Dueling Guide by bighairycamel

Version: 1.00 | Updated: 05/21/03 | Printable Version

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/   **    Version 1.00                               **   \
\   **    Created by BIGHAIRYCAMEL                   **   /
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~ ASCII art created by ASCII Generator


1. Intro

2. Why dueling is important
   2.1 - Morale
   2.2 - Morale part 2
   2.3 - Isolation
   2.4 - Efficiency
   2.5 - Strength boost

3. Basic methods
   3.1 - The L1 button
      3.1.1 - Centering your character
      3.1.2 - Blocking
   3.2 - Exposing the opponent's vulnerabilities
   3.3 - Creating openings
   3.4 - Counter-offensives
      3.4.1 - Musou attack
      3.4.2 - Killing the unblockable attack
   3.5 - Cheapshots

4. Methods to avoid
   4.1 - 1st charge attacks
   4.2 - Jump charges
   4.3 - Musou gage filling

5. Dueling flow chart

6. Simple list of tips & tricks.

7. Special thanks


May 19, 2003 - Started working on the FAQ.  I've got sections 1 and 2
               down, and I am still not sure how many total sections
               there will be, I am taking it as it goes.

May 20, 2003 - More touch-up work to the FAQ.  I have started section 3
               about basic moves and hope to finish by this evening.
               But we'll see how it goes.

May 21, 2003 - Putting the finishing touches on the FAQ. I will submit
               it to GameFAQs today.  The guide is complete for the
               most part, but I will be updating once in awhile if I
               think some new info would be helpful in here.  Feel
               free to email me if there is something you'ld like to
               see in this FAQ.

1~~~~ INTRO ~~~~1

Dueling is one of the best new features of Dynasty Warriors 4.  A lot
of people love this new feature, while others don't care for it at all,
some even turn every challenge down.  But, if you want to see all and
everything in DW4, you're going to have to duel.  Personally, I like to
accept every challenge given to me, even the infamous Lu Bu at Hu Lao Gate.
My success rate against him isn't very high, but I'll get into that later.
However, I have found methods to successfully defeat just about any other
enemy general, and have a very high success rate.  The reason I started
writing this FAQ all starts on one rainy day.  I was playing DW4 with my
wife and I got a chance to watch her duel.  She normally plays as much, if
not more, than I do, and she is fairly good too, but her dueling strategies
were hideous.  She had no technique other than Hack'n'slash.  Koei did a
pretty good job creating the dueling computer AI.  The computer will take
every opening possible to beat you.  In my wife's case, she usually
ended up dieing, drawing, or once in awhile actually pulling off a lucky
win, the keyword there is luck.  Well that's why I'm writing this FAQ.
You won't necessarily have to use my exact strategy, but I can provide
all the basic methods to greatly increase your chances of winning if you
duel like the old lady does.  Then you'll be able to get any of those all
important level 10 weapons.


There are several reasons why dueling has key advantages to winning
battles.  As we all know, the characters we play as are limited in how
they can affect battle strategies.  We basically have to make our own
strategies, by the order in which we kill generals, who we let die and who
we let live, who we reinforce and who we leave for dead, how we use our
bodyguards, and most importantly, how effectively we kill enemy generals.
Winning duels can be THE MOST important strategy you can implement into
your game plan.  There many reasons for why this is so.

   2.1   ~~ Morale Boost ~~

         The first and most important reason why dueling is important
         is because your ally's morales depend upon it.  On normal,
         and especially on hard, modes you can expect your allies
         morale to go down, sometimes very quickly.  Also, the harder
         the level, the quicker your allies morale will decline with
         time.  But, when you defeat enemy generals, you consume the
         morale their side lost.  For example, if your side has three
         officers (including yourself) with only 2 stars of morale
         each, but the enemy has 3 officers as well but with 4 stars
         of morale each, then currently your morale will be at 33 %.
         However, when you defeat one of the enemies then they lose
         4 stars of morale and your morale jumped to 43 %.  Plus, it's
         possible that you or your commander could gain a star, while
         the enemy commander could lose a star.  In this case your
         morale would jump to 50 %, just by defeating one officer.
         Now you may be thinking, "I can do that without having to
         go into a duel" and you're right, but dueling still has
         several advantages over just killing an officer normally,
         which brings me to my next point.

