Last time I talked about the playmats and screens in the Puzzle Strike Upgrade Pack. Now for the new gameplay. There are 3 new chips, and 5 copies of each of those chips. There are also 15 blank chips, by the way.
The three new chips were pretty carefully chosen. First, the flagship chip, and the easiest one to explain:
Custom Combo is hilarious and awesome, and I hope it's self-explanatory. Do all the actions you want! You might recognize the name from the feature of Street Fighter Alpha 2 that lets you string a whole bunch of moves together really quickly.
In Puzzle Strike, you are usually action-constrained. That is, you usually have more actions available than you can actually play. It's much more true here than in Dominion becuase you start with three character chips in your deck in Puzzle Strike, so right off the bat you wish you could do it all. The hard decisions come from NOT being able to do it all, which means you have to choose which actions you'll play. But for the low, low cost of 7, you don't have to decide, you can just play it all! This chip is an orgasm of fun.
The other two chips can have a pretty big impact on how you play Puzzle Strike. The "purple chips" are the heart of the game, and you'll always be buying at least some of them (vaguely analgous to buying VP in Dominion, except more interactive). Anyway, with certain characters and certain banks, it can be a bit too hard to beat people who buy almost nothing but those purple chips. I'll talk more about that in my third post where we cover the character chips, but for now, two new chips open up the strategy space. Let's start with Combinatorics:
This is a pretty direct assault on the purple-only player, as his strategy will let you draw a ton of chips. Meanwhile, if you are building an engine (playing lots of brown chips per turn) or disruption (lots of red chips), then you'll be able to keep your Combinatorics on the table longer. So you're rewarded for playing some of the more interesting strategies while your opponent is punished for playing too one-dimensionally.
The third new chip is Dashing Strike:
Dashing Strike is sort of a magical thing with several subtle effects. In general, red chips (the attack chips) are good for disrupting your opponent, so that you pull ahead in the long run. Even when you use red chips, you still need to keep yourself from losing though. You still need a way to keep your pile height from getting critically high. Dashing Strike is a RED chip that helps you with that. Several other red chips chain into it because it has a red banner, and Dashing Strike itself chains into brown banner chips. This means having reds and browns in your deck helps, and having fewer purples than usual is ok, because Dashing Strike keeps your pile height down a bit.
There's more to it than that though. Dashing Strike increases an opponent's pile height in a way that isn't counter-crashable. This has a possibly counter-intuitive effect: it results in there being more counter-crashing. When opponents are filling up your pile in a way you can't react to with a counter-crash, it forces you to do regular crashes a bit more than you would. And those regular crashes are probably going to get counter-crashed. Note that Dashing Strike isn't adding any gems to the system (it removes one gem and adds one gem), and the counter-crashing is actually removing gems. It's also making it harder for people to build uncounterable 4-gems.
It's actually a very complicated system, so maybe it's best to just lay out the bottom line of the total effect of the last paragraph: the game goes a bit longer and it gives a wider variety of strategies a chance to materialize. You basically have more breathing room to try more things, while at the same time you can make decks with fewer purples and more reds/browns. Maybe you see why I said Dashing Strike is magical and has so many nuances. It's been a big hit with playtesters, so I hope you all enjoy it, too.
So that's it for the three new chips. Two chips that open up the strategy space and one that gives you what you always wanted. Next time, we'll talk about the changes to the character chips.