Ermac can be played offensively or defensively depending on the variation you choose to go with. Mystic is more defensive, while Master of Souls is a very offensive variation, complete with a vortex. Spectral will likely be used the least out of Ermac’s three variations, but it offers more mobility than the other two variants if you like to play a runaway style. Overall, Ermac is a more complex version of Scorpion. The two have very similar tools, but Ermac has a stronger vortex and fights better at a distance, while Scorpion generally needs to be in your face to start combos (Spear and Teleport aside).
1 – Square/X
2 – Triangle/Y
3 – X/A
4 – Circle/B
Notation: Down, Back+2
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.
Ermac’s Soul Burst is a short-range projectile that is primarily used as an anti-air attack. You can aim the projectile up by pressing Up immediately after the initial notation. You can also perform the attack in the air (without the upward variation). The enhanced version (Soul Blast) has armor, making it even better as an anti-air attack, and it knocks the opponent to the far side of the screen. The enhanced version is also safe if the opponent blocks, which makes it the best attack to use if an opponent is pressuring you after knocking Ermac to the ground. The normal version can be punished, so be careful when you use it.
The Air Soul Burst is considered an overhead attack. If you want to mix-up an opponent, jump and immediately use the Air Souls Burst as close to the ground as possible. This is considered an instant Air Soul Burst. With proper timing you can hit a grounded opponent immediately after jumping making it very difficult for the opponent to block. Mix this up with combos start from Ermac’s Ankle Snap (Back+3) low attack to keep your opponent guessing.
Notation: Down, Back+1
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.
The Force Lift is one of Ermac’s trademark special moves. The regular version can be used to end combos, or punish opponents from about mid-screen. The enhanced version (Tele-Lift) leads to a full juggle combo and should be used to extend combos when you have the meter available to use. If either version is blocked Ermac can easily be punished. Try to use it to punish opponents from a distance, or to end or extend combos.
Notation: Down, Back+4
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.
If you’re familiar with Scorpion’s Teleport you have a basic idea of how Ermac’s works as well. Ermac teleports to the other side of the screen with an attack. It’s not safe if the opponent blocks, but if it connects Ermac can follow with a juggle combo. The easiest way to combo after a Teleport is to start with a Low Jab (Down+1) then cancel into a special move.
The aerial version of the Teleport is a bit easier to combo after depending on what height you start the attack, and the enhanced version (Force Port) knocks the opponent high into the air for relatively easy juggle combos as well. Both the normal and aerial versions of the Teleport work well to punish opponents from across the screen or after connecting a jump kick.
Notation: Down, Down, Up
The Hover allows Ermac to stay in the air for a short time. It can be performed in the air or on the ground. While airborne he can perform all of his aerial special moves as well as a Ground Slam (3 in the air) that hits low or cancel the Hover by pressing Down, Down. Use the Hover to avoid projectile attacks if you time a jump incorrectly or to bait an opponent into attacking or blocking so you can counter their action.
A great way to bait an opponent is to Hover, then Ground Slam to get them used to blocking low when they see Ermac use Hover. Once you’ve trained an opponent to block low, do Hover then cancel it and use an overhead such as the Crown Breaker (Forward+4) or even an instant Air Soul Burst. You can also trick an opponent into attacking you just to use the Teleport to get behind them and attack.
We are Many (X-Ray)
Ermac’s X-Ray covers about half the screen and is fairly easy to combo into. While many other characters rely on their super meter to get big damage, Ermac can inflict solid damage without the need to use meter (depending on the variant). This makes his X-Ray a lot more useful compared to other characters. You still want to combo into the X-Ray to guarantee it will connect, and meter is still important to Ermac for breakers, but he’s more free to use an X-Ray compared to some other characters who rely more heavily on their meter for enhanced special moves.
Ermac has a decent amount of overhead/low mix-up options. Some are safer than others, but he can easily keep an opponent guessing how they should be blocking. Meanwhile, he has several safe options that can be hit-confirmed into more damaging combos by ending them with special moves depending on the variant you choose to go with.
The Ankle Snap (Back+3) should be your primary low attack. It leads into the Inner Misery (Back+3,2,1) and Wretchedness (Back+3,4) combos, which offer a overhead/low mix-up. However, they’re not safe if the opponent blocks.
Both combos start with a low with an overhead as the second hit in Inner Misery and a low as the second hit in Wretchedness. In addition, Inner Misery inflicts 17 percent damage if the entire combo connects, which is a decent amount of damage. This is a good mix-up to use if your opponent has low health and you just want to finish the round or match. Just remember both options can be punished if the opponent blocks.
