Pressing an assist combination input will call in another character on your team to perform a predetermined attack independent of your point character. Assists are extremely strong and useful for many things such as space control, pressure, combos, and even defense, depending on your chosen assist attack. The downside is that the assist character is vulnerable and has to be protected by the point. Assist characters can be hit out of startup (even invulnerable moves have at least 3 frames of vulnerability as an assist), or during recovery, since assist characters will stay on screen a bit before leaving. Assist characters also take more damage (35% more), all dealt in red health. If the assist is hit, the assist's team will go through 120f of lockout, which prevents calling assist, tagging, or DHCing for a little while. If the point character is hit before the assist attacks, they will not do their attack. Getting hit this way or leaving an assist unprotected can lead to both characters getting caught in a combo at the same time, formally known as a happy birthday combo. If they get to the corner, they can do a deadly double snap combo, guaranteeing the assist character is killed. In short, be careful with the risks you take while calling your assist.
In a combo, an assist can only be called once. Using an assist's attack as a combo starter scales the combo to 66%, or 90% if it was a counter hit. More details here
Assists can be called while in a neutral state or during normal attacks, but not during specials, supers, or throws. Also, super jumping or double jumping will prevent you from calling an assist until you land.
Assist attacks are referred to by the in-game tutorial as ensemble attacks.
Any grounded normal move, special move, throw, or taunt (input with START on assist select) can be chosen as an assist. Below is a rough breakdown of the different kind of benefits assists can provide. While not all assists will fit perfectly into each of these categories, many of the best assists have at least one of these traits.
- Lockdown assists - Multi-hit moves that keep the opponent stuck in stun will give the point character time to set up an advantageous position. Example: Cerebella's Cerecopter (623HP)
- Invulnerable DP assists - Invulnerable moves that will cleanly beat an opponent committing to an attack when timed properly. Example: Parasoul's Napam Pillar (8HK)
- Don't forget that all assists have 3 vulnerable frames when they touch the ground, even if the point version of the move is invulnerable from the 1st frame. Some invulnerable assists have even more than 3 frames of vulnerability
- Armored assists - Armored assists are difficult to stop since they can only be beaten by multihits or sweeps. Examples: Big Band's Brass Knuckles (6HP), Eliza's Buther's Blade (214MP)
- Projectile assists - Projectile assists control space, and in many scenarios are safer from happy birthdays since the assist character itself isn't moving with the projectile. Example: Peacock's George's Day Out (236LK)
- Setup assists - These assists let the player build some kind of resource as part of a combo. If the assist has a lengthy animation, the point character has enough time to build a resource such as a taunt. Other times the resource building move itself is the assist, so the resource is available once the character is on point. Examples: Cerebella's Excellebella (623LP+LK), Valentine's Vial Hazard (214P)
- Low assists - Low hitting moves enabling hard to block mixups for the point character. Simply jumping and calling a low assist can be very scary, since either the jump in or the assist can be timed to hit first. Example: Double's Cilia Slide (4LK+HK)
- Conversion assists - Some assists enable a character to convert a hit into a combo where it would normally be impossible, or cost meter. Example: Painwheel's H Pinion Dash (22HK, assist only) lets Big Band combo off of SSJ.
- Dash assist - Not for trolling. Don't call it like a normal assist, instead use it as an alpha counter. You can choose to block, move, or attack based on the situation after you alpha counter.
- Assist attacks that would normally cause a red bounce (knockdown or sliding knockdown) will instead cause a slightly modified version of the knockdown, indicated by a distinct green impact effect as the defending character touches the ground. Assist knockdown allows a ground tech in 9f after the green hit effect. Assist slides allow recovery as soon as the slide stun begins.
- Assists can't be thrown by a point character. Because of this, moves that are strike invulnerable can be thought of as fully invulnerable as an assist.
- Performing special moves with an assist call will simultaneously perform the move and call an assist. This cannot be done as a reversal, however.
Timeline of Assist Character Vulnerability
0. Assist input is pressed
1. 4 frames of startup before assist comes on screen
2. ~20 frames of invulnerability as the assist character enters the screen from the side
3. 3 frames of vulnerable startup where the assist character does nothing
4. The assist character does their attack. Any invulnerability in the assist attack still protects the character, but will not cover the previously mentioned 3f of assist start up. Some moves (such as Double's L Hornet Bomber and Big Band's Beat Extend) have extra vulnerable frames that override the move's invulnerable frames.
- If the assist character didn't get hit, they will perform a vulnerable taunt before exiting the screen.
- If the assist character gets hit at any point, they will skip the taunt and leave the screen immediately after recovering.
