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Understanding Damage Scaling

There are 3 standard factors when assigning damage: Defense Modifier, Guts Rating, and R.I.S.C. Level. When combined, they determine how much damage your character will take at every point in the Life Gauge. It's important to learn how strong/weak/effective your attacks will be at different points of the battle.

Both the Guts scaling and R.I.S.C. Level scaling can take place at the same time. For example. Sol (Defense x1.00, Guts 1) is at 15% life remaining. According to the chart, if Sol gets hit by a 100 damage move, it will inflict 72 damage. However, if the R.I.S.C. Level is lower than half full, then the damage scaling will also be taken into account.

Read each individual section below to understand how they work.

R.I.S.C. Level

A positive R.I.S.C. Level is denoted by the pink filling the gauge. If it gets over half full, it will start flashing

The R.I.S.C. Level is located directly underneath your character's Life Gauge and it directly affects damage scaling.

The R.I.S.C. Level will rise each time an attack is blocked using basic block or Instant Block. Using Faultless Defense or Blitz Shield will prevent the R.I.S.C. Level from increasing.

Getting hit will lower the R.I.S.C. Level. Once empty, R.I.S.C. damage scaling starts to take effect. The amount of scaling differs from move to move and the effect is cumulative through the entire combo. Once the combo ends and the opponent returns to a neutral state, damage scaling is reset.

Each attack has an associated R.I.S.C. Level rating associated with it listed in the frame data, showing how much it will raise and lower the R.I.S.C Level on block and hit. For example an attack with R.I.S.C. -10/+5 would lower R.I.S.C. by 10 on hit and raise it by 5 on block.

When Empty
R.I.S.C. damage scaling starts to take effect. Initial Proration and Forced Proration are still applied.
When Partially Filled
R.I.S.C. damage scaling does not come into effect until the gauge is empty. The R.I.S.C. Level will slowly empty while the character is in a neutral state. Initial Proration and Forced Proration are still applied.
When Over Half Full (Flashing)
R.I.S.C. damage scaling does not come into effect and all hits will be considered Counter Hits - even throws and mid-combo attacks! The R.I.S.C. Level will slowly empty while the character is in a neutral state. Initial Proration and Forced Proration are still applied.

Initial Proration and Forced Proration

Initial Proration and Forced Proration are another part of Guilty Gear's engine to reduce the damage of certain combos for the sake of game balance.

Initial Proration is factored in only if your first attack of a combo is done with a prorated move. For example, Sol's 5P and 2P both have 80% initial prorate. Though these are good moves to tap out while doing pressure, if you do land a hit off them, the combo that follows will do less damage as a result. Initial Proration is generally applied to quick attacks that are common as pressure or mixup (particularly lows), as a way to balance their speed and keep damage reasonable in situations where the opponent's R.I.S.C. Level is likely elevated.

Forced Proration is a more harsh version of initial proration: it prorates subsequent attacks in a combo no matter what! For example, if May sets up a combo that lets her hop aboard a charging dolphin, the combo is immediately prorated 70%, reducing the damage of any attacks thereafter. Forced Proration is generally applied to strong attacks that you might not usually land in a combo, as a way to prevent them from being too strong in those situations where they're available.

Minimum Damage

Overdrive attacks in Guilty Gear have minimum damage, though the effect is much less perceptible than in BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena. All Overdrives deal 20% of their base damage at a minimum, but this value is affected by Guts and OTG state.

Base Damage * Character Defense Modifier * Guts Rating * 20% = Minimum Damage
If OTG hit, then multiply by 30%

For example, an Overdrive attack with 100 base damage will do at least 20 damage to Sol (1.00 defense modifier, no guts) when he is at over 50% health.

However if Sol has less than 10% health remaining, that same attack would only do 8 damage since guts reduces damage to 40%.

