Samurai Shodown 3/Esoterics

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Counter Hits

Counter hits occur when you or the opponent is hit during the startup or active frames of a move. You gain extra damage on a counterhit, which can range from 110% to 170%. How much extra damage you gain is based on how early the move is counter hit.

Frame Damage Bonus
0-3 170%
4-7 160%
8-11 150%
12-15 140%
16-19 130%
20-23 120%
24-27 110%
28+ 100%

Turnaround Animations

When your opponent is waking up or coming down from an air reset and you are behind them, they cannot jump on their first vulnerable frame due to their character automatically turning around to face you. This can be set up in numerous ways, such as hitting them from behind while they are in the air (i.e. cross under anti-airing), or running over them as they are knocked down. They can still block in this scenario due to being in an actionable frame, but they are stuck in a 1f turnaround animation that does not allow them to jump.

This combination of factors means it is possible albeit tricky to force a scenario where they cannot jump to avoid a meaty or any other attack that connects during this period. If you’re confident in your timing, you can try to directly command grab them during the 1f turnaround animation for an almost completely inescapable (albeit frame perfect) setup. This unjumpable situation can also naturally be abused by attacks with long active periods, such as the universal 66C unblockable if you have time to set it up.

Special Blocking Rules

Beginner Class Auto Guard

As mentioned on the Mechanics page, selecting Beginner Class as your Grade grants you five Auto Guards per match at the expense of your Rage meter charging at a slower rate than Medium Grade.
Auto Guards essentially cause the game to block for you -- each instance of an Auto Guard will deplete your Auto Guard counter. When the counter reaches zero, the game will no longer Auto Guard for you. Manually blocking an attack will not consume an Auto Guard. Auto Guards can be used both on the ground and in the air.

Auto Guards will be used regardless of the input the player makes, as long as their character is capable of blocking normally, and their input would not result in a valid manual block.
This means Auto Guards can be used to:

  • cover both grounded and aerial approaches, regardless of whether or not a directional input is being held
  • correctly block an attack for you if you were to block it incorrectly, i.e. attempting to low guard an overhead will result in an Auto Guard
  • automatically deflect-guard (option select a guard into a deflect attempt).

Command Grab Interactions

There is no throw protection upon blocking an attack, or when getting up from a knockdown; it only triggers for hitstun or when jumping. Command grabs, as a result, will grab opponents in blockstun, but not hitstun. Bust Gaira is the exception; his command throw works in both scenarios. You can cancel normals into command grabs, as they follow special cancel rules. To create an airtight blockstring into command throw, you need to commit to a cancellable option that does not recoil on block -- usually a kick -- and cancel into the command throw. This is not foolproof, however, owing to most command throws whiffing if the foe is in hitstun. Apply this quirk along with the 1f turnaround mechanic noted above to force a very threatening checkmate situation. They can either block and take the command grab, or get hit and potentially eat a combo.

Guarding After Circle Steps

Circle steps have an extra layer of interactivity if the circle step doesn't actually go behind the opponent. This happens often in the corner, and consistently if P2 attempts to circle step behind a cornered opponent on the left side of the stage. It can also be abused if during an okizeme situation you predict a backwards roll. When circle stepping and still being in front of your opponent, doing an attack quickly enough afterwards will be essentially unblockable. The only way to block these is to hold forward and then hold back afterwards to actually block the attack.

Crouching Blockstun

Special moves in Samurai Shodown 3 will cause increased blockstun for the defender if they crouch block the attack. The general rule is that you are in ten more frames of blockstun if crouch blocking a special attack. Despite what other games may have trained you to do, you do not want to block low against a meaty unless it hits low.

Guard Cancels

Gaira and Basara have the unique ability to perform special moves during blockstun -- or, in other words, they can guard cancel. This does not consume any type of resource, nor does it otherwise require any special conditions be met. They are able to do this because SamSho 3.

Post-Hitstun Invulnerability

Compared to other SamSho games, normal attacks have a lot of hitstun, which opens up possibilities for combos not seen in any other game in the series -- linking repeated 2Ds is common for a lot of characters, and even a core part of the gameplans of some others. However, a curious property of hitstun in this game seemingly inherited from SamSho 2 (though to a much more extreme degree) is that the latter parts of hitstun animations from certain attacks will cause the character being hit to lose their hurtbox until they become actionable again. This can commonly lead to some links being very inconsistent, and even make some multi-hit normals incapable of fully connecting in some situations, primarily on back hit.

