State of the Game – July 2020

Introduction

I have been playing Puzzle and Dragons for nearly 2,500 days and in this time, I have seen countless meta shifts along with new mechanics being introduced in various dungeons. As a result, PAD has evolved into a truly unique game with an absurd amount of content available, especially for newer players.

In fact, these past few months have been some of the best for PAD in recent history and it is not a far stretch to say we are entering a second “Golden Age” due to the plethora of new content for all ranges of players along with the most generous in-game currency being given out.

While this promising, there are still a few things are problematic about Puzzle and Dragons in regards to too many different monsters available, few/no meaningful way for players improve existing cards, and newer dungeons becoming more of a Box/Active skill check due to numerous mechanics.

With all of this in mind, I would like to examine the current state of the game through this article by highlighting what works and areas that need improvement.

Video commentary


First Golden Age

I use the term Gold Age to describe a period of time in which PAD was at doing incredibly well due to the volume of content available along with meaningful ways to spend stamina. With this in mind, I strongly believe the first Golden Age of PAD occurred during the time from Arena 1 to the beginning of Colosseum 1 in which we were given increasingly difficult dungeons that were both challenging and meaningful to grind. This began around early 2016 and persisted til around early 2017.

At that point in time, Pys were a relative novelty, Latent Tamadras being incredibly rare, and Orpharion being a valuable trophy/sub. As such, it was worth grinding/farming these dungeons and their difficulty level was well balanced along with gaining access to the Farmbale Myr who probably ended up much stronger than GungHo expected. This in turn gave all players a chance to actually attempt end game content as you could farm a top tier leader who also had relatively gentle team building requirements.

Furthermore, GungHo also struck a wonderful balance between juggling the number of mechanics, the counters they required, and balancing how important puzzling/orb matching was. In fact, I feel there was a much heavier emphasis on matching skills and even damage control compared to today.

I also feel that this may have also been the time in which PAD may have been at the height of their player base if looking at the number of views from my various mediums and it does not surprise me as it was a truly wonderful time to play.

Present day & second Golden Age

After that first Golden Age, I feel GungHo got too comfortable with their own success and it took them a bit under a year to release a new end game dungeon. This is far cry compared to before and just looking at the Crown difference on my account between my first Colosseum 1 and Alt. Arena 1 attempt, it has barely changed as there was also an incredibly long period of no Ranking Dungeons either.

Either way, PAD lost a great deal of it’s momentum and possibly also their player base. This relative lull in content continued for a modest period of time but things started to pick up again in late 2019 and has greatly accelerated in 2020.

During the past 6 months or so, we have been blessed with an absurd amount of Magic Stones, new end game dungeons, numerous Ranking Dungeons, along with events that have meaningful places to grind/spent stamina.

The key with this is having meaningful places to spend stamina. Just this past month alone, there has been something to play every week such as Qilin Dragon invades, GH Py/Ticket farming, Ranking Dungeons, TA1/2 boosted EXP, 3P having Super Awakenings, and Dark Ilmina along with the relatively new AA4.

For myself, I know I should be playing more AA4 as it is the only place to acquire the Super Latents, but I am happily distracted by all the other things going on. As such, there is this background feeling of always wanting more time/stamina which is somewhat reminiscent of older PAD days. Furthermore, the various content we have been given can be played by a wide variety of players instead of only being relevant to a small demographic.

This is perhaps one of the harder aspects to strike a happy balance: content for all range of players that is also diverse. Not everyone enjoys Ranking Dungeons or farming AA2 for Qilin Dragon, but these are exciting for many players and help give a meaningful place to spend stamina instead of always playing the same dungeons over and over again.

Things to improve PAD

Nothing is perfect and while there have been numerous Quality of Life improvements made to Puzzle and Dragons over the years, there are still several glaring issues all around.

