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Them's Fightin' Herds/System
Chains and Cancelling Hierarchy
TFH features a "magic series" type chaining system, similar to many anime style games.
While there may be some character specific restrictions or nuances, in general a basic chain combo would look something like:
- 5A > 5A > 5B > 2B > 5C > 2C
Additionally, most normals can be cancelled into either command normals or special moves. Special moves can often be cancelled into Magic special moves, and those can be cancelled into Supers. Some characters have their own specific cancel quirks, such as Paprika cancelling specials into 3C, or Velvet being unable to cancel 5B into 2B.
Universal Command Normals
There are two command normals that every character gets access to. The exact frame data and hit properties of each might be different, but they all fill in the same role.
6A is the universal anti-air for every character. They all have crouching hurtboxes on frame 1, and are jump cancelable on hit. 6A's are also unique in that they allow you to go backwards in a magic series chain (similar to reverse beat in Melty Blood/UNIST), but can only be used once per chain, and only from A or B normals.
- 5B > 2B > 6A > 5B > 2B - Example of 6A allowing multiple sets of B normals in a string.
Otherwise, 6A is similar to a normal in terms of cancels. It can cancel into specials, other command normals, Magic moves, Supers, and so on.
3C is the universal launcher for every character. Every 3C launches the opponent high into the air, and allows you to jump cancel on hit for a higher-than-normal jump. These are all super unsafe on block.
3Cs cannot be conventionally cancelled into anything but jump, and only on hit.
Keeping these command normals and the cancelling system in mind, here are some basic sample combos that every character can utilize.
- 5A > 5B > 5C > 3C > j.A > j.B > jC
- 5A > 5B > 5C > (Special) > (Super) - Some characters can insert a Magic special between the special and super. Examples include Arizona's 236D or Oleander's 236D.
Juggle Decay System
The juggle decay system is the main system mechanic behind comboing in Them's Fightin' Herds. It can be thought of like an infinite prevention system, but with a few other utilities.
The JD meter is shown below each player's health bar. It represents a total of 380 JD points. Every attack in this game inflicts a different amount of JD points (most moves subtract points on first hit, allowing for different combo lengths based on starter), and as a combo continues, this meter can eventually max out. Once it maxes out, a few very important things happen:
1. The opponent will be knocked into the air, and every hit afterwards will make them heavier and harder to combo. This prevents any grounded infinites, as well as naturally limits how long combos can go on for. At this point, the JD bar will change from green to yellow, and as the combo goes on, it will become pinker. This yellow-to-pink coloration represents the "Juggle Decay Gravity" value, which decreases with each hit in the combo and results in the opponent becoming heavier and heavier until they can no longer be combo'd.
2. The opponent will no longer be affected by staggers or hard knockdowns. This prevents setplay after long combos. (The only exception is Supers. They will always Hard Knockdown, even after JD is maxed.)
3. The opponent will begin to gain a lot more meter per hit, and the player performing the combo will gain less.
All of these effects combined provide the player with a choice: Would you rather perform a longer, more damaging combo, while giving your opponent more meter and losing the ability to do setups? Or would you rather cut combos short, lowering your damage and betting on a successful mixup, while denying your opponent meter? The answer is not always obvious, and varies on the situation at hand. This forces decision-making on the comboing player's part, and will often vary based on playstyle and matchup.
Of course, the opponent also has their own decision to make when it comes to Juggle Decay. Juggle Decay will be reduced over time when you're not being combo'd, but if you perform a ground or air recovery (otherwise known as a "tech"), the bar will be completely reset to 0. Having an empty JD bar means that the opponent's next combo will have higher damage or setup potential. If you stay in your knockdown state, you will get up at a predictable timing and won't be able to roll, but if the opponent opens you up, you will take less damage and gain more meter from their next combo. This provides you with a decision: Do you perform a recovery to try and throw off the opponent's offense, at the risk of being punished harder if you fail? Or do you play it patient and possibly take less damage if you get opened up again?
The juggle decay system is one that allows for decision-making on both players' parts and allows more expression between different players. Some will always go for the long combos, some will be very reset-heavy, some will be very patient on defense, and some will always try to tech-roll away. And of course, there's everything in-between, and plenty of room for adaptation.
