Vampire Savior/Donovan

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Jojo's Reject

How Donovan Plays

Donovan in Vampire Savior is a poke and counter-poke character. He has a few extremely strong normal attacks, which individually deal decent damage, but they do not leave him in position or at the frame advantage necessary to convert it to the type of pressure Vampire Savior is known for. In addition, he suffers from the problem Jedah has, which is that his typical chains do not combo into knockdown. Though, unlike Jedah, his tools for getting back in are not nearly as overwhelming. At this point, you may just say, "Well I'll zone and poke people to death with my awesome normals", and for a time that may feel like a real answer, but due to the regenerative health of Vampire Savior one off pokes do not do nearly enough damage in the end. In addition, if the opponent does get in (or the worst happens and you are cornered), prepare for some difficult blocking as Donovan is one of the tallest characters and has one of the absolutely fattest hurtboxes.

My perspective right now is that while Donovan has a few decent to strong tools, he is not a very good character, and further playtesting would position him in near the lower end of the tiers. It must be kept in mind though, that every character can win in Vampire Savior if you have mastered all of the game mechanics, and I don't think Donovan can be considered hopeless.

Normal Moves

Standing Normals with Killshread Equipped

Donovan s lp.png

[ Startup:5 | Active:2 | Hit:+X | Block:+X | Renda: H:+X B:+X ]

Special Cancel; Rapid Cancel

This is a nice check to just toss out there, with either a either a dash or after a pressure string. Its his third longest range normal after Killshread Unequipped s.MP and Killshread Equipped s.MP. Typically you'll want to use this as a max range poke against most characters as it will not hit any of them crouching besides Phobos, and they'll just hit you with normals below it. Haven't had much of a chance to try it yet, but the height and length of this s.LP should destroy characters Instant Air Dashing at you. Good normal to clip someone out of the air at a distance too if they are empty jumping around too much.

Donovan s mp 1.png
Donovan s mp 2.png

[ Startup:8 | Active:2+2 | Hit:-X | Block:-X ]

Not a bad normal against Victor, Bishamon, and Phobos as it hits them crouching. Absolutely Donovan's longest reaching normal, though it feels a bit slow to get the fully extended hitbox. Use at max range and hope the opponent doesn't jump over it. The recovery feels too long to use it as a poke in other matchups, but I encourage anybody to experiment with it.

Donovan s hp 1.png
Donovan s hp 2.png

[ Startup:8 | Active:3+1 | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]

Amazing anti-air, and one of Donovan's most important normals. Works well from a dash or just doing it raw. It actually hits high enough up to catch floating Anakaris. Use this in a similar way that Bishamon uses dash MP.

As Donovan as a character is one who lives off of damage achieved from pokes, and this being his most damage normal tied with j.HP, it is very important to work this into your game plan.

The main thing you must keep in mind when anti-airing with this normal, is you generally are not going to be getting any significant frame advantage after anti-airing someone with this as there is simply too much recovery. Donovan will typically be at about neutral give or take. Take note of how your opponent reacts after being hit by this, and take care to not overextend by dashing up immediately afterwards as you may just run into something.

  • Test this normal as anti-air against jumping Gallon and Jedah. Can they jump over it?
  • Check how many frames the anti-air box is active for and how quickly it becomes active.
Donovan s lk.png

[ Startup:5 | Active:2 | Hit:-X | Block:-X | Renda: H:+X B:+X ]

Special Cancel; Rapid Cancel

The main function of s.LK is use in close range dash pressure, along with c.LP. It has a good amount more range than c.LP, but won't hit opponents out of their starting jump frames. In Vampire Savior Arranged, you can link into a c.LP (Weapon or not) after this, though it is a tight link. Works well as a tick throw normal after a dash in as well.

  • I think it should hit low in Savior 2, need to check. Does not in Vampire Savior Arranged.
Donovan s mk.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:2 | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]

Special Cancel

Not a normal Donovan gets much use of in pressure. Out of all his normals this one probably has some of the least range. Its best function is to special cancel out of, as it is his highest damage special cancelable move outside of Killshread Unequipped s.HP(Which there isn't even anything to cancel into when Killshread is Unequipped.)

