Style: Zoning
Similar To: Guile (SFV), Morrigan (UMvC3)
Strengths: Kilgore is likely the best zoning character in the game. Complete with full screen, nearly instant chain guns at multiple angles and high damage missiles, as well as the ability to spend one shadow bar to cancel these at any time to punish approaches, Kilgore can keep many characters almost completely at bay at distance. Situationally, Kilgore is also a capable up-close fighter, and is able to punish certain high-risk moves, like DPs, with very strong unbreakable damage.
Weaknesses: Kilgore has a couple pronounced weaknesses. He is a largely unsafe character; unless he is overheated, all his close range special moves are very unsafe on block, and his normals don't help him maintain frame advantage, so he needs to play far away in most cases to be successful. He also needs a lot of training mode time to overcome his relatively low damage; without specific setups and knowledge, Kilgore's damage struggles to compete. He also needs very strong reaction times and awareness to maintain his strong zoning, so if you get overwhelmed briefly and let something slip through, Kilgore's gameplan can fall apart quickly.
Play If:
+ You are a pure zoner at heart
+ You like forcing people to run gauntlets
+ You want to punish blocked DPs big time
Avoid If:
- You prefer to fight in close quarters
- You want your basic tools to do high damage
- You don't have good reactions

Best Counter-Breaker Combos
0 Meter: HP double > light Chain Gun Dash > HP double > light Chain Gun Dash > HP double > light Chain Gun Dash > Missile Pod ender (41%)
1 Meter (Overheated): HP double > shadow Chain Gun Dash > HP double > light Chain Gun Dash > HP double > Missile Pod ender (49%)
2 Meter: HP double > light Chain Gun Dash > HP double > light Chain Gun Dash > HP double > shadow Missile Pod > forward dash > light Chain Gun Barrage (during knockdown) > shadow Chain Gun Assault (56%/65% if overheated)
( Damage calculation notesThese damage numbers were achieved after jumping HK opener, followed by a counter breaker. Keeping the initial combo as small as possible helps isolate the counter breaker damage, but this is an unlikely scenario in real matches. You can expect your damage to be much higher if you counter break in the middle of a normal combo.)
Notes: Boy, are Kilgore's counter breaker combos weird. His 0-meter combo is standard and easy, but underwhelming for damage. If you are not overheated or in instinct, do not even bother attempting a 1-meter combo involving a cashout; there is no combo that adds more than 1 or 2% and Kilgore's meter is far too valuable. However, if you are overheated, you can add a lot of potential damage early in the combo with shadow Chain Gun Dash, then do a standard cashout. The 2-meter combo involves a standard opening, then pummeling them with shadow Missile Pod before your cashout, which causes a ton of potential damage and a hard knockdown. This combo will work whether you are overheated or not, though you will get extra damage from the shadow Chain Gun Assault at the end if you are. It is very important to forward dash after the shadow Missile Pod so light Chain Gun Barrage will connect properly, then immediately cancel into shadow DP.

Unfortunately for Kilgore, this odd roadblock at the 1-meter combo, the situation that likely comes up the most often, means that optimizing these situations is pretty difficult. If you are not overheated, you will either need to do the 0-meter combo for weak damage or make sure you have 2 meters; there isn't really any in between. To be honest, although I listed it for completeness, you should probably replace that 1-bar combo above with the 2-bar combo up until the final shadow move, then try to land a mixup afterwards to cash out the large potential damage that will be sitting on your opponent's life bar. Trying to keep track of all the overheat and meter situations is likely not worth the strain it will add to your gameplay, and this change makes sure every combo starts with the same set of moves.

Unique Mechanic: Chain Gun Speed & Overheat

Despite looking a lot like Fulgore in appearance, Kilgore is a completely new character whose gameplan, moveset and characteristics differ from Fulgore a surprising amount.