Too many cards

The first and possible root to many of my subsequent points is that there are far too many cards in existence. It is probably a selling point to have thousands of different cards but the sad reality is that only a small number are truly valuable when trying to build the most efficient teams possible or when pushing through new and challenging content.

This giant rolling pool with only a few being truly valuable can be frustrating and this is further exasperated by GungHo continuously releasing new cards which in turn raise the rate of Powercreep along with potentially shifting currently useful cards into more obscurity as an upgrade was released.

In fact, newly released cards have to be stronger in theory as there would be no motivation to try and pursue them as a whole. This in turn keeps the meta more “fresh” but at the same time slowly invalidates older cards as more efficient options now exist.

As such, many leaders are cycled out as it is the easiest place to upgrade a card as GungHo only has to increase the multipliers to make a new card better. With this in mind, it is important to try and acquire a new and powerful leader as soon as they come out in order to maximize their time spent on top.

No meaningful way to improve existing cards

When PAD first came out, you were considered a cool cat if you had a +297 leader and even more revered if they were max skilled for certain cards. Over time we acquired the original Latents which gave another small layer of customization but eventually, both of these aspects became easier to acquire.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I no longer have to mindlessly grind Ocean of Heaven for maybe 2 Pluses but we have also lost truly meaningful ways to improve our cards.

While the AA4 Latents are powerful and rare, the PAD Pass somewhat killed their exclusivity and motivation to grind for them as all players who signed up for the PAD Pass can acquire 1 for free. But even then, each card can only accept one of these Super Latents.

While we can use spicier Weapon Assists as inherits, there is still a low degree of customization available and you cannot truly make your favourite card stronger no matter how much you want to.

I feel this is a frustrating aspect but also plays along with the concept of constantly releasing new cards. I feel you are almost supposed to roll a new card, be able to instantly max them out (level, pluses, awakenings), use them for a small period of time and then start the process again with the next new card.

This cycle of acquiring a new card, instantly maxing them, and then moving on a brief period of time later has become common practice for the most part and is probably why we do not need to heavily invest in cards as they will be pushed aside a few months down the road.

This feels less meaningful to me and even if a card has managed to stay relevant for a prolong period of time, there is no way for us to further improve them to continue using them.

Looking at other games, one thing I enjoyed about Fire Emblem Heroes (I play casually) is that you can merge your favourite units up to +10 which is a meaningful way to upgrade a character which also means older cards can be relevant as they can gain sizable stat upgrade through these merges. This also means players often use the same character for a longer period of time and the satisfaction of seeing them “grow up” feels pretty great.

Perhaps this is somewhat reminiscent of my early days of PAD when I used Sakuya for a year and a half in which it probably took over a month of grinding to give her +297 and even longer to max skill. Point of the matter is I was able to use a card long term and slowly build up their value as it was impossible to just instantly max out cards.

Dungeons are becoming too mechanic heavy

PAD was originally just Normal-style dungeons in that everything only had a health pool, DEF value, and a single attack. These spawns also had much higher value of health compared to our offensive capabilities and being able to one shot floors was rare unless you used actives.

Fast forward to today and all new dungeons feature numerous different mechanics for each floor along with almost all of them being able to one shot with minimal effort. This has created a pseudo mindset of always having to one shot floors but to compensate, most spawns now have several dangerous mechanics.

Furthermore, these mechanics are often only counterable by using specific active skills and if you are playing through the newer Arenas, you will need a whole host of different counters which can be sometimes impossible to fully address or even do given your Monster Box.

