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Team Building | Mantastic Puzzle and Dragons
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- Summary of article content: Articles about Team Building | Mantastic Puzzle and Dragons Team building in Puzzle and Dragons is an invaluable skill as it enables players to examine a dungeon and determine the best approach possible. …
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Team set up
Notable Alt Arena 4 mechanics
Alt Arena 2 mechanics
Arena 5 mechanics
PAD is a Puzzle game
Puzzling those Dragons
Puzzle & Dragons Advanced Team Building Guide | Puzzle & Dragons
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Team Building and Composition in PaD
Godfests and Collabs
Knowing What’s Coming
Advanced Players and Their Teams
puzzle and dragon team build
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Team Composition | Puzzle & Dragons Wiki | Fandom
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- Most searched keywords: Whether you are looking for Team Composition | Puzzle & Dragons Wiki | Fandom Stuck on a dungeon? Not sure how to improve your team? This page will help new players understand the common team setups in the game. Stuck on a dungeon? Not sure how to improve your team? This page will help new players understand the common team setups in the game. A powerful Active Skill can mean the difference between a top-tier powerhouse monster and a mediocre eye-roller, even with all other factors equal. In general…
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Puzzle and Dragons Team-building Guide
Puzzle and Dragons Team Building
As a new player approaching Puzzle and Dragons, I was looking for advice on building good teams. Since the game has been around for a while, I found a lot of content that turned out not to be relevant any more–recommending leads and strategies that were relevant 5 years ago, but not now. There are also lots of “build a team for [difficult dungeon]” or “build a team for [meta leader I don’t possess]” guides, but not a lot of content that teaches how to think about team building in a way that won’t get stale as the game ages.
By Jay G, jaygengelbach#9269 on P&D Discord. Please let me know if there’s something missing, outdated, or incorrect!
My goal is to teach you how to evaluate the strength of a team, and give you skills for building a team for any challenge–whether your goal is full-clearing the quest dungeon, S-ranking collabs, farming skill-ups or tickets, tackling arenas or high-end descends, clearing fixed-leader challenges, or performing well in a ranking dungeon. I’m not here to build a team for you–I’m here to teach you how to build teams for yourself.
This is a long guide, because team-building is a large topic.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Know your enemy
Avoid it entirely
Power through it
Step 2: Pick your leaders
Team Building Requirements
Evaluating 7×6 leads
Putting it all together
Step 3: Pick your subs and inherits
Skill boost sticks
Single color or multicolor?
Conclusion: Back to our Goals
Appendix A: Adjustments for special circumstances
Adjustments for 2-player
Adjustments for S ranks
Adjustments for ranking dungeons
Appendix B: Card development
Building good teams is about optimizing for a couple of goals. In order, here are my priorities:
Goal #0: Affordability. The team needs to be built with cards that exist in your box. It might sound dumb to state this, but it matters. Team building is way easier if you drop thousands of dollars on magic stones and own virtually every card. That doesn’t reflect team building skill, it’s box building skill. Whether you make in-app purchases or not (I never buy more than the $1 packages), you should be able to build effective teams.
Goal #1: Survival. The top goal of your team is to clear the target content at a high rate of success. For easier content, you probably want a 100% or near-100% success rate. For harder content, it might be acceptable to succeed 90% of the time; even the best teams can sometimes struggle when the skyfall RNG is cruel to them.
Goal #2: Speed. Of teams that can clear content, faster teams are better. For farming, you want to ability to clear quickly so you can do it over and over again. For regular content, a team that can survive but which takes 2 hours to complete a dungeon will become frustrating.
Goal #3: Optimize secondary goals. Maybe you want a team that gives bonus drops or bonus rank experience. Maybe you want to be able to clear content with one team slot free to bring a card to be leveled or skilled up. Maybe you want to S-rank the dungeon. Once you have a team that can survive the content and clear it in a reasonable time, you can focus on any other personal goals for the dungeon.
Especially when considering goals #2 and 3, an obvious follow-on is there is no best team. There’s a reason the game gives you the ability to organize multiple teams. A team that is built to survive the endgame arenas is not going to be efficient at farming collab tickets. Almost any team will have a “perfect storm” dungeon that would be either impossible or painfully slow for them to complete. Although you can build a well-rounded team that could handily clear all the normal and technical dungeons without the word “arena” in their names, you should use your other team slots to build teams customized for other content.
Here’s my basic framework for building teams:
1. Know your enemy.
You should do research on the dungeon you want to clear. There’s no “best team,” just teams that are good for a particular purpose. Figure out what you need to overcome before you start picking cards for the team.
2. Pick your leaders.
Leaders are the cornerstone of your team, and have enormous influence over what mechanics you need to bring in your subs. You’ll want to look for:
Good multipliers , both on paper and accounting for practicality and skill.
, both on paper and accounting for practicality and skill. Gentle team-building requirements that are feasible to construct a team around
that are feasible to construct a team around Any perks that might help to tip the scale, such as free follow-up damage or 7×6 board mechanics.
3. Pick your subs and inherits.
Your leaders will place restrictions on which cards can function as good subs. Once your leaders are in place, learn how to round out the rest of your lineup to tackle your target dungeon. You want every card on the team to fulfill a role, whether that’s to function as a slayer to take down the boss, a passive defender who blocks negative mechanics, or to bring their useful skill along.
Step 1: Know your enemy
Before you can build a good team for a dungeon, you need to know what dungeon you’re facing. Remember, there’s no best team–you’re building a team to face a specific dungeon (or set of dungeons).
PadX is an excellent resource. For essentially every dungeon, it can tell you what monsters to expect, how much HP and defense they have, and what attacks and mechanics they will use against you. This isn’t a guide to dungeon mechanics (here is a good one), but some of the more problematic mechanics include powerful attacks, blindness, clouds, damage void shields, combo shields, absorb shields, bombs, spinners, and resolve.
You should know which of these are possibilities in your target dungeon, and you should have a plan for every floor. Building a team is about finding 6 cards that together can form a plan for every floor in turn.
Your plan for each floor and each mechanic can vary. Here are some of the options you should consider for how you will cope with various dungeon mechanics:
Avoid it entirely
“The best defense is a good offense” is a good maxim for PAD. Many monsters will only break out their deadliest mechanics if they are left alive below a certain HP threshold (like <50%, <10%, <1%), or left alive for a certain number of turns. Killing the floor in one shot is a good way to avoid problematic mechanics. You can also employ skills that delay a monster’s next turn, preventing it from acting at times when its attack would be problematic. Tank it You’re going to be hit sometimes. The only way to lose most dungeons is to run out of HP. If you need to get hit, just make sure you can survive it. Know how hard the monsters can hit, and then make sure you can survive them through some combination of: Cards with high HP Leader skills that multiply HP Team HP awoken skills Leader skills, active skills, or awoken skills that provide damage reduction Enough RCV to bounce back quickly after you get damaged Stall it Most mechanics that are active for 10 turns or less can potentially be stalled. Stalling is when you simply wait for the mechanic to expire before proceeding. Short-duration spinners, clouds, blinds, or damage shields on enemies can be dealt with by just waiting a few turns. In a pinch, you can even stall mechanics of 99 turns–it will slow down your clear time by a lot, but can get you past a mechanic that you can’t otherwise overcome. (Parvati’s 99-turn absorb shield is a popular target that can be hard to work around for newer players.) If you’re going to stall, make sure you know what comes next–can you tank all of the hits that will arrive while you’re stalling? When one mechanic expires, will the monster hit with something equally challenging? Power through it Sometimes you can just ignore a negative mechanic and cope with it. A small cloud on the board might not be a big challenge if you’re good at remembering where you’ve put orbs. A small debuff to your move time might not be a problem for your team. Poison orbs might not be a challenge if you have enough RCV. A few blind orbs or a tape attack might not be severe enough to stop you from doing enough damage to keep moving forward. Bound cards or skill binds might not hamper you enough to break your strategy for a floor. So sometimes the easiest plan is to just shrug it off and power through like a boss. If you plan to power through a negative mechanic, make sure your dungeon plan accounts for how long it will last: you might still be coping with the effects of the attack 5 floors later–is the effect still inconsequential at that point? Overwrite it Buffs and debuffs in PAD don’t stack. Many types of debuff can be overwritten by a corresponding buff that impacts the same mechanic. For instance: Any “decreased move time” debuff can be overwritten by any “extended move time” skill. A fast-charging “+1s move time” skill can be a fantastic counter to these. “RCV decreased by X%” debuffs can be overwritten by RCV increasing buffs. Buffs that increase or decrease the skyfall chances for standard orb types (5 elements and heal) can be overwritten by any other buff that affects skyfall chances for standard orb types. Debuffs that add a skyfall chance of hazard orbs (poison, mortal poison, jammers) can be overwritten by any similar debuff that adds a skyfall chance for these orb types. For instance, a 99-turn mortal poison skyfall can be replaced with a 1-turn jammer skyfall. Note that overwriting replaces both the magnitude and the duration of the debuff. You can replace a 99-turn negative effect with a 1-turn negative effect, such as turning a long term “no skyfall combos” debuff into a much shorter one. In this way, active skills that seem to have a “drawback” clause can actually be used defensively. Nullify it Finally, you can bring cards that will nullify the effect of a particular mechanic entirely. For instance: Awoken skills can provide partial or full resistance to bind /, skill bind , blind /, jammers and bombs /, poison and mortal poison /, cloud , and tape attacks. In the case of jammers and