His main mechanic is firing bullets using chain guns mounted on his arms via a variety of normal attacks and special moves. Specifically, almost every normal that uses HP (including crouching, jumping, and some command normals), his throw, and the Chain Gun Dash, Chain Gun Barrage, and Chain Gun Assault special moves will fire his chain guns. Kilgore starts each fight with a spin speed of 0, and each use of his chain guns will increase his spin speed by 1. As Kilgore's chain guns spin faster, they fire more bullets, do slightly more damage as a result, and will start glowing a fiery orange. To lower the spin speed, stop using chain gun moves and they will slowly cool off, roughly a couple seconds per level. Alternatively, you can use the Exhaust shadow move or Exhaust ender which vents all of Kilgore's built-up heat and immediately lowers your spin speed to 0.

Each use of Kilgore's chain guns increases the chain gun speed by 1, firing more bullets and doing slightly more damage. After 5 increases, Kilgore becomes overheated and his guns light on fire, causing all chain guns and missiles to explode a short distance in front of him.
Kilgore has a variety of chain gun moves that help him take up space or punish approaches. The Exhaust shadow move vents all his heat and returns him to 0 chain gun speed for more zoning.

Once Kilgore's chain guns reach level 5 -- that is to say, 5 separate uses of his chain guns without a few seconds passing between any use -- Kilgore will become overheated and the guns will get set on fire and glow bright orange. The overheat state lasts 12 seconds, or until you use Exhaust to vent all the heat; once you've become overheated, using (or not using) your chain gun moves will not impact this timer in any way. After the overheat timer expires, Kilgore will cool off all the way down to 0 chain gun speed. It's also worth noting that no chain gun move will ever do chip damage, so they are safe to block.

Normally, Metal Ball bounces off the opponent leaving Kilgore hugely unsafe for even the slowest moves. When overheated, Metal Ball causes an explosion that pushes Kilgore away and also leaves him safe.
The significant drawback to overheated Kilgore is that his zoning becomes much worse. All bullets fired out of his chain guns, as well as all missiles fired with Missile Pod, will explode a short distance in front of him, drastically reducing the range at which he can attack. However, there are some benefits to overheat mode which makes Kilgore a better rushdown character. First, each of these exploded chain gun bullets will cause additional potential damage to his opponent if they hit, which is useful in combo situations and is a key way for Kilgore to do high damage. Second, the Metal Ball special move becomes safe on block (roughly -2) by causing a secondary explosion after making contact with the opponent, instead of bouncing off and being hugely unsafe when Kilgore is not overheated. This gives Kilgore a safe on block opener he can use to pressure opponents up close, although the secondary explosion allows this move to be shadow countered. And lastly, Kilgore can juggle after his throw when he is overheated, enhancing his close-range game.

The word "overheat" sounds like something negative to be avoided, but it's not really the case; overheating is just a mechanic that lets Kilgore switch between rushdown and zoning by firing his chain guns. If he uses his chain guns rapidly enough, he will overheat and need to switch to rushdown mode with now-safe Metal Ball at the helm, as all his zoning tools will explode before they can reach the opponent. However, in some matchups against characters who can bypass his zoning more easily, Kilgore will likely prefer to be overheated more often than not, as a cooled down Kilgore is very poor at fighting up close. The sweet spot for a Kilgore who wants to zone is probably at chain gun speed 3 or 4, as he still gets full screen coverage on his zoning tools but they do additional damage because of extra bullets. If you're looking to spend a decent amount of time zoning, and you want to maintain some chain gun speed but not immediately overheat, mix up chain guns with Missile Pod, as firing missiles will not affect your chain gun speed at all and they are very strong zoning tools in their own right.

Understanding when Kilgore will overheat and either backing off and using Missile Pod to prevent overheating, or quickly overheating intentionally and choosing a rushdown strategy, is key to playing Kilgore well.

Chain Gun Dash (shadow OK)
Metal Ball (shadow OK)

Kilgore has two traditional special move openers. Chain Gun Dash looks almost identical to Fulgore's Blade Dash, but it's important to understand that Chain Gun Dash can't be used as close-range rushdown, as it's very unsafe on block no matter the chain gun speed. Instead, it should be used as a slightly forward-moving zoning tool, similar in application to his Chain Gun Sweep command normal (+HP), except moving forwards instead of backwards. If Kilgore is overheated, however, Chain Gun Dash (regular or shadow version) becomes a decent way to start a punish combo, as it will inflict potential damage (like all chain gun moves when overheated). Otherwise, stick to using Metal Ball or Missile Pod from close range.

