Under Night In-Birth/Strategy
Under Night In-birth's offensive and defensive options can be simplified down to a rock paper scissor system: Attacking, Blocking/Guarding, and Throwing. Attacking is beaten by blocking, blocking is beaten by throwing, and throwing is beaten by...throwing is more complicated. This rock-paper-scissor triangle is a staple in many fighting games and understanding how it works is important when predicting what your opponent will do and countering it with the option that trumps it.
See Under Night In-Birth/Controls for how to input certain moves: attacks, blocks, and throws.
- 1 Attacking
- 2 Blocking/Guarding
- 3 Throws
- 3.1 Throw Techs
- 3.2 Gold Throws
- 3.3 Counter-hit Throws
- 3.4 Throw Reject Miss (TRM)
- 3.5 Throw Option Selects
- 4 Pressure
Hitboxes and Hurtboxes
An attack can be boiled down to a hitbox coming into contact with a hurtbox.
Different characters are not just defined by their different looking attacks, the attacks themselves are partially defined by their hitboxes. Underneath attack animation a collection of invisible square boxes (hit boxes) that deals damage when they come into contact with the invisible boxes that lay underneath the character models (hurtboxes). How long or high a move can hit (i.e. the range of the move) is dictated by the size of the attack's hitboxes.
Beginners usually fall into the trap of learning cool combos and doing fun inputs and thus focus on the attacking part as that is the part of the game with the lowest barrier for entry - when you press a button; an attack will happen on the screen - that's pretty easy to do. However, there is more to attacking than just pressing a button, or even a combination of buttons. Each move in a fighting game is essentially an animation; an animation that has effects on your character and your opponent's character from when it starts to when it ends. The attacks are not able to damage from the moment the attack starts until the moment the move ends. Each attack has a small delay before it has the ability to damage the opponent, and after the time it can damage the opponent, it has a small delay before you can perform a different action. These periods of time with the attack broken down into these descriptors:
The 'start-up' time describes the time it takes for the attack to reach its 'active' moment. The 'active' moments of the attack is the part of the attack that can deal damage to the opponent. Once the 'active' part of the move is over and all damaging elements of the attack has ended, the 'recovery' of the attack describes the state your character is in before any other action can be made. The length of each of the start-up, active, and recovery parts of an attack are measured using 'frames'.
Note: Anything animated is essentially lots of pictures that flip from one picture to the next to give the impression of animation, each of these pictures are called a frame, and how fast these frames move from one frame to the next is called the 'framerate' which is measured in frames per second (fps). Under Night In-birth is fixed at a framerate of 60fps therefore: 1 frame = 1/60th of a second.
The difference between character moves is not just defined by their hitboxes, underneath the attacks are their hitboxes AND their frame-data.
Start-up frames are the frames of animation that start after pressing the button to attack but before the hitboxes are generated by the attack. Start-up frames are important to learn for all characters as how many start-up frames your character's normal attack moves have access to dictates what button to press in a given situation.
E.g.) Hyde's (2A) has 5 frames of start-up. Linne's (5A) has 5 frames of start-up too. If Hyde and Linne attacks start at the same time, their attack's will 'trade' and both characters will get damaged.
E.g.2) Orie's (5B) has 9 frames of start-up. Gordeau's (5C) has 16 frames of start-up too. If Orie and Gordeau attacks start at the same time, the Orie will hit the Gordeau because Gordeau still has 7 more frames of animation before the active frames of his attack begins.
In general, the attack with the fastest start-up wins (assuming both player's attack hitboxes are within range of each other). The exception to this are attacks and moves with invincible frames e.g. Reversals).
E.g.3) Seth's (5A) has 5 frames of start-up. Eltnum's (623B) has 6 frames of start-up. If both Seth and Eltnum attacks start at the same time, from the start-up frame data alone, it looks like Eltnum gets hit by Seth's (5A). However, Eltnum's (623B) has full invincibility (i.e. no hurtboxes) from frame 1 until frame 9. Therefore, Seth's (5A) will whiff on frame 5 of the attack and on frame 6 Eltnum's (623B) will hit.
It is important to know your opponent's start-up frames so you can guess what move they might want to use at a given distance, if your character has a quicker move at that same range, you could take the initiative and attempt to apply pressure. In converse, you opponent might have better start-up frames than your character, so you might be more risky to press to try and pressure the opponent. Knowledge is power.
