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An Average-Player Shulk Guide

Game Versions
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U

Hello! Many of you might recognize me as a person who has done a Roy guide and two Little Mac guides before, and I’m taking some time off my current guide to make a sort of TL;DR Shulk guide for those interested in quickly reading through what Shulk can do. It’s not meant to be taken as seriously as my other guides as this was merely something I did to prove a point to someone, and I challenged myself to do it within an hour (I will tidy it up after they see this), and I’m quite happy to do this despite not often using Shulk myself, although I know my fundamentals. Almost certain on that, although I’m not really feeling myself.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Shulk’s Advantages and Disadvantages

Obviously, being a character in a Super Smash Bros game, Shulk has his own advantages and disadvantages, which each in themselves aren’t that hard to understand the differences of. And, I feel like sharing just what he has.

+ Extremely wide and diverse playstyle due to the Monado Arts completely changing the type of character Shulk can be

+ No Shulk plays the same due to preference on Monado arts, making understanding how the character works to counterplay is next to impossible if it is a high level Shulk

+ Long and powerful disjoint keeps opponents out and you in

+ Each Art adds advantages to help out specific parts of Shulk’s gameplan that he can needed assistance with as a base character

+ Every single Custom Move is viable on Shulk. Somehow. They did Customs right for ONE character, people.

+ Hyper and Decisive Monado Arts change up the Arts even further, making it harder to deal with him

- Poor framedata prevents Shulk from truly being able to deal with rushdown characters

- Decent at best matchup spread keeps him from excelling anywhere in the metagame

- When a Monado is canceled or ends, it has a cooldown of 11 seconds, in which Shulk is down one of his main assets

- Problems getting past shielding opponents due to a mediocre grab game with only powerful throws and average range.

- Pressuring Shulk can force them off the Monado they want to be in a situation, which is very advantageous for opponents

- Very high skill cap and can be intimidating for new players to learn and understand due to this

Shulk’s Primary Attacks

Shulk, despite being such a diverse and potent character that he is, happens to have a bunch of attacks that either are extremely situational, useless, or just have one specific flaw that makes them impossible to integrate or use effectively when fighting normal opponents. For those unfamiliar with Shulk’s moveset, I will cover the main attacks he has.

For Grounded attacks, Shulk’s Jab is one of his fastest attacks, coming out at Frame 5. While not a fast move at all, especially compared to other character’s grabs such as Zero Suit Samus, Sheik, and Mario, it is great for catching approaches and getting opponents off your back. Since it is so fast compared to his other attacks, it may be your anti-aggression move, and it has decent range to assist in this, especially the final hit which uses the Monado itself. With Buster on, the attack does quite a bit of damage, and with Smash it becomes more reliable for shoving opponents away, but when equipping the other three Arts you often won’t be using it, as with Jump and Speed you will rely more on Aerials or Grabs and with Shield you often won’t be hitting opponents at all.

Shulk’s Down Tilt, although not fast at all at frame 10, is quite useful for popping opponents away from you and due to its low endlag, of only 19 frames after the final frame of the hitbox (which is very fast for a Shulk attack.) Coming out Frame 10, at low percents you can string together Neutral Airs into Down Tilts with the Speed art or if you delay your Neutral Air until you start falling with a Buster Art or no Art equipped.

Forward Smash is often spammed by For Glory players and can be well known as an easy-to-punish move that is laggy and not that useful. However, it is your prime killing tool barring your Up Smash, which is nearly identical to this Smash outside of launching upwards and having a vertical hitbox. It is rather slow, with Forward Smash coming out Frame 14 (and Up Smash at frame 18), and having two hits; a locking hit which does light damage and then the launching hit, which carries all of the damage and knockback.