Donovan s hk.png

[ Startup:7 | Active:3 | Hit:-X | Block:-X ]

Absolutely amazing normal. Amazing horizontal range, not a big hurtbox, fast start up, high damage and is about frame neutral on hit/block. No other character really has a normal with those stats and a good ground dash, the closest maybe being Anakaris s.LP. Applying this with his dash is a huge part of Donovan's game plan, as you should be dashing up and either poking or whiff punishing with this often. It can be difficult for many characters to counter Donovan at the range he is able to poke them from. The hitbox is buff enough as well that it will catch many characters out of their early jump frames. Tossing this out after some pressure to keep the opponent in place is key.

The downside to this normal, is the pushback that a hard attack has. Using this as pressure can potentially leave you a bit limited in the sense that even if you use it from a point blank dash you will be pushed back far enough you can't set up a throw mix up from it. You must keep in mind when to use this normal in dash pressure, or a light or medium attack that will let you stay closer to your opponent.

Crouching Normals with Killshread Equipped

Donovan c lp.png

[ Startup:5 | Active:2 | Hit:+X | Block:+X | Renda: H:+X B:+X ]

Special Cancels; Rapid Cancels

One of your main point blank dash pressure tools along with s.LK. Though it has quite a bit less range than s.LK, it may hit opponents out of their starting jump frames. Great frame advantage and might be his fastest normal. You are able to dash link this normal into itself in Vampire Savior Arranged, but not in Vampire Savior 2. Use this normal often.

From a dash, you can either keep poking with this or go for tick throws.

Donovan c mp.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:3 | Hit:-X | Block:-X ]

Special Cancels

A strong normal with a great hitbox. Great normal to poke with and to dash in with. After a mid-screen combo ending in 6.HK, tossing this out will catch most characters if they jump away. Don't forget about this normal and use it often.

Donovan c hp 1.png
Donovan c hp 2.png
Donovan c hp 3.png

[ Startup:8 | Active:2+2+2 | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]

A potential anti-air normal. Admitted I have yet to experiment much with it yet as I'm scared of the hurtbox that covers the attack boxes, and I need to look into to see how many frames it takes for max attack height to be reached. If its too slow there may be better options like Killshread Equipped s.HP.

Donovan c lk.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:2 | Hit:-X | Block:-X | Renda: H:+X B:+X ]

Special Cancels

Mostly used as a combo starter that hits low. Feels a little bit slow as far as light attacks go as I have been unsuccessful linking into it from a dash c.LP or s.LK.

  • Does this Rapid Cancel?
Donovan c mk.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:2 | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]

Special Cancels

I mostly use this purely as a tool in chain combos. Tempted to start using it out of dashes though as a poke.

Donovan c hk.png

[ Startup:7 | Active:11 | Hit:-X | Block:-X ]

A slide attack, that even with the slide it somehow has extremely poor range and won't work out of most decent damage chain combos on most characters(Most chain combos end in 6.HK). It is easily punishable on block at point blank, and still punishable but a bit of a hard punish if it hits on the last active frame.

This move has a low profile, and can potentially go under some attacks. As a slide it is hits low and is super active. It may be a bad habit, but I occasionally use it as an easy meaty on opponents that hold up after a knockdown.

  • Need to make a list of characters you can do a full chain (c.LK > c.MP > c.MK > c.HK) and have the c.HK combo. It works on a few of the especially fat characters.

Normals with Killshread Unequipped

Donovan ns s lp.png

[ Startup:5 | Active:2 | Hit:+X | Block:+X | Renda: H:+X B:+X ]

Special Cancels; Rapid Cancels

Not much use outside of a button for a quick anti-air if someone is empty jumping or Instant Air Dashing at you.

Donovan ns s mp.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:3 | Hit:-X | Block:-X ]

Special Cancels

Fun normal. It would be nice if he had access to it with Killshread Equipped. Pretty great hitbox and decently positioned hurtbox for an anti-air on the characters with maybe a bit more poor jump-in normals(Aulbath, Demitri, Lilith, Morrigan). Certain characters may have normals they can potentially force a trade with, but you should be able to keep them out. It may be worth Unequipping Killshread at times in a few matches just for this normal.

