Galford (SS2)

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Introduction

He’s a fighter who wants to be a lover, and he’s out to spread peace and justice at the tip of a sword. He’s Galford D. Weller, American ninja! If you enjoy versatility, speed, and mobility without being a stereotypical featherweight pixie, Galford is for you.

Story

According to SNK cannon (gathered from the series intros, endings, etc., including SSRPG), Galford is the nice guy son of an American Sheriff killed in the line of duty. He left his family behind and became a sailor, whereupon his journeys he heard stories of ninja and their amazing exploits. Intrigued, Galford sought out Hanzo (yes, that one). Hazno did not train Galford personally, but gave him and Eathquake (huh?!) both permission to learn under the wife of his master.

Earthquake quit in short order, though obviously not before learning quite a few tricks. Galford stuck with it and now uses his skills to defend “justice”. His sword, “Sword of Justice” is forged using metal from the bullet that killed his father, though at the time of SSII Galford does not yet know who the killer is (this is a little nebulous – the timeline of Samurai Shodown Sen is not well established and might even be a retcon).

Also unexplained is where Galford acquired his control of electricity - later games make it pretty clear his electrical powers are an innate ability and not tied to specific techniques like Hanzo’s various fire based attacks.

At some point during all of this, Galford met and went ga-ga over Nakoruru, but whether or not she returns his feelings, her duties to nature usually prevent anything coming of it. Sieger’s SSII ending also implies he, Galford, Wan-Fu, and Charlotte are all allies. It’s probably safe to say Gaflord is on friendly terms with all the non-evil cast members.

Moves List

Normal Moves

Standing

LP LP Quick and decent damage, but the range is poor.
MP MP Overall this is your best poke. Excellent speed with serviceable damage and range. Use this to wear down your opponent in footsie games, but don’t stand around trading with Haohmaru, Charlote, or Ukyo. You won’t like the results.
HP HP Looks cool, but is very situational. Takes forever to execute, longer to recover. Damage output is divided over three hits, each slightly more than a standing MP. In theory that would be awesome, but in practice only one ever connects. End result is that damage and stun are absolutely pathetic for a standing HP. Worse, even a clean hit leaves you virtually no frame advantage, and you can’t cancel out. It’s Galford's only standing slash that doesn’t recoil stun when blocked, but the atrocious recovery makes that a moot point. In short the only thing this move does well on its own is get Galford killed quickly.

All that said it is the prime ingredient for an nasty TOD combo involving Poppy, so don't discount it entirely.

LK LK This is your quickest standing normal – Press LK and Galford will practically teleport his foot to their faces. Not bad range either. Only problem is that misses crouching opponents. Low damage, but more than most LK. Use it mainly to stuff incoming attacks, or mix it up with MP to louse up their timing in poking wars.
MK MK Same animation and functionality as LK, losing a little speed coming out and a bit more on recovery. Still faster than most moves of its kind, and with the extra damage it’s worth using now and again as a poke. Just be careful, because you’ll take a lot more in return if countered.
HK HK Very fast and damage output on par with slashes, but very short reach. Throw it out as a stop sign for hopping attacks like Seiger's HK or as a far distance anti air.

Standing, Close

LP LP Average damage for a close LP, comes out almost instantly and recovers quickly even if blocked. Use this to back off an aggressive poker or to keep the pressure on.
MP MP Same as close LP with a bit more damage at the cost of slower recovery. I don’t use this one much. It’s not a bad move at all, but most of the time you have better options.
HP HP This move looks painful, and for good reason. It’s one of the most damaging close HP in the game, only losing out to Jubei, Seiger, and Genjuro.

Two of these and your opponent is dizzy. Four and he’s dead. A devastating one hit punish with massive dizzy potential to boot, though most of the time you'll want to go with crouching HP instead. Still, when you want maximum damage this is the way to go. Just don't swing randomly because the startup and block recoil leave Galford open wider than Earthquake's belly button.

LK LK Same as the standing far LK, but doesn’t miss crouching opponents.
MK MK Up close I prefer this one over the LK. Damage difference is well worth the very slight speed loss.
HK HK If you want to get Galford castrated, by all means stick this out. Otherwise avoid at all costs. This vertical kick comes out in a twinkling and does heavy damage, the most of any unarmed normal in your arsenal, but that's all the good you'll find. You might remember it was a great anti-air in SSI, but in SSII it has absolutely zero ground to air priority - you'll get stuffed every time. On the ground it whiffs over the heads of half the cast. Seriously! As if all that wasn't enough, the recovery is about a good half second of real time and you can't cancel out.

Standing Unarmed

LP LP All three versions use the same animation with subtle differences in speed and reach. Each comes out fast with solid range and top tier damage output compared to other characters' punches.

Standing Unarmed, Close

LP LP Hits most crouching opponents and is cancelable.
MP MP Not all that useful, but fun to annoy them with. They rush up thinking you're disarmed and helpless... and run right into a solid bitch slap. >:)
HP HP On its own this three step auto combo does very little damage. However, the first hit comes out almost instantly, plus both it and the second hit are cancelable. Use this to keep the pressure on. Even if you don't cancel out, it's nearly impossible for most characters to punish.

