Starting out with VF5FS Kage

Jan 26, 2015
Starting out with VF5FS Kage
  • Hey there, I'm Myke and I've been playing VF since the original version, but didn't get competitive until the release of VF2 where Kage has been my main character ever since.

    Kage's Strengths and Weaknesses(top)

    Kage's strengths lie in his elusiveness and mobility. This is evident in a number of his attacks which, while slow to execute, can completely evade an incoming attack and score a counter hit. In true Ninja fashion, Kage can attack "out of turn" and completely unravel an opponent who gets a little too predictable or conservative in their play style. Couple this with two specialist stances -- one defensive, the other offensive in nature -- and fear and panic can quickly set into your opponent.

    However, against a more knowledgeable opponent his strengths can often be turned into major weaknesses. For example, the attacks with evasive properties are so slow that, if evaded successfully, can leave Kage open for some major guaranteed damage. Predictability kills both ways.

    Basic Skills(top)

    Elbow Class(top)

    [6][P]: This Elbow is Kage's fastest mid attack and is very versatile. While it has no guaranteed follow-ups on Normal or Counter Hit (from the front), it can be used to enter either of his two stances:
    • [6][P] (hold [P]) to enter Jumonji stance. If you Counter Hit with [6][P] on the Opponent's side while entering Jumonji stance, then Jumonji [P][K] is a guaranteed combo.
    • [6][P][P][+][K][+][G] to enter Shippujin stance.

    [4][P]: This is Kage's fastest half-circular high attack and retains advantage on Guard (only +1). Its follow-ups include:
    • [4][P][K] is a natural combo on Recovery Hit and hit-checkable on Counter Hit. Due to [4][P]'s half circular property, if you catch an opponent evading the wrong way, it will result in a Counter Hit, and so the follow-up [K] is guaranteed. On completion, it produces spinning knockdown where you can apply more pressure, and should it happen to hit the opponent into the wall, it can produce a wall splat or slump for additional combo opportunities.
    • [4][P] (hold [P]) to enter Jumonji stance.
    • [4][P][P][+][K][+][G] to enter Shippujin stance.

    Upper Class(top)

    [2_][3][P] (or [3][3][P]): A standard mid-level uppercut attack, that launches only on Counter Hit. On Normal or Recovery Hit it only gives a small advantage so Kage must keep applying pressure. It's also a linear attack which makes it vulnerable to evades.

    1. Combos
    2. [2_][3][P] > [P][P][4][P][K]
      All Characters

    [K]: Kage's fastest high kick attack, is half circular, and knocks down on any hit. Its follow-ups include:
    • [K][P][K] (high, high, mid) which can combo for additional damage. Also, the last kick is a natural combo if the [P] is the first attack to hit -- on Normal Hit, the [K] must be entered with almost no delay, while on Counter Hit you can hit-confirm.
    • [K][P][P][+][K][+][G] to enter Shippuujin stance.

    Middle Kick Class(top)

    [3][K]: A standard side-kick, with great range, and is quite versatile. Since the [6][P] and [2_][3][P] have short range, you may find that your opponent is able to back dash away from them during certain situations. This is where you should look to use [3][K] instead. Against a back dashing opponent, it produces a special stagger where you can get an easy combo against all characters:

    1. Combos
    2. [3][K] (back dash stagger) > [2][P][+][K] > [6_][P][P][4][P][K]
      All Characters except Taka
    3. [3][K] (back dash stagger) > [2][P][+][K] > [4][6][P][+][K][K]
      Against Taka

