Battles in Project Neural Cloud take place on a grid of 6×5 hexagonal tiles, with the player units starting on the two leftmost rows and enemy units on the rest of the field. Some tiles are usually obstructed by structures to create paths and pockets, and special tiles have an effect on units. Player units are mostly automated: they will seek targets according to the current engagement rules and use their Auto Skill as soon as it is possible.
By default, melee classes (Guard and Warrior) will try to move to the nearest accessible enemy to attack. Units can move through tiles occupied by allies, but an enemy must have a non-occupied tile adjacent to them to be a valid target. If there is no enemy directly accessible, melee units will destroy non-permanent structures in their way to the nearest accessible enemy. By default, ranged units (Sniper, Medic and Specialist) will target the nearest enemy and remain at their starting position as long as there is an enemy in range (ranged attacks are not hampered by structures). If there is no enemy in range, they will move forward until there is. Default engagement rules can change on case-by-case basis depending on used Skills and active Functions or Statuses, such as Snipers targeting the farthest enemy rather than the nearest or Taunts that force enemy units to focus their attacks on a single target.
Players can influence a battle by using their Tactical Skills, which includes teleportation of a unit or forced focus on a specific enemy, deciding when and how to use Ultimate Skills once the gauge is full, and using Active Functions if they have one.
It is possible to double battle speed if the player feels they won't need to time their actions precisely. When a battle reaches a certain duration, Battlefield Overload will start, causing attacks to deal a percentage bonus damage while healing and shields will receive a debuff. Overload effects will keep growing with time to haste the resolution of the battle.
At the end of successful battle, one of the Dolls will be elected the MVP with a title depending on performance, such "Iron Wall" for highest damage absorption, "Savage" for highest damage output, Asclepius for highest healing output and "Impeccable" for highest overall performance. In story stages, a battle can be attempted again up to 10 times if it is lost.
Here you can see Backup Units on the row to the left, aside from the battlefield. You can drag units between these two areas and change the position of Backup Units on the Backup row to make use of backup effect tiles.
- Current Layer (stage level) and Battle Progress (in Battle of Endurance stages). Tap Menu to retreat (cancels the stage), return to main menu (saves your progress to play later) and change game settings.
- Function Row. Tap a Function to see its details, slide to see more Functions if the bar is too full.
- Function Cards Deck Size, you will have to discard a Function if it goes over the limit, but there are ways to upgrade it. Protocols will show up at the bottom if any is active, hover on the icon to display their effect.
- Active Function Chains, tap the arrow to see details
- Player Unit. Indicates its class, Power and HPs. The symbols floating around the unit indicate which Function cards they will be affected by during combat. Tap to see details of the Doll and the effect tile if the unit is standing on one.
- Enemy Unit, same characteristics as Player Units, tap to see their attributes and skills.
- Tactical Skills (player skills). Tap to switch between Flexible Strategy and Offensive Build, and equip advanced Skills.
- Overclocking is available after Stage 2-10 and let you exchange Cache Coins for bonuses. See PNC Exploration#Overclock.
- Battle Start!
- Menu button. Same options as before.
- Pause/Play button.
- Tap to enable Auto mode, every player action will become automated.
- Battle Speed, switches between 1x and 2x. Can be used safely on easy missions but you might miss the opportunity to help a Doll in trouble in harder stages at 2x speed.
- Damage Stats, can be rolled up by tapping the tiny button.
- Ultimate Gauge multiplier, dictates how fast the Ultimate Gauge is filled up by combat actions, usually at normal speed of 1.0 but can be higher in resource stages and tutorials.
- Ultimate Gauge: Fills with blue when performing actions up to 100%, then with orange up to 200%. Is carried between combats in Regular Battle but not between layers. Tap the portrait of a Doll when it is highlighted to spend 100% of the gauge and use its Ultimate Skill (remember that only Dolls of 3-stars rarity can use their Ultimate Skill). Critically damaged Dolls have their portrait in red.
- Active Functions: Tap to use.
- Tactical Skills and Tactical Energy gauge. Tap the icons to use (here shown during initial cooldown). Tactical Energy carries between stages in Normal Battle but not between layers.
Status Effects and Damage Types
- HP Shield: Attacks damage the HP Shield first, shield value cannot be healed. Usually enabled by Guard and Medic Function Cards.