Crouching

LP LP Short range but very quick, unfortunately it doesn't hit low. There are usually better things to do, but if you are cornered this can back them off for a little breathing room.
MP MP Same animation and basic properties as LP, but trades speed for some more damage. Good for chopping down low kicks, but very situational.
HP HP A bread and butter attack if there ever was one. Comes out fast, hits low, has high priority, knocks down, and does a ton of damage. Excellent dizzy potential too. Want more? Strangely, the hitbox reaches slightly above Galford’s head, making this a very situational but devastating anti air if timed correctly. Range isn’t outstanding but it’s good enough to get the job done. The only real issue is a fairly long recovery, but even that can be nullified by canceling. Part of the infamous rush trap (more on that later too).
LK LK Mashable. Your weakest attack damage wise, but hits low and stuffs a lot of other moves. Use it to harass and annoy them into making mistakes, counter slides, and to break through frame traps.
MK MK Has kind of an awkward animation that makes it look slower than it is. A nice general purpose sweep. Use this in place of crouch HP if you are unarmed and want to sweep when up close.
HK HK This is an all-round excellent move - it comes out fast, hits low, sweeps, has good range, recovers quickly and even does fair damage. Compliments crouch HP perfectly - use HP for maximum damage and this one for reach.

One other interesting use is item collection. If you don’t want to risk running up to grab a food drop, just stick this out instead and Galford will snatch the morsel right out from under his opponent’s nose! The only real disadvantage this move has is that you might accidentally trigger the less useful crouching close HK instead.

Crouching, Close

HK HK This two hit rolling axe kick looks nifty, has some hefty damage output, and recovers almost instantly. It's also your only crouching attack with heavy push-back when armed. Sadly, it doesn't hit low and takes a full second to start up. Decent meaty, but that's about it.

Crouching Unarmed

LP LP Better damage and stun than LK, but less range and doesn't hit low.
MP MP More or less the same as LP, just a little stronger and somewhat slower recovery.
HP HP Fast, high priority, and packs plenty of heat. But like your other crouching punches it's not a low hit, so kicks are usually a better option.

Jump

LP LP Basically an air version of his close LP. Covers in front and slightly below with excellent priority. Beats just about anything air to air if you’re close enough, but range and damage are not worth it unless you have no other options.
MP MP Very high hit box and nice priority, so if you are quick this is actually a pretty good ground to air defense option.
HP HP Very similar to Haohmaru’s and is right on par with it in quality. Excellent reach and coverage in front and below Galford. Hurts plenty, especially on a counter hit. One of SSII's best jump in attacks, and will win a few air to air battles too.
LK LK Stays out quite a while and has excellent horizontal range. Your longest reaching jump attack.
MK MK Same as LK with a little more damage, but doesn’t stay out as long.
HK HK Very similar to standing HK, but completely horizontal. Takes a while to execute, doesn’t reach as far as it looks. Hits hard if it connects, but good luck making that happen.

Jump, Horizontal

HK HK Another excellent kick - quick, powerful, aims perfectly for a jump in, and has even more priority over ground attacks than jumping HK. Can cross up if timed correctly, but it only stays out for a second, so plan accordingly.

Jump Unarmed

LP LP Just like the standing far punches, all three share the same animation. As far as range and coverage go they take the place of your armed jumping MP. This time the differences in speed and duration are nearly imperceptible, so you might as well use HP for max damage.

Throws

All of Galford’s throws cause the same amount of damage but vary wildly in their positioning effects, so chose the one that suits your strategy best. There does appear to be a throw priority in place, and if so Galford must be high on it. I find playing as Galford or Hanzo I can consistently throw my opponents in situations most other characters can’t. Feel free to toss most of the cast about at your leisure.

Strike Throw P Galford TP.png Galford somersaults backward with his opponent, similar to the classic Frankensteiner, but instead pins them flat to the ground with his hands and bounces away. The bounce carries Galford quite a distance, about the same as his normal jump. Note Galford bounces to the opposite side he releases opponent, so if you throw them to the right, Galford bounces away to the left.
Kick Throw K Galford TK.png Galford grabs his opponent in a scissor lock, then cartwheels head over heels, taking them to the ground and following up with a slash to the throat (!!). Opponent bounces away a short distance in direction of the throw while Galford remains in place.
Unarmed Kick Throw K Galford TUK.png Same startup as the armed version but instead of a slash follow-up Galford flings them away midair. Probably his most effective basic throw. Galford's recovery is unchanged but due to being thrown so far the opponent is neutralized much longer. This gives you plenty of time to retrieve your weapon and/or set up some wake up games, including the rush trap.


Air Throw Down + P LP Galford performs his P throw midair except he only bounces a short distance after impact. Stops all jumping momentum and drops both participants straight to the ground. Technically a special move, and even includes a screen flash effect on startup, but for practical purposes it doesn't make any difference. Cannot be used on Earthquake, but if timed correctly has incredible priority over jumping and special attacks from anyone else. It’s possible to throw Haohmaru and Genjuro’s uppercuts, Wan-Fu’s jumping HK, Sieger’s Blitz Jaeger, etc.


Vs. Earthquake / Kuroko P / K Galford T S.png Galford floors his target with a quick two step kick combo.

Special Moves

Wall Jump Up Forward near screen edge when in air. Galford S Wall Jump.png Not something you want to do a lot in this game, but it’s fast enough to catch some extra air and pull a jump in when they least expect it.
Triangle Jump Up Forward near screen edge immediately after jumping. Galford S Wall Jump.png If you are next to the screen edge, jump and immediately wall jump, Galford will rebound with a slightly different animation and much lower trajectory. Hard to do, but results in a jump in that is very difficult for your opponent to defend against.
Plasma Blade Qtr Circle Forward + P Galford S Plasma Blade.png Galford charges a pair of Kunai with electricity and throws them forward. Button strength controls execution time and projectile speed. Weaker versions come out quicker but travel slower. Nowhere near as quick or devastating as it would become in later SS installments, but here it’s still one of the better projectiles. Main use is to cancel from basic attacks for add on damage or as a chipping tool.