Metal Ball is very difficult to use when not overheated; on block, Kilgore bounces away from the opponent and is extremely easy to punish with a juicy combo starter. There are situational uses for high-risk mixups, since heavy Metal Ball can cross up opponents, but in general I would recommend sticking to using Metal Ball only when overheated. When overheated, Metal Ball becomes roughly -2 on block, since it causes a secondary explosion when Kilgore lands. Light Metal Ball is especially good to use as a whiff punisher in neutral, as a forward-traveling "check" move against your opponent's movement, or as a cancel off normals like crouching MK. Shadow Metal Ball is an odd move; it is a one-hit ender that can recapture opponents, but it has long startup so it is really only useful in very situational juggles, typically involving Kilgore's instinct mode. If you are looking to play Kilgore at a basic or intermediate level, you should prioritize your meter for other uses.

Other Combo Starters
Missile Pod // Requires a manual
Wreck // Stagger
Throw // Launches for a juggle, overheat needed
Chain Gun Assault // Launches for a juggle

Missile Pod is a fantastic zoning tool, which should be used in combination with his various HP gun shots and Chain Gun Dash to throw curveballs at your opponent. Light Missiles travels slow and in a straight line, and is surprisingly difficult to jump over, so you should probably use these often. Medium and heavy Missiles travel towards a target (either in a straight line, or from the top of the screen), and holding the button during startup lets Kilgore move the target around. Missiles are also quite a bit more damaging than the chain gun moves, which help Kilgore make up the damage deficit. This freedom between slow Missiles, targeted Missiles, and lightning fast chain guns that can also reposition Kilgore is what makes him so good at range. Couple these zoning tools with Exhaust cancels, which are outlined in Special Moves to Watch below, can make him a nearly unapproachable wall.

L Missiles travel in a straight line, while M and H Missiles travel towards a target that the player can steer before release. The H version comes down from the top of the screen. Shadow Missiles is slow, but homes in and does huge damage, both regular and chip.
If Kilgore mixes up Missiles with his various chain gun zoning tools, it can be hard to approach; Jago tries to jump over a fast HP gun shot but instead jumps into the slower light Missiles. When not overheated, light Missiles is Kilgore's best close range special move.

From close range, light Missiles (for example, canceled from crouching MK) is Kilgore's best non-overheated special move. Kilgore will be left at negative frames, but not punishable, and the pushback from the missiles leaves Kilgore in a good spot. The missiles will not combo from most normals (and a smart opponent will look to take advantage of this gap on block and sneak an attack through), but non-overheated Kilgore needs to take what he can get from close range. If the missiles do connect, Kilgore can continue the combo with any manual if close enough, with good up-front damage. You can also try tricky uses of heavy Missiles after a hard knockdown (for example, after a throw); fire heavy Missiles, hold the button and reposition the target to be on top of the opponent's body, then attempt a confusing crossup by jumping over their body (or using Metal Ball to fly over) as the missiles come down.

Wreck (+HP) is a very important normal for Kilgore. This headbutt attack causes stagger while also being only slightly negative on block, but most importantly it is the core of a high damage punish combo that is essential to dealing damage with this character. If you block your opponent's invincible uppercut, or can correctly react in time to a whiffed shadow counter or counter breaker, perform Wreck (stagger), then another Wreck canceled into light Missiles. This 3-move sequence is unbreakable and very high damage, and you are free to link any manual of your choice after the light Missiles and then continue your combo; even the shortest sequence will be over 30% damage or higher. You can also cancel the light Missiles directly into shadow Missiles to leave a ton of potential damage stacked against your opponent, hoping for even more damage on your next mixup.

After a move with long recovery, like a DP or a missed counter breaker, Kilgore can punish with Wreck > Wreck > L Missiles as an unbreakable combo starter. Even doing a simple follow-up combo (here, standing HK manual into damage ender) gives huge damage.
When overheated, Kilgore can juggle after throw. Both crouching MP or crouching HK as the juggle will cause a hard knockdown, letting Kilgore do L Chain Gun Barrage into shadow DP for a cashout. In instinct, it hurts a little more due to more bullets.

