[GUIDE] An attempt at helping you learn color crosses !

Discussion in 'Under Evaluation' started by YamaKyu, May 20, 2021.

  1. YamaKyu

    YamaKyu Karin Kanzuki was a mistake. And I love it ♥

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    Nov 12, 2014
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    DISCLAIMER : This guide was initially written as a "learning crosses with Karin Kanzuki" guide ; there are a thing or two related to Karin remaining in it. I will refer to her a few times too, but solely for damage purposes. Also, because it was written with Karin Kanzuki in mind, most examples will involve light and/or fire crosses. Lastly, I haven't watched/read much guides about playing crosses myself (a few, at best), so most of this "guide" comes from my knowledge and experience : for that reason, it can be incomplete. I invite anyone to disagree with me and engage in the discussion !

    - GLOSSARY -

    Just to make sure we're talking about the same stuff, here are some ambiguous terms I'm likely to use in this guide. If I'm using a confusing word in this guide, feel free to ask me to put in the glossary !
    • Color-cross lead
      • A lead which playstyle and damage revolves around matching 5 orbs of color in a + shape. Heart-cross, poison-cross or whatnot-cross are not color-crosses.

    • Mono-color, bi-color, tri-color cross leads
      • Leads that can activate with crosses of respectively 1, 2 or 3 different colors.

    • Rainbow cross lead
      • A cross lead which can match crosses of all colors.
      • As of today, only the new Toragon , Sousuke Sagara and Amakozumi can do that in the NA server.
    • Bicolor+ cross lead
      • A generic term I use in this guide to refer to any cross lead that is not monocolor. Prevents me from typing "bicolor, tricolor or rainbow" all the time.
    • Cross awakening
      • This absolut unit [​IMG]
      • x2.5 base damage per cross matched and per awake
      • removes 3 turns of hard sticky blind skyfall per cross matched and per awake
    • High challenges
      • Annihilation level dungeons such as One Shot Challenges, monthly C9 and C10, Arenas, Alternative Arenas, Colosseum, Illusory World of Carnage (= Shura Realms), etc... Essentially "endgame" stuff.
    • Natural board
      • A given board is "natural" when it was purely provided by random skyfall, and was not modified by an active skill. A board cease to be natural if it has hazards like poison, jammers, roulettes, tape, unmatchable orbs, or anything of the sort.
    • Orb starvation
      • You experience orb starvation when you're lacking sufficient amount of useful orbs. For Karin Kanzuki, experiencing orb starvation means your board has less than 5 of either/both fire and/or light, preventing you from matching sufficient crosses.
    • Cascade (or cascading)
      • Cascading consists in solving the board in a way that will make combo match themselves one after the other, when part of the board is cleared : gravity makes orb fall to bottom, you can predict what orbs will be where if you remove stuff below them, which allows you to match them after other stuff has been matched. Think of it as indirect match.
      • Advanced cascading comes in many flavors, and can look like this.
      • Cascades and skyfall are different. Unlike cascades, skyfalls are unpredictable. A cascade is set in stone and will be matched if setup properly. A skyfall you can never know (although you can increase your chances of having skyfall combos).
    • Triple cross VDP FUA
      • It's this.
      • One of the hardest kind of solves. Avoid if possible as it is a ressource sink and very easy to mess-up. Triple cross VDP FUA is, in general, very specific : it requires quite specific boards (it's very easy to have too much of your VDP color), specific orb managing (so very specific trajectories) while matching at all times in a space almost never wider than 3 orbs.
      • If you have the means to manually deactivate an enemy resolve so that you don't have to FUA, use an AS to not have to manually VDP, or lower the enemy health so that 2 crosses are enough, pick either one of these options, as the combination of FUA + VPD + 3 crosses is what makes triple cross VDP FUA so hard.
      • Triple cross VDP is "easy" in comparison (still hard, but also far more forgiving). So is triple cross FUA or double cross VDP FUA.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    • Shura Realm (SR) / Alt Shura Realm (ASR)
      • Officially named "Illusionary World of Carnage", (alt) Shura Realm is a series of dungeon technical unlocked after clearing some of the Arena dungeons. They're currently the hardest dungeons in PAD to date.
      • As far as I know, the name "Shura Realm" is a translation of the japanese name, and since the community saw it first in JP PAD, Shura Realm remains more.