poison, note that this only resists attacks that transform existing orbs, not debuffs that increase the skyfall chance of them appearing. The effects stack additively, so 5 awakenings that provide 20% resistance to a mechanic yield immunity to that mechanic. Active skills can counter almost any mechanic, including curing binds or awoken skill binds, transforming hazard orbs into useful orbs, directly healing HP, unlocking locked orbs, nullifying color absorb or damage absorb shields, etc. VDP awakenings enable characters to ignore damage void shields when the right orbs are matched. Bonus attack or super bonus attack awakenings can let you ignore enemy resolve mechanics when the right orbs are matched. Step 2: Pick your leaders Leaders form the backbone of any team. You get two leads: your own leader monster, and a helper either from your own box or borrowed from a friend. Both will apply their leader skills. Once you’ve analyzed the mechanics you expect a team to face, you can start to decide on leaders that will help you handle the dungeon. There are 3 basic properties to evaluate about a leader skill: Multipliers Team building requirements Perks Multipliers Leader skills provide your largest opportunity for bonuses to your cards’ core stats: HP, ATK and RCV. Most leader skills will provide a multiplier to at least one of these in certain situations. ATK multipliers are one of the most important, as leaders can provide much larger multipliers than individual cards or skills can produce, and because you ultimately need to be able to kill monsters in a dungeon to progress. HP and RCV bonuses as well as passive damage reduction can greatly increase a team’s survivability, though. Ultimately you need to pair enough ATK for you to kill the monsters in your target dungeon with enough bulk (HP, RCV, damage reduction, or a combination of the 3) to survive the dungeon’s worst attacks. In early dungeons (like the majority of normal/technical dungeons) you can get by with just a high ATK multiplier, but harder content will force you to balance these more effectively. You should evaluate a leader’s multipliers under a couple of lenses: 1. Theoretical maximum The theoretical maximum multipliers for a card are usually easy to compute from reading their leader skill text. What would your effective multipliers be if you triggered every clause of their leader skill to the maximum extent? These are the multipliers you’ll generally find reported on PAD sites. 2. Practical multipliers with RNG Not every board is capable of fully triggering your leader skill. For instance, #3519 Kuvia requires you to match 3 separate fire combos to fully trigger. This requires at least 9 fire orbs (and enough non-fire orbs for you to separate it into 3 distinct combos), but a random 6×5 board will contain only 5 fire orbs on average. Leader skills like this can be dubbed as “orb hungry,” because they require a large supply of fire orbs to maintain their multipliers. On turns when you don’t have a board that matches your leader skill, you either need to stall and do minimal damage, or else you need to use an active skill that can facilitate leader activation. Every active skill you need to bring for leader activation is a skill slot you don’t have available for other purposes. By comparison, a card like #4410 Base Madoo can trigger on virtually any board. She requires 4+ total combos, and one combo of 6+ orbs of any type (including heal, jammers, or poison). Virtually any random board meets these requirements, and all but the most brutal orb change attacks from monsters don’t stop her from being able to trigger. Some cards like #2766 Yuna or #5525 Velkhana offer scaling multipliers that increase with combo count, maxing out at 10+ combos. Most 6×5 boards do not have 10 combos possible without skyfalls, and 7-8 is a typical maximum. So while the above leads have a theoretical ATK multiplier of 20x, they are frequently constrained to values closer to 14x or 16x. 3. Practical multipliers with player skill Just because a board can theoretically trigger your leader skill doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. The most canonical example is #3337 Amen , who boasts a stunning 100x ATK multiplier (10,000x if you use him in both leader slots) theoretical maximum. However, this requires you to trigger two challenging clauses: first, to reach exactly 7 combos (not more), and second, to leave 3 or fewer unmatched orbs on the board. A majority of random boards can actually be solved for this condition, but doing so takes practice and usually a generous amount of move time. If you’re not practiced with Amen, then his 100x theoretical multiplier may turn out to be a 1x multiplier. Clauses that can be challenging to trigger reliably include: Leave N orbs or fewer High combo count requirements Matching unconventional shapes (crosses, Ls) 4. Practical multipliers under constraints You may be able to trigger your leader on a typical board, but can you also trigger them alongside the hazards that a dungeon throws at you? Two of the most common constraints are: Fully triggering plus a Bonus Attack (heart column) for a resolve spawn Fully triggering with a VDP (3×3 box) for a spawn with a void damage shield. Many of the most challenging bosses have a void damage shield, so being able to maintain full ATK multipliers while also matching VDP is essential for tackling endgame content. VDP limits the number of combos you can match–both theoretically (you’ve blobbed 9 orbs together instead of making 3 combos out of them) and practically (you have less time and space to match the rest of the board), which can make it hard to trigger combo clauses or similar requirements. You may also want to think about your ability to trigger in the face of other dungeon mechanics: Color-change attacks (e.g. all fire orbs turn to water, or jammers) Spinners Presence of hazards like bombs or jammers Ultimately, all of this information feeds into your dungeon plan. Can you reliably get your ATK high enough to kill the floors of the dungeon in spite of the attacks being thrown at you? Can you RCV enough to stay alive? Can you trigger the damage reduction clauses you need to tank powerful attacks? Team Building Requirements In addition to providing multipliers, your leader will impose constraints on how you build your team, through both multiplier restrictions and triggering requirements. An overly restrictive leader skill can make it hard to build a full team that handles all the necessary mechanics, especially if you have a smaller monster box. Even a phenomenal leader may find itself pretty useless if your monster box isn’t rich enough to field an effective team. Multiplier restrictions Many leader skills provide some of their multipliers only to certain cards–usually based on either attributes or types. For instance, #5279 Zela Kitty provides 2x to all stats for Wood attribute cards. This will improve the HP, ATK, and RCV of any card with Wood as its primary or sub attribute, but means that subs of other elements will be fairly useless. #2764 Cloud on the other hand grants his HP and ATK multiplier to cards with any of the Healer, Attacker, or Machine types, regardless of attribute. Some leads may grant different multipliers to different types. #5526 Alatreon grants an HP bonus to fire cards and a RCV bonus to water cards. Reaping the full multiplier across your entire team would require you to build a team from only cards with both fire and water attribute on them. You’ll also find niche leads, especially in collabs, that provide multipliers only when certain cards are present or when your entire team is from a certain collab. As an example, #5201 Female Hunter, Glyph Gear grants a multiplier when all subs are from the Monster Hunter collab series. Triggering requirements As noted in the multipliers section, you need to consider not just the theoretical multipliers for your lead, but its practical multipliers in real dungeons. Sometimes, this imposes effective requirements on the rest of the team: you need to bring cards that are able to help the leader skill activate. In the simplest case, this means bringing skills that create orbs that help trigger the leader skill. Other leads may have more niche requirements. #2764 Cloud provides a large multiplier on any turn when a skill is used. This ideally requires a team that can use a skill every turn. The most on-theme answer is #5395 Aerith who sports a 1-turn cooldown skill at max level. (And you’ll likely want her filled up with Skill Delay Resist latent awakenings to handle attacks that might stop her from activating.) Other options include various other 1-turn skill cards, or else a team built to be able to trigger a skill for every turn you plan to spend in the dungeon. #5525 Velkhana has an interesting clause that provides damage reduction when healing 100,000 HP through heal orb matches. If you intend to trigger this damage reduction, you’ll need to build a team with some combination of high-RCV cards, enhanced heart orb awakenings, or RCV-boosting skills. Finally, you should again account for your matching skill. Some leads may require that you bring a large amount of time extend awakenings in order to consistently trigger their leader skill, which will reduce your team building options. Perks Some leads provide some additional “perks” on top of the multipliers that they provide to your team. These are additional benefits to the leader skill that don’t show up as direct stat multipliers. They include: 7×6 leads: changes the board from 6×5 orbs to 7×6, granting more orbs and potentially more combos. No skyfall: stops skyfall matches from happening. (Note: this can be both positive and negative. Although it prevents fortuitous extra combos that may occasionally be helpful, it can also help you control accidental matches of poison orbs, accidentally dealing too much damage to trigger a dangerous monster skill, or accidentally matching elements that can be absorbed. Also, if speed matters, note that it eliminates extra animations.) Bonus damage: deals extra follow-up damage in certain situations. This can replace the need for Bonus attack awakenings. Auto-heal: recovers your party even if heal orbs were not matched. Assorted mechanics: as an example, #5667 Teletha Testarossa can reduce awoken skill binds via her leader skill without using an active skill for this. These perks can change the way you evaluate a leader’s strength and impact the overall team building equation under that leader. Helper selection Although you can select a leader and helper card independently, by far the most common strategy is to use the same card in both slots. The in-game helper finding mechanics even help to optimize for this scenario. This is so common that the sites that report a lead’s multipliers will usually report them with the assumption that you are using 2 of the same card. For instance, a card that provides 2x HP, 15x ATK, and 3x RCV will be listed as “4/225/9”. The reason this is usually a good choice is because 2 copies of the same leader skill come with exactly the same requirements: your triggering requirements and your team building requirements are exactly the same for both. You don’t risk getting the ATK multiplier from only one of your leads without triggering the other one, or having cards that pair well with one lead but not the other. The main situations where asymmetrical leads make sense are when perks are involved. While your multipliers will stack across identical leads, most perks aren’t stackable. It only takes one copy of a 7×6 leader skill or a no skyfall clause to trigger the effect, and the second one does nothing. Usually only a single point of bonus damage is needed, so a second copy of a bonus damage leader is overkill. In these cases, you can find asymmetrical pairings that let you get the perk from one lead, and get other benefits from a different lead–higher multipliers, a different active skill, or other benefits. You will still need the leads to be close enough in their triggering and team building requirements that you can get the benefits of both simultaneously. Evaluating 7×6 leads A special note on leads that provide a 7×6 board. Usually, these leads come with lower multipliers, especially ATK multipliers, compared with other options. When comparing multipliers directly, they may look like a weaker option. However, you should make sure you account for the full benefits of a 7×6 lead. 6×5 boards have 30 orbs, with a maximum of 10 combos in a perfect board, perfectly matched. 