- If the point character gets hit before the assist character does their attack, the assist character will perform their vulnerable taunt then exit the screen.
The point character can be switched to any other alive character on the team by performing a unique tag in attack. This is done by pressing two buttons of the same strength. MP+MK will tag in the 2nd character, and HP+HK will tag in the 3rd. Either input can be used to tag when only one character is available.
Tagging is the only way to switch characters on your own without meter. Being able to combo into your other character's tags is a good strategy that lets your point character recover red health, and can sometimes be optimal for damage.
- Immediately after the input occurs, the point character becomes invincible as the chosen character performs their tag.
- Each character has a unique tag but none of them are safe and only a few will lead to a combo. Many teams can combo into tags, so be sure to find creative ways to tag to each of your characters on your team.
- Tags are considered like a special move in terms of canceling - you can cancel a normal into a tag, but not specials or supers.
- Unlike DHCs, tagging will swap the positions of the point and the tagged in character. For example: tagging in the 3rd character will move to point to the 3rd slot on the team.
All characters have access to a snapback, or snap, with ↓↘→ + either tag command. When hit by a snap, the defending character gets forced off the screen for a teammate to take their place. All snaps use one bar of meter, deal no damage. After the snap, the next character appears on screen in normal jump state after a 75f entrance delay similar to the entrance after a teammate's death. Using MP+MK or HP+HK tag commands for the snap will bring in the second or third-in-line character on the opposing team. Either snap command will work if there is only one other character on the opposing team.
- After the defending character leaves the screen, the defending team begins a lockout period of 300 frames
- The snap also will "reset" OTG for the combo, allowing another OTG hit on the defending player if it was already used before the snap hits.
- Snaps also break armor. This is particularly useful vs Eliza for fighting Sekhmet.
- Snapbacks done in a solo vs solo match, against the last remaining character on a team, or against Sekhmet cause a wall bounce instead of forcing the defending character off the side of the screen.
- When a team snaps a solo, it's a soft KD
Snapbacks are referred to by the in-game tutorial as outtakes.
Snapback as Solo
When a solo character faces any larger team (1v2 or 1v3), a successful snap will heal recoverable damage for the solo in addition to forcing the defending character off screen. Hitting a point character heals 2/3 of the current recoverable damage, hitting an assist heals 1/3 recoverable damage, and hitting both at the same time heals 2/3 of the current recoverable damage. Snapping a dead body will work as a normal dead body snap, but it will not recover any red health.
When the solo gets hit by a snap by a team, it removes all recoverable damage and forces an invulnerable soft knockdown.
During blockstun, any character can perform an alpha counter with → + a tag command. An alpha counter uses 1 bar of meter, tags out the point character, brings in the chosen teammate, then performs the assist attack of the new point character. Using MP+MK or HP+HK chooses the second or third-in-line teammate for the move. Blocking standing, crouching, and in the air all allow an alpha counter. Alpha counters are not available when there are no other characters left on the team. Either command can be used if there is only one other teammate alive.
- Alpha counters retain the properties of the move as if done on the point, and do not reflect any assist-only properties. For example, Headless Ms. Fortune H Fiber alpha counter will only be throw invincible (where the assist version is fully invincible), and Fukua H Platonic Drillationship alpha counter will be strike invincible (where the assist version does not have this invincibility).
- Moves with follow up or hold button properties still behave as normal on point as an alpha counter too. For example, alpha countering into a Peacock George bomb allows you cancel into a second George, and alpha countering into a Painwheel armored normal allows you to hold the button and use the armor.
- The alpha counter flash occurs immediately after the alpha counter is input. The game resumes 3f before the alpha countered move begins startup, during which the character is invulnerable.
Alpha counters are referred to by the in-game tutorial as stunt doubles.
Burst Alpha Counter
Alpha counters can also be done during bursts, and behave the same as one done from blockstun. This is a significant mechanic that changes how burst bait interactions are done. Burst into Alpha Counter window is 30f.
A DHC refers to cancelling a super attack by performing any super command for the next-in-line character on the team, after which the next character comes on screen and performs the inputted super. DHC'ing is available starting immediately after the super flash and at any point during the attack animation. The chance to cancel ends when the background color shift effect from the super ends.
DHCs serve many utilities and functions. DHCs at the end of a combo are useful for tacking on damage to finish off a character. If you DHC before undizzy is filled, the next character may be able to do one more chain. DHCing early in a combo is useful to mitigate damage scaling from scaled starters. DHCs are also useful for switching characters out safely and decreasing the risk of certain reversals.