    * loud sigh *

    I said I would likely not do this, but I've had trouble finding a guide to playing crosses that I think is complete and good. So I ended up making mine (also, I still have a lot of time before SFV collab hits NA so might as well give it my all è_é).

    So here goes nothing :

    - "Help ! I can't match crosses for the life of me !" -

    Jokes aside, I simply would like to emphasize the fact that me being so damn vocal about crosses doesn't make me good. If anything, my clears are indicative of my level of play, but by no mean I'm the best cross player @NA or anything of the sort. Better players than me exist, and are just less vocal about crosses. It's important to keep in mind that despite everything, I don't hold the absolute true truth, and the way I do things isn't by default the best way to do things.
    By the way if better cross players are willing to help with that matter that would be oh so nice.

    - Basics of matching crosses -

    There is a lot to learn about matching crosses, most of it will come with practicing. However it is true that knowing how to approach practicing will make it easier to get the appropriate skills in your hands.
    I'll try my best to make learning color crosses easier for you. So, without further a do, how do you match the dang crosses ?

    DO IT.
    I'm not even joking :> If you think I was naturally good with matching crosses you are wrong. I went through the process of learning it, just like anyone who has ever matched crosses. You won't get away without learning it. It's so unnatural and unintuitive with how PAD works that you have to actually learn that. And by that I don't mean sitting in a classroom with a cross teacher and doing cross homework everyday, but simply picking a cross lead, getting in endless corridor, and match some crosses and combos until it feels good.
    I went through this too, and got punished for it too. I died because of jesus crosses or "tank crosses" countless times, and learned from it, and now I'm good at matching crosses.

    The only single reason why I can beat challenging stuff with color crosses is because I have played exclusively color crosses for 3 years (minus a semi-hiatus, and a few non cross rankings that I beat for the stone and a couple reward). It's the only reason, really. I like color crosses enough that I run this playstyle regularly and thus am constantly practicing by actually running the thing, which makes me good enough to run crosses in challenging content (not the hardest stuff, of course). If you want to be able to do it, you'll have to commit to it at least a bit, because if you make a run of endless corridors with crosses only once per month you won't get better at doing it.

    Sorry if I sound like an entitled jerk bragging about his skills, but stay with me for a bit : I just need you to swallow this pill before we move on :>
    I've talked color crosses with countless people in the community, and even if I don't know IRL any of you, I do have a little idea of whether or not you're trying to learn the thing when you tell me you're bad at it (I can't tell apart however healthy people from ill people, and do not want to blame anyone struggling with any type of handicap). Which is fine, really. You don't have to do it ! And in fact, in 2021 PAD and despite all the nice things happening to color crosses lately, this playstyle is still straight up detrimental to run, and its many shortcomings need to be compensated with player knowledge and player skill. But if you want to run it still, you'll need to commit to it. But again, you don't have to. It's ok to not like the shape or the playstyle and not play it. It's ok to dislike how detrimental it is in today's PAD. What is not is saying that you want to play it, not committing to it, and complaining about it (I typically dislike the L-unlock playstyle and avoid as much as possible, have you ever seen me complain about it ? (except when I'm asked about it ofc)). Because sadly the devs have made color crosses so that it is a hella commital playstyle, and AFAIK there's nothing we can do about it, besides adapt.
    Every healthy player can learn crosses. Sure, some are faster learners than others, but every healthy person can learn new stuff. You just need to accept that "ok, I'm not good at matching crosses because I dislike the shape and therefore am not practicing it, and will get better when I take the time to learn it". It's fine, really. When you're done swallowing this pill and if by then you're still willing to learn or improve at running crosses, stay with me and I'll try to help you. It's fine if you don't.

    Moving on :>

    → What exactly is a "cross" ?

    Skip this part if you already have perfect knowledge of what counts as a cross in PAD, and what doesn't !