7×6 boards have 42 orbs, so a max of 14 combos. You get an additional 25% (additive) damage for every combo, so if you are consistently matching the 4 extra combos on a 7×6 board, you’re adding 100% damage. Bumping a 7 combo average to 11 means a 2.5x combo multiplier becomes 3.5x, an extra 1.4x in total. Adding between two and three combos on average will usually make up for the difference in ATK multipliers between 6×5 leads of similar cost, age, and rarity. Furthermore, the extra combos have value beyond just the combo multiplier. Monster combo shields with high combo requirements will be easier to surpass with more available combos. Your ability to make special matches (VDP and/or Bonus atack) plus hit a high combo count is much greater. And the 7c and 10c awakenings on your monsters can result in a significant damage spike when reaching those thresholds. If you can start reaching the thresholds more consistently, your average damage can go up substantially. However, there are some extra challenges to be aware of: You almost always want to pair a 7×6 lead with a non-7×6 lead, so you will need to find an effective pairing that has similar team building and triggering requirements. Consistently matching the extra combos may require extra time extend awakenings on your team (and certainly extra practice and revised matching technique). Putting it all together So, with all these tips on evaluating a leader, who do you actually pick? The strategic depth of PAD comes from the fact that there’s no one answer to that. At one end of the spectrum, you have glass cannon builds where you ignore HP and RCV and just focus on dealing lots of damage really quickly before things have a chance to hit you. The opposite of this is a turtle or cheese build where you aim to have such high damage resistance that nothing can scratch you, and you can take your time whittling your enemies down. Then there are various ways of balancing your multipliers for a happy medium. If you don’t have a good idea of how to focus, aim for the following: Someone you can actually build a team around. If the multipliers look great but you don’t have either the skill or the subs to make the team work, it’s not a leader that’s going to make you happy. Aim for a respectable ATK multiplier. Doing damage is a requirement for every dungeon. It doesn’t have to be the highest multiplier in your box (though it might be), but you want something that’s going to make one-shot clears of most floors of your dungeon feasible. Among leads with workable ATK multipliers, look for ones whose defensive multipliers (HP, RCV, and damage reduction) or perks are the most attractive. Customize the choice for the dungeon you’re facing. If there are a lot of high damage hits, you may need to prioritize high effective HP. If there are large combo shields, you may need to prioritize a lead that keeps your combo count high. Gravity attacks can be made less scary with damage reduction. Even among good leads, each can shine in different situations. Once you’ve settled on leads, it’s time to build up the rest of your team. Step 3: Pick your subs and inherits Now that your leaders are settled, you can build the rest of your team. The leader skills will dictate what kinds of skills you need to trigger your leaders and what types of subs will earn the leaders’ multipliers. At this point, there’s [usually] a smaller pool of your total box that is potentially interesting for rounding out the team. Now you need to fit them together like a puzzle until you have a team that is prepared for everything in the dungeon. Subs provide 3 different things to enrich your team: Stats: HP, ATK, RCV, and attributes. Active skills. A skill that you may use to counter dungeon mechanics. Awoken skills. A card can possess up to 9 of these awoken skills, potentially providing offensive or defensive capabilities to themselves or the team. On top of this, super awakenings can provide an extra awakening in solo play if you pay to unlock them. Setting up an assist for your cards provide very similar bonuses to the base card: Stats: when the host card and the assist card have the same primary attribute, a small percentage of the assist’s stats are added to the base card. (This is small enough that it should very rarely be a foremost goal.) Skills: an assist gives the option of a second skill that can charge up to be used in the dungeon. Awoken skills: when using a card in an assist evolution form, it will add additional awakenings to the base card. Skill buffer: a unique benefit to using an assist. Without an assist, a skill cooldown attack will take a fully-charged skill below its charge threshold, preventing it from being used. With an assist, you can be in between charging the two skills. A cooldown attack can get you further from charging the second skill, but leave you in a place where the base skill is still usable. A lot of farmable cards have long base skill cooldown time, and can help you stay in the zone where your base skill is usable without accidentally charging the inherit. Note that your leaders also function as subs–their stats, skills, and awakenings also enrich the team, and they can also add to this with inherits. It may be their leader skill that shines brightest, but you can also tune their contributions with inherits. I’m discussing subs and inherits together here because they do effectively the same things: they impact the stats, skills, and awakenings you’re bringing to the dungeon. Inherits aren’t an afterthought; they can completely change the way a card can benefit your team. You should consider them in tandem with picking your subs. A card’s particular stats and active/awoken skills will impact what it brings to your team. This combination will allow each card to fulfill one it more possible roles for your completed team: Slayer : a card with high ATK and/or good offensive awakenings that will allow it to deal high damage to the monsters in the dungeon or the boss. a card with high ATK and/or good offensive awakenings that will allow it to deal high damage to the monsters in the dungeon or the boss. Damage button : a card with a skill that can damage or kill enemies. a card with a skill that can damage or kill enemies. Tactician : a card holding a useful awakening that holds tactical value in specific circumstances. : a card holding a useful awakening that holds tactical value in specific circumstances. Passive defender : a card with defensive awakenings that can nullify dangerous mechanics in the dungeon like poison or blind attacks. a card with defensive awakenings that can nullify dangerous mechanics in the dungeon like poison or blind attacks. Enhancer : a card with offensive awakenings that can enhance other cards in the team, making your slayer cards more dangerous. a card with offensive awakenings that can enhance other cards in the team, making your slayer cards more dangerous. Skill card : a card with an active skill that will help you clear a mechanic in the dungeon. That skill can be defensive (damage reduction, healing, clearing binds), offensive (damage multipliers, board changers to fuel leader skills or awakenings), or utility (time extends or debuff overwrites). a card with an active skill that will help you clear a mechanic in the dungeon. That skill can be defensive (damage reduction, healing, clearing binds), offensive (damage multipliers, board changers to fuel leader skills or awakenings), or utility (time extends or debuff overwrites). Skill carrier : a card with a low enough skill cooldown that you can inherit a skill on top of it and still have time to use it before the dungeon ends. a card with a low enough skill cooldown that you can inherit a skill on top of it and still have time to use it before the dungeon ends. Stat stick : a card that boosts your team’s HP or RCV pool to help its survivability. a card that boosts your team’s HP or RCV pool to help its survivability. Time stick : a card with a significant number of time extend awakenings to provide you with enough move time to solve the dungeon’s mechanics. a card with a significant number of time extend awakenings to provide you with enough move time to solve the dungeon’s mechanics. Skill boost stick : a card with SB+ awakenings so that important skills are charged up to be usable when they’re needed. a card with SB+ awakenings so that important skills are charged up to be usable when they’re needed. Attribute filler: Sometimes you need to bring many or all attributes on a team to help trigger leader skills or awakenings. Your last subs might be filler to cover your missing colors. If a card isn’t fulfilling at least one of these purposes (or another well-defined purpose that I’ve missed), it’s just baggage. It’s not adding to your team’s viability. Good cards will fulfill more than one purpose at once, and great ones might handle 3-5 simultaneously. We’ll dig into each of these roles below, discuss how to evaluate and use them, and give some example cards that can fulfill that role. I’ll mostly choose cards that are farmable or come from GungHo-owned events like Godfest since those are cards more people are likely to be able to see available frequently. This isn’t a suggestion to “chase” these cards, just a way to help you identify the niche(s) that some commonly-available cards fill. Slayers Slayers are an indispensable element of most teams. With the exception of a Button based team, you will always need at least one card that can damage and kill monsters in the dungeon. Although all cards will attack when their attributes are matched, they will not deal damage equally. A single slayer card can often outdo the entire rest of your team. Many dungeons can be conquered with only one great slayer card, with everyone else primarily focused on keeping the team alive and triggering damage. In the early games, your prime damage dealers may just be a dungeon drop with decent ATK like Ogres or Barons. For tackling harder content, though, you will want cards with offensive awakenings that give them a personal multiplier high above the rest of the team. In the right situations, you’ll be able to have slayers dishing out millions, hundreds of millions, or even billions of damage. You may want to familiarize yourself with damage calculation math to compute how hard your slayers can hit in a given situation. There are two types of slayers you can find yourself needing: generalists and specialists. Generalists are cards that can deal good damage consistently across a variety of opponents and boards. They are your bread and butter for chewing through the easier floors of a dungeon. Specialists can spike to exceptional levels of damage output, but may require a particular type of enemy or a perfect board setup to achieve that damage. The key awakenings that can help make a great slayer: 10c This grants the highest multiplier of the lot at 5x, but requires you to hit 10 or more combos. On a 6×5 board this puts it firmly in the “specialist” category, although it could conceivably be a generalist awakening on a 7×6 team. Killers,e.g. Each killer awakening grants 3x damage, but only against monsters of the matching type. Killer awakenings are also available as latent awakenings, where they take 2 slots and add 1.5x damage each. A full complement of 3 is worth 3.4x. Killers can make a card into a great specialist for the right enemies. VDP When matching a 3×3 box of one of the card’s attributes, this will add 2.5x damage and allow that attribute to pierce through damage void shields, which are common on descend bosses. This is a must-have for slayers that need to kill bosses with this kind of shield. Note that cards can have multiple VDP awakenings, each adding another factor of 2.5 to the attack. (And a 9 orb blob also hits for 2.5x damage compared with a standard 3-orb combo.) This is a specialist awakening, as boards with 9 of a particular attribute often take skills to generate. 