- Focus: All characters are forced to attack the target. Melee units will automatically move into attack range. Once this effect ends, they will find new attack targets.
- Taunt: Control debuff. Forces the target to attack the taunting unit. Unit cannot release skill during Taunt.
- Stun: Control debuff. Immobilizes target, interrupts skill release and halts Auto Skill recharge.
- Frozen: Reduces Move Speed by 50%. Each stack reduces Attack Speed by 2 points, up to 10 stacks. Each stack lasts 5 seconds. Usually enabled by Sniper Function Cards.
- Bleed: Damaging debuff. Take 0.2% of the target's Max HP in Derivative Physical Damage per second, to a maximum of 10% of the highest ATK/Hashrate of any Doll in the battle. Duration is 5 seconds, can stack up to 10 times. Usually enabled by Warrior Function Cards.
- Revitalize: Each stack recovers the target's HP by 10% of its Hashrate every 3 seconds over a total of 6 seconds. Stackable to 5 layers max.
- Bloodthirst Sigil: Buff, Normal Attacks are guaranteed to Crit and deal an extra 30% Life Steal. 1 stack of this buff is consumed every time this effect is triggered.
- Disarm: Control debuff, interrupts normal attacks and skills and bans target from using them.
- Silence: Control debuff, interrupts skill release and halts Auto Skill recharge.
- Knockback: Control debuff.
- Airborne: Control debuff.
- Vulnerability: Debuff, damage received increased by 3%, up to 10 stacks.
- True Damage is damage that ignores the target's Physical DEF and Operand DEF and is affected by damage multipliers and Damage Reduction, but does not trigger Backlash, Life Steal and other damage related-effects, and does not trigger damage conditions for Functions and Skills.
- Derivative Damage is affected by Physical and Operand Defense, but does not trigger Backlash, Life Steal and other damage related-effects, and does not trigger damage conditions for Functions and Skills.
- Wallbreak occurs when a damage absorption barrier is broken.
Tactical Skills require Tactical Energy to be used. Tactical Energy is gained automatically in combat and is carried between combats.
- Flexible Strategy
- Teleportation (Note: cannot be performed on Dolls that are stunned, frozen, or currently targeted by a boss unit such as Raven's charge)
- Teleportation - Offensive: Cost 8 Tactical Energy, 10s CD. Immediately teleport a selected ally Doll to a specified empty tile. After a successful teleportation, all damage dealt by this Doll is increased by 10% for the next 5 seconds. (Note: cannot be performed on stunned or frozen Doll)
- Teleportation - Survival: Cost 8 Tactical Energy, 10s CD. Immediately teleport a selected ally Doll to a specified empty tile. After a successful teleportation, the HP of the selected Doll recovers by 5% of their Max HP. (Note: cannot be performed on stunned or frozen Doll)
- Cyclonic Gust (Cannot be used on stunned, frozen or summoned units or structures)
- Cyclonic Gust - Stun: Cost 10 Tactical Energy, 16s CD. The selected target is interrupted and sent airborne for 3 seconds. They cannot be targeted during this period. If the target is an enemy unit, they will be Stunned for 2 seconds after landing.
- Cyclonic Gust - Concealment: Cost 10 Tactical Energy, 16s CD. The selected target is interrupted and sent airborne for 3 seconds. They cannot be targeted during this period. If the target is an ally, they will become invisible for 2 seconds after landing.
- Rapid Recharge
- Rapid Recharge - Supercharge: Cost 15 Tactical Energy, 10s CD. Select an ally Doll to cast their Auto Skill immediately. This does not affect its cooldown. Boost their Skill Hast by 400 points for the following 5 seconds.
- Rapid Recharge - Interference: Cost 15 Tactical Energy, 10s CD. Select an enemy unit and reduce their Auto Skill's charge by 50%. This does not affect enemies with Skills that take effect over time.
- Teleportation (Note: cannot be performed on Dolls that are stunned, frozen, or currently targeted by a boss unit such as Raven's charge)
- Offensive Build
- Orbital Strike: Cost 7 Tactical Energy, 3s CD. Deal [Derivative] Operand Damage (equal to 80% of greatest ally Hashrate) to the enemy with the lowest remaining HP. If the target dies from this strike, restore 4 points of energy.
- Coordinated Fire: Cost 10 Tactical Energy, 12s CD. Deals [Derivative] Operand Damage (equal to 50% of greatest ally Hashrate) to all enemies in the selected area and stuns them for 1 second.