    Its follow-ups include:
    • [3][K][K] (high) which knocks down on hit. If [3][K] is a Recovery Hit, then the follow-up [K] is guaranteed. However, if [3][K] is a Counter Hit, then it pushes Light and Middleweight Opponents back quite far, making any follow-ups miss. So it's always a good idea to hit-confirm [3][K] before you decide to follow-up.
    • [3][K][P][P] (high, mid). The first [K][P] is a natural combo and is somewhat hit-confirmable, however, the final [P] is not, and is heavily punishable on guard. All the attacks can be delayed as well, and if the final [P] (an uppercut) lands a Counter Hit, then you can follow-up with a combo such as [2][P][+][K][K] which works against all characters.
    • [3][K][P][P][+][K][+][G] to enter Shippujin stance.
    [2][K][+][G]: A quick, reverse spin mid kick which knocks down on any hit. It's a great, general-purpose knockdown tool to have at the ready. It's also half circular and when performed close to a wall, produces a Wall Splat for great combo potential. On occasions where this move is guaranteed to hit, so is the above-mentioned [3][K][K], so here are a few things to consider to help decide which move to use, and when to use it:
    • Opponent might evade to your back side: Use [2][K][+][G] due to it's half circular property, since [3][K] is linear.
    • For guaranteed punishment against crouched opponents: In open space, use [3][K][K] for greater damage than [2][K][+][G]. If really close to a wall then [3][K] will produce a Wall Stagger.

    [4][6][P][+][K]: A lunging forward middle chop, with great range. Its follow-ups include:
    • [P] (mid) is a natural combo, requires almost no delay on Normal Hit, but hit-confirmable on Counter Hit. If the second [P] lands a Counter Hit, then you can follow-up with a combo such as [2][P][+][K][K].
    • [P][+][K][+][G] to enter Shippujin stance.

    Knee Class(top)

    [4][6][K]: a standing knee attack, that crumples only on Counter Hit. On Normal or Recovery Hit, it only gives a very small advantage. Being a linear attack makes it vulnerable to evades.

    1. Combos
    2. [4][6][K] CH > [2][P] > [6][6][P][+][K] > [K][P][K]
      All Characters except Taka
    3. [4][6][K] CH > [K][P][K]
      Against Taka


    Knowing how and when to take advantage of the circular properties of your attacks is very important in VF. To start out, the key moves to note are as follows:

    1. Circular Direction
    2. Half circular to the back
      [4][P] and [2][K][+][G]
    3. Half circular to the front
      [3][P] and [6][P][+][K]
    4. Full circular
      [6][6][K] and jumping [P]

    For example, if your opponent is near a wall or ring edge then they may have a tendency to want to evade away from the wall (or edge). Take note of which side of yours is away from the wall (back or front), and choose to use the appropriate half circular attack to catch their evade!


    [4][6][P][+][G]: aka The Ten Foot Toss, is Kage's best throw and up there among the best throws in the game. It's not a traditional throw in the sense that Kage must perform a combo afterwards to gain any kind of reward. However, in the right hands it can deal great damage, and carries far across the stage for good ring out potential. Some basic combos to get started:

    1. Combos
    2. [4][6][P][+][G] > [9][K][+][G] > [P] > [6][6][P][+][K] > [K][P][K]
      All Characters except Taka
    3. [4][6][P][+][G] > [3][3][6][K] > [P] > [K][+][G] > (small dash foward) [4][6][K][+][G][K]![K]
      All Characters except Taka
    4. [4][6][P][+][G] > [K][P][K]
      Against Taka

    The second combo is much harder to perform if you're just learning Kage, but is something you should aspire to be able to perform consistently!

    [6][3][2][1][4][P][+][G]: The Izuna Drop is Kage's next best throw, and to be used if your opponent is escaping your Ten Foot Toss consistently. If Kage's back is to an edge of an open ring, then it has the potential to Ring Out the opponent after the drop.

    Other useful moves(top)

    [3][P]: This is a slow executing mid punch that evades all high attacks. It launches on any hit, but in order to combo you must complete the canned [3][P][P] (mid, high) sequence. The first attack recovers in a crouch position, while the second [P] is somewhat delayable so try to get use hit-confirming before using it. Since it's a high attack, knowledgeable opponents will duck it and punish you during recovery.

