Learn from the best on how to stop this Tarkatan terror
One of the earliest characters to be introduced in Mortal Kombat, Baraka is a Tarkatan warrior who resides in the Outworld, serves Shao Kahn, and leads his army. Utilizing a combination of martial arts, brute strength, and retractable elbow blades, Baraka became known for his mastery in combat.
Baraka can be just as intimidating in the game itself, if you don't know the match-up. Fortunately, MagicTea is here to help you out. As a true Baraka enjoyer, he has over 16,000 matches played with the character and knows all the ins and outs that you should be aware of.
How to Play Against BARAKA guide by [ MagicTea ] | MK11 | DashFight
Baraka can have totally different playstyles depending on the variation your opponent uses. There are two main options:
- Mix-up-oriented - this playstyle will utilize Blood Lunge command grab and Leg Kabob low special. Blood Lunge has many tick throw setups where it will connect after a blocked attack or string, like f2,1 into grab or d4 into grab, and many more. Meanwhile, Leg Kabob has two strings for overhead/low mix-ups, which are 1,2,2 overhead or 1,2 low with Leg Kabob. It can also be b3,1,2, an overhead, or b3,1 Leg Kabob.
- Damage-oriented - this style utilizes the Gutted combo extender. Gutted lets Baraka do massive damage with the Krushing Blow finisher as well. On the upside, while you take more damage, Baraka won't be able to mix you as much and will have to resort to risky throws to open you up. What you will usually see from this are 1,1s, 1,2s, or 1,1 into a grab.
To summarize, Blood Lunge, Leg Kabob, and Gutted are some of the main moves that are often supplemented with:
- Spine Burst - really good anti-air.
- Blade Charge - long-range armor-break move.
- Baraka Barrage - good option for long extended moves and special jump d1.
Overall, you will see many variations when fighting against Baraka, but that is because there is no "best" variation. The special moves from each variation have their upsides and downsides, which we will cover later.
Let's go over how you can counter some of the most common strings that you will encounter regardless of variation:
- f4,4 - a very common string to see from Baraka. Since it advances forward, it allows Baraka to get in on you and has a KB, counter, and punish property, allowing them to use a follow-up special move, including Fatal Blow. Special note about the FB - it's not actually guaranteed; you can breakaway and avoid it if you do it instantly. This string is often seen as the opener at the start of the round. It's mostly safe at -7, but if you have 6-frame d1 like Geras or Sub-Zero, you can punish this. Since it's -7, Baraka won't be able to duck any i7 attacks of your own.
- 1,1,2 - a fast and safe string with pushback and safe follow-ups. Just blocking it doesn't do anything, but there is a flawless black gap after the second hit. Make sure to flawless block and u2 or u3. It's easier to connect the flawless block attack if you're stand blocking, but don't do that if Baraka has Leg Kabob since it has a KB against stand block. This string also starts with a high, so low pokes will interrupt it.
- f2,1,2 - a fast, long-range string that is +1 on block, which means you don't get your turn back. It's especially good in the corner, where Baraka can loop it. However, just like 1,1,2, you can flawless block it on the third hit, making it -4. You can either take your turn or punish with a flawless block attack. It also starts with a high, so you can try interrupting it with a long low-poke.
- b3,1,2 - low, mid overhead. Block it and take your turn.
- 1,2,2 - also ends with an overhead, so you can stand block and take your turn. It does have a flawless block gap after the first hit, but you shouldn't go for it because 1,1,2 will counter that.
- 2,1+3 - meme string that you will likely never see due to bad standing 2 hitbox and flawless block gap but keep in mind that it's +1.
- d1/d3 - two good pokes. Both are i7, but there is no tricky stuff that comes after these attacks. The only tricky option could be to poke into Chop Chop, but d3 into Chop Chop is interruptable, and Chop Chop itself is unsafe.
- d4 - unusual poke as it's a slow low at i15, but since it's +1, Baraka can follow it up with f2,1 or f4,4. The safest option is just to walk back after blocking d4. Following that up with a long-ranged poke can work as well.
- b2 - Baraka's longest-range basic attack. It's an overhead, so stand block it and take your turn. With a flawless block, it becomes a -10, allowing you to punish it.
- b4 - one of the better sweeps with long-range and only -2 on block, so there can be a follow-up attack, but you can check it with your own poke.
Now let's get onto the special moves:
- Blade Sparks - basic projectile available to all Baraka variations. Decent projectile, but there's nothing scary about it. The first hit is always high, so you can duck it, and the amplified hit is always mid, which you can block or flawless block on reaction. Upclose it can only be safe after 1,1,2 string, so you can punish it if it comes out after any other string.
