As with virtually all fighting games, Killer Instinct can be seen through two different eyes. You have the eyes of the novice, who believes certain aspects of the game are “cheap” and “unfair,” or who believe the game caters to “scrubs.” Then you have the high-level, tournament-hardened players who dig deep into the game system to find strategies that only the best players will utilize and understand.
This unofficial Orchid guide is designed for advanced players who already know the basics and are looking to take their game to the next level. If you don’t understand the KI system mechanics, check out our How to Play and Beginner’s Tips articles. If you want to get a little more in-depth, read up on Orchid’s frame data. This article assumes you already know everything from the more basic articles.
Move to the Killer Groove
On paper, Orchid seems lacking compared to the other characters. Her special moves are mostly unsafe and she doesn’t have that one abusive tactic that most of the other characters seem to posses. To be frank, if you attempt to play Orchid in a straightforward manner, you probably won’t have much success with her. She’s not a character who relies on gimmicks or shenanigans to get wins.
What Orchid excels at is her walk speed. It’s the fastest in the game, and that means a lot in the right hands. A skilled Orchid player can stand just outside of an opponent’s attack range, then move within throw distance in the blink of an eye. All Orchid players should know her maximum throw range. It is essential to know the exact distance you can successfully throw an opponent.
With this knowledge, you can move in and out of that throw range, forcing an opponent to react before he thinks Orchid is close enough to use a throw. It’s very difficult to break a throw on-reaction. In fact, many top players would say it’s impossible, and that you have to rely on a preemptive throw tech to be successful. Couple this with her longer reaching Normals, and Orchid can dish out a great deal of frustration all due to her superior walk speed.
Specials aren’t Everything
Sabrewulf relies on his special moves to open up an opponent. Jago uses his specials to close in on an opponent or punish what would be safe against most other characters. Thunder’s specials inflict considerable damage to an unsuspecting opponent, even when they’re blocking. However, Orchid’s specials aren’t anywhere near as threatening or useful. They most certainly have specific uses, which we’ll discuss in this article, but Orchid’s specials cannot be used in the same manner as the other characters.
To make up for Orchid’s less than stellar special moves, she has been given some very useful Normals. First and foremost, she has some of the best air Normals in the game. In fact, many top players would agree that Orchid’s aerial Normals are better than Sadira’s, a character who thrives on her ability to dominate opponents in the air.
What makes Orchid’s aerial Normals better than most of the cast is a combination of their active frames and hit box. The only character who has better overall active frames on her jumping attacks is Sadira, but Orchid has superior hit boxes on most of her jumping attacks. Thunder and Jago have a lot of active frames on their jumping kicks, but Orchid has better overall active frames, which gives her more variety in the air.
Having more active frames means you can beat out more attacks in an air-to-air encounter, and it’s easier to setup meaty cross-up attempts. This is something that’s extremely important when Orchid activates Instinct mode.
On the ground, Orchid’s standing heavy kick and crouching heavy punch both serve as reliable anti-air attacks, however you can also use a well-timed standing medium punch if you have the proper attack angle. In fact, Orchid’s standing and crouching medium punch are two of her best pokes. Use these at maximum range to cancel into the Ichi Ni San series of attacks.
It’s not just Orchid’s aerial attacks that have great active frames. One of her best Normals is crouching medium kick. It has 5 active frames and leaves her at +1 when blocked. That allows her to use a crouching light attack to beat out almost anything an opponent can do. Very few ground-based Normals have 5 active frames, and most of the ones that do are at a disadvantage when blocked.
With Orchid’s crouching medium kick having 5 active frames, it becomes her best tool for setting up meaty attacks. When an opponent is knocked down, use crouching medium kick as they’re getting up, but time it so that the attack is active as the opponent stands. With proper timing, it’s very difficult for an opponent to beat Orchid’s crouching medium kick unless they use an attack with invincibility frames (which would be unsafe in many instances).
Who Needs Safety?
One of the biggest complaints about Orchid is the fact that her special moves aren’t very safe if the opponent blocks. In fact, her only safe special move is the heavy Ichi Ni San, and even that is only safe with a moderate charge. If you try to use Orchid’s special moves like any other character, you won’t have much success with her. However, that doesn’t mean her special moves are lacking. Each has a specific use and a very important use at that.
The Ichi Ni San mix-up game is fairly in-depth, so we’ve left that to its own section in this article. For now, let’s start with Flick Flack. All three versions of Flick Flack can be Shadow Countered on-reaction if the opponent blocks the attack and has enough meter for a Shadow Counter. Because of this, you always have to be aware of the opponent’s Shadow meter to determine if it’s safe to use Flick Flack.
Against any opponent other than Jago and Orchid, the light Flick Flack is safe when blocked. Jago and Orchid can punish it with Tiger Fury and Air Buster respectively, and Sabrewulf can punish the medium Flick Flack with Eclipse. However, it’s difficult to differentiate between the light and medium Flick Flacks, which makes it a risk for Sabrewulf to attempt to punish.
The main advantage of Orchid’s Flick Flack is the fact that it’s invincible to low attacks during the startup frames. Most players like to attack with a low normal to start their offense. If you anticipate this and use a light Flick Flack, it will ignore the opponent’s low attack and start a combo for Orchid.
