Trainer’s School: Aegislash Character Guide

The Royal Sword Pokémon is a force to be reckoned with

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This is part of a series of written guides on Pokkén Tournament Deluxe for Nintendo Switch. I’ve always loved this game and I’ve wanted to give back to the community and generate more interest in it. I’ll be creating more guides like this in the future and I hope this gets new players invested in the fighting game that taught me about fighting games. These character guides are meant as surface-level breakdowns of each of the playable Pokémon in the cast. If you would like to try out Pokkén Tournament Deluxe, and learn more information about the game, be sure to check out the community Discord! Access to the character-specific Discords will help you find any information that isn’t listed in this guide, and you can also ask the players there for specific advice.

The 21st character guide in Trainer’s School series will focus on the Royal Sword Pokémon, Aegislash. Aegislash is a Steel/Ghost-type Pokémon who made its debut in the sixth generation of RPGs and is well-known for its Stance Change Ability. In the RPGs, the signature Ability lets an Aegislash transform between Shield Forme and Blade Forme depending on whether it uses offensive or defensive moves. This mechanic carries over into its debut as Pokkén DX DLC, where Aegislash employs these different formes in order to shift between powerful, oppressive offense, and defensive options that make Aegislash hard to open up.

Aegislash: Overview

Playstyle: A true ‘stance change/mode change’ character. Aegislash will change between the offensive Blade Forme and the defensive Shield Forme using King’s Shield or various other moves.

Values: 510 Hit Points, 480 Shield Health, 200cc Synergy Gauge

Poké Moves: Fury Cutter (Duel 5A, Field n.A) and Fury Cutter: Enhanced (Duel 5A… and 5A…X, Field n.A… and n.A…X) Iron Head (Duel 6A/6[A], Field f.A/f.[A]) King’s Shield (Duel 4A, Field b.A) Gyro Ball (j.A.) In Shield Forme, Aegislash can use the following special moves: Shadow Sneak (Duel SF.5A/SF.5[A], Field SF.n.A/SF.n.[A]) Sacred Sword (Duel SF.4A, Field SF.b.A) Flash Cannon (Duel SF.6A, Field SF.f.A)

High Stance: Charges Synergy Gauge while restoring shield health.

Low Stance: Invincible against both high- and low-hitting moves.

Unique Features: Formes, Parry and enhanced states (Sharpness) will all be discussed in separate blurbs. Just-frames are crucial to Aegislash’s execution and combos, which we will discuss in the appropriate section. The following moves have just-frames based on perfectly timed button presses: 6Y:Y, 6:X and 6X:X (including the 6X cancels out of 5Y…,) and EX 5A:A:A or 5A:X. Field Phase Grab grants a 5.5s-long Speed buff.

Pause! Parry, Sharpness, and Stance Change

Parry

Aegislash has a unique defensive tool called Parry. We have described the CADC mechanic as a type of parry, lowercase P, as is the case with Scizor CAHC, but this is a specific tool in Aegislash’s kit. When pressing 6R, Aegislash will raise his shield, thrusting it forward. The forward input and the block button must be pressed at the same time- you cannot buffer forward with particular leniency. This shield thrust puts Aegislash in a counter armor state for 11 frames, and a successful Parry is performed whenever Aegislash counters any non-piercing, non-projectile attack. Landing a Parry will also increase your Synergy. The amount of hitstun you deal to your opponent on successful Parry will vary based on Phase and the strength of the hit. Parried light/weak normals take 12 frames of hitstun in Field, and 24 in Duel. Parried heavy/strong normals take 20 frames of hitstun in Field, and 16 in Duel. In Duel Phase, 4Y and 5X can also be cancelled into Parry as long as Aegislash isn’t Sharp.