The active frames of the attack is the part of the attack where the hitboxes exist, therefore it is the part of the attack that can damage the opponent. Ironically, the part of the move that does the damage is generally the least important part of the move to know the frame-data for. It's more important to know the range of an attack's active moments and how much blockstun it puts the opponent in more than how long the hitboxes will last for.
Recovery frames are a very important part of fighting games for a few reasons.
The recovery frames of an attack are what is negated when one move "cancels" into another.
While it is important to know which move can cancel into other moves whilst playing a character, there's more. The recovery of attacks dicates whose turn it is to attack their opponent. When it it someone's 'turn' in a fighting game, this refers to who can currently, or who is performing pressure on their opponent. How recovery frames of an attack dictates this is where you compare the time it takes for one character to recover from their attack and the defending character to recover from blocking or shielding the attack (called "blockstun"). The difference between these two recovery states is called "frame advantage".
Whiffing an attack is a bad situation to be in in a fighting game. When an attack whiffs, this means that the opponent has as much time to punish you as your start-up frames, active frames, and recovery frames combined. For the purposes of this, this can be referred to as the "total frame data". The total frame data is the number that is used in place of "frame advantage" in the case of a whiffed attack. An Attacker can be forced into whiffing their attack by utilising the push back from shielding attacks. A famous way to bait whiffs is by utilising "footsies". Footsies is a strange term that can essentially be boiled down to tricking the opponent into poking you and punishing the whiffed poke. By utilising movement and moving out of range against that poke, the poke will whiff. The poke will extended the Attacker's hurtbox and because it whiffed, the Attacker will be left in a state where they are recovering from the attack's total frame data. The opponent will have a good opportunity to punish their failed attempt to poke them.
Note: this is a brief overview of footsies and footsies is a topic all to itself. More information on footsies can be found here
Blocking (also called Guarding) is a mechanic that is found universally across many fighting games. In Under Night In-Birth it can be achieved by holding a directional input that is away from your opponent. Blocking has a start-up time of 1 frame, so moving to block has a faster start-up than any attack in the game. For the most part, you will be blocking whilst on the ground. It is possible to block whist airborne, but you can only block some attacks, and not after performing an aerial attack or after using the assault move. This can make being in the air very vulnerable.
Normal blocking will prevent the Defender from getting damaged, with exception to chip damage. When the Defender has successfully blocked an attack a blue force-field looking barrier visual appears in front of the Defender.
Dash Blocking (also called Dash Guarding) is a very good technique in Under Night In-Birth. If you cannot do it effectively then it makes certain character match-ups difficult and thus limits how far you will go as a player. However, dash blocking is not a very difficult technique. You dash, and then you block the instant you think an attack is coming. Because a block has a start-up time of 1 frame, dash blocking is a very good way of closing the distance between players whilst ensuring not being hit.
Dash blocking has its own tutorial lesson devoted to the technique (see the Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late [st] tutorial 2-11) - which serves as a great way to practice dash blocking.
When the Defender successfully block an attack, they will be unable to act for a short time. This is called blockstun. The block stun is somewhat visualised on-screen by the length of time the visual of the block/guard is on-screen for.
Frame advantage is what people refer to when someone says that a move is "plus" or "minus". Frame advantage is a number, and it can be calculated using this formula:
(Number of frames in blockstun) - (recovery frames of an attack)
When this number is positive, the Attacker (the person attacking) has the advantage to press for an attack. When you use an attack and the frame advantage number is minus, the Defender (the person blocking) has the advantage to press for an attack. There is an exception to this though. If the person with the advantage tries to make an attack with start-up frames that nullifies their frame advantage number, they will technically lose their advantage and potentially lose their turn to #Pressure to the opponent.
E.g.1) The Attacker uses an move on the Defender that leaves them at a frame advantage of +6. The Attacker then uses a move with 13 frames of start-up. The 13 frames frames exceeds the 6 frames of advantage the Attacker has. In this case, the Defender has 7 frames where they can press a move before the Attacker's move with with 13 frames of start-up will hit.
- If the Defender does a move with that has less-than 7 frames of start-up, the Defender will have successfully "mashed out" of the Attacker's pressure.
- If the Defender does a move that has exactly 7 frames of start-up, the Defender and Attacker will trade attacks (i.e. they will both be hit by each other's attacks).
- If the Defender does a move that has more than 7 frames of start-up, the Attacker will Counter Hit the Defender.
E.g.2) The Attacker uses an move on the Defender that leaves them at a frame advantage of -10. The Defender then uses a move with 18 frames of start-up. The 18 frames exceeds the 10 frames of advantage the Defender has. In this case, the Attacker has 8 frames where they can press a move before the Defender's move with 18 frames of start-up will hit.