With no grounded overhead or command grab, Kilgore needs to make the most of his regular throw and anti-air uppercut moves. Fortunately, Kilgore can situationally juggle after each of these moves, which can lead to cashouts using the shadow Chain Gun Assault uppercut. For his regular throw, Kilgore must be either overheated or one step before overheated for the attack portion to launch high enough for a juggle chance, but you will be able to connect with any manual in this situation. For Chain Gun Assault, Kilgore can juggle after this move even at 0 chain gun speed, but only a light attack will work in this case. However, starting the uppercut with just 1 chain gun speed is enough to let Kilgore juggle with either Destroy (crouching MP) or his crouching HK sweep, which both cause hard knockdowns but need different strengths to combo break. Whether you use overheated throw or Chain Gun Assault to cause the initial launch, follow this hard knockdown up with light Chain Gun Barrage (an OTG attack) canceled into shadow Chain Gun Assault to cash out any potential damage. Kilgore's ability to convert throws and DPs into damage, especially while overheated, is his scariest up-close pressure option.

Chain Gun Dash (shadow OK)
Metal Ball

Kilgore's two linkers follow his two openers. Surprisingly, the medium and heavy Chain Gun Dash linkers do more damage than the medium and heavy Metal Ball linkers, but Metal Ball happens a bit faster, so switching between the two can mess up the opponent's break attempts. Chain Gun Dash as a linker is not at all affected by Kilgore's overall chain gun speed; it does not do more or less damage if Kilgore is spinning faster or slower, and performing these linkers will not increase his chain gun speed. Shadow Chain Gun Dash linker, however, does inflict potential damage if Kilgore is overheated, making it a decent use of meter if you can use it early enough in a lockout combo to let the opponent take on some extra potential damage before a cashout. If you are not overheated, avoid shadow Chain Gun Dash linker entirely, as it does extremely weak damage and spends one of Kilgore's important shadow bars.

Shadow Linkers
No trick to breaking Kilgore's one shadow linker; simply mash after the brief startup with no chance of failure. Because shadow Chain Gun Dash does such weak damage when not overheated, though, your opponent likely won't force you to break it too often. As Kilgore gains more chain gun speed, more bullets will be fired which will give you more time to break. This graph shows the case with the fewest possible bullets, when Kilgore has no chain gun speed at all, but having extra chain gun speed won't change the break timing in any way.

About this graphSee all shadow linkersToggle frames

Battery & Exhaust // Chain Gun Barrage
Damage // Missile Pod
Launcher // Chain Gun Assault (shadow OK)
Wall Splat // Chain Gun Dash

Chain Gun Barrage builds a small amount of meter for Kilgore and vents all his excess heat, returning him to 0 chain gun speed. Unfortunately, the ender leaves Kilgore right next to his opponent, which isn't really the best position for a cooled down Kilgore, so it's likely better to focus on his other enders, as Kilgore can build meter fine through traditional means. Note that Missile Pod, and not the Chain Gun Assault uppercut, is Kilgore's damage ender, which is a little different than most other uppercut characters in the game. Chain Gun Assault is still a good ender to use, however, since Kilgore can juggle with unbreakable projectiles (such as medium Chain Gun Barrage, or any assortment of HP normals) which tack on a little extra damage and will add on scary potential damage if overheated. After this ender, if your opponent has good potential damage stacked, you'll be able to apply a throw or frame trap mixup which can lead to a cashout.

Recapture & Flipout
Shadow Metal Ball // Recapture
Usually recapture moves in KI are breakable, but Kilgore's is a one-hit shadow cashout ender, which means it's unbreakable. The downside this however is that, if you're using this mid-combo as a cashout, you'll have to insert a break point at some point before it, or else it will be opener-ender breakable like all enders. It's also a shadow move, which means using this gives you less meter for Exhaust and shadow Missile Pod. Since these are such strong uses of meter for Kilgore, unless you've devised some awesome high-damage juggle combos using shadow Metal Ball, you can probably safely pass on using this move and instead just stick with relatively basic cashouts using shadow Chain Gun Assault.