   2.2   ~~ Morale boost revisited ~~

         One of the huge advantages of winning a duel is that you will
         ALWAYS get a little extra boost in morale, both for you and
         your allies. When you kill an officer outside of a duel, there
         is only a chance you will increase you or your allies morale.
         On that same note, the enemies morale will always go down after
         you defeat them in a duel. So the chances of getting that extra
         boost from 33 % to 50 %, like in the situation from 2.1, is
         greatly increased, it's almost a sure fire deal.

   2.3   ~~ Isolate the officer ~~

         Dueling is obviously the easiest way to isolate the enemy
         general.  We all probably hate when we are fighting an officer
         and one of his bodyguards get a cheapshot to your back, or when
         they jump charge you from behind right before you finish off
         your charge attack, or when 4 of them do a running attack all
         in a row, or when you have 20 archers surrounding the battle
         area.  If you're like me, you want to eliminate the general
         first and get revenge on his evil horde of backstabbers second.
         Dueling is the easiest way to eliminate any 3rd party
         interference, for obvious reasons.

   2.4   ~~ Quick and efficient defeat ~~

         If you need to defeat an enemy general extra quick (example:
         Change Ban, Wei side) then dueling is the obvious answer to
         what the most effective way would be.  By defeating an officer
         in a duel, you remove any chances of the other enemy officers
         making an further progression while you are fighting.  The
         exact opposite is true when you fight the officers in a non-
         duel setting, because they still have freedom to move about,
         which means extra time for you to catch up or fix the damage
         they caused to your allies.  Dueling is especially efficient
         when on horseback, since you never have to get off the horse,
         as soon as the duel is over you can disregard any soldiers
         nearby and move along to the next victim in a matter of seconds
         if that's how you choose to fight.  Winning battles quickly also
         reaps the benefit of getting some extra experience points at
         the end of the level, since you'll have more time to kill the
         generals yourself as opposed to your allies finishing them off.
         And also because you'll be able to work towards that extra few-
         thousand time bonus by finishing the level under 10 minutes,
         which is nice for building up an inexperienced character.

   2.5   ~~ Even the playing field ~~

         One thing you may have already noticed about dueling, is that
         DW4's dueling system is designed to create a closer match than
         you would normally experience in a non-duel setting.  For
         example, I remember one time when I was still new to the game,
         I had to duel Zhu Rong on the Nanman Campaign (on normal) with
         Zhou Tai, who had only been built to level 11, with minimum
         attack and defense power ups.  However, I used a few of the
         techniques I had already learned and won, quite easily
         actually.  It's because the level was evened so that the
         match wouldn't have been a slaughterhouse like it would have
         been had I not dueled her.  There is a negative to this
         feature however.  Sometimes you could be twice as strong as
         the officer against you, and of course once the duel starts
         they get the benefit of being strengthened up a little as
         well.  Have no fear though, because we still have the tech-
         niques and strategies so you'll never lose, which brings me
         to my next section.


Now that we've established why dueling is important and beneficial, we can
move on to the basics.  The following moves can be used against anyone, with
only one exception that I can think of right off hand, which as you may have
already guessed, is Lu Bu at Hu Lao Gate.  The reason is because Lu Bu was
made to be virtually invulnerable.  But otherwise, your success rate with
these basic skills should be nearly 100 %, when used right anyway.  So I'll
quit rambling and get started.

   3.1   ~~ Blocking and using the L1 button ~~

         There are two separate uses for the L1 button.  Most people
         just think of it as a blocking button, but I use it for a
         second purpose which I don't think I could win without. I'll
         explain what I mean first, then get into blocking second.

         3.1.1   ~~ Centering your character ~~

                 Another thing that annoys me when I fight an officer
                 has to do with the camera angles.  You can rest
                 assured that the enemy will never stay right in front
                 of you.  Not only that, but if you turn even slightly
                 the camera angle won't follow and you'll be looking
                 at the characters face or even their side.  You always,
                 always, always need to be looking at your characters
                 back, and have the enemy be at your front.  Having the
                 enemy be off camera is an easy way for him to get a
                 quick combo on you, and take away precious HP too.
                 This is where the L1 button comes into play.  By simply
                 tapping the L1 button, the camera centers behind your
                 character.  Always know where the enemy general is, so
                 you can quickly turn towards them and hit the L1 button
                 so you can see him.  While you got your finger on the
                 L1 button, you might as well prepare to block, which
                 will bring me to my next point.

