Puzzle and Dragons is my longest played game to date and one reason for my continued interest it infinite skill ceiling required for orb manipulation and comboing.
Like any skill, learning how to puzzle better takes time but I have found you can greatly hasten your progress through dedicated practice along with being aware of variuos matching techniques.
As such, I would like to share my own thought process for matching combos from a “Brute Force” perspective. What I mean by this is matching sets of three without the use of Cascades (staggered matching) by following my 1, 2, 3 method.
This method breaks the board down into three unique sections which in turn makes it easier to visualize where everything will end up while also having a tentative plan in your head. As a result, this will make it easier to fully solve a given board as you will be following a rough template as you go.
While there is no “perfect” way to approach things along with everyone having their own preferences or styles, I have found success with this method and is the technique I teach my supporters on Patreon.
Video commentary & sample boards
A standard board in Puzzle and Dragons is 6×5 which yields 30 orbs and a maximum of 10 combos. However, it is very unlikely you will actually have perfect board distribution to hit those 10 and will more than often settle for 7-8 maximum combos.
Before moving orbs
In an ideal world (and is something I am guilty of not always doing), you should be counting all of your orbs and reciting the number of each colour you plan to combo along with determining if any set of orbs are particularly far apart. This should be done in multiples of three which means 5 of a given element will only yield one combo.
Successfully counting your orbs will give a precise idea of what you need to match in order to combo the board and dictating out loud one Fire, two Water, one Wood, one Light, two Dark, one Heart combos would be ideal.
With that being said, this is not something that will occur all the time and a much more realistic compromise is reciting the first 4 combos you plan to make. These 4 combos are much easier to hold in your head/keep track of and if you are able to quickly solve those first 4 combos, your ability to fully match a given board will greatly improve as you have now removed 40% of the board and need to only figure out the remaining 18 orbs.
Match from the edges inwards
Due to the fact that players cannot swing orbs beyond the given board size, it is ideal to try and match combos on the outer most edges first and then work your way inwards. This ensures you do not box yourself into a corner and will not be forced to heavily backtrack/break up previously matched combos.
Avoid purely horizontal matching
Based on my own observations and my own habits, I feel most players are more naturally geared to forming horizontal combos. Perhaps this is due to how reading is done in a horizontal manner but the main downfall of only matching horizontally is you may find yourself boxed into a corner and being unable to finish the last couple of combos.
In order to avoid this, I devised my 1, 2, 3 sectional method.
Easy as 1, 2, 3…
In my head, I assign three different sections to every board in order to better plan out my matches. I use Section 1 for four horizontal combos and Section 2 for three vertical combos. This leaves Section 3 with a 3×3 box for my remaining orbs which can be rearranged as required.
You can relabel each section to suit your preference along with having the large horizontal section be at the top or bottom as its placement will depend on your starting board.
This is because in Section 1, you want to make 4 combos that are in a horizontal fashion. Thus, you are looking for closely grouped colours that are readily matched in this respective pattern.
Once that is complete, you want to try and make 3 vertical combos in Section 2 with Section 3 being used for whatever is leftover:
Visual reference for Section 1 at the top:
The key take away from this pattern is mixing horizontal and vertical combos in order to avoid boxing yourself and you do not have to fully finish Section 1 before starting on 2. In fact, it may be easier to match the two horizontal combos on the left (or right) and then immediately start forming Section 2 with vertical combos above/below.
Section 2 is the key to my approach as the strategy is to match these combos vertically which will prevent excessive horizontal matches. For example, if you were to make three horizontal combos on each side (6 combos in total), you would be left with a 12 orbs in a 6×2 pattern which will force you to continue matching horizontally. This in turn may prevent some combos being formed as you have significantly less space to maneuver.
Just remember, you do not have to fully finish matching Section 1 if it is more convenient to start match vertically above the two horizontal combos.
Under the presumption that a given board has at least 7 combos, Section 3 will be a 3×3 box filled with whatever orbs are leftover. In an ideal world, you have 3 combos waiting but you are far more likely to have only 1 present. Now this one combo can be placed either horizontally or vertically but if you have 2 of any element remaining, it is best to place your one combo vertically.
This is because it will open up a second chance for a Skyfall as the elements with 2 orbs can be placed horizontally which will then require a single matching orb to fall down on either side. This results in a 1/6 chance to secure an extra combo on each side.
Conversely, if you finish section 3 with a horizontal combo, the chances of the purple Skyfalling a match is 1/6 one time:
Matching combos is a skill that has to be learned, understood, and refined over a prolong period of time. This process can be hastened along by dedicating time to only focusing on combos and to create a productive learning environment. To start, players should build a team with excessive amounts of movement time along with no Skyfalls and slowly drop down the movement time as you gain confidence.
This set up will let you see how well you actually solved a given board as there is a slight delay between clearing orbs and new ones appearing when using No Skyfalls.
There are numerous No Skyfall leaders and using someone like Hera Nyx or Ney will grant +10 seconds which should be more than enough to start practicing.
Once you have decided upon your team, you could play through low difficulty dungeons such as the bottom monthly quests or simply going into Endless Corridors.
Matching orbs in PAD is a skill that can be refined through both practice and having a mental game plan of what the board will end up looking like.
The Brute Force technique is the simplest one to visualize and understand as it relies purely on matching sets of 3 with no Cascades. For myself, I utilize my 1, 2, 3 sectional method to have a rough template in my head of what I plan to match and where.
This is not the only method possible but I feel it is a great base to lay your comboing foundation upon. I plan to release several other articles/videos discussing various comboing techniques in the future that will build upon ideas and strategies discussed in this Brute Force article.
Either way, let me know what techniques you utilize along with how you approach a given board when trying to combo as much as possible in the comments below.
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