Welcome to the Puzzle and Dragons guide! This is a fairly detailed but definitely not comprehensive guide to what you should (and definitely should not!) be doing as a new player in PAD.

This is a long guide. As a new player, you should not be reading this front to back in one sitting. The first two sections (Golden Rules and Getting Started) give you the fundamentals of the game. As you get more experience, or if you want to know more about a specific topic, come back and check out the rest of the guide as you need.

Golden Rules of PAD (for new players)

The whole guide is extremely long and seeks to inform you on many different aspects of the game. If you’re looking for a quick tl;dr on things you should be remembering, here it is:

  1. Never sell ANYTHING that comes out of the Rare Egg Machine (REM). Favorite everything from the REM.
  2. Never spend any Monster Points (MP) without asking for advice first. When in doubt, do not spend your MP. The vast majority of players in general should be saving their MP.
  3. Only spend Magic Stones in Godfests or to increase box space. Having box space equal to 1.5x or 2x your rank is typical.
    • DO NOT stone for stamina. DO NOT stone to continue dungeons. DO NOT roll in seasonals, collaboration machines, and non-Godfest REM.

Getting Started

Puzzle And Dragons Beginner Guide 1

Though seemingly simple at first, the amount of stuff there is to do in the game grows fairly rapidly and can become pretty overwhelming without some guidance. This section will guide you through basic game mechanics as well as some of the earliest parts of the game.

The Tutorial and Game Basics

Though nothing fancy, the tutorial does a good job of introducing the “Puzzle” aspect of PAD. There are six basic types of orbs: fire, water, wood, light, dark, and heart. As you saw in the tutorial, matching orbs of any of the five elements will cause a monster with that color to attack your enemies, doing damage based on its Attack (ATK) stat. (Since PAD occasionally enjoys being confusing at the player’s expense, the game will sometimes also refer to a monster’s color as its attribute.) Matching heart orbs, instead of doing damage, will cause your team to heal, recovering an amount of health (HP) based on your team’s Recovery (RCV) stat.

Each team has one leader monster paired with one friend leader. The leader skills of those monsters generally determine the team’s playstyle, damage, and capabilities. (Any damage listed in the leader skill is generally assumed to multiply. If your leader and your friend leader both give 5x damage, your team will have 25x damage.) In addition to the leaders, each team can field four subs, which each contribute stats, damage, and active skills. 

The three stats (HP, ATK, and RCV) are generally self-explanatory. Your team shares a pooled HP stat (individual monsters on your team do not die and you only lose when your team HP reaches 0) and a pooled RCV stat. Since every monster on your team attacks individually, however, the ATK stat is calculated individually per monster and not pooled in the same way.

Every monster has a color belonging to one of the five elements. Some monsters have two colors — for instance, Athena is light/wood. For monsters with two colors, the second color does 30% damage instead of full damage if the two colors are different, and 10% damage if the two colors are the same. Monsters can also have advantages or disadvantages based on color: for instance, a fire monster attacking a water opponent will do half damage, while a fire monster attacking a wood opponent will do double damage. Light and dark do double damage to the opposite color (and normal damage to themselves). You, the player, do not take bonus damage from enemies if your team has a color disadvantage.

As uninteresting as the game’s tutorial is, you’ll probably end up replaying it at least a few times because of…

Rerolling

Completing the tutorial nets you five Magic Stones, which the game immediately forces you to roll in the Rare Egg Machine (REM). The card you pull from the machine here has an enormous impact on how easily you can progress through the early and mid-game. Rerolling refers to the act of restarting the game over and over again in the hopes of pulling a good card to make progress easier. This is absolutely helpful if you want to climb smoothly and easily; be forewarned that it is also soul-numbingly boring. You may wish to settle for something that is good enough, since you might be sitting there for a while if you want absolutely the best starter.

Many players have played without rerolling. While the difference between an okay starter and a fairly good starter isn’t earth-shattering, trying to play through the game with a horrible starter is just awful. Terrible starters should be rerolled even if you’ve already played through a bunch of dungeons.

