Today's review is of the latest game in the Fantasy Strike realm - Puzzle Strike: Shadows.
Puzzle Strike: Shadows is basically the exact same game as Puzzle Strike (3rd Edition). If there were any rule changes, then I missed them completely. Essentially, Shadows is what you would get if you loved Puzzle Strike and hated all of the chips - so you threw them out (including characters) and replaced them. But kept everything else the same. And, well, I've already reviewed Puzzle Strike. (If you missed it, here is a link to my Puzzle Strike 3rd Edition Review.) I also don't really feel like telling you the exact same thing that I've told you before. And yet, the fine people at Sirlin Games sent me this shiny box and asked me to write something about it. Where does that leave us? Well, I suppose it means that I should talk a bit about some of the chips that I thought were interesting.
The first chips I will cover are character chips. Specifically Gwen's chips. To me, Gwen is the most unique character that I have seen in the Puzzle Strike chip set. Why? Because she punishes you for playing her! One of Gwen's chips is "Shadow Plague." Shadow Plague gives you a wound every time that you discard it (such as at the end of your turn - or if someone forces you to discard a chip). You can only get around this by spending an action. The other chips that Gwen has are much better. (And rightfully so! Otherwise nobody would ever purposely use Gwen.) One of them gives you an extra action, chip, and attack action (so you net an attack action), and the other gives you an extra brown action, two chips, and lets you force all of your opponents to discard a chip. Overall, Gwen is interesting, but I think that it takes an experienced player to actually use her well (which I am not - I did not do well when I played with her).
|Gwen and Menelker|
The third character I will mention is Quince. Quince's chips are really fairly unique. The first one is an ongoing chip, and it gives you an extra action and piggy-bank every turn. However, you must discard it at the start of your action phase if you have an odd number of chips. It's really interesting to see how long a player can keep this chip alive. His next chip allows him to pull two chips from his discard pile and show them to another player - who then gets to pick which one he can keep in his hand. And, Quince is allowed to play the newly scavenged chip this turn. So, you can try to force players to select your preferred chip by doing things like showing them a nasty attack and your desired chip - and assume they'll select the one that doesn't hurt them. Quince's final chip is another ongoing. If Quince's gem pile totals at least three, then no player is allowed to buy a chip that costs more than the total of their gem pile. This chip can grow very annoying; unless you're not doing well, in which case it hardly affects you!
|Some fun puzzle chips|
The last two chips that I will mention are both attacks. One is "Color Panic" and the other is "Just a Scratch." Color Panic is a fun one - it gives you an extra attack, and it allows you to name a color, and force every other player to discard a chip of that color if they can. If any of them can't, then you get an extra action. Nice. Just a Scratch gives you options. Either you can give each opponent a wound, or you can trash a wound from your hand or discard pile and play another attack. The second option is nice, because if your opponents are all jerks and play Just a Scratch, then you'll need to discard wounds. Of course, you can try to persuade them when you buy the chip that it's just to cleanup your bag, not to attack them; who knows, they might even believe you.
With all that said, I give Puzzle Strike: Shadows an 8.5/10. Like I said, it's the same as Puzzle Strike. However, I like the basic Puzzle Strike chip set slightly better than this one (hence the slightly lower score). If you love Puzzle Strike, then picking up Shadows should be an obvious choice. If you're interested in Puzzle Strike and aren't sure which set you should buy, I'd encourage you to buy the basic set first - but part of that is because I think that everyone should have to carry around the giant bright pink box that it comes in.
If Puzzle Strike: Shadows sounds interesting, you might also check out Nightfall, Thunderstone, and Pixel Lincoln.
I would like to thank Sirlin Games for providing me with a review copy of Puzzle Strike: Shadows.