The Crown Breaker (Forward+4) is a decent overhead attack, and the Hurting combo (Forward+3,4) is safe from punishment against most characters and has a double overhead as the second attack. Mix these up with Inner Misery or Wretchedness to keep your opponent constantly shifting between blocking an overhead and blocking a low attack.
Use the Tortured Souls (Forward+2, Down+2) and Certain Death (Forward+2,1, Down+2) combos frequently. If the opponent blocks either combo Ermac is safe from punishment, and if the combos connect you can Run Cancel or use a special move to extend the combos for additional damage.
The Soul Rush (1,1,1), Psychic Strikes (Back+1,2,4) and Anguish (3,4) combos are all safe poking strings that cannot be punished by your opponent. In addition, the Unstoppable Force combo (Back+2, 3+4, 1,2 – input with no pauses) starts with the Soul Charge (Back+2). If the opponent blocks, only the Soul Charge will come out, which is safe if the opponent blocks. If it connects, the rest of the combo will work and you can Run Cancel or use a special move to hit the opponent on the way down from their aerial adventure.
The Fusion combo (1,1,2) is not safe if the opponent blocks, but when it hits it knocks an opponent into the air and allows Ermac to Run Cancel and follow with a combo. Use this if you block an attack that can be punished.
The Mystic variation gives Ermac the Tele-Choke (Back, Forward+2) special move, while the Tele-Hang (Down, Back+1) replaces the Force Lift and allows Ermac to combo after it without burning any meter. None of these are safe from punishment if the opponent blocks, so try to use them to end combos or when you know they will connect. The enhanced version of the Tele-Choke (Levitate) replenishes a small amount of Ermac’s health and has armor.
In the Mystic variation Ermac should try to stay about half a screen-length away from the opponent at the maximum range of the Tele-Hang and Tele-Choke. From this range Ermac can punish almost anything an opponent does with the Tele-Choke. You can even catch opponents out of the air with a well-timed Tele-Choke or a late Tele-Hang.
Use the Tele-Hang to extend your combos, then end them with the Tele-Choke for damage or the Levitate if you need to replenish some health. It’s almost always better to use the Tele-Choke because you don’t get a lot of health from the Levitate. Unless you’re so close to death that chip damage will finish you off, go with the Tele-Choke to end your combos.
While it’s likely to get patched sooner rather than later, at the moment you can end combos with the Tele-Hang, then while the opponent is hovering in the air, use instant Air Soul Bursts to build as much meter as possible before the opponent drops. You’ll lose a small amount of damage, but when the opponent hits the ground they’ll take almost as much damage as the Tele-Choke, which makes the meter gain more than worth the small loss of damage.
If you like to play a more defensive style with Ermac, the Mystic variant gives you the Tele-Choke to punish opponents from a distance, and the ability to combo from a distance without spending meter on the Tele-Hang. It’s not as offensive as the Master of Souls variation, or as mobile as the Spectral variation, but you can play a solid defensive game using the tools available in Mystic.
Master of Souls Variant
The one big thing that makes Master of Souls arguably Ermac’s best variation is that he gains the ability to place an opponent in a vortex. You’ll notice three small green orbs floating around Ermac. These power some of his special moves. As you use special moves you’ll lose orbs and they’ll slowly return.
Ermac gains the Soul Ball (Back, Forward+2) in Master of Souls. At first glance this may seem like a standard projectile attack, but it’s far more useful. It hits mid which means an opponent cannot duck under it, but what really makes the Soul Ball special is that it stuns an opponent when Ermac has all three orbs circling around him. You can combo into this off of just about any attack you land with Ermac.
Once an opponent is stunned by the Soul Ball you can use a jump forward punch (1 or 2) that combos into the Nether-Pain combo (Back+1,2). This leaves Ermac at significant advantage and allows him to go for an overhead/low mix-up with the Ankle Snap (Back+3) and Crown Breaker (Forward+4). You can cancel either attack into a Teleport to start the combo all over again. If you add anything between the Nether-Pain combo and the overhead/low mix-up, Ermac will have three orbs floating around him again by the time you connect a full combo into the Soul Ball again.
Now this vortex has a few issues that must be addressed. First and foremost, using the Ankle Snap or Crown Breaker into a Teleport is not safe if the opponent blocks correctly. In addition, if you add something between the Nether-Pain combo and the overhead/low mix-up, it’s possible for the opponent to interrupt after the added attack, especially if they block it. This is a risky 50/50, but if they opponent continues to guess wrong it’s an easy win for you.