  • Does this hit any crouchers besides Phobos?
Donovan ns s hp.png

[ Startup:7 | Active:3 | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]

Special Cancels

Basically s.MP but with much worse hitboxes. Not much reason to use this. Oddly enough it can special cancel, but your options for special canceling when the sword is in the ground are extremely limited.

  • Does this hit any crouchers besides Phobos?
Donovan ns c lp.png

[ Startup:5 | Active:2 | Hit:-X | Block:-X | Renda: H:+X B:+X ]

Special Cancels; Rapid Cancels

Great normal for the reasons listed under the Killshread Equipped c.LP entry. Great frame data, can dash link from in Vampire Savior Arranged. It feels like this may come out a frame or two faster or causes a little bit more hitstun than the Equipped version.

Donovan ns c mp.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:2 | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]

Good for similar reasons as the Killshread equip version, though it has a bit less range. Use this as a dash normal or a poke from a medium range.

Donovan ns c hp 1.png
Donovan ns c hp 2.png

[ Startup:7 | Active:2+2 | Hit:-X | Block:-X ]

Special Cancels

I haven't used this normal too much yet but I may start applying it. Without Killshread Equipped s.HP available hitting this part of the screen becomes much more difficult for Donovan. May be worth while to dash and use this if you are expecting someone to jump, but it requires some experimentation.

Air Normals

Donovan j lp 1.png
Donovan j lp 2.png
Donovan j lp 3.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:2+2+2 ]

Great normal with slightly different utilities depending on the game you are playing. In either game though it is good jump-in and an extremely strong chicken guard normal.

Savior 2 - The problem with j.LP in Savior 2 is that it does not follow the the same rules that all the other jumping light attacks use. You cannot instantly whiff cancel it, and you are not free to cancel it into other normals on hit. It doesn't even air link into any other normals. Its utility mostly comes from an option to link into after a j.HK, though it may be one the tightest air links. On tall characters you can do an extremely early j.HK and link it into j.LP and still combo. This is good even as a block string, as it is easy for an opponent to accidentally crouch to early. The other use is, j.HK does not have very much range and all of Donovan's other normals are not good normals for jumping in with. So if your opponent is just out of range, using this as your primary jump-in attack is sometimes necessary. It somehow has quite a bit more stun than you'd expect it to.

Savior Arranged - Amazing normal in this game. It chains and functions just as you'd expect it to. You can hit opponents from very early in your jump and still combo to the ground, something most of the cast cannot do, and is one of Donovan's biggest strengths. Your chains will typically go j.LP > j.HK, or on taller opponents j.LP > j.MK > j.HK. In Savior 2, j.HK takes over the role of this button.

Donovan j mp 1.png
Donovan j mp 2.png
Donovan j mp 3.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:2+2+2 ]

One of Donovan's most important buttons, and one of the best pokes in the game. The range is absolutely incredible, hitting from half of the screen away. You can use this as an amazing air-to-air, or do it just as you're landing (from a neutral jump, or a full screen jump-in) to poke a grounded character from quite a distance away. This normal is great at keeping people out of your space, and holding your position. You can chicken guard and punish in situations where it typically may be a bit more difficult too. Spend a lot of time exploring the best ways to use this.

Donovan j hp 1.png
Donovan j hp 2.png
Donovan j hp 3.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:2+2+2 ]

Donovan already jumps pretty high, and this hits even higher. It can be hard to get in proper position to get full use out of this, but if you can go for it, as it is tied for Donovan's most damaging normal. May be most useful on the highest of jumpers(Anakaris, Gallon, Jedah) as you are descending from your own jump or after a chicken guard(especially if you block them early into yours and their jump). Hurtboxes are quite a bit smaller than j.MP, and I really like the look of that first active hitbox.

Donovan j lk.png

[ Startup:5 | Active:7 ]

Special Cancels

Not the most useful of normals, but it has a bit of use in the Savior 2 system. It is also the fastest of his air normals, so in very certain situations it may be his best chicken guard button.

