A Guard (ガード, Gādo?), also referred to as a Block, is a type of action in the Guilty Gear series. It is an universal move that helps mitigate damage received and is integral to keeping a character alive, and may even help resume one's offense faster.
Guarding is done by pushing the directional button opposite of the opponent's direction. There are standing and crouching guards which the player must use according to the incoming attack; if the controlled character is facing the right of the screen, either (standing) or (crouching) should be pressed. Standing guards are used to defend against high and mid-level attacks, while crouching guards are used against mid and low attacks. A player can use guards in mid-air—if successful, jump options are restored—, but these are basically useless if the opponent is attacking on the ground. One cannot block against Throws, and some attacks have unblockable properties, like Undertow or Heavenly Potemkin Buster.
From Guilty Gear X onwards, guarding against the opponent's attack right before it hits activates an Instant Block (直前ガード, Chokuzen Gādo?). This will cause the defending character to start shining white with a bright light and the word "JUST" appears. Unlike a normal guard, which has a period where one cannot move or attack, this time frame is shorter for the Instant Block. It also reduces pushback, builds a small amount of Tension (0.5% since ♯Reload), and increases the Tension Pulse. It is otherwise a basic block move.
In the same entry, the Guard Level (ガードレベル, Gādo Reberu?) gauge was introduced, later renamed from Xrd onwards to R.I.S.C. Level (Ｒ.Ｉ.Ｓ.Ｃ.レベル, Risku Reberu?). Located below the health bar, this gauge increases each time a character guards an attack—with a basic block or an Instant Block—, but decreases when taking a hit. When it exceeds 75% the gauge starts flashing, and every attack received will have Counter Hit properties. Also, the more the gauge is filled, the greater the damage received from the opponent. The less filled, the less damage.
When a character is blocking an opponent's attack, Dead Angle Attacks can be performed. It will cancel the blocking animation and strike the enemy while they are still attacking.
Normally, blocking a Special Move always drains some health, although reduced. This can be prevented via Faultless Defense (フォルトレスディフェンス, Forutoresu Difensu?), called Perfect Guard in Guilty Gear, which allows blocking without losing any life at all. To initiate a Perfect Guard in Guilty Gear, the player must press and hold the button while blocking. From X onwards, Faultless Defense is done by guarding and simultaneously holding down any two attack buttons except . In this state, chip damage is not incurred, but the attack will knock back further than usual, putting some distance between the characters.
Using this technique will decrease the Tension gauge with each hit, and if the Tension gauge drops to zero, this guard can no longer be used. Other traits are: it increases blockstun, reduces Tension gain temporarily (reduced by 80% for 1 second), and does not increase Guard/R.I.S.C. Level.
Λ Core titles have the Slash Back (スラッシュバック, Surasshu Bakku?) option. Simultaneously pressing + + creates a yellow effect. If successful, the yellow effect flashes and will dramatically cut the stun time after a guard; however, one becomes temporarily defenseless if it fails. It has a 2% Tension consumption rate.
In the Xrd games, the Blitz Shield (ブリッツシールド, Burittsu Shīrudo?) option is added. It can be used by pressing + another attack button ( or or ) in a neutral state on the ground or in the air; crouching requires or as well. Using up 25% Tension, the move places the character in a defensive state that will repel the opponent's attack and stun them, which may help gain momentum. However, the repelled opponent (temporarily invulnerable to Throws) can respond with a Blitz Shield themself. Guarding on the ground enables Blitz Attacks in -Revelator-.
This guard does not protect against Throws, maxed Blitz Attacks, or Overdrives. In -Revelator-, successfully shielding an attack hit will regain half the Tension used (12.5%) and a little bit of Burst Gauge.