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Puzzle Strike Winter Series

Just because I don’t attempt a play doesn’t mean it’s the wrong play. Re-randoming the bank would have been reasonable, and the decision to do otherwise was partly risk aversion.

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Game 1: Our strategies were about as different as possible from each other. I did a very focused combine rush, where every single buy was either a combine or a wound. Acrata bought an early One True Style and attempted to build off it as a fork, buying exclusively puzzle chips, and never more than one each.

The game ended on the first 4-crash. Acrata had somewhat better than a 50-50 of getting out of it thanks to Living on the Edge. I was, in retrospect, not quite as ALL IN as I thought at the time; Acrata couldn’t send more than 2 at a time, so I’d probably have time for a second swing.

Game 2: Acrata’s build this game was about 60% Dashing Strike by weight. This time, I tried to use knockdowns, but they never lined up properly for more than a 1-crash. My fourth-cycle draw was disastrous: One True Style and Unstable Power in the first hand with no washer, and when I declined to Unstable Power for 2 into a known countercrash, my third hand had both my crash and all the washers, while Acrata drew enough support with the crash (One True Style, Dashing Strike and a washer) to score a knockout.

Acrata had terrible Jackpot luck throughout the series, but not the one time it counted most: washing a Dashing Strike into a Crash while at ten pile.

Counterpick: Dashing Strike -> Just a Scratch. I tried to get double value off this counterpick, nullifying Acrata’s counter pick to leave us in the same overall matchup as game 1, while swapping in a chip that I planned to use with Setsuki off my second counterpick.

Game 3: Acrata did a combine rush this time, substituting a One True Style. My draws didn’t line up buy my own combine until turn 5. I survived Acrata’s first strike with Unstable Power, earning a ~25% chance to kill in the process, but Acrata drew a Crash off Chips for Free to survive, then knocked me out with a Recklessness-powered multi crash for 5, exactly enough to kill, on the following turn.

Counterpick: Switch to Setsuki, as planned.

Game 4: I got the worst possible opener here. I intended to Double Take Just a Scratch but went second without a draw that could Double Take on the first cycle. As a result of that and Panda’s Bargain, Acrata got to redraw twice before the wounds hit, a very slow start for any wounding strategy. Still, I inflicted 5 wounds by 5 and transitioned into a somewhat defensive engine build.

Meanwhile, Acrata did some light pressure off knockdown, One True Style and a second crash gem, and raced me for the third One of each.

The wheels fell off for me on turn 9, where I used Speed of the Fox -> Draw Three -> One of Each through most of my deck but bottom bagged both crashes, and finally drew one off Bag of Tricks when I could no longer play it. I lost next turn from One True Style -> knockdown + One of Each -> two Crashes, putting me to 14 pile; I had Speed of the Fox and adequate washers but didn’t redraw the second crash.

This was horribly unlucky (<15% chance), but it was also a blunder. I would’ve survived if I’d played Draw Three before the One of Each, since I would have drawn into the Bag of Tricks and played it first. I also should’ve considered pigging the crash gem to make it more likely that I’d draw into everything I’d need to crash twice from Speed of the Fox.

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Zeromh vs Zak, match report

Bank:
Risky Move
Money for Nothing
Now or Later
Repeated Jabs
Color Panic
Dashing Strike
Hundred-Fist Frenzy
Improvisation
Iron Defense
Axe Kick

Bank analysis:
This bank has an unusual color-flow. While the bank has strong browns, and strong chips with brown arrows, it has no way to wash the brown arrows. Conversely, Color Panic, Dashing Strike, Improvisation (effectively) and Combine provide ways to wash all the other colors. That means Dashing Strike/Axe Kick are quite strong on Maximum Anarchy turns and quite weak otherwise.

Iron defense is the most impactful single buy here; for Midori, it allows him to collect crashes with his Dragon Form up and evade the Potato, and for Zane it fuels Crash Bombs. However, there’s also a strong HFF package - with no brown-washers, HFF is by far the best use of Dashing Strike’s arrow - that either character can opt into, and the possibility of an endgame Improvisation engine.