Sharpness

Like certain characters, Aegislash will enter a unique enhanced state whenever he earns buffs. While there is no ingame term for these distinct states, the colloquial term for an enhanced Aegislash is Sharp or Sharpened Aegislash, whereas a default Aegislash is Dull Aegislash. A Sharp Aegislash’s blade will glow brightly. Aegislash’s self-buffs all last for varying durations, which we will denote later; nevertheless, Aegislash will remain Sharpened for the entirety of the buff. All moves deal chip damages while Sharpened, and some moves will have additional properties like greater damage, hit advantage, or frame data. The specifics may be seen on the frame data sheet. The following moves are enhanced while Aegislash is Sharp:

  • Field: f.Y, b.Y, j.X
  • Duel: 2Y, 4Y, 5Y…, 8Y, j.Y/j.YX, 2X, 4X, 5X, 6X… (including the variant canceled into after 5Y…,) 8X, j.X
  • Poké Moves: 5A, j.A

Stance Change

This is the meat of Aegislash’s gameplay. While several characters in this game have Stances, such as Decidueye’s Soaring Stance or Garchomp’s Running Stance, or universal mechanics such as High or Low Stance, Aegislash’s Stance Change mechanic is something else entirely. Indeed, Aegislash belongs to the stance change/mode change character archetype more so than any other character in Pokkén. (For the sake of clarity, I will use the phrase ‘mode change’ to refer to Aegislash and this archetype.) A mode change character, as the name suggests, switches between two completely different movesets or kits mid-round, oftentimes doing so mid-combo. This is different than an install character, who must land a certain move or spend a resource in order to enter a mode that enhances an existing kit, and can also be brought out of this install when certain conditions are met. Darkrai’s BDR, for instance, is an install and not a mode change, as Darkrai must confirm Dark Void, is still accessing the same (buffed) kit, and can be hit out of BDR under certain conditions. Mode change characters often overlap with the ‘iaido/iaijutsu’ archetype, which often reverse to samurai/swordsman characters with large normals whose animations tend to involve them quickly drawing and sheathing their blades. Aegislash also has homages to this specific mode change archetype- in fact, the blade he is drawing is himself!

Aegislash’s default mode is Blade Forme. (Blade Forme itself doesn’t have a specific notation when writing out combos or moves.) In this mode, Aegislash mainly uses moves that involve physical strikes with few exceptions, and has access to the full gamut of Pokkén’s systems, such as CADC, jumping, blocking, etc. Aegislash can manually transition from Blade Forme into Shield Forme using the King’s Shield command counter or a successful CA in both Phases. The following moves will also cause a mode change, either automatically or via a manual cancel. I will denote a manual Shield Forme cancel by appending R to the notation.

  • Field: n.YR, s.YR, Homing Attack 1
  • Duel: 2YX, 5YYY, 8Y, j.YX

Upon completing one of the above mode changes, Aegislash transitions into Shield Forme. (The notation for Shield Forme is abbreviated as SF.) Shield Forme has a completely different moveset, even changing his special moves. Shield Forme mainly emphasizes defensive tools and zoning, particularly on his changes light normals and special moves. Shield Forme Aegislash also functions differently in the system compared to Blade Forme and even other characters in the cast:

  • SF Aegislash has permanent counter armor. Triggering this counter armor with any non-piercing move will cause Aegislash to Parry automatically. This Auto-Parry switches Aegislash back into Blade Forme, is -12 on block, counter-pierces, and deals no damage.
  • On the other hand, SF Aegislash’s movement speed is drastically reduced, and he cannot block at all.
  • Calling a Support, activating/running out of Burst Mode, and jumping will shift back to Blade Forme. Furthermore, much like in Blade Forme, certain moves will automatically transition or manually cancel into Blade Forme.
  • SF Aegislash has a manual dash cancel (direction + R) that gives Aegislash an invincible ghost dash. This also automatically switches back into Blade Forme and can be used to cancel certain moves.
  • Changing back into Blade Forme gives Aegislash an Attack buff. Changing formes a total of eight times will also grant a Speed buff and enhance Sharpened Fury Cutter. The duration of the buffs (and thus, the duration of Aegislash’s Sharp state) differs based on how Aegislash exits SF.

