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Good starting characters for the base game?

So, I’ll try and keep stuff brief.

I’ve got the base Puzzle Strike game, and was wondering who makes for good introductory characters when I’m teaching the game. What are general overviews of each character’s playstyle? I haven’t quite been able to suss that out just from examining the character chips.

The main problem is that I myself don’t have enough experience with the game to really grok how various characters are supposed to play, so when a player tells me “I’d like to try out a more economy-building style character next time, instead of an aggressive character”, I’m not entirely sure who to suggest to them.

(Also relevant: the copy I have is Bag of Chips, so the original edition. I know that there’s a few changes, but most stuff should stay the same between versions of the characters.)

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This useful little graphic from sirlin’s site maps out where the various charcters rest on the axis


I really should just print that out so I have it to reference!

I usually teach as Geiger, giving the novice Valerie or Grave for their first game.

After they know the basic mechanics, I usually suggest they main Rook for a while to help them understand tempo. Next, I suggest Onimaru (if the expansion’s available) or Lum (otherwise) to get them using puzzle chip combos fluently.


:chibigrave: is great obviously because he teaches some really core mechanics about deckbuilding games, particularly ramping with Martial Mastery
:chibivalerie: is pretty great because you get lots of colored arrows and can kind of learn how combos string together.

I mean, we all know that :chibimidori: is the greatest, though


Huh, I hadn’t thought of checking out Grave, but I mean…he is the Ryu counterpart for a reason.

Obviously :midori: is the greatest, though I gave him to a player because she thought he looked cool, but she never really understood what Dragon Form was good for. :cry:



:chibimidori: is tough for beginners though. Restricting your buys, or even seeing “hey, this puzzle chip will ACT like a purple” or “I can cheat in purples with Rig” is really advanced.


I think Valerie’s the best character for an absolute beginner to play. Her chips are very basic, yet using her they exposed to all 4 symbols, the crashing mechanic, and colored arrow chaining very quickly.

Also, many beginners tend to buy too many Enders and clog their deck which can make the game feel clunkier than it should. Three Colors saves the day there.


I don’t know if Geiger :chibigeiger: is different in that version compared the newest one. If not, he has 2 cards that let you grab stuff from your deck/discard and have black arrows. I’ve used him to teach friends in the past with great success

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I actually did play as Geiger in at least one of the games, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with his schtick.

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The simple Geiger strategy is to “adopt” a cheap puzzle chip, usually an ender; buy it on turn 1, try to play it on turn 2 and generally treat it as a fourth character chip that’s sometimes available twice per cycle.


I personally started by playing Jaina. She’s nice because she gets you focused on WINNING. It can be very tempting to ramp hard, or build a complex deck, or try to do tricky, risky econ stuff in PS as a new player. But when you play as Jaina, it keeps you grounded, and keeps you thinking about attacking super hard when you think you can win by doing that.

After that I recommend Setsuki and Onimaru, to teach you how to hard econ and run circles around your opponent (also buy an early combine) and because I think of Oni as sort of the “base” character, like he’s the most balanced, most interesting, most well rounded, most “basic” character. Like Mario or whatever, you know what I’m saying.


I highly recommend Rook as a “first character to play for learning to be good at Puzzle Strike.” Rook is super, super simple. His strategy is straightfoward, and he teaches a bunch of important fundamental concepts. But that’s for players who “get” the idea and are competitive.

For most people, I recommend Grave. Grave has a lot of durdle-potential, and durdling is fun and makes players want to play again. And he’s also somewhat less likely to fall over and die by accident, so he gives new players more time to explore the game. But he can enable them to develop bad habits.


BTW, super-grateful to all the responses so far! Definitely will have to keep these characters in mind for the future!

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What is a “durdle”

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Wow, that is a great question Redless. I apologize.

Durdle is a bit of lingo that we picked up from, presumably, the MtG community.

In Puzzle Strike, durdling means to lose sight of the objective (winning) in favor of building a Really Fancy Deck.

This often takes the form of building engines with no payload. In PS, an “engine” is a bag with high density of chips that give you more chips and more arrows. So an engine deck that is highly efficient can draw and play every chip in its bag every turn. But without having combines and crashes, the deck can’t actually win.

Durdling often occurred when playing against the Unity webplayer bot, which was not very good. Other examples of durdling include trying to set up plays that significantly overkill the bot (one of the Steam edition puzzles builds on this idea, in fact), or trashing down to less than ten chips using Degenerate Trasher or similar strategies, or trying to see how many bank stacks you can empty before you or the bot dies.


I don’t know the v2 characters very well, but as far as v1 chars go, I recommend :chibigrave: :chibijaina: :chibirook: :chibivalerie: :chibigeiger: :chibiargagarg:

A lot of these characters are resilient to getting blown up immediately while allowing for fancy deck building and/or crashing big gems (fun!)


I’ve only ever heard the term in reference to a creature you just put on the board to be a body, and it might have the additional connotation of not being a particularly robust body. Kind of similar to a chump blocker, or a speed bump?

I really like it. It’s a great sounding word, and it’s fun to say. 10/10 lingo.


I might be the only one, but :chibilum: Lum has been really good for teaching the game. Jackpot is straightforward and helps buy chips. Panda’s Bargain gives them more draws to be able to do things. But Living on the Edge is what really sells it, in the late game it gives them a chance to pull back from behind.

Because the above are so simple, the new player focuses on what is in the bank and the state of the game. Makes it really easy to teach. But I do not see problems with most of the characters to learn. The characters I do not think make good learning choices are :chibigloria::chibidegrey::chibibbb::chibimenelker::chibipersephone::chibiquince::chibisetsuki::chibizane::chibitroq::chibigwen:.

A problem with Lum as a learning character is that Panda’s Bargain discourages them from buying orbs. And orbs are important. Knowing when you lose the Bargain to start buying orbs is requires some more knowledge. So Lum is one of those characters whose chips will encourage new players to develop bad habits of buying too many puzzle chips and not enough pile control.

That said, he is a good character for helping players have fun with their first couple of games. Especially if you craft a bank that will help him work around his handicaps.