         3.1.2   ~~ Blocking efficiently ~~

                 Blocking is one of the most important things to learn
                 how to use.  When I see someone duel horribly, their
                 main problem is always a lack of blocking.  Some people
                 just simply think it's a pain to use, but it's actually
                 very simple to implement effectively.  All you have to
                 do is stand there and hold L1, and there's usually no
                 need to even move, since there is only one officer and
                 you'll be keeping him in front of you at all times using
                 the technique in 3.1.1 *winkwink.  The only exception is
                 that you'll have to watch the officer for unblockable
                 charge 1 attacks, which I will teach in section 3.4.2 .
                 You'll get nowhere however by just attacking head on,
                 because the AI can and will block too, so the next point
                 will cover how to create your own openings to get some
                 combos against the enemy.

   3.2   ~~ Exposing the opponent's vulnerabilities ~~

         There are four separate times where an officer loses his
         ability to block and opens himself up for an easy attack.
         I'll explain each of the four times and explain the simple
         ways to set the enemy up to become vulnerable.

         * IN THE AIR - when the opponent is jumping through the air.
         ~ HOW TO EXPOSE - the easiest way to make the enemy take to
                           the air is to jump into the air yourself.
                           The officer will always try to jump and slash
                           you out of the air.  The old saying goes, "Do
                           unto others as you would have them do unto you."
                           On this note, the best course of action is to
                           cut them down before they cut you down.  If
                           you're in close range, I recommend hitting
                           square as soon as you jump, and you should
                           always knock the enemy out first.  If you're
                           at long range, wait till you're just within
                           reach and hit square.  This requires some
                           timing but is pretty simple to pull off.  I
                           use this method about 10 times each duel,
                           because it's effective.  Also, I recommend
                           doing this as soon as you've finished blocking
                           one of the officer's combos, it's the easiest
                           way to knock them down and turn the tables.
                           Once the enemy is knocked down, they will put
                           themselves into another vulnerable state...
                           they will rebound their fall, see below how
                           to take advantage of this mistake.

         * On a rebound - when you've successfully attacked and the
                          officer quickly springs to his feet.
         ~ HOW TO EXPOSE - Anytime you pull off a combo or manage
                           to knock them off their feet, they will
                           99.9 % of the time try to rebound their fall.
                           Before they hit the ground just simply run to
                           them and start any combo of your choice.  You
                           can continue this method indefinitely until
                           they get out of reach or finally decide not to
                           rebound.  If this is the case, see the above
                           method and start the beat down process over
                           again till you win.

         * When you're behind him - the obvious way, he cant block
                                    behind him, just like we can't.
         ~ HOW TO EXPOSE - I wouldn't recommend this be your main
                           method to make the opponent vulnerable.
                           The main reason is because there will be
                           a few seconds where you can't block, and
                           as soon as you're in close range they could
                           counter and combo you.  Also, I suggest this
                           method only be used with characters with
                           above-average speed.  The faster they are, the
                           easier it will be to get around behind the
                           officer quickly.  But even with fast characters
                           I only use this method 2 or 3 times at the most
                           during the duel.  One way to fully take
                           advantage of this vulnerability, is to get
                           behind the opponent when he/she didn't rebound
                           your previous attack and are laying on the
                           ground.  They'll get up slowly and wont be able
                           to turn around in time to block your next
                           series.  I do really like to use this 4 or 5
                           times each duel.

