In a dystopian future, the noble Falcon Force struggles to stand up to the might of Hellstein’s Dread Army. While all hope seems to be lost, you’ve come at a moment when the Falcon Force needed help the most. Can you save the world by taking command over an army of heroes brave enough to take on the Dread Army’s mutant hordes?
Small Giant Games’ new mobile title Puzzle Combat is yet another contender in the match-3 genre. Just like its sister release, Empires and Puzzles, and similar games such as Puzzle Heist and Fable Wars, Puzzle Combat is what can be called a match-3 RPG. Where match-3 games solely require the user to rack up a certain number of points to accomplish certain goals, this genre involves the player deep in strategic combat. You will be managing resources, executing skills, and taking aim at the enemy using the matching board. Don’t let the pretty colors fool you, the game can get quite difficult.
As we mentioned in the intro, Puzzle Combat situates you in the middle of a war between the Falcon Force and the Dread Army. With a group of brave souls at your beck and call, it’s up to you to lead the remainder of humankind to freedom. Ready yourself because this one’s gonna be a wild ride. If you’ve just started out in Puzzle Combat and wish to know how to get better more quickly, look no further than the intel transmitted below! We have prepared a comprehensive beginner’s guide for Puzzle Combat, that includes tips, tricks and strategies to help you excel in the game! So fall in, soldier!
1. Prepare For Your Fights
Because nothing’s more dangerous than jumping into a mission without any healing items. If you haven’t already stocked up on healing items, take some of the more combat-oriented items with you as well. Items like Flashbangs, Hand Grenades, and Charge Drinks can really turn the tide of battle if used properly.
Taking these items are certainly situational at most, but if you can see that a boss has poison or similar debuffs, it pays to take an Antidote along with you. This will most certainly come in handy when you engage in elite stages.
Elite stages (marked with wings on the map) come with enemies that have their own special skills and may wipe your party out in one fell swoop if you didn’t fight smart. Shutting the enemy down with a couple of grenades will certainly boost your chances of winning. But items aren’t the very factor in a fight that does the heavy lifting, we simply started with this point because it can easily be overlooked. As in almost any game, balance is important.
2. Balance Your Team
Aside from keeping the next hero bearing a different color from the last (we will get to that in a bit), it’s important to give your team a diversified set of skills. For instance, while a team of medics may seem like an awesome idea where each hero would provide healing for the whole party, it most certainly won’t help much when you’re up against a boss.
An ideal team setup could be the following:
– A single-target DPS hero
– A multi-target DPS or AoE hero
– A medic hero
– A support hero or a tank hero
– A debuff hero
Usually, well-rounded teams can easily get through each stage quickly. But that also greatly depends on your ability to line the pieces up and the timing of your skill usage. Wantonly performing either of these can quite certainly feed your team to the zombies.
Surely, you can take multiple heroes of the same color to increase the damage of one color over the other. While this may help in some situations, it can be impractical in most. After all, some damage is better than no damage. To maximize your damage output in a fight, do not rush; observe first how the pieces may switch places with one another before making your move.
As far as colors are concerned, you can never go wrong with a balanced team of all colors. However, putting two heroes of the same color on the same team together may strengthen that color’s attack as well as the energy gained from it. An ideal composition would be 2/2/1. For example: two red heroes, two blue heroes, one purple hero. Of course this has to do with the composition of the enemies you will encounter on the mission. Let’s pretend you will be faced with the enemies below:
You may try using an offensive team similar to what we tried here:
The reasoning behind the single red hero is because he will be only suited for the boss. Meanwhile, it’s your job to make sure none of your other heroes die on the way there, hence the varied colors.
On the defensive, however, never attempt this as it can be easily countered. Using a hero of every color is ideal for defense since the strengths and weaknesses of your team are spread out.
3. Take Your Time Moving The Pieces
Never try to rush through a fight. Once you have built up enough special pieces, you can save these to help clear the board and send everything flying at the enemy. However, this won’t occur unless you have made some kind of set up.
If you have defeated any of the enemies before you and created a space for the bullets to fly out, do not be discouraged. Sending bullets out can quickly charge up a hero’s special ability, more so than when the pieces actually hit enemies. Building up skill power before advancing to the next wave could really help especially if the next wave happens to be the boss.
One exercise you can do is to make your finger hover over the piece you want to move and trace where the others will follow. It might even surprise you if what you do will perform a chain reaction. If there are any special pieces out on the board, you can also try this by studying which pieces will disappear and which ones will line up. Be careful not to touch your screen while doing this as you may perform a move you didn’t want to do.
4. Use Your Skills As Needed
Each hero, no matter their rarity, comes with a skill. These skills can range from simply hitting a single target of your choice to putting armor over your whole team. Using these skills only when needed is among the most practical things you could do in this game.
