Where I hope the Meta Shifts & the Decline of Heart Crosses


Puzzle and Dragons has gone through numerous shifts in the meta and it finally feels like the heart cross mechanic is slowly dwindling down. This is not to say that leaders like Myr Miru, Ronove Ronove, and Kaede Ult Kaede are weak, but rather that they tend to struggle more in newer/end game content compared to several months ago. The purpose of this article is to examine why/how the heart cross meta rose in power, why it is faltering, and where I hope the next power shift takes us.

Video commentary

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What is a heart cross

A heart cross occurs when you match exactly 5 connected heart orbs in a cross formation. This will trigger both a damage multiplier as well as a damage reduction shield that carries over on a sweep (thus protecting from preemptive strikes).

At the time of its’ release, the heart cross meta was simply too strong. Being able to deal lethal damage AND having insane survivabiltiy somewhat trivialized current content and it took many months for GungHo to release something that was stronger as well as dungeons that could actually counter them.

For perspective, Awoken Lucifer Awoken Archdemon Lucifer was one of the stronger tank teams during that time frame and he offers a measly 1.82x HP / 16.4x ATK / 1.82x RCV for Gods and Devils. By comparison, Myr is effectively 4x HP / 49x ATK / 4x RCV at the time of her debut. How can anything compare or even keep up when your team loses in every way possible.

You do have to keep in mind that a heart cross team is fragile when they do not form a cross as they lose all their defensive components, but the sheer shielding value will probably enable you to only have to heal/cross every other turn.

The decline of heart cross dominance

The heart cross meta took PAD by storm and it was met with mixed emotions. On one hand, it provided players with new tools for tackle end game content; however, many people were angry or frustrated due to the non-intuitive matching pattern as well as having their older teams become somewhat outdated overnight.

It has actually taken GungHo quite a long time to counter the Heart Cross meta as their main weakness was a combination of an orb hungry nature and lower combo count.

Heart cross teams are for the most part more orb hungry due to the fact that you require 5 heart orbs and numerous primary colour orbs for damage. This would often result in stalling or slower gameplay as you are often reliant on actives for success. Granted you are able to withstand incoming attacks, but the fact that it is a slower team is off putting as the game has become more of a grind of efficiency.

Heart cross teams also struggle in overcoming combo shields due to the fact that the cross itself occupies essentially 9 spaces (equivalent to 3 combos) and if they are row-based, it becomes challenging to even squeeze out 6 combos. While some people will say this is a player skill issue, it its not feasible to hit 8 combos against Machine Zeus in Colosseum without lucky skyfalls.

While Arena 3 has become a relative playground for well invested Myr Miru teams, Collosseum has very few heart cross team clears due to the massive damage requirement and combo shield bosses. In all honesty, for the number of orbs a heart cross team requires, they do not actually pump out that much damage to hit 12m+ damage on a consistent basis which is needed for Colosseum.

Colosseum is the first dungeon to really put a halt on heart cross teams and if they continue to release end game content built around this, the heart crosses will begin to decline even further.

Where I hope the meta shifts

While in the midst of writing this post, GungHo has been releasing/announcing many new and exciting evolutions (which I will cover in a subsequent posting) that are heading in the direction I want PAD to go.

One of the initial allures of PAD was the team building, collection, and somewhat the exploration aspect, but the main draw was the actual puzzling and orb matching.

Sitting at end game along with easy access to coop-button farming options has greatly diminished the orb matching aspect (still have team building creativity to make the team). However, it is currently unrewarding to play more combo-oriented leaders due to the fact that they simply cannot compete with the tank-oriented meta.

As such, the direction I want the meta to shift is back to a more combo oriented playstyle, but perhaps incorporating even a 5o1e or TPA into the mix.

I personally feel that New Years Yomi 3418 was a huge step in the right direction as she combined the combo-skill oriented playstyle along with a rewarding damage mitigation component for achieving a certain amount of combos.

Thus, I dearly hope that GungHo continues to release more cards with the 7 combo 45 awakening (which they are) along with leaders who have built in damage mitigation for hitting a certain number of combos. While they do not have to directly mirror NY Yomi’s kit, having more leaders with the damage mitigation combo clause would be ideal.

