Onimaru is a solid character who relies on superior damage efficiency per card to make up for a lack of large combos. If you like a simple character with powerful moves and free combat wins, then Onimaru might be the character for you.
Understanding Your Abilities
Innate Ability – Guard Crush
Onimaru’s Guard Crush is simple and powerful, just like his combat stats. Most characters will block less than normal. This feeds into a synergistic loop where they play normal attacks more, which get beaten by Oni’s 5.
Clockwork Soldiers / Clockwork Command
This is where Onimaru gains his synergy. After attaching one or more aces, your opponent has 15 unjokerable damage hanging over their head, ready to be dished out on any Dodge or Attack combat win. This makes them want to block more, to un-attach an Ace, which feeds into Guard Crush beating those blocks with high normals (that draw a card from the “normal draw” rule!) for good damage. If they attempt to out-speed your normal, you have two abilities to counteract that.
Your 5 attack is an excellent combat reveal at any point in the game. Opponents who are leading with small normals to draw cards and start combos will trade unfavorably 2-4 damage for 15. When you are knocked down, General’s Armor functions as a dragon punch, beating all normal and throws, and letting you stand back up. Note that General’s Armor is the only one of Onimaru’s moves that can be countered, so it is less reliable against Persephone, Setsuki, Argagarg, and Grave, who will have no other targets for their “counters.”
Onimaru’s most feared, and most expensive move. When discarding cards for pumps, or powering up, try to keep at least one of each suit in your hand, to enable Final Authority on any face card you draw later (even if you don’t yet have a Final Authority in your hand). Note that this is Onimaru’s only source of Knockdown, so in some situations (Against Gloria’s Healing Sphere or Rook’s Rock Armor, in particular) it can be worth it to play Final Authority on an already winning face card.
2: Block // Dodge
This card is primarily a dodge. Onimaru only has twelve dodges in his deck, and needs access to them to supplement his Final Authority.
3 :Attack 10 (+3) dmg, speed 3.4, +1 any Can’t Combo // Dodge
The primary function for this card is to dodge. This is his fastest odd numbered normal, so you can use it to mix up knocked down opponents. It can also win combat against grapplers or others afraid to block.
4: Attack 10 (+4) dmg, speed 4.4, +1 any Can’t Combo // Dodge
Once again, the main use for this card is to dodge. It’s also his fastest even attack, but it is so slow, you are usually better off attacking a knocked down opponent with an 8 or 10 attack to Guard Crush all blocks.
5:Attack 10 (+5) dmg, speed 5.4, +1 any Can’t Combo // Block
General’s Armor – this attack beats faster normal attacks
In many matchups, this attack is an excellent combat reveal to beat small blocks, even blocks against KD opponents, and all normal, regardless of speed (especially nice against Zane/BBB/Valerie normals that have been sped up to 1.0)
6: Attack 10 (+6) dmg, speed 6.4, +1 any Can’t Combo // Block
This (along with the 2) is Onimaru’s preferred block. This also the card most used for pumps and powerups. With a poor hand, or an 11 – 26 health opponent, this can be a good Dodge followup.
7: Block // Throw 7 (+4) dmg, speed 7.2, +2 any Can’t Combo
This is Onimaru’s fastest throw. 7.2 is the fastest throw in many matchups, and this is usually a safe combat option when you suspect a dodge/throw mixup. Pumping Onimaru’s throws is a delicate business. You should try to pump as much as possible without wasting good combat cards (like Queens or Tens), and without crippling your hand. Sixes, Singleton Kings, and Dodges after the first 2 are all good candidates to toss onto a successful throw.
8: Attack 10 (+8) dmg, speed 8.4, +1 any Can’t Combo // Throw 8 (+4) dmg, speed 8.2, +2 any Can’t Combo
Against many characters, this attack will beat most of their common blocks, and this Throw will beat most of their throws. This makes either side of the 8 a good combat option, and it is also good for 18 damage after a dodge. Don’t use these for powering up or pumping moves.
9: Block // Throw 9 (+4) dmg, speed 9.2, +2 any Can’t Combo // *Final Authority
This card is primarily used for its ability. Oni’s special attacks are relatively slow for their rank, so backing them up with Final Authority is important. Opponents can rarely afford to play around it (though they will try to by dodging more often – don’t be afraid to use your extra Authority as 9-17 damage throws). Also, keep in mind that you need a discard that is the same suit as your face card. Prefer to keep a variety of suits in your hand, and be careful about using your matching normal as combat cards or pumps.
