Ranking Dungeon Prep: Cauchemar

1629 - Chivalric Demon Prince, CauchemarThis 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.

No Awakenings

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:

Data taken from PDX.
Cauchemar Tournament
Floor Monster HP / DEF Notes
1 1366 - Firon 45,900 / 1200 The HP is so low that elemental weakness shouldn’t matter.
1367 - Waron 173,400 / 120
1368 - Winron 105,900 / 120
2 774 - Omega Wood Skydragon, Horai 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 1100 - Sea God's Songstress, Siren 447,112 / 116 Some HP-conditional teams may suffer here due to the 99% gravity.
4 906 - Flame Baron 75,003 / 45,000 A trivial DEF check. Conversely, the other type of HP-conditional team will be hurt by the 100% heal.
5 1061 - Dragon Zombie 820,043 / 11,740 Usually 800k damage is no problem, but hopefully you don’t get screwed over by orb fatigue.
6 1629 - Chivalric Demon Prince, Cauchemar 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.

JP Cauchemar Cup Top 10

JP Cauchemar Cup Top 10

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.

Alternative Leads

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

2412 - Playful Star Gods, Thoth & Sopdet1923 - Loving Heavenly Deities, Zeus & Hera
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

2180 - Pacifying Yomi Goddess, Izanami
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.

Other Clears

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.


51 thoughts on “Ranking Dungeon Prep: Cauchemar

  1. Hey Setsu:
    thanks for this, really helpful.
    As I usually main a yomidragon team, kind of lost in this dungeon.

    Think I am going with Diznami lead with a Nep friend? I dont really have leveld up fire cards to pair up with shiva dragon.

    So mostly going with something like Diz/Yomidragon/Okuni/Akchei/Pandora/Nep
    So 12X. I can swap Pandora for Vampire as 5 turn orb changer, but he is not God.

    Do you any recommendation on improving this team?
    Hopefully I can sqeeuze in top 10% for that badpy. I might have to use a few more turns to get Pandora for last floor?

    Thanks again


  2. I was thinking of going with ShivaDra/RValk/Horus/Ares/Rodin or Uriel with friend ShivaDra. Plan to clear as fast as possible and then Horus/RValk on Cauchmar to ensure combos and high max damage score. What do you think of that lineup? All max skilled.

    Just want to get top 10% not shooting for the crown or anything like that.


    • Not sure how good Horus is, especially since you’re not going to have all that many fire orbs to enhance most tries. With no awakenings you’re looking at a very small damage bonus (6% per orb in a given match for that match only); not sure that’s even worth the time to push the button. RValk seems like an auto-include, if only to augment RNG for the final floor. Outside that it doesn’t really matter what subs you use as long as they’re god, fire and their ATK is high. That should theoretically get you into the top 10% pretty easily.


  3. I give up. I’m going to try and place in the top 30% and just give up.

    Top 10 RaDra? Lol.

    I’ll come back and try harder when the teams become preset teams.

    Not to sound salty or whiny, but honestly I just feel so disadvantaged. Limited stamina means limited attempts, first of all, so I can’t just keep stone-burning until skyfall appeals to me. But good luck to everyone going for the crown! I’ll be here to push up your rank more by placing below you!


    • Actually you’re probably more disadvantaged with preset teams because, believe it or not, there are plenty of people that have worse teams than you and you’ll no longer have that advantage. IAP can play the RNG slot machine and skilled players just have a natural advantage, but the average player doesn’t have such things working for them.

      Also, almost all players are in the same situation you are. The top 1% is where most of the stamina refreshes are going to happen. Just putting forth a bit more effort will put you above all of them.


      • My biggest issue is my HUGELY limited supply of +eggs. I have DIza and ROdin, and two Ares, and I can sort-of-kind-of half-ass everything else from there (tfw you realize all of your best fire subs are like, NOT god type) oh well no Valk Femme. But I don’t have the +eggs to create a dedicated ranking dungeon team specialized for each ranking dungeon. Most IAPers certainly don’t have that luxury, or even that sort of interest, to just +297 willy-nilly to their whims, so forget about a very light/noIAP player trying to pull that off.

        Naturally, A.Ama and Thor x Saria (my big two teams right now) have no reason to be in Cauchemar’s ranking dungeon so my best bet is to once again settle for a TAMADRA or pray with Awoken Shiva, or half-ass the dungeon with DIza / ROdin / Ares / Ares / Urd knowing that nobody is max skilled, I have no quick orb changer for burst, and I might do worse than A.Ama will.