7c Each 7c awakening adds 2x damage whenever you reach 7 or more combos (including any bonus combos added by skills). This is on top of the 25% bonus every combo adds for all cards. 7c is a great generalist awakening, as most teams should strive to be able to hit 7 combos on most boards. Low HP When your HP is below 50% when matching starts (it’s okay to then match heal orbs), each of these awakenings is worth a factor of 2x. This can be more unreliable to trigger than some of the above, but skills or a careful preparation for a dungeon’s attacks can ensure it activates when needed. This can be a generalist awakening if your team is built to maintain low HP consistently, or can be a way to spike a specialist’s damage in planned situations. TPA Two-prong attack triggers when you match exactly 4 orbs of the target attribute. Each awakening will add 1.5x damage. The card will also attack 2 different enemies (regardless of number of awakenings) for this damage, if available, unless another effect elevates it to a mass attack on all enemies. This is a generalist awakening, although it can also be found and exploited on specialists for a modest extra boost. High HP This awakening also provides 1.5x damage, when the team is above 80% HP before matching orbs. As with the low HP awakening, this can be unreliable damage in the face of enemy opposition. It’s a modest option for a generalist. L ATK Each L ATK awakening provides 1.5x damage when matching an L-shaped set of 5 orbs of the card’s attribute, which can be an option for adding damage for a generalist. It’s somewhat harder to match Ls than TPAs and also takes more orbs, so it’s not a tremendously practical slayer option. This awakening also has tactical benefit: it unlocks any locked orbs on the board, and also clears any “orbs drop as locked” debuffs. L DEF The L DEF awakening requires a 5-orb L of hearts. This provides modest damage reduction for one turn, but also provides 1.5x attack for the owning card. As above, this is not a tremendously practical slayer option. All of these effects, plus leader skills, stack multiplicatively with each other. When you find these awakenings on assist equips, they can be used to pump your slayer damage up even higher. A great slayer can manage a personal multiplier of 50-100x damage on top of leader skills, which can help you to one-shot tough monsters and challenging bosses. Here are some examples of some cards that could fulfill slayer roles for your teams: #4854 Tokugawa His 3 VDP awakenings can give him 15x damage in addition to piercing shields. Furthermore, his balance type means you can put any latent killer awakening on him, which could elevate him to 52x damage against the right spawns. This can customize him into a great specialist for a type of your choosing, or a modest specialist for anything. #4415 Zela Zela’s 3 7c awakenings can give her a consistent 8x damage against any spawn on almost any board. She’s a great generalist. With her VDP super awakening option, she can make a decent specialist. Although VDP plus 7 combos can be hard to trigger, her active skill can add 2 combos to make this option feasible. #3945 Kiri Kiri is a textbook example of a specialist. 3 dragon killer awakenings grant her 27x damage against all dragons. This won’t be applicable in every dungeon, but gives her a niche for certain dungeons, including ranking dungeons. Lack of VDP limits her boss-killing potential for harder content. #4835 Valkyrie Ciel Ciel blends generalist and specialist strengths. With 2 7c awakenings, she can hit 4x damage in any room. She also sports dragon and god killers, and can pick up a super awakening of either a second one of those or a new killer. If you go for the matched option, she can deal 36x damage to either dragons or gods, or 108x damage to the rare spawns with both. (Incidentally, her equip form also sports two killer awakenings, which could help further specialize another specialist..) #4648 Saline Saline holds 5 different killer awakenings, and can pick up another distinct one as a super awakening. This makes her more of a generalist than a specialist, as there are many dungeons where she’ll manage 3x, 9x, or occasionally 27x damage in most floors, and with no requirement on combo count. She also sports a single VDP awakening, so can make a reasonable boss killing specialist, especially for bosses with multiple types. Damage buttons Cards that deal direct damage with a skill–usually called “buttons” in the community–can have a place on a variety of teams. In most cases, button cards can’t deal as much damage as a well-crafted team, so they aren’t often used in challenging content. However, one of their big advantages is that they work quickly. This makes them more popular in teams built for speed: ranking dungeons, farming teams, or time attacks. There are several categories of button attacks. Here are the categories, an example of each, and an explanation of the strengths of each category. Skill type Example Description and uses True damage #3273 Ra Skills that just say “deals X damage” will deal true damage to enemies. Although the magnitude of the damage on these skills is usually small, the damage is non-elemental and will bypass an enemy’s defense entirely. It can be blocked with damage void shields or damage absorb shields, but that’s about it. This makes true damage a popular way to kill the high-defense, low-hp spawns that show up in a variety of dungeons. They have particular popularity for farming a lot of the evo materials in daily dungeons quickly. Elemental damage #4427 Brachys When skills say they deal “wood damage” or similar, they’re dealing elemental damage. Many of these skills deal damage as a multiplier: a “100x wood attack” means 100x the card’s base ATK value. Unlike true damage, these are impacted by monster defense, which can reduce the damage all the way down to 0. The damage is also impacted by monster element: using wood against fire will deal reduced damage, while wood against water will be doubled. These can deal somewhat more damage than true damage skills, especially when placed on monsters with a very high ATK value. They can be a way to clear a floor quickly and without a chance of failure. Gravity #597 Hera-Is Gravity refers to damage inflicted relative to a monster’s current HP. These skills remove a designated percentage of a monster’s current HP, ignoring defense. This can be used to help soften up a strong monster into a range where your slayers can one-shot it, to damage it below the threshold where its “resolve” mechanic functions, or to carefully control a monster’s HP in order to influence which attack from its move pool it will execute. However, gravity attacks can’t kill a monster. True Gravity #4013 Zeus Verse True Gravity deals damage as a percentage of the monster’s maximum HP. Unlike gravity, this can kill monsters, although most skills that deal true gravity have a large cooldown. This is often paired with some regular gravity attacks in order to guarantee a kill of a monster, regardless of its HP or defense. Poison #3239 Neptune Poison attacks (or “mortal poison”, which is stronger) deal a set amount of damage to a monster every turn, based on the ATK of the card with the skill. You can find poison values of x8, x10, x50, etc. (These aren’t listed in the skill text, but can be found on puzzledragonx.com.) This functions like “true damage,” in that it can bypass defense and shields. However, it has a few notable differences. First, poison can be resisted: monsters that resist debuff effects will be immune. Secondly, poison takes effect at the end of your turn; once you poison a monster, you will need to swipe some orbs before the damage takes effect. (This does mean that in a ranking dungeon, poison is not counted as a “skill kill” the way a true damage button would.) As with true damage, this is mostly useful for killing high-defense, low-HP monsters. Counterattack #3385 Anubis Counterattacks deal damage to enemies as a multiplier of the damage they deal to you. Counterattack damage is elemental, so it’s influenced by defense and enemy element. They last for a specified number of turns, but the turn counter is only influenced by you swiping orbs, so a 1-turn counterattack can last through several consecutive pre-emptive attacks (if you continue killing monsters with the counterattacks), or you can use other button skills without impacting the countdown. On a team with high HP, using a counterattack before an enemy uses a 99% gravity attack can result in a sizable amount of damage. Tacticians Some dungeons have mechanics that can be very challenging without the right counters. Tacticians aren’t always needed, but when facing specific mechanics, they can be indispensable. Here are some of the tactical countermeasures you may find yourself needing: Bonus Attack Bonus attack, sometimes called “follow-up attack” or FUA, is by far the most useful of the tactical awakenings. It’s one of the most reliable ways to kill monsters that have resolve–and therefore to avoid the devastating counter-attacks those monsters sometimes unleash if you leave them at 1 HP. It enables you to deal that extra 1 HP of necessary damage to finish off a resolve spawn in one hit, provided you match a column of heart orbs. Super Bonus Attack Super bonus attack or super follow-up attack / SFUA is an alternative to Bonus Attack with some possible advantages. The drawback is that it requires a 3×3 box of hearts, which almost certainly requires a skill to help generate when needed. It deals 99 true damage instead of just 1, which is inconsequential in the context of resolve, but can double as a solution to high-defense, low-HP spawns. It also adds 2x damage for the owning card, which can function as a helpful slayer awakening and let you squeeze damage out of abundant heart orbs. It can also be easier to match a SFUA alongside a VDP than VDP + FUA when both are needed. Guard Break Guard break allows the owning card to bypass the defense of opponents on turns when all 5 attributes attack. Note: you can’t just match all 5 attributes, you also have to have all 5 attributes present on your team. This provides a way to get past spawns with high defense that you can’t easily overcome with other means. Button cards can work effectively against enemies with high defense and low HP, but some monsters also sport high enough HP that they’re not easily buttoned. Guard break awakenings (or guard break skills) can