[Meta Snapshots] Transformation Leaders

Introduction

The leadership landscape of Puzzle and Dragons has greatly changed over the years with various playstyles emerging to counter the current hardest content available.

Change is needed for any longstanding game as it would become stale if the same content was continuously reused and having new toys to work with is also exciting.

At this point in time, the current strongest leader skill mechanics to abuse are 7×6 boards and Auto Follow Up Damage. A larger board greatly benefits essentially every team for both combo count, damage output, and activation consistency whereas Auto Follow Up Damage trivializes Resolve spawns. Furthermore, teams that can combine both mechanics will have a further advantage compared to other options.

With that being said, I wish to take a closer look at how Transformation cards (eg. Fagan Rai ) function in Puzzle and Dragons as I feel GungHo is going to start pushing this mechanic in the future. This will force players to run different team compositions (Skill Boost Skill Boost becomes highly prized) which inevitably means players will need to roll more to get on this hype train.

Video commentary

–video coming soon–

How Transformation cards work

Transformation cards come in a pre-Transform state and can only be “evolved” within a dungeon after having their active skill charge up. This will unlock a completely new kit with significantly improved awakenings, stats, and leader skill. With that being said, their Base form is often lacking and requires careful team building with a heavy emphasis on Skill Boosts in order to Transform on turn 1.

For example, Fagan Rai requires 22 Skill Boosts to Transform and provides zero in his Base form. This means you must find 22 Skill Boosts between 4 Dragon subs and 6 inherits in order to be truly successful (depending on the dungeon it may be possible to stall a turn or two but you are quite weak).

With this in mind, it can become quite a challenge for solo mode players who do not possess more of the luxurious cards/inherits. As such, many players have taken a coop approach as Skill Boosts are shared. This greatly lessens the Skill Boost burden per card or players will simply opt for Coop Disconnect.

Disconnecting from Coop will revert you back to solo mode which will provide Super Awakenings while retaining the Skill Boosts from your former partner. You do lose out on a Solo Mode badge but it is a sacrifice worth making.

This approach works well for players who have an alt account as you can sacrifice their stamina in order to enjoy 50% off for your Main.

Transformation cards must be stronger

Due to the dependency on Skill Boosts, Transformation cards must be stronger compared to cards of a similar rarity otherwise, they would simply be passed over for other options.

While Fagan Rai is powerful, he was the first Transforming card we have access to along with him being “free” (one of two possible Medal redeems) probably resulted in him being on the lower end of the power spectrum.

With that being said, future Transforming cards will most likely be even stronger and if we do get the Yu-Gi-Oh Collab, we will have access to a truly outrageous leader.

Now don’t get me wrong, we need to have Powercreep in Puzzle and Dragons in order to keep it fresh/exciting but I am not a huge fan of the whole Transformational idea.

Why I dislike Transforming

The concept of a card that can Transform within the dungeon is a pretty neat concept, I do not feel it will not provide much value for the overall health of the game.

This is because they will be stronger compared to other options but at least looking at Yu-Gi-Oh, they are not changing how we play the game, only how we team build.

Right now, Transforming cards have restrictions on the types of subs they can bring but at the same time must still meet the high Skill Boost requirements. This combination of a restrictive sub pool who then must have numerous Skill Boosts will drastically lower team building options and variety (assuming no Coop Disconnect).

At this point in time, I already feel we are somewhat restricted in terms of team building with many of my teams recycling the same set of subs and inherits and this problem will only grow worse with Transforming.

From a business point of view, it is a money maker as players will want to have the best possible team available and not only do they need the leader, but they will need the key set of subs and inherits.

As such, my biggest fear will be a repeat of Ra Dragon 3265 in that what was arguably the best team in the game having an unbelievably restrictive team composition. Furthermore, if we do receive several Transforming cards, dungeons will most likely increase in difficulty to compensate. This is a relatively natural cycle for PAD but having the best teams available having incredibly restrictive requirements is not healthy while probably being locked behind 7* GFE/9* Seasonals/Top rarity Collab cards etc.

My fear/concern is not having new cards that are more powerful, but new cards that are highly restrictive in terms of team building. In essence, my main dislike is how restrictive team building may become along with the jump in dungeon powercreep we may see in the future that pseudo requires Transforming to succeed.

Can Transforming be balanced?

I feel the entire concept of Transforming is difficult to balance as they have to be stronger compared to non-Transforming options otherwise players would not go through the hassle of bringing enough Skill Boosts to make it work.