The following is a list of moves that will automatically or manually transition back into Blade Forme, along with a list of their specific buff durations. Like before, I will denote manual cancels/dash cancels with R.

  • The buff gained from ghost dashing and Auto-Parrying lasts for 3 seconds. The buff gained from jumping lasts for 7 seconds.
  • Field: SF.n.YR, SF.s.YR/SF.s.[Y]R, SF.b.YR, SF.f.Y/SF.b.Y on Shift, and SF.Homing Attack 2. The buffs for all moves other than SF.Homing Attack 2 lasts for 7 seconds; the buff from SF.Homing Attack 2 lasts for 10.
  • Duel: SF.4YR, SF.5YR, SF.6YR, SF.5XR, SF.6X. The buff lasts for 7 seconds.
  • All Poké Moves in Shield Forme automatically end into Blade Forme. The buffs from Shadow Sneak and Sacred Sword last for 6.5 seconds, while the buff from Flash Cannon lasts for 4.5 seconds.

Everything comes together when an Aegislash player recognizes how to use Stance Changes effectively. Shield Forme increases your armor and your defensive versatility while also constantly providing you with buffs and setups into big damage. Aegislash’s moveset is also varied and populated, and being able to transition seamlessly between your zoning tools and aggressive options means you can access the entirety of your toolkit. This also gives Aegislash a wide variety of playstyles that are all effective. Mastery of the Stance Change system is key to improving with Aegislash.

Remember as always to consult the frame data sheet for specific moves and their properties. Especially make use of the frame data sheet to keep track of data for Sharpened moves.

Aegislash is indisputably one of the best characters in the game, and before Pokkén DX’s final patch, he was often considered the best character, period. With a tool for nearly every situation, powerful self-buffs, an abundance of armor, and a wonky hurtbox, Aegislash is an agile heavy-hitter with tankiness that belies his low health bar and weak block. Use your Blade Forme to get in and oppress your opponent with big hitboxes and punishes, and use your Shield Forme to increase your armor and harass from mid-to-far range. Aegislash may have one of the highest skill ceilings in the game, but this also makes him incredibly rewarding to play.

Field Phase

One of your first priorities in Field, either at the beginning of the game or after a Shift, is to earn Sharpness or begin setting up your zoning in SF. Your cancellable n.Y normal will throw out a projectile while covering your transition into SF. S.Y is a more aggressive option that can likewise cancel into SF- use this to sidestep opening gambits. N.Y and s.Y also have a lot of freedom in general and can basically be cancelled into any other normal or special. Furthermore, both b.Y and j.Y can be cancelled into other aerials, increasing your options out of those moves. The f.Y projectile is probably one of your most useful moves while in Blade Forme, especially while Sharp, since the projectile travels fast, is very safe, and is massive. Likewise, your j.X sword-plant becomes much better when Sharp due to dealing more hits and covering a larger part of the ground around you, making it harder to punish despite being -16. Use your normals, moves like Iron Head, and system options to close in on your opponent

In SF, Aegislash trades his mobility for beam and bullet spam. Many of these moves, like SF.n.Y, SF.b.Y, and SF.f.Y, have additional counter armor on top of the innate armor that exists during SF. SF.n.Y and SF.f.Y both fire bullets that travel in a straight line, while SF.s.Y fires a long-range beam with an odd angle and a lingering hitbox that stuns. SF.s.Y can also be charged to split the beam, allowing it to cover more space, and the stun will let you confirm almost immediately into Flash Cannon. SF.b.Y is a similar beam that fires at an anti-air angle, useful for stuffing predictable aerial approaches. Use SF to harass your opponent at range, then switch back to Blade Forme and get in on them after earning Sharpness. You can also lay a valuable trap with Sacred Sword- the mist left behind will remain for 10 seconds and lingers during Shifts. The mist will detonate the next time Aegislash enters SF, launching the opponent on hit- this makes Sacred Sword Mist a valuable okizeme and mid-combo tool, even when you’re transitioning between Phases. (These properties also work in Duel Phase!)

