Doctor Who: Legacy puzzle-playing strategy guide

As I promised a while back, here is a strategy guide for playing the puzzle in Doctor Who: Legacy. This guide assumes that you understand the mechanics of the game, so if you need a refresher, check out my other guides.

Choosing and Arranging Your Team

The poison heal power comes up very quickly, which will be very useful in some levels.

The poison heal power comes up very quickly, which will be very useful in some levels.

The Doctor and companions you take into a puzzle can make a huge difference in your ability to defeat the level, so it’s important to choose wisely. The first thing you need to do is try and play the level as far as you can, so that you can see what colors you’ll be facing. The Time Fragment icons on the level tell you what main colors to expect, but if you rely on just that, you won’t know what else will be thrown at you. Once you’ve figured the colors you’ll be facing, you can choose the character colors that will face off against them the best.

  • Since there are five colors and you get six characters, you’ll be doubling up on at least one color. Double a color that will do double damage to as many of the monsters as possible.
  • I try to take in a Doctor that does double damage to one of the predominant colors in the level. One of the exceptions to this is the Eighth Doctor (see the discussion of special powers below).
  • If the level has predominantly one color of monster (for example, Weeping Angel levels mostly have blue monsters), you may want to triple or quadruple the color that does double damage. This does mean that you’ll be missing one or two colors on your team, and while clearing those colors will contribute to combos, you won’t do direct damage with them.

Character attributes are important to consider, based on how you play and what problems you’re encountering. Here are some things to consider (remember that how you assign skill points can change how a character might fit into your team).

  • If you feel like you’re just not doing enough damage with attacks, try to find high ATK characters. Madame Vastra and K-9 are my current go-to attackers.
  • Once you get into the upper reaches of Season 6, you’ll find that the monsters do a lot of damage, and so you’ll want to have a good HP pool. Select characters that have high HP for this, or add HP with skill points.
  • If you tweak too much to high ATK and HP, you’ll end up with characters that have low Heal, and your heals won’t do much. I keep Rory on my team because he’s got a great Heal stat, and the rest of the companions are weighted towards ATK and then HP. The drawback here is that green attacks are very weak.

You will also want to consider special powers when selecting your characters, based on play style, the conditions in the level, and who else you have on your team. I can’t cover all the possible decisions here, so here are a few examples.

  • The Eighth Doctor’s power is to heal poison. If the level deals heavy poison, use the Eighth Doctor even if his color does not deal double damage to the monsters.
  • I try to keep one character that has a healing special power (e.g. Tenth Doctor, Rory, Clara) in each team. You might find having more than one healer useful.
  • In a level that has predominantly one color (say, red), a character that can change gem colors to the doubling color (e.g. the Spoonhead Doctor changes red to blue) is very useful.
  • It’s nice to have a stunner (K-9, Riddell) in the party if you can manage it.

Lastly, you need to decide how to arrange your team. Remember that attacks are applied to the monster from left to right, so you know which characters are going to hit in which order. I like to keep whatever companion(s) that match the color of the Doctor way on the right. That way, when they’re dealing double damage, if the Doctor almost kills the target, one of the other characters will finish it off and the second character of the Doctor’s color can deal their double damage to a different target. It would have been a waste to use that double damage on an almost-dead monster.

Targeting

Now you’ve chosen your team and entered the level. How do you defeat the monsters? It’s important to choose your targets wisely so that you can get rid of them efficiently. One of the cool things about this game is that it is so varied – you have many choices based on your team and play style, and the monsters have a wide range of special powers – but that makes it hard to say that any one particular strategy is the best. So, here are some things to consider, and you’ll have to tailor them to the situation.

