Puzzle and Dragons is one of the oldest mobile games in the industry and has gone through countless changes. At this point in time, the meta largely revolves around rare Collab/Seasonal cards which are often best acquired through the Monster Exchange System with 6 and 7 star Godfest Exclusives being the most used fodder.
To a certain extent, the rolling side of PAD has become a game of acquiring as much Trade Fodder as possible to use during special events (tends to be “easier” compared to rolling the 2-2.5% for the specific card). To perhaps complicate matters further, forgone are the days of 5-Stone Godfests and most events now have 10-Magic Stone REMs.
From my own experience with other mobile gatcha games (Fire Emblem Heroes and Creature Quest), neither of them feature more expensive machines, they simply improve the rolling rates for better events while keeping the cost the same.
By comparison, PAD is flooded with more expensive machines that promise better cards overall but are they really a good thing in the long run?
This article will explore my thoughts on how 10-Stone machines are effecting the landscape of PAD for both non-IAP and IAP (In App Purchases) players.
–video coming soon–
PAD REMs compared to other games
The only other gatcha games I have experience with are Fire Emblem Heroes (FEH) and Creature Quest (CQ).
I have played FEH for a couple of years, albeit casually as I mostly play it while using an exercise bike in the morning and I float around Tier 20 in Arena and Tier 23 in Aether Raids. I try to keep up with Powercreep but due to how generous the game is with non-orb resources, it is possible to keep somewhat abreast through lower rarity merges.
Regardless, the actual Orb cost for summoning has never changed and FEH simply offers two types of events: Regular and Legendary Banners. Regular banners are either debut events for new units or reruns of older ones and feature a higher rolling chance for the 3-4 featured units. On the other hand, Legendary Banners gives a higher chance for any of the 12 featured 5-star cards (top rarity) but the chance for a specific chase card are lower compared to Regular Banners who only feature one new unit.
Orbs in FEH have a similar cost to Magic Stones in PAD and it is quite easy to not acquire a 5-star card in 20 summons (100 Orbs). Thankfully, the sheer frequency of which we are given Orbs to summon is amazingly high and I easily rack of hundreds within a few months. Furthermore, there is a built-in pity breaker that increases the chance of acquiring a 5-star after failing to Summon one. This pity breaking mechanic is something I would love to see in PAD.
On the other hand, I no longer play Creature Quests, but it featured Summoning Events that did not have varying costs and I believe the chances remained the same all the time, it was just the line up that would change. This was reminiscent to older PAD Godfests as it was mostly just a waiting game of having your desired cards show up at the same time. This could be due to the relatively young age of the game when I played and it is possible things have changed over time.
Keeping up with Powercreep
Powercreep is the concept that newer cards/content becomes stronger/harder over time. This provides motivation for continual play and is vital to the success of PvE (player versus environment) games and the main form of challenge comes from difficult dungeons, not player interactions (eg First Person Shooters). In essence, the game has to continuously create new and harder content to play while also giving us stronger tools to tackle them.
In the past year, the rate of Powercreep has been held pretty well in check as new cards are stronger, but not making the great leaps and bounds we saw in the past.
As such, the best way to keep abreast was to hoard Stones and unload them as new things came out. This worked pretty well when we had most of the valuable cards come from the same REM. Of course, the drawback of this was the continuous chance of acquiring Pantheon dupes but worked for a prolong period of time.
Fast forward to today and all of the best cards are scattered throughout almost every Collab or Seasonal event. This makes it much harder to acquire these meta defining cards as there are simply not enough Magic Stones to go around along with the higher 10-Stone costs. Furthermore, they appear in different machines so you can no longer “double dip” as we did in the past.
Powercreep in Egg Machines
The concept of Powercreep can also be applied to Egg Machines due to the fact that PAD has a certain degree of min-maxing team compositions for greater ease and efficiency.
As a result, two similar cards from a 5-Stone versus 10-Stone should have the more expensive machine being more valuable due to their increased cost.
Generally speaking, 10-Stone cards have higher weighted stats or come with unique kits that cannot be replicated else where, especially at their respective rarity (eg. bottom rarity). Conversely, GungHo also increases the chances of acquiring a GFE during 10-Stone Super Godfests to the point where regular 5-Stone events are ignored.
GungHo essentially opened up Pandora’s Box during the first 10-Stone Super Godfest as it was just simply better compared to anything we had before. As a result, players most likely skipped regular Godfests and only rolled during Super Godfests due to the stronger rolling rates. To further increase the appeal, they began adding in collateral benefits to help “justify” the higher cost such as +297, max awoken, and/or max level. This kind of fluff helps newer accounts but is less valuable for more veteran players and should not be a contributing factor for the increased cost.
The Monster Exchange system is one of the best quality of life improvements within Puzzle and Dragons as it allows players to trade in cards they have excess copies of for something of their choice. This can help remove the randomness/luck aspect of rolling the Rare Egg Machine as you know exactly what you are getting.
Sadly, the process is not 1:1 with 5-Stone events requiring four 6-star GFE for one of their top prizes. While a 4:1 may feel unfair, one has to remember that they are able to gain a valuable card of their choice by sacrificing any four of something they either have excessive duplicates of or cards that have low value.