In terms of Aerials, Shulk has three very good ones: Neutral Air, Forward Air, and Back Air. The first two are decently similar, so I’ll cover them both here. Both of them are your main neutral game tools (if you can even say that), with long range, decent damage, and with the former being your least laggy aerial upon landing and the latter able to link into itself at moderate percents. Their attributes make them perfect to utilize with the Monado arts, and all of them have some sort of trait that they like; Jump gives all of his Aerials more utility with the very fast movement, Speed and Shield reduce Shulk’s Jumping height to make his Aerials land faster, Buster increases their damage to very high amounts and makes them able to combo easier, and Smash increases their launching ability and turning Forward Air into a KO tool.

Back Air is pretty special. It has immense range, comparable to that of his Forward Smash, and with the initial frames of the attack ONLY has a strong hit. It is a massive disjoint that covers more range than should be physically necessary, and has strong damage and knockback capable of KOing rather early and a good keep-off-me tool. With the Monados equipped, it becomes even more dangerous, with basically the same benefits as Neutral and Forward Air but even better since Back Air already is very good. The attack’s only downside is its landing lag… And even that is able to be fixed by a MALLC (which will be explained later.)

Down Throw is his only really worthwhile throw you should invest any time into understanding, which is a killing option when under the Smash Art. Dealing 7% (less with Smash Art on) and at the ledge, it can kill around 90% if opponents DI poorly or even earlier against lighter characters such as Sheik or Rosalina. Forward Throw just throws opponents forwards with 11% and no true follow-ups afterwards, but can lead into a Dash Attack if opponents don’t react fast enough. Back Air gets opponents offstage, does 13%, and forces opponents to be facing opposite of you, which can lead into a Back Slash or can be followed-up in Buster art at even moderate to high percents. Up Throw deals 7% and can lead into aerial follow-ups if opponents don’t react, but are often impossible to connect due to Shulk’s slow attacks. His pummel is also rather horrible, dealing 3% but is extremely slow. You can get off one or two at high percents before throwing, but otherwise avoid pummeling at all costs. They will escape before you can throw them.

His three worthwhile specials, Monado Arts, Air Slash, and Vision, are important to his gameplan as well. Monados deserve their own little section, and that’s below. Air Slash is your recovery move and is a bit laggy and predictable, and is very punishable. However, it’s decently fast at Frame 10, and the second hit can pop over the ledge to nail opponents trying to edgeguard you. It also can be used OoS against laggy attacks, but often is terrible in that regard. Vision is your standard Counter, and is one of the more powerful Counters out there. It has two variants: There is the standard Counter, which is slow and launches forwards. Then there is the Forwards Vision, only able to be done by holding forwards when Counter activates and being on the ground when doing so. If properly preformed, Shulk will dash forwards a quarter of a second faster than normal, launch opponents behind him, and do much more knockback. It is a counter, so it is very predictable and laggy, but is a very good option if forced into using it.

…Back Slash also can be used, although it is EXTREMELY situational, doesn’t have enough reward unless hitting with Buster or Smash equipped on the backside and with the hilt of the Monado, and only is good when hitting their backside, which isn’t a common occurance in a game filled with aggressive characters. Avoid at all costs unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Other attacks can be used, don’t get me wrong – however, these are, at least in my opinion, Shulk’s best moves overall and are ones you should be often using. Up and Forward Tilts can be used for spacing and KOing with Smash Art at a high percent, but are a bit laggy and overall not enough reward for getting them compared to other attacks. Up Air and Down Air are useful, but don’t have too large of a hitbox and Up Air is a bit of a slow killing option and Down Air is a meteor smash.

Jump Monado

Jump Monado insanely increases Shulk’s Jumping height, making him have the highest jumps in the game. It increases his horizontal and vertical movement speed when airborne, also making him the fastest character in the air, as well as increasing his Fall Speed. Shulk’s Air Slash also gains an increase in vertical distance covered, improving his recovery even further. In return for this, Shulk takes quite a bit more damage and knockback than normal.