provide an effective counter. This could also be argued to be a type of specialized slayer awakening, although it’s not often found on cards that otherwise fall into the slayer role. L ATK L ATK provides a modest 1.5x damage boost to the owning card when a 5-orb “L” shape is matched. Its tactical purpose is often more significant than the damage boost: it unlocks any locked orbs on the board and removes any “orbs drop as locked” debuffs so locked orbs won’t reappear immediately. (The latter capability to clear debuffs isn’t usually found on “unlock orb” active skills.) This can help eliminate locked effects in preparation for orb changer actives that you want to use. L DEF L DEF will grant a modest 5% damage reduction per awakening when 5 hearts are matched in an L shape. Like other sources of damage reduction, it can help you to tank a fierce active, or to survive a 100%+ gravity attack. Elemental resistance (e.g.) Elemental damage reduction can reduce damage from enemies of the specified element. Each awakening resists 7% of damage. This stacks additively for multiple awakenings, but multiplicatively with other types of damage reduction (from leader skills, active skills, etc.). As with the above, this can have tactical defensive benefits. Note that for two-attribute enemies, the enemy’s damage is of the type at the top of their HP bar until they’re damaged below 50%, at which point they switch. Passive defenders Passive defensive awakenings help your team resist problematic board mechanics that can otherwise make it hard to make the necessary matches to clear floors. They’re passive because these benefits all come from awoken skills, not active skills or the orbs you match. The relevant mechanics that can be passively blocked are skill bind (), blind/dark attacks (/), jammers and bomb spawns (/), poison and mortal poison spawns (/), clouds (), and tape (). Note that resistance to jammers and poison will not stop debuffs that increase the skyfall chance of these orb types. Those can only be overwritten. Example passive defender cards: #3259 Serket Farmable Serket provides 60% resistance to both jammer/bomb and poison type attacks. Note however that she doesn’t have bind immunity, and awoken skills are voided while bound. #3270 Hades Reincarnated Hades sports 100% resistance to blinding attacks. #4649 Base Veroah Veroah’s VDP awakenings make her more of a slayer naturally, but she’s just one example of many cards that can achieve either Cloud or Tape resistance via Super Awakening. (Veroah, and the other great witches, can achieve either.) Super Awakenings can help add an additional role capability to many cards. Cloud and Tape resistance are much harder to find “naturally” than as super awakenings. At the time of this writing, there are only 44 cards with Cloud resist natural awakenings (including JP-only cards), compared with 300+ that can achieve it as a super awakening. Enhancers The job of an enhancer is to boost the team’s offensive output. This differs from a slayer in that slayers aim to deal high personal damage, while enhancers boost others’ damage. There are two categories of awoken skills that can provide this. Enhanced orbs (e.g. ) This category of awakenings can increase the damage of any card that attacks with the relevant attribute. Each awakening provides a 20% chance that orbs of the relevant color will be enhanced when they spawn. (Orbs can also be enhanced post-facto by skills.) Any time you match a combo that includes at least one enhanced orb, the damage from that combo receives 2 separate bonuses: a 6% damage bonus for each enhanced orb in the combo, and a 7% bonus for each of this attribute’s awakening present on the entire team. Thus if you stack 10 of these across your entire team, each 3-orb combo will contribute about 2x the usual damage. Row enhance (e.g. ) These awakenings grant a bonus any time you match a complete row of the specified attribute. This is one of the few match patterns that’s forgiving: if you match any pattern that includes a complete row, you will trigger the bonus. You can get the bonus multiple times on a single board, but only once per combo. (So a single-attribute board will count as 1 row, but a “striped” 6×5 board could trigger 5 separate row bonuses for at least 2 different attributes.) Each matched row increases the same-attribute damage for the entire team by 15% per awakening. Example enhancer cards: #4652 Nidhogg Nidhogg provides 3 fire row awakenings, plus a skill that creates a fire row. If you can do the work to skill them up, a team full of Nidhogg subs can do substantial fire damage very quickly for farming purposes. #2743 Voice Voice, or the dragon knights of other colors, are solid examples of enhancer cards and are straightforwardly farmable. #3736 Herme-Do This farmable enhancer guarantees that water orbs will drop as enhanced. #3920 Valkyrie Blade Another farmable option, Valkyrie’s equip form gives an easy way to layer a bit of extra power onto a Light card or Light team. Skill cards Virtually every card has a skill, so there are literally hundreds of options for bringing skills with you. It’s hard to enumerate all the different skills and when you might use them, but almost every dangerous dungeon mechanic you encounter has a skill that can either prevent it or counter it. You can also have offensive skills that play to the strengths of your slayers, helping you trigger VDPs or lots of combos, and adding additional damage multipliers that help them achieve a one-shot kill. Note that some skills provide just a single effect, like extending move time for a turn or two, while others might do multiple things at once, like healing you plus transforming orbs. Skills with multiple effects generally take longer to charge, but may be able to serve multiple purposes: either doing multiple things that you need at the same time, or being able to serve different purposes at different times through the dungeon. Either way, this can reduce the number of skills you need to bring to counter a dungeon’s mechanics. The Ilmina tool lets you search for cards by needed skill effects, although you may want to “Favorite” cards with useful skills or keep your own index to useful skills that you have in your box. Although you’ll have a lot of favorite stand-bys, many dungeons will have you digging through the dusty parts of your box looking for that perfect skill. Skill carriers Skill carriers are in some ways like the opposite of skill cards. Where skill cards bring a skill that you want to use, skill carriers bring a skill that you don’t want to use. Their base active skill has a fast cooldown so that you can inherit a more interesting skill on top of it, and have that skill ready to use by the time that you need it. Why bring the skill carrier instead of the card with the better skill? The point of a skill carrier is to fulfill multiple roles at once. Their awoken skills might make them effective as a passive defender, their stats might make them a good stat stick for the team, and their attribute and type may help them match your leader skill. Inheriting lets you put a useful skill on a different “body,” for any of the various benefits that body might bring. Note that you can also use a card as both a skill carrier and a skill card. Since a short cooldown is the hallmark of a good skill carrier, you might plan to use the carried skill on an early floor of the dungeon and then still have time to use their base skill later. “Short cooldown” is in the eye of the beholder. A range of cooldowns can work as a carrier depending on how long your target dungeon is and how much skill boost you bring. For short dungeons, cooldowns below 7 turns make prime skill carriers, while for long or 2-player dungeons they can function as high as 10 to 12. Example skill carriers: #5130 Rex Rex’s 2-turn skill is useful on its own, providing a great defense against jammers, poison, and time debuffs that can be ready in a flash. That said, it’s also an ideal one to inherit over. Rex’s strong all-around stats and offensive awakenings mean he can also serve as a generalist slayer and a reasonable stat stick. #5128 Kio Kio and the dracoblades of the other elements (save Akine) have delightfully short cooldown skills and possess stats and awakenings that make them viable slayers across the board. #3272 Horus Horus packs 3 skill boost in addition to a 2-cooldown skill, which can leave him as a dual-purpose skill boost stick and skill carrier, and with base stats appropriate to a reincarnated form. #4833 Halloween Myne This event farmable has a skill that’s not super interesting on its own, but if you invest in getting her skilled up, it only takes 1 turn. This can function both as fuel for a “must use a skill each turn” leader, or as an excellent carrier. Her awakenings provide a bit of passive defense plus some team HP bonuses that help as a stat stick. #4244 Spica Spica’s skill is on the slow side of this list at 8 turns, but cooldowns in this range can be manageable for an inherited skill you need at the end of a long arena or similar dungeon. Spica has several utility awakenings that could give her value in other roles. Stat sticks The purpose of a stat stick is to increase your team’s HP or RCV pools to help increase survivability. Although every card will contribute at least some HP to your team’s total, cards are thought of as stat sticks when they provide particularly noticeable bulk, and when this might represent a primary reason to consider the card for a team. Their contributions can help ensure you have enough HP to survive a dangerous attack–or several in a row–or to ensure that you can consistently recover damage about as quickly as you receive it. In addition to cards that simply have high innate HP or RCV values, they could also possess a few awakenings that can pump HP or RCV values higher. Adds 5% to the entire team’s HP Adds 10% to the entire team’s RCV total Increases chance of enhanced heart orbs spawning, and increases RCV when matching enhanced heart orbs, similar to offensive orb enhance awakenings. Also grants the owning card a bonus, where matching exactly 4 heart orbs increases that card’s RCV by 1.5x, similar to a TPA for heart orbs. As with other roles, some cards will be exceptional stat sticks but weak in other dimensions, while others may offer balance between solid stats and other utility to the team. Example stat stick cards: #5430 Mira Dragon caller Mira has an exceptional RCV stat, plus a single enhanced heart orb awakening to help boost her RCV contributions. She can pick up a team RCV super awakening to further invest in this specialization. #3941 Nees Mira’s sister is also a stand-out stat stick, packing more than 10,000 HP that she can throw onto your team before leader multipliers. And similarly, she can add the team HP super awakening. #4635 Eir This farmable is a solid healer option. Her respectable RCV stat is paired with 3 enhanced heart orbs, which can provide a sizable boost to the team’s RCV capabilities. #5549 Leilan While not as beefy as cards like Nees, Leilan can add a substantial amount of HP to the team while also playing the role of a generalist attacker and passive defender. Physical or Healer typing often indicate that a card will offer at least decent quantities of HP or RCV, respectively. Time sticks Time sticks are cards that are brought primarily to add needed move time to your team. If you’re unable to consistently match the combos you need to trigger your leader skills and slayers, some extra move time may improve the strength of your team. Example time sticks: #3389 Tsukuyomi Tsukuyomi provides +2 seconds of move