As for Burst Overdrives, the minimum damage varies on a case-by-case basis:

Burst Overdrive Minimum Damage
Percentage Character
70% Haehyun
60% Leo, May, Slayer
50% Bedman, Elphelt ※1, Faust, I-No, Jack-O', Johnny, Potemkin, Ramlethal, Sol, Zato
40% Axl, Jam, Ky, Millia, Raven ※2, Sin
30% Chipp, Dizzy
20% Venom

※1: Only deals higher than the base percentage on the cinematic hit. The initial hit and subsequent non-cinematic hits all deal the standard 20%.
※2: Only deals higher than the base percentage on the final hit.

Guts and Defense Ratings

All characters have 420 life. Depending on how much life a character has left, there are different levels of damage scaling. This damage scaling is different than the type given by the R.I.S.C. Level; both affect damage scaling at the same time.


Guts acts as a type of damage scaling that gets more intense the lower a character's life. For example, an attack that would do 100 damage to Sol at full life would only do 40 damage when he is at 10% life.

This means that the Life Gauge is misleading; a Life Gauge that visually looks like it's 50% full actually has much more than 50% life left!

Each character has a Guts rating. As you can see, the lower the Guts rating, the less damage scaling a character will receive at lower life values.

Guts Rating
Guts Rating <50% Life <40% Life <30% Life <20% Life <10% Life Character
0 90% 76% 60% 50% 40% Bedman, Elphelt, Faust, Zato
1 87% 72% 58% 48% 40% Axl, I-No, Ramlethal, Sin, Slayer, Sol, Venom, Dizzy
2 84% 68% 56% 46% 38% Ky, Haehyun
3 81% 66% 54% 44% 38% Johnny ※1, Leo, May, Millia, Potemkin, Jam
4 78% 64% 50% 42% 38% Chipp
5 75% 60% 48% 40% 36% Raven

※1: Previously 4, changed in consumer Ver.1.03 (arcade Ver.1.10).

The implications of the Guts system also leads to interesting damage optimization choices when the opponent is low on life.

  • Attacks do a minimum of 1 damage per hit, so attacks and combos that do lots of small hits can end up doing more damage than standard combos in low life scenarios.
    • This is why you may see players do OTG combos with multiple GGP.pngs when the opponent is close to death instead of going for okizeme... they're sacrificing knockdown for damage and hoping to kill them!
    • Chipp players often combo into Ryuu Yanagi (kunai super) for the same reason.
  • Single hit, big damage attacks can effectively do "more" damage when the opponent is near the life threshold of gaining another defensive boost.
    • Example: Doing a single big hit when an opponent is at 41% health so that they have less life with the > 30% life defense bonus.
    • This concept is similar to doing big damage combos when the opponent is near Awakening status in the Persona Arena series.
  • Chip Damage, Poison and Instant Kill Mode's life drain effect are unaffected by Guts, meaning they effectively do more damage when life is low!
  • Life gain effects (Faust's Donut and Chocolate) are also unaffected by Guts!

Character Defense

Guilty Gear has character specific defense modifiers. The chart below shows each characters defense modifier.

As you can see, Chipp's defense modifier is the largest and Bedman and Potemkin's defense modifier is the smallest. This means that an attack that inflicts 100 damage on Sol (x1.00) would inflict 130 on Chipp (x1.30) and only 93 on Bedman or Potemkin (x0.93), assuming Guts is not a factor.

Defense Modifier Table
Defense Modifer Character(s)
x1.30 Chipp
x1.21 Millia
x1.10 Raven
x1.09 Zato
x1.06 Axl, I-No, May, Ramlethal, Dizzy, Jam
x1.04 Sin
x1.03 Ky, Venom
x1.00 Elphelt, Faust, Johnny, Leo, Sol
x0.96 Haehyun, Slayer
x0.93 Bedman, Potemkin

Hitstun/Untechable Time and Gravity

The amount of hitstun each attack deals is dictated by its Attack Level, and all the data for hitstun/untechable time is listed here. Attack Levels for each attack are listed in each character's individual frame data. However, some attacks do different amounts of stun than their Attack Level would suggest.

