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Subject: Perpetual Geek Machine Review: Puzzle Strike rss

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Jim Squires
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[reprinted here from my review on www.PerpetualGeekMachine.net]

As someone fairly new to the world of board games, I’m afraid that I have to admit that I’ve never played Dominion. In fact, I’ve never played a deck building game at all. Puzzle Strike has served as my entry into this particular sub-genre of gaming, and for the most part, it’s been a welcoming experience. With simple rules, quick gameplay, plenty of variety, and the fun of playing with chips instead of cards, it almost seems like the perfect entry point for those looking to delve into the world of deck building – almost.

Loosely inspired by the video game Puzzle Fighter, players will receive gems on each turn that they can try to combine and “crash” into their opponent’s playing field. The object of the game is to destroy your opponent by filling their field with 10 or more gems, thus ending the game. In case you’re not familiar with Puzzle Fighter, think of the gems as your falling blocks in Tetris. Once you have 10 or more of them, the screen fills up and its game over.

In order to crash these gems into your opponents though, you’ll need to have “crash gems” that you can use to trigger an attack. Likewise, your opponent can counter your attack with a crash gem of their own. To get these crash gems – as well as a variety of other playable chips – you’ll need to spend gems that you hold in your hand on new chips.

For example, a sample turn may go something like this: At the start, you’ll add one new gem to your gem pile. Think of it as another Tetris block falling from the top of the screen into your playing field. Your hand, currently made up of 5 chips, has a crash gem, a combine, two gems with a value of 1, and one gem with a value of 2. You’ll play your combine to merge two of the 1 value gems in your gem pile (not your hand) into a 2, and then you’ll play the crash gem to “crash” that gem back into two 1’s and send them careening over to your opponent. You’ll then take the gems that are in your hand (not your gem pile) and spend those on new chips at the bank. After this, you’ll dump it all back in your bag and draw a new hand in preparation for your next turn.

These new chips are where both the variety and strategy come in. You’ll be able to buy purple chips (which are made up the crash and combine gems), puzzle chips (these give you special actions like forcing your opponent to do things or letting you have a bonus like drawing additional chips), or simply buying more green gems as currency to use on later turns. Puzzle Strike also features character chips based on the 10 characters in Sirlin’s Fantasy Strike universe that you’ll pick from at the beginning of the game, and each comes with three unique chips that you’ll add to your bag.

Puzzle Strike is a fast paced game that can be a ton of fun with that right people, but it suffers from one fundamental flaw that ends up breaking the entire experience. If you concentrate solely on buying purple chips, you’ll win every time. Believe me, my wife has proven this to me endlessly. I’m always inclined to play with a little strategy. “This chip would be good to do this, that to do that,” etc.. She, on the other hand, just steamrolls into town and spends every penny she has on crash and combine gems. And guess what? She’s unbeatable.

For a game that touts its well-balanced nature, this is a game-breaking flaw that just can’t be overlooked. After all – what fun is shopping for a variety of chips and picking from all sorts of different characters when no possible combination can survive in the face of purple domination?

It’s really a shame too, because without this problem, Puzzle Strike would be an easy game to recommend. It seems to have everything going for it – plenty of variety, quick play times, an element of strategy – but it all gets squashed by the purple monster at the table.
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Gregory Swarthout
United States
Tooele
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jimmycanuck wrote:
If you concentrate solely on buying purple chips, you’ll win every time.


This, unfortunately.

Greg
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Jean-Philippe Thériault
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The Purple Strategy is actually only good with a small subset of the characters. I'd be interested in knowing which character(s) your wife plays.

I also see this as a case of "if you buy only Provinces, you'll win everytime at Dominion".
 
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Ken B.
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XDarkAngelX wrote:
The Purple Strategy is actually only good with a small subset of the characters. I'd be interested in knowing which character(s) your wife plays.

I also see this as a case of "if you buy only Provinces, you'll win everytime at Dominion".


Of two players, one who plays purple + engine will more often defeat the player who solely buys purple.

Why? Consistency. Purple-only player will dead-end a hand of Combines when a Crash is needed to save. The engine player cycles chips faster, crashes and combines more often, and risks fewer dead hands.

Also; Gem Essence. Man, what a chip. Deck-thin, explosive actions, the heart of so many great combos.

Give it a little more time; don't buy a bunch of random puzzle chips. Only buy things with a purpose. You will need purple, of course. (As above--win Dominion by buying Provinces. Well...yeah. If you played Puzzle Fighter, and never crashed, well, you'd die.)

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Nat Li
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Agreed. Purple dOmination makes us stop playing. The hidden layer of effective non purple is just too obscure for the length of the game and the repetition ppl would be willing to play for any set of 10. And no, that dominion exampl is invalid.
 
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Malachi Brown
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Hermitage
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It's turtles all the way down.
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“Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself.”
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I think the Dominion strategy to compare this to is the "Silver Strategy".
 
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Alejandro Magno
Argentina
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I think a valid comparison is racing games.
In racing games, Manual is better than autoamtic, but automatic is a lot better if you dont know what you are doing.
In the same vein. Non purple strats are stronger, but if you dont know what you are doing you will lose yourself.
Buying a purple over the best chip that turn is a lot lesser mistake than buying the wrong non-purple chip that the best chip that turn.
Additionally a lot of turns the right chip to buy is a purple.

So, in the same way in a racing game between two beginners, the one with automatic will always win. In this game until the players know what they are doing , the one that just focus on purple will win everytime.

And as in a racing game once one of the players knows how to play with manual, then automatic becomes obsolote.
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