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[Character Guide] On Speed: A New Player's Guide to Understanding Setsuki

This guide was written by ARMed_PIrate

Setsuki: Half-Naked Ninja

Why a fighter would choose to enter battle with half of her vital organs almost completely exposed is beyond me but it doesn’t matter because Setsuki is quick and likes to hit her opponent with a never-ending barrage of medium-weak attacks drawn out into extended combos and she’s not afraid to repeat herself or throw her opponent or throw things at her opponent and sometimes she’s where you thought she was and and sometimes she’s somewhere else and YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA!!!


Setsuki is the quintessential fast-attacker. Think Chun-Li, Ibuki, Chipp, etc. Able to refill an empty hand, and possessing some of the fastest attacks and throws in the game, Setsuki benefits strongly from aggression.

Let’s take a look at what she’s got, starting with her character card:

First, note that Setsuki has 6 combo points. Only a few other characters (Valerie, Gwen, and TD Geiger) can compare when it comes to stringing together elaborate combos.

Now, take a look at Speed of the Fox (SotF).

Setsuki’s innate ability lets her draw 5 cards (instead of 1) at the start of any turn in which she has 1 card or no cards in hand. This is the key to Setsuki’s gameplay: she can unload her entire hand without fear of over-extending. When Val dumps her hand into a combo, if she doesn’t kill, she’s left with a hand full of Aces at best. If Geiger doesn’t kill after a big TD combo, he’s in an even worse boat. But for Setsuki, 0 cards is as good as 5, and 1 is as good as 6.

Also note that on any turn when SotF is activated, Setsuki can pretend to be DeGrey, following up a successful dodge with a full combo. In most cases, this won’t matter, because Setsuki’s attacks will win most of the combats her dodges would win. But if you think the opponent might dodge or attack (and they have a scary dodge follow-up of their own), then this becomes the safest option, with almost equal damage potential to a combat-revealed attack.

This is also important in those situations when the opponent has attacks as fast as your own: Geiger, Grave, Gwen, Menelker, and Zane all have 0.0-speed attacks that tie with your Q in their favor–and most others will have at least one attack that ties or beats your J–so if you think they’re going to try beating you at your own game, the SotF dodge becomes a good option.
Overall, though, expect to use SotF dodge less than you would like.

Next we’ll examine Setsuki’s face cards, which are her bread and butter:

This is Setsuki’s fastest attack at 0.0 speed. When Setsuki wants to start a combo by attacking, she wants to start with this. It does only 1 damage, and 0 block damage, so it’s pretty awful to ram this into a block or to have the combo undone with a Rewind Time Joker (though funny against Rook’s Stone Wall!). But honestly, the speed advantage more than makes up for this, and (as we’ll see), Sets can often fetch these back later.

Through judicious use of J and K Linkers, Sets should be able to empty her hand (and thus refill it) on any combo that starts with Q. If she has any stray Aces, throws, or extra Q’s that can’t go into the combo, or 2s and 3s that don’t do much damage, she can put two of them towards pumping the Q itself. This makes the Q’s actual damage value 5 or, more frequently, 9.

This simple 1-cp Linker is Setsuki’s second-fastest combo starter, so if you’re all out of Q’s (which will happen–sometimes you just won’t draw into them), lead with this. Alternately, 5 damage on one card is pretty good for her, so fill her combos with these when you have 'em.

When you start a combo with Q or a throw, you want to finish it with this. (If you start with J, following up with two of these is even nicer.) The Starlight Kick attack side is Setsuki’s other pump card, and thus her other method of converting stray throws and Aces into extra damage and an empty (read: full) hand.

Alternatively, if you don’t have any annyoying Starters or Can’t Combos to ditch, the throw side (Starlight Tumbler) is often her best Ender, because it Knocks Down. When the opponent is KD’d, they can’t dodge, which lets Sets safely be even more aggressive. This throw is also extremely important when securing KD or throw against opponents who really hate it, including Arg, Midori, Rook, Gloria, and DeGrey.

From here we will jump to the bow on the neat little package that is Setsuki: her 7*. If Setsuki is addicted to speed, this is how she gets her fix.

When the 7 is the last card in hand, Setsuki’s 7 ability, Bag of Tricks (BoT), triggers, allowing her to stack the top of her deck with up to three cards from her discard pile. SotF will then activate, drawing all of those cards, plus some others.

In general, you want to make sure you fetch one of each option (attack, throw, defense), though defense is the least important. More specifically, you want at least one face card and a throw. Even more specifically, you want a Q and K (or a J if there are no Qs in discard), which maximizes your speed and pump options while guaranteeing you the throw option as a mix-up. Ideally, you also want to grab another 7 from your discard so that you can do it all again next turn. For this reason, getting one 7 into discard and then triggering her 7 ability is extremely crucial to Setsuki’s gameplan, allowing her to dominate multiple turns in a row. It’s usually referred to as “the 7 loop” or “the QK7 loop.”

Adding Q7Normal keeps all options open for remaining unpredictable. (Thanks @Morn). Adding only two cards (Q7 or QK) can increase your possibility of drawing into a Joker when that is crucial. (Thanks @EricF).