On hit stuns your opponent for quite a while – just enough to chase the LP version down and combo a close HP or jump in.

Rear Replica Attack Qtr Circle Forward + MPLKMK

Back or Forward to control direction of recovery.

Galford S Replica Attack.png Galford disappears instantly and then reappears over his opponent falling down with a spinning sword strike. If whiffed Galford recovers more or less instantly. Otherwise he bounces away in the direction of your choice. Tracks your opponent’s location, must be blocked high and does a nice chunk of damage. It also has excellent priority and sports an active hitbox the very second Galford reappears. Unfortunately there is a small delay before Galford actually does reappear, so trying this at random gives your opponent all the time in the world to react. As you might have guessed this is really bad for Galford. Another minus is the lack of any chip damage.

Sounds useless right? As an offensive tool it mostly is, but that’s not what you should be doing with it. Instead, learn to perform it on reaction. If you are quick enough, the Rear Replica can shut down entire game plans, especially those involving projectiles and big HP slashes. Another use is against characters you can hit when held by Poppy (see Machine Gun Dog). If Galford is unarmed, he will instead drop straight down with a punch. Doesn’t seem to lose much priority and still does decent damage, but the recoil bounce follows a slightly different trajectory.

Replica Attack MPLKMK when hit.

Back or Forward to control direction of recovery.

Galford Pain 1.pngGalford S Replica Attack.png Galford performs his Rear Replica Attack out of hit stun, leaving a log behind. Has all of the same attacking properties. You can’t use this to escape a true combo, but oddly you CAN escape a dizzy and some knockdowns (time MPLKMK just as Galford lands). Great to turn the damage trade back in your favor when Poppy attacks assist style. Also good when your opponent has you pinned down and gets greedy with trapping. Otherwise you want to be careful. It’s tempting to show that you can take it and keep on coming, but more often than not you’ll be giving them another hit for free.
Strike Heads DP + K (Close) Galford S Strike Heads.png “I wanna take you for a ride… I wanna take you for a ride…” Galford grabs his opponent, leaps for the sky and inverts himself to bring his foe spiraling to the deck head first. Upon impact he summons a lightning bolt to fry them for even more pain. Button used controls height carried and reach. LK takes them about half the screen height and does negligible damage, but it has the most range. K version requires closer quarters, but carries them well beyond visual range of the camera for a massive impact and damage comparable to HP slashes.

Even for the LK version range is rather short - you aren’t going to “Zangief” limbs from three character lengths away. That said, this move does enjoy supreme priority over pretty much everything else in the game. If you are close enough and fast enough there really isn’t anything they can do except jump away. Sometimes not even that. Knowing this, about half of your opponent’s game plan is to avoid getting caught in Galford’s clutches (notice the VS. Hanzo/Galford sections of other FAQs – watching out for this move will be on most of them). This gives you a huge overall strategy advantage, and ironically enough often makes them fall right into your hands for a grab.

Another interesting property is that you can cancel into this. You can’t grab an opponent during a hit or block stun, but since there is no whiff animation certain other moves with a long recovery can be cut short. So far no infinities have been found, but you can leverage this to put on insane pressure.

Oh and as the image indicates, yes, it does work on Earthquake. :)

Running Strike Heads DP + K (Running, close) Galford S Strike Heads.png Galford performs his Strike Heads throw instantly from a run, this time carrying his unfortunate victim in an arc before the inevitable crash landing. Shares all the properties of its stationary brother with just a couple of exceptions. First, that arc is a perfect positioning tool for cornering. K travels nearly the length of the stage. Not the screen, the STAGE! Second, despite appearances this version actually does slightly LESS damage. Range and timing are also a bit stricter to avoid rolling instead. Just like the normal version though, this move enjoys ludicrous priority. Remember above where I said you can’t grab from long range? This is the solution! With Galford’s insanely fast run, it’s possible to dash in on reaction from a few character lengths away and grab them out of just about anything. Practice until you can do it at will.
Shadow Copy FHalf Circle Forward + LP / MP

LP Real Galford on left.
MP Real Galford on right.

Galford S Shadow Copy.png Galford takes a Kuji stance, smokes out and reappears as two copies at left and right of the screen area. Galford is vulnerable except during the actual smoke out, but it has a fast startup time and can be canceled into anything (including itself) immediately after reappearing. Should your opponent strike the fake image with weapon attacks, a small electric bomb will be released that knocks down for minor damage. The move ends when you take action or after ~5 seconds.

The most obvious strategy is to teleport to your opponent’s location and grab them with Strike Heads. Against the CPU opponents (even and especially Mizuki) this is pretty much an “I Win” button if you can do it consistently. Just rinse and repeat until they’re dead.