Early Dungeons

The first thing you’ll do after the tutorial is clear some Normal Dungeons. These are really just about doing enough damage to kill enemies. You don’t have to deal with any special abilities that they might have, since the enemies won’t do anything but smack you when their turn counter reaches zero. Clearing Normal Dungeons will be a primary source of Magic Stones early on.

Normal Dungeons are mostly straightforward until you reach the Starlight Sanctuary set, where you will actually need a cohesive team to kill the final boss (and, depending on the lead you rerolled, might just get one shot a couple of times before you finally clear it). Until that point, you can mostly rely on having a strong friend lead; it can be helpful to use your Best Friend selection (see below) on a reliable player with a lead that works with yours.

Friends and Best Friending

Being friends with someone will allow to use the lead in their first team slot once and the lead in their currently selected team once, every time that friend logs into the game. For friends that are similar or lower rank than you, each lead will be available for 13 hours at most. Friends with higher rank will have that time reduced, to a minimum availability of one hour.

Best Friending is unlocked at Rank 50. You may Best Friend one player, and gain the ability to use their first slot lead, second slot lead, and current lead as often as you want for 24 hours every time they come online. Best Friending experienced players with convenient or compatible leads can make progression much easier. Keep in mind that you can only select a Best Friend once; occasionally there are resets that allow you to select another Best Friend, but they happen very infrequently (once every 6-8 months). There is nothing wrong with holding onto your Best Friend usage until you find someone whose leads work with you. Choose wisely!

Magic Stones

Magic Stones have a variety of uses in PAD, and are what you could consider the game’s “premium” currency. I use the word “premium” rather loosely because even as a completely free-to-play player, they are still not excessively hard to acquire. They are, however, quite valuable, so you must make an effort to use them wisely. Most of these uses, such as continuing dungeons or restoring your stamina, are entirely pointless for you as a newer player. At this stage in the game, you should be using your stones for two purposes ONLY:

  • Rolling in the Rare Egg Machine (REM) during Godfests
  • Adding maximum space to your Monster Box

Any other use of stones is not worthwhile for several hundred ranks down the road.

Additionally, to reiterate and expand on one of our Golden Rules:

  • FAVORITE EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF THE REM. DO NOT SELL, FEED, OR OTHERWISE GET RID OF ANY REM MONSTERS.
  • FAVORITE EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF THE REM. DO NOT SELL, FEED, OR OTHERWISE GET RID OF ANY REM MONSTERS.
  • FAVORITE EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF THE REM. DO NOT SELL, FEED, OR OTHERWISE GET RID OF ANY REM MONSTERS.
  • FAVORITE EVERYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF THE REM. DO NOT SELL, FEED, OR OTHERWISE GET RID OF ANY REM MONSTERS.

Get the idea? Excellent. Let’s move on.

Improving Your Monsters

After doing a few Normals, you’ll realize that you can only go so far without improving on what you already have — this is the “Dragons” aspect of PAD (in contrast to the “Puzzle” part we looked at earlier). In PAD, there are five general ways to make your monsters more powerful or more capable. These are described below in rough order of importance to new players, with the first three (leveling up, evolving, and getting awakenings) being the main priorities.

It’s worth noting that it’s far better to work on one team at a time than it is to split your focus. Having one powerful team makes everything else easier down the line; you will not get similar benefits by splitting your attention.

Priority: Leveling Up

Leveling up is the most straightforward and generally most important way to improve your monsters early on. The game gives you a quick demonstration of leveling up: you feed one monster to another, using up the first and giving experience to the second. As your chosen monsters gain experience, they will level up and increase their stats. 

There are a few nuances to this. Firstly, most of the monsters you will acquire in Normal dungeons feed for pathetically low amounts of experience. Fortunately, the lower difficulty of Jewel Dragon Infestation dungeons, found in the Special tab, are quite easy, cost an acceptably low amount of stamina, and average a couple hundred thousand fodder experience every run. Secondly, if your base and fodder monsters are of the same main color, the amount of experience gained will be increased by 50%! This is a great way to squeeze some extra value out of what you’re feeding.

