Shulk 101
Special Moves

Back Slash!

Back Slash (Startup)

Direction Facing Hitbox Frames Base Damage (+SD) Angle Base Knockback Knockback Growth Pivoting Opportunities
Front 22 - 24 10 / 9% (+7) 361° 30 100 Max opportunities: 3
Pivot 1: Frame 1 - 4 (4)
Pivot 2: Frame 5 - 7 (7)
Pivot 3: Frame 8 - 10 (10)
Back 16/14% (+7)

140°

  • "Pivoting Opportunities" means how many times you can reverse the direction. For example, the max amount of reversal pivots you can perform is three, but you have to be frame-perfect to pivot three times when the normal pivot limit is two. The "(4)" means that you pivot the first time as early as frame 4.

 

The three possible pivot opportunities shown in a quick video. Choose to pivot once, three times, or no times at all!

 

 

Back Slash (Falling)

Direction Facing Hitbox Frames Base Damage (+SD) Angle Base Knockback Knockback Growth
Front

25 -

(25 - 32)

10 / 9% (+7) 361° 30 100
Back 16 / 14% (+7) 140°

 

 

Back Slash (Landing)

Direction Facing Hitbox Frames Total Frames Base Damage (+SD) Angle Base Knockback Knockback Growth
Front

1 (33)

40 (72) 10 / 9% (+10) 361° 25 100
Back 15 / 13% (+10) 140°
  • "(+SD)" means the extra shield damage of Back Slash. Back Slash deals +7 additional shield damage with the startup or falling phase of the move, but the Landing hitbox deals +10 shield damage upon the Monado hitting the floor.
  • The "(72)" under the Total Frames column refers to when you use a full Back Slash attack from the ground. For the whole move.
  • Somewhat wonky hitbox detection when falling down to opponent.
  • [Design flaws] Deadspot on F24. The startup and falling phase intertwine, creating an inconsistency with hitbox placement.
  • [Design flaws?] Cannot grab the ledge or cancel it, which leads to an SD. Shulk is also very vulnerable to push effects near the edge [Clip 1]
  • [Design flaws] For one of Shulk’s signature moves in Xenoblade Chronicles, its heavy commitment makes it less rewarding due to its moderate damage on the back and its long endlag.
Ratings
  • 2.5/5: Buster/Smash
  • 2/5: Vanilla/Jump
  • 1.5/5: Speed
  • 1/5: Shield
Competitive Applications
  • Anti-projectile tool
    • Shulk can jump over the projectile’s path and hit the opponent’s front body with Back Slash.
    • Can also beat out projectiles such as fully charged Aura Sphere, but requires perfect timing. Having Buster Art makes it better to combat.
  • Decent kill at the ledge, even hitting the opponent’s front.
    • In Jump or Smash Art, Shulk can jump up to the opponent and use Back Slash to kill after they air dodge or use aerials to counterattack.
    • In Shield Art, Shulk can “speed up” toward the opponent for an unexpected punish. This can be a decent option against projectile users.
  • Anti-Bair
    • Characters who spam Bair or RAR Bair (e.g. Mario, Luigi, etc.) can be hit by Back Slash, but it must be well-timed [Clip 1]
  • Shield break finisher on platforms
    • In Buster Art, shield damage does increase. Shulk can shield pressure with Utilt, then use Back Slash at the back for a shield break.
Other/Situational
  • Tech chase
    • Bthrow → Back Slash. Bthrow against Corrin, R.O.B., Falcon, Villager, etc. [Clip 1]
      • Buster Art Bthrow → MABD Back Slash.
    • (Buster Art) Uthrow → running forward a bit as the opponent air dodges → Back Slash.
  • Shulk can use Smashville's platform. Ex: Nair → Fair → read air dodge → Back Slash onto the platform.
  • Punish Options:
    • Charged smash attacks (or other laggy moves) while Shulk is in Jump Art and drifting above them.
    • Ledge roll and jump [Clip 1]
      • When edgeguarding, but both grab onto the ledge, the opponent might use the ledge roll immediately. Ledge drop → DJ Back Slash can work.
        • On rare occasions, the opponent might accidentally turn around [Clip 1]
    • Alternative Monado Purge (Uthrow → read an air dodge → Back Slash).
      • When both players are near the ceiling, Back Slash can sometimes work if the opponent begins to descend down [Clip 1] [Clip 2]
    • Suicide Back Slash if the opponent tries to recover from below the ledge [Clip 1]
    • Characters with terrible friction like Luigi.
  • If a fast character tries to dash grab very close to Shulk, Back Slash can oddly connect.
  • Speed Art running past the opponent’s shield → Back Slash as a mixup.
  • Regarding Buster Art:
    • When Shulk deals damage the opponent’s shield, but quickly ends up in the disadvantage stage, falling Back Slash on the opponent’s top shield (aka the back) can break the shield. When the opponent sees the falling Back Slash, they immediately shield on reaction.
      • Ex: One Back Slash to the front, then bring thrown backwards. If Shulk falls to the left with Back Slash, the bottom Monado (or between Shulk’s legs) will land on the top left side of the opponent’s shield.
  • On Battlefield, if Shulk does a front slash (on the ground while heading to the platform), it might register as a Back Slash. It works on R.O.B.
    • If Shulk does a front slash just below the opponent, it might register as a Back Slash.

