Most Similar To: Fei Long, Dr. Doom (Marvel vs. Capcom 3)
Strengths: Of all the rushdown and screen control characters, Orchid has the best walk speed and maybe the best mid-range pokes, which lets her control a lot of the ranges the opponent will be looking to escape her eventual mixups. To compensate, Orchid's high-low game is slightly more easy to react to, but she has tools that can make these mixups safe if she plans far enough in advance. Her air throw is a strong air-to-air option that recaptures the opponent for a full grounded combo. There are very few places on the screen where Orchid does not have strong tools for the situation.
Weaknesses: Most of Orchid's weaknesses will need strong defense to implement. Her main pressure tool, Ichi Ni San, is situationally shadow counterable with good reactions, and in order to get a mixup, you must commit to an unsafe option that can only be made safe through secondary tools you might not always be able to prepare. In a game full of unreactable mixups, Orchid's moves border on the slightly slow side of human reaction scale, making them more "fair", but it's still pretty easy to get hit. Orchid likes to approach with her beefy horizontally-traveling moves due to her floaty jump, so if you can occupy this space on screen effectively, Orchid can be kept away.
Best Counter-Breaker Combos
0 Meter: HP double > medium Ichi Ni San > HP double > medium Ichi Ni San > HP double > Air Buster ender (47%)
1 Meter: HP double > medium Ichi Ni San > HP double > medium Ichi Ni San > Shadow Flick Flack > Air Buster ender (57%)
2 Meter: HP double > medium Ichi Ni San > medium Ichi Ni San > Shadow Flick Flack > Shadow Flick Flack > Air Buster ender (65%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Her 2-meter punish uses her combo trait to do two Ichi Ni San linkers back-to-back, and the second shadow Flick Flack extends past the lockout window, but not long enough for the opponent to break three hits. Shadow Flick Flack hurts more than using the meter on the ender. Medium Ichi Ni San is fast enough to squeeze in the maximum amount of HP doubles, and does the most damage.
Openers: Flick Flack (shadow OK), Blockade Runner (shadow OK), Ichi Ni San (3rd Hit), Air Throw
Flick Flack crushes lows, even though Orchid is doing a handstand and not off the ground, which makes it a good tool in close when your opponent is not in block stun. Blockade Runner is an extremely low profile slide attack that can duck under many projectiles and mid-range pokes; the HK version goes full screen but is -10 on block with some pushback that requires a calculated punish. Her staple opener is Ichi Ni San, a three-hit rekka move that requires three individual presses of a punch button. It has a low version (LP 3rd hit), overhead version (MP 3rd hit), and a potentially safe on block version that can be held in the opponent's face (HP 3rd hit). Max charge for the 3rd hit is unblockable, like threatening to hold and release one of Ryu's Denjin fireballs in SFV, and Orchid will recover in time to block jumps if the opponent holds up and Orchid releases quickly. Trying to shadow counter Ichi Ni San on the 3rd hit is very difficult, since Orchid can hold the HP 3rd hit past the brief shadow counter window and the MP overhead is naturally two hits already.
To make Ichi Ni San even stronger, the heavy version's third hit can be canceled into a forward dash while it is being charged. While the dash forward puts you at negative frames, it can be extremely risky for the defender to challenge with a button because Orchid can easily just delay the third hit slightly and release it, causing a counter hit. If you dash forward and catch your opponent by surprise, they might try to instinctively throw you. You can bait the throw by neutral jumping or doing the Whiplash overhead, which has some throw invulnerability and leads to a combo. To defend against Ichi Ni San, your best bet is to try and shadow counter the first or second hit after Orchid cancels a normal attack, or block and punish her light and medium strength mixups. If you block the heavy version's third hit, you will have to respect Orchid's block advantage. While only the third hit of these Ichi Ni San variations is an opener, the first and second hits can be canceled into shadow openers if you like.Other Combo Starters: Grenade Toss, Firecat (requires a manual)
Grenade and Orchid's instinct-only Firecats are mixup and pressure tools, so they are unlikely to be used as combo starters in the traditional sense. However, if you confirm that your opponent got hit by one of these tools during Orchid's pressure, linking a manual off these attacks will open a combo.Linkers: Flick Flack (shadow OK), Blockade Runner (shadow OK), Ichi Ni San
Orchid's linkers are the same as her openers. Blockade Runner is the highest damaging linker, while she can take advantage of her combo trait to string together back-to-back Ichi Ni San linkers if she chooses. Ichi Ni San when used as a linker animates like the 3rd hit in the opener version, so light linker is a 1-hit low, medium linker is a 2-hit overhead swing, and heavy linker is a 3-hit attack to the body. You can use these visual cues to help you combo break these attacks a little more easily than regular linkers. Flick Flack performs 2, 3, and 4 hits for light, medium, and heavy respectively, making it tricky to break for the uninitiated. Shadow Flick Flack is a high damage linker that hits with staggered timing, and the three combo breaker inputs must be staggered to match. If your opponent is uncomfortable breaking this shadow move, use it often to get lockouts, or free damage if they stop trying to break it.