All monsters have a level cap, beyond which feeding them experience does nothing. For most monsters that have not been evolved, the cap is either 30, 50, or 70. For most monsters that have been evolved, the cap is 99. Monsters require different amounts of experience to get to level 99; 4-5 million is typical, but some require 10, 16, or even as high as 30 million!

(A very advanced mechanic allows you to level certain monsters all the way up to 110, but this is far beyond what you’ll be doing as a new player in the foreseeable future.)

In the early game, you should aim to level all the monsters on your team evenly, instead of pumping just one of them as high as possible. This is because the higher levels cost many times more experience than the lower ones, while usually giving comparable stat gains.

Priority: Evolving

Evolving your monsters changes them into a different, typically more powerful form. All evolutions require a specific set of materials, which you can see either in-game or on a website such as padx. There are a few different kinds of evolution:

  • Normal Evolution takes an unevolved monster at its highest level, uses up the materials, resets the monster’s level to 1, and turns the monster into a stronger form. If the monster is a REM monster, it will typically gain four Awakenings (described below). After a Normal Evolution, many monsters are eligible for a further Ultimate Evolution.
  • Ultimate Evolution takes an already evolved monster at any level, uses up the materials, and turns the monster into a stronger form. Usually, monsters with ult evos will have several ones, each doing something slightly different. Ult evos are always reversible, so you do have the option to make a different form if you change your mind later. Always ask in #new_player_help if you are unsure which form of a monster to make; even though this is reversible, why waste time, effort, and materials?
  • A specific type of ult evo is the Awoken Evolution. Some REM monsters will have forms simply named “Awoken Raphael”, “Awoken Karin”, etc. These evolutions follow the same rules as normal ult evos, but are special in that they will always change the monster’s skill and sometimes make the monster dramatically stronger or completely different. They also tend to have much harder materials, typically requiring two different evolved descend bosses.
  • Reincarnated Evolution (or “Revo”) takes a monster in its Awoken Evo form at highest level, uses up the materials, resets the monster’s level to 1, and turns the monster into a Reincarnated form. All Reincarnated forms have extremely high stats and require a lot of experience to max again, but are otherwise similar to their Awoken counterparts. Unlike an ult evo, revoing is not reversible.
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If you are on a Discord server with Miru Bot, the ^evos command will give this information in an infographic format.

Priority: Awakenings

Not to be confused with Awoken evos!

Awakenings are passive abilities with an enormous variety of effects and can significantly influence the value of a card or the playstyle of a team. You can see them displayed as boxes on the right side of a monster’s information page. (If there are no boxes, the monster has no awakenings available.) Awakenings that are available but not unlocked are greyed out; awakenings that are unlocked are displayed in full color.

Awakenings have effects that range from doing more damage when matching four orbs, to giving you more time to move orbs, to increasing your entire team’s HP, to allowing you to entirely bypass some challenging boss mechanics. As a new player, the Extend Time awakening (the finger icon) is extremely helpful, to assist you in both learning the game and playing the game.

To unlock awakenings, feed a TAMADRA to a monster with awakenings available. TAMADRAs are normally obtained in the Tamadra Village coin dungeon/guerrilla (and occasionally given out as gifts/rewards). It is not hard to find someone on the server to singlehandedly take you through the dungeon, though it is very stamina-intensive for newer players.

Skillups

Although skillups become extremely important as you progress later in the game, they should not be a big focus as a newer player and this information is presented here just so you’re aware of the mechanics involved.

As you’ve definitely noticed, most monsters have active skills, which do things like swap orb colors, heal you, shield you, and so on. You can’t just spam these actives whenever you want; they have a cooldown before they can be used again. It is possible to reduce this cooldown for a specific monster by skilling it up.