    In PAD, and unless you're running a "can't match X orbs or less" lead, a match is always at least 3 consecutive orbs forming a line in one or more direction. You can match more than 3 orbs, and you can have one single match be made of any intersection of 3+ consecutive orbs in any direction, and maybe sharing a or more orbs. But it needs to be 3+ consecutive orbs. In 6x5 :
    • if you set a vertical line of hearts that's a match of 5 hearts (which also activates FUA).
    • if next to any of these hearts you have a single heart adjacent to this vertical match (6 hearts in total), it's still a match of 5, because you would have a set of 5 vertical and 2 horizontal hearts. 5 is more than 3 so it's a match, but 2 is less than 3 so these 2 won't be matched together.
    • if next to any of these hearts you have a set of 2 consecutive vertical hearts adjacent to this vertical match (7 hearts in total), it's still a match of 5, because you would have a set of 5 vertical, and 2 sets of 2 horizontal hearts. And similarly to before, the 2 sets of 2 horizontal won't be matched together with the set of 5, because 2 is less than 3.
    • if next to any of these hearts you have a set of 2 consecutive horizontal hearts adjacent to this vertical match (7 hearts in total), it become a match of 7, because you then have a set of 5 vertical and a set of 3 horizontal hearts (with 1 of these hearts in common). Both 5 and 3 are 3 or more, and since they're adjacent and share a heart in common, they will be matched together as a single match of 7.
    • There are a few exceptions to this rule, but I suspect they're undesired bugs rather than features.
    This is how matching works in PAD.

    We refer as "a cross" a match of 5 orbs in a "+" shape, i.e. a horizontal set of 3 and a vertical set of 3 of the same color, and sharing their middle orb.
    • If any of these 2 "sets" are longer than 3, you're not matching a cross, but what we call a "Jesus cross".
      • A Jesus cross can be either vertical or horizontal, and won't trigger the cross effect (either or both of awakening and/or leader skill).
    • If from any "side" of the "cross" there is another set of 3 orbs lined, you're not matching a cross, but a match of 7 orbs instead. It won't activate the cross effect either.
    • If you match a 3x3 box, you're not matching a cross, but a match of 9 orbs instead (which activates VDP)
    • Essentially, any consecutive 3+ orbs alongside the vertical and horizontal set of 3 sharing their middle orb isn't a cross.
      • For that reason, matching a cross adjacent to a spinning orb (roulette) is dangerous as it can change to the color of cross at the last moment, and ruining it. So crosses usually despise roulettes, and should try to get rid of them as soon as they can.

    Here are the valid crosses


    Here are a couple example of non valid crosses


    If you wish to run crosses in challenging dungeons it is crucial that you're able to see when you're matching a valid cross and when you're not !

    → Color crosses <=> multiple crosses

    If you think you know about color crosses because you've played heart-crosses, you might be in the wrong. Or at least, you're approaching this the wrong way.

    When talking crosses with people (who usually don't play much crosses), one thing that often comes back in the discussion is people mixing heart crosses with color crosses, because they share the "+" shape. That's a confusion I can understand, but it's important to recognize and acknowledge just how different these two playstyles can be.
    Sure, they share the "+" shape. But that's it. They have nothing else in common. In fact, they have less things in common than things that makes them different. It's like saying that playing combo or playing rainbow are the same because you want to match exclusively sets of 3, when in truth these playstyle are quite different in team building and general performance. Or saying that relying on heart-TPA for healing is like running the TPA playstyle, because they have the "match exactly 4" in common. In fact, any Heart-shape is vastly different than the equivalent shape but with colored orbs instead ; L-unlock and L-shield share 1 thing and that is the L shape, rows and heart-rows share 1 thing and that is the row shape, Super FUA and VDP share 1 thing and that is the box shape. You see the idea.

    For crosses and heart crosss it's the same. Team building, strategy and performance for heart-crosses and color-crosses are alternate universes appart.
    The most important difference is the fact that heart-cross leads are designed to be at full throttle when matching stuff + 1 heart cross (because they can only match 1), and color cross leads are not. Heart-cross leads can match crosses of only hearts, while color cross leads can match crosses of different colors. These two points make a universe of differences, because whatever content you run that is not like 3-4+ years old will require the vast majority of color cross leads to match at least 2 crosses (and very often 3+ for modern content) to beat the thing.

    Let's look at multiple crosses.
    I'll quickly mention 6x5 for reference, and then assume everything is 7x6, as you always want to play 7x6 whenever reallistically possible.

    In 6x5, if you run a monocolor cross lead, the absolute maximum of crosses you can match is 2. That's it.

    There might be a few more ways to do it, but essentially this is how it looks.


