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 , Ronove , and 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.
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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 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were angry or frustrated due to the non-intuitive matching pattern as well as having their older teams become somewhat outdated overnight.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 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 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 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 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.
Let me know what direction you hope the meta shifts.
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