Combat stances are different types of fighting styles that Jin Sakai can take upon during combat. The player can switch between them at any point. A stance is more effective against a specific sub-set of enemies and it amplifies his attacks. Jin starts out with the Stone Stance, gaining further Stances by observing or killing Mongol Leaders.
There are four stances: Stone, Water, Wind and Moon. You can change stance by holding and pressing the corresponding face button. When in combat, switching stances will slow down time to allow the player a moment to think through which Stance to switch through and to smoothly transition into a new Stance with little pause in the battle. Upon changing stances, Jin's Heavy Attack chain and held Heavy attack changes in property; his Light Attack chain and other combat capabilities do not change between stances.
The following are combat moves that are shared between all stances.
- Light/Heavy Attack Chains:
- Press to perform a Light attack (same across all Stances). Effective for dealing quick attacks.
- Press to perform the current Stance's Heavy attack. Effective in dealing increased damage and inflict Stagger damage. Heavy attacks will interrupt enemies that the stance is effective against.
- Hold to perform the current Stance's held Heavy attack. A held Heavy attack can be held for as long as 2.5 second to delay it, before Jin automatically initiates the attack.
- Jin has access to an infinite Light attack chain ( ∞). However, only the first two strikes will be quick; thereafter, the third strike will be slower, while all strikes from the fourth one on will be as a slow as a normal Heavy attack. If you wish to make the most out of Light attacks, only interject up to three Light attacks between other combative moves.
- All Stances have a Heavy attack chain which can loop. However, the properties and the style of these attacks differ between Stances.
- It is possible to start either chain's opening attack midway through a chain. This is most helpful with mixing in Heavy attacks into the Light attack chain so that the Light attacks remain quick, while using Light attacks in between Heavy attack chains to keep the offensive on groups of enemies that try to interrupt your Heavy attacks. This property carries to Delayed Strike and special Heavy attacks.
- Block incoming attacks by holding . Tap right before an enemy lands an attack to perform a parry, interrupting their attack chain and leaving them open for your attacks.
- Dodge incoming attacks by holding and releasing .
- Jump/Jump Attack:
- Jump by pressing . It can be used to dodge low sweeping attacks from enemies (mostly applicable to Spearmen).
- Press while midair to perform a Jumping Slash to deal damage from above. Press while midair to perform a Jump Kick to instead deal Stagger damage.
- Samurai Techniques:
- All Samurai Techniques are not bound to a stance, thus can be used in all stances.
- Effective against Swordsmen; Heavy Attacks deal extra Stagger damage to them.
- Swordbreaker ( ) - Perform two downwards slashes before a strong upwards strike.
- Piercing Strike (hold ) - Ready yourself before thrusting your blade forward to deal high damage.
- Stone: Puncture (1 technique point) - Batter your foe with two piercing strikes. Hold , then tap
- Stone: Strength of Mountains (1 technique point) - Increase Stagger damage against Swordsmen from all Stone Stance attacks.
- Stone: Full Puncture (1 technique point) - Deliver three piercing strikes. Hold , then tap
- Stone: Momentum (2 technique points) - Perform Stone Stance heavy attacks with ferocious speed.
- Effective against Shieldmen; Heavy Attacks deal extra Stagger damage to them.
- Shieldbreaker ( ) - Perform two slow upwards strike before one firm downwards strike.
- Flurry Strike - (hold , then tap ) - Hold a stance before unleashing a torrent of three rapid strikes.
- Water: Flowing Strikes (1 technique point) - Unleash a torrent of four rapid strikes. Hold , then tap
- Water: Strength of Tides (1 technique point) - Increase Stagger damage against Shieldmen from all Water Stance attacks.
- Water: Surging Strikes (1 technique point) - Drown your foe with a flood of five rapid strikes. Hold , then tap
- Water: Downpour (2 technique points) - Inflict increasing damage with each attack in your Flurry Strike.
- Effective against Spearmen (and other polearms); Heavy Attacks deal extra Stagger damage to them.
- Spearbreaker ( ) - Perform two leaping strikes to close your distance to your target before performing a staggering kick.
- Typhoon Kick (hold ) - Crouch down to then initiate a powerful kick that staggers your opponent.
- Wind: Strengthened Typhoon Kick (1 technique point) - Typhoon Kicks launch you enemy farther back and deal extra Stagger damage.
- Wind: Strength of Gales (1 technique point) - Increase Stagger damage against Spearmen from all Wind Stance attacks.
- Wind: Spear Defense (1 technique point) - Automatically Parry spear attacks during any Wind Stance attack.
- Wind: Typhoon Kick Finisher (1 technique point) - Enemies thrown by a Typhoon Kick are knocked down.
- Effective against Brutes; Heavy Attacks deal extra Stagger damage to them.
- Heavy Strike ( ) - Perform two swift kicks before striking down with a powerful strike.
- Spinning Strike (hold ) - Hold your blade back to then perform an unstoppable spinning attack that damages all nearby enemies.
- Moon: Whirlwind (1 technique point) - Assail your foes with two fast-spinning strikes. Hold , then tap
- Moon: Strength of the Heavens (1 technique point) - Increase Stagger damage against Brutes from all Moon Stance attacks.
- Moon: Finishing Strike (1 technique point) - The third Moon Stance heavy attack deal's extra Melee damage and Stagger damage.
- Moon: Tornado (2 technique points) - Break through waves of enemies with three fast-spinning strikes. Hold , then tap
The Ghost Stance is unlocked after Jin's duel with General Temuge during "The Ghost of Yarikawa." To use this stance, Jin is required to kill seven enemies without taking damage from them, or to slaughter a leader via a stealth attack.
This stance is activated by pressing and at the same time. When activated, the screen will turn black and white and enemies will not attack Jin for a short time, with some becoming terrified. Upon attacking an enemy in this stance, the screen will flash red as Jin brutally kills his foe. Jin can instantly kill up to three enemies, or deal a large amount of damage on his opponent during a duel.
Much like other combat aspects of the game, it is possible to upgrade the effectiveness and accessibility of Ghost Stance. For example, the Ghost Armor can reduce the amount of kills needed to activate Ghost Stance, down to 6 kills without upgrades, and then 5 kills when fully upgraded. More will be noted on Ghost Stance's page.
- Each of the four main stance symbols are meant to represent the button they are mapped to.
- The Stone Stance is mapped to the button, and is represented by two swords forming an "X" shape.
- The Water Stance is mapped to the button, and is represented by a circular shield.
- The Wind Stance is mapped to the button, and is represented by the triangular heads of various spears.
- The Moon Stance is mapped to the button, and is represented by the box-shaped frame of a Brute.