Puzzle Strike Sale
First up, Puzzle Strike is on sale for $10 off during December only. The combo with base game + upgrade pack is also $10 off in December. There's also some new stuff you can try in Puzzle Strike, but let me tell you about Flash Duel first.
Flash Duel Previews
Here's the first preview I've seen of the game so far. Pretty positive! He mentions that even those who have Flash Duel 1 should "nab" the 2nd Edition. Well yes, because this is an expansion with 10 new characters. It just so happens that this expansion also contains a second expansion with the Raid on Deathstrike Dragon...and a rework of the base game too...all mysteriously the same price. If anything, I might have goofed up on this $35 price point being too low. Maybe I'll have to raise that later. I just really wanted to give everyone a cheap entry point into the Fantasy Strike universe that actually had all 20 characters.
Here's another kind of preview for you. I put up the card images of the base 10 characters plus the enormous Dragon cards here. The other 10 characters will be revealed a bit later. Man, those Dragon cards are sexy.
Ok back to Puzzle Strike. I'm testing out some stuff out for the full expansion of Puzzle Strike. You can actually try these things out right now though, with the base set. These aren't official features yet, so there might be problems, but these things probably work pretty well. Feel free to try them out and report back how it went!
New Rule: PANIC TIME
This rule increases the size of the ante as the game goes on. It will have a relatively small effect on most games played by experts, but it will have an enormous effect (to prevent overly long games) on games by new players.
In a 2-player game, the first moment there are two empty stacks in the bank, Panic Time is activated and everyone must ante 2-gems from then on. Even if bank stacks get filled back up from trashing, the game does not return to Normal Time. The first moment there are three simultaneously empty bank stacks, Danger Time is activated and everyone antes 3-gems. The first time four stacks are empty, Deadly Time is activated and everyone must ante 4-gems. Note that if you would ever ante a certain kind of gem that the bank is out of, you must ante it anyway with a stand-in gem of some sort.
For games with 3 or 4 players, the same sort of thing happens. The number of empty stacks needed to activate Panic Time is actually X, where X is the number of players left in the game. X+1, and X+2 empty stacks are when Danger Time and Deadly Time activate. This means in a 4p game, 4 empty stacks will activate Panic Time (ante 2-gems), but once one player is eliminated, there will only be 3 players left and only 3 empty stacks are needed to activate Panic Time at that point. This (combined with the standard rule for Overflow) means that once a player is eliminated, the game is likely to end very soon, so the eliminated player won't be waiting long, if at all.
Midori's Dragon Form is revised to say "Ante a (gem) 1 bigger each turn or discard this chip..."
New Mode: 2 vs. 2 Team Battle Mode!
Teammates share a (normal sized) gem pile, but do not share other resources. Each player has his own hand, bag, and discard pile as usual. If you get +arrow or +$1 or whatever, that goes to you only, not shared with your teammate. Anything that says "you" in the game means "you," so having a Hundred-Fist Frenzy on the table doesn't let your teammate activate it, only you.
Teammates share their action phase. You can each play your actions in any order, so maybe you play roundhouse (and draw from it), then your teammate plays something, then you use Roundhouse's +arrow to play something else.
Teammates share their buy phase. You can make your buys in any order.
Your attacks cannot affect your teammate, but effects that say "all opponents" do hurt both opposing players. The only exception is anything of the form "Each opponent does something to his gem pile" only affects the enemy gem pile one time not two times. (Sneak Attack, Mix-Master, Burning Vigor, and Hex of Murkwood are examples.) If a chip says "next opponent" then you can choose which of your two opponents it hits.
Blue shields operate as usual. You can blue shield a fist that affects you and you can't blue shield one that doesn't. So you can't "save" your teammate with a blue shield on an attack that would only hit him, but in practice blue shields still usually work because you'll often be affected as well. If you become immune to one of those things like Sneak Attack in the previous paragraph, your team's gem pile is safe.
When the opposing team sends gems to your gem pile, you and your teammate can each counter-crash. (I think one of you can, not both. Only one reaction per "event.")
This cooperative, no-elimination way of playing 4-player Puzzle Strike hopefully opens up new doors for those interested in 4p. Maybe especially fun for a girlfriend and boyfriend to team up. ;)