Humans will be fully aware of the teleport and grab tactic, but you can actually use this against them. Teleport away from them and cancel into Rush Dog (I catch humans with this all the time). Repeat Shadow Copy a few times and when they start swinging in frustration, that’s when you can grab them – really turns up the frustration factor. Do the same thing but this time drop on them with a Rear Replica Attack (risky but rewarding). The possible combinations are limitless. Most human players who are aware of these tricks will tend to stay in the middle so as to properly react to whatever action you take. If you’re fast on the controls, come out from either side with a dashing Strike Heads and grab them anyway. Heh heh heh…

Dog Commands QCB + Button (see below) Galford S Dog.png "Go Poppy!" Galford points to his opponent and gives his loyal canine sidekick Poppy the command to attack, whereupon she'll perform one of three actions based on your button press. Galford stays in his command pose long enough to get nailed pretty easy, but the upside is that once Poppy begins to act interrupting Gaflord won't stop her. This means that often as not they'll hit Galford only to get mangled by Poppy for the trouble. Damage wise this rarely works in Gaflord's favor, but strategically it's a huge advantage. It's often worth it to intentionally sacrifice a hit from your opponent just to ensure Poppy can get to them.
Rush Dog P Galford poppy Rush Dog.png Poppy races forward washed in a red glow and rams herself head on into whatever comes first. Button press determines distance Poppy will run before stopping (and thus return time if she misses). Fastest startup of any projectile in the game, but Poppy takes a while to recover. Can be used to stop other projectiles, but poor Poppy will be left writhing in pain for a moment after. Does solid damage and can’t be ducked under, but it’s easily hopped. Also be warned that many physical rushing attacks like Nakoruru’s Annu Mutsube will plow right over Poppy and usually Galford too in the process.
Machine Gun Dog LK Galford poppy Machine Gun Dog.png "Get it off! Get it off!" Poppy backflips and takes off looking to put the bite on your opponent. On a successful hit she latches on, mauls the unfortunate victim for a few seconds, knocks them down and leaps back to Galford’s side. Has much better priority than Rush Dog; Poppy will grab extended limbs and weapons without missing a beat. Projectiles and certain specific special moves can still stop her, but the list is pretty short. Galford is free to act during the mauling and is able to attack certain members of the cast himself for even more carnage!

The latter works on Genjuro, Gen-an, Kyoshiro, Wan Fu, Earthquake, and Kuroko (Galford’s attacks will pass through everyone else). Give them a taste of your devastating close HP and laugh as they cry foul. Even better, nail them with all three hits of your standing HP. Takes very strict positioning and timing but if successful they'll kiss more than half a lifebar goodbye (unraged!) and be left knocked down. It's possible to get a grazing hit on everyone else if you time it to Poppy's release, but you're better off just getting set for the rush trap or another wake up game of your choice. Either way, they'll still cry foul! >:)

Replica Dog MK Galford poppy Replica Dog.png Poppy does her version of Galford’s Rear Replica Attack. She teleports directly over your opponent’s head and drops on them spinning Sonic Style. Must be blocked high. Least damaging of Poppy’s attacks, doing much less than Galford’s Rear Replica. Still not bad though and unlike Galford, Poppy does chip damage. If you are quick enough this makes an effective air defense, as Poppy tracks the opponent’s current position when she teleports and will nail them midair. Time this just as the opponent gets up from a knockdown for free chip damage – Outside of a 100% perfectly timed back dash there’s not a thing they can do about it.
Stealth FBFBFBD + LPLKMK Galford S Stealth.png Galford assumes his Kuji stance, smokes out and becomes invisible for around ten seconds or until hit. Also reappears briefly while attacking. CPU opponents completely ignore invisibility and will attack you normally.

On its own this move isn’t that great. Between a perfectly visible dog following you about, sound effects, and screen scrolling your position is still pretty obvious. But when combined with the rush trap, plus all the Poppy and teleporting shenanigans Galford is capable of, it’s almost unfair. They’ll have a rough idea where you are, but no clue when you’re going to attack or from which angle. Enjoy the cursing.

Doll Transformation HCBFB + LK Galford doll transform.png Galford and Poppy both transform into cute doll versions of themselves. Maybe not the best idea if your opponent is looking for revenge from all those pile drivers…

Super Moves

Mega Attack HCBF + MK Galford S Mega Attack.png "Mega Attack, GO! GO!" Essentially a souped up Machine Gun Dog, and shares all of its properties (including add on hits against certain cast members and Poppy’s assist style hit trading). This time Poppy kicks and beats the opponent, then tears at them from all directions before taking to the skies for a crash landing with her own version of your Strike Heads throw. Like all power specials it does big damage and breaks weapons.

Use all the same strategies you would with the Machine Gun Dog. Poppy takes her sweet time laying the smack down, while Galford is free to act and stays in rage until she's finished. Yep, that means you can hit certain members of the cast with raged slashes in the midst of them getting torn apart by a power special! One mistake and your opponent can go from 100% life to just a sliver remaining and with no weapon in hand.

The Basics

With top tier movement speed, numerous teleports, and triangle jumping Galford is arguably the most mobile character in the game. Add to that an excellent normal move set, abusive bread and butter attacks, some scary single strike damage, and even a no whiff command throw. Sounds almost ban worthy right? Here's the catch - getting the most out Galford requires absolute perfect timing and twitch mastery over some extremely complex move commands. Every character in Samurai Shodown II has one or two complex specials, but Galford is loaded with them, and several are essential to his game. Otherwise he has no way to effectively defend himself under pressure and his offense will become somewhat one dimensional. Furthermore all of his tricks have a counter strategy that every character can exploit. It's the ability to blend them together and switch up on the fly that makes Galford dangerous. In other words, start practicing.

Once mastered your mobility will allow you to dictate the distance and pace of the fight at all times. You also have more options at your disposal than anyone else and can play multiple styles on cue. One minute you can get in their faces looking to land a big hit or grab, in the next instant you can switch to long range play throwing electricity and sending Poppy from every direction. Keep them guessing. Look for any opportunity to knock your opponent down, even if it costs you some life. Galford’s wake up game can win him the match on its own.