Game 1:
Both players let the draws dictate their strategies, amplified by by Maximum Anarchy. Zak bought a :ps3gem: on turn 1 and Anarchied into it on turn 2 to buy an Axe Kick. The Anarchy denied the option to play a first cycle Dragon Form, so zeromh bought a combine and a crash before slamming the Dragon Form. Zeromh preserved Dragon Form for the rest of the game and used Iron Defense to maintain pressure.

Zak turtled pretty hard with just character chips and a Dashing Strike for defense while building an Axe Kick engine. This fell apart catastrophically because Maximum Anarchy let zeromh stock Iron Defense :pscrash:s and multicrash while lack of Anarchy left no way to play pile control after an Axe Kick.

Counterpick: Iron Defense -> Knockdown. While Iron Defense is almost as good for Zane as for Midori, Zak wasn’t using it well so out it goes. Knockdown pushes the bank even further towards reds, but a larger relative boost for non-HFF Color Panic builds. Raw, it’s more useful for Zane than Midori, since the KD effect is redundant with Dragon Form.

Game 2:
The players got the exact same opening hands, but this time Zak chose to potato zeromh’s turn 1 crash buy rather than play Anarchy on turn 2. The ensuing potato war kept Dragon Form out of play for a while. But Zak kept turtling with Crash Bombs, and rebuying the crashes slowed his midgame. He made up for it with a trio of 8 double-buys - there wasn't quite enough in the deck to have a high chance of hitting $9. But in the meantime Rigorous Training was always active and grabbed a couple of extra :pscrash:s. So when Dragon Form finally stuck, zeromh had all the firepower necessary to end the game even though Zak had been turtling.

It’s worth noting that the immediate cause of Zak’s loss was not being able to wash a Dashing Strike into a Crash Gem.

Counterpick: Zane -> DeGrey. I think DeGrey is too slow and arrow-hungry to operate in this bank. The only rationale I can see here is that perhaps Zak intends to start a Color Panic lock or Improvisation engine ASAP. Midori gets two counterpicks, though, and can knock out both options if they each work once.

Game 3: Zak opened all-in on Dashing Strike, buying two and even playing it over Pilebunker at 1 pile! Zeromh chose to delay Dragon Form until turn 4 to buy two :psorb:s, and spiced up the pressure with Color Panics.

Zeromh had a fairly strong midgame plan, using Rigorous Training to set up an Improvisation engine while continuing the Dragon Form pressure, and bought 2xKnockdown as emergency washers. Zak’s midgame was defective; he purged almost all his :ps1gem:s without buying any :ps2gem:s and could not further improve his deck. Meanwhile, he lacked the forks or washers to actually take advantage of the improved action density. With the tempo firmly in Dragon Form Midori’s control, it was zeromh’s game to lose and he didn’t.

In retrospect, it looks like the entire point of the :chibidegrey: counterpick was to use No More Lies as a washer between Dashing Strikes, a poor tradeoff for Zane’s innate defense. A character like Grave or Valerie would’ve achieved the same but with more economic support and with two reliable washers.

As a whole, it looks like zeromh won primarily because zak didn’t adjust his valuation of Dashing Strike and Axe Kick in light of the bank’s unusual color-flow.

qauz 3 - 2 petE

:chibiargagarg: :pscrash: :pschip: :chibirook:
:chibiargagarg: :pscrash: :pschip: :chibigrave:
:chibiargagarg: :pschip: :pscrash: :chibigrave:
:chibisetsuki: :pschip: :pscrash: :chibigrave:
:chibisetsuki: :pscrash: :pschip: :chibigrave:

Bank:
Bang then Fizzle
Money for Nothing
Sale Prices
Draw Three
One True Style
Chips for Free
Hundred Fist Frenzy
Signature Move
Roundhouse
Custom Combo

Game 1: Engine duel! Mass roundhouse from PetE vs. Custom Combo+Draw 3s from Quaz. Quaz also bought an unsupported Hundred Fist Frenzy, playing it as a rider to Custom Combo, that PetE highly prioritized getting rid of - even at the cost of not playing three Roundhouses and at least a Crash Gem on his second to last turn. Quaz chucked a :ps2gem: immediately afterwards for the win into PetE’s bottom-bagged, brand new DCG, an outcome that would’ve been impossible had the Roundhouses been played.

