Maintaining offense is a very important aspect of Ragna's gameplan, although not his strongest. Learning how to mix-up and apply pressure properly is the only way to open up a good opponent in order to land combos and inflict damage, and while Ragna does not excel at this, he still has many tricks up his sleeve.
Whenever your attacks get consistently blocked, you need a way to open the opponent up in order to inflict damage. The most common ways are overheads and throws. Ragna is by no means a mix-up character but can be a force to be reckoned with good use of his normals and specials. His main tools are: 5B, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 6B and throws. Occasionally, cross-ups such as cross-up j.B, cross-up Blood Scythe and cross-up instant air dash D Inferno Divider are also viable. Refer to the Move List to learn more about these moves.
- Block Strings
- 1. 2A > 2B > 2C > 5C > 2D
Run-of-the-mill block string. Works at most ranges and can catch jump out attempts. 5C > 2D is punishable in case 5C gets Instant Blocked, so beware and dont use 2D whenever that happens. After 2D you return to neutral and must once again fight for the pressure.
- 2. 2A > 2B > (5B) > 3C > 2D or jc
Must be done at fairly close ranges and countains 3 lows. You can choose to continue pressure by jump canceling the blocked 3C into jump in j.C. However, that's quite easy to punish so dont use it too often. 2B can be canceled straight into 3C if range is an issue.
- 3. 2A > 2C > delay 5C > (2D)
- 4. 2A > (2B) > (2C) > 6B > 2D
Basic block string into Ragna's standing overhead, 6B. Not particularly difficult to block since everyone knows that 6B can come after 2A/2B/2C. If the overhead gets blocked use 2D to make it less unsafe.
- 5. 2A > 5B (or Gauntlet Hades attempt) > 3C (or ground/air Gauntlet Hades attempt)
The earlier the Gauntlet Hades the better. Slightly more difficult to predict and block than the previous block string, but riskier as well. In case Gauntlet Hades gets blocked, Spin Kick can be used to hit possible punish attempts, however this is incredibly risky as it's extremely unsafe if blocked/whiffed (crouching forces it whiff, and you should be prepared to expect that your opponent knows that).
Using Gauntlet Hades is a better option if you have at least 50% Heat to make it safe on block by Rapid Canceling it and continuing to apply pressure.
Those were just simple examples, but Ragna can do much better than that using other strategies and mix-ups. The strings themselves arent as important as the way they can be linked into each other. Some (albeit few) of Ragna's moves are positive on block and can be used to reset block strings so pressure can be maintained from them, such as:
- 2C - +1 on block. One of his best options is dash 2A > block string. However, it can lose to Instant Block and mashing. In that case use other moves such as 5C or 3C to not get countered.
- 6D > j.D - Slow startup but when blocked gives another opportunity to pressure and mix-up. A very important tool and can be cance;led into from practically any move. You can also whiff the j.D and go for a quick low such as 2B. Don't be too predicable with it though since the start-up is rather slow and loses to fast moves.
- Dead Spike > Dash Cancel - Another advantageous move on block. 2A and 5B are relatively safe if done at short and long distances respectively. Dont be predicable with this one since jumps can punish this when whiffed.
- Blood Scythe - +5 on block. A very slow move to start-up, but when blocked gives Ragna the advantage.
The key to pressure is mixing those blocks trings with these moves, for example:
Block string #3 plus #5
2A > 2C > delay 5C > Dead Spike > dc 2A > 5B (or Gauntlet Hades attempt)> 3C (or ground/air Gauntlet Hades attempt)
Block string #4 into #1 plus #2
2A > (2B) > (2C) > 6B > ;6D > j.D > 2A > 2B > 2C > dash 2A > 2B > (5B) > 3C > 2D or jc
That's the basic idea behind Ragna's mix-up. Don't forget to put some throws in the mix! But that's not the only thing he has to offer.
- Stagger Pressure
Easy to execute and a very powerful tool. It basically consists of multiple 2As delivered at different timings to create frame traps and reset pressure. It's hard to deal with since the opponent is forced to block and mashing gets beaten by the frame traps. However, Barrier Guard and Instant Barrier can push you and make this lose effectivity. So make sure to mix this with other block strings and moves.