  • The most basic way to acquire a skillup is to feed the monster something with the same skill. Specifically, the two skills must have the same name for a skillup to occur. The base chance for skillup is about 10%, though there are events that boost this rate as high as 50%. This method is straightforward, but the least rewarding on average.
  • Fortunately, there’s a way to improve that chance! Feeding a special monster called a kingtan alongside the skillup monsters described above will increase the chance to 100%. This means you can feed four skillup monsters and one kingtan, and your monster will gain four skill levels. Kingtans can be acquired by evolving the drops from the Tan Infestation guerrilla.
  • Special monsters called pys have a 100% chance of granting a skillup when fed to a monster of the corresponding color. Unlike kingtans, you don’t need to feed them with anything else. The py itself does the trick. (It’s impossible to feed a py to a monster of the wrong color — the game actually just won’t let you.) Pys can be acquired from a variety of places, and become more accessible as you progress. Don’t waste them, but don’t be afraid to use them if the monster is too hard to skill up another way.

Note: If a monster’s skill effect is changed in any way, such as via an Awoken Evolution, you will permanently lose any skillups on that monster, and will have to skill up the new skill from scratch.

Assists/Inheritance

As with skillups, inheritance is not an important mechanic for newer players. To save some space in this already lengthy guide, please use the command ^assists? on any server with Miru Bot to learn more, if you are curious.

Technical Dungeons and Beyond

Normal dungeons are, frankly, only a very small part of PAD. This portion of the guide will talk about all the other categories you’ll see in the “Dungeons” menu. It will also take a closer look at the end of the Normal Dungeons — Starlight Sanctuary in particular, as that dungeon represents an enormous difficulty spike compared to everything that came before it.

Technical Dungeons

You’re moving along, clearing some Normal Dungeons, and all of a sudden you see a message saying that Technical Dungeons have been unlocked! What the heck is a Technical Dungeon?

At first, the Technicals look very similar to Normal Dungeons. Monsters still just whack you around a bit, you hit them a few times, and you get a few stones. However, as you clear more and more, you’ll start to notice monsters using special abilities: preemptives, multi-hits, combo shields, status shields, damage reduction, etc. This introduces you to more typical PAD gameplay: in the vast majority of dungeons, monsters will have access to these kinds of special moves, some of which can be quite devastating.

Technical Dungeons are unlocked after finishing the Castle of Satan Normal Dungeon. The first Technicals are easy enough that you can clear them for stones just like you would do with Normals. About the same time that they start costing more stamina, they will also noticeably ramp up in difficulty, and monsters will begin to use special moves more and more often.

Eventually, the Technical Dungeons will open up to some of the most challenging content in the game; however, this is not something you need to worry about for the time being.

Finishing the Normal Dungeons

Although the Normals have a few difficulty spikes as you move through them, they are generally speaking relatively straightforward, and most of them can be overcome by simply making your monsters stronger. The final stage of Starlight Sanctuary, King of the Gods, is a big exception, and represents the single biggest difficulty spike in any of the Normals. Most of the dungeons before this can be cleared on the back of a maxed out friend or Best Friend; typically, this is not possible here.

The boss floor, Zeus, has an intimidating 5 305 418 HP, and hits you for an equally muscular 25487 damage every turn. If you were fortunate enough to start with a lead like Yog-Sothoth, this might still be trivial, but for most players this is a big stopping point. Some strategies to defeat Zeus include, but are not limited to:

  • Delaying him. Naga (or Echidna, her evolved form) drops in a variety of dungeons and the extra turns she gives you against the big man can be lifesaving. Alternatively, if you were lucky enough to pull a REM card with a delay, this is an extremely good use for it.
  • Bursting him. A variety of farmable monsters, such as the final evolutions of the little slimes, have actives that will multiply your damage for a few turns. This can be critical for hitting that 5M+ total you need to bring Zeus down.
  • Stall more on earlier floors. Having that one active you need can make all the difference; stall as long as you can get away with. It’s also good to develop a sense of how long you can safely stall for when you start moving into harder content.
  • Last but definitely not least, power up your monsters and improve your team!