If you see that an enemy is going to attack on their next turn, you may try focusing all of your skills on that one enemy provided that you have a backup plan in case it goes awry. If that enemy has a skill of their own, for instance, be sure that your medic is ready to heal the whole team after taking a hit (provided that the medic lives after that attack, of course).
Naturally, using up a skill before thinking it through may spell dire consequences for your team and may compromise your operation. Be careful and look before you leap!
5. Master The Board
Puzzle Combat’s board is much like every other match-3 game. The only difference here is that your bullets fly directly where the enemy is standing. Here is a simple diagram that explains how the attacks work:
Column 1: Always hits the leftmost enemy.
Column 2: Hits enemy on the left but will always hit the one in front first.
Column 3: Hits the enemy on the left, may also hit enemies in the center if they are big enough.
Column 4: Hits anything in the absolute middle of the board. If there are two enemies in the middle, both will take damage.
Column 5: Hits the enemy on the right, may also hit enemies in the center if they are big enough.
Column 6: Hits the enemy on the right but will always hit the one in front first.
Column 7: Always hits the rightmost enemy.
Always keep in mind where you’re aiming as well as know when to activate the special pieces:
Color Clear (Grenade) – Forms when any five pieces in a row or column are matched. Clears all pieces of the grenade’s color. Best used when there are a lot of pieces of a single color on the board.
Vertical Clear (Two Bullets, Up and Down) – Forms when any four pieces in a row are matched. Clears two pieces above and two pieces below. Best used when in the absolute middle of a column.
Horizontal Clear (Two Bullets, Left and Right) – Forms when any four pieces in a column are matched. Clears two pieces to the left and two pieces to the right. Best used when in the three middle-most rows of thr board.
Cross Clear (Two Bullets Crossed) – Forms when four pieces in a 2×2 square are matched. Clears two pieces to its upper left and right and two pieces to its lower left and right. Best used nowhere near the edges of the board.
Saving these up on your board may open up a nasty surprise for the boss. Just imagine clearing all the pieces on your board by simply triggering a well-placed grenade that causes a chain reaction.
6. Repeat Stages For Extra Material
Once you have completed a stage, you may try to go back to it and try to earn any material you need. The materials displayed are given a higher chance of appearance on victory. Depending on what you need (Clean Cloth being needed early on for bandages), you may want to recycle these before entering the stage by leaving them and then accessing them again.
Do note that this does not spare you from spending stamina (you’ll still consume some), so plan out your goals before you deploy your soldiers.
7. Have More Food Than Metal
Back at base, it’s recommended that you stack up more on food than metal. While metal provides the function of upgrading most of your buildings, food supplies your heroes with levels among other things. Leveling up your heroes is one of the quicker ways to get stronger in a fight, and as you level them up, their need for food will be increased greatly.
Food is also required to perform research on various buildings’ functions (e.g. the Training School and the Workshop). With many of these duplicate buildings built everywhere, you’re bound to perform these tasks all at once for efficiency, thus needing more food as you go. To do this, build Farms and Food Storages and keep them all upgraded.
However, do not completely leave metal out of collection as you will need this to upgrade any and all of your buildings.
8. Prioritize Weapon Improvement
Once you have reached Area 8, you will be introduced to weapon improvement. Much like improving a hero, weapons can be improved as well. The difference here is that heroes can share weapons; you may have had a 3-star hero use this gun before, but you may also give the same gun to a 2-star hero and give them a significant boost in power. If they take up the same slot as the last hero, the next hero will be holding them provided that the hero and the weapon share the same color.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have enough heroes to fill certain roles, you should be able to make them hit harder with the weapon you upgraded. That way, you’ll be able to cover for any weaknesses you might have in any team.
9. Take Part In Events
If the campaign wasn’t tough enough for you already and you’re looking for a greater challenge, try tackling the events. These events provide all kinds of resources to make your teams stronger.
You can earn usable items, experience points, upgrade materials, and many more. The main events have waves of enemies that have increased difficulty spikes than normal. What’s at stake here, however, is the massive pool of rare crafting material as well as exclusive event-only items. If you think your team may have a knack for winning and taking on hordes of elite enemies all at once, give the events a try.
Who knows? If you land a good spot after your victories, you’d have enough material to make your heroes and their weapons more powerful than ever.
10. Spend Your Gold On Things That Matter
As this game is free-to-play, the developers are sure to find ways to earn from it. If you like this game and wish to support its developers, there is no shame in sending them some love.
To those of you, who would like to make the most out of this without spending so much, we recommend spending your gold on combat items. Not only will this make the grind less painful, it can also take you far since you’ll be able to buy items that you aren’t able to make yet (especially early on). You will earn gold as you play through the game, so you don’t have to worry too much about spending so much of it.
That wraps it up for our Puzzle Combat beginner’s guide! To simply put, keep playing, keep practicing, be practical in everything you do and you will get far. If there’s anything we might have missed or if you have other tips or tricks of your own, fire away at the comment section below!