The first hit in a combo receives a move-specific "First Hit Bonus", while the second hit in a combo does 100% of the move's "Base Damage". From there, every hit in a combo will do less damage. The % of scaling will continue to reduce, but every move has its own minimum damage. Multihit moves will increase scaling with each hit. Combos in this game are often long; this means that the first few hits of your combo are often the most important when it comes to damage, as moves used later in the combo will all do their minimum damage. This also means that it can be more optimal to squeeze in as many hits as possible during the latter parts of combos, even if those hits are weak normals like 5As.
Throws will force an additional 50% damage scaling for the rest of the combo, on top of normal combo scaling. This will affect each move's minimum damage. Paprika's command grab and Arizona's lasso will force 20% scaling on the rest of their combo. Tianhuo's Level 2 install forces 25% extra scaling on all of her combos, which can stack with throw scaling. Hamit's Page Explaining Damage Scaling - See this guide for more intricate detail on percentages and minimum damages.
First Hit Bonus
The first hit of a combo (or stray hit) is given a First Hit Bonus, which affects both the damage and juggle decay of the attack. For example, the First Hit Bonus damage multiplier on A attacks is 3.2, B attacks is 2.8, and C attacks is 2.6. So, an A attack that does 25 damage would do 80 damage, as a first hit. For specials, this will vary from move to move. The First Hit Bonus on juggle decay is specific to each move. This value is subtracted from the juggle decay value of the move. This is a very important factor in the length of a combo. To see those numbers, take a look at Hamit's Spreadsheet. For more information about juggle decay, see Juggle Decay System.
If you hit the opponent during the startup or active frames of most moves, or even the recovery of some moves, you will be rewarded with a Counter Hit. Counter Hits completely reset the opponent's Juggle Decay, multiply the damage of the hit by 1.2x, and lock the opponent in hitstun for an additional 6 frames.
Counterhit states also prevent throws from being teched. If a move is punishable and its recovery does not have a counterhit flag, then a throw that technically punishes can be teched.
Some moves inflict different combo states, and these states can only be used once per combo. These states are as follows:
Staggers: Staggers are used to restand the opponent, and allow for combo extensions or resets. Using two staggers in a combo will result in the second one failing and leading to a regular knockdown state. Examples of staggers are Arizona's 5D Lasso, Paprika's 6A Anti-Air, and Pom's 6C Bark. Note that if the Juggle Decay bar is maxed out, staggers will end extremely quickly and will not allow for the same combos or any resets.
Groundbounce: Some moves will bounce the opponent off the ground and allow for combo extensions. Using a second bounce will just lead to a soft knockdown. Examples of groundbounces are Paprika's Cartwheel C, Arizona's 6B, and Oleander's j.2C. (Note that tumble states are also counted as groundbounces, so using something like Arizona's C Headbuck or Velvet's D Eruption after a bounce is a bad idea.)
Wallsplat/Wallbounce: An additional combo extender separate from groundbounces. Examples include Velvet's j.C and Oleander's throw. Using more than one per combo will result in the opponent just ignoring the wall and landing on the ground in a soft knockdown.
Holding back will block high attacks, and holding down-back will block low attacks. If you hold back while in the air, you will block both lows and overheads. If you press up and back while grounded, your 5 prejump frames will block highs only. Low attacks will stop this technique, which is commonly referred to as "chicken blocking" or "upbacking".
This game has true crossups, as well as fuzzy guard breaks.
Push Block, Instant Block, and Cross-Canter
Pushblock: Pressing two attack buttons while blocking will result in a pushblock. Pushblock pushes the opponent away, at the cost of increasing your blockstun by 25 frames. The opponent will move different distances depending on the strength of the button pushblocked, if the move pushblocked was a jump attack, or if it was a special move. If the opponent connects with a second hit while you are pushblocking, their backwards momentum will be cut short. Pushblocking will convert chip damage to "red life", which regenerates over time. If below a certain health percentage, pushblock will negate chip entirely. Switching block direction while pushblocking will allow you to block in both directions at once during your 25 frames of blockstun, a technique known as "absolute guard".