Generally the one thing you want to avoid is getting into a war of attrition at footsie distance, but if this does happen Galford’s can play a decent poking game. MP is your main weapon, but don't stand there whoring it like the other buttons are broken, mix things up! Standing LK is perfect for stuffing incoming pokes on reaction and lacks any block recoil. Crouching HK will drop them in their tracks from quite a distance and set them up perfectly for a rush trap.

But again, why sit around trading at all if you don't have to? Mobility is your trump card. Use it to break their pattern and set them up for that nasty HP slash or Strike Heads. Once you have them afraid of those, bring on Poppy! When playing as Galford you never have to pigeon hole yourself to any one playing style.

Advanced Strategy

Rush Trap

This nasty trap more or less boils down to a wake up game. It’s a big part of SSII, and just about any character in the game can do it. What sets Galford (and Hanzo) apart is they do it far and away better than anyone else. Here’s how it works:

  1. Knock your opponent down. Doesn’t really matter how.
  2. Time crouching HP or Strike Heads to hit just as your opponent gets up.
  3. If they guess Strike Heads and try to escape, the crouching HP hits for heavy damage, dizzy chance and a knockdown. Back to step 2. If they anticipate the HP with a block and you use Strike Heads, they go for a ride. Back to step 2.
  4. If they guess right and block the HP, cancel into Rush Dog or Plasma Blade for safe chip damage. Optionally rush in immediately after for Strike Heads and then its right back to step 2.

Once started, the best your opponent can do is escape to a neutral position. If they guess wrong, a big portion of their lifebar is gone and the cycle continues. Go for it every chance you get. It’s this trap that makes trading a hit to land Machine Gun Dog well worth the sacrifice. Once she has your opponent down, start this trap and make them pay dearly.

Defense

One of Galford’s main weaknesses is defense. Galford has no instant hitting reversal when pinned down. On top of that his wide stance is a big target for cross up attempts, and in SSII Galford lacks any singularly reliable way to control overhead space. That doesn’t mean you have to stand there and take it though. Combine some of the following to get them off you. Just make sure you don’t get caught up too much with any single tactic.

Air

  • Replica Dog. Perform this on reaction and Poppy will meet them halfway in the air.
  • Crouching HP. That odd hitbox makes this a dangerous but highly rewarding counter for cross-up attempts.
  • Forward Dash. Galford's insanely quick dash allows him to run under a lot of air attacks with ample time to turn and punish.
  • Air Throw. Galford’s air throw is often forgotten since they are so rare in this game. Combine that with its supreme priority and you have yourself a nasty surprise air defense. Risky, but effective.
  • Jumping MP. Galford’s jumping MP hits well above him and can be used to snuff many air to ground moves on reaction.

Ground

In Progress

Disarmed

Galford tends to lose sword clashes and finds himself disarmed a lot. Fortunately he just happens to be the best unarmed fighter in the game. Galford is the only character in SSII who keeps his full special move set while disarmed, and his basic unarmed attacks are excellent. Still, you carry that weapon for a reason right? Let’s go over some of the losses.

  • Jumping HP. It’s a damage dealer, but your HK handles air to ground just as well and you have plenty of other tools for air to air.
  • The devastating close HP. This isn’t a huge issue because it’s more of an opportunity punisher, and you still have Strike Heads to make up for it.
  • Crouching HP. This is probably your biggest loss. Crouching MK and HK are effective sweeps in their own right, but they don't have quite the damage output or quirky anti air hitbox.
  • The rush trap. It’s still possible to do, but not nearly as effective.

Otherwise you should be just fine. Galford’s kicks and unarmed strikes are top-notch, second only to Wan-Fu. Combined together they cover all the same angles as your weapon attacks. All of your specials are available with minimal change (only the Replica Attacks are modified and it’s a trivial difference). In fact you gain a couple of cancels and pressure combos not possible while armed, not to mention a new K throw perfect for cornering. If you must have that sword back, Shadow Copy is your ticket.

Otherwise don’t risk yourself running away or flitting about trying to recover a lost weapon. Just get in there and get busy. You can mix standing LP, LK and MK, to poke, but close quarters is really where you want to be. Use close HP cancels to keep pressure on like never before, take em’ for a ride with Strike Heads at every opportunity and keep Poppy involved!

Match-ups

Vs. Cham Cham:

This little girl is either a big pain or easy meat. First, forget Poppy and Plasma Blades. She’ll chuck her boomerang right through any of them and lay you flat. Her next threat is Tobi Hikkaki (leaping scratch). It hurts quite a bit and has some serious priority. If you can do Rear Replica on reaction (you did practice that yes?) you can vanish right out from under it and catch her on the recoil for free. Otherwise don’t panic – just dash forward to make her whiff, turn around and give her a standing MP. If you’re extra daring, you can also jump up and air throw her right out of it. Pretty risky, but will send a clear message. If she dares try a normal jump in, air throw her without hesitation - she’s especially susceptible to it.

The last two threats are her super quick LP slashes and crouching HK (slide kick). The later has a long recovery but insane range. Good players will do this at max range where you can’t counter. Both are nullified with good blocking and judicious use of your own crouching kicks. Don’t worry too much about Paku Paku. His monkey shines are weak for the most part. If you are low on life and she tries to finish you with a meaty Paku Gaburu, Replica out on wake up. If you're fast enough you'll teleport right through it and possibly catch her sleeping. It's a gamble since she'll probably block the Replica and kill you anyway, but that's still better than just sitting there and losing for sure on block damage. You shouldn't ever be in this situation to begin with though. Once you get past her effective but limited bag of tricks, Cham-Cham dies horribly to Galford.