Jump is best used for either stalling your opponents or for comboing them in the air. Jump gives so much mobility that it’s basically a Sonic that is forced into jumping while on twenty blocks of pure caffeine and being on steroids, making him impossible to catch. He can throw out aerial attacks upon landing, especially Neutral Air, in order to space out opponents and prevent them from approaching you. If opponents attempt to chase you, just use Up or Back Air to whack them a bit when doing so.

You can also use Forward Air and do the technique I call Fairplaning where you just use Forward Air followed by a double jump Forward Air to carry opponents to the blast zone near kill percents. At the end of this, you can use Air Slash to score the kill if you are willing to lose a stock, have a stock lead, or just feel like being ballsy and stylish. While this isn’t for everyone, it IS an option.

Jump Monado also can be used for recovering, due to increasing his movement speed and jump height in the air. It makes Air Slash safer and easier to get to the ledge with due to an increased height of the attack, and increases its range as well (Don’t quote me on this; uncertain if true but appears and feels to be so.

Speed Monado

Speed Monado greatly increases Shulk’s horizontal movement, both grounded and in the air to extreme proportions. This gives Shulk the longest Perfect Pivot in the entire game and the second fastest Dashing Speed (as Sonic is STILL faster.) In the process his damage is reduced and his jumps are shortened, making recoveries much harder than normal.

This Monado is best used in the neutral at low percents as a safer alternative to Buster for racking up damage early. With the reduced jump height, you can throw out Neutral Airs extremely quickly and land fast, making them rather safe. You can do Tomahawks (Jumping without doing an attack) much better than before due to a reduced jump height, and your Dash Grab is significantly better due to this. The best benefit for the neutral, however, is the fact you can Pivot into anything MUCH farther than normal – which becomes insane once mastered.

Shield Monado

Shield Monado gives Shulk the ability to take 66% less damage from all attacks, a further reduction in knockback even after that damage reduction, but lowers his aerial and grounded movement speeds as well as his jump height. Another ability it has it improving Shulk’s actual shield, giving it more longevity and letting it be held longer than standard with less drain.

Shield Shulk’s sole purpose is damage soaking at late percents to let you survive attacks for much longer than you ever could before. With it on, unstaled uncharged Forward Smashes won’t do much even at 100%, and to use an example Little Mac’s KO Punch fails to kill even around 50% on Omega Boxing Ring, while every other character dies from 28% to even 11%. With its shield buff, you can just sit in shield if necessary and take hits until you hit a high enough percent that you have full rage or Shield wears off, after which you can go to Jump or Smash to launch opponents quickly. You do get comboed MUCH harder with it on, and can’t recover at all with Shield Art equipped, so don’t just use it thinking you are invincible. As you are not.

Buster Monado

Buster simplified gives you increased damage output at the cost of reduced knockback and taking more damage yourself. It is your highest risk, highest reward Art that won’t see much use at high play due to the risk. It allows you to rack up damage easily around a mid percent range as your hitstun will be extremely high while retaining low knockback, and giving you followups you never would have before such as Back Throw Back Slash, Neutral Air Down Tilt strings, and some ridiculous Up Tilt shenanigans. The fact you take more damage means you are easier to KO, however, so don’t use it against opponents you know will punish you for any mistake. If your opponent is at a high percent in the middle of you having Buster equipped, don't just sit there and lollygag around! Turn it off and change to another Art!

Smash Monado

Smash Monado, to put it simply, increases the damage of your attacks but causes you to take more knockback yourself and for you to deal less damage – the reverse of Buster. Its sole, explicit use is for KOing opponents – It turns all of his attacks into killing moves, but makes their damage output pitiful, making it awful to use at low percents. However, with Smash Monado equipped, Shulk’s Up Smash becomes one of the strongest in the game, his Down Smash is even scarier than standard, all aerials and tilts can kill, and Down Throw becomes one of the strongest KOing throws in the entire game. It's high-risk high-reward, like Buster, and shouldn't just be used because your opponent is at high percent - use other arts to prevent yourself from eating punishes and being unable to cancel Smash.