    If you're interesting in running a 6x5 bicolor cross lead I highly recommend this video guide about the "column setup" by Yukizgames on Youtube (actual tutorial starts at about 2mins). Yes, I know, he has a funny accent, his english is far from perfect, and editing is barebones, but this is a great guide about how to make crosses function consistently in 6x5. Props to him for trying to share his knowledge and skill, and I won't let you make fun of him because I improved A TON thanks to him è_é

    (Moving forward, everything will assume 7x6)

    Alright, so what's all this fuss about heart crosses and color crosses being so different ? Well, if you were frustrated by the almighty jesus cross, you're going to dislike crosses touching themselves.
    Following the rules of what is a cross and what is not, the reason why there's a limit to how many crosses you can match in any board is you cannot under any circumstances have crosses of the same color enter in contact with each other. That is also the reason why bicolor+ cross leads can match more crosses than monocolor cross lead even in boards of the same size.
    This limitation makes it so that you cannot match more than 2 crosses of the same color in 6x5 (for a maximum of 3 crosses if one is of a different color), and 3 crosses of the same color in 7x6 (for a maximum of 6 crosses if one is cascaded (we'll get to that.... eventually)). Don't try to match 4 light crosses, you cannot, until we get 8x7 boards (please no xD).


    Because crosses are made from 2 sets of 3, if any part of a cross touch any part of any other cross of the same color, it'll make matches of 4 instead of 3, ruining BOTH crosses (i.e, 10+ orbs).


    (Moving forward, everything will assumer bicolor+ cross lead)

    It is however possible to make adjacent crosses if they are of different colors. In fact that's what I recommend whenever it doesn't involve a cross miles away (we'll get to that eventually), because that leaves much more room for comboing and matching other important stuff like L-unlock or FUA. If you spread your crosses you create more "dead space", which is bad in my book as it forces more cascading and will make comboing in general take more time.
    When reasonably possible, try to make crosses of different color packed in the same place so that you don't waste space. It's important to acknowledge that "space" is a ressource in PAD, just like move time, orbs, active skills, HP, etc... and like any ressource you don't want to waste it by using it the wrong way. For crosses, space is one of the most important ressource, and will dictate what you can and cannot do at any moment ; because the cross playstyle works only when you match multiple crosses, space is a precious ressource and managing it properly is essential to making them work in any dungeon.

    Alongside the very fact they are limited to 3 crosses, one of the biggest reason why monocolor cross leads are quite bad in my book is because they make a far worse use of space, which is super a problem in higher challenges when you're required to match a lot of different stuff for mechanics and hazards.

    Try to imitate these ways of packing your crosses.


    This last setup also makes it possible to sneak a L-unlock in the bottom left corner, which leaves a lot of room in the board for other stuff like VDP, fua, or just comboing a lot. This last setup should be favored if you're good at cascading. Else it'll create even more dead space, which is the opposite of what you want.

    If you want to match 3 crosses I highly advise against matching 3 crosses of the same color if it can be reasonnably avoided without using an active skill. Of course if you critically need to do it, sure, go ahead. Or if you're trying to hit cap with a minimal amount of ressources, in which case yes, double 7c subs as well as double cross awake cards can hit damage cap with 3 crosses of the appropriate color. That is valid too.
    But if you can reasonably avoid it, do not. If you have the luxury of being able to choose how many crosses of what color you make, favor the color of your highest team damage attribute. So for Karin Kanzuki, if you build rainbow your main attribute should be light, so match 2 light crosses and 1 fire, for maximum damage. If you build "bicolor", favor the color which your team has the most "main attribute" subs ; for example if you run double Karin, with 4 fire:fire:/light :light: subs, your team should have more fire damage than light damage, and you should therefore favor matching 2 fire crosses and 1 light for maximum damage.

    There are a bunch of ways to triple cross in 7x6, I like to do it like this :


    The last one creates TONS of dead space so if you want to use it, match the dead space before the crosses !