Copy/pasting from my AA4 article are the following notable mechanics:

  • 100% SBR Skill Lock Resist on Floor 1 (pre-Transform)
    • Get Bound, you die
  • Damage Absorb Void (Fujin -style)
  • Numerous Awoken Binds
  • Numerous Time debuffs
    • Some are 75% reductions
  • 100% Blind Resist Blind Resist
  • ATK debuffs
  • Unable to Match Orb Effect counter
    • You may die to Enoch on Floor 3 & will die vs Odin Dragon
  • 98,138 damage preemptive on floor 15
    • If you encounter Myne on floor 14, you MUST have over 98,138 HP before awakenings or use a 2 turn shield on floor 14
  • Cloud Resist & Tape Resist
  • VDP (or Void Damage Void active)
  • FUA (maybe ) or Auto Follow Up Damage
    • Auto Follow Up is preferred
  • Guard Break or large Auto Follow Up (300k+)
    • 2 Billion DEF Aten (f4) & Tamadras (f12) who also have 99% Damage Reduction
      • Large Poisons can work but takes up an active slot
  • Ideally Leader Swap Resist Latent
    • Prevents likely death from Mitsuanri
  • Poison Surge Latent
    • Prevents all Poison Skyfalls
      • Stops death combo of Freyja (floor 6) into Acala
      • Shuts down Neptune Dragon (floor 19)
  • 100% Poison Resist Poison resist
    • Slightly offset by Norza’s huge RCV multiplier

From this above list, the five coloured Blue bullets are mechanics you must counter with an active or you will never finish the dungeon (the red point may not always apply to every team). This means you must bring these 5 counters across your team of potentially 12 actives and have them all ready at the correct time.

5/12 does not sound too intimidating but many of these you will need on a regular basis along with probably requiring orb changers or any other utility required to run your team. To make things worse you have to consider the required awakenings needed to function along with the correct Resists.

Show next enemy attack

This is perhaps the biggest and most absurd aspect of PAD is that we still have no way of knowing what ability the enemy monster will perform along with how much health they currently have.

Puzzle and Dragons is advertised as a Puzzle game but we are still left guessing what will happen in dungeon and means we have to rely on third party apps/websites in order to actually play the game.

I still find this baffling that the only information we are given is how many turns the enemy will take before they attack (which is usually just 1) along with no indication of how much health they have left beyond a health bar.

In an ideal world, we would have meaningful dungeon information in game but a small starting point would be to just show us what the next ability is in the dungeon at this current HP threshold. Just knowing that you will not die in the upcoming turn (assuming the spawn’s health does not change) would make PAD so much more enjoyable as you could actually plan out if you need to stall, kill, or use actives.

Conclusion

Puzzle and Dragons is one of the longest standing games on the market and is my longest played title as I am nearing 2,500 days. In fact, PAD has become an integral part of my life and at this point in time, I do truly believe we are entering/entered a second Golden Age.

This is because we have been given numerous and meaningful ways to spend stamina, the most free goodies ever given out (Stones + free rolls), along with content that appeals to a wide range of players.

Of course, no game is perfect but the fact that PAD is still releasing content is a sign of a healthy game overall.

Let me know what you think about the direction PAD has taken along with how long you have been playing in the comments below.

Happy Puzzling!

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33 thoughts on “State of the Game – July 2020”

  1. I like where it is too. Missed the first “golden age” after after stopping when i was running fire row red Sonia team. My favorite moment was rolling Roa an awesome sub on my sonia team. Now i run a Roa fire row team with Sonia as a sub. Lol. Full circle.

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      1. So…ah, the thing about farming aa4 is that it’s is a level up, (or at least it is below 1000 where most of us are), so pragmatically there’s no limit but real life time / interest on spending stamina somewhere. I’m not constrained by stamina, I just sometimes don’t want to farm aa4 again to reset to farm misc stuff before another aa4 level up, since most of the misc stuff is around for 5 days or 14 days or whatever ample enough amount of time to not make everyone who can’t yet farm aa4 from being sad. It’s fine. Stamina is just no longer a constraint.

        The thing about meta creeping into “bring the kitchen sink”, aa4 style, is that you actually can, now, cover everything, at which point all the dungeons are more or less a one-shot fiesta. Or a handful of turns, whatever, I do chip some bosses before a kill, but it’s not at all like back in the days when you straight try hard battles with your x16 lead, matching your little hare art out to heal back enough to survive as you battled over 4-6+ turns for a glorious kill.

