This will be a new post series that I intend to do for each NA ranking dungeon. Rather than diving deep into the scoring mechanics and finding ways to min-max results, I’m going to look at the dungeon at a high level, map out basic strategies, cover possible team compositions and of course take advantage of the JP players that went before us. I may write a post on general scoring strategy in the future, but in the mean time the dacho video is a good resource to start thinking about min-maxing your score. He also has a few other videos in his YouTube channel chronicling his (failed) attempt for top 10 in the Satan dungeon which I suggest checking out even if you don’t understand Japanese.
Of particular note, this will be the first ranking dungeon on NA that gives the crown reward which is the special prize for placing in the top 1%. It’ll be interesting to see if the crown reward does indeed make things more competitive at the top or if NA just doesn’t care enough. If you want to learn more about the crown reward, I suggest reading the official NA Facebook post.
This is the distinguishing gimmick for this dungeon, shattering any hopes of an easy 0.1% via push button or Ilm-based teams. While this seems like it would level the playing field, I’m not entirely sure it does as elite leaders and 297s will still play as large a role as always. One area that may give the skilled a leg up is when using something like Ra Dragon as reaching full activation with no time extends is far from trivial, but brute forcing RNG through stamina refreshes should bridge that gap. In the end it seems nothing has really changed except the process will be a bit more miserable for many people. There’s some hope for the average player, though, which I’ll cover later in this post.
The lack of skill boosts means that very few actives will be usable due to their cooldowns. Since the only way to rank well is to one-shot every floor, stalling is not an option. This means mass orb changers and damage enhancers aren’t usable, making the maximum damage bonus from doing 40 million damage almost impossible to reach. However, actives with a five-turn cooldown or less will be up by the boss floor so plan accordingly.
The lack of time extends also hurts the less skilled because it makes it more difficult to consistently hit rainbow or combo activations. A major consequence of lacking both time extends and orb changers is orb fatigue. As the average player can clear maybe 50-60% of the board in four seconds, assuming main element matches are prioritized to maximize damage, orbs of that color will disappear over time. With no way to refresh orbs besides matching, it’s easy to end up with a useless board. This makes scoring even more reliant on good skyfall RNG; not just for combos but to just get the correct orbs to do damage.
Of course, this also means certain team types are completely unusable. Sorry, Yomi Dragon and other match-five users. This also extends to leaders that need a certain amount of connected orbs to activate, including the Heroes, Astaroth and Raoh since they’ll have no actives to enable them.
Dungeon at a Glance
The next biggest thing that stands out about the dungeon is that it’s six floors. As can be inferred from dacho’s video, any dungeon with seven or fewer floors will benefit from skyfall combos; assuming a one-shot of every floor, the lower the amount of floors the bigger effect a skyfall combo will have on the average combo. This further increases the amount of fishing one has to do to get a top score.
Next, let’s look at the actual contents of the dungeon:
|Floor||Monster||HP / DEF||Notes|
|1||45,900 / 1200||The HP is so low that elemental weakness shouldn’t matter.|
|173,400 / 120|
|105,900 / 120|
|2||560,827 / 402||You likely don’t want to bring a water team anyways as doing 5mil against Cauchemar with no awakenings is pushing it. 2,758 preemptive is largely irrelevant, but can disrupt some HP-conditional teams.|
|3||447,112 / 116||Some HP-conditional teams may suffer here due to the 99% gravity.|
|4||75,003 / 45,000||A trivial DEF check. Conversely, the other type of HP-conditional team will be hurt by the 100% heal.|
|5||820,043 / 11,740||Usually 800k damage is no problem, but hopefully you don’t get screwed over by orb fatigue.|
|6||2,458,416 / 1410||For fire teams, since you have to make five combos here anyways, you may as well try to maximize your damage and use your five-turn orb change, should you opt to use one.|
Here are the major points that stood out to me:
- The HP totals are extremely low – Presumably to offset the drawback of no awakenings. This means a high multiplier leader isn’t required to clear the dungeon. One will still be desired to maximize the damage bonus, but short of extreme min-maxing it shouldn’t matter too much.
- Fire has a significant advantage – Basically halving Cauchemar’s HP is a good start, but perhaps the real reason coincides with the next point.
- In a six-floor dungeon, five-turn cooldowns will be up for the final floor – This means five-turn orb changers will be ready to help boost damage against Cauchemar. Combine this with fire’s elemental advantage and this is likely the simplest way to pad the maximum damage score.
- Prioritize high-ATK subs, preferably fire – Filter by fire, sort by ATK and see what you have to work with.
- For fire-heavy teams, it may pay off to bring a wood-main sub – Siren shouldn’t be a big deal, but if you’re having trouble consistently one-shotting her then a wood sub may help. This is particularly relevant for rainbow teams that need a sub to cover wood anyways.