- If the Attacker does a move with that has less-than 8 frames of start-up, the Defender will have successfully "mashed out" of the Attacker's pressure.
- If the Attacker does a move that has exactly 8 frames of start-up, the Defender and Attacker will trade attacks (i.e. they will both be hit by each other's attacks).
- If the Attacker does a move that has more than 8 frames of start-up, the Attacker will Counter Hit the Defender.
The reason why "technically" was in italics because, whilst on paper, it might look like you might be able to take your turn in attacking back in these instances; in reality, you have to also take into account human reaction time. The average human reaction time is 16 frames. Therefore, any move that has start-up frames of less than 16 frames is un-reactable and would require the Defender in E.g.1, or the Attacker in E.g.2 to anticipate or guess the move their opponent will do.
Note: E.g.1 and E.g.2 used arbitrary frame advantage and start-up frame numbers. These can be substituted with any real frame data and remain true for that situation.
It is important to note that if the Attacker uses a move that has a frame advantage of -3 or -4, they are still safe from the Defender. Safe simply means you cannot get punished, provided the Attacker blocks afterwards. The fastest attack a Defender can perform in Under Night In-Birth is 5 frames, therefore the Attacker is guaranteed to be able to block (which has a start-up of 1 frame) after any attack that has a frame advantage of -4 or lower. Throws have a faster start-up time of 4 frames (this is universal across all Under Night In-Birth characters) therefore being free to 'tech' a throw requires a frame advantage of -3.
High, Mid, and Low Attacks
Like in most fighting games, Under Night In-Birth has attacks that hit at different heights. These heights are called:
- Mids (short for Middle)
Blocking/Guarding can be performed by standing or crouching, but neither one will block all of the different heights of attacks. Highs must be blocked standing, and lows must be blocked crouching. Mids can be blocked by using either stand blocking or crouch blocking.
Most aerials attacks are high attacks and standing overheads (attacks performed whilst grounded but hit high) tend to have start-up times that are reactable (i.e. the start-up frames are higher than the average human reaction speed of 16 frames), and low attacks tend to be quite fast, therefore as a rule of thumb you should generally block low and react to highs.
There will be instances of moves that have start-up animations look visually similar, however, one move will hit high, and another move will hit low. This could be from charging an attack, and releasing a partial charged attack makes it difficult to tell if its uncharged or charged to the Defender. It could be a special move that is altered by the attack button pressed: e.g. the -version of a special move might hit High and the -version will only hit Low. These types of moves can be very difficult to react to and requires a technique called Fuzzy Guarding (or Fuzzy Blocking). Fuzzy Guarding sounds more difficult than it actually is. It’s simply moving from Standing to Crouch blocking or crouch blocking to stand blocking to anticipate the ambiguous attack, even if your character is animated as standing/crouching in blockstun from the previous attack if you are holding the direction needed to block the high or low attack you will block the high or low attack.
Note: Basically, don't pay attention to your character whilst blocking, pay attention to the enemy and move into standing and crouching accordingly.
Some moves are very ambiguous and require Fuzzy Guarding. For example:
- (66B) hits Low on frame 19 (start-up frames = 18)
- (66C) hits High on frame 28 (start-up frames = 27).
General blocking in Under Night In-Birth is to block low, and react to highs, however, the average human's reaction time is 16 frames. To react to Nanase's dash normals theoretically you will see Nanase start her animation for her dash normal (Nanase leaps forward and twirls before either sweeping low, or slashing down with her sword). If the Defender starts by blocking low (to react to highs), and the attacking Nanase is actually doing 66C, the Defender will not witness this until frame 19. This means the Defender only has 9 frames (before 66C's first active frame) to react on frame 28, and input standing block. 9 frames is under the average human reaction speed. Making this mix-up essentially an un-reactable 50:50 guess.
Using fuzzy guarding, the Defender can essentially block both potential dash normals if the Defender anticipates and learns the timing of the move. The Defender will block low for the 66B, but instead of reacting for the overhead, for every single dash attack from Nanase the Defender will input standing block within that 9 frame window. If the attacking Nanase:
- performs (66B) - The Defender will remain blocking low and enter blockstun. Regardless of directional input during the blockstun the Defender remain in the same block-pose animation until hit again or until blockstun ends. So the standing input dont to protect against the potential (66C) is ignored by the game.
- performs (66C) - The Defender will start blocking low and then input standing block direction during the 9 frame window (after (66B) would have become active) and blocks the (66C).