- Chop Chop - if you manage to block it, it's always punishable, even though it can be tricky if Baraka prolongs the move. However, if your character has a long-range move that doesn't get hit by Chop Chop, then it's easy mode.
- Flag - Baraka receives a 20% damage buff while the flag is up, but it quickly inspires in 5 or 6 seconds. It also has a very long recovery, allowing you to either take your turn or punish when used after any string or poke.
- Baraka Barrage - as mentioned previously, this option gives Baraka some powerful pokes to play with. While they can be annoying, they are one frame slower to come out and recover than normal pokes. They can be countered with a fast advancing mid, backdash whiff punish, or jump-in. For the special jump d1, it helps to have a special anti-air. Otherwise, you will just have to learn the timings.
- Gutted - unsafe on block (-18) combo extender. It is only unpunishable after 1,1,2, but you can change that with the aforementioned flawless block. Outside of that, you should always punish it on block.
- Blood Lunge - long-range high grub, meaning it can be ducked and, like any grab, jumped. Recovery is relatively slow, so it can be punished with anything, even d2 KB. From range, you only need to watch out for sweep and b2. So if you stay out of sweep range, nothing will hit you if you duck and react to b2. Upclose, things get more complicated since Blood Lunge has a lot of tick throw setups. Luckily, some of them are in closed block gaps, meaning they can be option selected, so you can cover flawless block and ducking the grab. However, with Spine Burst, Baraka can cover some of your options, making it a real mix.
- Spine Burst - extremely good anti-air. If you see it, then be careful with jumping. Fun fact: despite what it looks like, Spine Burst only hits 90 degrees from the front. If you manage to get behind Baraka, it won't hit you. Since it's a high, it can be ducked and potentially punished, or you can bait it with a hop and fire a projectile of your own. Outside of that, it's totally safe. Low-profiling long pokes can be a strong option if you see this move getting spammed.
- Leg Kabob - safe on block low move with plenty of pushback, making it unpunishable, but at least you can take your turn after blocking it. This attack is most scary when used as part of a mix-up. For example 1,2,2 overhead, or 1,2 into Leg Kabob. In this case, Leg Kabob comes out 5 frames faster, so block low first and then overhead. The second mix-up option is b3,1,2 overhead or b3.1 into Leg Kabob. In this case, Leg Kabob is only 2 frames faster, making it hard to block. If the latter is equipped, there is an extra mix-up with d4 Leg Kabob/Blood Lunge. In that scenario, you will have to guess. With f2,1 Leg Kabob and f2,1 and f2,1 Blood Lunge, it's not a genuine mix-up, so you can duck the grab and block the Leg Kabob.
- Blade Charge - advancing mid special. It's an armor break and has a KB when it happens, so be careful with your breakaways. Alternatively, KB triggers if you block it late. Outside of that, it's unsafe at block (-11), so punish it every time.
- Baraka Berserker - advancing mid special that requires Blade Charge to be effective. Without Blade Charge, it can't be amplified (which would make it safe) and can be easily punished. Even if amplified, if you flawless block the final hit, it becomes -13, allowing you to punish it.
- Banner Charge - Baraka picks up his banner and charges at you. This move has armor, so it can't be beaten without an armor break, but instead of doing that, you can simply jump over Baraka and punish him. It's also unsafe when done point-blank.
- Banner Bash - this move replaces the regular banner summoning with an attack. It hits at long range and has some pushback but can still be punished with long-range moves. You can still take your turn back if you can't punish it.
- Staked - powerful attack that leaves Baraka at +6 but can only be done near his banner. If you are in a situation where you can't move away from it, try blocking low until the flag is gone.
Weaknesses & Matchups
Now that we have seen all the moves, you can see that Baraka doesn't have anything to beat zoning. His only options from a distance are his own projectiles, which are predictable and easy to deal with. Any character with strong zoning and movement will be strong against Baraka, for example, Jade, Shang Tsung, Robocop, or any other zoner.
Characters with long normal attacks also work great since Baraka doesn't have good long-range or get-in moves. For example, Spawn, Frost, Skarlet, and Sindel are good picks against Baraka.
It's especially annoying for Baraka when his opponents can interrupt his 1,1,2 string. Many characters can use their pokes like anyone with an i6 poke.
Overall, no character has a bad matchup against Baraka. It's either even or not in Baraka's favor. Still, you should never underestimate him. Try to counter all his strings and special moves that were described. If you're a zoner, stay outside of Baraka's b4 sweep range and zone him.
If you're fighting up close against the damage-oriented variation, take your turns when he's minus and block when he goes for staggers. If it's a mix-up variation, you must make some reads, but at least they do less damage.