    [9][K][+][G]: This is a slow executing jumping kick that evades all low attacks. It slams the opponent on any hit, making a follow-up combo possible against all characters.

    [K][+][G]: A slow executing mid kick with pretty good range, and knocks down any hit. A simple combo follow-up against all characters is [3][K][+][G]. This is another move that gives Kage a very small advantage (+1 frame) on Guard.

    [P][+][K]: A two-handed mid attack. This is a great move against Opponents that have deflecting type attacks (sabaki, reversals, etc). This move has great push back on hit and guard, so if this Counter Hits or Recovery Hits the Opponent into the wall, it will produce a Wall Stagger. Also, if you Counter Hit the Opponent's side then it produces a Side Crumple. If you learn to use this move creatively, it can lead into great combo opportunities.

    [4][K][+][G] (guard or hit) [P][+][G]: This is a slowly executing high kick attack that can be turned into a "hit-throw" on Guard or any hit. This is great for defeating a standing Opponent's guard. Time the [P][+][G] the moment the kick makes contact.

    [4][P][+][K][P]: This is a high, low hand strike that is somewhat delayable. On the surface it doesn't look particularly great, but there are two special properties that are worth noting. Firstly, the two strikes are half circular attacks in opposing directions which can be tricky for an opponent to successfully evade. Secondly, if this series is performed on the side a standing opponent whose guarding, then the second low hit cannot be guarded. The great thing about this is that if the opponent happens to be against a wall, then this low unguardable attack will produce a wall stagger, and presents a perfect opportunity to wall splat the opponent with an attack such as [2][K][+][G].

    [P][P][4][P]: This is a high, high mid string that recovers Back Turned. The thing to note about this series is that it's a Natural Combo on side hit, when ordinarily it isn't.


    Kage has two stances that have their individual strengths and weaknesses. In summary:
    • Jumonji Stance: primary strength lies in defensive qualities. The stance features an auto-punch reversal while standing neutral, a sabaki to deal with commonly used retaliatory attacks, and a hopping mid kick that avoids all low attacks.
    • Shippujin Stance: primary strength lies in offensive qualities. The stance features a low posture which can cause high attacks to completely miss, some long range attacks, knockdown options, and a punch string which can be used in mixups.
    While each stance can be entered into manually, a unique feature is that Kage's attack-based entries into either stance can occur from a common set of moves. For the opponent, this can be confusing to deal with if they're not aware of which stance you've immediately entered, adding to Kage's overall trickery. Refer to Kage's Command List for details on stance entry shown in the Notes column for applicable attacks.

    The following sections highlight the main points of each stance.

    Jumonji Stance(top)

    Auto Punch Reversal: When Kage is standing neutral in Jumonji stance, he will automatically reverse any single handed punch attack, high or mid level. For some characters that have powerful high or mid punch launchers (e.g. Lei, Shun), if used carefully this can greatly nullify their threat. On successful completion, and long animation, of the reversal a [3][K][K] is guaranteed.

    Jumonji [P][+][K]: This is a sabaki that works against high and mid punches, high and mid elbows, and high kicks. The sabaki is effective when used during disadvantage (e.g. [6][P] (hold [P]) is guarded). For opponent's who habitually respond with relatively safe attacks, like [P] or [6][P], once they have advantage, this Sabaki will expose them fast. On successful sabaki it causes a Stomach Crumple, after which you can combo with [2][P] > [6][6][P][+][K] > [K][P][K] against all characters except Taka. Refer to Kage's Combo List for more combos.

    Jumonji [K][+][G]: This is a mid kick that has an in-place jumping property, which means it can avoid all low attacks. For opponent's who like to respond with, say, [2][P] once you enter Jumonji stance, this will avoid their low punch and cause a Head Crumple, after which you can combo with [6][6][P][+][K] > [K][P][K] against all characters.