Kilgore's overheated zoning does a lot more white life on hit compared to his regular zoning. Check out the extreme amounts of shadow meter Kilgore builds on block; spend some of this meter by canceling into shadow Missiles for hard-to-avoid chip damage.
Kilgore's instinct turns him overheated but without the drawback of having his zoning tools explode a short distance in front of him. This turns Kilgore into a superpowered zoning machine, where every instant chain gun goes full screen, does maximum damage, and inflicts white life to boot. In addition to this, his chain gun moves build an extreme amount of shadow meter on both hit and block, but it's especially noticeable on block. This means sitting back and trying to block gunshots won't be that effective, as it will just quickly give Kilgore full shadow meter. Once you have enough meter, start canceling his chain gun moves into shadow Missile Pod from full screen to deal strong, nearly unavoidable chip damage. Alternatively, you could save your meter for Exhaust, which can be used freely in instinct without any averse effects on Kilgore's overheat state. This will put a quick stop to any attempts to approach Kilgore, and let you build more meter and fire shadow Missiles at people who have given up on approaching.

If you do find yourself in close quarters, Kilgore being overheated means he also maintains his strong up-close game, with safe on block Metal Ball and full juggle capability after throw or his Chain Gun Assault uppercut. In particular, because Kilgore gains so much meter from his zoning tools, you should be more willing to go for throws on your offense, since you will always have meter available for shadow Chain Gun Assault cashouts after throw juggles (see Other Combo Starters above). And if you need to build meter, simply back up by using Chain Gun Sweep (+HP) or jump back HP; if your opponent blocks or gets hit, you'll quickly get the resources you need.

Normals to watch
Undoubtedly, Kilgore's most important normals are his various HP chain guns, which have seen lots of discussion on this page already. While technically normals, it's probably better to think about them as zoning special moves, and you should basically never use them up close; if you are looking to use heavy manuals in your combos, you're better to use either Wreck (+HP) or standing HK.

For other normals, crouching MP is his only plus on block normal, but it unfortunately has pretty short range. On hit, crouching MP will launch and cause a hard knockdown, which is great when you use it in juggle combos. It also means Kilgore has two hard knockdown normals (sweep being the other), so combo breaking his juggles that end in hard knockdown (followed up by the often-used OTG light Chain Gun Barrage > shadow Chain Gun Assault cashout) is more difficult. Notably, despite being a good long range button, crouching MK is not a low attack, so his 5 frame chainable crouching LK and sweep are his only lows.

If you're looking to pressure up close, stick with Wreck as your big damage confirmable normal, crouching MP if close enough and standing MK if slightly further away, or crouching MK canceled into light Missile Pod or overheated light Metal Ball. As a final note, Kilgore's crossup is jumping LK; even though jumping MK looks like it could cross up, it never will.

Specials to watch
Other than the traditional openers and zoning moves discussed earlier in the page, there are two important utility special moves that Kilgore players must learn to use effectively.

The first is Short Circuit, which looks like a fast in-place teleport; it is reminiscent of the spot dodge from Super Smash Bros. Kilgore is invincible to strikes and projectiles immediately all the way to the last 6 frames of the move, so it can be used as a reversal or reaction to anything from jumping attacks to slower moves like Tusk's standing HP, and because it is so fast, it is also quite usable to guess on moves in neutral or to fake zoning. However, Kilgore cannot dodge throws with this move, so if you notice your opponent using this often, sprinkle in more throws during your pressure and force him to use the much more unsafe Chain Gun Assault uppercut to try escaping. Short Circuit is very good at creating scrambles, since it recovers fast and is difficult to punish if you are not close range.

When overheated, Short Circuit is not a teleport; rather, Kilgore self-destructs, causing a short-range explosion and knocking himself down. This explosion will always damage Kilgore about 7%, even if his opponent blocked the move. On hit, the explosion will also knock the opponent away to full screen and do the same 7% to both fighters. The best way to think about Self Destruct is a relatively low-risk, low-reward reversal. If Self Destruct is successful, you will deal as much damage as you take, so there is nothing to gain from this move except the space. Though normally space is very good for Kilgore, remember that he can only do this move when overheated, so unless in instinct, full screen is not the best position for him. If your opponent blocks, however, you will only take a set amount of damage and avoid the massive punishment that a blocked uppercut would allow. Self Destruct is best used sparingly, and perhaps best used in instinct, where Kilgore can take much better advantage of the full screen positioning with his strong zoning tools.