        I kinda lul at shura realm. I guess they meant it to troll other leads, because at a youtube glance I am just intending to shrug whatevs and tank it’s hits with 300k hp and silly rcv in v.ideal self-coop and am unimpressed by its difficulty. They tried…they simply have less expertise than the players at building teams and playing the game.

        New players are mostly constrained by awareness, not their box. Because they can pair with, say, an Aten with VDP latent and a snow Reece equip. Thus covering 6×7, One shot damage, vdp, and anti-absorb just in the friend lead, and breeze through the vast majority of things, granted waiting for the cd to come up on the antiabsorb equip is a patience tester, but solves it if their newbie box has no absorb card.

        I kinda miss the X6.25 rows and x16 tpa leads, and the low star rarity restricted dungeons…all the things that made you battle vs just combo out and lul. I wish they had designed the code more dynamically/contextually so that any given dungeon was only playable with the cards and multipliers of its era. So much content would be so much more vastly relevant if you experienced it when it involved a challenge and with the balance of its time, instead of there being 5 relevant dungeons and everything else a cake walk. Software makes it entirely possible, they just didn’t have the foresight / make the effort.

        Dupes would be fine if MP points were useful.
        They used to be useful, then they just got lazy and kind of gave up on the mp points / shop. 4 million points and nothing to shop for…it’s a shame they don’t reset that somehow and make MP useful again.

        I also wouldn’t mind fusing a dupe to unlock the ability to remember latents and swap them about. You could only have 6 or 8 active, but you wouldn’t have to lose any swapping back and forth. A card would have an applied latents pool, and an active latents configuration, and gaining the pool would require fusing a duplicate. Perhaps.

        I still want a pathing matters lead. Tie the multiplier/effects to the number of orb spaces traversed and-or non-overlapped in the solve, making efficient cascade leads a thing.

        They don’t do enough with leader agnostic puzzle floors, Lakshmi jammers style, though I could do without every puzzle being a jammer fest with time reduction.

        Also, please, quality of life, let us move teams back and forth to different team slots with a swipe/relocate of some kind.

        2300+ days.
        I still play every day, but mostly I farm this and that daily, and crunch on whatever the actually hard dungeon is just once a week.

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  2. You hit the nail on the head pretty much. WAAAY to many useless cards. Also dungeons are mostly just a function of making sure your team checks all the boxes as you said. So they are either pretty easy to finish or nearly impossible with not much middle ground. That gets boring/frustrating. The other gard part about puzzle games is with the internet the best course of action can be found so quickly.

    I’ve been getting more and more tempted to call it quits.

    Something that could revitalize it is if you could somehow fight against other players with your team.

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  3. Just thought I’d weigh in, as another long-time player (since late 2012). For me personally, the current state of PAD is pretty poor. But it’s possible my situation is unique (or at least unusual). My interest in the game has waned considerably in the past 2-3 years. I don’t know that the game did anything wrong–I just moved on, especially after getting a Switch (possibly my waning interest was also tied to the falling popularity of the PAD forum, but that can’t really be blamed on the game either). I still play basically every day, but often just a few dungeons, sometimes only one. Combine this with the fact that I was never a high-level matcher, especially for my experience level (I always like to load up on TE, and I never chase crowns), and I’ve become essentially a casual player who happens to have a massive monster box, including many of the better leads and subs (but not everything–I barely ever IAP’d).

    As a casual player with a lot of good monsters, I find the new content almost entirely uninteresting. Either dungeons are way too easy, or they’re too hard. The reasons they’re too hard were covered in Mantastic’s post. You have to bring the right combination of actives and passives to deal with the dungeon’s gimmicks–this has been true for a couple years maybe, but it’s only gotten worse over time. Furthermore, as a causal player who doesn’t want to research dungeons, I never know what’s going to get me killed. I agree that having monsters forecast their next move would be really nice.

