Saturday, January 29, 2011

Puzzle Strike, baby!!!

Hey Geekshelfers!  Lately, I've been having a TON of fun playing a game called Puzzle Strike.  It's a game inspired by the card game, Dominion and one of my all time favorite video games:  Puzzle Fighter.  Let's take a look at what you get inside the box, shall we?  
As you can see from the box cover, the game is played with round, cardboard, poker-style chips instead of cards and the object of the game is to crash gems and send them to your opponent.  You can choose to play as 10 different characters (as seen below), each with their own innate abilities!
Puzzle Strike's cast of characters!  Great art!
After choosing a character, you get 3 unique chips exclusive ONLY to that character.  It gives you a slight advantage and basically allows you to either have more actions, draw extra chips, add more money to your hand, and bend the rules of the game a little bit.  Here you can see my character (Jaina's) chips in red and Joy's character (Grave's) chips in light blue.
Jaina and Grave's character chips!
The turn structure is fairly simple: 1)You draw a handful of chips, 2) play a chip, 3)buy one or more chips and 4)Discard your hand then draw more chips from your bag.

However,  the truly fun part of the game is crashing gems and sending them to your opponent!  Just like Puzzle Fighter, you can counter-crash your own gems to prevent more gems from piling onto your side of the board.

Be careful, though because if you ever have 10 gems in your pile, its game over!  The brilliant design of this game, though is that the more gems in your pile, the more chips you draw from your bag, essentially making you more dangerous as you come close to dying!

Let's look at this example of gem crashing:

First of all you can see that I've got a 2 gem and a 1 gem which I've then combined into a "3" gem using the purple "combine" chip.  Next, I used a purple "Crash!" gem to destroy that "3" and send 3 "1" gems over to my opponent!
Gem crashing goodness!
 Do this enough and you can flood your opponent with gems!  Another thing you must do on your turn is "buy" one or more chips.  Gems in your hand count as "money" with which you can buy action chips.  Action chips allow you to harm your opponent or help you in different ways.

This chip, for example, costs 3 gems (remember, gems in your hand are considered "money")  and allows you to draw 3 more chips when played.  Very helpful, indeed!
 This "Knockdown" chip can be bought for 2 and forces your opponent to discard their largest gem amount (money!) and gives you an extra red action (that's what the red arrow means!)

If you can't buy anything, though, you MUST take a wound chip (seen below) which essentially clogs up your "deck".
These wound chips are annoying since they clog up your "deck"
 Late in the game, my gem pile had grown to a stack of 8.  I'm in trouble!  Joy looks over with a smug smile on her face and crashes a "4" gem!
my pile of 8 gems....
 The thing with "4" gems is that you CAN'T COUNTER them!  So in this case, I ended up losing the game because I couldn't crash my own gems to negate those 4 sending me over the limit of 10.  Tense, huh?!
Joy crashes a "4" gem and sends it over to me to win!
 Anyway, this game comes from me with the highest praise!  I own Dominion and was never too keen on it.  It always seemed like it lacked any theme and I was just buying estate cards and victory points.

Puzzle Strike solves that problem with the brilliant gem crashing mechanic that keeps you invested in the game even when it's the other player's turn.  Dominion isn't a bad game by any means but I may no longer play it now that I own Puzzle Strike.
wonderful component tray and chip bags!
Other upsides:  It's got TONS of player interaction, relatively short playtime, literally THOUSANDS of starting variations and a wonderful insert that keeps all the chips in place even if you turn the box upside down!  I haven't played with the 3 to 4 player variation but it is there for those who are looking to have a slugfest with their friends.

Get this one played, people!  You'll thank me for it!

For more information on Puzzle Strike:  Bag of Chips, visit:


  1. Hey Chris! I've never heard of this game though I'm a big fan of Dominion. Looks like real fun. Thank you for the recommendation and please keep always this sweet geeky blog up. Cheers!

  2. Hey Andre! If you love Dominion, you owe it to yourself to play Puzzle strike. I guarantee, you'll LOVE it! Cheers brother!