Note: Nanase's dash normals were used as an example. There are other moves that require fuzzy guarding if you would like to never be hit by them. For other ambiguous moves, it requires the same basic understanding of timings. Unlike the Nanase dash normal example, if the high-hitting attack is active before the low-hitting attack, then you must first block standing then fuzzy guard low.
Shield is Under Night In-Birth's special type of blocking. The shield looks like a lilac disc placed in front of the character, when the shield blocks an attack, shielding can have useful effects depending on how it was inputted. Green shields (achieved tapping whilst in blockstun), and blue shield (achieved by holding down before an attack or after a green shield). Both shield types increase push-back and have different properties. However, shielding is risky: if you get damaged or thrown while attempting to shield, you will be GRD broken.
When performed, it looks like a blue bubble that is about the height of half a character. Blue shields can be performed whilst grounded or airborne, and for every shielded attack the Defender will gain 1 GRD block. Blue shields also negate any chip damage from the blocked attacks. Blue shields decreases the blockstun (and therefore the frame advantage) of shielded attacks by 3 frames. this enables the Defender to be able to stop and punish moves that might not have been punishable if blocked normally.
When grounded attacks are shielded using a standing blue shield, or aerial attacks are shielded using an airborne blue shield - the shield will reduce the blockstun/frame advantage of (blue) shielded ground attack by 3 frames:
e.g.1) On Block the ground attack's frame advantage is -3; on shield the attack's frame advantage is -6. e.g.2) On Block the ground attack's frame advantage is +7; on shield the attack's frame advantage is +4.
When aerial attacks are shielded using a standing blue shield the shield will still reduce the blockstun/frame advantage of (blue) shielded ground attack by 3 frames. However, the airborne Attacker are now prevented from performing any other action, thus forced to land. After the shielded Attacker has landed they must then recover from 10 frames of landing recovery. This gives the Defender ample time to perform a punish on the recovering Attacker.
Green shield is when you shield a move while already in blockstun. When performed, it looks like green bubble that encompasses your entire character. Unlike blue shields, a green shield does not alter the Defender's blockstun duration and you can switch between high and low block instantly. Green shield costs you 10 meter (or whatever is left in your gauge if you have less than 10). If there is a follow-up attack the follow-up attack will be automatically blocked by a blue shield. If there are no follow-up attacks it will also cost the Defender 2 blocks of GRD.
Guard Thrust is a universal defensive option that can let you escape your opponent's pressure. You can use it during blockstun by pressing (214D). Your character will perform an attack that knocks the opponent away. If you are in Vorpal, performing a Guard Thrust will end Vorpal. If you are not in Vorpal, performing a Guard Thrust will cost 100 EXS and will GRD break you.
Throws cannot be blocked. Regular throws have 4 frames of start-up. After those 4 frames of start up: the character is grabbed. After being grabbed there are 14 frames until the character is thrown. There are some instances where you are invulnerable to throws (throw-invulnerable). Jump startup (which is 4 - 6 frames depending on character) are throw invulnerable. Getting up from a knockdown is throw-invulnerable for 8 frames. The best way to avoid getting thrown is by 'throw teching'.
During the 14 frames of time where the character has been grabbed and is about to be thrown. The throw can countered by performing a "throw tech". Throw techs are performed by pressing anytime during the 14 frames where you have been grabbed, but not been thrown. If successful throw is successfully teched, the character awarded with "Tech" will gain 2 blocks of GRD, and the character who attempted the trow will lose 2 blocks. After the throw tech, the character who teched the throw will recover 8 frames sooner than their opponent.
However, 14 frames of time is very difficult to react to for a human. The average human reaction speed is 16 frames of time. This makes reacting to throws very difficult (but not impossible).
If you throw your opponent during blockstun, or up to 8 frame after blockstun or hitstun ends, the throw will generate a few yellow-golden rings that radiate from the victim. and the time which the person can react to throw and tech the throw is doubled from 14 frames to 28 frames. 28 frames is a very lenient amount of time to react to which most people can react to. Gold throws make “tick throws” (a throw strategy from other fighting games like Street Fighter) not a viable technique to break through defense in Under Night In-Birth.
If you throw your opponent during the start-up frames of an attack, the throw animation will make the opponent glow red briefly before they are thrown. When Counter-hit thrown, the player cannot throw tech to escape.