time and also 3 enhanced dark orbs to double as an enhancer for dark teams. #5323 Acala This one offers +3 skill boost and +2 seconds of move time, which makes her pretty reasonable as both a skill boost and time stick. The double coop boost awakening can also make Acala a solid stat stick in 2-player scenarios. #3337 Amen Though mostly famed for his leader skill, Amen also boasts solid stats and a 2 second time boost in addition to bind immunity #4684 General Card The equip form of an exchange option from GungHo collabs, this card is an equippable time stick that can add +1s to any team with a free assist slot. Skill boost sticks The last category of “sticks” are Skill Boost sticks. These are cards with skill boost awakenings / which you throw onto your team with the chief purpose of making sure your skill cards are charged up by the floor when you need them. As with other roles, you will sometimes want cards with maximum skill boost and no other value, and sometimes want medium skill boost potential while also playing other roles. +1 or +2 SB is common on good cards; +3 starts to make a card’s boosts a noteworthy feature, and more beyond that makes it start being a card’s major selling points. Example skill boost sticks: #2940 Whaledor King of the farmable skill boost sticks, Whaledor can provide +5 SB and not a lot else. #777 Great Tengu Another farmable option, Great Tengu gives +4 SB with different typing from Whaledor and a few non-SB perks. #4800 Valeria This Dragon Caller is the reigning high-end SB option at +7. #4410 Base Madoo On top of a lovely +4 SB, Madoo offers 3 fire row awakenings and a VDP, which can help her bring multiple functions to a team. Attribute filler Sometimes, you need to build a team that brings most or all attributes to the party. Some dungeons require all attributes represented; some leader skills trigger when multiple attributes attack together; the guard break and skill charge awoken skills only activate when all 5 attributes are present and matched. When this happens, you may find yourself adding a few cards to your team less because of the capabilities they bring and more because they represent a color or colors that you’re missing. Hopefully, you can find a better reason to add a card to your team than, “It has green on it.” Nevertheless, “having green on it” is occasionally a requirement for building your team, and can represent a reason to pick one card over the competition. Additional considerations Mismatched subs Once you know what roles your cards fulfill, you can think about breaking some of the team building rules. Leader skill multipliers are more important for some roles than others, and a card that’s exceptional in one role can sometimes still fulfill that role without earning leader multipliers. Slayers want compatibility with a lead’s ATK multipliers, and stat sticks with the HP or RCV multipliers. But skill cards, enhancers, passive defenders, and other cards that contribute through awoken skills can often do this job just as well without leader multipliers. When your box is still young, cards with essential attributes like your first FUA or first absorb shield piercer may find their way onto an outsized fraction of teams you build, whether or not they’re a perfect fit. The usual consequences of a mismatched sub is a reduction in HP, attack totals, or RCV. If that penalty is marginal–such as when your slayers’ damage will far outclass other subs–then this can be a worthwhile sacrifice. On occasion, even slayers and stat sticks can be off-type. A slayer could forego a 2-4x damage factor and make up for it with a particularly appropriate set of killer awakenings. A particularly amazing healer can bring RCV abilities that don’t require the extra boost from leader bonuses. Especially when your box is small, you might have stand-out cards that can shine even without the perfect lead. Single color or multicolor? A lot of strong leads offer attribute-specific multipliers, which tend towards teams where every card has that attribute as a primary or sub attribute. Even when a lead doesn’t require a particular attribute, there are some advantages (and disadvantages) to building teams where all cards share the same primary attribute. The major risk with a one-color team is the likelihood that you could run into a board where you can’t do any significant damage. If you get a bad skyfall or an enemy’s orb change that leaves you without a single match for your preferred element, you’ll basically be stalling for a turn. On their face, multicolor teams would seem to have more consistency here. However, that’s only really true when you have a whole team full of slayers, and every card is equally capable of contributing to killing a floor. Otherwise, you’re just as stuck when your slayers can’t get the matches they need. The advantage of a single-color team is that all of your cards need the same thing. A skill that creates orbs in that color will benefit all of your cards simultaneously. Your slayers will all attack together. It’s easy to evaluate if a board changer is good for the team or not. That said, single color teams can be more challenging to build: you need to have a mature enough monster box that you not only have all the right mechanics for a dungeon, but that you can meet those mechanics with just a single primary attribute. Conclusion: Back to our Goals Back at the start, we laid out our goals for building teams: Affordability Survival Speed Secondary Goals Now that we’ve talked about leads and subs in depth, how do we address these goals? Survival The key to survival is to know the dungeon and have an effective counter to all the available mechanics. Guaranteed success gets harder when there are lots of possible opponents and mechanics (e.g. Arena dungeons) or when you’re fairly dependent on good skyfall luck to provide you with the heal orbs or attack orbs you need. You can decrease the element of luck by using teams that produce all the effects they need from skills. Many farming teams do exactly this, bringing a button or a board changer for every floor. You can also employ stat sticks or defensive leader skills that will enable you to successfully stall for several consecutive hits while waiting for heal orbs or other necessary drops. A team that can survive through 3 unlucky turns in a row will have a higher success rate than a team that can only survive 1. Survival is also easier when your kills are clean and consistent. If you handily defeat a monster in 1 hit, you won’t risk the chances that it employs its dangerous “low HP” attacks. Speed Once you can survive content comfortably, you may want to be able to clear it more quickly–especially if you want to farm it. There are 2 main dimensions that can increase your clear time: clearing floors with the fewest turns, and taking faster turns. For using the minimum number of turns, you want consistent leader skills and enough slayers and appropriate skills that you can clear floors in one shot, or as close to it as is feasible. You want to limit the number of dungeon mechanics where your tactic of choice is to “stall it.” You can also bring supportive skills like board changers that can produce a killing board whenever the natural board wasn’t good enough. For minimizing time per turn, you want to limit the complexity of your board solves. A leader that can support killing floors with 1 combo can run much faster than one where you need to max-combo every board. Single-color boards like the one generated by #2948 Zeus Dios can be solved extremely quickly (just move any orb) and generate a 100% predictable amount of damage. “Row makers” like #4652 Nidhogg can similarly set up a quick and predictable board. These are both popular in farming teams for exactly these reasons. Or buttons can enable you to clear floors without solving a board at all. Secondary Goals Secondary goals can be supported if you can clear content comfortably enough that you have some slack in your build. Want to be able to carry a low-level card through the Training Arena to earn it a lot of monster exp? Or to challenge a dungeon with a lead like #3071 Ganesha to improve the dungeon rewards? Want to bring a Nidhogg or two to Nidhogg Descended to gain skill levels? Go for it! The rules of team building aren’t any different, you’ll just have to face the dungeon with fewer free sub slots or with lower leader multipliers. As long as you are still good at evaluating the dungeon you’re clearing, you should be able to determine whether your team is strong enough to clear content even while carrying a weak teammate along. Appendix A: Adjustments for special circumstances In this section, we’ll explore a little bit of how the rules play out in situations that might interest you. Adjustments for 2-player When playing coop mode, the philosophy of team building is essentially unchanged: you want a plan for the dungeon, and you need cards that fulfill specific roles. The primary change is that the rules are different in coop mode. In particular: Each player brings one leader and 4 subs. Your leader is the other player’s helper. Super awakenings don’t function. Tape and cloud resist can be somewhat more challenging to come by, and some slayers may be less devastating without a bonus offensive awakening. Coop boost awakenings are active, adding 1.5x to all stats for the owning card per awakening. Passive defense awakenings are shared across both teams: blind resistance, skill bind resistance, etc. HP is pooled: the team’s total HP is the sum across all 10 cards (including appropriate leader multipliers). Skill boost awakenings are pooled. You can start with your skills substantially further along. Play passes back and forth between players, changing hands after a board swipe (but not after button damage skills, even if they clear a floor). Once per dungeon per player, you can pass your turn to your partner. Skills and card-specific debuffs only charge or count down on that player’s turn. So while skill boost can make your skills start further along, they will charge less slowly throughout the dungeon. (Leader skills charge every turn, since they are present on both teams.) Binds and leader swaps can last extra long because they count down more slowly. Most other mechanics depend on the active team. RCV, move time, attack values, etc. are based only on the acting team. This largely means you can split responsibilities across teams. One team can bring passive defenses and skill boosts to support a boss kill build on the other team. Splitting RCV and slayer responsibilities too starkly across teams can be dangerous and result in a lot of stalling, but it’s very feasible for each team to be specialized for particular floors. Depending on your level of trust for your partner, you may also want to be a little bit flexible with your planning, and account for the occasional floor that doesn’t go exactly according to plan. Adjustments for S ranks Most collabs come with a dungeon floor that can be S ranked for some nice one-time prizes, and there’s also a rotating set of these available constantly. The dungeon scores you on your performance, and a high enough rank qualifies you for the top prizes. Your general team build strategies still apply, but you will want to optimize for different things. You are scored on several things: Combo count. Your average combo count across all your turns earns points on a non-linear scale, with higher values being about to provide a ton of points. (There’s an extra penalty applied on 7×6 boards to account for the higher combo counts available.) Turn count. A relatively modest effect, you earn top points for clearing