Crouching-Only Combos

Hitting a crouching opponent with an attack with Attack Level 1 or higher increases hitstun by 1 frame compared to standing hit (Level 0 attacks gain no additional stun). This leads to some crouching-only combos such as Sin 5K > 3K.

Roman Cancel Slowdown

When you Roman Cancel an attack, the opponent experiences about double the amount of hitstun/untechable time. One frame of stun is used to execute the Roman Cancel, the rest is doubled. For example: Hitting an opponent with 9F hitstun and RCing immediately would inflict 16F slowdown:

(9F - 1F) * 2 = 16F

Guilty Gear combos have a lot of freedom, but they also include various ways to prevent infinite combos. The designers have various safeguards in place that make longer combos much more difficult to do and prevent loops. This requires players to gain a deeper understanding of the combo system in order to maximize their damage.

Untechable Time Scaling

The untechable time of attacks decreases as the amount of time spent in hitstun increases, including during hitstop. This prevents infinite combos on airborne opponents. Note: This information is based on data from Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, so the exact values may not be 100% accurate in Guilty Gear Xrd.

Untechable Time Scaling
Combo Length Untechable Time Modifier
0 seconds~ 100%
3 seconds~ 95%
5 seconds~ 90%
7 seconds~ 80%
10 seconds~ 70%
14 seconds~ 60%

While untechable time scaling for hits on airborne opponents is present, there is no hitstun scaling for hits on grounded opponents. As such, hitting a standing/crouching opponent will not reduce the time they spend in hitstun.

Pushback Increase

Similar to untechable time scaling, the amount of pushback increases as time spent in hitstun increases. This is yet another way Guilty Gear attempts to remove loops and infinites from the combo ecosystem.


Another interesting feature of the combo system is gravity effects. Characters fall at different speeds in Guilty Gear and are grouped into categories as listed below. The smaller the number, the faster they fall.

Character Weight Table
Weight Characters
105 (Light) Dizzy, Elphelt, I-No, Jack-O', Jam, May, Millia, Ramlethal
100 (Medium) Axl, Chipp, Faust, Ky, Raven, Sin, Slayer, Sol, Venom, Zato
98 (Slightly Heavy) Johnny, Leo
96 (Heavy) Bedman
94 (Super Heavy) Haehyun, Potemkin

Additionally, the more hits a character takes, the lower the character will be launched and the faster they fall. This can prove to be helpful or detrimental to a combo depending on which way you look at it. Some combos may only be possible if the launcher sends the opponent high into the air, while other combos benefit from a lower launch.

Because gravity increases with the number of hits, this greatly curbs the ability to perform the dreaded infinite combos. Since combos constantly add hits, any relaunches will float the opponent less and less until certain combinations become impossible.

Chip Damage

When special attacks and Overdrives are blocked, they deal a percent of their base damage as chip damage to the opponent. For most specials and Overdrives, it's an small, unspecified fraction, but there are some moves such as Axl's Sparrowhawk Stance, Elphelt's Miss Travailler and Venom's Dark Angel that deal enhanced chip damage.

Chip damage ignores Guts scaling making them much more potent when the opponent is low on life! However, any chip damage that would KO a defender with 2 or more health will reduce their health to 1 instead. That means chip damage can only kill someone if they are exactly at 1 health! This also means that special attacks/overdrives that do multiple hits are much more effective at low life scenarios since they can bring a defender to 1 health and immediately deal the final point of chip damage!

Valid vs. Invalid Combos

A valid 3 hit combo (right) and an invalid 3 hit combo (left)

Because players can choose to delay their techs while airborne, this leads to combos that only worked because the opponent did not tech (often to avoid resets). These are called invalid combos (or Black Beat combos).

The combo counter will turn dark and the invalid hit will appear in small numbers below the word BEAT.

Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-e
Click [*] for character's frame data
System Explanations

HUDControlsFrame DataSystem Data

Movement/CancelingOffenseDefenseDamage/ComboAttack AttributesTension/Burst GaugeMisc