I guess it would come down to how strong the actual card is along with the Skill Boosts required to Transform. With that being said, I feel they should at least offer a new mechanic, not just stronger parameters of what is currently available.

One idea that I have been thinking about is the concept of an “extra life” or Secondary Health Pool that triggers when you die. For example, this Secondary Health Pool could be 50% of your maximum HP and upon taking lethal damage, any overkill is assigned to this new Health Pool and if you survive, that is your new health for the dungeon.

For example if you take 125,000 damage and you have 100,000 HP, The Secondary Health Pool would take effect and you would then be left with 25,000/50,000 HP and this is what you play with for the rest of the dungeon. Yes it would be harder but it would also mean you may squeak out a victory that would have not occurred otherwise. Furthermore, maybe there is a mechanic to fully restore your maximum HP such as healing an exceptionally high number over time (eg. healing 2,000,000 HP from Heart orbs). Once doing that you return to your 100,000 HP pool but will no longer benefit from this revive mechanic. On the other hand, maybe this Secondary Health Pool could unlock new abilities/benefits while managing some sort of drawback.

This type of mechanic would most likely encourage Asymetrical Pairings (using two different leaders) which would also lower the Skill Boost requirements as there is a strong likelihood the second leader does not Transform.

Conclusion

Cards that can transform within a dungeon is one of the newest mechanics to be released within Puzzle and Dragons which will most likely open the door to new and powerful teams.

In essence, Transforming cards must be stronger compared to other options in order to justify the Skill Boost requirements along with possible compromises made to your subs/inherits. As such, my largest fear will be a new era of highly restrictive team building that does not actually introduce new mechanics, just stronger multipliers of existing cards.

With that being said, I am glad new content is being continuously added into the game even if I do not like the direction it could possibly go.

Regardless, let me know what you think about Transforming cards in the comments below and whether or not you can think of a possible solution/remedy to these cards.

Happy Puzzling!

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24 thoughts on “[Meta Snapshots] Transformation Leaders”

    1. The multi step transform card is kinda strange as it is done over the course of several actives. This lowered the initial SB requirement but also means you will be forced to wait numerous turns for full transformation. I think it is a cool idea but at the same time do not know how well it actually plays out

      As for the Weapon, it will probably be amazing for a future fire transform leader but if only gunning for orb enhances, it is less special

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      1. Thanks for responding! For now, I’ll keep him in base form until Faska (18 turn CD transformation) is released in NA so I can inherit him onto my second Ilmina.

        Like

  1. I feel like your point about how transforms don’t change how we play the game, but only how we team build is spot on.

    Like, transforms were underwhelming when it comes to introducing new ways to play bc I just need to press a button to get their OP form after I hit enough skill boosts. Doing co-op DC defeats the point even more bc now it’s like playing any regular leader, except with the hassle of setting up co-op as the only “trade-off.” That doesn’t add any real difficulty to how you want to juggle your team until your leader can transform.

    I guess part of the issue is that transform leaders are simply too unviable pre-transform? Like, you can’t even try to stall some floors to get them up, as with leader swap set ups. Maybe if pre-transform forms were more like high surviveability with very low attack, then there would be less of a need for the right SB subs?

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    1. Pre and post transform are two polar opposites and at least for Rai, he is basically useless before.

      What I feel would be a better solution to transforming is to have it unlock after a certain threshold (eg. match 100 combos) to make it feel like an accomplishment and would be a passive ability so not tied to active

      Pre transform would still be have to be reasonable as it cannot be cheesed

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      1. Yeah, I was personally thinking something like introducing awakenings that give large hastes for making specific kinds of unconventional matches in the pre-transform form, kind of like a modified Skill Charge awakening. Just throwing ideas out but maybe like… make a cross or an L (of any color? only certain colors?) to get 3 or 4 turns haste? Making it combo-reliant and based in a passive ability (maybe encoded in the LS?) like what you suggested would also be really interesting.

        I really agree with you about how transforms should feel like an accomplishment. I feel like it should have the potential to push players into solving boards in unconventional ways and revitalize some less favourable play-styles (TPA, 5o1e, crosses etc.) in order to activate their transforms but alas, every transform leader so far is just asking you to load up on your SBs and go.