Vs. Charlotte:

Here’s a tough one. Charlotte can’t keep up with you damage wise, but her poking game is second only to Ukyo. In other words it’s a lot better than yours, and she can keep you out all day. Don’t try jumping in with HP, she’ll use her hopping kicks to send you packing. If you can get her to commit to a Splash Fountain and send Poppy for a bite, the fight is over. Good Charlotte players rarely fall for that though. The secret is to beat her at her own game (frustration). Start chucking Plasma Blades and Rush Dog at her from just out of jump range. She might try to respond with her triangle projectile, but it’s easily nullified with Rush Dog (take one for the team Poppy!) or better yet ducked by laying down. Keep this up until she dies, the timer runs out or she gets sick of being chipped to death and comes after you.

Now the real fight begins. You have the advantage once she goes offensive, but don’t underestimate her. Switch to Machine Gun Dog, but don’t go for the rush trap. For whatever reason Charlotte is a bit harder to catch with Strike Heads than other characters so the rush trap loses a bit of its shine on her. Stick to the release combo instead. Cross her up if you can with a meaty jumping HK – it beats her kicks and uppercut startup. If you hit, keep up the pressure. If not, get out of poking range and start wearing her down with projectile wars again. The most patient player wins this matchup.

Vs. Earthquake:

Earthquake’s size nullifies your air throw and… that’s about it in his favor. Otherwise he’s a huge target and highly susceptible to the rush trap. Earthquake players love to abuse their crouch HP, and for good reason. That thing rips a massive chunk off your life and reaches out to forever. Unfortunately for Earthquake, Poppy is less than impressed and can grab him out of it with ease. Use this to your advantage and bait him into sticking it out. Trade for Machine Gun Dog, start up the rush trap and this round is yours. Otherwise just don’t give him any breathing room and he’ll go down in no time.

Vs. Galford (self):

On paper mirror matches come down to execution, and Galford is a high execution character. Don’t forget though, this is SSII - spacing and timing are just as important. Obviously watch for some of the same tricks you might pull, but don’t expect the other Galford to play like you. Galford’s versatility means the other player could have a completely different approach.

CPU Galford is usually a pushover, but once in a while it will turn up the heat and then you’ll get a quick lesson on how vicious Galford can be. He’ll happily swarm all over you with a mix of teleports, Poppy, and his normal attacks – counter perfectly with specials, and then dash in to grab you out of nowhere when you least expect it. Or even when you do. Make note and try out some of these tactics for yourself. The CPU can read controls but is otherwise limited to the same rules you are. Everything it does is viable in human play with enough practice.

Vs. Gen-an:

Gen-an can be a problem, but he’s more than beatable. Poison puffs and a well-timed Slaughterhouse Tumble will ruin your day if you aren’t careful, and his normal moves are pretty good at zoning. He’s also quite proficient at grabbing out of nowhere with regular throws – just like you.

This is one of the few fights where the optimal place to be is mid-range. If he comes out of the gate with poison puffs, sacrifice Poppy and teleport to get where you want to be. Otherwise just walk right up and harass him with your standing MP at its maximum range. Throw in an occasional poppy or Plasma Blade cancel, and there won’t be much he can do. At that range you can easily stuff or block his slides, standing HP, and poison due to their start up. His own standing and crouching MP are pretty effective, but your standing MP will still beat them. That leaves Slaughterhouse Tumble. He might try it to break through, but this risk is clearly in your favor. So long as you’re keeping a close eye on him you’ll have plenty of time to block it and make him pay. One electric toasted gremlin coming right up!

One last note - if you're an absolute maniac, it's possible to grab Gen-an right out of his Slaughterhouse Tumble with a running LK Strike Heads. I've managed to do this out of sheer luck a time or two, but maybe those of you with quicker fingers can take advantage. It's crazy risky but absolutely humiliating for the Gen-an player.

Vs. Genjuro:

Genjuro players want to intimidate you with his high damage, dizzy potential, and a bad attitude. Oh I'm so scared! That said, his moves do hurt, especially the standing HP, and he’s good at landing it, so don’t give him free shots. Genjuro is also the closest thing SSII has to a Ken/Ryu clone. His card projectile, uppercut, and Rekka slashes are mechanically analogous to Hadouken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumakisenpukayaku respectively. In a gimmick heavy game like SSII, the good old fashioned fireball and dragon punch strategy can wreak havoc. He also has some surprisingly effective kicks.

There really isn’t a particular method to beating Genjuro. He doesn’t have any specific advantages against you, but his general strategy is pretty effective and he can end the round in a heartbeat. Best thing to do is stay on the move, bait him out and go for big hits of your own. He tends to leave himself open, so there should be ample opportunity for punishment. Genjuro also happens to be one of the characters vulnerable to extra hits while in Poppy’s clutches, meaning with the right setup you can end the round even faster than he can. Surprise, who’s the heavy hitter now? Overall you’ve got more tools to work with than he does, so just run a fairly mistake free fight and Genjuro should fall.

Vs. Hanzo:

This is an interesting matchup. Although the characters are head swaps, there are several subtle differences between Hanzo and Galford besides their special moves. Let’s look at how they stack up:

+Your close HP is much stronger than Hanzo’s.
+You have Poppy and her “assist” factor.
+All of your moves are available unarmed (Hanzo loses his super).
-Hanzo’s ground projectile is harder to avoid, recovers more quickly, and knocks you down.
-Hanzo has an air projectile.
-As good as your Strike Heads is, Hanzo’s Mozo Otoshi is that much better. Landing just one of these can turn the whole round in his favor.