Monado Art Landing Lag Cancel (MALLC)

By inputting a Monado Art and preforming an aerial, and right as soon as you land the Monado activates, your landing lag will be cut and instead you will only have lag from the Monado Art activating. This technique, the Monado Art Landing Lag Cancel, or MALLC for short, is extremely useful considering the lag on Shulk’s aerial attacks upon landing. It means you can remain aggressive while changing arts or using an aerial, to cancel your lag into a Grab, or do some very silly things with this.

The best thing you can do, once you learn how to do the MALLC, is cancel the landing lag of your Back Air. With very long range and being EXTREMELY potent at dealing damage and KOing opponents, its only flaw is its poor lag upon landing, while not extremely bad is 19 frames – enough for any competent opponent to grab punish you if you miss the attack. When MALLCing, you instead have only 6 frames of lag if you do it perfectly, while most normal humans will have around 9-10 frames of lag instead as we are inconsistent. While these 9 to 10 frames that you get back don’t sound important, imagine fighting a character who can just barely punish you for that Back Air normally with a grab. Now that you have that little frame advantage from a moment ago, you can Jab immediately after your lag ends, hitting your opponent and thus forcing them off you. Sounds nice, huh?

Monado Art Invincibility

Monado Arts, right after being activated, have 14 frames of intangibility where Shulk is intangible, or when his hitbox cannot be touched, thus making opponents not lag when whiffing an attack next to you. Each Monado Art has this very same counter, and activating an art has 6 frames of Lag. As such, you have 8 frames to do ANY action you want while having intangibility before doing so; for example, if you do a MALLC with a whiffed Back Air by attacking behind when they are in front of you, you can use your intangibility to take a Forward Smash for free and then use one of your own, if your timing is good.

While this in itself isn’t actually a ‘technique’, it is more of a little tidbit of information that might benefit you later on.

Thank you for reading my (hurriedly made, almost) guide on Shulk’s fundamentals! I know this is not the best of guides, and I will most likely improve on it in a little while adding information to it, but this initial copy will have been made in exactly an hour and I feel accomplished with it. Thanks, once again!

-Zoramine Fae
Zoramine Fae
First release
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3.00 star(s) 3 ratings

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Pretty good. Just a couple things I would change. Jump Art does not increase knockback taken, just damage taken. Shulk's other throws do have their uses, especially back throw. In Smash, it's a more powerful kill throw than down throw, and it Buster it deals a hefty 18% by itself. Up tilt may just be the best anti-air in the game with it's massive vertical range and lingering hitbox. Down air is great for catching recoveries hugging the wall of the stage (Cloud, Falco, Shulk). Heck, even Shulk's dash attack is useful in some situations in Shield, Smash, and Buster.
But nonetheless, solid guide.
Zoramine Fae
Zoramine Fae
I made it in a hurry, with a challange set onto me, and yeah it can use some improvements and I will add some, I just have higher priorities with my current guide (which has taken about 50x longer than this one by comparison so far, and much more testing)

Taking Damage effectively changes the knockback you take and thus increases the knockback taken, as damage is directly a part of the knockback formula. I personally haven't found a use for many of the throws and they all are a bit slow, and Back Throw does have SOME uses but it's not my favorite. Didn't realize that it was stronger than Down Throw. Up Tilt is a nice anti-air but its not safe, which is my problem even though I absolutely love it. Last 2... Eh, they are more situational.

You give good pointers for a short amount of time put into making the guide. So as your guide's title suggests, I give it an average score no pun intended.

Thanks for Writing~
Zoramine Fae
Zoramine Fae
No problem. I honestly wasn't even considering putting it up since it merely was a sort of challenge I had for myself, but I completed it regardless. I put more effort into normal guides, but I just wasn't in the mood this time.
It's pretty ok for someone who did it in a hour and doesn't play the character.
Gives the basic stuff for a beginner before they do the advance stuff.
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