  • In most cases, monsters that attack once after 3 rounds do a large amount of damage with each hit, while monsters that attack every round do a small amount of damage with each hit. You might find it better to eliminate the heavy hitter before he swings while taking pokes of small damage every round.
  • On the other hand, the pokers have a chance each round to switch to counting down to a special power that you don’t like. Maybe you should take them out first.
  • Some special powers are relatively harmless, so if a monster is employing it a lot, target something else. For example, some monsters will steal all of a random color of gem from your board. This isn’t particularly harmful, and while it’s doing it, it’s not doing damage to you. Let it live.
  • Some special powers can really mess  you up. Get rid of those monsters first.
  • Remember that if you kill the currently targeted monster, excess damage will go to the monster to the right. In some cases, you’ll want to choose a monster based on which monster you want to target next.
  • If the monster’s special power symbol is purple with kind of a black snake thing on it, it means that it will summon a new monster into any vacant space. Target the summoning monster first. It doesn’t help to kill the other monsters first, because the summoner will just make more.
  • Monsters I like to take out first: Summoners, stunners, lockers, one-turn attackers that do a lot of damage (there are a few of them).

Puzzle Strategies and Training Hints

There are lots of strategies you can employ while playing the puzzle, some of which are general gameplay strategies, while others are specific to situations. There are also ways you can teach yourself to get better at the game. I can’t possibly cover them all in this post, but here are some things to keep in mind or have worked well for me in the past.

From red star to blue, creates 3 sets (messes up the green set I started with inadvertantly).

From red star to blue, creates 3 sets (messes up the green set I started with inadvertently). There’s a better path that doesn’t mess up the green set, ending with 4 sets. Can you spot it?

Think before you move. This is the number one important point. Take advantage of the fact that you can spend as much time as you want to think about the board before you move a gem. Plan out your gem route, or at least the first bit of it, before starting to move your gem.

Target a monster and try to use the color it’s weak to. This might sound obvious, but this gets very important in later levels in Season Six, where it feels like neutral colors really don’t do much damage. (They actually do just fine. It’s just that the doubling gets so much more important.)

Make combos! The damage multiplier (and healing multiplier!) you get for just getting up to 3 or 4 sets in a move is substantial.

Practice new moves and planning combos. Build up a strong team, then take it to some of the early levels. You’ll have plenty of HP and power, so you can spend time learning to spot new moves or setting up combos without worrying about the level beating you.

I highly recommend simply practicing setting up combos. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to make them longer and longer.

Use a move to position gems for the next move. I don’t do this enough. In some cases, it may be more important to set up for your next move rather than do something in this one. The most obvious example is healing: if you have a couple of pink gems far away from each other and you’re about to take a big hit, you might want to take this turn to move those pinks gems closer to each other so you can heal next turn.

Think about your available special powers every turn. It’s really easy to get into the groove of playing and forget that you have special powers that can help you. I’ve lost levels and then realized that I could have survived if I had used the special powers. Get into the habit of looking at what you have available after every move.

Combos

The blue set disappears and drops the two red gems down to make a set.

The blue set disappears and drops the two red gems down to make a set.

There are three ways of creating combos. The first is to set up as many sets as you can with your move, as in the image above. This is what you’ll be doing most of the time, so it’s a good idea to plan before moving as much as possible.

The second is to clear some stuff and hope that the gems that fall into your board create sets for you. This isn’t common and probably shouldn’t be your main strategy. 😉

The third is to clear sets so that they create new combos. An example appears to the right. There are many more ways of doing this type of combo, but this is the simplest and easiest to spot.

Moves

The key to all the strategies and combos is to be able to look a board and spot configurations that you can easily transform into sets. What follows are the basic configurations of 3 gems and how to get them into a line. Everything else is either spotting them on the board or moving gems closer to each other to get them into these configurations.

L-shape, move #1

The setup of three gems in an L-shape occurs all the time. There are two ways to easily line them up. The first way is to approach from the outside of the L, move into the L, and turn a right angle towards the leg. (These moves are really hard to explain, so just look at the image, ok?) In the image below, the move creates a vertical line of four blue.

From red star to blue, creates a vertical 4-gem row of blue.

From red star to blue, creates a vertical 4-gem row of blue.