This is also Oni’s only means of getting a knockdown, so keep an eye out for situations where playing Final Authority on a winning face card is the right move (generally against Gloria, or to set up a checkmate situation)
10: Attack 10 (+10) dmg, speed 10.4, +1 any Can’t Combo // Throw 10 (+4) dmg, speed 10.2, +2 any Can’t Combo
One of Oni’s most feared moves. The attack side will beat all blocks and throws, and can be pumped with any one card to deal 20 damage. This is also your best Dodge follow-up. Against grapplers, the Throw side can be used to devastating effect, as the opportunity cost is lower (you weren’t going to win on speed if the grappler chose “throw,” so get the maximum damage)
Jack: Attack 10 (1) (+10) dmg, speed 3.4, +Jack Can’t Combo
A solid vector for Final Authority and Clockwork Soldiers. The extra pump isn’t mandatory, and this is a fine combat option without it. Save these until you can back it up with Final Authority, or have Clockwork Command active (preferably both). When pumped, this is a fine Dodge followup.
Queen: Rising Sword: Attack 10 (2) dmg, speed 0.8, Can’t Combo
This is Onimaru’s best early game defense card. 0.8 speed is faster than all the starters opponents will use to try to get around Guard Crush. While you will lose to all other dragon punches, in the late game you can back your Queens with Onimaru’s Final Authority.
King: Attack 8 (+9) (3) dmg, speed 4.0, (+3 Kings) Can’t Combo
A highly damaging late game attack. If you draw 2 Kings early, hold them until you can be very sure of landing the damage. This will naturally give you time to draw more of them. Note that this is also Oni’s highest block damage, which can be useful for poking through the last few points. If you only have one King and no Clockwork Soldiers in hand past the first 3-4 turns, look for a chance to dump it for damage on a normal or throw. I usually keep K in hand until the midgame, just to see how many of them I end up with. If I have 2+, I’ll continue to hold them and build towards a lethal or semi-lethal (ie, opponent down to 15 health) combo - or use them with FA if I lack Jacks and it’s time for a FA play. If it’s turn 6 and I only have 1 King, it’s probably getting used as a pump, or in a FA (either as the lead-off or the discard).
Ace: Clockwork Soldiers / Martial Law
Clockwork Soldiers: Attack 1 dmg, speed 1.0, Can’t Combo // Martial Law: Attack 20 (2) dmg, speed 1.4, Can’t Combo AA // *Clockwork Command
Clockwork Command: if you win combat, and Clockwork Soldiers does damage, attach this Ace and up to 3 more from your hand to your character card. When you hit with a Face Card, discard one attached Ace to deal 15 damage. When your Face Card is blocked, discard one attached Ace (for no damage )
Martial Law is good damage NOW – very useful for ending the game. Once your opponent gets down under 40 life, Clockwork Soldiers is less useful, and you can power up less useful ranks to get a solid attack and Dodge followup if you lack Ten, 8, or JJ.
Clockwork Soldiers is Oni’s signature ability. Don’t be afraid to toss out a single A with no backup, or use this after a Dodge when the opponent plays a face down card. You don’t need to commit the extra aces until you have successfully hit, and attaching extras is unJokerable (a Joker will still prevent the first one from landing, if played after a dodge).
Once you have established Clockwork Command, most opponents will block and dodge more than usual to defeat your very strong face card options. Punish this by using 8 throw, and even 10 throw to get combat wins, and stack up the damage. Dodging is the surest way to land the 15 damage – it doesn’t risk your face card being blocked, and the 15 damage happens even if the opponent plays a Joker.
Since Oni has good (but not great) aces, and high health, he has the ability to hold his jokers for the best opportunity. Often they are best used when knocked down as a super-dragon-punch to get out of a bad situation, or to provide cover when attacking with Final Authority to protect against enemy dodges.
Grave has slower throws, likes to block, and his abilities are less useful against Oni’s generally useful cards and uncounterable Final Authority. Grave does have fast JQK and Ace, so block and dodge a healthy amount at all stages of the game. Grave’s damage off of a Throw is relatively low, so you can afford to lose more combats to his Throws than you can to his Blocks (which feed him Aces, the strongest cards in his deck against you).
Jaina hits fairly hard, and has many fast attacks. Her Jack starter bypasses General’s Armor, so Oni is forced to rely on Dodges and Final Authority to get damage in. Power up for, and land, a multiple Clockwork Soldiers early to keep her scared, and get that extra damage in.
Midori, lacks blocks higher than 8, so your 8 and 10 attacks will both beat all his blocks and throws, even in dragon form. Midori also has only two dodges, so you will have fewer cases of having your attack dodged. Don’t dodge, just use Final Authority to beat his dragon queens, and your fast Ace, AA, and Q to beat his other attacks.
Setsuki is one of two characters with throw speeds that match Oni’s. She also blocks much less than the average character. Unintuitively, Oni has the advantage on attack speed in this matchup. Effectively, from slowest to fastest attack, the order is:
Oni’s Final Authority enhanced face card < Setsuki Q < Oni Q < Setsuki A < Oni A or AA < Setsuki J < Setsuki K < Oni 5 < Setsuki 2 < Setsuki 3 < Oni 3, J, and K
While technically Oni’s AA will tie with Setsuki’s J, you are denying her combo, while trading 20 life for 5, which is a clean win.