Note that Setsuki’s 7 is also her fastest throw. At 7.2 speed, this beats most other non-grappler throws in the game, losing only to the rare 5 or 6 throw (Zane, Lum), and tying with Val’s and Onimaru’s 7s. In some match-ups, the opponent’s 7-ability will be (like yours) extremely valuable, and you can get away with beating their 8s with your 8s. But in others, your 7 throw becomes crucial, and is one more reason to want to fetch back 7s with BoT.

You must be willing to play the 7 as a throw when the situation calls for it (especially if you have two 7s in hand). Knowing when to use the 7 throw and when to save it for BoT is one of the things that separates good Sets players from decent ones.

In most character guides we might have mentioned Supers by now, so let’s get Setsuki’s Ace out of the way, which is often what you will want to do with them.

Setsuki’s Ace has two sides. Shuriken Hail is an extremely safe, fairly fast (1.0-speed) Can’t Combo move. It can do a max of 36 damage with four Aces. While this is occasionally used as a safe-ish 9-dmg poke when you don’t have a Q in hand, its limited damage and (more importantly) limited ability to empty your hand means it doesn’t see play as often as other supers.

The other side of her Ace, Surprise Gift, is still fairly fast (at 1.2 speed) and can be played in most of the same situations when the A could be played, but it is most useful as Setsuki’s most damaging Ender.
Play it instead of a K (or after a K) when you have a medium-small hand, or no good pumpers to empty your hand, or when it would be lethal.

If it’s not lethal, however, and if you can get down to 1 card by playing, for example, Q++K++ (6 cards), but not with Q++AA (5 cards), then just use an Ace as a pumper for the K; if you’ve got a 7 in hand, use both Aces as pumpers.

Many Sets players will repeatedly power up a hand full of Aces until it is a single Ace, because SotF will bring a greater diversity of options. Likewise, it is rare for Sets to power up at all unless doing so gets her down to 1 card, or to an AA combo that will get her down to 1 card or would be lethal. (Thanks @Sotek)

Before we go any further, we should cover Setsuki’s final ability, located on her 10*.

The Smoke Bomb (SB) ability lets her counter any ability, as long as it’s not a Super, an innate, or a Joker. It costs the 10 itself and two additional cards, which may seem pretty steep, but keep in mind that this can often get you down to SotF range. Sometimes you may even want to counter an ability that’s not particularly threatening, just for this reason.

In some match-ups, your opponent’s abilities just won’t matter that much, but in others this card is absolutely vital. It can be a huge coup to prevent Menelker from using Into Oblivion, Val from using Burst of Speed, Lum from using Poker Flourish, or Midori from going into Dragon Form. In such match-ups, you may sometimes want 10 to be the throw you fetch back with 7, or the card you hang onto when triggering SotF.

The 10 throw is Setsuki’s worst throw and should almost never be used as such. Appropriate times to use it are when: 1) you have a hard read that the opponent will defend and there are no other throws in your hand, and/or 2) you are feeling like a cocky little schoolgirl who wants to taunt. In match-ups where the opponent’s abilities don’t matter, the dodge side of this card may see some use.

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk dodges.

As we’ve already noted, dodges let Sets hit back with a full combo during SotF (and use an extra card, putting her that much closer to another SotF). But keep in mind that even without SotF, dodging is a decent way to get cards out of your hand. If you have 5 cards in hand, a successful dodge->K++ or dodge->Q++ will trigger SotF.

More importantly, if you have 3 cards in hand, dodging will often activate SotF no matter what your opponent does: if you win, dodge->attack or dodge->throw leaves you with 1 card; if you lose combat, dodge->bluff Joker will still get you down to 1 card. Sets has dodges on her 2-5 cards, in addition to her 10s, for 20 dodges in all.

As noted above, bluff Jokers help Sets get down to SotF range, so you rarely have anything to lose by bluffing frequently. Setsuki tends to bluff with her worst cards way more often than any other character.
Bluffing when the opponent throws you is very good, because it’s generally safer for them to stop and KD you than to extend the combo and risk losing it. On a non-throw, they’re more likely to ignore the bluff, but don’t let this stop you from doing so, especially if it would trigger SotF.

At a fragile 70 hitpoints, Setsuki has a real need for actual Jokers, too. With the relative weakness of her Aces and the speed of her recyclable queens, Setsuki has absolutely no reason to Gold Burst. Rewind Time is far more valuable for preventing the opponent’s dodge->Super or for turning their massive combo into an over-extended poke.

Because Setsuki bluffs actively, the opponent will likely ignore the face-down, so when you do play Jokers, they usually will prevent damage. The downside here is that preventing damage will draw you 2 cards, which can put you at the very awkward 2 cards or 3 cards if the Joker was one of the last cards in hand. For that reason, it is better to Rewind Time when you have a medium-sized hand, though you will rarely be given that choice.

Having 2 cards in hand is just as bad for Setsuki as it is for every other character. In many cases, it’s worse. And Sets will occasionally run into three extremely awkward 2-card Hands: 7-Joker, 10-Joker, and 7-10.