PetE: “Oops”

Counterpick: Rook -> Grave, a superior Custom Combo user

Game 2: PetE executed a turn 3 DCG rush, assisted by Bang then Fizzle, and proceeded to build towards a hybrid roundhouse/Custom Combo engine. Quaz did a basic One True Style+Combine threat to cause a Fizzle, losing a cycle to Argagarg’s poor starting economy but gaining one turn of that back with Draw Three. Argagarg never really got an engine together, but the wounds made Pete dependent on his draw to maintain an acceptable cycling speed.

Pete had an unfortunate turn where, with a DCG in hand, he elected to Versatile Style in pig mode and play a terminal Chips for Free. He drew Custom Combo and Roundhouse off it, knocking his engine offline for a cycle right before Quaz’s next 4-crash landed. The pigged DCG saved him for a turn, but he lost the turn after with no crash-power in sight.

Quaz: “You probably needed… 1 more turn. I was running out of ammo”

Counterpick: Hundred Fist Frenzy out, Axe Kick in.

This counterpick plays into PetE’s style more-so than the matchup in abstract; HFF won game 1 more because it frightened him than because it was strong, and Axe Kick promotes the Roundhouse-style engine over the CC/D3 engine.

Game 3:
PetE again used Bang then Fizzle to reach an early DCG. This time, though, quaz declined to even threaten a 4-crash to knock him into Fizzle and instead started engine building. Quaz entered the midgame by buying a couple of extra crashes, while petE filled in the pieces of the hybrid engine.

The late-game was truly bizarre; petE, with the superior engine, thoroughly defended the BtFs by crashing down to 0 whenever possible while accumulating wounds; quaz built :ps4gem:s but only crashed small ones, even when there were two :ps4gem:s sitting around, and most of petE’s purple power was being wasted due to a total lack of ammunition. The :ps4gem:-hoarding proved fatal, as it only took the inevitable one turn without a crash in hand for quaz to keel over.

counterpick: Argagarg -> Setsuki, the ace of engines in this bank.

Game 4:
Grave hit the nut BtF draw for another turn 3 DCG, Setsuki Double Took Sale Prices for X and Signature Move, and they both launched into an engine-heavy midgame. Grave used Rigorous Training to ladder starting :ps1gems: into Axe Kicks, while Setsuki used Chips for Free to turn them into Sale Prices and Double Take them. Quaz took longer to buy a gem economy, though so PetE got a large head start on the consistent Axe Kick and Roundhouse purchases and Quaz was somewhat washer-starved throughout the midgame.

The endgame started from Panic Time off Roundhouse and Axe Kick - Grave had trained away the Bang then Fizzle - where Grave had more engine chips but Setsuki had a much smaller deck. The extra antes unlocked PetE’s pent-up :pscrash: collection, and Quaz crumpled within a few turns.

Counterpick: Random bank!
Risky Move
Repeated Jabs
Gem Essence
Dashing Strike
Mix Master
Ouch!
Roundhouse
X-Copy
Custom Combo
!Master Puzzler!
Risky Move hands Setsuki the hottest start, and although there are high-end engine chips, Master Puzzler trumps them all.

Game 5:
Quaz did the expected DT Risky and snagged a turn 3 DCG. PetE followed the Risky buy, and both players started collecting Roundhouses. PetE also acquired his own DCG at about the same time Quaz bought an X-Copy, but both piles were high due to rampant Risky Moves, and Quaz’s X-Copied DCG caught PetE with shields down although it would’ve overpowered a mere Reversal or single Crash anyway.