Counter Details


  • Deflect has a total duration of 20 frames
  • Deflect has two startup frames after the final input of the deflect motion (41236)
  • After startup, deflect is active for approximately 8 frames, where it will deflect any counterable attack
  • After the active frames, there is a 10 frame recovery animation

Blade Catch

  • Blade catch has a total duration of 18 frames
  • Blade catch has three startup frames after the final input of the blade catch motion (41236)
  • After startup, blade catch is active for approximately 8 frames, where it will catch any counterable attack
  • Note: the active window feels smaller than this, the animation may not necessarily be reflective of the counter window -- further testing required
  • After the active frames, there is a 7 frame recovery animation

Upon Successful Deflect

  • Deflect stun counts as hitstun, so a throw follow-up is impossible
  • Deflect stun is also projectile invulnerable, which prevents moves like Rimururu's Kamui Shituki from being used as a follow-up
  • Interestingly, Basara has no hurtboxes during his deflect stun animation, meaning he cannot be punished. He also has no collision during this animation

Special Counter Rules

  • Holding a backward direction (4 or 1) during the counter animation will cause your character to block if a counter cannot occur due to timing or an incoming attack being non-counterable. This option select is commonly referred to as "deflect-guard".
  • A counter will still occur if a counterable attack impacts during the active frames
  • If certain non-counterable attacks are blocked during a deflect attempt, the game will register a counter hit, although a hit will not actually occur
  • A counter can be cancelled at any point into a special move if the special move input overlaps with the counter input (i.e. 41236 or 236 motion special moves)
  • A successful deflect will move your opponent into a predetermined position relative to your character
  • A close range reflect will push your opponent away; a further range deflect will bring your opponent closer to you
  • Doing a special move from neutral that has an overlapping input (e.g. Basara's Tomobiki) will result in the deflect coming out, and then cancelling into the special move. This effectively increases their startup when not cancelled into or buffered in some form


Hitstop Glitch

There is a glitch with how hitstop is handled in SamSho 3, where if you connect an attack while the opponent is already undergoing hitstop from a previous attack, your attack will not be forced into as much hitstop, allowing them to recover sooner. This can allow otherwise impossible combos to occur. These can occur during the course of multiple characters' BnB combos, such as Zankuro's Shippuuzan corner infinite. It can be more actively abused by characters that can put out hitboxes while still being able to freely act, e.g. Bust Genjuro or Rimururu.


From time to time, unseen entities will throw items into the battle, with varying effects.

These items are either meat, which will heal whoever collects it, or bombs, which knock down on hit and cause a guard crush on block. Food will heal by 25% of the recipient's damage taken in the round, and bombs inflict very minor damage. Every stage has their own individual calculations on how likely an item will be thrown at unique intervals and which of the two items will be thrown.

An interesting property of the meat is that upon picking it up, your character's throw will behave differently -- it will still break the opponent's guard, but the actual throw will not occur. This is colloquially referred to as the "greasy fingers" bug, or as "meaty throw" if you're a wise guy. Another thing to note is that getting blown up by a bomb also causes this bug to occur. I guess while collecting meat gives you greasy fingers, getting blown up causes you to temporarily lose your fingers, makes sense to us.

Where the items land is chosen at random from one of the following options:

  • Between the combatants
  • At either combatant's feet
  • The center of the screen

Blind Spots

SamSho 3’s hitbox design is, admittedly, rather flaky at times. Several characters have attacks that will whiff at specific ranges, usually up close, where they were clearly intended to connect. Some of these blind spots only occur against certain characters (e.g. Nakoruru, Ukyo), while others are the same across the entire cast. This also results in numerous combos being character-specific, even when they look like they would be universal.

Moves with very obvious blind spots that affect their usage are noted as such in their respective entries on character pages. This is by no means exhaustive, but if we listed off every blind spot in the game we'd be here all day.

Double KOs and Timeout Draws

In the event of a double KO, both players are granted a round win. If one player is at match point and the other has not won a round, the latter is granted a round win. If both players are at match point and experience a double KO, a unique final round occurs with a time limit of 50 seconds in which both players are permanently in Desperation. Double KO’ing again gives player 1 the win.

Unlike with a double KO, if the round ends on a draw via timeout, neither player is awarded a round. If a timeout draw occurs during the third round, the match continues in the special “final round” described above. If players draw by timeout or double KO in this round, player 1 wins by default.

Move Name Differences

Some moves have different names between Techniques that aren't listed on the respective character pages, because they are largely identical between Techniques and don't need different entries for each one. Some moves have minor gameplay differences, which are listed on their respective pages, while others are the same move but with a different name. Listed below are all move name differences that are not listed on the character pages.

  • Haohmaru: Senpuu Retsuzan (Slash); Senpuu Retsuzan -Setsu- (Bust)
  • Genjuro: Oukazan (Slash); Ura Ouka: Ayame (Bust) || Kurenai (Slash); Shigure (Bust)
  • Galford: Plasma Factor (Armed); Plasma Fist (Unarmed)
  • Hanzo: Kage (Slash); Kage -Shizune- (Bust)
  • Shizumaru: Kirisamejin: Gouu (Slash); Kirisamejin (Bust)


If you’re playing through the single player arcade ladder, you’ll eventually run into Kuroko. Unlike in SamSho 2, he just morphs into your character and engages you in a mirror match. He individually gets to pick his own choice of Technique, meaning he is not limited to specifically what his opponent picks. He additionally can use the same color palette as his opponent. When in an environment that uses a boss hack to grant easier access to Zankuro, Kuroko is also a legal pick. This primarily happens in Japanese arcades (e.g. Mikado), so just do a regular mirror match if you want the Kuroko experience for yourself.

Samurai Shodown 3

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