When not overheated, Short Circuit is a fast, invincible dodge which can be used to fake actions or punish predictable moves. When overheated, it turns into Self Destruct, which always hurts Kilgore but can also hurt his opponent.
All chain gun or missile moves can be canceled on whiff with Exhaust. See your opponent try to jump or shadow through your zoning? Exhaust cancel and then punish. There are many creative punishes depending on the situation, but DP will always work just fine in a pinch.

The other move to discuss is Exhaust, the shadow version of Chain Gun Barrage. This move vents all of Kilgore's excess heat after a very short startup, returning him to 0 chain gun speed (except in instinct), and lets Kilgore act immediately after the shadow freeze is over. But the most important property of this move is that Kilgore can cancel all Chain Gun and Missile moves on whiff into Exhaust. If you are a fan of the Guilty Gear series, you can think of Exhaust like a yellow Roman Cancel.

Exhaust is the juice that makes Kilgore's zoning so strong. If you have a shadow meter available, and good reactions, you can use Chain Gun and Missile moves almost without fear from mid-screen or further away, because if your opponent tries to jump over or use a projectile invincible shadow move to get through, Kilgore can simply react with Exhaust and punish. If your opponent jumped, use the Chain Gun Assault uppercut; remember that heavy Chain Gun Assault goes very far forward horizontally, so you can snipe people who aren't even close to you. If your opponent tried to shadow through, you could uppercut as well, although perhaps the better choice is to use Short Circuit to dodge the shadow move and then get a grounded punish! This requires a bit of training mode experimentation and matchup knowledge to know in which situations this will work, but because Kilgore gets such high grounded punish damage using Wreck, it really pays to know where Short Circuit is the better choice. If you're ever unsure, though, using Chain Gun Assault is just fine.

General strategy
Kilgore is the best hit-and-run zoner in Killer Instinct; if you don't enjoy that particular playstyle, then you probably won't enjoy using this character. If you try to play him with a preference for rushdown, especially when not overheated, you will quickly find yourself on the receiving end of a lot of pain, and largely unable to do a ton of damage even if you do land a hit. You have to enjoy being a frustrating nuisance to your opponent from mid-screen or further away, and chipping away at your opponent's will to fight back.

Although you'll need good reactions to Exhaust cancel and uppercut jumps, his zoning patterns themselves are actually quite easy to implement in action; simply press HP a lot. Hold your ground with standing HP, crouching HP, or neutral jump HP. If you want to back up a bit, use jump-back HP or the Chain Gun Sweep command normal (+HP) to build that space while also putting bullets on the screen, or use backdash if your opponent is close enough to make you nervous. Randomly sprinkle in some light Missile Pods to throw curveballs at your opponent and keep your spin speed in check. Use Short Circuit occasionally to fake doing a real zoning move or to dodge a slow move, keep Chain Gun Assault uppercut at the ready for people who jump, and voila, you have a pretty effective core gameplan that will get you started.

When you overheat, whether intentionally or because you lost track of your chain gun speed, zoning becomes a non-option for you. Instead, you'll have to use light Metal Ball and Kilgore's relatively average close-range normals to try and fight off your opponent, and you will have to become very good at converting damage off Wreck and overheated throw to keep Kilgore competitive in the damage department, which means you'll have to spend a bit of time in training mode making sure you understand the timing of the juggles and the shadow Chain Gun Assault cashout.

The last important piece of advice is to not spend meter haphazardly; Exhaust and shadow Missile Pod are such strong, mandatory uses of meter for Kilgore that spending it "randomly" on shadow Metal Ball or a shadow linker is rarely worth it. At beginner or intermediate play, save your meter for enhancing Kilgore's zoning with Exhaust, doing good chip damage with shadow Missile Pod, or on specific and rehearsed shadow Chain Gun Assault juggle cashouts only. Use Kilgore's fantastic instinct mode to build back huge swaths of meter using Chain Gun moves and irritate your opponent who really has limited options to approach. Fight at close range if you have to, but Kilgore is a character that is built to frustrate, and enjoy it, the entire time.

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