        Depending on the kind of preset team GungHo forces us to use in the next few months, I will like or hate it, but I am a firm believer in the fact that no matter how bad or good the preset team is, that will make the playing field much more level because the score will come from luck and skill. Players refreshing stamina over and over will always be a thing and IAP players SHOULD have that advantage, but the MP dragons just need to hastily make an exit.

        Don’t mind me though, I’m well aware of the fact that 99% of what I am saying is me complaining and putting up a huge stink about something I shouldn’t be complaining about. “Don’t like, don’t play” after all.


        • I’m not sure you’re actually comprehending anything I’m writing at this point. Yes, you’re grossly disadvantaged, but you can’t let that affect your outlook since the vast majority of players share the same disadvantage. What the top 1-2% does barely affects the rest of the player base. Just by playing a bit smarter means you still have a huge advantage.

          You can score well without an ideal team in general and in the case of Cauchemar specifically you don’t need +eggs, either. Here’s a top 5% score with garbage subs, a few +eggs and what I would consider average skyfall luck:

          Even if you had a worse team and played slightly worse, you would still easily land in the top 20%. I’ve shown in the past you can get top 10% with non-MP Dragon teams, too, and I’m far from being a good player. The fact that there are plenty of players, like you, that are pessimistic about the ranking dungeon, all you really need is a slight edge in information and execution to outscore all of them.

          Yes, you’re disadvantaged, but so are a lot of other people. You don’t need to even the playing field with that specific minority of players, you just need to find an advantage over the majority that is left. And considering we have a few months of time to research what is coming out of JP, we have plenty of time to find and develop that edge.

          The presets make the playing field more level, but not necessarily to your advantage. The people that would normally score under you because their teams sucked even more than yours now have a chance to do better than you.

          Complaining is fine. Nothing would get done without complaining (to a point, of course). I just think your complaints are somewhat misguided.


          • …I honestly was not expecting a response from all of my salt…wow, thanks for the video and the response!

            My opinion on preset teams is that if a player with bad REM luck does better than me when they would do worse otherwise because their skill exceeds their luck, they *deserve* to outdo me. But a player who has great REM luck, whether through actually being stupidly lucky or through spending money to have more tries with that fickle machine, but cannot match to save their life (I’m not talking you or many other JP whales, who are very skilled AND very lucky/invest financially, fyi), it causes a lot of feelbads when they place super high. But enough of me talking about that.

            If I have enough stamina, I am definitely going to try Cauchemar multiple times. But I do not have the luxury of stoning for stamina. Last time with Izanami I would do well, then get completely screwed over by *too* much skyfall, or I would just do poorly from the start with consecutive orb troll. It was just a huge string of bad luck, I think it was definitely on the unlucky end of multiple dungeon runs and most people didn’t experience that. But it was enough to almost bring me to tears, and so I had to stop. It’s just a game, right? But it still leaves me with a bad aftertaste looking at this new round…

            Of course, I don’t know how many tries I’m going to get with Cauchemar considering I just got Sakuya FOUR TIMES IN A ROW from Gift of the Holy Beasts and I’m absolutely drowning in light jewels and need ANY SINGLE OTHER COLOR. Any other will do but guess what I get. There goes my 200 stamina down the drain for today. *saltsaltsaltsaltsalt*

            But here’s to at least trying to think positive about Cauchemar… at least there’s like a 0.00001% for Firons to drop !


        • I got 5% with a super under leveled AShiva team. The hp is so low that it’s not a problem. Of course you won’t get top 10 with that but top 10% is really easy.


  4. Pingback: Ranking Dungeon: a non-IAP perspective – mischiefy1pad

  5. Just wanted to say thanks for all the research that went into this post. I was despairing of having even a half-assed team to attempt this ranking dungeon with (best I could come up with was Aamir/Aamir, using Okuni and Hanzo to fill out the last two spots), but I feel much better going into it with a DIza fire team. I also considered a DIza/DIza dark team since my dark box is much better developed, but without type advantage I don’t see a reliable way to kill the boss.

    Speaking of which, are you sure that stalling isn’t an option? Obviously if you can one-shot every floor, that’s a much better strategy, but F2 and F3 both have easy places to stall, F4 actually rewards a fire team for doing so, and a match that does no damage takes only a little bit of time. The video I saw stalled 3 turns in about 5s; granted that might be the difference between 20% and 10%, but for less-skilled players (i.e. me) it might be the difference between 30% and 50%.

    In case I’m missing anything, do you see a team in my box that’s better than DIza/RValk/Verd/Ares/Odin/ShivaDra or DIza/Haku/Hanzo/Okuni/Pandora/DIza?