    As for quad crosses, it's important to remember that 99% of the times if you quad cross and combo appropriately (think 6-7c), all your light and/or fire subs should have their main attribute hit cap. 7c subs will also likely hit cap with their sub attribute. For that reason, it's kinda detrimental to go out of your way to match 3 crosses of 1 color, and 1 of the other if you have the choice to not do this. Favor matching 2 of each.
    There are mostly 2 main approches to matching quad crosses. You either do it in the corners, or you do not. Doing it in the corners is kinda the safe way, as it gives you more room to maneuver and reduces the chances that you mess one or more crosses in the process of making them. Not doing it in the corners is rather unsafe, which will leave more room for you to match other stuff, but puts you at greater risk of messing things up. Match accordingly to your skill level and move time !

    Whether you do it the safe way or not, remember that 2 crosses of the same color cannot enter in contact ; for that reason you cannot make 2 crosses of the same color on top of each other. If that sounds obvious, great. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to do that xD


    The "safe" method is more reliable but creates more dead space !

    For Karin kanzuki, and unless you absolutely want to 100% secure hitting damage cap with every main and sub attribute of your team, matching 5 crosses is unnecessary.

    In fact, no relevant color cross lead in 2021 (besides Allatu and Wedding Rushana (which shouldn't really be played mirror in 2021)) needs 5 crosses to hit damage cap.

    → "I still don't know how to match the dang crosses"

    Yep yep yep, we're getting to it. I wanted to make sure you match crosses with "intention" instead of randomly doing it where you can. For hard challenges managing space is more important than being fast imo, so I felt like addressing that first. Heck, by now you might have played a bit of endless corridor and have a feel for how you want to actually shape these.

    To this day, 7x6 has no equivalent to the "column setup" we use in 6x5 for matching double crosses (although it can be performed just fine if you match a horizontal combo at top or bottom), which is a good thing for learning because that means you'll have to actually learn the thing, i.e. cemented this skill in your hands, instead of using a premade method that always work but you don't know why.

    So how to match crosses ? There isn't an universal all purpose method that I know, but there ARE easier way to achieve it and patterns that you can solve very fast if you recognize them. If you're new to matching crosses and are just practicing in endless corridor (i.e. no threat), I suggest that you try to fall back on the "line of 5" method.
    Essentially you make a line of 5 (horizontal or vertical), and break it twice where you want the center of your cross to be ; once from one of each side of the line. This is a fast and safe way to make a cross, however it requires you to make the line beforehand, and in a lot of boards this very process takes a long time.

    Basically when you match crosses you should be trying to reproduce this pattern as much as possible. I mean, when bringing orbs together, try to move them so they make a "line of 4 + 1 on a side" shape. It's a pattern that is easy to solve at the end of your combo, so if you need room to navigate the board one thing you can do is set it up in this "4+1" shape at the beginning of your comboing, then solve the rest of the board, then come back quickly and solve this into an actual cross, since it's so fast.
    A similar shape would be this 3 + 1 + 1 shape. It takes less space and will allow you to match other stuff more easily.

    Another important thing to learn, is matching a cross from one of the sides of the board, since Rathios equip is so good for Karin (especially for rainbow). It's rather uninuituive and uncomfortable, but equally as important. The idea is to break the column at 2nd orb (from top or bottom, depening on where you want to make it), several times. It's a rather slow way of matching a cross, but sadly I haven't found a better way yet. Practice this to perform it faster, it is very important !
    If you ever match such cross, it's important that you do not match a cross close to this one first, as you're likely to break it by making this new one. Instead, I usually start with this one.

    The last very important pattern to learn (there are a lot more ha ha) is when you see the "X" shape in a board. This is a super easy and super fast pattern to solve : you just have to make a quick circle around the center. It is however extremely easy to get stuck in a corner while doing it. It is crucially important that you practice this one and take the time to understand the reason why you get stuck, so that you can choose your starting point wisely.
    Worry not, if you still get stuck every once in a while despite your training, there is a way to get out of a corner cross while not breaking it, and we'll address that shortly.

    There are a whole lot more patterns to learn to actually be good at this, so take your time. I've listed a good bunch of easy patterns to recognize and solve, but this is not by any means an exhaustive list, so keep your eye open.

    Now get back to endless corridor and practice. Or use a simulator app (like Combo Master, which I use). But what's important is that I cannot do the hard part in your place :9

    - Advanced cross matching -

    This part assumes you have ran a but of crosses already, and know how to make the crosses. If you don't know that yet, you're getting ahead of yourself by coming here :9 Most of the following advanced tips will be kept rather short, and as usual, you'll need to practice these so that they become second nature for you.