Game 6:
They played an unofficial follow-up where they both raced for Master Puzzler and Setsuki won by a turn. Quaz showed off a rare Master Puzzler trick by playing Repeated Jabs off the Master Puzzler and putting it on the top of the bag, then drawing into it and X-Copying it.

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Glad you caught my MP trick :psfist: :psfist: :psfist:

Thanks for the great analysis @Bucky.
And good point on the game1 HFF that was not immediately threatening enough to justify passing to discard.

@MarkRMichaels conceded his match against me due to scheduling issues

What do you think the odds would be in a game 5 if I undo this swap, putting Dashing Strike back in?

As a reminder, standard tournament rules don’t allow you to bring back a chip that’s been swapped out (unless, of course, you re-randomize the bank).

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We aren’t using standard tournament rules here. We’re using rules that happen to closely resemble them.

Which means I would’ve needed to take that into account. I think I would’ve been okay, using Chips for Free to quickly set up. I could either go over the top economically, aiming for Double Crashes and Degenerate Trasher, or support a rush build with Double Takes on One True Style and Dashing Strike.

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I actually didn’t know that was part of standard rules since I am largely figuring this out as I go, though it does make sense as you’re essentially banning a chip and choosing a replacement.

Ouch, @qauz over @acrata 3-0 (Onimaru over Lum all 3). I’ll write some notes in a minute

Starting bank

Risky Move
Secret Move
Thinking Ahead
Training Day
One True Style
Sneak Attack
Combinatorics
Hundred-Fist Frenzy
Signature Move
It’s Combo Time

First counterpick: Signature Move -> Dashing Strike
Second counterpick: Risky Move -> Punch Punch Kick

I honestly don’t really know why I lost, but here are some thoughts:

  • I bungled the One True Style - HFF - Sneak Attack - Training Day synergy several times, just in playing my chips in the wrong order, missing quite a few HFF crashes. I didn’t realize how strong the combos in the bank were until game 3.
  • It occurs to me now that this bank is super good for Oni’s Wartime Tactics; maybe I should have removed One True Style and put in a good 5-cost.
  • I never had enough crashes so either I needed to buy a crash or play HFF better.

I also lost a fourth, exhibition game (no counterpick beforehand).

veganBoyd vs Bucky

3-2
:chibigeiger: :knockdown: :psfist: :chibimidori:
:chibilum: :psfist: :knockdown: :chibimidori:
:chibilum: :knockdown: :psfist: :chibimidori:
:chibizane: :psfist: :knockdown: :chibimidori:
:chibizane: :psfist: :knockdown: :chibimidori:

Game 3 was notable because Lum hit the jackpot and lost the following turn anyway.

I am extremely upset about the game 4 loss. I threw the game by accidentally Rigorous Training my :ps2gem: into a :ps2gem:. That prevented me from getting a Crash off Rigorous Training, or my backup of using Chips for free to get a crash off the :ps2gem:, or my backup-backup of dropping Dragon Form to buy a crash. Combine that with a Potato, and I spent the entire game with no access to crash gems.

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That is a big oof

Quaz-Acrata commentary!

Bank analysis:
This has the classic HFF flavor of the mono-puzzle core - Training Day, One True Style, Hundred Fist Frenzy and a 3-cost :psfist:. But there’s no good fork to glue the One True Styles together. Meanwhile, Training Day is itself essential for Lum’s Panda Bargaining, and Onimaru has Risky Move as an extra spicy entry level WTT target. Finally, It’s Combo Time+Combinatorics looks tempting as a high end economy target, but getting there with Training Day or Risky Move starves the ICT of ammo.

Game 1:
Quaz opened with a turn 2 WTT for Risky Move to buy a :ps3gem: . Meanwhile, Acrata’s opening misfired when Jackpot whiffed and stranded Panda’s Bargain in hand. Acrata switched strategies into a deep combine rush - two Combines and a combinatorics - but sequenced the combinatorics after both combines on the critical turn (perhaps afraid of another Jackpot whiff, reasonably as it was a 40% chance). It didn’t matter in the end, though, as Quaz’s aggression won out. Quaz Risky Moved a :ps3gem: and combined it with a :ps1gem:, and used Training Day to turn the :ps4gem: from Risky Move into a DCG, which got played in the same turn thanks to One True Style and Riposte acting as a fork. Acrata anted to 14 pile and only had the one crash.