Throw Reject Miss (TRM)
Throw Reject Miss (TRM for short) is a system that exists in all Arc System Games. Every time you press to normal throw an opponent, or press to tech a throw, the game the character will enter a state for ~10 frames where another throw/throw tech input will be rejected – this is called TRM. For example, if you whiff a throw, your character must wait ~10 frames before they can throw again. More interestingly, if you attempt to tech a throw you cannot attempt to tech again until the TRM state passes.
If a player attempts to tech a throw too early they will enter a TRM state and will be unable to tech the throw. The throw animation will signal this by giving the player a red outline (just like in Counter-hit throws) AND yellow-gold rings (just like from Gold Throws). When TRM thrown, the player cannot throw tech to escape.
TRM throws are only useful to know if you are playing against a player that can perform Option Selects (OSs). OSs make teching a throw easier, but requires inputting to tech the throw in anticipation. A TRM set-up counters this anticipation by essentially delaying the throw input until after the opponent has pressed their OS.
Throw Option Selects
As mentioned before, the average human’s reaction time is approximately 16 frames. So how do you utilise throw techs? You cannot mash a throw tech or you will get TRM thrown, and the average person cannot react to them in time. The answer is called Throw Option Select (often just called option select or OS for short). An Option Select means making one defensive action that will cover a range of offensive options that might happen. There are many different Option Selects and they can be character dependent. The list below covers the different types of Option Selects, instructions how to input them, and their strengths and weaknesses.
Crouching Throw Tech OS (1AD OS)
If the opponent attempts to throw you, you will tech the throw. If the opponent does nothing or tries to attack you, you will flash crouching shield briefly. This option select is used when there is too much risk involved with sticking an attack out.
This option select can be countered with a delayed throw or an overhead. The throw will then hit when the opponent's shield is flashing and GRD break them. An overhead will GRD break the opponent since it will hit during their crouch shield.
Hit Throw Tech OS
If the opponent attempts to throw you, you will tech the throw. If the opponent does nothing or tries to attack you, your character's 2A (or whatever attack you inputed will come out if you aren't in blockstun. Otherwise, you will just block. This option select is used to beat opponents who are trying to run in to throw, or are trying to delay their throw attempt.
This option select can be countered by: faster start-ups than your character's attack, run up blocking, run up assault/jump/fast overheads/etc, and running up dash attacks can work as a counter too in some cases.
Backdash Throw Tech OS
Note: the delayed can be inputted by 'pianoing' onto the -button. i.e. instead of pressing down at the same time, you press and then press a fraction of a second after.
If the opponent attempts to throw you, you will throw tech. If the opponent tries to do nothing or attack you, you will backdash. This option select is used to beat opponents trying to break your throw tech attempts with assault overheads since the backdash will recover fast enough for you to block. This option select has limited utility in the corner for obvious reasons.
This option select can be countered with a very active attack or a slow attack. The idea is to hit the opponent during the vulnerable recovery of their backdash.
Force Function Throw Tech OS (FF OS)
Note: the delayed can be inputted by 'pianoing', i.e. instead of pressing a down at the same time, you press and then press a fraction of a second after.
The utilities of FF OS will vary depending on character. For example, some characters have FF that can Anti-air (see Anti-air Throw Tech), but for some this OS is not very useful.
Air Attack Throw Tech OS
Air Shield Throw Tech OS
If thrown before the jump, you will tech the throw, otherwise a jump shield is seen. It is possible that this technique can get caught by a high reaching attack, and it carries a very high risk, but after the shield whiffs in the air, you regain access to do something. This will win against crouch tech and you are able to block additional attacks if you air shield an assault jump attack. The true value of this technique is shown against the numerous opponents who are trying to blow up shield crouch tech. This ends up being a strong asset for characters who have strong options from back jump.
Anti-air Throw Tech OS (AA OS)
The input required for an AA OS depends on the character, as each characters has an unique anti-air normal to use. See the table below for each character's AA OS:
|Character||Anti-air Input||AA OS Input|
|Merkava||3C, 4B, 171j.C||3C~AD, 4B~AD, 171j.C~AD|
|Vatista||Fk, 5B, 5FF~throw||Fk~AD, 5B~AD, 5FF~AD|
|Hilda||FF, 3B||FF~AD, 3B~AD|
|Chaos||171AD, FF, 191j.A~D||1>7>1~AD, FF~AD, 1>9A~1D|
|Nanase||3C, 8j.A, 7j.2[C]/8j.2[C]||3C~AD, 1>8j.A~1D, 1>7j.2[C] or 8j.2[C]~1AD|
|Phonon||FF, jA||FF~AD, 1>7j.A~1D|
|Enkidu||3C, 4C, FF||3C~AD, 4C~AD, FF~AD|
|Eltnum||3C, j.AD||3C~AD, 171~j.AD|
|Akatsuki||5A, cl.5B, f.5C, 22B, j.AD, FF, cl.5C, 6C||5A~D, cl.5B~AD, f.5C~AD, 22B~AD, 171~j.AD, FF~AD, cl.5C~AD, 6C~AD|
Veil Off/IWEX Throw Tech OS
If the opponent attempts to throw you, you will throw tech. If the opponent does nothing, jumps, or tries to attack you, Veil Off will come out. If your character is on low life and has 200 meter, IWEX comes out. If you guess that your opponent is going to do anything except wait and block, this option select wins against every throw mixup.