    → Priorities

    This matter is not exactly related to matching specifically crosses, but rather to playing a playstyle which requires lots of ressources (time, space, orbs). Simply put, because the different things you'll have to match for damage, shielding or hazards/mechanics will take different amounts of time, space and orbs, you'll want to do them in an appropriate order.

    The way I do it is essentially easy stuff to match that takes little amount of ressources, like normal match-3, should be matched last. On the other hand, complicated or large shapes are matched first. The idea is that by matching the annoying/complicated stuff first, I make sure I have as much room to maneuver and place the annoying things somewhere in the board.

    My priority list is not absolute, and can change a lot depending on the relative positon of each orbs of each color, as well as mechanics and hazards, but essentially the order I do things looks kinda like this :
    1. VDP box
    2. FUA
    3. Critical hazards, like :
      • bombs
      • hazards which the enemy spawn will punish you for leaving on board
      • hard blind (If I do them late, I tend to forget what is what)
    4. Combos in dead space if necessary (i.e. cascade 3+ match around crosses)
    5. Crosses
    6. Critical colors for rainbow if necessary and if they were not cascaded already
    7. L-unlock or L-shield
    8. Combos
    You might think "Yo Yamakyu you're matching quite crosses late ?" but that is not correct in general play : VDP box, FUA and critical hazards are not always a thing in general gameplay. Which means that in natural boards I start with cascading the dead space around crosses (we'll get to that), then match crosses, then the other stuff.
    However, as I said, the relative position of everything can change the order I do things. VDP is almost always 1st. But for other stuff it can change. Typically, if I need to match 2 crosses and FUA I'll want them either packed together, or to separate the crosses from the FUA.
    • If I notice that my board encourages matching FUA and crosses together, I always 100% start with FUA, then cascading (if applicable), then crosses, like this, then everything else (including critical hazards if there are any).
    • If I notice that my board encourages matching FUA and crosses away from each other, I always 100% start with cascading (if applicacble), then crosses, like this, then critical hazards, then FUA, then other stuff.
    Another example, albeit a bit extreme, is Triple Crosses VDP FUA. There are 2 ways of doing it : with FUA in the middle or on a side of the board. In both cases, the entire solve is rather dynamic, and is broken and redone several times (this is an old video, don't worry I'm a lot better at this now xD) during the whole process. However, my general approach is :
    • If FUA is in the middle, I always do VDP first, then the cross above/below it, then FUA, then other crosses.
    • If FUA is on the side, I usually start with FUA, then VDP then the cross above/below it, then the other crosses.
    The point of this is to be always working on only 1 of the 4 corners of the board at any given point, and then never going back to it. Because when matching crosses and complicated stuff, you reduce the space you have to match additional stuff everytime you match stuff, so thinking your path and priorities ahead of matching will help you not getting stuck.

    Last example is when I know there are little to no mechanics to deal with and I just need to match minimal amount of crosses (2 at most), or when I want to maximise combo, then I'll start with vertical combos (very often on the left), make 6 or 8, than match my crosse : this is typically a very common solve I do a lot, starting with 3-orbs combos from the left (most of the times. But only when I either want to maximize combo, or just know I don't need to try very hard. This is also great for cleaning the board.

    Feel free to do it like me, or not :>

    → Moving a cross without breaking it

    This is a crucial skill imo. I learned it rather fast, and chances are you already know how to do it by now. Still, I think you don't want to enter challenging dungeons without knowing how to do this.
    Fear not, this is very simple.
    Essentially, you break your cross and shape it as a line of 5 (or 4 + 1), and move the entire line, then redo the cross using the "line of 5 method" I showed earlier. This process will likely undo any combo that you made around the cross, which is why it is important that you place your cross appropriately before doing other stuff, as per previous part. Only move it if really messes badly with other stuff, because you'll lose precious move time in the process.

    Just like this.

    That is all :>

    → Moving "inside" a cross

    Some ways of matching crosses (like this one) can get your finger/stylus stuck in an annoying place, preventing you from matching additional stuff. But fear not ! You can get out. And once again it's very simple actually. You just have to make a "rectangle" with your finger in the direction you want to move, hitting the appropriate branch of the cross.

    Just like this.