L-shape, move #2

The second way to line up the L is to approach from the end and follow the L. In the image below, it creates a horizontal line of three green.

From red star to blue, creates a horizontal 3-gem set of green.

From red star to blue, creates a horizontal 3-gem set of green.

Restricted movement

Normally, if you have a setup like the gold gems in the image below, you’d just move the green gem down and you’d  have a set. However, there are lots of  times where you can’t do that; maybe your strategy requires that you start elsewhere on the board and get to the gold gems later. This is how you can make the set starting from the opposite direction of the green gem. With the red gem, move to the left. This creates an L-shape. Then, you use L-shape move #1 to create the set. The net result is that you just moved that red gem in a circle. Practice this one – once you get the hang of it, you might find you use it all the time.

From green star to blue, creates a horizontal 3-gem set of gold.

From green star to blue, creates a horizontal 3-gem set of gold.

Diagonal

Three gems in a diagonal line. To be honest, I didn’t realize there was an easy way to line them up until I saw it demonstrated in a meeting. (I work for a casual game company: we get to have meetings about games!) Basically, take a gem next to the center gem, move it onto the adjacent edge gem, then around the center gem onto the other edge gem. (Again, look at the image. This is really hard to explain.) In the image below, you end up with a horizontal line of three green gems.

From red star to blue, creates a horizontal 3-gem set in green.

From red star to blue, creates a horizontal 3-gem set in green.

Broken L-shape

Two gem set apart from another of the same gem by one odd gem. Take the odd gem, move it onto the first of the two gems, then onto the second of the two gems, and that creates the set. This is often the easiest way to set up 4- and 5-gem sets.

From red star to blue, creates a vertical 3-gem set of gold.

From red star to blue, creates a vertical 3-gem set of gold.

Broken line

Take a look at the image below. I almost always choose to move the blue gem right, but you know, it works just as well to move the blue gem left. I included this one because it’s one of those things that you just have a tendency to overlook.

By the way, this image is a great example of combining moves. If you move the top yellow gem to the right and then down, you’ve done L-shape move #1. Then, move it to the left or right, and you’ve quickly made a 2-point combo.

Usually I move the blue gem to the right, but moving left also works fine.

Usually I move the blue gem to the right, but moving left also works fine.

Thanks for checking out my strategy guides! As always, if I missed anything that should be added, or you have a question, please leave a comment!

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8 responses to “Doctor Who: Legacy puzzle-playing strategy guide

    • As far as I can tell, the game is available on iOS, Android, and Kindle. I thought they might have said something about releasing it on Facebook, but I can’t find any reference to that, and I’d be surprised if they did any time soon (I work for a social game company – the amount you have to invest to get a game onto Facebook and the amount of money that Facebook takes from you while it’s live may make it not financially feasible, and then they’d have to completely re-code the app in Flash, which is a huge undertaking and will take months at least). If it does come out for Facebook, I would expect it would be a good six months out (that’s my estimation, not anything that the company has said).

      • Ugh, social networking websites. Those things are just not my style. Too many meanies and fools who think anonymity protects them from consequences then are surprised when their boss fires them for something they put online.
        Games are cool, though. I wish I could play such social games without being bothered by trolls.

    • Oh, I just checked the latest newsletter, and they said, “We have loads of fun and surprises in store for you in March with… Facebook browser support… and more!”

      Now, I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds like they have a Facebook-ready app that will go live in March. It also sounds like the Facebook app will share databases with the other versions, meaning that all progress that you’ve made on the other version will appear when you play on Facebook. But don’t take my word for that one – while that’s what it sounds like, it’s a difficult thing to do correctly and might not at all be what they’re saying.

    • The way to do it is to create the FB account, but don’t add any friends and don’t use it to post stuff. Given DW:L’s philosophy and design, I highly doubt they are going to require you to have plenty of friends to enjoy the game (meaning, making you have to friend strangers to get enough friends to get through things).

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