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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.

If you are unable to mash out of stagger fast enough, then the combo counter will also indicate a Black Beat.

Combo Button Timing Visual Guide

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 StanceGGXRD Axl SparrowhawkStance.pngGuardStartupRecoveryMaximum 188Advantage-, Elphelt's Miss TravaillerGGXRD-R Elphelt MissTravailler.pngGuardStartupRecovery14Advantage- and Venom's Dark AngelGgxrd venom darkangel.pngGuardAllStartup7+18RecoveryTotal 43Advantage+102 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 HP will reduce their HP to 1 instead. That means chip damage can only kill someone if they are exactly at 1 HP. This also means that specials and Overdrives that do multiple hits are much more effective at low life scenarios since they can bring a defender to 1 HP and immediately deal the final point of chip damage.

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.

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 5PGGXRD Sol 5P.pngGuardMidStartup4Recovery6Advantage±0 and 2PGGXRD Sol 2P.pngGuardMidStartup5Recovery4Advantage+2 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

Overdrives in Guilty Gear have minimum damage, though the effect is much less perceptible than in BlazBlue and Persona 4 Arena. Most 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 × Minimum Damage% = Minimum Damage
If OTG hit, then multiply by 30%
For example, an Overdrive with 100 base damage will do at least 20 damage to Sol (x1.00 defense modifier, no guts) when he is at over 50% life.
However if Sol has less than 10% life remaining, that same attack would only do 8 damage since Guts reduces damage to 40%.
All attacks that have base damage over 0 will at minimum do 1 damage no matter how much damage scaling and Guts affect it. Thus combos with lots of small hits are more effective in low life scenarios since they are less affected by damage scaling.

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, Baiken, Jam, Ky, Millia, Raven ※2, Sin
30% Chipp, Dizzy
20% Answer, 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 a total life of 420 HP. 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% Answer, 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, Jack-O'
3 81% 66% 54% 44% 38% Johnny, Leo, May, Millia, Potemkin, Jam
4 78% 64% 50% 42% 38% Baiken, Chipp
5 75% 60% 48% 40% 36% Raven

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.png normals 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 YanagiGGXRD Chipp RyuuYanagi.pngGuardAllStartup1+2RecoveryTotal 21Advantage- 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% life 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 ChocolateGGXRD Faust Donut.pngGuardStartup50Recoverypickup or expiryAdvantage-) 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 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 Potemkin (x0.93), assuming Guts is not a factor.

Defense Modifer

Defense Modifier Table
Defense Modifer Character(s)
×1.30 Chipp
×1.21 Millia
×1.12 Baiken
×1.10 Raven
×1.09 Zato
×1.06 Axl, I-No, May, Ramlethal, Dizzy, Jam
×1.04 Sin
×1.03 Answer, Elphelt, Jack-O', Ky, Venom
×1.00 Faust, Johnny, Leo, Sol
×0.98 Bedman
×0.96 Haehyun, Slayer
×0.93 Potemkin

Effective Health (EHP)

Effective HP = 420 * (0.5 + 0.1(1/(Guts <50%) + 1/(Guts <40%) + 1/(Guts <30%) + 1/(Guts <20%) + 1/(Guts <10%)) / Defense Modifier

Character Guts Defense Modifier EHP:w/o Guts EHP %Median:w/o Guts %Median STD DEV
Chipp 4 1.3 323 480 79% 84% -2.5
Millia 3 1.21 347 504 85% 88% -1.8
Zato 0 1.09 385 524 94% 92% -1.3
Axl 1 1.06 396 549 97% 96% -0.6
Dizzy 1 1.06 396 549 97% 96% -0.6
I-No 1 1.06 396 549 97% 96% -0.6
Ramlethal 1 1.06 396 549 97% 96% -0.6
Answer 0 1.03 408 554 100% 97% -0.4
Elphelt 0 1.03 408 554 100% 97% -0.4
Baiken 4 1.12 375 557 92% 98% -0.3
Sin 1 1.04 404 559 99% 98% -0.3
Venom 1 1.03 408 565 100% 99% -0.1
Faust 0 1 420 571 103% 100% 0.1
Jam 3 1.06 396 575 97% 101% 0.2
May 3 1.06 396 575 97% 101% 0.2
Jack-O' 2 1.03 408 581 100% 102% 0.3
Ky 2 1.03 408 581 100% 102% 0.3
Sol 1 1 420 582 103% 102% 0.3
Bedman 0 0.98 429 583 105% 102% 0.4
Raven 5 1.1 382 587 94% 103% 0.5
Slayer 1 0.96 438 606 107% 106% 1.0
Johnny 3 1 420 609 103% 107% 1.1
Leo 3 1 420 609 103% 107% 1.1
Haehyun 2 0.96 438 624 107% 109% 1.5
Potemkin 3 0.93 452 655 111% 115% 2.4
EHP:w/o Guts EHP
Mean 402.70 569.10
Median 407.77 570.93
STD DEV 27.38 36.11

REV 2 EHP Chart by Tarkus

EHP Formula by u/dhamster


Mash, because your life depends on it

If you are struck repeatedly over short amount of time, your character will become stunned (also known as "dizzied"). You will be unable to perform any actions such as blocking, attacking, or even teching combos while stunned.

Stuns are indicated by angels flying around your character's head. The angels act as a timer and when all the angels are gone, you will regain control of your character. You can speed up the recovery by shaking the joystick in all directions and rapidly pressing the buttons.

Stunning an opponent mid-combo will allows players to land and begin another combo (or an Instant Kill) on a stunned character if their opponent doesn't shake out fast enough.

Character's stun resistance values can be found in the System Data section.

The formula is as following.

((Move Damage * Combo Hit Modifier * Character State Modifier) - 5) * IK Modifier) * 15 * 1,15

Note that how much stun someone can withstand is their stun resistance * 100, so for example someone with 60 stun resistance will get stunned when they hit 6000 stun.
The random value added at the end of the formula works in increments in 0.01

  • Move Damage: is raw damage value of the move unaffected by scaling, including proration.
  • Combo Hit Modifier: is the way the stun damage is scaled in combos, going purely by the number of hits it will scale the stun according to the stun table below.
  • Character State Modifier: state the opponent is in while struck. All of these stacks multiplicative together
    • Normal Hit = 100%, Counterhit = 200%, OTG = 25%, Hit absorbed by armor = 0%
  • IK Modifier is a penalty modifier to how much stun someone in IK mode builds. 50% if the attacker is in IK mode otherwise 100%

Stun Combo Modifier Table
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12+
100% 75% 69% 63% 56% 50% 44% 38% 31% 25% 19% 13%

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 non-standard amounts of stun. This will be noted in the character's frame data.

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's 3KGGXRD Sin 3K.pngGuardLowStartup11Recovery12Advantage-2 > 6HGGXRD Sin 6H.pngGuardMidStartup15Recovery13Advantage+2.

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 & Hitstun 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.

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%
18 seconds+ 10%

In addition, the hitstun of attacks on grounded opponents only decreases past 18 seconds at a fixed 50%*.

  • The actual numbers for the grounded hitstun decay is Blockstun / 2 + 1 or 2 depending on if the opponent is in standing or crouching 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) Baiken, Dizzy, Elphelt, I-No, Jack-O', Jam, May, Millia, Ramlethal
100 (Medium) Answer, 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.