Essentially Galford is the everyman fighter whereas Hanzo is more focused on specific maneuvers. In game terms this means staying on the move and mixing it up. Hanzo will always be looking to nail you with the Mozo Otoshi - better Hanzo players will use it as an intimidation tool to control space. You have plenty of mobility to stay out, but then Hanzo gains a big advantage anyway by controlling the fight.

The best counter is to fight fire with fire. Practice, practice, and practice the Strike Heads it becomes second nature. You don’t really need to try and land it all the time so much as to make Hanzo aware he risks going for his own ride by getting close. It’s a win for you because the Mozo Otoshi is a much bigger part of Hanzo’s game. Now that you’ve got the upper hand all that remains is to make Hanzo proud by showing him a student has surpassed the master.

Vs. Haohmaru:

In my opinion this is by far your toughest fight. Yes, much tougher than Ukyo. It's not that Haohmaru is king of the mountain (though he IS effective in the right hands), he just happens to be a great counter character for Galford. He's certainly beatable, but you've got your hands full. First, don't worry about his over hyped standing HP, that's not his real weapon. The true threats are standing MP, crouching MP, and crouching LP. The standing MP is nearly quick as yours, but reaches twice as far, and does almost double the damage. The crouching MP and LP are even worse. Both out prioritize all of your own crouching attacks, taking away a big part of Galford's game. In fact it's not a bad strategy on Haomaru's part to just sit around and hack at Galford's ankles until he drops or time runs out.

To overcome these advantages you’ll want to stay right in his face or far out of range. The Senpuzan and Kogetsuzan are not really a threat. Both are too slow for him to play a Ryu/Ken style game and if he tries you’ve just found a rookie player who shouldn’t be hard to beat.

Believe it or not, your strongest attacks out damage his, but in actual matches nobody wins a slug fest with the big H, so don't go that route. Experienced Haohmaru players are just too good at landing their big hits more than you land yours, and they'll always be working to keep you in that middle zone where his range and power simply overwhelm you. It’s possible to win a strategic poking war, but one misstep and you’re well behind. And as mentioned before, his crouching priority over your moves eliminates many of your best attacks right out of the gate. Your entire goal should be to avoid this kind of play by alternating run away and rush down to keep him off balance.

When in run away mode, dance around and pepper him with Rush Dog and Plasma Blades. If you run into the rare player who bothers reflecting your Plasma Blades or smacking Poppy, try sneaking in a Machine Gun Dog. If you catch him, it's rush trap time! Once in a while he might chuck a Kogetsuzan or Secret Earthquake Slash to keep you honest, but so long as you stay alert neither of those should be a problem. If you are quick enough (and you should be), both leave him wide open for a Rear Replica Attack. Watch out though - if you're a split second too slow, he gets a standing HP counter hit for free, and you'll be very, VERY sorry.

To help get in when playing rush down style, bait him out and counter with Poppy. You might have to eat a MP or even an HP, but if she gets hold it's well worth the sacrifice. Rush trap and introduce him to the ground a few times - he won't be so cocky after a taste of that. If he gets away, switch back to run away mode to louse up his momentum and then rush him again at the first opportunity.

Vs. Jubei:

With his limited arsenal Jubei seems one dimensional, but he has all the right tools when played correctly. Jubei's projectile is one of the best, but he’s still no match for you at long range, so that’s the safest bet. You can also take him on head to head – but be aware it’s risky to do so. His close HP is fast on the draw, does even more damage than yours, and he can follow it up with a tight pressure game. His jump ins are also pretty effective due to their awkward trajectory. You’ll have to rely on a mistake free combo of low HP, throwing game, and Strike Heads to overpower him.

Just like fighting Haohmaru, you want to stay out of poking range. Here his counters and rush combos come into play and you’ll be at a serious disadvantage. You have far superior mobility, so it’s your own fault if this happens consistently.

Vs. Kyoshiro:

You probably won’t see much of Kyoshiro, but that’s more to do with his look than anything else. He’s surprisingly evasive and comes equipped with IMO the best set of armed normal attacks in the game. They’re fast, long reaching and all do solid damage. His specials aren’t that inspiring, but they cover all his needs.

Bait and trade to get a bite from poppy is probably your best bet. Close in for the rush trap and you can finish him quickly. Otherwise rely on standing MP, crouching HP, and your superior mobility.

Vs. Nakoruru:

Galford may be love-struck for our favorite Ainu priestess, but that doesn't make this match any more fair for her. Nak has her animal companion and speed. You have both those plus teleports, better moves, more reach, and twice the damage output. Nak relies on you making mistakes and then capitalizing with quick expansion attacks. Problem is she has no way to create openings on her own and lacks the reach or damage to play any reasonable poking game. All you have to do is make her come to you, avoid silly mistakes and it's all over. One thing to note is that she can quite easily run down all of Poppy’s attacks (and you) with her Mutsube rush specials. Might not win her the fight, but it’s pretty embarrassing to see both Galford and Poppy laid out in one stroke, so don’t get TOO careless.

After he kicks her butt clear across the Pacific, maybe she'll be impressed enough for that date after all. ;)

Vs. Nicotine:

Unless completely outmatched as a player, you have no business losing this one. Nicotine relies mostly on decent normal attacks and a ton of gimmicky projectiles. That would be great for him except they’re all slow and easily evaded or countered. Wear him down with your own projectiles or close in and take him to pieces. If you want to give him a chance, play the poking game. It’s your weakest area and you should still beat him without too much trouble. Just be aware of his size and the advantage it gives him for dodging attacks. Outside of that you’re a ninja in top condition with sharp blades, armor, magic, and a vicious dog. He’s a chest high old man with a stick, robe, and some tarot cards. Do the math and don’t embarrass yourself.