Instant Block: Tapping the correct blocking direction a few frames before blocking a move, as opposed to holding block, will provide you with an instant block. IB generates you a good chunk of meter, reduces pushback from the opponent's normal, and reduces blockstun by 3 frames. This allows for new/easier punishes and more opportunities to challenge pressure, but due to the leniency on chains and cancels in this game, the opponent can throw off your IB timing by delaying/varying their string timing.
Cross Canter: Pressing the forward direction and two attack buttons while blocking will result in a Cross Canter. This technique costs half of a super bar. CC will interrupt your blockstun and initiate a strike-invincible counter-attack. If it hits the opponent, they will be knocked down and take a decent chunk of recoverable "red life". This move can be thrown and is unsafe on block, as well as being highly punishable if it whiffs, so be smart about it.
In this game, specials and supers do chip damage when blocked and chip can kill. Chip damage will be converted to temporary damage if the opponent is currently pushblocking. If below a certain health percentage, chip will be completely negated by pushblock. Check out Candel's Frame Data doc to see the exact chip numbers.
Ground and Air Tech
Holding a button while being combo'd will automatically "tech" you out of the combo if it ends. Holding different directions while holding a button will result in different techs. Holding any upwards direction will allow air techs, but prevent ground techs, while holding a downwards direction will allow only ground techs and not air techs. Holding only left, right, or neutral will tech in that direction regardless of whether you are airborne or grounded.
Teching will reset your JD bar to 0, which may result in you taking more damage from your opponent's next combo if you are unable to defend properly after teching.
Air techs only differ in the direction you move while teching. Note that if you tech forward, your character will not turn around as you fall to the ground, making it difficult to attempt an air attack on the way down.
Grounded techs are more nuanced. Teching in place is a lot faster than teching forwards or backwards, and carries no risk aside from removing your JD. Forward and backward techrolls, however, are slower, and carry a unique risk to them. The latter portion of their animation is not fully invincible, and can be thrown. Due to their slow speed, opponents can throw them on reaction if they make a correct read on which direction you try to tech.
Additionally, if a player is in a soft knockdown and the JD bar has not been maxed out, they are in an OTG state and the combo can be continued if they do not tech. This OTG state also can occur post-JD-Max, specifically if the combo ends with a stagger or a techable tumble state. This gives the player another situation to consider when it comes to teching.
If a combo was escapeable by teching, the combo counter will turn blue, as well as show a smaller number underneath it that shows which hit you could've teched out of. (Similar to a "black beat" in Guilty Gear.)
Forward dashes are non-commital in TFH. You can dash forward and cancel it at any time by crouching, jumping, or performing an attack. If you block high while dashing forward, your character will continue moving forward until the dash animation resolves, allowing you to approach while blocking high. Blocking low makes you crouch, which cancels the dash, meaning it's harder to approach and block low.
You can also wavedash, by crouch cancelling dashes and inputting forward quickly. The motion looks like: 66526526526526
All backdashes by default have 8 invincibility frames, starting on frame 2. However, if a backdash is used as a reversal (on wakeup, out of blockstun, or out of hitstun), then the first frame will gain invincibility. This means that any character can use backdash as a reversal with true frame-one invincibility.
However, unlike forward dashes, backdashes cannot be cancelled by crouching, and blocking during a backdash is impossible. You can jump during a backdash, however, the high-blocking state that your prejump frames normally have if you hold up-back is gone, meaning that you cannot backdash into upback to dodge mids and highs. You can also use attacks while backdashing, which allows for possible whiff punishes/interrupts. You can combine backdash with invincible moves to extend your invincibility and throw off your opponent's punish timing.
Every character has a forward, back, and air throw. Throws are input with an optional direction + BC. Throws on the ground have 6 frames of start up, have 1 active frame, and 18 frames of recovery. Throws in the air have 8 frames of start up, 3 active frames, and 13 frames of recovery. Both ground and air throws have a 17 frame tech window. If a throw is teched, the one who initiated the throw is -1.
Most characters can combo from throws. Combos from a throw will deal 50% damage.
Some characters can combo into throws, but these throws can be teched. If a player is thrown during a counterhit state, they cannot tech. This is represented by the green "!" being red instead.
Character Specific Mechanics
Each character has their own movement options.
- Arizona - Forward Run*, Back Dash, Jump, Short Hop, Super Jump.
