Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Puzzle Strike» Forums » Sessions

Subject: First two games; first impressions - games with noobs go on forever? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Aaron Pieper
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
So, two of my friends got me this game for my birthday. We all have about 100-200 games of Dominion under our collective belts so we were looking forward to this. My friend Amy had hyped it up as the "Best Game Ever" although I think she was deliberately hyping it up based on her first few experiences which, I gather, were immensely positive.

We picked our character chips randomly both games, and the initial puzzle randomly as well. We assumed that, like Dominion, it was really important to buy lots of purples/greens. But unlike dominion, there's a lot of different kinds, so this was much more challenging in a way!

This is a very easy game to cheat at, accidentally. We were all guilty of missing our "ante phase" occasionally. On my second turn, I inadvertently took all the gems out of my "gem pile" and added them to my discard. So we immediately realized the need for "game mats" and made our own. My opponents accidentally caught me once, playing a crash gem and then trying to play another action. Combining cards like "Speed of the Fox" and "Gem Essence" can also make it very easy to cheat, by playing the incorrect kinds of actions.

It is also easy to anti-cheat. On our 6th or 7th turn, we realized we had not been drawing extra cards based on our gem pile size. Even after we became aware of this rule, we frequently forgot to draw extra cards. "Oh, i only drew 5; but my gem pile is 6... is it OK if i draw the extra 2 to see if i can counter crash?" But really, the worst anti-cheat came when I lost our first game. I looked through my "deck" and only had one crash gem. I had been buying crash gems throughout - but upon crashing and anti-crashing, I was often accidentally returning the "crash gems" to the bank; instead of keeping them in my deck. Oops!

Both games went on a very long time, a little over an hour each. None of us were experienced at the game; we kept playing "crashes" and our opponent would "counter crash" and our gem piles stayed at 3-4 gems. While it somewhat occurred to us that we should be building up to "uncounterable gems" it also seemed like a lot of work. Also, there were puzzle gems like "Mixmaster" which made this strategy unappealing.

In both games, one player got eliminated and had to watch for about 20 minutes while the other players sent gems back and forth with no clear resolution in sight. This is a situation most "eurogames" try to avoid, we hadn't played a game involving player elimination for a very long time. It made us uncomfortable, we volunteered to end the game early, or call a draw, but eventually both games ended; it just took a long time for a player to build up to a uncounterable combo.

After reading the other reviews here, it seems like game is properly balanced for experienced players, who will adopt the proper strategy of keeping a "tall gem pile", building a set of uncounterable 4-gems, and sending them to their opponents. But for new players who adopt the wrong mix of gems, games can go on forever. In Dominion, even when we built awful awful decks, we would end games when something silly like, the curses, duchies, and mining villages ran out. There's no similar mechanic in Puzzle Strike, so if you have stupid friends, you might get sucked in indefinitely, like that movie Jumanji.

Overall an OK first impression. I still like Dominion more but I think this game has a lot going for it; I'm definitely willing to give it a couple more tries. I think random character selection was a bad choice; some character cards (like Strength of Earth or Martial Mastery) were very intuitive to use, while others (like Double-Take or Speed of the Fox) were either unintuitive, or outright detrimental depending on the set of puzzle cards. But it's also overwhelming to expect new players to read all 24 character chips, and choose the best character based on the setup. Maybe, for us as a group, we could start with 4 of the simplest character tiles to pick from; and then introduce a new character each session, that way it's less overwhelming.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It may be that you guys just so completely botched the game rules or the adherence to them, that the game felt funky.

We got in some more games the other day and didn't have the same results. Frequently, once a player was knocked out, the game ended fairly quickly thereafter for everyone. And this was with all new players except for myself.

You could also VERY easily house-rule Puzzle Strike if you felt that these concerns were legitimate (which I don't) to say that when 3-5 chip piles run out, the game ends and the player with the least Gem chips wins the game. Ties can be decided by the player possessing the least number of Purple Chips, wins.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Adam Ruzzo
United States
Manchester
Connecticut
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think the rule book just needs a section that points out to new players "purples are how you win the game, your deck should be focused upon improving your effective purple density!"

Not that new players would know what effective purple density is...so maybe just a picture of a combine with the words "buy these!" under it.
2 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeb Adams
United States
Agoura Hills
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Another thing to do is use an egg timer. Turns can get really looooong in the "end game" when you can chain up a bunch of stuff. Don't let folks take all day to work out the best possible turn. Just start dropping stuff and going for it. It might not be optimal, but it's more fun.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
AJ Newhausen
United States
Loves Park
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Poobslag wrote:
While it somewhat occurred to us that we should be building up to "uncounterable gems" it also seemed like a lot of work.

Generally, if people choose to not perform actions that will move the game toward its natural end, the game will not end. You found this surprising?

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian M
United States
Thornton
Colorado
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Generally, if people choose to not perform actions that will move the game toward its natural end, the game will not end. You found this surprising?

Intuitively, attacking each other should be the action to bring the game to an end, while choosing to not attack with your gems to let them build up is counter-intuitive.

I haven't seen games of Puzzle Strike "lag", but I did find that between the player elimination and the 'circle of death' mechanic, it didn't work well for the normal 4 player game. Two player or four player team games have been a lot more fun.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
pseudo nym
msg tools
mbmbmb
StormKnight wrote:
Intuitively, attacking each other should be the action to bring the game to an end, while choosing to not attack with your gems to let them build up is counter-intuitive.