This option select is countered by simply dash blocking or performing any other reversal baiting maneuver.
Pressure is a simple term for a complex subject. Pressure can be simply described as taking your turn attacking and trying to open your opponent's defenses, but Pressure is a multi-facetted macro-game within every match in Under Night In-Birth. There is no doubt pressure is also about how much strain you can put on your opponents in-game - hence the name "Pressure".
Mashing is a term that comes from the phrase "button mashing". It essentially means pressing a button. In Under Night In-Birth, mashing can be directly proportional to the amount of 'respect' a player will have for their opponent, and is mostly referred to when a Defender (or player in a disadvantage state) is trying to end the Attacker (or player in an advantage state) turn to pressure them. Examples of times a player might "mash" are: Okizeme, and whilst guarding blockstrings.
Okizeme (pronounced: oh-kee-zeh-may) is a Japanese word that is often shortened to Oki (pronounced: oh-kee) . "Oki-" (起き) stemming from "Getting Up/waking up" and "-zeme" (攻め) meaning "attack", oki refers to the game-state where one player has been knocked down onto the floor. During oki, the person in advantage state is player who is referred to as "having oki". "Having oki" means they are at advantage, and are likely to continue their pressure. However, both players have choices to make during oki: The disadvantaged player can:
- guard on wake up.
- perform a reversal/reversal-like action (includes DPs, VO, and any other moves with invincibility frames).
- mash (this includes non-reversal/reversal-like attacks, and also throws).
During oki the advantaged player can:
- meaty - this is when the advantaged player performs any attack that's timed so that the active frames overlap with the get-up animation.
Mashing on wake up is beaten by meaties. However, meaties are beaten by wake-up reversals. But wake-up reversals are beaten by blocking. Technically, on paper, the best option is to guard when getting off the floor. The risk of performing a reversal attack (that cannot be comboed from and will reset the game-state to neutral) does not outweigh the risk of being hit by the meaty or being punished by the blocked reversal - this is why "having oki" means the player with oki is at a higher advantage to continue their pressure. It's very important to take advantage of knockdowns. However, it's also important for the defender to play mind-games, because if the player with advantage thinks the player with disadvantage will perform a wake-up reversal; the player with disadvantage can mash on wake-up to steal the opponents advantage for pressure.
Blockstrings are a series of attacks performed on someone blocking. Blockstrings are shorter strings of attacks compared to combos. Combos have the sole purpose of inflicting damage on an opponent in hitstun – keeping them in hitstun for as long as possible and dealing as much damage as possible. Blockstrings deal no damage (aside from chip damage), their main purpose is to just keep the Defender in blockstun. The person performing the blockstring string is the one pressuring the opponent.
A blockstring can be any series of moves that combo together on block. But the ideal blockstring is:
- a block string that has opportunity to frame-trap the opponent.
- a block string should never always end in the same move. Always ending on the same move means the opponent can acclimate to your blockstring and taking risks until they say the move that you end on. Always changing the move that you end on isn’t necessary, but when you do change it up, it is called 'a mix'.
- a block string shouldn't always be the same every single time. For similar the same reasons as above. The same blockstring should never be utilised all the time. Blockstrings must be “freeform”, or there must have a selection of blockstrings to choose from at any time when it is your pressure. Using the same blockstring all the time will result in the opponent learning how to block against it (eventually). When they do learn the blockstring, the Attacker (despite having a turn in pressure) will lose all intimidation, because the Attacker will never be 'mixing' the opponent up. A good way to think of it is playing rock-paper-scissors, and always picking scissors. You might win two or three rounds, but your opponents is eventually going to pick rock.