    I learned about it rather late in my crosses journey, and it opened a universe of possibilities to me, so I would rather have you learn it early ~ It' especially useful in a triple cross VDP FUA situation, as it allows you to setup your leftover orbs appropriately, as well as not being afraid of getting stuck in this tight process.

    That is all :>

    → Cascaded combos

    Another rather essential skill if you ask me.
    Crosses create what I call "dead space" ; essentially space in which is very hard to match. Space in which if you try to match you're likely to break stuff. Space in which you want to never come back to once it's created. Most shapes in PAD create little dead space. Normal match-3 make practically none if placed properly. TPA makes some, as well as L. VDP box makes tons of dead space when not in a corner, and practically none when placed in a corner. Same with FUA ; tons of dead space if not in one of the sides, and virtually none when stuck there. But the shape that makes the most amount of dead space on a regular basis are by far crosses.
    There is a way however to match around crosses consistently, and that is cascading.

    First and foremost it is important that you take cascading slow, else you'll feel overwhelmed. It helps a ton with making the best use of dead space, but if you try to cascade too much you will struggle. If you're not familiar with cascading without crosses, go in endless corrido and try to cascade some stuff, just to get a hang of the whole process of having orbs fall to bottom.

    When you're familiar with it, well, cascading combos around crosses is not super different. It's just more complicated. And like anything cross related, most of your skill at doing it will come from... doing it. I'll try to help you however recognize a few patterns to setup easy cascades :
    • Easiest one for me is a line of 3, using one of the orbs stuck in the very corner of the board. It doesn't have to be the actual corner, it can be a virtual corner induced by FUA or other combos, but for learning use the actual corner.
      The idea is that you want at least 2 consecutive orbs of your cross color in a vertical line adjacent to at 2 least orbs of your cascaded combos, and then proceed to break the later set of 2 from above, then move through the orbs of your cross color. LIKE THIS.
    • This setup has a cool variation, in which you put 2 orbs of the same color right on top of each of the cross's arms, then an orb of the same color 1 space above the apex of the cross. That way it'll gently fall in place. LIKE THIS.
      • This setup doesn't work if there's a valid horizontal match at the apex of the cross, as cascading will make it so that your 3rd orb will be one space too low.
      • Example : this works, but this doesn't.
    • Another way to cascade stuff is to have an orb of a color on one arm of the cross, and the 2 other in line following that same arm. LIKE THIS. It doesn't need to have a valid combo below, you can have a 3 trash orbs just fine.
    • Lastly, one of my favorite way to cascade stuff is an alternative and more elaborate version of the 1st setup ; I prepare a vertical match of 3 on one of the corners, and adjacent to it a 4+1 set in a L shape (or reverse L if it's in a top corner). Then I solve it LIKE THIS.
      I don't always go out of my way to do this specifically, but sometimes the board kinda calls for it, and it's rather fast and don't take too much space, so that's pretty neato.
    Of course, I said "lastly", but cascading comes in many flavors. These are just the very easy ways to do it. You'll have to experiment and get creative (or ask more experienced people %D) if you want to unleash your hidden potential :>

    It is very important to understand that despite all I have said about dead space and the importance of cascading, you don't need to do it all the time. You can, if you want. But in general gameplay I purposefully cascade stuff 1 time out of 5 at best. Of course, some mechanics or hazards will make you cascade a lot more, but in general you don't need to cascade, unless you need to, and not the other way around.

    Though if you want to flex with fancy cascade who am I to stop you :9

    → Cascaded crosses

    We'll see about that later lul.
    Bold of you to assume I can do it ha ha.

    However you can learn by watching. For example, Tokoyami does it a lot in his ASR1 run with Karin Kanzuki.
    Here's the basic theory though.


    Before wrapping it up, a few tips for practicing in endless corridor.