    I don’t know about golden ages, but I had some of my most fun with this game when I could play around with different leads, especially new ones, in moderately difficult (at the time) dungeons like True Endless Corridors. Or, going back further, try to beat a set of dungeons with a single lead. Or, going back even further, try to beat the early Descends with as many different L/L leads as possible (‘cuz why not?). In these cases, the player could essentially control the difficulty level by selecting a sufficiently bad lead for the dungeon (try beating a dungeon with pre-emptive attacks, running OG Zeus).

    Nowadays, when I have an interesting new lead and I want to play with it, there’s nothing worthwhile to do. New dungeons will destroy it, particularly as I haven’t taken the time to put all the necessary resists on the team members. Old dungeons are too easy. It just feels like it’s difficult to have fun in the game.

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    1. I think a bigger issue is how content is either easy or hard based on having the right counters, there is no middle ground like you said

      Another thing to consider is that you have been playing for an amazingly long time and would be hard pressed to find another game you did as well and boredom does occur. I also play less when there is nothing to do and it helps prevent burn out

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  4. Instead of adding new cards, I feel budding older cards of the same rarity to become as strong as the current meta would be better. I’m not saying this just because I have a lot of old cards and doesn’t want to use stones. But a lot of GFEs right now are trade fodders. I once rolled a faska and Athena-non back to back and the difference in power is ridiculous for the same rarity. So like instead of realizing Norza or Aljae for example, buff “older” 7* GFEs that are almost useless in the meta. This would create more excitement when rolling a high rarity card that could potentially be used to clear endgame content.

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    1. The issue with PAD is that there always has to be a reason to continue rolling and the only way that can be done with the current set up is to add more cards

      With that being said, I do agree that even across the same rarity cards can be drastically better or worse but that was probably intentional due to the concept of trade fodder and monster exchanging

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    2. I agree that they should make an effort to improve older cards. The 100 rolls last week were actually fairly depressing for me, because it was tons of old pantheons that I would’ve been thrilled to see years ago, and are now just box filler. I can’t even call them MP fodder now that Gung-ho has mostly dropped that system. It was a stark reminder of all the iconic cards that have vanished from the meta, never to return.

      I’m hoping they introduce another system like weapon assists eventually that can bring new life to old cards, but I’m not sure what that would look like.

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  5. Great article!
    I started playing 893 days ago according to the game. I remember joining right before the first FMA collab and my first true strong lead was OG Reeche (Remember when HP multipliers where not a thing?)

    I still like playing the game daily, but TBH my interest in the arenas has waned. The new latents are pretty cool, but I find annoying the sheer amount of mechanics that you need to cover (you also mention this).

    Probably near the top of things that I wish would change is the helper system. They already have a system to search by name, awakenings, etc… so would it be that hard to apply it to the server and let us pull a list? ie, let me do a server search for dyers, or amens or whatever….

    The other thing at the top of my list would be adding variety to teams that can clear endgame. Probably goes back to having a ton of mechanics in the dungeon and need to cover for them, but at the same time that pretty much makes variety in teams pretty damn narrow

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    1. I think introducing new mechanics is good for keeping new dungeons interesting, but I agree it’s gotten excessive and turned the game into more of a box check than a skill check. What I’d really like to see is less overwhelming mechanics that can be played around instead of being a death sentence if you don’t have the counter. For example, if clouds covered a few spaces instead nearly half the board as they often do the difficultly could still go up and players would have the choice of whether to deal with it or bring a counter.

      I fully agree that we should have dungeon info available in game. My idea for dealing with that would be to have a “dungeon book” like our monster book, once you’ve played a dungeon you could look it up in the book and see the attack patterns for any spawns you encountered up to the floor you lost at. I think it would be a fun way to learn the dungeon without needing to rely on padx or DadGuide.

      I’d also like to see more of the older pantheons get weapon assists so they could have value on modern teams without interfering much with gungho’s need to make money be releasing stronger new cards.