- a blockstring should sometimes end in a move that is safe - Obviously, when you run out of moves to use in a blockstring, and your time to end your pressure. It’s best to end in a move that can allow you to block the enemy’ turn to pressure. This is not always the case see Conditioning and Respect.
Fuzzy Mashing is a technique to 'safely' mash buttons during an opponent's blockstring. Fuzzy mashing can be easily done by timing normals (usually with fast start-ups i.e. 5A, 2A) so that they activate at the end of blockstun. Blockstun is visualised on screen by a blue-blocking visual. When that visual disappears, blockstun is over. By pressing before blockstun is over the Defender will buffer an attack after each move in the blockstring, looking for a window for their attack to work. Fuzzy mashing is a reliable way to punish stagger openings and then confirm combos whilst continuing to block blockstrings.
Another complicated term for quite a simple and easy technique to achieve in practice. Frame-trapping is a necessary part of Pressure in Under Night In-Birth. A frame-trap is something an Attacker will do to a Defender as a way to check they are still blocking during blockstrings. Every blocked attack has a specific amount of block-stun it will cause a defending character to stay in until they are free to move again. After the blockstun is over and the Defender attempts stop blocking to do anything other than: Chain Shift, or perform a move that has invincible start-up frames (like a reversal attack, or a reversal-like action; e.g. VO, Linne’s FF), the Defender will be hit by the frame-trap.
So, what exactly is a frame-trap? This can be explained by describing how to frame-trap. Attacks that can combo into another attack have a ‘cancel/stagger window’ of frames where they can be cancelled – this window will usually begin at the start of the recovery animation and will end at least 1 frame after and at most 1 frame before the recovery animation finishes. The cancel/stagger window of every move for every character will differ so it’s recommended to become accustomed to your character’s normal cancel/stagger windows.
Training Mode Practice: Frame trap Go to training mode and select your character, set the training dummy to any character with a 5 frame (start-up) A button. Open the training options and set the Dummy to “Guard All” and scroll down to “Reversal Actions:”. Scroll right until you find the 5 frame (start-up) A button and close the menu. These settings will make the training dummy guard against all moves, but once the dummy exits blockstun it will automatically perform the 5 frame A attack. From here, you want to practice the limits of your grounded normal attack cancel windows against the dummy by cancelling them into all available grounded normal attacks as late as possible. When an attack (that can frame-trap) successfully frame-traps the dummy (that is set to do a reversal 5 frame A button) they will get hit. Attempt the following frame-traps with the dummy set-up as instructed: * / 5A > 8A > 8A > 8A (after the first 5A is blocked you have to do an input or you get an auto-combo) * / 2A > 2A > 2A * / 5A > 2A (and the reverse) * / 5A > 5B / 5A > 2B (and the reverse) * / 5A > 5C / 5A > 2C (and the reverse) * / 5B > 5C / 5B > 2C (and the reverse) * / 2B > 5C / 2B > 2C (and the reverse) Lastly, test any command normals your character has, test multi-hit moves, charged moves, and even special moves.
When a frame-trap works, what happens is the Attacker is leaving enough space between the recovery of one move, and the active frames of the next move for the opportunity for the Defender to attempt to try and press a button. If the gap between the recovery and the next active frame is not long enough for the Defender's move to activate after the blockstun from the previous attack - the opponent will be hit. Frame Trapping serves as a major facet of Under Night In-Birth pressure. Learning your character's cancel windows will prevent the opponent from trying to escape from their blocking (by trying to mash buttons), and elevate your pressure-game and allowing the use of Rebeats.
Smart Steer Combo
All characters have a smart steer combo (also known as an auto-combo), see the Controls section for how to input a Smart Steer combo. Smart Steer is a way to extend stagger windows of moves within blockstrings, which allows Attackers to extend their pressure on a blocking opponent. Smart Steer combos have large stagger windows and also allow moves that can't stagger normally - to be able to stagger (provided that move is within the smart steer combo). This gives Smart Steer normals huge potential in frame trapping the opponent. Another advantage of using Smart Steer Combos is that the same move can be used twice in the same blockstring (which is not the case normally) if the Attacker uses the move before or after the Smart Steer combo 'version' of the move.