    Shippujin Stance(top)

    Shippujin [P]: From this stance, the [P] is his fastest attack and although it is high (and susceptible to lows) it can be used to start a basic mixup series between [P][P] (high, mid) and [P][K] (high, low). Here, the opponent is forced to choose between a standing or crouching guard if they wish to defend successfully.
    • Shippujin [P][P] is a mid punch and causes a crouching opponent to stagger, so you can either end the series there and apply more pressure, or finish with the final attack in Shippujin [P][P][P] which forces the opponent side turned, and vulnerable to yet more pressure.
    • Shippujin [P][K] is a low half-circular kick that will knockdown a standing opponent. However, if it is successfully evaded or guarded, it leaves Kage heavily disadvantaged, so don't get predictable!
    Just mixing these two options up when in Shippujin stance is an effective attacking strategy.

    Shippujin [6][P]: This is a long range, half circular, mid punch that causes a Stomach Crumple on any kind of hit, allowing for great combo opportunity afterward. While it has long range, it executes rather slowly, so you'll want to use this from a good distance away from the opponent when you have ample advantage. For example, after knocking down your opponent and entering this stance, if you can bait them into a rising kick then be ready to punish with this attack. On successful hit, you can combo with [2][P] > [6][6][P][+][K] > [K][P][K] against all characters except Taka.

    Shippujin [2][K][K]: This series comprises of two low, half-circular kicks. It's a natural combo should the first connect, and only the second kick knocks down. If your reactions are quick enough, you should always try to hit confirm the second kick -- that is, only complete the series if the first one hits. Otherwise, Kage is left extremely vulnerable. If you stop at the first kick, then Kage recovers Back Turned. This series is effective against opponents who fear the power mid attacks from Shippujin such as Shippujin [6][P] or [3][P]. Although the damage isn't great, it's a reasonably good knockdown tool.

    Basic Strategy(top)

    Kage is a character that can use trickery quite effectively, but overuse or predictability can be his downfall.

    Start off with basic quick attacks like [P], [2][P] and [6][P] where your aim is to have these hit successfully.
    • Upon successful hit, you're usually given more advantage to work with, and this is where VF's Nitaku (or two choice) game comes into play. Try immediately following with a throw, or launchers such as [3][3][P] (or [2_][3][P] if you're already crouched) or [4][6][K]. If the launchers Counter Hit, then you can follow up with a combo for some good damage.
    • If [2][P] is guarded, then you should take a defensive option like Guard (with throw escape) or evade.
    • If [P] is guarded, then you still retain a small advantage, so try to repeat the quick attack pattern again. For example [P] (guard) > [6][P] will Counter Hit an opponent trying to [2][P] in between.
    • If you attempted [6][P] into Jumonji and it is guarded, you still have a chance to defeat your opponent's response using either the [P][+][K] sabaki, or [K][+][G] hopping kick. Success depends on how well you read (or guess!) your opponent's next move.
    Try to effectively whiff punish any attacks your opponent misses, either because they're out of range, you've successfully ducked their high attack, or you've successfully evaded a slow attack. For whiff punishment, your best tools are [4][P][K] (for standing opponents) and [3][K][K] (for standing or crouching opponents) but you should always try to hit check before completing the next attack.

    Knowing your half circulars can be hugely rewarding if applied in the right place, at the right time. Particularly when you have your opponent's back to a wall or ring edge, be sure you know which attack you can use to prevent them from evading to safety.

    Be familiar with the unique properties of some of your moves, and how they might be used even during disadvantage to turn the tables! The [3][P] and [9][K][+][G] are two such moves.

    It's worth repeating, but try not to fall into habits when it comes to using your stances. This includes when you enter them, as well as the initial attacks or patterns you might end up using. The less you show an option to your opponent, the more difficult it will be for them to deal with.

    I hope this guide provides enough of a starting platform for players new to VF and/or new to learning Kage. This is just skimming the surface, but from here you can build up other strategies and techniques once you learn more about Kage's move set and abilities. Most importantly, try to have fun and feel free to be creative, just don't be foolish! :ninja: ;)

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