History of Four Minor Puzzle Strike Changes

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by skeller, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. skeller

    skeller Well-Known Member

    By Vivafringe

    Curious how some of your favorite Puzzle Strike chips came to be? In Hidden Gems, we explore the development history of various chips. This time we take a look at a number of .

    Up until now, I’ve covered huge, sweeping changes: massive reworks that shook the foundation of Puzzle Strike itself. Today, I’m doing something a bit different. Rather than cover the sweeping changes, I want to talk about some of the tiny polishes.

    1. Chips for Free


    Originally, Chips for Free cost 3 instead of 4. While at first this seems like it wouldn’t matter much, in this case the reduced cost made a massive difference. The key here was that you could use Chips for Free to upgrade :ps1gem: into more copies of Chips for Free! This effect caused things to get completely out of hand whenever it was in the same bank as Improvisation.


    The basic idea of this combo was to completely eliminate the :ps1gem:s from your deck. When Improvisation flipped more Improvisations and cyclers, the deck would explode, often drawing itself completely every turn!

    For a long time, Chips for Free remained untouched, because many loved the degenerate deck that resulted. But others hated the long, non-interactive turns, and reasoned that if games were this slow for online play, live games would most likely be absolutely atrocious. After the novelty wore off, players agreed that the combination needed to be toned down somehow. As it turns out, the solution was deceptively simple: Chips for Free was increased by 1, which crippled the combo’s speed.

    2. Color Panic

    For nearly the entire development cycle, Color Panic had this text:

    Color Panic (Red Fist): +:psred:. Choose a color: brown, purple, red, or blue. Each opponent reveals his hand, then discards a chip of that banner color if he can. If any can’t, +:psblack:.

    Color Panic is strong and certainly the most powerful 3 cost red chip. As I mentioned with Hundred Fist Frenzy, this is perfectly okay! However, also like old HFF, Color Panic was by far the best when played in multiples. The first Color Panic was a fun guessing game - you didn’t know what they had, so you had to make an educated guess and play the odds. However, your second Color Panic was often a no-brainer: with full info on what they had, you could usually the strip the best chip in their hand, or name a color they didn’t have for the +:psblack:. As a result, once you bought one, you usually wanted as many as possible!

    This led to a “first to three” dynamic similar to the old HFF. When both people went for them (and they were powerful enough that this was often the case), the person who got three tended to have a big advantage.

    Ultimately, the solution we decided on was subtle: rather than reveal a hand whether the opponent discarded a chip or not, the new Color Panic reveals chips only if they cannot discard the named color. This made chaining Color Panics less powerful, and had a nice side-benefit of increasing the number of fun “guessing games” that Color Panic caused.


    As it turns out, this new wording was so long that it only barely fit on the chip. Notice that the colors have been reordered from the standard order of brown, purple, red, blue to eke out just a bit more space!

    3. Really Annoying

    This chip has always lived up to its name. However, originally, it was more like Really Really Annoying. It had the following text:


    This chip has always been deceptively powerful for its cost. However, when Combine was changed to its :ps$-1: version, it’s power quietly got pushed over the top. Much like Argagarg, the mono-purpler who inexplicably got stronger after the change, the best counter to a Really Annoying strategy is to go heavy combines. After the change, this became much less feasible. Every Combine you purchased now made it harder to buy another one. With the natural counter weakened, players being assaulted by Really Annoying (particularly when used by demonic, up-to-no-good Setsuki players) usually just fell over dead.

    The solution we came up with was to make wounds go to your discard instead of your bag. This gave an extra shuffle before they started to hurt you.

    4. Chip Damage

    Our last chip is Chip Damage, formerly known as “Combo Practice.” I think the new name is just about perfect, but that’s not actually the tiny polish I’m talking about. See if you can spot the difference between the two:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The change is that putting a chip on your bag is now optional. Why even bother? This time, the reason had nothing to do with power.

    In one tournament game on fantasystrike.com, a player played Combo Practice with a wound that Argagarg had left in his discard. He said, "Oops, I forgot the effect was mandatory" and had to put the wound on top of his bag. Fair enough.

    But what if this had been a live tournament? He had 100% legitimately forgot about it; it's an easy thing to do. But this sounds like a really good opportunity for a slimy guy to take advantage of and "forget" to activate it. Also, in casual games people were misplaying this chip all the time. For some reason it's just an easy thing to forget.

    As a result, the “may” clause was added to prevent forgetful players from causing rules nightmares.

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  2. Lofobal

    Lofobal Well-Known Member

    I get what this is saying, but it could be worded better.
    zem, Turbo164 and vivafringe like this.
  3. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

  4. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    I just think Chip Damage needed a slight buff to compete with Color Panic and it also struck me that there's no good reason to MAKE the player put a chip from discard onto bag if he doesn't want to. I didn't consider cases where people were intentionally or unintentionally forgetting.
  5. Star Slayer

    Star Slayer Well-Known Member

    It is amazing what an improvement the Color Panic change was. It single-handedly turned the chip from an oppressive race to get three or four first to a realy fun yet still powerful chip. I also never noticed the "wrong order" of colors before.
  6. Turbo164

    Turbo164 Well-Known Member

    How big of a factor was Double Take in the CFF nerf? Or was it just Improv?
  7. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    IIRC everyone thought Setsuki was mid-tier at that point (no, seriously!). So I think the main factor was Improv.
  8. rabid_schnauzer

    rabid_schnauzer Well-Known Member

    I seem to recall that both myself and Aesa regarded Setsuki as nigh-unbeatable in a cost 3 CFF pool. The odds of ending up with a pair of CFFs and a :ps4gem: inside the first three turns, and the way multiple CFFs and Double-take made her engine practically immune to any form of disruption were pretty unbalanced.