Savior 2 - It retains the jumping like attack characteristics in the Savior 2 system that j.LP is missing, such as whiff canceling and canceling into other normals on hit. I also find it to be the easiest normal to link into after j.HK, if you are having problems linking into j.MP consistently.

Savior Arranged - It's probably still his fastest of air normals, so use it in tight chicken guard situations or as a quick air-to-air.

Donovan j mk.png

[ Startup:5 | Active:5 ]

Special Cancels

The utility of j.MK is as a air chain or link tool in both games.

Savior 2 - I like to link into this after j.HK for a standard jump-in combo. It is easier to link into j.LK, but still in terms of easy to link and damage provided I favor this.

Savior Arranged - On certain tall characters, you can do a jump in combo of j.LP > j.MK > j.HK, but this is only a few characters. There isn't much use for use for this normal in the Savior Arranged system.

Donovan j hk.png

[ Startup:6 | Active:5 ]

A strong jumping attack that has its uses depending on what version of the game you are playing.

Savior 2 - One of Donovan's most important air normals, tied with j.MP, in Savior 2. Here, due to air links, you'll want to make this your first attack in your jump-in combo. Due to how low this hits you can hit someone from very high up in the air, and then link into another normal. Opponents are forced to guard from characters at a jump height they normally would not be used to. This is one of Donovan's particularly strong characteristics. You can link into all of his other jump normals from this, and on a standard jump in I favor j.HK >> j.MP. And on tall opponents you have two choices, you can either do j.HK >> j.HP for big damage or j.HK >> j.LP to combo them from a very early point in your jump. In Savior Arranged, j.LP takes over the role this button has in Savior 2.

Savior Arranged - In Savior Arranged j.HK is much less integral to his game, but still very useful. This is usually used at the end of your jump in chain. Jump-in chains in this game will generally go j.LP > j.HK, outside of a few tall opponents that j.LP > j.MP > j.HK will work on.

Air Command Normals


[ Startup:5 | Active: Until Landing ]

Never use this. You'll slowly fly across the length of the screen, and are even punishable on hit from a typical situation. If you somehow land this on a standing opponent after about full screen away, you may be able to combo from this. Don't count on that.

On block, you bounce off.


[ Startup:6 | Active: Until Landing ]

Great command normal! After a chicken guard this may ideally be your best option, as you'll hit them and then land right next to in plenty of time for good pressure. It has some use in the ground game as well. If you are being pressured by ground dashes, a trick Zabel has is to jump back and do a LK drill, and you can do something similar with this and j2.HK as well, but you'll want to make sure you have a little bit of space before choosing this option. You may not always be able to combo on hit, but it is realistically possible.

Do not use this if you anticipate your opponent will be jumping in the air above you. You will lose every time, as the hitbox is near Donovan's feet.

On block, Donovan will bounce off the opponent. If you hit them on the lower half of their body this may be safe(need to do a bit more testing), otherwise you WILL be punished.

  • Test what ranges are safest to use this on block at.

[ Startup:6 | Active: Until Landing ]

Great command normal for many of the reasons listed for j2.MK. Has the least travel distance out of all of his surfboard dive-kicks, so it will excell more than j2.MK for doing a quick upback into this while under dash pressure.

Do not use this if you anticipate your opponent will be jumping in the air above you. You will lose every time, as the hitbox is near Donovan's feet.

On block, Donovan will bounce off the opponent. Seems potentially safe if spaced correctly?

Savior Arranged - On tall characters, you can do instant j.LK > j2.HK and land right in their face and ready to combo. You can also do this from a regular jump in, but generally damage gained from using j.HK makes this not as viable.

Forward Hard Kick


[ Startup:X | Active:4 | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]

Whiffs on crouching Q-Bee. Excellent normal otherwise with many uses. Goes over low attacks and baits out throw attempts.

Special Moves


Normal Throw (MP or HP)

[ Startup:1 | Active:1 ]

Donovan's Normal Throw is pretty awful. Almost as weak as Pyrons. Does 5 Red/10 White damage on a successful throw, which isn't even half the strength of a typical normal throw and even weaker than most throw techs.