In this matchup, use your 8 as a throw, and your 10 as a dedicated dodge follow-up. You can usually go toe-to-toe with sets, planning to win about half the combats, and win the match with your extra 20 life. Joker but do not bluff any combo starter / sotf dodge when she has a 5-6 card hand, as she will certainly play out the combo anyway just to activate Speed of the Fox.
Setsuki will play Jokers as a face down immediately when she has many cards in hand, and will almost always bluff when it leaves her with 1 card or a pair in hand. Play/pass her face-downs accordingly.
Guard Crush does not work on special blocks, and Rook, unlike other grapplers, does have a 9 block available. If you hit one of Rooks normal with a face card, consider using Final Authority for the knockdown to prevent Rock Armor. Stone Wall hurts, as all of your attacks except Clockwork Soldiers will deal you a full 10 damage if they hit it. On the plus side, you don’t need to use your 3 and 4 attacks, so Windmill Crusher is “only” a 15 damage fast throw. Rook can’t rock armor through Super attacks, so Clockwork Soldiers and Martial Law are both good combat options to get damage in, and work through Rook’s 100 health. If you have aces attacked, be very cautious about attacking with face cards, as Rook’s “dodges” will make them fall off. Prefer to throw, and dodge-confirm into 25 or 35 damage when given the chance.
DeGrey has unlimited strong dodges, which is difficult for Oni to work through. His slow throws mean that Oni doesn’t gain much advantage from his good throw speed, relative to other characters. Pump early and often to keep your hand size down, and minimize both the amount of damage you take from DeGrey’s Moral Authority, and the total number of combats you need to win.
Don’t attack with your 8 or 10, as they lose to Pilebunker and Point/Counterpoint (along with other attacks). Your 5 and 6 will often be good enough to beat the blocks DeGrey wants to use (456), as well as his 7.
Valerie also matches you in throw speed, but General’s Armor and Final Authority trump her fast normals, even when enhanced with Burst of Speed. Your dodges are very good here for landing solid hits, and you shouldn’t be afraid to fully pump any throw that lands, as you will be blocking a lot and have cards to spare.
Don’t waste dodges, and try to build up a reasonable hand. You can easily break up the TD + KD combo with a Final Authority backed move (or even just a naked Q or A), and you convert cards into damage more efficiently than Geiger. Early on, use your big attacks to crush his guard and prevent him from building a hand, alternating with blocks to re-build your own hand (or drain his - getting thrown after a time spiral is mostly OK for you - he converts cards inefficiently, and you draw into more Final Authority by having a high block % in your range). Late game, your attacks are mostly faster than his, and your dodges will be more damaging. Save Final Authority to trump TD, and rely on your efficient Guard Crush and dodges to get damage in until then.
Lum likes to block, which plays right into your Guard Crush plan. Watch out for his Ace dodge, but otherwise, a steady diet of big attacks/throws and dodges (against his Jack and Queen attacks) should give you enough combat wins to take him down before Poker Flourish becomes operational.
You have very little knockdown power, and Guard Crush doesn’t work against Bubble Shield. Luckily, Clockwork Command can still deal 15 damage even against a shielded Arg, and your throws deal solid damage when they land (pump them twice every time). Try to get as much damage in whenever given the chance, and try to avoid running attacks into Bubble Shield. This is, by far, Onimaru’s worst matchup, since he must rely on Throws, and the damage exchange on pumping them is very bad, especially since Arg will very rarely attack in this matchup, so any extra card was the result of a block/block turn, and oni lost 2 life to (eventually, maybe) deal Arg 4.
Quince (courtesy of Sotek):
Quince has a lot of dodges.
Quince really wants to hit you with his 5 attack from neutral, and is mostly okay using high blocks (The T ability is not terribly great, and his 9 block is clearly his best block in this MU) - your 6 and 8 attacks are pretty bad here.
You need fast throws - your 7 and 8 throws are important and you should try to always have one in reserve to keep him from checkmating you with positive spin K.
Quince is slow - your Q beats every single attack he has straight up, and at neutral your J and K beat everything he’s likely to play except for Mirror.
when he has Mirror up, look out for dodge/7 or 8-throw and dodge/5 or 6 attack - that said, if you Q/J/K with joker backup you can be guaranteed or nearly-guaranteed to escape mirror; if you joker a dodge, he can’t get mirror or spin that turn.
FA is mostly valuable for KD here - shutting off dodges and threatening crossup is really scary for Quince, but otherwise your face cards mostly beat his attacks anyway. So, you can 9-throw more, which is good because he’s very defensive and you need throws - and you need to conserve fast throws, in case of mirror/throw or K spin threats.
