A few months ago, I stumbled upon a "little" game called Puzzle Strike. I really enjoyed Puzzle Strike, and so I wrote very kind things about it. Because of this, I had the opportunity to try out Puzzle Strike (3rd Edition). Since, as I just mentioned, I've already written about the Second Edition of the game, I'm going to assume that you're familiar with the basics. If not, I'd encourage you to read my original Puzzle Strike Review, since in this one I'll really only cover the major changes between the two editions.
First and foremost - the majority of the chips have changed. There are a few reasons for this. Some of them have minor tweaks to make their text more clear in some of the new game modes. Some of the chips were overpowered and have been made slightly worse to balance the gameplay. Others have been re-costed. Some have had one of their abilities altered. But, of these changes, there are two that are most noticeable: Combine and Argagarg/Rook character chips. In the second edition of Puzzle Strike, Combine allowed you to combine two of your chips, take another action and gain a dollar! This chip was awesome! In the third edition, it allows you to combine two chips, take another action, but you lose a dollar. This chip is still very strong (and, if you ignore it because of the -$1, your games might drag on a bit), but at least it's balanced enough that you have to think about whether it is worth playing, instead of being an automatic buy and automatic play. On the character side of things, Argagarg and Rook were generally agreed to be the most powerful choices in the previous edition. Which is unfortunate, as you really want the characters to be all different but equal. So, because of this, their chips have been altered to give them the same feel and general abilities, but not give the person using them a major advantage. As an example - Rook's "Stone Wall" chip previous reflected all gems back to the opponent that sent them (awesome), but now reflects them to the bank (useful, but less awesome).
|Argagarg has a new makeover|
Speaking of rule variants, they are one of the other changes to third edition. To me, these are really just nice bonuses to try out once you get tired of the basic game, but it is always nice for games to include new ways of playing that can keep the replayability fresh through extra gameplay. The gameplay variants in third edition include: 2x2 team play, free for all, custom clockwork mode, and tournament rules. Most of these modes are roughly what you would expect if you've played other Sirlin games (such as "custom clockwork" means create your own character), and it's also worth noting that the tournament recommends using the two-player game (to avoid what I mentioned in the previous paragraph about the person who plays the best not necessarily winning). But, the one that I found most interesting was that in the free for all mode, anyone can counter-crash. So, if someone is attacking the weakest player, and is about to knock them out of the game, then one of the other players can jump in and protect them! A very interesting dynamic, though it would also slow the game down, as it is regularly pulling gems out of player piles, whereas you want to put more gems into player piles for a fast game. (And, at this point, I feel that I should admit something. I can't absolutely guarantee that we played the 3-4 player basic game correctly. It was unclear to me in the rules whether the basic rules that I read were for 2-4 players, and that free for all mode was supposed to be an optional variant when you had 3-4 players, or if the basic rules were for 2 players, and free for all was the were the basic rules for 3-4 players.)
|Rook is also a bit weaker|
Overall, I give Puzzle Strike (Third Edition) a 9.0/10. Why? Well, because I gave Puzzle Strike (Second Edition) a 9.0, and I would recommend this game equally highly as the last one. I feel that, though the game has undergone some minor surgeries, the skeleton is still the same. If you are deciding between buying one of the previous editions and this one, then I would encourage you to go ahead and buy the latest. However, if you are deciding whether you want to upgrade, I think the main reason to upgrade would be if you are bothered by the balance of your previous game. And, as a note, both editions should be compatible with the Shadows expansion.
If you like Puzzle Strike, you might also check out Flash Duel, Thunderstone, and Yomi.
I would like to thank Sirlin Games for providing me with a review copy of Puzzle Strike: Third Edition.