In addition to the vortex, the enhanced Soul Ball (Soul Trap) drains the opponent’s super meter while they’re stunned. You can also use the Soul Release (Back, Forward+1) for the normal or enhanced version to launch an opponent into the air to extend your combo. This can even be done in the air, which means you can go for a full combo or try for the vortex at almost any point during the match should Ermac land a hit.
The final addition to the Master of Souls variation is the Disappear special move. This allows Ermac to completely disappear (leaving only the green orbs behind). All special moves, combos and basic attacks will go through Ermac while he is invisible. However, a skilled opponent can throw Ermac during this time. The enhanced version (Vanish) starts a little faster which makes it useful if you need to avoid pressure as quickly as possible.
If you can anticipate the opponent’s next move you can use Disappear and Vanish to escape a lot of sticky situations. However, it is risky if the opponent guesses you’re going to use the move or simply waits and throws you out of the animation. It can be useful to avoid an enhanced special move after knocking an opponent to the ground, but once again, timing is important and Ermac can be thrown out of this.
The Master of Souls variation has everything Ermac needs to win. He can’t combo off of the Force Lift without using meter like he can in the Mystic variation, but he has the Soul Ball for that purpose. He doesn’t have the mobility of the Spectral variation, but he makes up for that with the vortex. Everything you need is right here.
The Spectral variation gives Ermac the Soul Charge special move, which is basically Ermac’s version of Raiden’s Electric Fly (Superman) special move. Ermac quickly travels just shy of full screen, knocking an opponent down if it connects. It’s not safe if the opponent blocks, and there’s no enhanced version either, but it can be done in the air. This should be used to end combos if you want to push your opponent toward the corner, or to punish opponents from just outside of Force Lift range.
Ermac’s other addition in the Spectral variant is Soul Accession (Down, Down, Up), which replaces his Hover special move. The main difference between Soul Accession and Hover is that Ermac can move around during Soul Accession. He still has access to all of his aerial special moves, but he can also use basic attacks in the air as well. All of his basic attacks (2, 3 and 4) except 1 are considered overhead attacks and must be blocked standing.
If you’re low enough to the ground you can combo a basic attack in Soul Accession into the Soul Charge, Ground Slam (Down+3) or even the Air Teleport. You should use this in the same way you would use the Hover, only now you have more mobility and more attack options.
While Master of Souls is arguably Ermac’s best variation, if you like to play defensively you can use the mobility of the Spectral variation to really frustrate an opponent.
31 percent – Forward+2,1, Down+2, Jump Forward,3, Air Teleport, Back+1,2, 2,2,2, Tele-Hang
30 percent – Forward+2,1, Down+2, Jump Forward,3, Air Teleport, Back+1,2, 2,2,2, Force Lift
Master of Souls
33 percent – Forward+2,1, Down+2, Jump Forward,3, Air Teleport, Back+1,2, 2,2, Soul Ball, Jump Forward Punch, Back+1,2 > Vortex
36 percent – Forward+4, Teleport, Down+1, Tele-Lift, Forward+2,1, Down+2, Run Cancel, Back+1,2, Soul Ball, Jump Forward Punch, Back+1,2 > Vortex
Note: Vortex should start with Back+3 or Forward+4 into Teleport followed by the rest of the 36 percent damage combo.
Inner Workings (Fatality 1) – Hold Block, Down, Up, Back, Release Block (Mid-Screen)
Head Out (Fatality 2) – Hold Block, Forward, Down, Down, Up, Release Block (Mid-Screen)
Nether Force – Perform 10 special moves during the match, then kill the opponent with an Air Force Port (Down, Back+4+Block in the air).
We Win – Connect a five-hit combo that ends with the Force Lift (Down, Back+1), then kill the opponent with a Force Lift.
Gluttony – In the Mystic variation, with at least 40 percent health kill the opponent with a Tele-Hold (Down, Back+1+Block).
Soul Eater – In the Master of Souls variation, connect a 10-hit combo, then while Ermac has all three souls floating around him, hit the opponent with Soul Ball (Back, Forward+2) and kill the opponent with Soul Release (Back, Forward+1).
Controlled Chaos – In the Spectral variation, use Soul Accession (Down, Down, Up) to fly, then kill the opponent with a Soul Charge (Back, Forward+2).