Why I can’t stop playing Puzzle & Dragons


I started playing Puzzle & Dragons a few months back. Or at least, that was my first serious look at it [1]. Prior to that, I had picked it up for a few plays only to put it down just as fast. It’s a game that takes a little bit of time to get into, and in the English version the help menu isn’t really an adequate primer for what the game has in store. And while I’ve come to really love the game, I think it can be tricky for newcomers. What follows is a short explanation of what I’ve learned about the game so far, as well as what I wish I knew when I first picked it up.

via puzzleanddragonsforum.com

The mechanics of the puzzle is not immediately apparent to start. If you haven’t tried the game yet, I’ve included a short video explainer above to help you get the gist of how to recognize basic orb patterns that can quickly be solved, and once you master those, you can move on to more advanced techniques [2]. Looking ahead to possible combinations makes the game feel somewhat chess-like sometimes, in that you need to plan ahead to execute your moves within the limited time you have. I used to be a chess fanatic, and perhaps that’s why this game appeals to me so much.

It’s also not at all obvious for a beginner how to best power up and evolve your monsters. While it’s important to save magic stones to try to get rare eggs from the machine, you’ll find in later levels that in order to acquire evolution material for specific cards, you need to find out in which dungeons you can acquire it. You could keep playing until you stumble across it, or you could check one of online databases for the game that are out there.

I still don’t fully understand evolving monsters and building teams, and there are lots of other resources out there that you might want to check out to learn more about that. But I do like that the depth of the game and the fact that I’ve been casually playing for months and there’s still so much more to learn.

Everybody must get stones

Spend a magic stone to continue?

Why Puzzle & Dragons has been such a money-maker for GungHo Entertainment? It’s all about the magic stones, the games currency. You’re occasionally awarded a stone, or simply given one as a gift upon login – but no matter how you get them, you probably ought to save them to either expand your monster box (in early stages especially) or to take a shot at the rare egg machine.

But the game draws on the same money-making principle of video game arcades back in the 70s and 80s: insert coin to continue. And sometimes after you’ve played a long round only to lose to a tough boss, you’ll be tempted to spend a magic stone to continue. Or, if you have no magic stones, you’ll be very tempted to buy one.

As a personal rule, I try not to spend any money on any virtual goods in games [3], and I’m really glad that the game isn’t crippled as a result. Game play isn’t really hampered at all, in fact. I don’t think I’m a hardcore fan of the game, but I do pick up the game daily, which is more frequent than any other mobile game.

What day is it, anyway?


Puzzle & Dragons has special dungeons available on certain days of the week. On the weekend for example, you earn more coins than usual, which can then be used to pay for power ups later on. Thursday is a fun day for me as it awards wood monsters, and I’m working on building a wood team. But this pattern of recurring in-game events is a pretty brilliant strategy from GungHo. Gamers look forward to the weekend when they can rack up lots of coins, or to special events during the week when there might be an increased chance of finding a rare monster. There are events on special occasions too, like a recent easter event, or the current spring event which just started.

No doubt gamers who take Puzzles & Dragons more seriously may find the information above somewhat trivial or obvious. But I think since the English version of the game still hasn’t come close to being popular on the US app charts, I thought I’d pass on a little information about why I like it so much. Besides the fun of the puzzles alone, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in collecting rare monsters and building a team. I enjoy the card battle genre, and P&D has all the right elements of that, I think.

Anyway, if you’d like to learn more about the game, I’ve included some more resources below. Some of them are deeper than you’ll need starting out, but keep them on hand for when you start to get hooked. If you have any advice to give I’d be delighted to hear it, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

  1. Note that I’m referring to the US/English version of Puzzle & Dragons, as opposed to the Japanese version.  ↩

  2. Some of the tutorials that exist on the net seem to indicate tactics that are far more complex than my simple video demo. I look forward to diving deeper and learning more.  ↩

  3. The money I spend in the Apple Store is usually on text editors or, more recently, on the very expensive Dragon Dictate, which I used to write this post.  ↩