each floor in one turn, and will lose points for taking longer. Team rarity. The average star count on your team is assessed, with empty slots counting as 0 stars. Beating the dungeon with a less rare team can earn tons of points. There are various ways to optimize for these. The most common is to dial back your team rarity substantially, usually with multiple empty slots. A total star count of about 15* is often low enough to guarantee an S rank as long as you complete the dungeon. Total rarities of 16-25 stars or so make it quite feasible provided you earn good combo counts. The very lowest rarity cards (up to 4* or so) are often so weak that they’re not worth the price. So S rank teams are often either a top tier lead + helper and no subs, or else a mid-rarity lead and sub with one or two mid-rarity subs. It can be useful to look for cards that are “star efficient”: that is, they provide excellent stats or effects relative to the other cards at their rarity. “Godfest” cards are often problematic here, as they’re most interesting at their high-rarity awoken or reincarnated forms, but various collabs can offer interesting cards at medium rarity. I found the Final Fantasy collab to be an excellent source of 5 and 6 star cards with solid stats and lots of awakenings. Generally, it’s more efficient to plan on a slower clear and stalling through effects rather than bringing the rarer cards needed to handle the effect directly. The impact of low-rarity cards usually exceeds the benefits of a speedy clear. A few other notable points for ranked dungeons: If you have extra + points, your S rank team can be a good place to spend them. While a top tier card might only gain 20-30% in their stats from +297, a low-rarity card might gain 40% or more. Their lower base stats make the bonus more of a differentiator. Rarity only counts your base cards. You’re welcome to inherit an elite skill or top-tier equipment onto garbage cards! Adjustments for ranking dungeons Ranking dungeons offer a chance for some nice rewards and a way to test your team-building and matching skills against the community. You can often find videos of top strategies online, but even if the very top strategies are beyond your skill and your monster box, you can aim to do the best your box can manage and hopefully earn some helpful prizes. Ranking dungeons use a scoring system that’s similar to S rank dungeons: Your average combo count across all turns is measured, and you get 5,000 points per average combo. Your run has a 5 minutes timer, scoring 500 points per second remaining (or -500 points per second over the limit). You lose 10,000 points for any level you defeat with a button skill rather than a swipe. (Poison doesn’t count here, since it happens after your swipe.) You score points based on the maximum damage you deal in a single turn across all cards. If you hit 40 million damage, you’ll earn the max of 10,000 points here. You score “style points” if you match some of the more exotic orb patterns and trigger the corresponding awoken skill. For example, TPA, VDP, or guard break matches will grant some bonus points. Beyond these basic rules, some ranking dungeons tweak these values, granting a higher bonus for time remaining, or greatly increased points for certain style bonuses. Your basic ranking strategy is just to hit all these factors at once: one-shot each floor to minimize time, match as many combos as you can, and pull in style points if you can. Figuring out how to adjust the generic “clear fast with lots of combos” strategy for a specific challenge depends on the specific rules and shape of the dungeon. It’s all about weighing the score of one approach against another approach: How many seconds does it take you to match a single additional combo? If a ranking dungeon only takes you one turn, each additional combo adds 5,000 points to your score. Spending 10 seconds to squeeze one extra combo is an even exchange. If the dungeon takes 5 turns, then each combo is worth 1,000 points, due to averaging across 5 turns. Depending on the length of the dungeon, it will sometimes make sense to match as many combos as possible (and bring time extend to facilitate this if needed). Other times, it will be more efficient to match the minimum number of combos to achieve a kill, and earn time points instead. If you kill a floor with a button skill, you’ll lose 10,000 points but save time, and the denominator for your combo count average will decrease by one. The penalty is sometimes worth taking, especially for a shorter dungeon. How long does it take you to make a style points match? Is it worth the hit to your time score? When style points are boosted, it’s sometimes more profitable to kill floors as slowly as possible and reap maximum style points instead of time or combo points. Skills take time to execute and animate. It can help to use builds that don’t need skills, or to pick skills that do only what you need, and don’t animate additional effects that aren’t adding to your success rate. Many ranking dungeons feature floors that are much easier to kill on the 2nd or 3rd turn than the 1st, due to an expiring shield of some sort. Top scores will go to the folks clever enough to kill in one turn, but if you resign yourself to stalling, consider how to ensure you stall for the max score: will you do best with max combos, one combo, or zero combos? Certain mechanics see particular use in ranking situations due to their ability to save time: “No skyfall” leaders or skill effects eliminate the chance for extra skyfall combos, but save extra time in animating skyfalls. Some leaders, like farmable Zeus Verse, grant solid multipliers that aren’t tied to either combo counts or specific matches. These leads can give you a way to deal sizable damage with just a single combo to preserve time. Doing your research is really important here: it’s good to understand exactly how much damage you need to clear a floor, so you can be certain of a one-shot kill and can choose slayers not just for max damage, but for the perfect combination of damage and other benefits. You don’t always need the max damage leads either, if there’s one that is better suited to the perfect run. Appendix B: Card development There are a number of limited resources that can be used to strengthen the power of cards in your box: Pys or Tans for increasing active skill levels Super snowglobe dragons for limit breaking cards + points for increasing card stats and unlocking or rerolling super awakenings Latent TAMADRA for applying latent awoken skills to cards While all of these can be farmed, they are acquired relatively slowly and so need to be rationed. My general philosophy is to invest in a card when it will get better at its roles. Ask yourself, “When would I put this card on a team?” Add strengths to the card that will make it provide additional benefits that you would likely need in the scenarios when you would choose the card. Latent awakenings There are tons of combinations of ways you can put together latent awakenings. If you’re not sure how to spend your latent TAMADRA, feel free to save them for later. My philosophy is to spend them when they make a card better specialized for its roles: Slayer cards are good targets for killer latents. 3 matching killer latents can help to make a specialist slayer extra effective at killing a certain type of boss. This is especially true if you can match killer awakenings already present on the card. If this is a card you would reach for when you need a God Killer, making it into an even-more-potent God Killer will be a successful upgrade. Skill delay resist is useful on cards that provide especially valuable or life-saving skills. It can also help a skill carrier to more reliably reach its inherited skill, no matter which skill gets inherited. Time sticks can be upgraded with more time extend awakenings. RCV sticks can have their RCV significantly boosted with +RCV awakenings. HP sticks can be upgraded with +HP awakenings, although the percentage bonus on these is currently so low as to be almost inconsequential. Limit breaking Limit breaking can allow your card to level up to Lv 110, increasing its stats beyond the normal limit (although it takes a non-trivial investment of monster exp to get there). Being limit broken is also a prerequisite for a Super Awakening. Free stats are always great, but if your limit breaks are scarce, limit breaking for stats is most effective when stats are one of a card’s key strengths. This means: Slayer cards will always appreciate increased ATK Stat stick cards will improve further with additional levels. Damage button cards that deal elemental damage or poison damage will be more powerful with a higher base ATK. Cards with generally high weighted stats will gain the largest improvement from additional levels. Heavily used cards can always be nice to upgrade, as the boost to HP and RCV will be used frequently and may occasionally make the difference between success and failure. Limit breaking for super awakenings makes the most sense when those awakenings are a significant improvement in the card’s value. Also, ensure it’s a card you expect to use in solo play, as the super awakening doesn’t contribute in coop play. Awakenings that can be worth chasing: Covering a key weakness, like adding bind immunity to a card that doesn’t possess it. Powerful and rare awakenings, like full poison immunity Killer awakenings that fit well with a slayer’s niche and [possibly] latent awakening capabilities. First VDP that can upgrade a specialized slayer into having more boss-killing potential. Cards with Cloud or Tape resist possibilities, if you need more such options in your box. If there’s one particular Super Awakening you’re chasing, note that you may have to roll multiple times to get it, which can burn + points very quickly. When + points are more scarce, it may make sense to awaken cards where any of the possibilities are results you would be satisfied with. + Points The philosophy for spending + points mirrors the philosophy for limit breaking: add stats to cards that are likely to be chosen for their strength in that stat. To conserve points, you can choose to only invest in the stat that most matters to the card: ATK for slayers, RCV for heal sticks. Heavily used cards are also worthwhile to invest in. A full complement of HP points adds almost 1,000 HP, which is a significant upgrade for any card. These can add +6,000 HP across an entire team (before multipliers). Similarly, many non-Healer cards can have pitiful RCV stats, and the impact of +297 RCV across a team of 6 can be a substantial improvement in team recovery capabilities. Skill ups You should take advantage of easy skill-ups from skill-leveling dungeons whenever possible, except for cards where you’re confident you’d rather keep the cooldown slow. 50 stamina to gain a skill level (or several, if you can get multiple matching cards in a skill-up team) is a lower cost than you will find at most other times. Since most REM cards will be obtained at a time when there’s a skill-up dungeon available, materials can often be reserved for farmable cards or cards from monster exchange or the Monster Point store. If you need to use rare materials to skill up a card, you can put this off until it’s first needed. You don’t need to jump straight to the max skill level; you can compute how quickly you need the skill in your dungeon, and how many additional levels will make it a viable choice. As with the scarce resources above, focus on spending your resources only when it will make a tangible difference in a card’s strengths and how often you will want to use it.
