Nightwolf is ranked #5 in UMK3. He is devastatingly fast, has exceptional damage combos off a simple rush down with no set up required, his attacks are useful, have little recovery, or have no limit. Definitely a top tier character to say the least. His rush down is virtually unparallel in the game, and his mix ups are quite useful. He's a very easy to use character overall. He cannot autocombo starter on the female ninjas with either his punch or kick unless in the corner, and combos against them are not as easy, so that hurts him against them. His stomp also misses them quite often, so look for counter players using the female ninjas to exploit Nightwolf's collision box weaknesses because damage is the key with him and they are less susceptible. Nightwolf can run through sweeps if timed properly and begin his autocombo. Never do his 5 hit autocombo that ends in a HK. Rush down is extremely important.
Uppercut is solid, overall good priority and placement, HK has range, but not as much height as others, RH is average range, good for run unders, if you can time an air air roundhouse with him, you're better off countering with an aaAxe, aaAxe, aaHP, JK, or the likes for more damage and the same amount of effort on the initial counter hit. His sweep is virtually identical in range to the male ninjas, and has the same speed/start up/recovery, which is average. His LK hits a little lower than usual, and has a little less range. His run jabs also has just a little less range than others, his HPs are about average range, and also hit a little lower. His ducking LK has good range. JP has good cross up properties. The close range kick is a stomp that hits extremely low and is very useful, his close range punches hit very high and miss constantly so always rush down with stomps.
The Axe Uppercut is a great and unique move, considered a containment move because you can always get at least one free hit after it. It is possible to combo multiple axes, usually in any combo if you do two axes with some kind of extra juggle hits you will result in almost 45-50% even without a starter. It is an amazing cross under tool, anytime someone cross up jump kicks you, you can do the axe the opposite way and it will hit them on their way down even if they are attack, it's almost fool proof and very hard to recounter it unless it is baited and even still it can hit, it's like Kabal's spin only not as much damage can be done after using it. Remember that if you do an axe uppercut in combo and it misses Nightwolf is vulnerable and characters can capitalize on this. During his blocked combo it is sometimes better to leave out the axe because he can even be beaten out of it in that situation.
The Shoulder Tackle is your friend. It has very little recovery, but it is not invincible, it can be abused, but it can be scouted, it all depends on zoning. It hits ducking blocking characters except Stryker who is completely immune to it, and occasionally some characters can duck and block while it is coming and not get hit for chip like Kung Lao, and Sonya for example. It's good to finish juggle combos with as it does about the same amount of damage as a HK/JK and gets them into position to set up more tactics. Don't do the tackle from too far away because it's easily beaten by sweeps and try not to buffer it with obvious stepping. Sometimes it is useful to buffer it with running steps, so, hold run, tap forward, release run then forward again and tackle to get in close. The run in creates a defensive posture for the opponent and they will attempt to counter based on running velocity but when you change the run into a tackle you are coming in with a move instead of being totally vulnerable. If someone is ducking and blocking you can usually get two tackles out before they are comfortable to release block and try to just duck it and counter, so you should then skip the tackle and run in with his combo and get them sleeping. Make sure you mix this up a lot and don't fall into a pattern yourself or people will pick up on it. The tackle is also surpsiringly good for anti air especially in extremely close range, or even as an anti cross up, it will move backwards and somewhat appear to track the opponent. In the corner it is easily possible to get mulitple rams if you run jab and the opponent tries to jump out of the corner. Time a HP or LP jab to hit them in the air, then another HP, cancel to tackle, tackle for up to 4 hits 42%. This is a very special case scenario when they are in the corner but it's entirely possible.
The Projectile Reflection move is pretty much what you see is what you get. You bounce projectiles back to your opponent. This move can get you in a lot of trouble, especially against Kabal. Players like to use it against the purple ball but a smart Kabal player will place the ball to scrape of Nightwolf's head and plow through him with a spin, severely punishing the overzealous Nightwolf user. It's best to use this move against characters who have a containment projectile like Sub-zero and Cyrax because this results in a free HK starter to autocombo, resulting in hideous damage of upwards to 60% and beyond. It will not reflect the harpoon or Stryker's Riot Gun for example.
The Bow and Arrow is a tiny projectile with unreasonable vulnerability and recovery. If you connect a move before the arrow, it will start up extremely fast, making it a lot easier to combo with, and even still it does very little damage. In any situation where you can combo an arrow, you can combo something else that does more damage. The fast arrow is active any time your opponent is in non neutral recovery frames, so you can send it out after an uppercut when they land as they get up and sometimes they will jump right into it, or after a roundhouse early to keep them where they are on the defensive, as offense is Nightwolf's main game. If your opponent is jumping away you can sometimes keep them pinned temporarily at full screen with fast arrows off a just frames concept. This is a pretty much worthless tactic and the arrow should be used very little as there is only one major purpose for it and that's to knock opponents back down before they even get up, also a predictable tactic. It's a match winning move for when someone is at danger and can't even block it.
Nightwolf has a corner infinite that works on Kabal, Sektor, Cyrax, Robot Smoke, Sheeva, and Kano. You can repeat his 3 hit kick combo over and over. The timing is incredibly easy, you can wait until they completely touch the ground and for whatever reason it still hits. It was designed to whiff but apparently these 6 characters have slightly larger collision detection when laying on the ground. Abuse this against corny Kabal players in the corner. If you can lead them there and get them into the corner, kara jab them and try to make them spin you while you are close to the corner, and then break out the infinite on them.
You can also use this infinite concept these character midscreen after an autocombo as a sleeper or wake up detector. A lot of times people like to jump away, uppercut, or wakeup when you get in close and try to rush down, however, Nightwolf can combo after the axe uppercut combo with his stomp before they have the chance to do any of this on these characters. Even though this is blockable you might find many anxious players who will receive a double combo at least once. For example, HP starter, 5 hit combo, axe, axe, walk in, sleeper stomp 5 hit combo, axe, axe, HP, JK is 15 hits 76%, and that's a very easy combo for just ONE instance where the person chose to escape rather than block. On Kabal in the same situation it is considerably easy and beneficial to get an extra HP Axe in both combos resulting in 18 hits 90%. Again, this results just because they tried to do something like wake up spin you when they can't. This kind of damage will make a Kabal player extremely cautious, eleviating you from having to worry about being wake up spun so much, but still it is a good idea to look out for, as often times Kabal is chosen intentionally to counter Nightwolf.
1. punch starter, HK, HP, HP, LP, D-F HP, Axe, JK or tackle 8 hits 51% 2. aaAxe, aaAxe, JK 3 hits 24%
1. on male ninjas: punch starter, HK, HP, HP, LP, D-F HP, step in, Axe,Axe, HK 9 hits 56% 2. on Jax, Stryker, Kabal, Sub-zero: punch starter, HK, HP, HP, LP, D-F HP, Axe, aaHP, Axe, JK 10 hits 60% 3. on all other characters your best bet is punch starter, HK, HP, HP, LP, D-F HP, Axe, jump kick 8 hits 51%, it's over 50%, so you only need it twice, if you get more than that one, you still need to get it again so it's a waste of effort. 4. on some characters: punch starter, HK, HP, HP, LP, D-F HP, Axe, run, aaLP,HP, tackle HK 10 hits 56% 5. punisher combo on Scorp, Smoke, Ermac, etc: aaHP,HP, JK, arrow 3 hits 38% 6. super corner punisher starting if Nightwolf is about halfscreen from the wall, aaHP,HP, JK, aaHP, tackle, tackle 6 hits 64%