Special Dungeons and Descends

The Special Dungeons category is a bit of a catch-all and has a bunch of stuff, including:

  • Gift dungeons. Dungeons containing event gifts, stream rewards, etc. will all appear in this category, and will typically give you a stone as well as something nice.
    • One notable exception to this general rule is the “One-Shot Challenges”. These dungeons are labeled as “Gift” but can be extremely difficult even for experienced players, and, additionally, cost a ton of stamina. Stay away from these.
  • Guerrillas. Guerrillas are limited-time dungeons that appear for an hour at a time on random days. With a few exceptions, most of them are not too useful for newer players.
  • Challenges. Challenge sets such as the monthly quests are found here. Don’t get overwhelmed or carried away by these too early. Grab what rewards you can from them (the lower difficulties tend to be very easy) but there are other, better places you could be spending your focus and stamina.
  • Rotating dungeons. This includes the Jewel Dragon Infestation series, which rotates on weekdays and is one of the best places to get monster experience, and the Weekday Dungeons, which drop materials you will need to evolve your monsters.
  • Descends. These dungeons drop bosses with fairly unique abilities, and range from fairly easy to extremely difficult. The easier descends, such as Dragon Zombie, Satan, Tengu, Goddess, and Athena, are about the difficulty of Starlight Sanctuary; the harder ones can pose a challenge even to experienced players.
  • Endless Corridors. This set of dungeons is amazing for practicing combos and testing damage with your teams. Once you clear the original Endless Corridors, many more difficult variants will start to appear, all of them costing no stamina to enter. Endless is a phenomenal resource for self-improvement — make the most of it.

Before running anything in the Specials tab (or any unfamiliar dungeon, for that matter) make sure to look it up on padx! The website can be a bit difficult to understand at first, but is a valuable resource time and time again as you progress through the game. Knowing what to expect in a dungeon will save you massive grief down the line. There’s nothing quite like entering a dungeon and dying immediately because your entire team got bound. (It’s happened all of us at some point.) If you need help planning to beat a specific dungeon… #new_player_help, you guessed it!

Once you’ve cleared Starlight Sanctuary and a couple of descends, congratulations! You’re heading out of early game and moving up in the world.

Ranking Dungeons

In short, not something you should worry about right now. Ranking dungeons are essentially a test of how fast you can combo and how well you can plan for a dungeon, and pit you against other players in terms of how fast you clear and how many combos you make. GungHo releases ranking dungeons in NA relatively infrequently.

Each ranking dungeon has some decent rewards for placing above the 50th percentile. In addition, if you score near the top (typically in the top 1%), you get a shiny crown next to your name instead of just a colored orb. Many endgame players go crazy over these, but they are purely cosmetic and have no real value or relevance to you at this stage in the game.

Resources

Here’s a brief list of resources for getting more information on the game:

  • Padx is a great website for getting monster stats, dungeon info, and more. Get familiar with its interface and features. The website is known to have small bugs or errors once in a while, but is for the most part an excellent resource.
  • PadGuide (Android, iOS) is another PAD database, and preferred by many players for its different interface and more rapidly updated JP-exclusive information, and is an incredible resources either instead of or in addition to padx. Unfortunately, PadGuide exists only as a mobile app — there is no website for it. While this is not a problem much of the time, it does mean you cannot use it while in co-op, as any sort of multiplayer in PAD disables app switching.
  • Dawnglare is a PAD board simulator with a large variety of features. It is great for practicing your comboing for free any time and anywhere. You can also share boards and see the solves of other users. Dawnglare is a great practice tool, and is a fantastic way to improve your comboing if you use it well.
  • If you’re diligent with it, PadHerder is a great tool to manage your box and keep track of what you need to evolve your monsters. (There are tools such as PadProxy to automate the process, but they do tend to break once in a while.)

Conclusion

There’s a ton of information in this Puzzle and Dragons guide, but it’s far from comprehensive. There’s a huge amount to learn about PAD, and I’m mostly here to help you get off your feet, focus on the correct things, and move in the correct direction.