Vs. Seiger:

Seiger is kind of like a bigger Cham Cham, and you can fight him much the same way. His Blitz Jaeger covers a bigger space than Cham Cham’s Tobi Hikkaki and it’s even better at crossing you up, but it’s also just as vulnerable to the same counter strategies. In particular, it’s quite easy to air throw him out of it once you learn the spacing. His normal jump game also enjoys high priority and cross up potential, but your air throw can shut it down just as hard.

Once you’ve made it clear who owns the air, his options are severely limited. Seiger’s ground game is nothing outstanding, but be does have the best close HP in the game. It's fast enough that he doesn't have to set it up or wait for a punish opportunity. Just *smack* right up the side of your head out of nowhere for more than 1/4 life. When close in, nail him with Strike Heads or a regular throw and do it fast! Otherwise feel free to play the poke game with him. The standard mix of MP, LK and MK will do fine, but Seiger's huge hit boxes also let you bring in standing HK. Throw it on reaction when he sticks something out for a solid counter hit. Don’t worry too much about his Tigerkopf (command grab) – the CPU seems to land a lot of them but it’s rarely a factor in human matches. The Vulcan Cannon is a bit more threatening, but so long as you aren’t careless it’s no big deal. Most of his moves have a fair bit of recovery lag, so a scrubby but effective tactic is to wait for him to attack first, block and then rush him with Strike Heads.

Vs. Ukyo:

Ukyo sits at the top of every tier list, so you’re going to be seeing a lot of him. He’s boring, methodical and obviously tough to beat, but you have the tools to take him down. So what makes Ukyo so dangerous? Well, he doesn’t have great mobility, damage output, combinations, or truly awe inspiring moves. Thing is, he doesn’t need any of that stuff. His strategy mostly revolves around wearing you down with Swallow Swipes which he can launch from any angle with almost no recovery. Outside of that he likes to harass you with his best in the cast poking game and top tier mix ups. But that’s just the start. Make even the slightest mistake and you eat a shadow slide attack. This last move is what really glues everything together and makes him the pain that he is. It’s ultra-fast to come out, hits hard and recovers quickly. Moreover only the last image is vulnerable to attack. Stick anything out in hopes of stopping him and you get nailed by the first image while the “real” Ukyo stays safe and sound. Now you’ve lost a chunk of life and have to fight your way back in range all over again. His basic moves cover every angle regardless of range, and as if all that wasn’t enough, Ukyo’s rage lasts longer than anyone else in the game.

The good news is that Galford (and Hanzo) have the perfect tool set to counter Ukyo. To take advantage though, you can't be timid, risk averse, or intimidated by his tier status. Watch advanced matches against Ukyo. The players who stick to “safe” poking patterns are inevitably worn down and killed – the players who go right after Ukyo are the ones who come out on top. Make use of jumping in and Shadow Copy to feel him out. Dash about the screen and use your speed so he won’t know which angle of Swallow Swipe to throw. Practice Rear Replica Attack until you can do it in your sleep – if you can perform it instantly on reaction to a Swallow Swipe, you’ll take away a huge part of his game. Ukyo Swallow Swipes, you drop on his head, and keep it up until he learns his lesson. If you can’t do that, try rolling in. With good timing you can close distance by rolling right under most of his Swallow Swipes. Not quite as hot as the Rear Replica, but it doesn’t require you to be a ninja on the controls.

Get Poppy involved. Walk right up to his optimal middle range and trade for the Machine Gun Dog if you must. Do whatever it takes to get a single knockdown. At that point, it’s HIS turn to feel the frustration. Start up the rush trap and don’t let up for a second - he doesn't have great answer once caught. Good as Ukyo is, his best shenanigans require a bit of space. Even up close he’s no pushover, but you’ll have the advantage with your greater damage output and maneuverability. Make the most of it and stick to him like glue. If does escape or push you away the pendulum swings in his direction and you're back to square one.

Given he's SSII's best poker and your poking game is mid card, it might sound insane to play footsie, but oddly enough you can do just that. There is a range just about two steps back where your crouching LK can hit and stuff nearly anything he sticks out. Ukyo’s only retort is his own crouching LK, but yours reaches just a touch farther. The sweet spot is small, but that's where your movement speed comes in. Ukyo players are not used to getting poked at and you might be able to throw him off. Just be careful that he doesn't sneak in a Shadow Slide.

All combined, these strategies add up to a slight advantage in your favor overall. Ukyo players REALLY aren't used to that, so jump in there and teach them a little lesson in humility. Then get ready for the real fight when they switch to Haohmaru...

Vs. Wan-Fu:

Unless you can pull off Strike Heads with razor timing you’ll want to stay back a bit in this matchup. Wan-Fu is deceptively fast and one of the few characters who can out throw you, a fact he’ll be glad to painfully demonstrate. Good Wan-Fu players have no fear of chucking his weapon aside, and they are also more than happy to move in for close quarter combat. He’s got the best unarmed normal attacks in the game by far, and once inside can use them to play a nasty pressure trap. Keep him away with a mix of standing MP, standing LK, and Poppy. If he closes in, Shadow Copy out or back him off with crouching LK and repeat. Armed Wan-Fu isn’t as much of a threat. He can still lay down some hurt if you get careless, but his throwing game isn’t as good and he’s easy to bait. If he hangs on to the pillar and comes after you feel free to take him apart at your leisure.

If you CAN pull Strike Heads with razor timing, ignore all the above. Let him close in all he wants, then show him what crash landings are all about.

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