Arcana Heart 3 LMSS/Choosing an Arcana
This page gives brief descriptions of which Arcanas are good for which kinds of things, and lists their relevant specials/supers/Eclipses/passive abilities. This is useful if you'd like to pick an Arcana for a specific purpose rather than simply copying what other players use for your character in match videos.
Which Arcanas Are Good For...
Usually beginners will want Arcanas good for meter gain (see below). Arcanas with fast burst recharge are also an option, but not recommended since EF Blast (A+B+C at neutral/blocking) and EFC (A+B+C during a combo) are very useful defensive and offensive tools. EFC can also replace homing cancels for most characters' combos, allowing them to build meter a lot faster.
Love is the default "good for beginners" Arcana since it has good meter gain, fast burst recharge, and useful specials at neutral: 236E love ball and 623E love laser.
Each Arcana has different meter gain amounts for attacking (on hit/block) and for defending (getting hit/blocking), and they also recharge spent bars (meter bars) at different rates. Tyr, Sacred, Luck, and Love have some of the best meter gain while attacking and defending, and they also have some of the fastest meter recharge rates.
- Punishment: no meter gain when you block or take damage.
- Metal: no meter gain when you attack (but you can hold 4[E] to gain meter).
- Flower, Water, Fire: little to no meter gain when you block.
- Plant: little meter gain when you take damage.
- Dark, Time, Halo: slowest meter recharge rates and mediocre meter gain.
Burst recharge is separate from EF recharge. (Eclipse recharge is the same as EF recharge.) Burst recharge is also a lot slower.
Below is a list of the fastest burst recharge Arcanas, in real seconds (NOT timer "seconds", which are longer than real seconds):
- Flower: 27.8 seconds
- Sacred, Love, Metal: 33.4 seconds
Beware of Earth, Halo, Luck, Punishment, Water, and Wind: these Arcanas take 55.6 seconds to recharge after burst. You should almost never burst with these Arcanas unless you are about to lose the game.
All other Arcanas take 41.7 seconds to recharge after burst.
Tyr is a special case: if you haven't used EF yet this game (including earlier rounds), then Tyr's burst recharge takes 41.7 seconds. The more times you use EF and EF cancels, the faster Tyr's burst recharges. Once you reach the max of 8 raw EFs or 16 EF cancels, Tyr's burst recharges much faster than Flower's!
Higher Combo Damage
The highest-damage Arcanas depend on your character. If you'd like to pick an Arcana to maximize damage output, your best bet is to check that character's wiki page or ask in that character's channel in the Discord.
That said, there are some Arcanas that can significantly increase damage output for many (or all) characters. The following are a handful of them:
- Tone: hits in EF leave behind sound blips that you can detonate at the end of your combo with 623E, 641236E, or Eclipse for potentially-massive damage. (And potentially-massive slow-down and increased netplay lag on less-capable PCs!)
- Plant: 236E (and 623E) vines automatically launch the opponent towards you on hit (unless the 2nd hit whiffs), allowing many characters to greatly improve their meterless (0-bar, no-EF) combo damage.
- Sin, Tyr, Punishment: these Arcanas can provide significant damage buffs in EF. Sin's EF damage buff depends on your character's innate damage reduction due to guts. At full-life, there is no damage buff, but at low-life, Sin EF combos can be extremely damaging (though its damage buff was nerfed (slightly?) in Six Stars). Tyr's EF damage buff starts small but increases the more times you use EF or EFC in a game. Punishment gives you a flat EF damage buff, but it is rarely used because the damage you receive increases by 40% during EF.
- Evil: in addition to 214214E, which switches places with the opponent and allows combos to continue after wall-slam moves, the damage over time from poison is unscaled, meaning their health drains at a constant rate during and after your EF combo. Long EF combos benefit the most from this. Note that poison damage is NOT counted in the combo damage shown on-screen and in training mode. This makes it difficult to tell exactly how much damage your combos deal. Furthermore, some characters can combo into Evil's Arcana Blaze (236A+B+C while in EF), which gives you a 50/50 chance (you guess whether they'll duck or jump) to deal a large, unscaled chunk of damage. If successful, these combos deal enormous amounts of damage, potentially 75% or more of the opponent's lifebar, at the cost of consuming your Force gauge like a burst.
Some Arcanas provide invul reversals or other defensive tools. Note that meter-building Arcanas can also improve your defense by giving you access to 2-bar options, e.g. guard cancel super, earlier.
Roughly in order of usefulness for defense:
- 5[E] and 2[E] have full-body clash frames from ~3f until you release E (or reach the max charge time).
- In EF, any time you block on the ground, a clash happens instead, and you are not put into blockstun.