    • Play in 7x6 ! If you're interested in running crosses in challenging dungeons, you will want to play 7x6 eventually. Might as well start practicing in that environment now.
    • When you're familiar with matching crosses, sneak in a few other special shapes like FUA and L-unlock (arguably the 2 most important) to get used to how they change the space you have to match ! VDP is important too, however don't bother with that unless you're super familiar with matching crosses, because adding VDP to the mix will make things vastly more complicated.
    • Get appropriate move time ! For practice you want to be comfortable, so no shame in having a team with 30+ secs of move time.
      • You have some Reincarnated Tsukuyomis ? Put them in, they can bring up to 4secs of natural move time, and add 5 to the mix with their AS. Reincarnated Rushana is also an excellent farmable option on that matter, with 3 secs of natural move time, and a blazing fast AS able to double it. And there are a bunch of other cards with lots of fingers to help you get comfortable move time. All versions of Takamimusubi provide a x3 move time boost, and a lot of cards are able to increase it a lot too.
      • Some also have potent time extend LS to help you. For example Hera-Nyx and all the evolved Neys ... will provide 10 additional secs of move time, and Ichimaru Gin adds 13.
    • Get appropriate feedback ! Essentially you want the game to confirm when you've matched a valid cross. There are 2 ways around this ; you either run at least 1 cross lead (bicolor+), or you run at least 1 card with cross awakenings. Both will have a clear animation when you match a valid cross of the appropriate color. Don't forget that for either case, you need to have the colors you match crosses of in your team !
      • For leads you have tons of options
        • Toragon is farmable and rainbow, which might be overwhelming for training, but I think it's good still that you try to match many colors. Sosuke Sagara is rainbow too, but very hard to get.
        • If you can have Wedding Rushana or Allatu as a lead or helper they're perfect for that, as they're tricolor cross leads and will provide +5 secs of move time, which will be very practical. Allatu in particular might be quite widely available, as she's been featured in numerous SGF these past 2 years or so. Nemain (including pixel form) is tricolor too, as well as Kirei Kotomine (farmable) and Nees (you might have 20 of her lul).
        • For bicolor, Aoi Shikigami is nice with +3 secs of move time, although he's not widely available. Rushana is farmable (and no need to make her revo for practice), as well as Odindra , Enoch (her AS is also nice for move time) and Gilles Legato . Mega Paimon should be widely available by now, as well REvo Seraph Lucifer , Acala , Dantalion (← only this form), and maybe Karin Kanzuki and Best Girl Planar . Laslty, Sitri (← only this form) and Verandi (← only this form) are ex 5*-GFE, making them potentially widely available for players from the early years of PAD.
    • For the cross awakening, sadly the choice is very limited as of today, but it should improve with time very fast, as the devs are releasing many cards with at least 1 @JP. We just need to catch up with the updates. Equips with a cross awake are also on the way !
      • Available cross awakes as of May 21st 2021 are just Verdandi and Yamato Takeru (which I find super weird but oh well xD), which will give you cross confirmation for respectivaly wood/fire crosses and fire/water crosses. Irene Brooch also has it and should be the first equip with cross awake @NA (it's in the game data already, so coming soon I guess).
      • For upcoming cross awakes of course we can't see the future, but we can make a wild guess. Let's just assume Marvel collab won't come to NA x) Street fighter collab will bring some, like Karin Kanzuki or Balrog . PAD Academy will bring 3 equips with a cross awake , as well as Academy Isis , Acala and Meimei . Heroine REM will give Mito a cross awake, and new equips with it will also be added to the game .
        There will be more, but hopefully that's enough that you find something available for you (or available soon)
    If you're desperate for an option for cross validation and you don't have any of these listed here, feel free to add me (ID in profile up there), I have all the relevant cross leads (besides Sosuke Sagara) so that you can run them as helpers.

    Of course, all this is for practicing. For actual dungeons you'll have to actually build teams. Running old-ish dungeons is however very good practice to see how crosses work with enemy pressure, hazards, actual need for healing and a few mechanics. Arena 1 is super powercrept already and will likely not require you to ever match more than 2 crosses (maybe 3 once or twice) if you play a relevant cross lead, but will still present a small threat if you mess up badly, so that could be decent practice.

    Aaaand that'll be it. I think.
    That was a rather short guide, but ultimately the biggest part of learning crosses is still actually matching crosses. I just hope that these tips will make it easier for your eyes and fingers to get crosses right, but ultimately it will be a matter of practicing :>
    Feel free to ask if you think I should include anything else !

    That is all :>

    Before taking my leave I would like to show gratitude to the people maintaining Combo Master and the PAD Dawnglare simulators, these tools greatly helped with illustrating this guide !
    Last edited: May 26, 2021

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