The mirror match is a huge slugfest. Dodge is the best move here, for avoiding big normal and Final Authority. 3 is actually a decent attack to force a Final Authority if it hits a J or K. If you can set up a multiple Clockwork Command, it will put you at an advantage for future face card trades.
Like all mirror matchups, save your fast throws for when you expect your opponent to throw/defend, and use slower ones when you expect them to defend/other. Same with attacks - use faces and aces when you expect normal/other, and normals when you expect throw/defend.
One interesting wrinkle is how low most of Oni’s blocks are. He has blocks on 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9. When normals start flying, the pivot is at 6 - using a 6 attack is actually quite reasonable in this matchup, as it will beat all of the blocks your opponent wants to use. If you have multiple 9s, don’t be afraid to use them as blocks to build hand against the standard mix of dodges and attacks.
Troq likes to block early, and use his fast face cards and throws to prevent you from punishing those blocks. His Q matches yours for speed, and his J will outspeed all your normal attacks, and is not subject to General’s Armor. To overcome this, you need to guess right: matching your big attacks to his throws and blocks, and blocking or dodging his attacks (you can also mix in Queens for 10 damage instead of a block/dodge. Fortunately, you deal somewhat more damage than Troq on a success in the early game. Don’t try to land Clockwork Soldiers, just use Martial Law as a dodge follow-up. After a number of turns of dancing around, you should have J+J and/or multiple Kings in hand. Now you can force through your face cards with Final Authority, rather than block/dodge.
General’s Armor ensures you don’t go to Range, and also trades with Robo Headbutt. Q, A, and Joker (or Final Authority) can get you out of range, and you even get Clockwork Command damage if you hit with a Q or FA. BBB loves to get Guard Crushed, and has very few dodges, so feel free to attack with 8 or 10 when you suspect BBB won’t attack. Your 7 and 8 throw also beat Extensor Grab, so they are alternatives if BBB starts dodging at close.
When BBB goes into Overdrive, your 7 or 8 throw is a good choice to prevent Dodge/King, or just Dodge and punish with one of Onimaru’s signature sword blows.
You don’t rely on your Aces or special abilities too heavily, so Into Oblivion isn’t much of a worry, and is not worth playing around. If you get hit with Bonecracker, you will probably lose a Final Authority or Joker, so play those early and often to force damage in. Menelker’s biggest weakness is his low starting life, and just 4 combat wins will take him out before he can build up a good hand of damage, or Deathstrike Dragon.
Your 7 throw is golden here, as it beats all of Perse’s dodges and throws. Other than that, she has two throws that beat your 8, and will be getting them back, along with dodges, making this a fairly tough matchup. General’s Armor is great for standing up after being knocked down, or just block if you suspect AA or dodge. Mistress’s Command isn’t too big of a worry for you – if it hits, the most likely result is the loss of a Final Authority.
You have very little knockdown, so while Gloria’s health is printed as 70, it is functionally more like 100 in this matchup. That said, she will be damaging both of you with Overdose on most combat wins, so keep the pressure on, and don’t let her get a life lead. Because of Oni’s low max-damage on a win, it is preferable to not use Kings except as a finishing move, although that can be hard to do if you don’t draw Jacks and need to pressure with Final Authority.
Gloria has a ton of special attacks at 1.0 and 2.2 speed, so General’s Armor isn’t as useful in this matchup. Block, Dodge, Queen, 7-throw and Ace are your primary moves early, with additional throws and Final Authority backed Jacks and Kings once you establish Clockwork Command.
Don’t forget that you can Final Authority a winning face card to knock down Gloria and turn off her healing/recursion for a turn. This will also cause any of her Healing Sphere’s to fall off.
The Gwen match is very straightforward. Your Q and Ace attack beats everything she can do other than her own Queen. Establish Clockwork Command early, deal lots of damage, and take advantage of being 90 life to her effective 67-71. Dodges are very strong, as are your 7-throw and 10 attack.
When knocked down, you have only Q and Ace to stand up with, so save your queens for KD protection. Vendetta is the one character who can trump your Final Authority (using Acrobatics), so don’t rely on that to get damage in. Early game Dodge -> 8 or 10 (with pump) is strong for chewing through Vendetta’s relatively low life. General’s Armor can stop repeated 2-pokes, but Vendetta has extra dodges to help keep him out of trouble. This is another matchup where you need to come out of the gates swinging, and take him down before he can build up his high damage options (mainly AA) and Acrobatics.
Final Authority can beat Crash Bomb, and General’s Armor lets you trade and stand up against Meaty Attacks (or beat any non-special/super move when Zane is KD). Try to keep a moderate hand size, so that Creator and Destroyer doesn’t leave you with garbage, but it won’t hurt you too badly, since you don’t rely on having specific cards. Zane has the fastest throw, but your throws beat his at the ranks above 5.