- 2A > delay 2A > dash 2A...
Delay 2A creates a frame trap and dash 2A puts your closer to start a better block string. Then mix everything so something like this can be done:
- 2A > 5D > Blood Scythe > dash 5B (or throw attempt) > 2B > 2C > dash 2A (or throw attempt) > 2A > 2A (or throw attempt) > 5B > Gauntlet Hades
This particular string is hard to react and block for most part. You can also throw at any of these points. Blocking for too long can be uncomfortable even for the most experienced players, so the Gauntlet Hades at the end will certainly hit since Ragna has many more options after 5B, such as lows. And in the event that it gets blocked you can still Rapid Cancel and start another block string of that kind.
Note: Blood Scythe should be used very scarcely in block strings. Despite being plus on block, it is as mentioned, incredibly slow. Even if the opponent is in blockstun when you start it, they will almost certainly recover by the time it becomes active. It is merely something to consider.
Okizeme occurs when an opponent is forced to recover in a way that gives you initiative to begin pressure. Even though Ragna's main strength doesn't lie in mix-ups and okizeme, he's more than capable of getting in to inflict pressure.
Ragna's okizeme, as stated before, starts after finishers/knockdowns such as Hell's Fang >> Follow-up and Inferno Divider >> Upper >> Ax Kick. The former is better since it gives more options, but using the latter is inevitable for some combos.
- Inferno Divider >> Upper >> Ax Kick
After Ax Kick, Ragna lands right next to the opponent at slight advantage, assuming the opponent techs immediately. If they refuse to wake-up, use 2B > 5B > 5D > Hell's Fang to pick them off the ground and carry further into the corner.
In the event they obediently tech, dash in and start pressure with either 2A, 6D or just go for a throw. Keep in mind, however, that reversals will beat any attempt so watch out for these. You can also try to execute the rather gimmicky but surprisingly effective cross-up instant air dash into D Inferno Divider in order to catch the opponent off-guard and combo into a very damaging combo. It requires at least 50% Heat.
- Hell's Fang >> Follow-up
The best finisher. Gives Ragna considerable advantage and much better mix-up options, specially in the corner. Mid-screen, despite the deceptive distance and recovery from Follow-up, also gives enough time for Ragna to dash in and 5B, which will also beat jump out attempts. If they ever back roll consider going for air dash > air throw, since most opponents like to jump to freedom.
In the corner his options include safe jumps and deadly mix-ups. Always try to hit Follow-up at the highest possible height (i.e: combo into air hit 5D > Hell's Fang >> immediate/slight delay Follow-up) so you may obtain greater advantage. Now, for the mix-ups in question... combo into Hell's Fang >> Follow-up, then jump and...
- 1. j.C - Do it as late as possible (too late and the j.C wont even come out) and it becomes a safe jump. In other words, if they block the j.C hits, if they reversal the j.C whiffs but you recover in time to block and punish the reversal. It can also catch forward rolls, in case they try to escape from the corner. Works better with neutral jump. j.B can also be used to the same effect and it catches forward rolls more easily than j.C.
- 2. Air dash j.C > j.D - Double overhead mix-up, typically used after the opponents starts respecting your okizeme and blocks. Because most people are used to blocking high and then low, even when the high doesnt hit, this simple mix-up becomes very effective. Leads to considerable damage also.
- 3. 2B - Empty jump-in into low setup. Expecting the j.C, and thus blocking high, makes the 2B hit unsuspecting opponents. It's a very good option to throw off their guard. It can lose to mashing, throws and obviously reversals.
- 4. Forward Throw - Yet another option. As usual, mix-up this with any of the above to make yourself unpredicable.
- 5. Air dash j.C > delay j.D (whiff) > 2B/throw - A very tricky mix-up that works greatly against those who can block air dash j.C > j.D.