    Likewise, seem to I recall that the changes to Really Annoying had rather a lot to do with tweaks to Arg's Hex of Murkwood. When Hex caused an opponent to ante for each wound in their discard it was thought that placing wounds directly into discard gave him too quick a finishing move. When Hex stopped caring about wounds in discard, there was less reason not to use the shorter and simpler wording of "gains a wound" over "places a wound in his bag".
  9. Star Slayer

    Star Slayer Well-Known Member

    Chips for Free is still pretty good with Setsuki, even at 4. You may have a starting hand that has less than 4 gem power though, while it was super rare to get one that had less than 3.

    I think the main reason that Really Annoying got a cycle slower (by not putting wounds directly into the bag) is that wounds were way better than we initially thought. At least that's what Sirlin said during the development of Third Edition. And I have to agree: RA is still very good. The slower impact of the wounds makes it a little bit more bearable. I think that this also played a huge part in the late nerfing of Hex of Murkwood, where Sirlin said that it had to give less than a wound on average, because giving a wound 100% of the time would be too powerful.
  10. Fry

    Fry Well-Known Member

    I recall I had to argue pretty hard to get Chips for Free cost increase from 3 to 4. The problem wasn't just Improvisation; CFF was also (and still is) ridiculous with Custom Combo and X-copy. All your 1s become CFF, CFF your other CFFs into [3]s or Crash Gems, then either buy Custom Combo/X-copy outright or upgrade a [3]/Crash into it. Draw your whole deck every turn, increase the value of chips in your deck by 8-10 every turn, quickly get up to playing multiple doublecrashes every turn... not being able to upgrade [1]s into CFF slows down the silly strategy quite a lot, while not hurting "fair" plays nearly as much.
  11. ApolloAndy

    ApolloAndy Well-Known Member

    CFF is still quite strong at $4. Being able upgrade your crash into a 4-gem early is a huge boost.
  12. Star Slayer

    Star Slayer Well-Known Member

    It is a great chip. It just isn't a potentially broken chip anymore. Being so good that you would often buy it over a Combine without being broken is a great place for a 4 cost puzzle chip to be. This was imo the main problem with the first edition of Puzzle Strike: Not only had Combine no drawback back then, but there where also almost no universally useful 4 cost puzzle chips that would have offered an alternative to simply buying a Combine when you had 4 gem power.
  13. Archon Shiva

    Archon Shiva Well-Known Member

    A lot of chips are potentially broken; the important part is that they require more than the generic bank chips or a character chip to be so, which was the problem that led to most grievous fixes.
  14. dustman

    dustman Member

    I loved theese articles, why did they stop?
  15. Bob199

    Bob199 Well-Known Member

    Skeller was in charge of front page articles and became really busy. If somebody else wanted to step up to help out, I'm sure it would be appreciated.
  16. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Well, a bigger issue is that both Rabid_Schnauzer and I got busy (it was around Christmas time). I haven't actually written about everything I want to yet, so I might write some more of these when I have more time.
    Inkstud, FimPhym and Lofobal like this.
  17. rabid_schnauzer

    rabid_schnauzer Well-Known Member

    And if appreciation paid my bills I would gladly have taken over Skellar's role two months back. Here in the real world I have to put in overtime in a manual labor job to do that. Therefore I am better off treating this sort of thing as recreation which I can approach as I have time and motivation instead of having to maintain a regular update schedule and fight through the occasional personality conflict with the guy what owns this site.

    I'll do more PS strategy articles whenever the Shadows characters enter the free rotation. And if nobody else steps up in the next month, I'll be very strongly weighing my schedule issues against just how very badly the games and site need to have regular updates for the month or three following the UI upgrade.
    Plum and Inkstud like this.
  18. variable

    variable Member

    That's really interestin'! I didn't realize the development history of suchthings, or the previous power level of them. :eek: I've been jamming games against Yomibot Lum with a stacked bank at the ready over the past few days to check this out and I've found that this strategy remains pretty powerful and scarily consistent. (Mostly a result of my bank, which has a bunch of great tools in it... Training Day, Chips for Free, Improvisation, Custom Combo, The Hammer... But playing as Grave helps too, I think!! Also bots.plz.) Might be tougher to assemble against non-:clum:s, but, still, it's ridiculously fun!!
  19. Fry

    Fry Well-Known Member

    Yeah, if you have Training Day to help bridge the gap between 1-gems and Chips For Free/Improvisation that helps a ton, particularly because Training Day, more than other 2 or 3 cost chips, is useful for helping you develop your combo.
    variable likes this.

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