CP: Signature Move -> Dashing Strike, as Onimaru had been using Signature Move as expensive glue to keep the Wartime Tactics flowing.

Game 2:
Quaz committed to HFF on turn 1. Acrata followed into a HFF mono-puzzle. Quaz preferred to back off and buy combines, sticking to just a pair of :psfist:s, while acrata bought a pile of Dashing Strikes. Acrata lost at the start of Panic Time to a combination of a shortage of washers and the lack of a backup copy of Hundred Fist Frenzy.

CP: Risky Move -> Punch Punch Kick, providing that much-needed fork to top off the mono-puzzle build.

Game 3:
Another HFF mirror, but both players went for heavy reds without stopping for Training Day (though Quaz did WTT for it to set up faster) or more than a single extra :psgem:. Acrata never managed to stick an HFF. Quaz didn’t either, but did get a very lucky draw with One True Style, HFF and three :psfist:s, with no particular effort to set it up, which won the game on the spot.

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Definitely should have either randomized the bank completely or gotten rid of one true style, one true style was a killer onimaru chip in all three games.

I think OTS might be Oni’s favorite chip.

Free combine, usually get to use all three arrows, hard to beat, probably stolen purples is the only other chip that closely competes

petE 3 - 1 MarkRMichaels

Game 1: :chibimidori: :pscrash: :pschip: :chibivalerie:
Bank: Secret Move - Bang Then Fizzle - Ebb or Flow - Money for Nothing - Draw Three - One True Style - Sneak Attack - Chips for Free - Combinatorics - Gems for Gemonade
Something in the bank for both players, multicolours for Val and Chips for Free for Midori. petE accumulated purples through Rigorous Training, Chips for Free and outright buying, while countercrashing orb sends to keep the pile from overloading. Was able to overwhelm with crashing when re-entering Dragon Form mid-game.

Game 2: :chibimidori: :pschip: :pscrash: :chibivalerie:
Randomized bank: Knockdown - Sale Prices - Chips for Free - Dashing Strike - HFF - MixMaster - Self-Improvement - One of Each - Custom Combo - It’s Combo Time
Similar flavour of bank, with HFF adding to potency of reds. MarkRMichaels went for a red game, buying MixMaster, Dashing Strike, Knockdown and HFF. Nice combo win with Three Colours into HFF, Knockdown->Crash and Orb.

Game 3: :chibisetsuki: :pscrash: :pschip: :chibivalerie:
petE switched Midori to Setsuki, to take advantage of econ (Sales Prices, Chips for Free), engine chips (Custom Combo, It’s Combo Time) along with Dashing Strike for pile control.
Both players had fast econ starts, petE from double taking Sales Prices, and MarkRMichaels through gem chips. MarkRMichaels was first to buy DCG, but petE had more flexibility in the deck, and won with Custom Combo and red attacks with HFF in play.

Game 4: :chibisetsuki: :pscrash: :pschip: :chibivalerie:
MarkRMichaels switched Sales Prices for Roundhouse
petE had the faster start after double taking Chips for Free towards an early DCG. Both players grabbed cantrips, reds and HFF. petE had the better midgame engine, and won with a 13 gem send off Custom Combo, playing 2 reds, a DCG and a double take of Dashing Strike with 2 HFFs in play.

Fun games, thanks !

Overall, felt that Valerie suffered effects of low pile height early in all the games through crashing/countercrashing and playing Chromatic Orb. Hindered econ races against Setsuki, and put Midori under less gem pile pressure. Maybe better holding back on these early on.

Good to know! It was a confusing match for me because those chips are what I usually love to see as Lum.