Shadow Linkers: Orchid's Shadow Flick Flack is an important shadow linker to learn to break, due to its staggered gaps on either side of the third hit. Many Orchid players will use this linker mid-combo for free damage, expecting you to lock out or simply choose to not attempt to break. Catching the first hit of Shadow Flick Flack is quite easy, since it is very early after the freeze (you can almost never be too early), and it coincides perfectly with Orchid's "yeah!" shout. Then, wait for the fourth and fifth hits, which happen rapid-fire at the end of the linker and break with a steady rhythm as Orchid's leg starts to descend after finishing her handstand.
Another way to break Shadow Flick Flack is to actually try to break the first, third, and fifth hits. The timing for doing this is deliberately slow and surprisingly regular, quite similar in timing to Jago's Shadow Laser Sword (in fact, almost identical to the frame once the freeze ends). If you're able to break Jago's Laser Sword consistently, try applying the same timing to Flick Flack and you might be surprised at how consistent the technique is. Once you prove you can consistently break Shadow Flick Flack, your opponent will have to begin counter breaking or else simply avoid using it for free damage.
Orchid doesn't have a battery ender, so she'll either choose to go for damage using her Air Buster uppercut or an ender that allows a setup. If you perform the Ichi Ni San ender, you can jump cancel the final hit and connect with an air throw. A mid-combo air throw does not recapture (only the opener version does). Instead, it will bounce the opponent off the ground and allow for a longer combo. You can choose to end the combo quickly and perform a setup; for example, hit the bouncing body with an attack like crouching HP, then cancel it into her Grenade. They will wake up into the ticking grenade and be forced to block your mixup or avoid it using some projectile invincible special move. If you'd like to try to extend your combo longer, you can jump cancel crouching HP and perform more attacks in the air (including more air throws), or cancel grounded normals into specials which will continue the juggle (for example, Flick Flack, which bounces an airborne opponent off the ground). Orchid can do some difficult to break juggle combos after her Ichi Ni San ender if you choose, but they are not mandatory to learn to be effective with Orchid.
Recapture & Flipout: Air Throw when not in combo (recapture)
Orchid has no mid-combo recapture or flipout, so if she is performing juggles, she needs to use shadow meter to cash out the damage. Orchid will instead prefer to use Grenades to mix the opponent up after they've landed from an air knockdown to score her damage. If you use air throw in neutral (for example, as an air-to-air attack), it will cause a recapture which leads to a grounded combo, but this will not be true if you use air throw in the middle of a combo, such as after her Ichi Ni San launcher ender.
Normals to watch: Orchid's normals are phenomenal, so there's really no end to the normals I could list here. Her sweep low profiles her under projectiles. Her +HK command overhead is throw invincible for a good chunk of its startup and complements her Ichi Ni San high-low game nicely, especially with an assist on screen. Crouching MP is her best and farthest reaching low attack, and far standing MP and HP are superb mid-range pokes that hit two character lengths away, all canceled into Ichi Ni San for safe pressure or a mixup of your choice. Crouching MK is not a low, but has 5 active frames, making it a great meaty choice against characters with bad reversals. Jumping MK is also an especially good crossup.
Specials to watch: Grenade is a special move activated with +HP. Orchid can hold the grenade a little longer and throw it farther if you hold HP, but when thrown, it explodes on a timer (or if it hits another projectile) with a pretty significant hitbox. Finding ways to set up Grenades on the opponent safely -- for example, after certain enders or during pressure -- is an excellent way to prevent the opponent from punishing Orchid during an unsafe mixup. If you were to compare Orchid's two assists (Grenade and instinct Firecats) to techniques from a game such as Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Grenade is closer to Doctor Doom's Hidden Missiles, due to its considerably longer startup and time delay, while Firecat is closer to Plasma Beam. If you're a projectile character, watch out for full screen HK Blockade Runners; you should perhaps have a specific punish in mind for when you bait out this -10 on block move.
General strategy: Your opponent walks slower than you, and you should be able to abuse the difference in walk speed with Orchid. Walking in and out of range and pressing crouching MP, standing MP, and standing HP canceled into Ichi Ni San (go with HP for safe pressure, or LP/MP as a mixup if you have an assist out or are willing to gamble) will form the cornerstone of Orchid's basic offense. She has a solid anti-air and reversal in Air Buster to complement her footsies game, a way past most zoning with Blockade Runner, strong combo damage including the hard-to-break shadow Flick Flack, and tools to mixup on knockdowns for all occasions. Orchid is a strong character in Killer Instinct because she has options in almost every situation and the best fundamentals to back her up.