I would argue that intuitively, you win by making the other person's pile bigger. Crashing without combining, and getting counter-crashed, makes the other person's pile *smaller*.

Now, it might not be obvious immediately that getting counter-crashed is a really bad thing, if you're trying to win the game. But you should figure it out after your crash gets counter-crashed a couple times. It might be too late for you to adjust your strategy in that game, but no one should be underestimating combines in their second game. (They might overestimate them for quite a while, though.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alex Chen
United States
Colorado
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
StormKnight wrote:

I haven't seen games of Puzzle Strike "lag", but I did find that between the player elimination and the 'circle of death' mechanic, it didn't work well for the normal 4 player game. Two player or four player team games have been a lot more fun.


What are your rules for 4p teams? I have also been disappointed with 4p PS and am interested in ways to make it more playable.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Schenck
United States
Dayton
Ohio
flag msg tools
GO BUCKS!
badge
Stop touching me!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Aaron, I went through ALL of the same issues you're going through. Just ask Bridger ... he talked me down from the ledge a couple of times.
laugh

Yeah, you were definitely botching some rules, as you noted. So you owe the game a few plays while keeping an eye toward adhering to the rules. Also, you mentioned that you and your friends are very experienced Dominion players. That's without a doubt the biggest thing working against your enjoyment of the game. Don't try to build an awesome puzzle chip engine like you would with kingdom cards in Dominion. This game is not largely about building power combos.

Try playing a few games where you almost exclusively buy purples and upgrade your money. Allow yourself to buy a few puzzle chips, but only a few. No, that's not going to win you every game, but it'll go a long way toward showing you that those puzzle chips (the 10 random stacks set out for the game) play a very subdued role compared to the kingdom cards in Dominion. They're important, so you can't neglect them. Just don't focus on them quite so much.

At least, that's the point in the learning curve where I stand now.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
AJ Newhausen
United States
Loves Park
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Also, keep in mind that everyone starts the game with three puzzle chips already in their deck. How many Action cards would be bought in Dominion if, for example, everyone started with two Smithies and a Village instead of three Estates?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jake Waltier
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Armadillo Al wrote:
Also, keep in mind that everyone starts the game with three puzzle chips already in their deck. How many Action cards would be bought in Dominion if, for example, everyone started with two Smithies and a Village instead of three Estates?


Clarification, you do not start with any puzzle chips.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Don
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
TwentySides wrote:
Armadillo Al wrote:
Also, keep in mind that everyone starts the game with three puzzle chips already in their deck. How many Action cards would be bought in Dominion if, for example, everyone started with two Smithies and a Village instead of three Estates?


Clarification, you do not start with any puzzle chips.


Think he means the 3 action chips from your character...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Malachi Brown
United States
Hermitage
TN
flag msg tools
It's turtles all the way down.
badge
“Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself.”
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
vdaoine wrote:
TwentySides wrote:
Armadillo Al wrote:
Also, keep in mind that everyone starts the game with three puzzle chips already in their deck. How many Action cards would be bought in Dominion if, for example, everyone started with two Smithies and a Village instead of three Estates?


Clarification, you do not start with any puzzle chips.


Think he means the 3 action chips from your character...


I think he knew that but wanted to make it clear that while character chips and puzzle chips are both action chips, character chips are not "puzzle chips" when reading the text on a chip that interacts with other chips.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Pieper
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Armadillo Al wrote:
Poobslag wrote:
While it somewhat occurred to us that we should be building up to "uncounterable gems" it also seemed like a lot of work.

Generally, if people choose to not perform actions that will move the game toward its natural end, the game will not end. You found this surprising?



Well, being our first game we bought a 50/50 mix of combines/crashes with a few actions mixed in. This meant an average turn involved us crashing a gem of approximate size 2. If we were counter-crashed, this led to a "break even" turn. I've since learned than an optimal 1st edition "deck" involves more of a 3:1 4:1 ratio of combines to crashes.

But yes, it's weird that new players playing sub-optimal strategies aren't guaranteed end the game. This isn't the case in most Eurogame. Games like Seven Wonders, Agricola, and Race For The Galaxy almost have a built-in time limit, while games like Ticket To Ride, Power Grid might take longer to end for novice players, but they'll still get a little money each turn, draw a few cards, and guide the game towards its end...

(Sorry for the late reply, I just found these messages today.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron Pieper
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
cbs42 wrote:
Try playing a few games where you almost exclusively buy purples and upgrade your money. Allow yourself to buy a few puzzle chips, but only a few. No, that's not going to win you every game, but it'll go a long way toward showing you that those puzzle chips (the 10 random stacks set out for the game) play a very subdued role compared to the kingdom cards in Dominion. They're important, so you can't neglect them. Just don't focus on them quite so much.

At least, that's the point in the learning curve where I stand now.


Thanks! We ended up picking this game up a year later and playing a few 2-player games. 2-player was much more fun, as player elimination wasn't an issue. However the character chips didn't seem balanced, and we usually played mono-purple as actions were underpowered.

This game has undergone radical improvements in 3rd edition, which address some of the concerns in my review, as well as some concerns that I found later.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.