To make things worse, 10-Stone events require five 7-star GFE to acquire which is an astronomically high cost when you consider the rolling rates for these cards along with the cost to actually acquire them (I have only ever acquire ten 7* GFE, including the free Witch and two more from Medals).
This has led me to only Monster Exchange twice near the beginning in 5-Stone events as I have never been able to afford a 10-Stone trade.
If you wish to read more about my personal approach to Monster Exchanging, check out my article HERE.
10 Magic Stones
10 Magic Stones is equivalent to several thousand stamina from refills, 50 Box space, or 50 Friend List space which makes rolling feel even more expensive. Unfortunately, you have to roll to truly advance in this game as Farmables can only take you so far. Furthermore, the price of Magic Stones (at least in Canada) is $1:1 or $10 per roll.
The first 10-Stone events felt quite exciting as the cards offered felt somewhat unique and powerful while also being the catalyst for Collabs/Seasonals having all best cards.
I feel that the initial success of a separate REM being this profitable (both new machine and higher cost) has kept GungHo motivated to keep this format. Players have no other way of acquiring these cards (somewhat changed in future Seasonal Super Godfests) and must spend Magic Stones in numerous different egg machines to keep up. Furthermore, this also creates a certain degree of tension as these events are only available for a limited time and may have long gaps between now and the next return.
As a result, there has become more pressure to roll in these Seasonal or Collab events as we do not know when they will return and they almost always offer something that cannot be replicated otherwise.
5 Magic Stone events
The two largest differences I see for 5 vs 10 Stone events is the weighted stats and the possibility of acquiring rarer kits that are often restricted to the higher rarity rolls.
While the easier to access kits are a collateral benefit to rolling in the more expensive events, the difference in weighted stats can be quite large and adds up if many cards on your team are from different cost events.
Right now, the best 5-Stone event in my opinion is Final Fantasy. It featured exceptionally high Diamond rates, a surprise top tier leader in Tifa , and powerful Weapon Assists . Furthermore, the 6-star cards have quite high weighted stats (for a 5-Stone machine) and all of these factors make it the only 5-Stone event I would still roll in. While this does break my normal rule for only rolling when bottom rarity cards are strong, the discounted price and high Diamond rate (and value) makes me feel it is worth it.
One other aspect I enjoyed about lower cost machines was that fact you could roll more (more excitement) due to the lower cost.
Different Rare Egg Machines
Due to the sheer size of Puzzle and Dragons, it does make sense that there are separate Egg Machines as the rolling chances would simply be impossible to acquire a specific card.
With that being said, there is a hefty amount of filler cards in most events, especially in the lower cost machines. As a result, events like Fist of the North Star Collab are largely skipped from a rolling perspective and has players simply trading for Raoh instead.
I feel this is bad overall because it can either lure players into rolling for that chase and subsequently having fewer stones for a future event that has much better value overall. In theory GungHo could cut out a large chunk of cards from Magic Stone machines and they would not be missed. Furthermore, by cutting out, cards can overlap from events into a new and higher value machine.
Of course that will not happen due to Collab licencing and the fact that it will probably make less money in the long run. Furthermore, there has to be “bad” cards to have “good” cards. With that being said, one noticeable trend I have seen is that the gap between bad and good has greatly increased. This is probably because content has accelerated to the point where players need to heavily min-max their teams to succeed.
Regardless, having so many different rolling machines makes it harder to save stones as the cards you want are all over the place. This is a far cry from the older Godfests where it was simply a matter of waiting for your key monsters to show up and rolling then as there would be plenty of overlap.
Putting it all together
Taking all of the above points into consideration, I feel that 10-Stone Machines were a bad idea. This is because it set an unhealthy prescient that a higher cost machine has better results/cards.
There has always been disparities between the power/value of cards, but when GungHo says here is a card that is stronger but costs two times more, players will have to chase as it will surpass current options.
This inevitably created an “arms race” and there was no turning back. Furthermore, the success of the first Super Godfests showed players were willing to spend twice as much for better rolling rates. In addition, Godfests are now basically Super affairs and the newer GFE are only available during those times and have essentially become a 10-Stone cost card.
Dungeons/content created by GungHo can always be scaled accordingly but they somewhat made it so players need to roll in different Collabs/Seasonals with the better events costing 10-Magic Stones. Furthermore, we are now starting to see 10-Stone events become Powercrept as Heroine feels underwhelming compared to before. As such, I hope it does not lead to even more expensive machines in the future.
Despite the fact that we have received significantly more Magic Stones compared to the past, there are arguably more places that need to be rolled and I feel it may hard the more casual IAP players.
An 85-pack of Magic Stones in Canada costs $95.19 CDN (incl tax via Apple) and if it costs more than $10 per roll, it will certainly turn off many players. This is probably why the IAP bundles exist, but still, this is expensive.
Puzzle and Dragons is one of the largest and long lasting games in the industry. It has gone through numerous different meta shifts and is still my favourite video game to play.
With that being said, I do not like the trend of 10-Stone events as it is providing another layer of Powercreep and further alienates older/cheaper cards.
Let me know what you think about the varying cost of Rare Egg Machines in the comments below and what you feel will happen moving forward.
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