Ha, Air Slash!

Air Slash | Hit 1

Hitbox Frames IASA Base Damage Angle Base Knockback Knockback Growth Landing Lag Hit 2 Input Window Reverse Window
(Early) 10 - 11 22 6% 78 / 91 / 85° W: 140 / 135 / 100 100 30 12 - 39 (12 - 38) 1 - 9 (9)
(Middle) 12 - 14 5% 85 / 86° W: 80 / 78
(Late) 15 - 17 52 / 70° W: 43
  • Interruptible As Soon As, or "IASA" for short basically means how quickly can you input Air Slash's second attack, which is frame 22 of Hit 1.
     
  • "Hit 2 Input Window" means you can input between frame 12-39 of Air Slash Hit 1 to get the second attack when the first hit whiffs. This means you can buffer it very quickly during frame 12 of your rising scooping slash, or input it very late to recover more horizontally or just trick your opponent. However, the "(12 - 38)" window is the actual Hit 2 Input Window upon hitting & dealing damage to something. The only exception is when you hit something that is invincible, as that is toward the "12 - 39" input window.
     
  • The "(9)" in the B-Reverse Window means you'll be reversing direction as early as frame 9.

 

 

Air Slash | Hit 2

Hitbox Frames Base Damage Angle Base Knockback Knockback Growth Landing Lag
15 - 16 5.5% 48° 35 170 30
  • One of Shulk’s best and most underrated move since this is one of Shulk’s few moves that is less likely to be staled. However, this is a high risk; high reward move.
  • Jump Art greatly increases the hitbox of the rising first hit.
  • If Air Slash does not connect to the second hit, it is based on a few things:
    • 1. Shulk’s position relative to the opponent (e.g. if they are too high / too low before Shulk hits them with the first slash).
    • 2. Shulk’s Rage (AS1 is fixed KB, so the opponent’s % does not matter, but if Shulk has Rage, he can knock them too high for the second hit to connect. Also, the opponent can DI out of Air Slash when Shulk has higher amounts of Rage.)
    • 3. Shulk’s Art (Jump Art helps for connecting Air Slash at higher Rage, but fast fallers are more likely to fall out as well.) [Clip 1]
Ratings
  • 4.5/5: Jump
  • 4/5: Speed/Smash
  • 3.5/5: Vanilla/Buster
  • 3/5: Shield
Air Slash Out of Shield (OoS) Controls Recap
  • Controls (especially GCC due to their buttons spaced apart):
    • Easier with Tap Jump on.
    • Jerm: R set to Jump.
      • Hold down shield, hold up with the control stick and jump, and immediately Air Slash.
  • You cannot UpB out of shield while holding shield. You have to cancel shield by jump canceling.
  • Quick Applications:
    • Catch people off guard with the range longer than Shulk’s Fair.
    • Building damage with Buster Art.
    • Kill earlier with Smash Art.
    • Punish options: Mega Man’s Fair, air dodge landing lag, Charizard’s Nair, Shulk’s Fair, ledge get up attack, and many more.
  • Tutorial by Jerm
Competitive Applications
  • Highly recommended to edgeguard. Most recoveries cannot contest against Air Slash due to its sheer range. This is very effective against low to mid recoveries [Clip 1]
    • Shulk can grab the ledge, then ledge drop → Air Slash for early kills or gimps. The Shulk player activates Air Slash, then immediately hold down so that Shulk would not snap onto the ledge. Then they must reset their control stick to neutral to regrab the ledge. However, Shulk will eventually lose his ledge invincibility, making him vulnerable to a potential counterattack like projectiles.
      • Smash Art is fantastic, killing most characters past 90% [Clip 1]
        • In Vanilla, it can kill characters past 120%.
      • Jump Art increases his jump height over the ledge, giving Shulk more vertical coverage should the opponent tries to recover high. Thanks to the increased Air Slash height, it can kill slightly earlier than Vanilla Air Slash.
    • Best ledge trump option.
    • Can also stage spike, especially low recoveries [Clip 1]
  • One of Shulk’s few reliable OoS options (Air Slash OoS). Best used when the opponent makes a mistake to avoid being punished.
    • With Smash Art, it can kill characters past 100%.
    • Even in Shield Art, Shulk will not get launched at low-mid % that much should he miss.
  • Kill finisher in combos/strings.
    • Jump/Speed Nair → Fair → Air Slash kill [Clip 1] [Clip 2]