7-Joker: Because Setsuki values both her 7s and her Jokers so highly, if she is doing well (not having to use her Jokers), she may sometimes find herself in the very awkward position of having two cards in hand, neither of which she wants to lose. It’s time to follow Elsa’s advice and Let It Go.

In this case you might consider blocking with Setsuki’s 7: it seems risky, but if you win you’ll have 4 cards next turn (2 or 3 playable), and if you lose you can go ahead and use that Joker that was making the hand so awkward in the first place.

Alternatively, you can throw with the 7, because, if you recall, 7 is a really good throw. It may seem sad to say goodbye to her Bag of Tricks, but remember that SotF is often almost as good without BoT as it is with BoT. Generally, the chance to prevent a lot of late-game damage with a Joker is much more valuable than an ideal hand. There are more fishes in the sea and more Qs and Ks in the deck.

Also remember that you cannot effectively let go of the Joker: playing the Joker as your face-down has a decent chance of “winning”…which does what? Clogs your hand with 2 Aces? You can power them up down to 1 Ace, but then you’re right back at 2 cards again. Gold Burst is usually a waste.

In a match-up where the opponent relies on their abilities, 10-Joker and 7-10 can be equally awkward.
Try to remember that if you’re in this position things have been going well: you haven’t had to use the 10 or the Joker yet.

In the 10-Joker scenario, you’ll likely want to play the 10 as a throw (for the same reason as with 7-Joker: playing the Gold Burst doesn’t really help), or even as a dodge with no follow-up (though that will shout to your opponent that you have a Joker in hand).

In the 7-10 scenario, the match-up really does matter. If the opponent has strong abilities, play the 7, keep the 10, and count on SotF to draw you something decent without the loop. If the opponent has weak abilities, focus on the loop and try to keep them off balance.

With that out of the way, we return to card analysis.

Setsuki’s 8s and 9s are her staple throws when she doesn’t want to use her 7. She will likely have her K throw more often (from QK7-loop), but the K throw has limited damage, so it’s nicer to start with an actual Starter.

The 8–her second-fastest throw–is obviously better than the 9, but both are important. Setsuki’s attack options are so good and frequently used, that the opponent will tend to block a lot; for this reason, good players will often tell you that Setsuki, like Gwen, secretly wants to be a grappler, or at least throws almost as often. (Thanks @ClanNatioy @Hooves) When you do hit with an attack, however, don’t hesitate to use these as pumpers, since that’s usually the only way to trigger SotF.

Setsuki doesn’t usually like to block a lot, but there are odd cases where blocking is good. Generally if you have a hand of between 3 and 5 cards, a block might be a good play to expand your options. This is especially true if you have lots of throws/blocks, but no Qs or Ks to pump with. Also consider powering up with 8s and 9s if it will get you to a good hand-clearing (or lethal) AA combo, or if repeated power-ups will trigger SotF. (Thanks @Sotek)

Setsuki’s 2-5 cards are (as already mentioned) her go-to dodges. This is especially true of her 2 and 3, which don’t do much damage when used as attacks.However, 4 or 5 damage in one card is pretty good for Sets, so she’ll prefer to use the 4s and 5s as non-pumper fillers in her combos. (She may also use the 2 and 3 for combo fillers if the pumper spots in a combo are taken by Starters.)

Setsuki’s 6 is her most damage-efficient single card (ignoring the Can’t Combo A), and should be reserved exclusively as a combo filler. That said, if you have several 6s, and using one in the combo won’t trigger SotF, but repeated power-ups will, then prioritize the better hand that SotF yields. Unless the 6 would make the combo lethal, of course. Setsuki players enjoy treating every hand like a cute little Sudoku.

If you have several 6s and not enough room/Linkers to string them all together, consider using one as a pumper. The J23456 straight combo is impressive, and will fetch 3 Aces, but don’t hold out for it. Sets has plenty of other ways to do similar damage, and having just 3 Aces in hand isn’t great. Only use this (or 234, or 2345) if it happens to present itself. The 456 combo is worth doing occasionally, especially when you don’t have Ks or Aces, as a follow-up to a Q or throw Starter.

Setsuki’s aggressive style means that new players usually have an easy time grokking her, so this should be more than enough to bring you from “How does it, um…How does it work?” to “YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA-YA!!!”

I’ll leave it to Juushichi and others to provide pro tips and match-up specifics.

This guide was written by ARMed_PIrate


The most important secret Setsuki tech to know about: you may choose to search for fewer aces than you powered up for, but only if there are no aces left in your discard. This is very very useful for getting out of hands that you might not otherwise be able to dump and it’s always worth keeping in mind.

In general, 7 is a throw for me unless it’s not a dominant option (i.e. vs grapplers, Zane, Lum, Valerie and DeGrey). Each combat should be approached by considering which dominant combo starter allows you to dump your hand in the most efficient way, with some consideration as to what happens if your opponent guesses the right RPS option (can you still power up out of the hand, or are they going to hit you for big/lethal damage?) In some match ups it’s worth trying to save counters for key abilities, but it’s not always possible to do that and still trigger SotF. Unless I’m at <15hp vs a Lum with Poker Flourishes still available or some similar situation, I’ll always prioritise dumping my hand.