The landscape of Puzzle and Dragons has changed and shifted over the years and we are currently enjoying an era of durable leaders who can naturally survive any preemptive in the game along with boasting solid multipliers.
A few months ago, the top teams were largely defined by pure combos but we are now starting to see blob-based teams take hold due to various new mechanics. For example, many of these can activate from fewer combos or their leader skill grants bonus combos for matching their specific pattern. Either way, this makes performing VDP + FUA is much easier which has become the norm in high end content.
This article will look at what makes a card powerful along with current trends I feel are playing a major role in shaping the PAD landscape.
–video coming soon–
High Effective health
At this point in time, all strong leaders have a certain degree of Effective HP (HP multipliers or Damage Reduction) which enables them to naturally survive large preemptives without active skill intervention. This is important as eases team building requirements along with having the opportunity to stall should the need arise.
For the most part, Damage Reduction tends to be superior to HP as it prevents the lethal Gravity + Hit combos. With that being said, the Damage Reduction should be easy to activate otherwise players run the risk of being left vulnerable at inopportune times.
Natural Resists have become more valuable
Prior to Phenom , few viable cards naturally came with Blind , Jammer , or Poison Resist and these had to be found via Weapon Assists . At first, I was skeptical on how useful natural Resists could be as they are in theory taking away awakenings that are harder/impossible to acquire via inherits.
Thankfully, my skepticism was short lived as I soon realized how valuable they are as it frees up inherit slots that are normally dedicated to Resists. This means players can now bring inherits they actually want to use instead of playing the awkward game of active skill juggling.
Self buffs and debuffs are powerful
Active skills come in all shapes and forms which are able to perform a myriad of different things. Some are orb/board changers whereas other are able to provide self buffs and debuffs.
Initially, any active skill that came with a negative clause was mostly viewed as a way to have that active charge up faster as the respective cooldown was naturally lowered to compensate. Thankfully, we are now able to use these self debuffs productively as they can be used to overwrite existing mechanics imposed by dungeon spawns.
For example, Arena 5 has a 50% chance of encountering a spawn who will impose a 15 turn Poison Skyfall debuff on players which is essentially lethal to most teams. Kuroyuri Loops can stall through this but the most efficient method is to use an active to provide your own skyfall debuff to overwrite the Poison one. Thus, something like Fenrir’s 1 turn Jammer Skyfall cancels out this mechanic and players can continue playing as normal. The same logic applies to any active that provides No Skyfalls or Time Extend as they will overwrite any debuff of the same nature.
Looking forward to AA3, self buffing RCV is valuable as it will overwrite this penalty and I would not be surprised if other self buffs gain merit in the future.
Super Awakenings & Lower Dependency on Coop
When Coop was initially released, it was really the only way to play PAD efficiently from both a farming and end game perspective. The half stamina combined with 4 additional actives and HP made it nearly impossible for a solo team to compete. As a result, it was quite important to have a secondary account when playing through any type of content.
Fast forward to today and the introduction of Super Awakenings. Super Awakenings grant an additional awakening to your cards that only takes effect in solo mode. While it might not seem like such a big deal, the extra awakening will now often play a vital role in defining a card’s power.
For example, Zela is one of the best subs in the game due to the fact that she does almost everything but her VDP can only be utilized in solo mode. This is often the case for many VDP cards as it is only unlocked via Super Awakenings and has somewhat diminished the viability of many teams to truly shine.
Another example is Dark Zeta who is his own best sub due to high damage output and VDP but this is also only achieved via Super Awakenings. A Dark Zeta team will struggle more in coop due to less piercing damage compared to solo.
As a result, playing challenging content in solo has become more viable, at least from my own perspective
7×6 with Tifa
For the most part, 7×6 is an underutilized ability at this point in time. This is because most leaders are best when paired with themselves and do not really benefit from the bigger board. Furthermore, 7×6 leaders have worse multipliers to compensate for the 12 additional orbs which can make it harder to justify the pairing.
With that being said, Tifa from the Final Fantasy Collab has become an unexpected powerhouse. On her own she provides 1.5x HP / 12x ATK / 6x RCV when matching 7 Fire or Light orbs (can match 5-6 for slightly less ATK/RCV). This is quite spectacular and the matching clause has synergy with Dark Karin along with being much more feasible on the bigger board. Furthermore, the match 5-7 clause is completely fulfilled when forming a VDP .
As such, any Light leader that can favourably pair with Tifa tends to do well the matching clause is not too restrictive along with her larger board not being gimped by weak multipliers.
Built in Follow Up Damage
Resolve spawns are a common mechanic in Puzzle and Dragons which forces players to utilize either FUA or SFUA to overcome. For the most part, this is not too difficult to achieve but it is often combined with other mechanics which can make it somewhat difficult.
Amusingly, GungHo has introduced leader skills that feature built in Follow Up Damage after matching certain orbs. This is most profound through Ina who can favourably pair with Phenom . This team can play through the hardest content in the game, has +1 bonus combo with 3 colours, and completely ignores Resolve mechanics.
I have mixed feelings about this mechanic as it is incredibly powerful but at the same time, Resolves are not truly impossible to deal with. Perhaps if GungHo releases more bosses with prevent Heart orbs from being matched (Phenom counters) that these types of Leader Skills will take off.
Quality of life improvements
I have played Puzzle and Dragons for over 2,100 days and over time, I begin to formulate an idea of what can make our lives easier/more efficient moving forward.
Firstly, Super Awakenings can be swapped around before entering a dungeon once they have been unlocked. This will prevent both the luck factor in rolling the one you are hunting for but also gives players the option to switch things around should the need arise.
We are still paying for each Super Awakening so having access to all three will cost 891 (297*3) Pluses.
Monster Box search function
This has been available in JP for a prolong period of time and would make life significantly easier when searching for a specific card.
Expanding upon that, having a search function to find certain types of actives: eg. all board changers that include Dark orbs.
With that being said, Ilmina.com is an incredible resource that allows for sophisticated searches and should be taken advantage of by all players.
Dungeon info available in game
PAD is a complex game with more mechanics coming out on a regular basis and would be somewhat unplayable without third party databases. As such, it would make life so much easier to be able to look up the dungeon in game and adjust your team accordingly without having to go somewhere else.
Furthermore, each encounter should have their current HP and health percentage clearly displayed so players know exactly what to expect instead of having to guess. This could be displayed via tapping and holding the spawn or as a menu option in order to preserve the cleanliness of the screen.
Edit team right before entering dungeon
It would save me lots of tapping if I could simply edit my team after I select my friend and am about to enter the dungeon. Sometimes I realize I need a specific active or sub and have to go back to the Edit Team screen instead.
The only other mobile game I have extensive experience playing is Fire Emblem Heroes and one nice aspect of summoning/rolling is a Pity mechanic that increases your chances of acquiring one of the featured chase cards the more times you fail in doing so.
This bonus will be lost/reset upon rolling a top rarity card but at least gives a chance for players to not go for prolonged periods of time not acquiring anything of value.
The landscape of Puzzle and Dragons has varied over time and we are now starting to see a trend of leaders who have high Effective Health along with less combo oriented leader skills. This means they are able to form patterns such as FUA or VDP with relative ease along with being able to survive punishing abilities without active skill intervention.
In addition to this, being able to prevent mechanics from occurring via Resist awakenings has become somewhat mandatory when playing through difficult content. This has led to some cards naturally having these Resists which opens up team building options as players can actually inherit actives they want instead of those that provide specific awakenings.
Let me know what you think about these thoughts in the comments below and any trends you have noticed along with quality of life improvements that could be made.
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