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  2. I like the idea of transform leads and the idea of transforming in unique ways like some of these other suggestions. I also think they could have done Super-1 in a better way. A leader that transforms multiple times seems like it should be worth the pay off and this prevents just stacking skill boosts in team building.

    What they did right with Super-1 imo was making the actives unique. Each one came with a cool collateral, but in an awkward order for the current dungeons. Making a 3-4 form transformation card and then combining their active on a 10+ cd would also be interesting imo.

    I agree that transformation cards should introduce new mechanics. Yugi came with null poison damaage, which, while not new, was recent. But Super-1 transformed once and already had his full LS, which seems disappointing. If they added a multiple transformation lead whose leader skill evolved as they did, that would be cool, prevents team building from being SB/Haste/DC reliant, while being able to introduce new and string mechanics since the player has to wait for them.

    I think there is some balance between Super-1 and Yugi in terms of execution and power as well as adding more to transform cards to make them feel worth the hassle even more so than they do now. They are really cool and one of my favorite things in theory right now, but they have so much more potential imo.

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    1. The multi step is nice because you cannot purely stack SB and succeed but at the same time, I feel the many steps may feel clunky as each one is different and less intuitive

      By comparison, single step strong transforms are just easier to understand and use and will probably be the main trend moving forward

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  3. They need to make transforming leader cards more like switching forms, rather than having a useless base form and an overpowered transformation.

    Give them short cooldown transformations which should be used back and forth in a dungeon, but the forms will have different strengths. Players will have to consider which leader skill + awakenings are optimal for each floor. This gameplay would be more interactive for the player, having to pick the right form for the situation, and players might have to stall for a certain form before floors.

    A simple example would be cards with attack and defense form. Defense form might have HP boost, shield, unbindability, or hazard resists. Attack form would have greater multipliers, auto FUA, VDP.

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    1. I agree that the two polar extremes are problematic and the idea of multiple steps prevents SB abuse

      Your idea of having more specialized forms is interesting but how can that be properly applied? I feel linear transform paths are easier to understand

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking more like the card starts in form A. It’s active skill switches it to form B. Form B has an active skill which switches back to form A.

        Just an example would be: Form A has 2x poison resist awakening, while Form B has 2x 7C awakening instead. So you might switch to Form B for most of the dungeon, but switch back to Form A when you expect a poison attack.

        This type of awakening switch would be better for subs, but the same idea could be applied to leader skills too.
        For example: Form A has an auto FUA component, Form B has an auto-heal component. You switch to Form A for resolve spawns but you temporarily lose your auto-heal.

        Of course I hope GungHo comes up with more creative tradeoffs than these, but I think these kinds of transformations would be interesting.

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        1. Yeah I can see where you are going with this and I do agree that Transforming has so much potential but the current delivery just feels flat

          Perhaps we may see more interesting mechanics but at the same time, it cannot be too complex/convoluted

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  4. Interesting topic, I see that high SB monsters get more and more common as time goes, making those chase targets. And considering how we have pretty good access to sb inherits (even some bottom rarity monsters, such as Hanzo Hattori from Samurai Shodown), although team building is still pretty restrictive, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible for normal players in end game to achieve solo transform. It’ll just become easier as time goes on.

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    1. I feel one major issue is a potential lack of current options right now which means we would need to chase new cards for the entire team, not just the leader

      It can be a way to see new cards but main concern is having enough options that it is not highly restrictive

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  5. I’m actually worried how many subs will get powercrept if the transform meta becomes the norm. Like, what if they do introduce more high SB cards with reasonable/good awakenings? Would some things become useless or meh just bc it has only 2 SB?

    Alternatively, maybe there will be cards that serve as dedicated massive SB/delay/haste sticks on teams? In that case, I hope it’s not going be locked behind expensive collab chase cards…

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  6. I think the transforming concept is flawed. To me what would be much cooler would be if a leader could, on a short CD transform to take on a new approach. For instance, perhaps a more defensive stance vs more offensive. Or, take Orphen for example, he could transform into his >50% < 50% forms situationally. Now you would still have to balance it so you couldn’t at will transform, there should be some risk involved so you’d need to be smart about it, but the idea that transform leaders are super weak -> super strong is necessarily restrictive and I agree with all the points you made about the drawbacks from a design standpoint.

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    1. I feel the big issue is balancing, if you need many SB it has to be better by a noticeable amount which inevitably leads to powercreep and a new overhaul of subs/inherits. If only it introduced new mechanics instead of just better multipliers for the same activation

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