For example, if you’re fighting against a Sabrewulf who does not have Shadow meter, end a block string with light Flick Flack. Under most circumstances, the Sabrewulf player believes it’s his turn to attack and starts his offense with a crouching medium punch. If Orchid follows the blocked Flick Flack with another light Flick Flack, it will go right through Sabrewulf’s crouching medium punch and start a combo for Orchid. You have to be careful because a standing attack will beat the second Flick Flack, but over the course of a match, you should be able to determine if the opponent likes to start his or her offense with a low Normal.
Moving on to Blockade, unlike Flick Flack, all versions of Blockade are unsafe against all characters if the opponent blocks. However, Blockade has other uses that make it very valuable to Orchid. All versions of Blockade are invincible to projectile attacks. This means that Jago can’t use his Endokuken projectile against a skilled Orchid player, and even Glacius can’t cover his tracks with Hail as well as he can against other characters.
That’s the obvious advantage of Blockade. On the less obvious side of things, Blockade is excellent to use against jump-happy opponents. It’s not uncommon to be corner and have an opponent neutral jumping after every attack. It’s also not uncommon to see an opponent using repeated cross-up jumps on an opponent to land a hit. As soon as the opponent jumps, use the medium or heavy Blockade to get out of the situation. With proper timing, Orchid slides away to safety while the opponent is in the air.
Air Buster is an extremely useful tool for Orchid. Not only is it one of the fastest attacks in the game at 2 frames, but it also has invincibility frames on startup. What this means is that opponents can’t use their entire arsenal against a skilled Orchid player. For example, all four versions of Glacius’ Cold Shoulder are punishable by Air Buster. The same goes for every version of Orchid’s own Flick Flack, and Sadira’s Blade Demon variants.
The invincibility frames also allow Air Buster to be used preemptively in a similar situation as back-to-back Flick Flacks. While moderately risky, after a blocked Flick Flack, if you anticipate the opponent will attempt to go on the offensive, use an Air Buster. The invincibility frames allow the attack to go through almost anything the opponent may attempt.
Ichi for Frame Advantage
Unless you have Instinct mode active, Orchid’s Ichi Ni San is not a mix-up. Many people would like to compare it to Sabrewulf’s Run mix-up with similar overhead and low-hitting options. However, the low and overhead enders for Ichi Ni San are slow enough for skilled players to react to. In addition, there are ways to interrupt Orchid if you attempt to delay the last attack to make it more of a mix-up. The bottom line here is to only use the low and overhead enders for Ichi Ni San if you have Instinct mode active to cover Orchid if the opponent blocks.
So why is there a separate section of this article just for Ichi Ni San? It’s because of the third ending option, the heavy ender. Now it’s extremely rare to connect the fully charged unblockable. In most cases, you shouldn’t even attempt to go for it. However, with only a slight charge, Orchid has enough frame advantage to follow with a light attack that will beat out almost anything other attack.
Depending on how long you opt to charge, you can get enough frame advantage to use a second Ichi Ni San. No matter how you choose to use the frame advantage, the mix-up is there. The opponent has to guess if Orchid will throw, use a frame trap with light attacks, another Ichi Ni San, or light attacks into another Ichi Ni San, go for a neutral jump or attempt a cross-up jump.
A slightly riskier option is to stop the Ichi Ni San at the second hit, then use Orchid’s fast walk speed to get close enough for a throw before the opponent realizes what’s going on. While a smart opponent has several ways to escape this setup, it can work once you’ve trained an opponent to expect a third attack from Ichi Ni San. If you opt for this strategy, use light punch as the second attack because it’s the safest of the three strengths.
Instinct to 50/50s
Orchid’s Instinct mode is one of the best in the game. Most would consider it second only to Sadira’s Instinct mode. It’s primary use is to make every one of Orchid’s attacks safe. That means you can use all three versions of the Flick Flack, the overhead/low mix-up from Ichi Ni San, Air Buster and Blockade at will. For best results, call the Firecat late in the animation of these attacks to make your opponent question if the Firecat is coming.
As soon as an opponent blocks while Orchid’s Instinct is active, they should not stop blocking until they get hit or Instinct runs out. With well-timed Firecat calls, Orchid should have enough time after a blocked attack to attack again before the opponent recovers from blocking the Firecat.
Another great way to use Orchid’s Instinct is to force continuous cross-up attempts. Call the Firecat late during Orchid’s jump animation so the opponent has to guess which direction to block. If the opponent blocks correctly, Orchid will have at least +12 frame advantage, which gives her multiple mix-up options.
If you have exceptional timing when calling the Firecat, you can use Orchid’s Instinct to create safe Counter Breaker attempts. Simply call the Firecat so that it connects with the opponent right after Orchid attempts a Counter Breaker. If the Counter Breaker is successful, Orchid continues as normal. If the Counter Breaker misses, the Firecat keeps Orchid safe from punishment.
The bottom line here is simple. As soon as you activate Orchid’s Instinct, you should be relentless with her. While it can be used to extend a combo, that’s not its primary purpose, and in many cases would waste much of the Instinct time. Orchid’s Instinct is a tool used to open up an opponent. Once you land a hit, if you still have a good amount of time left on your Instinct, end the combo quickly so you get another opportunity to open up the opponent.