- After a clash, 623E is an invul follow-up. This turns 5[E]/2[E] clash 623E into a useful defensive option for characters without invul moves or fast 5A/2A/jA.
- 6GC turns into a pushblock (advancing guard). While this is generally safer than the normal 6GC, especially for avoiding air-unblockable situations, if a character has very strong options out of 6GC normally (e.g. invul DP/Flashkick or a fast special) then pushblock may actually make their defensive options worse.
- 623E and 641236E come out very fast and can act as pseudo-reversals. E.g. 6GC 623E is very strong. Note that if 623E is clashed, it disappears entirely.
- Backdash leaves behind a clone that, if hit, causes the opponent to pause and prevents them from cancelling into other moves or homing/EF. Generally this means you can punish them with a full combo. Note that the clone is really only effective during your backdash's invul frames.
- Fire and Ice:
- 236236E fire/ice explosion is an invul super. It can be homing cancelled on block.
- 5[E] and 2[E] have super armor vs highs/mids and vs mids/lows, respectively, until you release E (or reach the max charge time).
- 6D has slow start-up but then gains super armor vs highs/mids and also reduces the damage from grabs to almost nothing.
- Downside: 6GC turns into the same slow armor move as 6D, meaning you lose access to a lot of strong 6GC options.
- 236236E can, in some situations, be used as a pseudo reversal. The swords appear quickly (but not immediately) and once they appear, they will not disappear if you get hit.
Beware of Magnet: it replaces your invul 4GC with a NOT-invul 4GC that pulls the opponent towards you. This is a major downside of Magnet.
Offensive (Mixup, Lockdown, and Oki) Tools
Despite the freedom and speed of movement in Arcana Heart, oki (setting up a mixup on the opponent's wake-up) is usually much less threatening compared to most other FGs due to strong universal defensive options: different tech directions/timings, back tech reversal window, invul 4D, EF Blast, super-jump block, and 2 different guard cancels, not to mention character-specific options. Often the attacker must guess/read the defender's option to land a hit or set up a mixup, instead of the defender having to guess in order to block.
However, some Arcanas, primarily Time and Dark, allow many characters to set up threatening oki that is difficult to escape or forces the opponent to guess correctly to block it. Other Arcanas may not be able to guarantee oki, but still provide tools to help mix-up or lock-down the opponent.
Note that the Arcanas with the strongest oki options, Time and Dark, also have poor meter gain and the worst meter refill rate, preventing them from looping their strong oki indefinitely -- or at all, in the first 1 or 2 rounds. (These Arcanas become a lot stronger in games with non-default settings where 3 or more rounds must be won.)
- 236236E freezes the opponent for a short time, allowing you to knock them down and set up 236E time ball or hold 5[E]/2[E] clones or some other kind of oki setup before they unfreeze and hit the ground.
- The 6D teleport adds an additional cross-up that the opponent has to watch out for, either in setups or during pressure. (If they are in the corner, 6D will still teleport you behind them.)
- Time EF boosts your speed to 150%, allowing you to do even faster overheads and other mixups. (Other Arcanas boost your speed to 125%, except Earth.)
- Most characters can do a knockdown move/special into (j)236236 triple Gier attack. They can then hold this attack (by holding E) and release it as they homing over the opponent for a cross-up, for example. The threat of Gier may also allow you to go for a dash-up throw or tk j421A overhead (j421A just off the ground). Gier always disappears if you get hit, but if you release it before blocking an attack, it will not disappear. (Unlike BlazBlue, teched throws do not count as hits.) Gier attacks can be clashed, but often the 2nd or 3rd attack will catch the opponent.
- Many characters can also do a knockdown with jE into (j)236[E] Gier attack or (j)623[E] Gier bite. This is usually more effective in the corner and can lead to similar mixups as 236236[E]. 623[E] is preferred over 236[E] since it's easier to combo from.
- Like Dark's attacks, Lightning's 236236[E] and 214214[E] triple lightning bolt supers can be held and released when convenient (e.g. just after a cross-up). There is a time limit to how long you can hold them and they always disappear if you block or get hit by an attack. They are unclashable. Because they strike fixed positions and don't track the opponent, they are often useless after a midscreen air-to-ground knockdown. In addition, they do not lock down a fearless opponent willing to simply dash out of the corner and escape. Often you have to guess whether or not they will try to move as soon as they wake-up, either letting go early to catch them dashing out, or letting go later after you cross them up. However, if you can combo into a hard knockdown, then this oki (like most oki in general) becomes much more dangerous and harder to escape.
- Some characters can use Wind Eclipse at the end of their combo, forcing the opponent to block the giant boomerang / round-trip when they wake up. The Eclipse disappears if you get hit.