Air Throw

Donovan does not have an air throw. This is a ridiculous oversight and hurts him as a character greatly.

Sword Grapple - 63214.MP/HP (While Killshread is being held.)

[ Startup:4? | Active:X ]

This Command Throw is a little more hopeful. It does a decent 20 Red/28 White Damage. It does not have an ES version sadly. I recommend using HP, because the option select if the opponent jumps out is much stronger than with MP.

  • I'm not sure of the startup time for this grab. Its quality greatly depends on that.

Pursuit Attack

Pursuit Attack - 8.P or K (When Opponent is knocked down.)

[ Startup:25 ]

This will actually cause Anakaris' anti-pursuit portal to whiff, hilariously enough.

Special Moves

Ifrit Sword - 623.LP/MP/HP/ES (While Killshread is being held.)

[ Startup:7~8 | Active:1+3+2 | Hit:Knockdown | Block:~ ]


Lightning Sword - 412.LP/MP/HP/ES (While Killshread is being held.)

LP Lightning Sword [ Startup:14 | Active:14 | Hit:X | Block:X ]


Blizzard Sword - 41236.LP/MP/HP/ES (While Killshread is being held.)

LP Blizzard Sword [ Startup:27 | Active:~ | Hit:~ | Block:~ ]


Killshread Plant - 214.LK/MK/HK/ES (While Killshread is being held.)

LK Killshread Plant [ Startup:28 ]

MK/HK Killshread Plant [ Startup:45 ]


Donovan ks summon.png
Killshread Summon - 214.LK/MK/HK/ES (While Killshread is Planted.)

[ Startup:16 | Active:~ | Hit:+X | Block:+X ]


Donovan ks lightning.png
Donovan ks lightning es.png
Killshread Lightning - 214.LP/MP/HP/ES (While Killshread is Planted.)

LP Killshread Lightning [ Startup:19 | Active:6 | Hit:X | Block:X ]


EX Moves

Press of Death

[ Startup:37 | Active:6+6 | Hit:Knockdown | Block:-X ]


Change Immortal

[ Startup:11 | Active:~ | Hit:Knockdown | Block:-X ]

  • Start up invincibility of 10 frames.
  • Hitbox activates in terms of proximity to your opponent, if you are right next to your opponent it will activate immediately, otherwise Donovan will fly backwards to the end of the screen and then fly forward.
  • Can kind of work as a reversal if you use it correctly, though not a great one.
  • Air blockable.
  • Very unsafe on block.
  • If you are quick, you can combo into 1 hit of Press of Death as an OTG after this.

Dark Force



Match Ups


Vampire Savior 2 Jump in Combos

  • j.HK >> j.LP >> 2.LK > 2.MP > 2.MK > 6.HK
34 Red/57 White
Linking into j.LP is somewhat difficult.
  • j.HK >> j.LK >> 2.LK > 2.MP > 2.MK > 6.HK
?? Red/?? White
This is the easiest variation of Donovan's jump-in link combo.
  • j.HK >> j.MK >> 2.LK > 2.MP > 2.MK > 6.HK
38 Red/65 White
  • j.HK >> j.HP >> 2.LK > 2.MP > 2.MK > 6.HK
41 Red/68 White
Will only work on tall characters.

Vampire Savior Arranged Jump in Combos

  • j.LP > j2.HK >> c.LK > c.MP > c.MK > 6.HK
29 Red/49 White
Dive lowers damage by a substantial amount, but places you right next to the opponent, in which case maybe there are better ground combo possibilities.
  • j.LP > j.HK >> c.LK > c.MP > c.MK > 6.HK
34 Red/58 White
  • j.LP > j.MK > j.HK >> c.LK > c.MP > c.MK > 6.HK
37 Red/63 White
Fit in an extra j.MK, the tallest character this works on is Pyron.

Vampire Savior Arranged Dash Link Combos

These are all performed with Killshread Equipped, but they are in fact a little easier eith it Unequipped. You can also sub in dash c.LP with dash c.LK.

