Okay, I went over the basics of Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign in my Marvel Puzzle Quest FAQ, but now we’re going to take a deep dive into combat. In this guide for Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign, I’ll share my tips, tricks, and secrets for winning missions consistently and placing highly in events.
Marvel Puzzle Quest Combat Guide: Choosing Your Battles
As we established in the Marvel Puzzle Quest FAQ, the fastest way to get Iso-8 and Hero Points is by participating in Events. You can gain a number of rewards for winning in the campaign, though, so it pays to occasionally go through there and clear out missions if you have the time. Many times, I’ll have an “event team” that is playing in the event and healing between rounds, and a “campaign team” that is lower level but is powerful enough to make progress in the easier campaign missions.
If you’re playing an Event, you will generally be pitted against other players’ teams of heroes. You don’t have to fight everyone in an event, though, and being picky is important.
It used to be you could skip with no penalty, and even lose two of three matches against an enemy team without losing points, but they changed the way events worked in February 2014. Now there’s a “Victory Bonus” – the Victory Bonus starts at +30 ISO, and it goes down by 10 each time you skip. Once it hits -10 ISO, it will stay there, charging you a small sum to skip further. Playing a match resets the Victory Bonus back to +30, though.
So here’s a trick – if you’re up against a bunch of overpowered teams, skip the hard ones and hold the easy ones until you’re out of “free” skips. Then play one of the easier ones to reset the Victory Bonus so that you can go back to skipping again.
It’s also worth noting that the number of points you earn isn’t dependent on the level of the enemy team – it’s dependent on the rank difference between you and them. Thus, it’s important to factor in the points you will win in addition to the level of the team you’re up against.
Pro Tip Feeling too weak to play in events? Some events feature powered-up heroes that join your team, and these can be easy to win if you’re low level. The playing field is considerably more level in these events.
Marvel Puzzle Quest Combat Guide: Picking Your Team
I covered this some in my Marvel Puzzle Quest FAQ, but it bears repeating and expounding upon here.
A balanced team is key to victory. When I say “balanced,” I mean:
Do you have a set of heroes that do consistent damage, regardless of colors matched? It does you no good to pick two or three heroes that rely on the same colors to do damage. Only the highest damage dealing hero actually counts when it comes to matching a particular color. So, if you’ve got two heroes and one does 5 damage when you match black, and the other does 50, the hero that does 50 will actually do damage, while the 5 damage hero does nothing.
Do you have a good set of complimentary skills? Your AP is pooled across all your heroes. Thus, if all your heroes have skills that rely on, say, blue AP, chances are pretty good that you’re not going to be using more than one or two of these skills, max. Meanwhile, collecting AP for a color that none of your heroes have skills for is kind of a waste.
Do you have at least one hero with high enough HP to survive being attacked? When you match gems, the corresponding hero will jump to the front of your team. If other matches occur as a result, other heroes might jump to the front, but once all the matching is finished the first hero will return to the front again. This is the hero that will absorb any damage done on the enemy turn. Thus, your high damage dealers need to be able to take hits as well as they dish them out. Otherwise, they’re likely to bite it.
If you can choose a team that is properly balanced, you can take down poorly chosen teams, even if some of their members seem more powerful or highly leveled than you.
Marvel Puzzle Quest Combat Guide: Choosing Boosts
After you’ve chosen your Marvel Puzzle Quest combat team, you’ll have the opportunity to use boosts for the current fight. The boosts are consumed whether you win or lose. This can be somewhat confusing, since the game auto-equips the same boosts you used last time if you have any more of them. Thus, you might assume your boosts didn’t get consumed.
Boosts can only be used once you’ve unlocked them via the campaign mode. If you’re playing events without first having moved very far into the campaign, it might make sense to drop back and clear a few campaign levels so that you can start using them.
Almost every win will also get you some boosts for free, so if you haven’t unlocked this ability yet you’re at a significant disadvantage.