- Some characters can position (j)214E whirlwind over the opponent as they wake-up. If done in the air, cancelling into j6HC allows you to cross-over the opponent just before they wake-up. The weakness of 214E is that it can be clashed, allowing some characters to escape most setups.
- Like Wind 214E, Mirror (j)214E mirror can be positioned over the opponent as they wake-up. Unlike Wind 214E, the opponent cannot escape by clashing the mirror, making it better against some characters with good reversals. The downside is that the mirror is active for less time than the whirlwind.
- Similar to Wind Eclipse, some characters can use Fenrir Eclipse at the end of their combo. If they tech early, or if you have a well-timed hard knockdown setup, you may be able to cross them up just before the explosions. The explosions also make it difficult to see what you're doing.
- Luck oki involves getting a hard knockdown (e.g. sweep ender) into Eclipse into 236236E for guaranteed snake-eyes (huge explosion). It's similar to Fenrir Eclipse oki, except the explosion happens later which may allow some characters to set up a better mixup. It also costs a bar for the super.
- In addition to requiring 1 bar to set up its oki, Luck's specials and stats are all worse than Fenrir's, so it is rarely chosen even though its oki can be superior.
- 236E and 236236E bubbles just above and in front of the opponent will absorb wake-up EF Blast and most reversals (not grabs), allowing you to pressure and mix them up more freely. Note that projectile-reflecting attacks, such as Scharl's chains, will nullify bubbles, e.g. Scharl can still 5B you as anti-air and it will tear through any bubbles in the way.
- 623E waterfall after 236E/236236E locks the opponent down briefly and may hit them if they tried to move/escape on wake-up. It no longer slows them in Six Stars.
- Often characters will end their combos with Eclipse, allowing them to set up 236E/236236E before knocking the opponent down.
- 214E shield does the same thing as Water bubbles, except it can block lower attacks and the opponent cannot dash through it. Most characters besides Kira will choose Water instead, in part because Metal builds zero meter for attacking the opponent.
- 214E and 214214E plant seeds hit low, meaning they can be used to set up high-lows that hit at almost the same time and are almost impossible to block. Usually the air plant seeds are used since they fall to the ground a lot faster.
- If the opponent has no meter and no EF, Plant Eclipse can be inescapable if you put them into enough blockstun. E.g. Scharl EF 2C or 5E cancelled immediately into Eclipse can only be escaped using a guard cancel or EF Blast.
- Eclipse surrounds you with revolving garbage that can hit them if they try to attack you.
- 214214E summons a lot of garbage that can lock the opponent down and sometimes be used to set up a cross-up, especially if the rolling kettle is one of the random objects.
- 236236E quad Sin balls occupy a lot of space. It may allow you to guard break the opponent in the corner with 5[E]. They can be clashed and reflected, however.
- 214E trap can discourage the opponent from attacking, however it does not absorb hits like Water bubbles so you can still get hit by their EF Blast or reversal.
- 236E and 236236E Love balls can be used either to force the opponent to block or to set up a cross-up on their wake-up. They can be clashed and reflected, although it is unlikely the opponent can clash through all 3 balls from 236236E: you cannot clash more than one attack at a time.
- In Love EF, you can cancel any of your character's specials and supers into any Love special or super. This means you can do 236E at the end of any EF combo for free, possibly improving your oki afterwards.
- 214E and 214214E javelins can be used like Love balls to force the opponent to block or to set up a cross-up. They disappear if you get hit.
Projectiles, Zoning Tools, and Anti-Zoning Tools
Most Arcanas have some kind of projectile or zoning tool. Some have tools to hit opponents trying to zone or set something up (e.g. Weiss 22A equip, Yoriko 641236A pentagram, etc.). Below is a list of most(?) of them, roughly in order of usefulness for zoning (or anti-zoning).
- 236E light ball travels far and homes, making it a great zoning tool -- unless the opponent has a forward-moving super and can glitch through it to hit you (it has a glitch where it travels during super flashes).
- 214E and 214214E pewpewpewpew can interrupt opponents homing at you and also hit them trying to set something up anywhere on the screen. 214214E is also a useful lockdown tool.
- Halo allows you to super-jump higher, which may be useful for your character's zoning.
- 236E and 236236E Love balls (can be reflected).
- 623E Love laser is a fast full-screen attack.
- 214E is a projectile counter that absorbs many Arcana projectiles, character projectiles, and even projectiles normals like Maori's top.
- 236E boomerang / sonic-boom (can be reflected)
- 214E whirlwind doesn't disappear if you get hit and it can hit people who home-in at you, but good players can clash it and continue past with their actual jump-in.