  • dash c.LP >> c.LP > c.LK > c.MK > c.HK
21 Red/37 White
  • dash c.LP >> c.LP > c.LK > c.MK > 6.HK
23 Red/39 White
  • dash c.LP >> c.LP > c.MP > c.MK > 6.HK
28 Red/45 White

Killshread Equipped c.LK > c.MP > c.MK > c.HK Combos On...

This combo will only connect from point blank range. Anywhere outside of that and c.HK will completely whiff.

This is an important combo to know. Donovan needs knockdowns when he can get them, so you must confirm whether the opponent is standing or crouching when you connect, and your range. Keep in mind this is only if Killshread is Equipped. If Killshread is Unequipped, Donovan's moves will have less pushback and you will be able to connect this combo on any oppoent regardless if they are standing or crouching. Besides Jedah, who it even while Unequipped it will not combo on him while he is standing

Combos standing or crouching:
Combos only when standing:
Combos only when crouching:
Does not combo on either standing or crouching:

Vampire Savior Arrange Damage Table

Ground Normals with Killshread Equipped

Normal Red White Notes
s.LP 5 8 Has different damage values
with killshread unequipped.
s.MP 10 15
s.HP 13 19 Has different damage values
with killshread unequipped.
s.LK 4 8
s.MK 9 15
s.HK 12 19 Has different damage values
with killshread unequipped.
c.LP 5 8
c.MP 9 14 Has different damage values
with killshread unequipped.
c.HP 12 19 Has different damage values
with killshread unequipped.
c.LK 3 7
c.MK 7 13
c.HK 8 15
6.HK 12 18

Ground Normals with Killshread Unequipped

Normal Red White Notes
s.LP 4 6
s.HP 12 17
s.HK 10 17
c.MP 8 13
c.HP 11 17

Air Normals

Normal Red White Notes
j.LP 5 8
j.MP 10 15
j.HP 13 19
j.LK 4 8
j.MK 9 15
j.HK 12 19
j2.LK 7 11
j2.MK 7 11
j2.HK 6 10

Special and EX Moves

Normal Red White Notes
Pursuit 0 4 1 hit
Pursuit (ES) 0 12 2 hit
Ground Throw 5 10
Sword Grapple 20 28
Killshread Summon 11 17 1hit: 4r/6w; 2hit: 8r/12w
Killshread Lightning (LP) 5 6
Killshread Lightning (MP) 9 11
Killshread Lightning (HP) 13 16
Killshread Lightning (ES) 17 21
Ifrit Sword 9 15
Ifrit Sword (ES) 20 38 4hit: 14r/27w; 5hit: 17r33w
Blizzard Sword 8 13
Blizzard Sword (ES) 11 19
Press of Death 29 45 as pursuit 15r/23w
Invincible Frames: X~X
Change Immortal 28 37 Invincible Frames: X~X

Vampire Savior 2 Frame Data

Ground Normals with Killshread Equipped

Move Startup Active










Cancel Notes
s.LP 3 -1 -2 H:+1 G:+1 Special/Rapid see below for un-equipped data
s.MP 5/6 -3/-2 -3 see below for un-equipped data
s.HP 9 -5 -6 see below for un-equipped data
s.LK 3 +3 +2 H:+5 G:+5 Special/Rapid
s.MK 4 +2 +1 Special
s.HK 5 -1/0 -2/-1
c.LP 3 +4 +3 H:+7 G:+6 Special/Rapid see below for un-equipped data
c.MP 4 +2 +2 Special see below for un-equipped data
c.HP 5 -1/0 -2/-1 see below for un-equipped data
c.LK 3 +3 +2 H:+5 G:+4 Low Special/Rapid
c.MK 4 +2 +1 Low Special
c.HK 5 Knockdown -12 Low max range slide is G:-3,
usually -7 to -5 on far slides
6.HK 8 4 +1/+2 0/+1 can get H:+4 when started far

Ground Normals with Killshread Un-Equipped

Air Normals

Move Startup Active




Cancel Notes
j.LP 4 High
j.MP 4 High
j.HP 4 High
j.LK 2/3 High
j.MK 3 High
j.HK 4 High
j2.LK 3 test
j2.MK 4 test
j2.HK 4 test

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