    • Yeah, I think stalling is a legitimate strategy, but it obviously caps how high your score can get. Like you said, if you can’t one-shot every floor then this is the route you have to take. I contemplated covering this, but I’m unsure how comprehensive I want to make these posts.

      Nope, those teams look pretty good. It’ll still take a bit of good fortune to score really high, but I hope things turn out well for you.


  6. Hey Setsu,

    Thank you for this analysis. I was wondering what I was going to do for a team this time. (Thanks to your analysis of the last one, I ended up going from the 30th percentile to the 10th!). The information you’ve offered here has given me a lot to think about – and hopefully will get me i the top 1% (haha – I can dream!)

    Liked by 1 person

      • It will, and I don’t honestly think I’m a good enough player to make it, but I’ve got a solid fire box and a couple of different team comp options to play with that I think will at least get me into the top 10%. 1% is a lofty goal, but I won’t know unless I try.

        I wish you luck on yours, though if the last two are any indication, you’ll be golden 🙂


  7. I think Im going to do Diza/Rvalk/Ares/homura/Ashiva(297 statstick). I dont really have any other fire subs worthwile other than GAdius, Echidna, Valen, and Goemon. everyone else in my box is level 50 ish


  8. Ignoring fighting for a crown, the Izanami Dragon combo looks pretty good. I lack some of those subs, but Hera-Ur makes for a pretty good Rodin replacement. And while Gigas does not get the second attack buff, is is a free farmable Valkyrie replacement. Sadly the rest of my red cards aren’t gods. Cao Cao, Dragon Rider, Ronias for days, Misato. The lone Areas and Hera-Ur.

    I think I’m going to have to Sopdet Ra Dragon my way to top 10% this time.


    • I managed to hit 0.3% (132,680) after some mild stoning, don’t know what the exact score is for <1%.

      I gave up on Ra Dragon. I'm just not good enough and fighting more RNG than usual is even more frustrating. Even though Ra Dragon may eventually give me a better score than Shiva Dragon, flubbing so many combos and having to reset due to poor orb RNG kills me inside. It's clear that you have to be both good and lucky to break 140k at this point.


      • I’m low iap, but willing to spend a bit of stones to attempt for 1% for that crown. And with your help I was able to get 2.3% with 126,238 points.

        I think that may be pushing my skill limit already and the only way i could improve is by not using that active on the last turn. Do you think I should keep trying? Or is that 5000 point difference just too hard to reach for me?


        • All I can say is that improving my score from about 130k to 133k was really rough stamina-wise. I’d consider practicing on no-awakening Endless then when you feel confident with your matching strategy, try again.


  9. Setsu. Longtime reader, first time poster. I love your site and check it several times daily. Moderate IAPer with decidedly mediocre PAD skills, I usually settled for maybe 70% on these tournament dungeons. Took your Diza advice and had a good fire team (Rvalk, Urd, Rodin, Uuevo Uriel) paired with a friend ShivaDra and am currently sitting at 7% on third try. Thanks again and keep up the good work!


  10. ShivaDra team 7.2 combo, 122.4 remaining, 1.98 mil max for a score of 97,706. 20.1%. That is where the scoring currently stands as of 02/04. Ouch. Relying on red skyfall hurts. Going to have to figure out a better team makeup or a different lead but figured I’d share where the ranking stands at this level so far.


    • update: Awoken shiva + Shiva dragon combo team. 8.4 combo, 150.7s remaining, 1.98 mil damage for 117,842 score = 6.1%. I think 2x awoken shiva would work just as well or better if you keep things fast. Neither of the listed team are plussed out so obviously if you have that luxury you will have an easier time.


  11. Used Diza/shivadra. score 128,166 top 1.5%
    avg combo 5.3
    time left 202.0

    do you think most people who are gunning for the crown have already run the dungeon and my score will get me in as more people try the dungeon and score lower? or do you think I need to break 130k?


    • I’ve found that the scores are generally pretty stable even after the first day. Maybe you’ll get another couple 0.1 or so? It’s really hard for me to tell.


  12. Thanks for the advice! I had attempted Urd+Shiva Dra and was stuck in the top 20%. Switching to DIza got me into the top 10%.


  13. Pingback: Cauchemar Ranking Results and Future Preperation – padthad

  14. Setsu, thanks to this post I was able to post my highest-ever ranking dungeon finish, top 3.4% (as of this writing). Bringing in a 5-turn orb change and a green sub was just the bit of advice I needed.

    ShivaDra / Ares / Ares / Awoken Minerva / Verdandi

    I know it’s not much, but I’d rather s**tpost in a comment thread than start a new thread on /r/PAD. Thanks again!


  15. Pingback: Cauchemar Ranking Dungeon Results – mischiefy1pad

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