles/lows etc. Therefore, doing a wakeup has a lower percentage of succeeding.

  1. How good their backdash is.

Cinder’s backdash is great because it moves him very pretty far away from his original location and recovers pretty quickly. Aganos’ backdash is hot garbage because it basically leaves him in the same spot and is unbelievably slow.

  1. Throw range

It’s easier to tick throw and shimmy characters that have a short throw range, like Arbiter. If he tries to tech the throw, his attempt has a good chance of whiffing, leaving him punishable.

Those are the most important things for knockdown situations. Other things that play a role in neutral or while under pressure:

  1. Anti-air options

If it’s harder for your character to stop someone from jumping in on you, your opponent is generally going to have more opportunities to mix you up.

  1. Frame advantage and range on light buttons

After blocking something, it’s a lot easier to take “your turn” back if you have a fast button that’s plus on block, like Aganos or Sabrewulf.

  1. Character size

If you’re a bigger character, it’s easier to get hit by stuff.


I think in conversations about players, good defense is blocking, using anti-air moves and keeping yourself out of bad screen position.

When people are talking about characters though, they are talking about the ability of that character to play defensively. KI is a game where good blocking will only take you so far because every character has some dirty trick (or two or three) where they can eventually cause you to guess or have to make a prediction and they will open you up. So, the characters have different levels of defense for this kind of stuff. So things like invincible reversals (DPs), good back dashes, counter moves, quick normals etc. contribute to good defense. Characters like Gargos, who is not very mobile when on defense and doesn’t have good close normals or an invincible reversal have pretty lousy defense.


I thought Aganos had a fully invulnerable move. Isn’t it Shadow Ruin? I could’ve sworn that thing is fully invincible until it hits or is whiffed completely.

No, it’s strike and projectile invincible on startup. Any throw will beat it.

In terms of characters, good defense is a result of good evasive/reversal options, strong pokes to stop forward movement, low profile/low crush options, backward movespeed, fast safe moves, etc. In essence, things a character can do to take themselves out of a disadvantageous situation.

In terms of players, good defense is being able to deal with good offense without relying on that stuff.

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Isn’t it fully invincible pre-freeze then throw vulnerable right after or a few frames later?

No, it’s always vulnerable to throws. During startup it’s strike invulnerable, then during active frames it has unlimited armor. The ‘strike invulnerable’ part was added so that it can’t get stuffed by heavy buttons during startup.

During the Season 3 balance changes stream, I think Keits made the mistake of saying the words “fully invulnerable” to describe that it’s no longer just armored, which made a bunch of people misunderstand.

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I’ll add that to my list of things to look at.

Ah, I see.

I found this site to be a huge help www.ki.infil.net

In my experience I’ve always assumed that he can’t be thrown out of active frames, since he’d hit whoever tried. During startup or recovery though, he’s fair game for throws.

Without trying to be funny, but running away apparently is good defense as well. A legitimate strategy and a tactic very popular when Shago was just released. At least it doesn’t impact your life bar as much as standing and trading with opponents.
Isn’t this what Kan Ra needs to do as well, run away? As he needs space and time to set up traps?

It’s uncommon, but Thunder and Kan-Ra (among others) can reliably use a shadow command throw against a no-point blank shadow ruin

If I would have to choose a top 5 of characters with best defense, in no particular order…

  1. Jago
  2. Thunder
  3. Fulgore
  4. Orchid
  5. Cinder

Oh yeah… I’ve seen that happen numerous times - they get the hit because of the freeze. That’s probably the only way it’s possible though.

You don’t think Aganos has a pretty good defense? I’d say his is the best in the game. :slight_smile:

I dunno… Part of Aganos’ game plan is based around his defense. However, once you strip away those chunks (and several characters have multiple ways of doing so) he becomes a gigantic punching bag. As a Sadira main, once I get on his back side, he has few options to deal with her craziness.

I think chunkless Aganos has top 3 worst defense in the game.

Edit: chunked Aganos(any of them) isn’t among the best defenses of the game.

His wake up game is weak to H meaties and throws, his hitbox is still huge, almost all shadow moves destroy his chunks, has weak anti airs, and no full invul reversal