- Water and dark are disadvantaged – Water could have a hard time against Cauchemar. Since there are no light enemies, dark teams have no place to pad their maximum damage.
- Lessened reliance on damage enhancers – There are no relevant damage enhancers that will be ready by the boss floor. Some possibilities are the Blade Braves (who would’ve thought they’d be somewhat relevant again) or maybe an quick orb enhance like Horus, but I’m unsure if the damage returns are worth the time wasted by the active animation.
Looking at the JP Results
There usually isn’t much in the JP top 10 that is relevant to the average user, but we may as well take a look to see if there’s anything interesting we can glean from it.
As one might expect, the entire top 10 is composed of Ra Dragon teams. This certainly makes sense because the team can reach high damage without relying on awakenings or a damage enhancer. It’s also consistent because 9x/20.25x is enough to handle the trash floors.
Is there anything particularly interesting about the subs being used? Not really. The only actives that could be used by this group of subs are Isis and Ariel. Ariel is somewhat interesting as her active will be ready for the Dragon Zombie floor which could possibly increase the team’s damage there, but the random nature of her orb spawn seems risky. While there are a decent amount of fire subs used, for Ra Dragon this is mostly irrelevant since the team should have no trouble one-shotting Cauchemar and the damage bonus can be reached on Dragon Zombie with a light-based team. Basically the only thing this top 10 really says is: lead with Ra Dragon, toss a few high-ATK subs on the team, then pray for good skyfall RNG.
For those that don’t have an MP Dragon lead or aren’t confident in their matching skills, not all hope is lost.
Time Extension Through Leader Skills
Thoth & Sopdet are my go-to leaders for no awakening dungeons, but in this case I thought they’d be pretty useless since you’d want to fit all your combos within the first four seconds anyways. Zeus & Hera were even worse because they would have no ATK multiplier against Siren’s 99% gravity. Well, then I watched this video by kosuke:
Turns out 8x/12x is more than enough to deal with Siren.
130,880 is a pretty damned good score and I’d assume it was a shoo-in for the top 10%. The main takeaway here is that kosuke didn’t fully utilize the 1.5 extra seconds every combo — most turns using maybe a single second at most — but even a fraction of a second will make activating Ra Dragon much more consistent. Given that Zeus & Hera are farmable and don’t need to be skilled up, this could be a great way for players to make their way into the top 10%. I’m assuming Thoth & Sopdet could be used to the same end, but are a bit more restrictive due to their orb requirements; just remember to use as little of the extra time as possible.
Another Farmable-MP Dragon Pair
Another interesting option I found a few videos for was dark Izanami paired with Shiva Dragon. This particular video had an impressive 132,358 score which landed in the top 0.3%; not to mention not everything was hypermaxed:
I had long forgotten that DIza provides a solid, flat 4x for gods and is a decent Shiva Dragon pair. Since max HP is irrelevant here, she has no downside. Not having RValk could be a problem for boosting your damage on the final floor, but it should be more than possible to get a reasonable score without her.
With Zeus & Hera and DIza producing great results, I’m beginning to think that the dungeon actually does make the playing field a bit more even. The conditions for this dungeon mean more teams can clear it, maximum damage is less of a factor and big spenders aren’t able to skew their scores with cheese teams, seemingly making the rankings a bit more accessible. How much knowing this actually helps a player’s ranking is uncertain, though, as they will still have to work against skyfall RNG and people willing to stone stamina to get an edge, but hopefully knowing that farmable leads can produce good results gives players a bit of hope.
Let’s get a feel for how the more traditional leads play out. I didn’t dig too deep, but this was the first Ra Dragon video I saw get close to the 140k mark (137,630):
He’s not the best player and benefitted by some generous skyfalls, but I think this goes to show that you don’t have to be Reco or dacho to use Ra Dragon with no time extends.
Next is a Shiva Dragon clear that prioritizes speed (133,964):
This demonstrates that the speed strategy is still legit. If you’re going for speed, don’t forget that skyfall combos are good for your score in this dungeon.
Finally, here’s a Sakuya clear (130,008):
The recording sucked, but I found it interesting that he could break 130k with a rainbow lead that wasn’t Ra Dragon.
Here’s a YouTube search link if you’d like to check out some videos for yourself.
While IAP-fueled teams, skyfall RNG and stamina refreshes are still the major forces at play, the conditions of this ranking dungeon do appear to open up the playing field a bit. The lowered damage requirements make the dungeon accessible to more leaders and no awakenings lowers the amount of shenanigans by minimizing active skill usage and elevating the importance of quick matching. I find it somewhat sad that many veteran players sort of give up on trying to place better in these dungeons when it’s possibly the easiest Pys they’ll ever get short of a freebie. By being informed, hopefully a few slight edges add up to a significant boost in your ranking.
For those of you playing for the crown, may RNG screw you over because I want that crown too, dammit.