Cascading and auto-matching

I just wanted to open a thread for us to discuss gem interaction. These are essentially the backbone of the game and likely won’t be changed, but the way some of the content is presently designed is very punitive.

In earlier iterations of Puzzle Quest (And in GoW) the design was entirely different and you only benefited from large cascades (and heroic effort).

In PQ3, however, this very different. When you match gems, the enemy gains mana. In itself, this is fine, but gem cascading (unintended) and even your own gear can really negatively impact you. This problem has been really brought to light with the new boss fights. A scenarios/critiques are below:

  1. you attempt to match 5 gems to gain enough mana while not powering up the boss, however you have a „lucky“ cascade of gems and the boss becomes empowered, thus costing you a turn of combat.
  2. your runic II bonus generates a skull gem which automatically matched with another two skull gems, unfortunately the way they automatically matched means you can’t connect several more skull gems which were nearby.

Due to these situations, strategic play is required, which is great… however luck can still cause a massive cascade which takes your turns regardless.

Some ideas which (IMO) would open the game to more strategic and interactive play:

  1. Enemy mana gain ends at the initial state of the board as you end turn. Therefore cascades and heroic effort are just positive experiences. In this case, perhaps some more balancing overall would be necessary, but it would lead to a more exciting and interactive game.
  2. Gems do not „match“ until the end of the turn. This allows you to unmatch gems which you don’t want matched and to design the board as you wish.

Appreciative to other input or ideas!


100% agree on both suggestions!

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I’ve been aware from this for awhile, and the situation has become progressively worse with every update.

IMO, over time, the devs added and then have progressively tweaked a dynamic difficulty system in PQ3, similar to how they added one to GoW quite a few updates ago.

That’s the point of the system. It prevents strategic play from occurring because when people play perfectly strategically, massive blocks of perfect scores occur on top of the leaderboard. So, the game ever so slightly tips the scales against the player. It’s easier to see in GoW because the AI moves the game board (how many times have you seen the AI get miracle double/triple skyfall skull matches to pierce the standard barrier/stoneskin on a brown tank hero class?), but is masked well here in PQ3 as the AI doesn’t move the game board.

These effects can show up as at least any of the following (if not more) ways in PQ3 in Events and Kingdom Defenses, increasing in effect as difficulty level increases:

  • Invisible color storms for the Event’s/Sprit Dragon’s color, increasing the likelihood that the AI opponents fills their mana faster through flooding the board with gems of the opponent’s color.

  • Bonus miracle cascades that flood the AI’s mana bar (aka the 1 defensive match 3 in the corner of the board that magically generates a Heroic Effort cascade).

  • More skeptical on this one as possible perception bias, but that 10% crit chance happens way too often sometimes than the odds would suggest, especially on consecutive rounds…

In Events, it is possible to use strategy to add layers of redundancy to help counter and protect against some of the event special effects in play and when the game tips the scales in favor of the opponent, but none of those strategies works against Spirit Dragons. Even the value of Spirit Shields is debatable, because a string of skyfall cascades can easily blow past the extra mana allowance before the dragon’s next spell, rendering the shield effectively pointless.

I like your ideas, but I am highly dubious that they will be implemented because the whole point of the dynamic difficulty system is to cause player failures and limit the benefits of strategic gameplay.

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