- FC Illumination: Cost 10 Tactical Energy, 10s CD. Focus Fire on 1 enemy for 4 seconds. Allies will not retarget at the end of this effect.
Some tiles on the field or on the backup column will produce effects to the units who start a battle on them. This applies both to ally and enemy units.
- Overdrive: Takes effect at the start of battle. Unit on this effect tile can release Auto Skill immediately at the start of battle.
- Snipe: Gives infinite range, ignore HP shields and target farthest enemy rather than closest to ranged units for the current battle.
- Teleport: Takes effect at the start of battle. melee unit on this effect tile will be teleported to the enemy furthest away from them. The teleportation will be delayed by 1 second on ally Dolls. (Hatsuchiri cannot trigger this effect tile.)
- Power Strike: Takes effect at the start of battle. When units on this effect tile damages Ranged and melee HP shields, an equal amount of damage is directly dealt on target's HP.
- Ranged Damage Reduction: Takes effect at the start of battle. Unit on this effect tile gain a HP Shield of 15%Max HP against ranged attacks.
- Ranged Resistance: Takes effect at the start of battle. Unit on this effect tile gain a HP Shield of 50% Max HP against melee attacks.
- Melee Resistance: Takes effect at the start of battle. Unit on this effect tile gain a HP Shield of 50% Max HP against ranged attacks.
- Taunt: Takes effect at the start of battle. Unit on this effect tile will have its Physical DEF doubled, and all enemies will be forced to attack the aforementioned unit. This effect lasts 5 seconds.
- Flash Attack: Takes effect at the start of battle. Unit on this effect tile has its ATK decreased by 30% and Attack Speed increased by 60%.
Chapter-specific effect tiles
- Chapter 3: Energy Herb. Continuously takes effect. Generates an Energy Herb for the last unit passing through this effect tile every 4.6 seconds. Energy Herbs recharge a unit's Auto Skill to full.
- Chapter 3: Pseudo-Energy Herb. Permanent effect. Generates a Pseudo-Energy Herb for the last unit passing through this effect tile every 4.6 seconds. Pseudo-Energy Herb recharges a unit's Auto Skill by 25%.
- Chapter 5: Entropy Liquid. Permanent effect. These effect tiles continuously spread on the battlefield. On these effect tiles, all units deal 30% more damage, and Entropics recover 5% of their Max HP every 3 seconds, while non-Entropics lose 7.5% of their Max HP every 3 seconds.
- Note: The effect of Entropy Liquid can be mitigated by the Function Cards Multi-core Computing (enhance ally Skill Haste by the number of Entropy Liquid on stage), High-risk Node (enhance ally damage to enemies on Entropy Liquid) and Node Reparation (recover Max HP every 5 seconds when standing on Entropy Liquid). These Function Cards can be acquired at the start of a stage for free by combining the Overclock Function and Free Overclock Procedural Efficiency nodes. The Procedural Efficiency node Entropization Blocker, which reduces damage from Entropy Liquid by up to 30%, can also be unlocked after beating 5-1D.
- Rest: Additionally recover 30% Max HP after battle.
- Off-field Shot: Unit on this effect tile deals Physical damage of 50% Hashrate to enemy with the lowest HP every 5 seconds. Specialist units deal 30% more damage with this effect.
- Coordinated Inspiration: Unit on this effect tile buffs while the ATK of all ally Dolls on the battlefield by 16% of its own ATK.
- Coordinated Buff: Unit on this tile buffs all ally Dolls on the battlefield by 16% of its Hashrate.
- Coordinated Heal: Unit on this effect tile heals unit with the lowest HP percentage by 50% of own Hashrate every 5 seconds. Medic units gain an additional 30% Healing Effect boost.
- Coordinated Missile Strike: Unit on this effect tile deals True Damage of 100% Hashrate every 5 seconds to all enemies on the same horizontal row. Sniper units deal 30% more damage with this effect.
- Trade-off: Unit on this effect tile loses 50% of its current HP at the start of battle to deal an equal amount of damage on enemy with the highest HP. Guard units deal 30% more damage with this effect.
- Daredevil: Units on this effect tile gain the [Assault Readiness] effect: When participating in the next battle, ATK is increased by 70% with Warriors gaining an additional 30% ATK. However, HP will be set to 1 after the battle. This effect persists for one battle.