Geralt Beginner's Guide

Corbeau

[08] Mercenary
For some time I've wished for a guide that offered basic game plans for each character with a short set of moves to focus on learning. The written guide for SC5 actually did a good job of this, making it much easier to start playing new characters, but I've not found any similar resource for SC6. While I can't provide such a guide for every character (I'm not particularly skilled or knowledgeable) Geralt is straightforward enough that I feel I can do him justice. So:

Geralt of Rivia for Beginners

Geralt relies heavily on Soulcalibur fundamentals, making him an excellent choice for new players. His meterless toolkit is sparse but very effective at poking and oki. His moves tend to be fast, have good reach, do solid damage, and are accessible without stance transitions. All good stuff that's easy to use, easy to learn. His core combos are straightforward and short, usually 1-2 follow-up moves, and his oki game is simple but rewarding and can loop back on itself. I love playing Geralt because he lets me concentrate on what my opponent is doing rather than wrestling with my own gigantic tome of options.

Basic Options:

:A::A: / :B::B:
Basic fast options to condition the opponent to respect your turn. Geralt's have particularly good reach for how fast they are. :A::A: hits steppers and is slightly faster, :B::B: hits ducking opponents and has slightly more reach.

:A+G: / :4::A+G:
Once your opponent respects your turn, you can throw them. Geralt has exceptional throw reach, so take advantage of it! Use :4::A+G: until the opponent proves they can break it, then mix up inputs. You can also enhance throws with meter by inputting :A+B: right after the throw command, doing more damage and making it harder to break, but it's not that important to learn as a beginner (it's most valuable when the extra throw damage would be lethal, which is hard to judge without experience). It's far more important to remember to throw in the first place!

:(9):*:(3)::B: (confirm into :6::B::(B):, :(6)::B::B:)
Geralt's big sidestep option for beating verticals, this comes out fast, closes a bunch of distance, and leads to a chunky combo due to it's crumple. There are also meterless ukemi-able but damaging follow-ups, and tech trap follow-ups, but none of that is really necessary to learn right now. Just practice the :6::B::(B):, :(6)::B::B: combo to start with (it's okay if it takes some time to execute reliably as a beginner, but the damage is worth practicing for).

Mixup and Oki Options (aka The Plan):

:3::B: (confirm into :6::A::B:)
Geralt's basic mid launcher; slower than :A::A: / :B::B: but offering significantly better reward. Hits grounded opponents, making it a key part of his oki game. Can combo into :6::B::(B): instead for more damage at the expense of meter, but I generally prefer to allocate meter elsewhere.

:1::B:
A spinning low stab that closes distance and - importantly! - knocks down upon hit. The ability to loop knockdowns with the low:1::B: / mid:3::B: mixup is what makes Geralt's oki game tick. Easy to execute, lots of damage when looped. :1::B: is free to someone sidestepping or siderolling, and is unsafe on block, but the reward is worth it.

:1::A:
Another spinning low that covers a bunch of distance, but this time it hits steppers and siderollers. Use this to condition your opponent to stay in place when knocked down so that you can run your looping oki. :1::A: is unsafe on block and negative even on hit, but :1::A::A: will hit anyone who tries to take advantage of :1::A:. Unfortunately :1::A::A: is -12 on block, and is not a natural combo on normal hit, so characters with 12 frame CEs (Mitsu, X, 2B, etc.) can punish you hard when they just standing block. Mix up the full string with single :1::A: to make punishment more difficult for your opponent.

Toolkit Options:

WR :B:
Geralt has a fast (i12), long-reaching while-rising option for poking and punishing. The combination of range and speed is superb, though the damage is unremarkable and it still loses to step. An exceptional move still, since it allows punishment of many big spacing moves that force crouch while maintaining distance.

:(6)::A::K:
Closes distance, hits step, and the kick is low and + on hit. If you hold down the K then it charges to become plus on block (IIRC, though the wiki doesn't list it) and can ring out on hit. Good for getting in with continued pressure.

:(6)::B+K: (into :4::A:::A:, :1::A::A:)
Big damage! The startup on :(6)::B+K: is so slow that you should probably never land it in neutral, but there are multiple moves (like :4::A+B:) that combo into :(6)::B+K:. The resulting combo is disgusting in damage, distance carried, and ring-out potential. If you want to put someone six feet under, this is the way to do it.

Meter Options:

Any direction with :A+B:
All of Geralt's signs are good, though some are more situational than others:
:8::A+B: (Aard) is the easiest to get value out of as a beginner, since it's super fast (i10) and has a gigantic spherical hitbox to catch any type of movement tech.
:4::A+B: (Yrden) is a parry that I don't use anywhere near enough considering the incredible payoff (it leads into :(6)::B+K:).
:2::(A+B): (Igni) is a long-range poke that has range-dependent (?) combo potential (:(6)::B::B: usually works) and a tech trap threat in :(6)::A+B: (which leads into multiple combo options, including :(6)::B::B:, :1::A::A:).
:6::A+B: (Quen), the approaching shield, is likely the weakest of Geralt's signs, but is still valuable in matchups where you need to close distance.

Soul Charge :4::A+B+K:
A great anti-pressure tool that allows you free sign access in the following neutral situation. The changes to Geralt's normals aren't particularly notable; this is about tempo and remaining in control of the match.

Critical Edge:A+B+K:
Don't. Unless it's specifically going to kill, or you want to style on someone to send a message, never press this button. Geralt's other meter options are so much better than this completely-generic CE.

Further Exploration:

Lethal hit combos. Geralt has a whole parcel of anti-soul charge moves with their own optimal combos attached. Absolutely not necessary to learn as a beginner, but it's worth knowing that they exist for later.

Fake combos and tech traps. Geralt has multiple ukemi-able combos, usually-but-not-exclusively involving :B+K:, and some solid tech trap threats. I've mentioned :(6)::A+B: as one such situational threat, but I'm only just beginning to learn about this part of Geralt's options.

Precise spacing. A lot of Geralt's moves that I haven't mentioned have slightly different ranges, making them a useful part of an expanded poke toolbox. Better to concentrate on the basics when starting out, but it's possible to make more precise button choices in neutral. Some of his unsafe stuff is also more difficult to punish at tip range due to pushback.

Discord & other threads. I am by no means an expert; once you're comfortable with the basics, the regulars here who play Geralt can offer more detail about him than I can.
 
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