More combo oriented leaders will help breathe life back into the puzzling aspect of PAD. While having a conditional damage mitigation component can be more hazardous than a flat HP/RCV multiplier, it does add an element of excitement and could simply compensate the multipliers to be more rewarding than a static leader.

I do understand that thinking and actual matching can be barbaric in this day and age of Liu Bei A Liu Bei button farming, but these teams would not be meant for easy content and ideally help push into Colosseum and beyond.


The heart cross meta is on the decline and while this may feel frustrating for players who are always chasing the meta, they can still clear everything with relative ease up to Colosseum.

As there is a somewhat changing of the guards in PAD, my hope is that the end game meta re-shifts back to a more combo-oriented playstyle that provides a damage mitigation component when hitting X number of combos.

GungHo is already heavily introducing 7 combo 45 awakening cards and hopefully it is just a matter of time before we gain leaders who can fully take advantage of this new mechanic.

Let me know what direction you hope the meta shifts.

Happy Puzzling!

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29 thoughts on “Where I hope the Meta Shifts & the Decline of Heart Crosses”

  1. This a great insight of how heart cross meta has been going around, as you said this mechanic has changed the way the game is viewed as it demonstrated leaders skills cold be activated in ways outside the box, which really brought some fresh air to the game, however previous meta teams died as this mechanics where buff so much, I never really like heart cross meta as it seemed tedious to do a heart cross to be able to clear a floor and it made it more than a chore than anything else, however I do acknowledge the importance of myr as the first hi end leader that you could farm, sure getting her fully evolve is a pain but it let previous players who simply had bad luck to get a meta active leader who still stands strong and wont actually fade till new mechanics are introduced, I would really appreciate the coming back of row and combo teams and Gung ho has demonstrated the possibility of damage mitigation without the heart cross,and Im really exited to see what new mechanic they may come for..


  2. But then Awoken Heroes were revealed and split ult Light Metatron too…

    I would love to hear your thoughts on the swarm of new ults we’ve been getting lately! Exciting news! I know you usually don’t cover units until they hit NA but I’m so impatienttttt


    1. dont worry, he’s planing to do a review about them before they get to NA :p he said he’s gonna work on it soon !


  3. Mantastic, I think this article is very well put together. I appreciate your thoughts on the overall direction of puzzles. It helps me understand some of the smaller things about this game. In general, when playing chess, you get bored if you don’t constantly learn new and different ways of playing. I think the same holds true with Puzzles. The only thing that may drive players away would be adding too much at once, creating a confusing playground that leaves players wishing for the good old days. New fresh content at a slow pace seems to be working very well for them. For some of us that don’t keep constant tabs on it, the heads up from Japan gives us time to prepare, and time to weigh in and learn from each other.


    1. I completely agree that we need new elements to keep the game fresh and exciting but one thing to keep in mind is that with any meta shift introduced, it will both attract and discourage players.

      The heart cross was too much + too fast as it invalidated pretty much every other team but right now the gradual shift is much more tolerable.

      I personally want content faster, but very few players are sitting on the very edge of end game content.


  4. I think the meta is going more toward speed and easy dmg over good overall team.

    RaDra is one of the best lead and I’ve worked hard for 3 month building my team for it, but everybody wants to play Aizen and D.Athena when she get release (if she does get release NA) and nobody wants to coop RaDra or almost nobody… I end up playing with myself with Myr since my alt isnt lucky enough to roll DKali or any other same active.

    I wish the meta will go toward comboing mixed with mechanic like 5o1, TPA and maybe jammer/poison orb. Until I get lucky or find a coop partner that is up often, I’ll be stuck cooping with my alt with Myr 😦 (Still cant do A3 consistently, I think my teambuilding is kinda off for it RIP )


    1. Well considering all of those 3 have similar A3 clears, people will gravitate towards the easier/faster teams. Aizen and D Athena also have gentler team building requirement so many things are working in their favour.