Remember, you must hit Follow-up as early as possible without whiffing to earn good advantage. None of these will work properly if it hits from typical grounded confirms such as "5B > 5C > Hell's Fang >> Follow-up". But if that ever happens, you can still go for decent options.
- 6. Meaty Dead Spike > Dash Cancel - Dead Spike gives Ragna considerable advantage and even more if done as the opponent wakes up. It forces them to block and basically lets Ragna in for free.
This setup loses to projectile invulnerable specials and Distortion Drives, so look out for these.
Don't forget that all of these setups except for 1 and 6 will lose to reversals. Just remember to always mix up these options and never let yourself become predictable.
Ragna's defense game is quite literally deciding when to use C Inferno Divider. His DP is among the fastest in the game, and it also leads into decent damage and a complete reversal of momentum. While this may encourage you to abuse this move, keep in mind that it is just as unsafe to use as any other DP. It's not advised to try and DP out of absolutely every block string, even with 50% Heat. The only time when this move should be used is either when the move will absolutely work or when you have 50% Heat, in which you can use a Rapid Cancel. Because of this, you'll often find yourself blocking, but good blocking will shut down any person's offensive game regardless of what character they play.
Ragna's neutral game is a lot stronger comparatively than his offense game, but it requires a good, deep understanding of Ragna's moves and how each should be used in what situation.
- Ragna's primary footsies (5B, 5C, 2D) are all very powerful. They can lead to good combos on hit and are relatively safe when used outside of point-blank range. 5B is also incredibly easy to hit confirm into damage and good okizeme afterwards. Be sure to use these moves a lot; Ragna isn't called a footsie character for nothing.
- Ragna's anti-air game is decent. It works well for the capabilities that he is given, but it's nothing particularly special. Regardless, it will still give opponents who try to approach you from the air a problem.
- In the past, 6A was considered to be Ragna's official anti-air, and its range and time frame of head invulnerability makes this move work a lot of the time. However, the move has quite a lengthy recovery, and a few characters can take advantage of that, a prime example being Hakumen's Hotaru. Unfortunately, 6A is only jump cancelable on hit now, meaning that you're forced to cancel into a special, putting yourself more at risk. Because of this, you're often discouraged to use 6A as an anti-air, it's still good to keep in mind that you have the option.
- 5A is also a very powerful anti-air given for its quick speed and easy hit confirm off of it. Compared to 6A, 5A leads into slightly less damaging combos, but it is much more safer to use in neutral. Additionally, 5A can gatling into absolutely any move, so you can go straight into a mix-up if you catch the opponent blocking your 5A in the air (it is also safe as well so you can bait any reversals that you expect).
- Although not officially an anti-air, 5B surprisingly serves well as an anti-air. It's faster than 6A, the hitbox is decent, the combos from this move output a lot of damage, and it's incredibly easy to hit confirm into a combo on Counter Hit. Keep in mind however there is also an attack hitbox at his foot, so using the move when close to the opponent will often result in the opponent beating your move out (since the opponent will be able to hit your head at this range). Because of this, use at maximum footsie distances, just like you would on ground.
- Ragna's air-to-ground approach is still reasonably strong thanks to j.C. While this may give you an easier time when in the air, anti-airs will still be able to beat your air approaches out, and j.C doesn't make Ragna's aerial game that much stronger to the point where you should be in the air all the time. It's still important to stay grounded as much as possible. The real strength of this move is in its safe jump utility.
- As far as Ragna's air-to-air capabilites are concerned, Ragna tends not to spend much time in the air due to the sheer usefulness of his ground normals. However, that's not to say that his air normals are lacking.
- j.A is fast and cancels into itself on block. It therefore can be used as a safer alternative in situations that would normally force you to use one of Ragna's other anti-airs, such as 6A or C Inferno Divider, should you be in the position to use it. Not only that, but high jumping into j.A allows you to pursue an opponent normally too high for conventional anti-airs.
- j.D is used scarcely in neutral due to Ragna not really benefiting at mid range in the air, but it's worth noting that it still has a reasonably large horizontal hitbox for an air normal, and has plentiful hitstun should you land it.