    • Smash Art Ledge Trump → Air Slash kill.
  • Shulk can use it before he lands to catch someone greedy for a punish.
  • Can cover all 4 ledge options. Just react.
    • Ledge attack, roll, and jump are the easiest to punish.
    • If the opponent runs out of ledge invincibility, Air Slash can be another attack option. For the second slash to connect, Shulk needs Rage [Spreadsheet] [Clip 1] [Clip 2]
  • Decent recovery.
    • Better recovery in Jump or Speed Art.
      • By using mobility Arts, delaying the second slash gives Shulk more horizontal recovery. Both increases their drift speed between the first and second slash.
        • Depending on the second slash in Jump Art, its increased fall speed can give slightly mixed result recovering vertically and horizontally. Jump Art also increases the speed when recovering.
        • The drift speed is more noticeable and improved in Speed Art, making it another good option to recover horizontally.
        • Shield Art is fine if Shulk recovers from below to the ledge vertically. Its drift speed when traveling is reduced.
    • Contrary to popular belief, Shulk can autosnap to the ledge, but it is a bit more difficult compared to other characters. Air Slash also does not travel fast as Marth and Lucina’s Dolphin Slash (except in Jump Art). If Shulk fails to autosnap, he is vulnerable to gimps and edgeguards.
      • Three ways to snap to the ledge to avoid the opponent's 2-Frame Punish (e.g. Shulk's Fair tip, Fox's Utilt, Mario's FLUDD, etc.) [Tutorial]
        • 1. Air Slash at max range to the ledge in order to snap the ledge with the second input [Clip 1]
        • 2. Inputting Air Slash 1 extremely close to the ledge (similiar to Cloud's Climhazzard).
          • Or use an aerial while using DJ towards the ledge, and utilize the aerial's FAF so that Shulk can buffer inputting Air Slash's 1st hit to instantly snap the ledge.
        • 3. Delay the Air Slash from recovering low as much as posssible. Jump Art increases the vertical height to both hits of Air Slash.
    • Good poking tool when hitting the ledge.
    • Shulk can refresh his ledge invincibility [YT Video] [Clip 1]
      • After Shulk overshoots his Air Slash over the ledge, as he falls down and away, his left foot can touch the ground. The game will think Shulk landed on the ground, so when Shulk regrabs the ledge, he has his ledge invincibility refreshed.
  • Buster Art Dthrow → Air Slash combo at low-mid %.
  • Jump Art Uthrow → Air Slash combo [Clip 1]
    • This (and Air Slash in general) is more effective on stages with platforms. Shulk should use it below the top platform.
  • Against Jigglypuff, Shulk’s grab release → Air Slash can kill.
    • Jump Art is a guaranteed kill combo.
    • Smash Art can kill very early, but a veteran Jigglypuff can air dodge out of the way.
Other/Situational
  • Air Slash can 2-Frame recoveries like Rosalina’s Launch Star. But if Shulk misses, he will most likely get punished.
  • On platforms, Air Slash 1 on the top platform can lead into a grab. In Jump Art, this can lead to the Monado Purge [Clip 1]
  • On Smashville’s platform, Jump Art grab release → Air Slash can work on most characters if the platform is moving in the direction of the opponent.
  • In the air (e.g. offstage), if the opponent tries to go past Shulk, he can reverse Air Slash.
    • Against someone like Greninja, it is better to only hit with the second Air Slash.
 

Vision

I... I'm seeing something!

Standing Counter, Grounded
Ill-Fated Futures Counter Frames Frames Intangible Total Frames "True" Vision Input Window
Fresh 7 - 41 6 - 7 69 1 - 9 (Held in advance works too)
Depreciated x1 7 - 30
Depreciated x2 7 - 22
Depreciated x3 7 - 17
Depreciated x4 7 - 13
Fully staled x5 7 - 11

 

Standing Counter, Airborne
Ill-Fated Futures  Counter Frames Frames Intangible Interruptible As Soon As
Fresh 7 - 41 7 - 8 80
Depreciated x1 7 - 30
Depreciated x2 7 - 22
Depreciated x3 7 - 17
Depreciated x4 7 - 13
Fully staled x5 7 - 11
  • "Forward Vision Input Window" means the time you can hold forward during the counter stance's frame window. On frame 9 of an activated Vision counterattack, you'll see a visual difference should you use the regular or forward counter.

