Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-4
Amount of time to play: 20-30 min
Age requirements: 8+
Set-up time: 5-10 minutes
Puzzle Strike is a chip-building game similar to most deck-building games. The difference is that you buy chips that go into a bag you draw from instead of using cards and a deck.
If you are not familiar with this game, read my original Puzzle Strike review. It describes the basic rules and mechanics. The rest of this post will be about the changes in the Third Edition of the game.
The biggest change is new character chips. The characters are much more balanced than in previous editions. The weaker ones have been upgraded while those that were overpowered have been scaled back. The changes are not so dramatic that the characters have been reinvented either. There have just been some tweaks in the power of their abilities.
The next balancing act is in the puzzle chips. Many have been changed to allow for more strategic play and to be more powerful than before. Some of the changes are merely text changes for easier understanding but some have had their cost changed for more balance.
The Combine chip has been reined in a bit. This chip allows you to combine two chips and take another action. If you can string a few of these together you are going to be crashing your opponent hard. In the third edition you must lose $1 to use combine so again while not totally different it is not as easy to use and powerful.
The new For-for-all Mode allows you to crash any opponent not just the one on your left. This creates a new dynamic of ganging up on the leader. The game is also no longer a last-man standing event. It ends once any player has ten chips. The player with the least chips in their stack at the end wins.
Another rule change is Panic Time. This helps to keep game from taking too long. Once a certain number of stacks (based on the number of players) in the supply are empty you must ante more.
The third edition of Puzzle Strike is not drastically different from the second. There are tweaks that help balance the game, but no major rules overhauls.
The rules and components are top-notch just like the previous editions.
I really like the new characters. I think they were too imbalanced before and some games would be decided solely on character choice. Now things are much better and the playing field is more level.
The new puzzle chips are nice too. Before you could do very well buying mostly purple chips and relying on your character abilities. Now there is more of a reason to buy more chips from the supply. It is cool having so many chips and cooler to use more of them.
I am torn on the new Free-for-all mode. I like being able to interact with more players, but am not wild about the gang up on the leader mechanic or possible kingmaker one either.
If you do not own a previous version of Puzzle Strike and are thinking of getting a version go for the third edition. If you have the second edition, play it a lot and the character balance bothers you, you should get the update. If you have the second edition and play it sparingly or the balance issues don’t bother you, you may want to stick with what you have. You can adopt some of the newer rules with any edition of the game.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 3 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 5 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 3 out of 6
Fun 4 out of 6
Overall 4 out of 6