         * When the enemy is in motion - self explanatory, you can't
                                         block while you're running and
                                         neither can the AI.
         ~ HOW TO EXPOSE - Taking advantage of the enemy while he is
                           in motion is the simplest yet.  My favorite
                           way: arrow to the face.  See section 3.5 for
                           further explanation of how to use this
                           technique effectively.  The only other way is
                           to just attack.  When an enemy is stepping
                           side to side you could go for an attack, but
                           90 % of the time they will stop moving to
                           block you.  There's no harm done by hoping you
                           get a shot in, just make sure you block after-
                           words so they don't counter.  If they are
                           running straight at you, then I would simply
                           hit them with an arrow, but highly recommend
                           reading 3.5 to get some ideas of how to
                           take advantage of the arrow technique even

   3.3   ~~ Ways to create openings ~~

         I debated with myself whether or not to put this section in at
         all.  The reason is mainly because the info will be basic
         common sense.  Also because I touched on the same info in
         section 3.2, but what the hey, it couldn't hurt.  Anyway,
         creating an opening is very easy.  The only thing to it
         is to make sure you aren't putting yourself into a vulnerable
         state.  For example, don't try a jump attack when the enemy is
         starting a combo, because they won't jump after you like you
         need them to for the method to work.  Basically, only use the
         above methods when the opponent is making no apparent offensive
         moves.  Simple stuff huh?

   3.4   ~~ Counter-offensives ~~

         No methods are 100 % fool proof, so there will still be plenty
         of times where you will get beat on, but have no fear, you
         haven't lost until you're dead.  Also, there are lots of
         characters that have been given unblockable triangle attacks
         that might get you in a pinch, but these are combatable as well.
         First I'll explain how and when to use your musou attack, then
         explain how to watch for the unblockable attack.

         3.4.1	~~ Using your musou attack ~~

                Like I mentioned before, there will be times where
                you will be wooped on and it will seem like you're
                surely going to lose.  But don't give up.  One thing
                that usually stays consistent with duels, is that if
                you're in the red, and you haven't used a musou attack,
                then most likely your bar will be filled.  Everytime
                you're caught in a combo, keep your eye on the life bar
                and the musou bar.  If you are in fact caught in a
                combo and notice the musou bar fill, immediately hit
                circle and counter with a musou attack.  If you've
                got a full musou bar, but aren't in the middle of
                the enemies combo, just block and wait for them to
                attack.  When they're in the middle of the combo,
                hit circle and enjoy.  Most likely you won't get a
                musou till you're close to dead, but in any case,
                I'ld save it for an emergency or till you know the
                enemy has low enough life for it to finish him off.

         3.4.2   ~~ Countering an unblockable attack ~~

                Certain characters have charge 1 triangle attacks that are
                unblockable, for example, Zhang Fei, Taishi Ci, Dian Wei,
                Lu Bu, Xu Huang, etc.  The only time you really need to
                watch for this attack is when you're blocking.  There are
                tell-tale signs that the enemy is about to try and grab you,
                and recognizing them is the only way to avoid getting
                caught.  As I'm blocking, I like to watch the enemy's next
                action.  They'll either start swinging their weapon at you
                or they'll gather strength to try to pull of a grab.  It
                takes them roughly 2 seconds to charge the attack before
                they lunge at you. You'll know when they are charging
                because you'll see the animation of the energy gathering
                into their fist.  This is your que to jump, and as soon as
                you jump slash at them.  You should always have plenty of
                time to get out of the way.  If you jump too late you'll
                still be OK.  They'll hit you with their fist but they'll
                just knock you down, they won't be able to complete the
                grab.  Here is a list of the characters than can do a
                charge 1 grab attack, so you'll know before the duel starts
                to watch out for this move...

                * Shu *
                ~ Zhang Fei

                * Wei *
                ~ Xu Huang
                ~ Dian Wei
                ~ Xu Zhu
                ~ Cao Ren

                * Wu *
                ~ Sun Ce
                ~ Sun Quan
                ~ Zhou Tai
                ~ Taishi Ci
                ~ Gan Ning

                * Unalligned *
                ~ Lu Bu
                ~ Dong Zhuo
                ~ Zhang Jiao

   3.5   ~~ Cheapshots ~~

         Sure we all hate archers, but you have to give them credit for
         being annoying enough to keep attacking your weak spots.
         Regardless of how unhonorable it is to use arrows to get in a
         cheapshot, do it anyway!  There are a few times where using your
         bow is appropriate.  One is when they are running directly at you,
         like at the start of the match.  In fact, using the arrow is always
         the first thing I do, it gets you the upperhand right away.  The
         2nd time shooting an arrow is called for, is when the enemy is
         rebounding from one of your attacks, and more specifically, when
         they have rebounded but are too far away for you to reach with your
         melee weapon.  If you've read all of section 3.2, you'll be able
         to open up endless possibilities of mass combos after you've hit
         them with an arrow.  Happy hunting!

