One of the most popular questions I see floating around the PAD community is “what makes a good leader?” or “is this a strong leader?” Now both of these questions are heavily loaded as the answer generally depends on your subs. A leader, no matter how powerful, is heavily reliant on your team composition, inherits, and plus egg investment.
There are many tier lists available that rank leaders based on various criteria, but they always assume the perfect team (regardless of how rare or hard to pull those monsters are). They also look at how consistent a leader performs in a variety of end game content instead of a single dungeon.
As such, tier lists should be taken with a grain of salt and be used as a starting base to determine if a leader has potential. You should then look up team building guides to see if you have ideal subs in order to successfully run that team.
The purpose of this article will be to further explore what merits a strong leader, what to look for in your monster box, and why consistency is invaluable when playing through harder content.
Being told something good is one thing, but understanding why is more important. You can read this article while thinking of your favourite leader to better understand why they are effective or ineffective.
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Factors that make a leader strong
The tier lists tend to not take player skill into consideration; however, you need to assess your own skill level as you need to be able to actually activate your leader skill on a consistent basis. A prime example of this was when Anubis was floating around on some lists. In theory, this works as his multiplier was at the time the highest available. Unfortunately, very few people could actually activate him on a consistent basis and was misleading to say the least.
In addition to ignoring player skill, tier lists assume the perfect team as that is the most fair way to compare various leaders. However, many of these teams require exotic subs (and inherits) that most players do not own and this will inevitably lead to a less than stellar performance.
Having leaders that are bind immune will result in an easier time when progressing through challenging content. It allows you to side-skirt mechanics along with always having your leader skill in tact. This is crucial as you will have your defensive multipliers (whether it is heart crosses, passive damage mitigation, or HP/RCV components) along with access to your offensive capabilities. Many bosses will bind various cards when damaged and the bind immunity can be treated as a free turn.
Bind immunity will lower the dependency on running a hard bind clearing card which frees up an active skill slot. Finally, it grants you the potential to run a fully bind immune team which is simply amazing.
It may sound cliches, but the best offense is defense and Puzzle and Dragons is no exception. Glass cannon teams are capable of dealing spectacular burst damage, but are vulnerable to most mechanics in the game. Thus, being able to actually survive an incoming attack is vital to success in challenging content. This is one of the reasons why the heart-cross meta is so strong right now: they can deal lethal damage and survive massive attacks.
How well does their kit function?
The term kit refers to how the leader’s base stats, awakenings, and active skill interacts with their leadership potential. In an ideal world, your leader has wonderful synergy between all these components as it will make it easier activate your multiplier and deal damage.
An example of a poor kit would be Reincarnated Lakshmi . Her awakenings are somewhat scattered, but still function reasonably well. Unfortunately, her active skill is quite lackluster as it only produces 4 heart orbs on an 8 turn cooldown (the heal is usually not helpful). This will not allow you to activate your full multiplier as you require 8+ connected orbs for 100x while the cooldown is excessively long. By comparison, Reincarnated Parvati can manufacture heart orbs on a 5-turn cooldown while also enhancing wood and hearts (although she does lack an SBR awakening).
On the flip side, Aizen has a wonderful kit as his awakenings all compliment his double colour cross playstyle along with his active skill creating desirable orbs along with improving his own personal damage by transforming him into a dark card.
Consistency refers to how easily you can actually activate your leader skill. This differs from player skill as it should be presumed you can match what ever pattern is required for activation. In this situation, we are looking at how feasible you can activate on a given board.
On a 6×5 board, there are 30 orbs and you should statistically have 5 of each element available. However, this is not always the case as there will always be variance. Regardless, lets say you are able to clear 7 combos worth of orbs (21 in total) which would result in 3-4 new orbs of each element appearing. This works well for rainbow teams as you only require 3 of each orb, but mono-colour teams require a certain degree of stalling in order to preserve active skills.
For example, Krishna teams require 9+ fire orbs for sufficient damage for end game content and that is nearly impossible to achieve via a given board or generous skyfalls from his active skill. Thus, you develop a certain dependency on using active skills for sufficient firepower but may run into trouble in longer content.
Another great example of consistency is comparing Kaede to Myr . Both are heart cross leaders and naturally require 5 heart orbs for activation; however, they have different colour orb requirements to achieve their full multiplier. Myr will automatically have her maximum multiplier with a heart cross and this greatly eases matching as you can sweep many floors with a simple TPA. On the other hand, Kaede requires 3 unique wood combos. This translates into 9 wood and 5 heart orbs for maximum damage and you ideally want to match a TPA as well. This disparity in ease of activation can prevent Kaede from sweeping through content as you will most likely have to use an active skill.
In essence, consistency can refer to how active skill reliant a leader is for success.
GungHo has slowly been releasing more content that requires a certain degree of damage control. This can come in the form of absorption/void shields that will either heal or prevent the incoming damage if it surpasses a certain threshold. This can lead to frustration or a failed run as you have to be able to deal less damage than what you are normally capable of.
Thus, having a leader skill that has a scaling or multi-component factor greatly eases these encounters. For example, Reincarnated Lakshmi is able to have 6.25-100x damage based on the number of connect heart orbs matched. This is one of the best examples of damage control as it is challenging to accidentally match a large clump of heart orbs. Conversely, Myr has one of the worst damage controlling abilities in the game as she will either have 1x or 59.29x ATK with no middle ground.
As an extension to damage control, bosses with Resolve also need to be carefully dealt with as to not trigger their 1% execution abilities.
How well can they handle dungeon mechanics
Newer content is always pushing out more ridiculous mechanics and older leaders will struggle to keep pace. There will always be a certain degree of sub/active accommodation for a particular dungeon; however, if you find yourself sacrificing too many abilities to counter mechanics, your team may not be able to function as well.
Broadly speaking, there are several categories of mechanics you may encounter in a dungeon:
- Combo shields
- Damage absorbs/voids
- Colour absorbs
- Large Preemptives
- Gravity-style attacks
- Massive health pools
- Hazard orb generation/orb changing
- Forced stalling
Each team will vary in their efficacy when faced with these mechanics and your goal is minimizing the risk of each. Many teams like to run a certain group of “core” subs and in an ideal world, you do not remove them, but if you find yourself constantly dropping key cards, it may be an indication that your team is lacking.
For myself, I compare my Krishna and Myr teams when playing through Arena 3. Both teams are capable of clearing it on a relatively consistent basis with reasonably optimized teams. Unfortunately, I find Krishna to be riskier due to being vulnerable to binds, gravity-based attacks, and the more orb hungry leader skill. Individually, these are not gamebreakers, but when combined, it presents a higher degree of risk and more failed runs.
So what leader do I use?
The team you should be using for end game content (along with plus egg, latent, and inheritance investment) will depend on which leader has the best natural sub support. Just because Myr is a universally stronger leader than Krishna, you still need the correct support to succeed. If you have a wonderfully optimized Krishna team and essentially no Myr subs, you should be using Krishna as your primary team.
Whenever I look at someone’s monster box, I always try to find the team that has the most end game potential and advise them to invest their resources there. Your priority should be developing one team that can tackle end game content and then diversifying after. Being able to clear more content will unlock more rewards and will greatly increase the rate in which you can raise additional teams.
With all that being said, you actually need to enjoy the playstyle of a team.
There are many factors that are taken into consideration when ranking the various leaders in Puzzle and Dragons. However, these tier lists presume the perfect set up and is misleading for the average player who may be lacking many of the subs/inherits.
What you should choose to use when tackling end game content will be based on your monster box and the cards you have at your disposal.