- Oleander - Forward Dash*, Back Dash, Jump, Double Jump
- Paprika - Forward Run*, Backwards Run, Jump, Super Jump
- Pom - Forward Dash*, Back Dash, Jump, Air Dash, Float
- Tianhuo - Forward Dash*, Back Dash, Jump, Air Dash, Fly
- Velvet - Forward Dash**, Back Dash**, Jump
- * Can be stopped early by holding down.
- ** If you stop this movement with a down input, Velvet will continue to slide in the direction of the dash.
Every character has their own unique mechanics surrounding the Magic System. Here are some short summaries of each of the character's systems.
Velvet: Has 6 stocks. Starts with 0 magic stocks. They generate slowly over time, or she can use her Level 2 Super to give herself 3 stocks. Her magic gives her access to specials that bolster her zoning and defensive game. She gains a snowball projectile that she can fire from various angles, wind specials that let her manipulate her opponent's positioning, and an invincible reversal.
Arizona: Has 3 stocks. Starts with 0 magic stocks. Generates by performing Lasso specials, executed using various directions and the D button. These lassos have good combo utility and neutral utility. Once she has magic, she gains access to Magic versions of her usual specials, as well as two additional specials. Her D Headbuck has armor on frame 1, her D Stomp is a fullscreen unblockable. She gains access to a Magic Dash that lets her escape the corner or move past fireballs, as well as a Magic Counter that leads to either a combo or a + on block scenario if the opponent activates it.
Oleander: Has 3 stocks. Starts with 0 magic stocks. Generates by pressing D to perform a reading special move. Once she has magic, she can perform teleports in various directions (as well as a teleport that can hit the opponent and is invincible), lay down stationary projectile traps, and gains a magic version of her usual fireball. All of her magic specials will drain meter from the opponent if they hit.
Paprika: Has 6 stocks. Starts with 6 magic stocks. Has various commands with D that allow her to toss various "gifts" at the opponent. Each toss has its own cost associated with it. Her Apple and Broccoli gifts will remain on the ground as an "edible", which either Paprika or her opponent can press A to eat while near them. Eating an Apple restores HP, while Broccoli gains meter. Paprika can also toss a potted plant, which hits twice and can lock down the opponent, as well as a low-hitting cinnamon roll that travels slowly along the ground. She cannot regain magic stocks unless the opponent eats one of her gifts.
Pom: Has 3 stocks. Starts with 3 magic stocks. Can temporarily use her magic to summon various puppies that she can then command with the D button. Using one magic will provide her with a multi-hitting digger puppy, who only has one use. Using two magic can either give her a high-hitting hovering puppy or a low-hitting biting puppy, both of which have two uses. With 3 magic, she can summon a large momma dog, who has a vacuuming bite attack, a counter, and a command grab. She has three uses. Once her dogs are dismissed, her magic will regenerate after a brief period of time.
Tianhuo: Has 2 stocks. Starts with 0 magic stocks. Pressing D will cause her to enter a flight state at no magic cost. Her magic will generate over time, but will briefly stop generating if she airdashes or flies. She can spend magic to perform Firecracker kicks, which work as a divekick/combo tool. She can also perform 3 different Firecracker flips, each with their own utility. One is a strike-invulnerable flip that retreats backwards, one is a lower forward-moving flip that allows for quick surprise overhead attacks, and one is a higher-arcing flip that allows for crossup mixups. While in her Level 2 install, her magic will always generate regardless of her airdashing or flying.
Frame data for each character is available on the individual character pages. For more detailed frame data, including information not on each page, check out this page. If you are looking for more specific numbers related to juggle decay see Hamit's or Candel's Spreadsheet.
The timer is 99 real-world seconds. Timer victories are based on percentage of health.
There is no such thing as guts scaling in this game. Regardless of remaining HP, all moves will do their usual damage. There are three health categories, each with two characters. Arizona and Paprika have high health, with 5350. Oleander and Velvet have medium health, with 5100. Pom and Tianhuo have low health, with 4800.
Chip damage can kill in this game. It can be prevented by pushblocking, however you cannot do this for the first hit of a blockstring.
There is a such thing as temporary health. The only way to inflict it is to either successfully Cross Canter the opponent, or to get hit by a special move that inflicts chip while you are pushblocking.
You cannot conventionally cross the opponent up if they are fully cornered.