Marvel Puzzle Quest Combat Guide: Starting Out Right – Picking the First Target
Although your Marvel Puzzle Quest heroes will move around on their own during combat, depending on what gems you match together, the enemy team will stay right where you put them. We’ve already identified that some heroes are low-HP “support” heroes that don’t take many hits to kill but provide essential backup to the rest of the team. Focus on beating these guys senseless first.
Since enemies do full damage until they’re downed, it pays to focus your attacks on a single enemy at a time. The faster you kill an enemy, the less damage you’re going to take. Splitting your attacks up means that all the enemies last longer and have more time to charge their abilities and make damaging matches.
Marvel Puzzle Quest Combat Guide: Choosing Your Matches to Survive and Thrive
While you can just make matches willy-nilly, you’ll go a lot farther and survive a lot longer in Marvel Puzzle Quest battles if you employ some basic strategies.
Making simple matches doesn’t do that much damage. The real damage comes from proper application of your heroes’ skills. Since all the skills require a single color of AP, you want to focus on a single color of gem if at all possible. Ideally, this is a gem that gives you AP you need to charge some fantastically useful skill. For instance, when playing with Black Widow, blue AP to charge her stun move is my #1 goal.
Moves near the bottom of the screen cause more gems to shift position, so give these priority if you can. The more tiles move, the more chances you have to make more tiles align.
4-of-a-kind matches will clear an entire row or column. These can give you a boost to AP and do decent damage. These type of matches are actually fairly common.
5-of-a-kind matches are rarer, but in addition to 5 in a row or column, you can also match an “L” or “T” shape of 5 gems total to get the same effect. These 5-of-a-kind matches give you a free move, and they give you a critical tile.
Critical tiles are “wild” and will cause a match with any two tiles of the same color. You can even match them with more tiles to make 4- or 5- in a row matches, if the colors are properly aligned.
There are also environmental tiles to consider. Depending on the battle location, these do different things. Most of these are pretty useless (gain 50 HP? seriously?) but occasionally they can come in handy.
The game never calls this out specifically, but if you’re playing against nameless HAMMER thugs, they can’t make matches on your board. Instead, they will just gain AP every turn and place countdown tiles for their abilities.
However, enemy heroes can make matches, assuming they’re alive and not stunned. Thus, when playing against other heroes, you have to be careful. Consider the effects of your move so that you don’t set up 4 or 5 of a kind matches that the enemy can use against you.
Finally, since the enemy can only hit the hero in front, it pays to understand how that hero is picked. The hero in front is always the one whose icon appears on the gem that moved to create your initial match. Other heroes may jump out to handle combos, but that hero will always jump back to the front for the enemy turn.
If you’re making two matches at the same time, the gem you actually touch and move to start the match is the one that counts for picking the lead hero.
Marvel Puzzle Quest Combat Guide: AI Exploits and Cheats
The Marvel Puzzle Quest combat AI isn’t particularly smart about a lot of things, so there are a variety of ways you can essentially “cheat” and beat higher level teams by exploiting its weaknesses.
- The AI will always match 4-of-a-kind if it can, even if it could get a L or T 5-of-a-kind. I fully expect this to be fixed at some point, since it will throw away critical tiles and free matches for no good reason.
- The AI can’t pick who you target. Thus, as I’ve noted before, it pays to pick easy targets with strong skills to kill first.
- The AI does not really try hard to focus on charging its abilities. Often times it makes random matches that do nothing for it. You can starve it from using its skills by taking up all the AP that it requires.
- The AI will match a 4-of-a-kind for AP it can’t use or is functionally useless. You can trap it into picking moves by setting up a 4-of-a-kind environment match, for instance.
- The AI does not time or target its special attacks. It just uses them whenever they are fully charged. If you know they’re getting close to charging up a powerful attack, you can carefully select your matches so that they hit a particular one of your heroes.