 

 

It's coming to me!

Vision Attack on Land
Counterattack Hitbox Frames Frames Intangible Total Frames Base Damage (1.3x multiplier) Angle Base Knockback Knockback Growth
Grounded 45 - 46 1 - 45 96 10% (Sweet)
7% (Sour)
50° 70 84
"True" 29 - 30 1 - 36 64 13% (Sweet)
10% (Sour)
94

 

Vision Attack in Sky
Counterattack Hitbox Frames Frames Intangible Interruptible As Soon As Base Damage (1.3x multiplier) Angle Base Knockback Knockback Growth
Airborne 45 - 46 9 - 44 97 10% (Sweet)
7% (Sour)
50° 70 84
  • [Design flaws] One of the longest counter window in the game, but FAF is too long for Shulk to be punished with a grab or a strong attack.
    • Like all counters, Vision has an intangible window at F6-7 (or F7-8 in the air) to evade grabs. But due to having a long counter window, the opponent can regrab again. Shulk’s air intangibility leads into his Vision tech called Shadow Eye.
  • Slows the opponent down upon Shulk being hit.
  • Vision’s window length is fully replenished after 15 seconds pass without using Vision or Shulk is KO’d.
  • Unblockable; hits through shields. However, the opponent can spot dodge or roll out the counter (usually the normal and aerial Vision), especially if their attack has less cooldown to punish back Shulk.
  • Regular Vision:
    • Long-range forward attack than most counters.
  • Forward Vision (control stick is held forward):
    • Only possible when Shulk is grounded before getting hit.
    • Faster than the regular Vision.
    • Sends the opponents behind him.
    • Stronger KO move.
    • Less FAF.
    • Less range.
    • Narrow hitbox.
  • Aerial Vision (see Other/Situational below for details)
  • Monado Arts:
    • Jump Art
      • Increased slide effect.
    • Speed Art
      • Quicker stop after the counter finishes?
    • Shield Art
      • More uses at high % and with Rage.
    • Buster Art
      • Opponent can potentially counterattack at low-mid %, unless it is a Forward Vision.
    • Smash Art
      • Best Art to used.
  • Vision’s slow effect also slows down the move’s invincibility frames and Super Armor like Jigglypuff’s Rest and Charizard’s Fsmash.
    • Pseudo Witch Time effect: If Shulk uses Vision, gets hit, but gets hit by another attack (e.g. Pikachu’s Thunder Jolt), the opponent will still slow down like Bayonetta’s Witch Time.
Ratings
  • 5/5: Smash
  • 4.5/5: Buster
  • 4/5: Vanilla/Jump/Speed/Shield
Competitive Applications
  • Great KO move (in Smash Art), especially Forward Vision. This benefits the player a lot who has excellent reads to take advantage of the opponent’s habits. However, this is dangerous if Shulk is at high %. If he fails, he can be heavily punished (e.g. Luig’s Super Jump Punch). At high level play, unless the opponent has a noticeable habit, Vision is rarely used and should not be overused if the opponent plans to bait out. At the same time, Vision does not depreciate that much.
    • Ledge-drop → DJ forward → Vision upon landing the ground. If the opponent attacks, Forward Vision will send the opponent the other way and possibly kill, depending how strong the opponent’s attack. However, this is still a bit predictable.
    • Even using Jabs against Rage Vision can be dangerous [Clip 1]
    • Can counter certain recoveries to the ledge, but depends on their spacing.
      • Peach’s Parasol.
      • Little Mac’s Rising Uppercut.
  • Interrupt low % combos in Shield Art.
    • This does not stop grabs.
  • Decent tool against projectiles.
Other/Situational
  • [Design flaws] Subpar aerial counterattack. For more information by Masonomace.
    • Somewhat unreliable as it is prone to miss unless Shulk is right in front of the opponent.
    • Speed Art is good for its increased air speed. Jump Art, however, can overshoot.
    • Its best use is to edgeguard against certain recoveries by falling into the recovery or else Shulk would miss.
      • Ness’s PK Thunder.
      • Donkey Kong’s Spinning Kong.
      • Bowser’s Whirling Fortress.
      • Luigi’s Cyclone
      • Fox and Falco’s Fire Fox/Bird.
      • Link and Toon Link’s Spin Attack (harder against Toon Link’s short stature).
      • Samus
      • Charziard’s Fly (only if he recovers low, but the timing is strict).
  • If Shulk perfect shields a lingering attack (Pikachu and Fox’s dash attack, etc), immediately use Vision to hit/kill. Shulk and Corrin benefit this.