Duel Phase

Aegislash plays substantially more aggressively in Duel, even when in SF. You have plenty of valuable moves up close, with decent frame data all around, that can lead into continued pressure strings or combos. 2Y, executed out of your Low Stance, is likewise invincible against highs and lows while also being i11 and only -8, making it a very good poke that you can confirm into a 2YX launcher, which will then put you into SF. 4Y is also an i11 throw crush that can be Parry cancelled when Dull- this is because, at -16 when Dull, you need to rely on Parry to make this move safe. Your main combo starter string will be 5Y…, which can be cancelled into the 6X series (the input for this is just 5YX…/5YYX…) When 6X is used in this way, it also gains slightly better frame data, especially when Sharp, making it much better as a combo and pressure tool. 8X is a powerful mid-hitting shield-slam that, while slow at i27, is relatively safe even when Dull at only -4, avoids lows, and crumples, letting you get setups or simply more breathing room. 2X is also a safe, quick low that, when Sharp, leaves behind a lingering projectile that makes it a valuable okizeme tool. Sharp 4X is another useful projectile, firing a counter-piercing arc in exchange for shaving one second off your current buff. J.Y and j.YX are also very safe aerial moves that can give you a free SF transition, or you can use j.YY if your opponent is traveling further overhead.

You only have a handful of moves while in Duel SF, and much like in Field Phase, your light normals consist of projectiles for zoning or punishes. SF.4Y and SF.5Y are both lingering beam-like projectiles, but unlike the SF.s.Y in Field, these moves won’t stun. Instead, the anti-air SF.4Y beam will launch an aerial opponent, while SF.5Y can be cancelled into special moves if necessary. SF.6Y is more or less the same projectile as SF.n.Y. All of these light normals have additional counter armor as well, making them difficult to contest. SF.5X and SF.6X are both physical strikes used for different mid-to-close range punishes. SF.5X will throw-tech, avoids highs, is special cancellable, and is -8 if you remain in SF, making it a great punish for people who attempt to throw you out of your SF counter armor. SF.6X is much slower, being a whopping i44, but is +4 on block and will earn you a launcher, making it better when used at a distance to punish approaches.

Synergy Burst

Aegislash’s Burst Mode isn’t particularly special, but he will earn meter quickly despite having a 200cc meter due to how frequently he can win Attack Triangle situations or earn it from bonuses. The single enhancement that Aegislash gains while in Burst is still very crucial, however:

  • Aegislash is always Sharp while in Burst.

Burst Mode Aegislash is useful for players who have difficulty earning bonus damage or Sharp state, especially if they find themselves unable to access seamless SF mode changes. Being able to take advantage of powerful Sharpened moves and combo starters for the entire 12 second duration of Burst overall lessens the demand on Aegislash to earn SF and then transition back, meaning that you can overall play more aggressively. This makes Burst Mode a useful tool in a pinch. Aegislash’s Burst Attack, Underworld Ruler, has different properties depending on the forme you are in. In Blade Forme, Aegislash is invincible on frame 5, and summons an i11 counter-piercing whirlwind of swords. In Shield Forme, Aegislash instead fires off an i23 counter-piercing laser beam that is invincible on frame 9. Both moves are -4. The Attack buff granted by Blade Forme Underworld Ruler lasts for 7 seconds, while the buff granted by SF Underworld Ruler lasts for 10. As is the case with both modes, the versatility of each variant depends on the range and goal of your mode. Use Blade Forme Underworld Ruler at a close-to-mid range, perhaps after hit-confirming into it; use the Shield Forme variant to punish CADC approaches or keep your opponent out.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Aegislash is a very powerful and versatile character who can be hard to hit or punish due to a combination of fast moves, weird hit- and hurtboxes, and massive amounts of command counter armor. This same versatility also allows Aegislash to perform well at any part of the screen, so long as he has the opportunity to set up SF and Sharpened states. This means that Aegislash has a higher skill floor than most characters, even before we discuss things such as just frame optimization for combos. Players who are already skilled or understand the character better will be able to find knockdowns, transition between forms, and earn their buffs more effectively than someone who is just picking the character up for the first time. If Aegislash suddenly finds himself overwhelmed and unable to access SF, either out of King’s Shield or other moves, then he’ll basically be unable to access half of his kit. This shouldn’t discourage players from picking him up, however: Top tiers have more fun because their variety of tools make them the most expressive characters in the cast. Practice makes perfect! Get the hang of when to use Stance Change in order to get the most out of your character.