Mantastic Puzzle and Dragons
With the release of both GH Tsukuyomi and Norza , North American players have the opportunity to utilize a truly spectacular team that is able to tackle any dungeon in the game. With this in mind, I have developed a team for my own Monster Box to farm Alt. Arena 4 while using a Yuri as a sub as I was unable to roll my own Norza.
Furthermore, I Monster Exchanged for Tsukuyomi as I am able to build a viable team for end game content. As with any trade, this should not be done on a whim and only completed if you can actually support it.
Taking these points into consideration, I want to share my thought process behind building my own team and how I approach Alt. Arena 4. This article will include a full breakdown of each of my card’s inherits, latents, and rationale for them being chosen along with a detailed description of the hurdles in Alt. Arena 4.
Solo AA4 clear
Notable Alt. Arena 4 mechanics
Alt. Arena 4 is currently the hardest dungeon available in North America and will push many teams to their limits. As such, it is important to understand the key mechanics that must be addressed.
Continue reading GH Tsukuyomi x Norza vs Alt. Arena 4 & Dungeon Breakdown/Strategies →
Puzzle & Dragons Advanced Team Building Guide
Puzzle & Dragons, a mobile puzzle strategy game for Android, iOS, and Kindle Fire devices that was developed by Gungho Online Entertainment, is somewhere along the lines of a mix between, Bejeweled, Pokemon, and Candy Crush.
But as any veteran knows, this increasingly popular mobile game has been getting a hefty amount of updates on a monthly basis since its release — including evolutions, new game mechanics, new Awakenings, and much more. These new updates not only bring exciting and useful content into the game, but they also allow players to craft various mid-game to end-game teams to tackle the most challenging of dungeons. The meta constantly changes, meaning that every team type eventually becomes “king” when it comes to dealing with tougher dungeons.
In this guide, we’ll offer team building advice to veteran players of Puzzle & Dragons. We’ll be digging into ideal team compositions, breaking down Godfests, and even examining the meta itself.
Team Building and Composition in PaD
It’s almost impossible to have the perfect team in Puzzle & Dragons. Why? As new evolutions and monster cards get added into the game, the meta constantly shifts because of those updates. At one time, the meta was all about rainbow teams — but now, the meta is hovering around combo teams.
But as a result of the meta constantly shifting around, it’s a good idea to try and stay in touch with it so you can keep up and use the meta to your advantage to clear tough content. For example, when Diablos was released last month, he tremendously helped combo teams and helped push the combo meta. His leader skill, which turns the entire board into a 7×6 board, really helped Reincarnated Anubis and Reincarnated Kushinadahime teams clear challenges, because they could make way more combos than before.
Example Teams for the Current Meta
There’s no telling when things will change again, but here are a few teams that are pretty powerful in the current meta for Puzzles and Dragons.
Reincarnated Kushindahime Team
In this team, Reincarnated Kushindahime’s leader skill benefits her and all the Hakus because of the “Healer” type. Diablos’ leader skill transforms the puzzle board into a 7×6, which gives you more combos to work with since Reincarnated Kushinadahime’s leader skill restricts skyfalls.
With everyone except Reincarnated Kushinadahime having “Enhanced Combo” Awakening, their attack is doubled when you reach 7+ combos. And of course, the Hakus transform your board into a tri-color for even more combos.
This is a luxury team because all of its members require RNG to obtain (if you’e lucky). If you have 3 or less Hakus, you can substitute the fourth one for a support type monster card. However, it’s advisable to at least have 2 Hakus. Here’s the team list:
Dark Athena Team
This is another team that’s very relevant right now, even though it doesn’t exactly align with the meta at the moment.
With this team, you can dish out lots of damage with barely any effort. Again, the Hakus’ active skill provides a tri-color board, of which the two elements are water and dark — something that Athena needs to activate her leader skill.
Loki’s active skill doubles the attack of the whole team, so you’ll deal even more damage against enemies. And of course, Dark Athena herself gives an HP and attack boost to all God, Devil, and Attacker types (where in this case, all monsters meet the requirement), and another attack boost, as well as a recovery boost when you match water and dark orbs.
This ideal team is extremely tanky, durable, and can clear the majority of end-game content, but sadly, relies on RNG (except for Athena since you can buy her with MP). Here’s the team list:
As you can tell, Haku is a staple sub on almost any combo team because of her active skill, type, and awakenings. But generally speaking, any monster that has skills and awakenings that benefit combos will definitely work on your combo team. That said, some are more desirable/preferred than others.
It’s also wise to note that you can inherit other monsters’ skills that can either support (shield, delay, bind clear, etc.), or have other offensive benefits.
With the meta constantly shifting, advanced players need to have teams that are able to take advantage of each different meta. Of course, that requires having the ideal leader, as well as the subs that will benefit a player’s leader and the team as a whole.
But how exactly can players craft meta-relevant teams or powerful teams in general?
Godfests and Collabs
Every time there is an in-game event, a Godfest is announced. Godfests are also announced whenever there are collabs like Bleach, Final Fantasy, etc. For new players, this is a great opportunity to try and obtain a rare and powerful monster that will help them clear early content — and get them into the game.
But what about veteran players? Unlike new players, it’s a good idea to conserve stones for Godfests that will have monsters carrying the most benefit on veteran players’ teams. For instance, let’s take the combo meta as an example. For newbies, the meta doesn’t exist simply because they just started the game and don’t have enough monster cards or the experience to be part of the meta. But for veteran players, they need to roll only on specific Godfests that have monster cards that will greatly benefit their teams.
Looking at the image above, a newer player would be set with any of the monster cards featured above. As for veteran players, they would want to aim for Diaochan, since she is a very useful sub on Reincarnated Anubis teams. As a result, veteran players would have to ask themselves the following question: “Should I spend all my stones hoping to get Diaochan, or wait for a future Godfest?”
In the end, it’s really up to the player. Specific teams require specific monsters relevant in the meta and beyond. But it’s also a good idea to note that just because a meta exists, it does not mean that you should only aim for monsters that will benefit from that meta. There are numerous teams outside of the meta that are just as powerful and reliable for clearing tough dungeons.
It all depends on who players need and what players can work with.
Knowing What’s Coming
If there is one thing that western players can benefit the most from, it’s the fact that we get all the stuff that the Japanes version of Puzzles & Dragons gets at a later date. How so? Because updates and new releases are first available in Japan, Western players can get a sneak peek at what’s to come. This also allows Western players to save stones if there’s an incredibly useful Godfest Exclusive or MP monster, begin crafting and upgrading a current team because of the meta that is emerging in Japan, and etc.
Whether the updates are good or bad, Western players (especially experienced ones), get to know in advance what awaits them, and what they can look forward to (or not). This kind of prep time is a huge advantage.
This all ties in with teams, since new and more powerful monsters are being released very often. About a month or so ago, Japan got yet another Godfest Exclusive monster named Ney. Whichever evolution of hers players go for, it’s certain that that evolution will prove to be an extremely useful leader or sub. As of now, she is not available in the west — but western players are already looking forward to her and are saving up their stones for her when she debuts.
Advanced Players and Their Teams
You can never build a strong, everlasting team in Puzzle & Dragons. As newer content is released, “accommodating” dungeons are released as well, with each one being tougher than the previous one. Luckily, there is no single meta that lasts forever in this game — every few months or so, a new meta arrives and replaces the current one.
Since Puzzle & Dragons is an RNG game, every person who has played the game for a long time will have different monsters, teams, leaders, subs, etc. Thus, the meta will either play in their favor or not.
There really is no reason to be discouraged though — with Japan getting updates first, we get to see what they get, and plan accordingly with our Magic Stones and MP. Who knows? Maybe that patience will be awarded when you get that one monster who will replace the meta!
Make sure to check out our other Puzzle & Dragons guides! Here a few to get you started:
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