4~~~~ Methods to avoid ~~~~4

   4.1   ~~ 1st charge attacks ~~

         If you read section 3.4.2, you'll know how to combat the unblockable
         attack when the enemy tries to use a charge 1 against you.  It also
         mentioned to simply jump when you see them try to grab you.  The
         reason I mentioned this, is because the AI does the exact same thing,
         except they jump no matter what character you are, even if the charge
         1 isn't unblockable.  When they jump it automatically makes you open
         for an attack from them, so avoid using this attack.

   4.2   ~~ Jump charges ~~

         Avoid using jump charge attacks as well.  You probably already know
         why too, because the enemy will always jump up and slash you down
         before you get the chance to land.  Every once in awhile you can
         land one of these attacks with a little luck, but I wouldn't wager
         on trying one of these moves.

   4.3   ~~ Musou gage filling ~~

         Another simple common sense no-no.  When you hold circle to charge
         your musou bar, it leaves you open for long amounts of time.  I
         have experimented with trying to charge up a little amount of time,
         but the musou bar doesn't even start filling for a least half a
         second, and that's all the enemy needs to get a hit on you.  In
         95 % of my duels I don't even end up needing a musou attack to win,
         so you shouldn't worry about relying on the musou at all.

5~~~~ Sample duel flow chart ~~~~5

Here I will provide a sample flow chart of how you might expect a duel to go
using the techniques you have learned.  It won't cover a whole duel, it will
merely just give you an idea of how the techniques flow into eachother.  I
just hope it isn't going to be too confusing.

    arrow attack
 opponent rebounds
        / \
       /   \
      /     \
  another   run up for
  arrow     quick combo
    |          \
    |           \
opponent       opponent
doesn't        rebounds
rebound        again
    |              \
    |               \
get behind          another
opponent,           combo
combo when he        / \_____________
stands up           /                |
    |             opp.            opponent knocked
    |             blocks          out of melee range
opp. rebounds       |               / \
    |              /               /   \
    |           jump           jump     hit with
combo          attack         attack     arrow
    |           /               /             \
   end         /               /               \
         opp. rebounds     opp. rebounds     opp. rebounds
               |              |                     |
               |              |                     |
             combo          combo                 combo
               |              |                     |
              end            end                   end

6~~~~ Simple list of tips and trick ~~~~6

If you're like a lot of people I know, and don't want to read through all my
rambling up above, then this little list is for you.  It will just list some
of the important techniques to keep in mind while you're dueling.

~ Start with an arrow attack

~ Always keep the enemy in front of you

~ Block 100 % of the time you aren't attacking

~ Center the camera with the L1 button so the camera always faces your back
  and so that the enemy is always in front of you

~ Watch for the enemy to rebound their fall

~ Combo a rebounding enemy

~ When unable to penetrate a blocking opponent, jump and slash to knock
  them off their feet

~ Always use an arrow when the enemy is at a distance

~ When both you and the enemy are charging towards eachother, do a quick
  jump and slash when you get within close range.

~ Keep an eye on your musou gage if your life is almost gone

~ Wait till the enemy is in the middle of trying to do a combo on you before
  you do a musou; block till they attack then hit circle

~ If you're caught in a combo and almost dead, hit circle, chances are you
  have already gotten a full musou bar

~ Don't ever worry about charging your musou gage

~ Don't ever do a jump charge attack

~ Don't ever do a charge 1 triangle attack

7~~~~ Special thanks ~~~~7

~ Thanks to GameFAQs for reviewing my submission
~ Thanks to Koei for another good Dynasty Warriors game
~ Thanks to ASCII Generator for the great program
~ Thanks to Mrs. bighairycamel for letting me bash her in the intro

Copyright 2003 - bighairycamel (bighairycamel@att.net)

Please do not plagiarize this FAQ.  I will be happy to help if you wish
to reproduce all or any part of this document.  Just email me for

I am in no way affiliated with Koei and do not claim any of their works
for myself.  All of the characters, levels, and features of Dynasty Warriors
4 is property of Koei itself.