The cost of DHCing is 1 bar of meter for level 1 supers. For any supers that cost more than 1 bar, the cost of DHCing is one less than the cost of the super. This means DHCing into a level 3 super only costs 2 additional bars, on top of the amount spent for the point character's super.
You can only DHC to each character on your team one time in each cancel sequence. In other words, you can't DHC from Character A > Character B > Character C > back to Character A. However, you can DHC, continue the combo, then start a new DHC sequence.
Unlike tags, DHCs will cycle the position of each character on the team by moving the current point character to the back of the team, and each other character forward one spot. For example: on trios, the point will move to the 3rd slot, 2nd slot will be the new point, and the old 3rd slot will be in the 2nd slot.
DHC stands for delayed hyper combo, a term from the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
DHCs are referred to by the in-game tutorial as blockbuster sequels.
- DHCs reverse damage scaling for the entire followup combo. If scaled below 70%, the DHC resets damage to 70%.
- DHC's Ignore Super Hitstop. This makes using DHCs to counter supers work in more scenarios.
- During a combo, if projectiles from the previous character hit the opponent after a DHC occurs, that will count as using an assist and an assist cannot be called for the rest of the combo.
In Skullgirls, you can pick a team size of 1, 2, or 3 characters regardless of the opponent's team size. Playing more characters gives you more utility, but decreases each individual character's health and damage output.
Traits of Teams
- Have access to team mechanics. Trios get an extra assist and alpha counter option, and can DHC two times in one sequence.
- Life is split into multiple health bars. These act as built in points where combos must stop and force an incoming situation to happen. In other words, a character can get hit with a powerful starter, but the most damage that can be done is only as much as their total health. For example, you could have three characters whose total health might be around one combos worth of damage, but the opponent would still need three hits to kill the team.
- Getting double snapped as a trio means you lose 1/3 your team instead of 1/2 like a duo.
- Slightly more net health, but it's negligible.
- Heal red health through tagging/DHCing.
Traits of Solos
- Their damage buff allows them to rack up more damage from stray hits, and do more damage for less meter. They can kill individual characters of duos/trios very quickly.
- No access to team mechanics.
- Their health bar isn't split up like teams, but it is more difficult to kill a solo in one sequence because of undizzy.
- Never have to deal with incoming mixups, unless they get hit by Beowulf's grab stance snapback.
- Heal red health through snapbacks.
Once a character on a team is KO'd, the next character in line enters from the side of the screen in the air. The incoming character will come out on the side of the screen opposite the way the attacker is facing. However, the dead body is still used to determine which way the attacker is facing until the incoming occurs. This means that...
- Normal jumping over the dead body will not cause the attacker to turn, but super jumping and performing an attack or double jumping will.
- Running past the dead body will not cause the attacker to turn until they exit dash state.
After killing a character, the attacker is able to do mixups on the defender or otherwise maintain their advantage. The most basic option is to attack or throw the opponent instantly after they come on screen, but options get more varied the longer you wait. Double jumping or air dashing immediately on incoming can be a good way to avoid a mixup, as long as the attacker doesn't hit the incoming character immediately.
Other notes about incoming:
- The incoming character can do any air action as normal, but they are considered in superjump state. This means they cannot call assists until landing and all air normals will autocorrect to face the opponent.
- The character portrait will switch 80f before the next character enters the screen. The time between the first character dying and the portrait switch depends on many factors, including what type of move killed the character.
Hitting an opponent's assist or snapping the opponent will cause a lockout period for them, which prevents calling assists, tagging, and using DHCs. Additionally, red life recovery is delayed until 120f after the lockout ends.
- If an assist character is hit, or absorbs a hit with armor, that character's team gets a 120 frame lockout.
- If a character is hit by a snapback, that character's team gets a 300 frame lockout.
- If an assist character gets KOed while assisting, there isn't any lockout and you can call your other assist right away.
Recoverable Health (Red Health)
Loading Screen Team Order Switching
Holding a tag command on the loading screen before a match will switch team order immediately before the fight. This will not work online. For a two character team, holding any assist command will switch the second character to start on point. For a three character team:
- Holding the Tag In command for the second-in-line character (MP+MK) will swap the first and second characters.
- Holding the Tag In command for the third-in-line character (HP+HK) will swap the first and third characters.
- Holding both Tag In commands at the same time (MP+MK+HP+HK) will swap the second and third characters.
- Skullgirls Team Building Guide by KhaosMuffins and others
- Team building help thread by keninblack
- Dealing with Dragon Punch assists by Mr Peck
- How To Punish Every Character's Tag by Mr Peck