Support and Cheer Pairings

You can basically pick almost whoever you want for your Support Set, but Supports that provide significant buffs are often favored since they’ll provide Sharp state. Some easy and good examples of such Sets are Supports like Mew, Victini, Eevee, Togekiss, and Jirachi- narrowing your choice down may be due to specific preference. Supports like Eevee and Togekiss, for instance, may be more reliable than something like Mew, but Mew, Victini, and Jirachi can all provide you with buffs that Aegislash cannot innately earn, namely Critical Hit and Synergy buffs. If you want more offensive pressure that can lock your opponent down, Sets like Cubone-Diglett and Mimikyu-Mega Rayquaza can be very helpful as well. Since you do have a large Synergy Gauge, Standard and Special are more useful in order to guarantee a healthy meter gain.

Target Combos

These are some easy combos that you can get started with right away- they are bread-and-butter combos, not necessarily the most difficult or the most optimal. If you want to learn more about what your character has to offer, I suggest exploring the longer combo guides found in the Pokkén character Discords, as they will often be the most up-to-date with the current version of the game. The sample combos in the tutorial mode are also very good at helping you figure out your character’s combo theory.

Getting the just frames in your combos reduces the total PSP count, meaning your combo will be longer.

As mentioned repeatedly, and as the below clip demonstrates, your combos will differ in length depending on Sharpness and whether you land the just frames within the combo. To get new Aegislash players on solid footing, I will provide a handful of midscreen combos that will work even if you miss some or all of the just frames, although the additional PSP may mean the combo will end early.

5YXX 6XX 4Y 5A

5YYY 5A 5Y 6A

5X (first hit only) 6XX 6XX 4Y

The first combo (the combo demonstrated in the beginning of the clip) will also work if you’re Sharpened and you miss the just frames. This version of the combo relies on the full version of Fury Cutter, so it looks something like this:

5Y:X:X 6:X:X 4Y 5A:A:A

Conclusion

Aegislash is an indisputable top-tier Pokkén DX character. The Royal Sword Pokémon uses his unique mode change mechanic to switch between the offensive Blade Forme and defensive Shield Forme. Aegislash must earn the opportunity to switch to SF, and then back again, in order to earn buffs that will increase the potency of the default Blade Forme. Aegislash has additional defensive options beyond SF that require time to master, such as his Parry move, that make up for his overall squishy nature and weak block. Clever use of zoning tools, particularly in SF, will allow Aegislash to dominate Field Phase. He can then carry earned buffs into Duel Phase to punish his opponent with high-damage combos off incredibly safe normals. Burst Mode provides access to a permanently Sharpened state, and grants him a Burst Attack that changes its utility depending on what forme Aegislash is currently in. Being one of the best characters in the game also comes with a steep learning curve, and prospective players must master just frames and each unique character mechanic in order to perform well with Aegislash.

We’ve only got two more of these left! We’ll be wrapping up this series before Christmas. Thanks to everyone who’s supported Trainer’s School thus far. The next guide in the series will be all about Gengar, the Shadow Pokémon!

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Nathan “Lite the Iron Man” Dhami can be found on Twitter (@LiteTheIronMan,) on Twitch (twitch.tv/litetheironman,) and at your local.

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