"Rebeat" is derived from the term "Reverse Beat" from French Bread’s (the company that developed Under Night In-Birth) previous title Melty Blood. In Melty Blood and Under Night In-Birth you can easily chain all normals off of each other. In Under Night In-Birth this is called a Passing Link). The typical Passing Link example is:
However, Passing Links can work in anyway (provided the opponent is with range of each attack):
And also includes crouching moves:
and it also works when you mix crouching attacks with standing attacks:
Reverse beat refers to the chaining of "lighter" normal attacks after "heavier" ones. For example: a reverse beat (or rebeat) would be pressing an button after a or button, or a button after a button. During block-strings, rebeating is very important because you can cancel the recovery frames of a "heavier" move (usually or attacks) into "lighter" attacks with fewer frames of recovery (usually attacks, but check your characters rebeat options). Rebeating is very powerful technique to use, because rebeating not only leaves you safe but allows the user to reset their pressure.
For example: Let’s say the Attacker only uses one block string over and over again:
Without using rebeating, the blockstring above will always end on (214A). No matter how terrible the Defender is at defending; given enough time they will learn how to block the blockstring and that the Defender can start Mashing after the (214A).
If the Attacker begins utilising rebeats, they can start to cut this blockstring down to:
To make these shortened blockstrings safe by ending each of them in a rebeat button. For the purpose of the working example, 2A will be used as an example rebeat. However, different characters have different rebeat options check what your characters rebeats options are - it might not be 2A.
|Shortened Blockstring with a Rebeat|
Using a rebeat like this can make this one blockstring unpredictable as to when it will end. If rebeats are utilised with many different blockstrings the Defender will have to: Mash to in the hopes to punish an attempted rebeat, or respect the opponent's pressure until an opening or pattern in the Attacker's pressure is noticed. The utilisation of rebeating and frame-trapping is the foundation of Pressure as it allows the Attacker their pressure to be reset and opens up the opportunity for them to mix-up the Defender with High Attacks, Low Attacks, Throws, Assault, etc.
Conditioning & Respect
Frame-trapping a mashing Defender will persuade them to stop and just block, and when the Defender is only blocking the Attacker can start utilising rebeats to continue their pressure, persuading the Defender to begin mashing again. This rock-paper-scissors cycle forms the bases of Conditioning.
Pressure revolves around "respect" and "disrespect". Respecting your opponent revolves around letting your opponent take their turn in pressure; i.e. knowing there is nothing you can do without taking risk to take your turn in pressure. Giving your opponent "too much respect" generally means you are giving away, to your opponent, too many turns to pressure the opponent - i.e. you are scared of the opponent. Disrespecting means you don't respect your opponents turn, this can mean you are "stealing" turns of pressure from the opponent, or you are taking advantage of respect the opponent is giving you. Respect is the cornerstone of pressure, and to gain respect is the real game behind every 1v1 match in fighting games.
Frame trapping is integral in pressure as it dissuades opponents from disrespecting you. Frame-traps beats all types of normal mashing (except reversals) and conditions them to stop trying to disrespect you, and tp carry on blocking - i.e. respect you. If they get hit after a frame trap, they will get hurt. This conditions them to being scared of doing that action again - like a Skinner Box. If the opponent is conditioned to be scared of mashing and starts blocking, then it gives the Attacker the option to reset pressure. This prolongs the amount of pressure they can place on the Defender.
Resetting pressure is all about using rebeats or ending blockstrings prematurely and then restarting a blockstring. If the Defender respects the Attacker, the Attacker can start to use pressure resets to carry on their pressure, restarting their blockstring or performing a throw reset. Resetting pressure can have big windows of recovery frames of a blockstring + start-up frames of a reset where the Attacker is vulnerable to be countered with a mash. So, it is very important to condition the Defender not to mash first.
Throw resets have a much bigger gap than resetting pressure, however it abuses the respect the Defender has for normal pressure resets, allowing a quick dash in and grabbing the opponent who has remained blocking.
Frame trapping, Resetting pressure, and Throw resets disrupt with the opponents decisions to mash or not. Too much respect and the Attacker will use throws resets (which deal damage) and pressure resets to continue their pressure, but constant frame trapping within the Attacker's blockstring means that mashing will be punished.
Delay mashing is an technique that beats resets. By waiting for the stagger window of a move to end and then mashing, the Defender can ensure not to be frame trapped and to punish the Attacker's attempt for a throw reset. Delay mashing doesn't work against pressure resets because rebeats are typically too fast for or button delay mashes which leads to a counter-hit; and a normal resets will generally make stubby button delay mashes whiff which will lead to a whiff punish.
- Footsies Handbook by sonic hurricane dot com
- Throw Tech Explanation by Foulu and Jasepi
- "I Want to Get Strong at UNI" by Clearlamp, Jasepi, and Brandon
- "Unist - Four steps to structure pressure" by mo.sin