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    2. I agree that the helper system needs a rework, especially considering you need will need friends with a specific inherit/latents

      Alao, I feel pad is best as a new player or someone who has been at end game for years. Mid game is the hardest leap

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  6. I really like your idea of leveling up cards; and a way to do it that would benefit both players and gungho would be to do so by fusing dupes.
    Many more cards than now could become more useful; we’d all have incentive to roll more (yay, another dupe!), and since the meta cards are the rarest anyway, it would be hard to abuse except by whales, which gungho would love, so in my opinion it’s a win-win.

    And there are lots of possible ways to implement leveling up rewards apart from just stat increases. For instance, maybe you could choose a “path” for your monster that would enhance a particular stat or grant certain awakenings that get better at higher levels.

    I’d love to be able to customize my older cards!

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    1. Yeah the idea of merges or a better use for dupes would help but at the same time, it would fundamentally change the rolling nature of the game. Also, what kind of bonuses could be unlocked outside of stats?

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      1. Let you swap one awakening for an awakening of your choice.

        Of course they’d have to have limitations, but there is no reason not to allow any rem card to potentially have the same awakenins as any other rem card. Especially as it is still subject to gotcha luck via pulling dupes.

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        1. I could see upgrading things like 50% bind immune -> 100% (frees up 1 awakening) or SB -> SB+ but not sure how to truly balance around damage/offensive awakenings as GH has done a relatively good job of capping things to three 7c or 10c + 7c

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          1. PAD X and PAD Battle already allow you to freely replace awakenings, and have a system to prevent exponential damage multipliers. The awakenings are divided into several different ‘types’, and you can only equip awakenings of a type that matches the pre-scripted slots on a particular monster. So, for instance, you can replace all your orb enhances with rows or vice-versa, but not use either to overwrite a poison resist.

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            1. That is good to know but I wonder how that could be efficient transferred over to PAD as it is a gatcha-style game where GH wants you to constantly roll for the newest thing, not improve existing cards

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  7. Reliance on 3rd party websites is what’s really killing it for me. Most dungeons in the past could be run blind, but you ran a fairly small chance of running up against a resolve or 100% execute without being prepared. Now I find that it’s impossible for me to run any dungeon without first looking at an incredibly laggy Padx, or coming to your site for a floor by floor explanation of a dungeon and it’s hazards.

    This is supposed to be a mobile game, a game that we play in between other things we do in life. The fact that newer dungeons are nearly impossible without outside info makes this a lot less of a mobile game. Is it really that mobile if I need a lifeline connected to padx, ilmina, reddit, game8 and mantasticpad in order to beat content?

    I could even enter a new dungeon with all the answers to every AA4 mechanic, only to have them put 2 floors of back to back absorb void / awoken bind. I’ll end up with a cheap death all because I didn’t study a 3rd party floor by floor guide for a 24 hour duration throw away dungeon.

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    1. Yeah this is one huge hurdle PAD faces for players going into end game. It’s huge and blind leap and you will die without preparation. For myself, I am even off put from trying stuff if I’m not going to look up and study things.

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  8. Still not sure why the base monsters active skill gets override by inherent when both skills are charged up.

    Also, feeding is really becoming a pain in the ass, specially if you got multiple big box accounts to deal with. While the “skip” button dont skip shit, spend hours watching the same animation over and over again for 5 years makes me want to puke, seriously!

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  9. Long time player, almost coming up on 2500 days. I think the new super latents are not well designed. if you leaderswap protect your lead, thats useless for friend sharing. its designed for whales that use their own alt leader i suppose. Losing your 110 levels for a secondary evo/weapon assist is also poor i think.

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  10. Seems I’m the only one who likes the “huge numbers of obsolete cards” feature.

    It adds an element of nostalgia to the game as I scroll by Myr and others and reminisce about those good times.

    If they changed / buffed / evolved those old cards, those memories would get lost.

    Like

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