      Part of the issue is that we need a harder dungeon along with combo leaders that can actually keep up. Otherwise, it will be A3zen most of the time

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As far as where i want the meta to go, i do like the idea of comboing being more viable with damage reductions and such. I have Reincarnated Anubis and I have always loved his play style. When you activated, it was so satisfying. But activation is quite hard. Very much looking forward to his JP update where he activates after 8 combos instead of 9.

    I’m sure this is no where on their plan, but I would also like to see some variation in Co-op vs solo when it comes to the difficult dungeons. Right now, I have none of the Radar dragons and would like to evo my Shiva and Yomi but they are out of reach soloing their timed dungeons. Guess i have to learn to do Arena 3.

    I know that i could go looking for those online that I can routinely Co-op with, but that is something i can’t really commit time to with my life. I’m married with a 4 year old girl and a boy being born in August. So my PAD time needs to be spontaneous and more spur of the moment. Multiplayer games don’t fit in so easily.

    I know the ideal answer is to have a secondary account. I actually went out and bought the cheapest(~$100 after tax) tablet i could find(since PAD is all i would use it for). But in spite of the tablet meeting what GungHo says are the minimum requirements, PAD still crashed when loading. Their response was that firmware can vary and they can’t guarantee… etc etc. It promptly got returned.

    If anyone knows of a really cheap model that runs PAD, I would be happy to hear.


    1. I completely agree that there should be different difficulties for solo and coop dungeons. They cannot design a dungeon that is feasible for both without having different mechanics. Also, make them the same stamina cost.


    2. I run my alt on a cheapo Samsung tablet. Model # SM-T230NU it’s lasted almost 2 years now. Just a little slow.


    3. This!

      I too am married and have a kid, but PAD is so much fun. I don’t have time to invest and look for co-op and coordinate co-op.

      The mechanics and difficulty for co-op should be different. Everything should be clearable in solo mode.


  6. I really agree with you on this. My personal favorite leads are currently combo leads and I desperately wait for Reincarnated Kushinadahime because she is extremely durable, but I really wish that she got the 7 combo awakening exchanged for the green or heart orb enhanced, but it’s not like not having the 7C awakening would keep her from doing insane amounts of damage anyway.


    1. Yeah they really need to create incentives to make combo leaders viable and at least reasonably friendly from a team building pov. We have plenty of brainless leads for easy-medium content but having a more skill based end game team is ideal


  7. Nice post bro. I think exactly like you, and Fujin (despite the fact that people prefer inherit her) is close to what you said here.
    The only downside is that the LS is oriented to a specific type, but this doesn’t diminishes all the fun of play with her as leader.
    I hope new cards like that pops up around soon.


  8. The team i am using thr most is rei myr, and her damage is outrageous, so i wonder if she isnt viable since with ronove friend you can easily active a 108 times multiplier


    1. The main problem with Rei Myr is a lack of activation consistency along with no viable board changer that can guarentee your multiplier. Ronove can at least use himself to fix a board where as Rei Myr’s active has a strong chance of breaking your colours.

      Also, Ronove requires less colours so that is a plus overall


  9. Kinda hope they do something to help row cards out, feels like its all going to be about tpaing with 7 combos for a while now


    1. Row teams are still potent and relatively easy to play so I would say they are in a reasonable place still. With that being said, Colour crosses seem to be gaining in popularity


  10. There is an Awoken Skill that increases damage for 7+ combos. There is an Awoken Skill that breaks defence for matching all 5 colours. It could be interesting to have a more defensive oriented Awoken Skill, triggering of something familiar as well, like 5o1e, a colour coded row, or even the dreaded cross mechanic itself, although stacking might then become an issue.


    1. Yeah the new defense break is interesting but not sure where we can use it at this point in time. Obviously it is a foreshadowing for some interesting future mechanic


  11. I’m glad the meta is dying down. Heart crosses trivialized every other team (besides ALB farming). Now that the meta is more flexible, I hope we get back to PaD’s roots.

    Also, do I call it RLB instead of ALB now?


    1. I feel people will still call it ALB as it has become a somewhat staple term and RLB has light sub typing which could be problematic as well as did we really need more damage?


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