- 236E and 236236E sin balls (can be reflected) move slowly and can occupy a lot of space, especially the super version.
- 214E trap may make it difficult for opponents to attack you, however it is more often used as an oki tool.
- 214E mirror makes it very difficult for opponents to hit you -- until the mirror disappears. EFC the recovery to give yourself more time to do stuff, e.g. Weiss 214E EFC 22A "safe" equip at neutral. It also reflects projectiles without disappearing, unlike most projectiles which will simply clash and disappear or become inactive (e.g. Wind 214E).
- 236E sword projectile has long start-up and is not very useful for zoning.
- Tyr forces the opponent to attack you to prevent you from getting free EF stocks by activating EF at neutral. (The more times you EF or EFC with Tyr, the better your EF and burst recharge become.) Tyr becomes incredibly strong with a lot of stocks. This may fit a zoner's gameplan.
- 236E horizontal shell is fast and explodes if it clashes, e.g. with another projectile or Mirror's mirror. This is often used as a counter to other zoners.
- 214E upward bullets can hit opponents trying to approach you.
- 236E vine is a long-range poke that automatically pulls them in on hit for an easy combo (unless the 2nd hit whiffs). It is very minus (since Love Max) and cannot be cancelled on block.
- 214E and 214124E seeds may provide some defense if you stand on them, since they do not disappear if you get hit and can easily interrupt an opponent's combo.
- 41236E fist is a good long-ranged attack at neutral.
- 236236E curb stomp is air-unblockable and can catch opponents in recovery anywhere near the ground.
- 236E fireball (upwards from the ground, downwards in the air) travels at an angle that usually hits opponents who try to home at you. Its Eclipse comes out quickly and discourages opponents from attacking.
- 236E, 236236E, and 214214E lightning bolts can hit the opponent anywhere on the screen. Good for punishing other zoning moves, but very vulnerable to the opponent simply homing at you.
- 236E and 236236E swords can hit the opponent out of setups anywhere on the screen.
- 214E shield can provide protection while you set something up.
- Metal's level-up mechanic with 641236E level-up and 1E to build meter (only if your meter is already max) may suit a zoner's keep-away gameplan.
- 236E and 236236E blips can discourage people from rushing you down, due to the threat of 623E, 641236E, or Eclipse exploding them.
- A single 214E bouncing sound wave isn't very threatening on its own, but creating a chain reaction of sound waves by bouncing it off of blips can be powerful.
- 236E blood pillars may be useful.
- 236E is slow but homes.
- 236E icicle has slow start-up and isn't very useful for zoning.
- 214E snowflake is slow and doesn't cover a good angle for zoning. It's better-used for oki.
- 236E flower and its 236E follow-up occupy a lot of space, but not for very long.
- 623E flower-eating recovers ~3% of your EF gauge even if there aren't any flowers to eat, so a zoner could use it occasionally to recharge their burst slightly faster.
- 236E and 236236E water bubbles can absorb hits if the opponent tries to attack you, however these are more often used as lockdown, oki, and rushdown tools.
- 214E and 214214E javelins have too much start-up to be useful as a zoning tool. They're better as a lockdown tool. They disappear if you get hit.
- 236E projectile is slow and is more of a pressure tool than a zoning tool.
Which Arcanas Require Different Combos
Some Arcanas change the properties of your moves in EF, or change your 6HC (forward homing cancel, 6D), or change other things. These Arcanas often require different combos as a result. If you use any of the following Arcanas, keep in mind the combos you find may not work with it unless they are made specifically for it.
- Time: EFC combos change because Time increases your character's speed to 150%. (All other Arcanas except Earth increase your speed to 125%.) 6HC combos change because Time 6D is a teleport dash. Combos using 5[E] or 2[E] change because these create Time clones used for oki setups.
- Earth: EFC combos change because Earth decreases your character's speed to 80%. 6HC combos change because Earth 6D is a slow super armor shield.
- Fire: EFC combos change because Fire creates an explosion every time you hit with a normal in EF.
The following Arcanas will probably work with most combos you find, but there's a chance some combos will drop.
- Blood: your EF duration is shorter than any other Arcana. EFC combos may have to be shortened. The other Arcanas have varying EF durations. Flower, Plant, and Time share the next-shortest EF duration.
- Halo: your super-jump has longer start-up and travels higher. Combos that use super-jumps may have to be adjusted.
The following Arcanas sometimes require different EFC combos, but more often they are chosen specifically to be able to do longer or better combos in EF because of their special traits.
- Ice: EFC combos freeze the opponent briefly with each hit.
- Water: EFC combos slow the opponent with each hit.