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Puzzle Strike tier discussion

Restarting tier discussion on the new forum:

Nothing here is really “new”, as there has been only one tournament in 2016, and very few in 2015. But to start it off a summary of my current thinking

rabid’s unsubstantiated hunches for just maybe too-good Setsuki, Midori.

Certainly Top Tier: the big 3 of Jaina, Onimaru and Setsuki.

Top tier according to Nash equilibrium of matchup chart: The big three plus Grave, Troq, Perse and Zane.

Likely additional top tier characters according to old Tournament results: Midori, Bal-Bas-Beta. This could be due to variance or it could indicate flaws in the matchup chart.

rabid’s unsubstantiated hunch for additional top tier: Rook.

Certainly bottom tier based on old tournament results: Valerie.

Probably also bottom tier: Arg, Vendtta, Geiger

Not sure if bottom tier: Gwen, Gloria, DeGrey

Likely mid tier: Lum, Quince, Gwen,


Are we framing this as random bank, a specific bank or something else?

Notable disagreements:

Perse - I currently have her in low tier. I disagree with the MU chart in a couple of her relevant matchups (Grave and Troq) resulting in ejection from Nash Tier. Further, she has a lot of the same weaknesses as Argagarg against the non-Nash high tiers, ejecting her from high tier.

Bal-Bas-Beta - With the loss of the upgrade-for-zero bug, and the removal of Perse from the tournament metagame, he’s no longer a top tier contender. He’s at the very bottom of high tier.

With regards to the MU Chart disagreeing with tournament results, most of the tournaments allowed upgrade-for-zero.

Argagarg - Alone in Trash tier. I’ve put a ton of effort into getting Argagarg to work, but it feels like he’s dominated by Perse (who still kinda sucks).

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Here’s a version of my tier list that’s aimed at tournament play for the standard format (double blind characters before bank, followed by counterpicks by the loser)

Top tier - These characters are strong tournament staples.
Jaina, Setsuki, Onimaru, Zane

Tourney Tier - These characters are less heavily played than top tier but are strong enough to reasonably ‘main’ in a tournament setting - that is, pick them more than half the time during double-blind character selection.
Grave, Midori, Rook, Troq

Pocket Tier - These characters aren’t strong enough to hold their own as a ‘main’ at the top levels, but are reasonable as frequent alternate characters in a mixed roster.
DeGrey, Bal-Bas-Beta, Menelker, Gwen, Lum

Niche Tier - These characters are mainly useful as counterpicks. They’re also viable leadoff picks in bank-first, since they can cherry-pick banks, or as rare leadoff options complementing a roster of higher tier characters.
Quince, Vendetta, Valerie, Gloria, Persephone

Bottom Tier - I don’t recommend using these characters in a tournament setting.
Geiger, Argagarg


The role of the bsnk is significant, but I personally approach tier discussion assuming double blind character pick before seeing a random bank -,- but with some charactersd having notable counterpick untility in best of many matches. For example: Vendetta is one of the few characters who has an edge over both Sets and Jaina – but he has the worst matchup in the whole gaame against Oni.

As for Perse, yeah it’s her perceived utility against Troq that puts her in the Nash equilibrium. If the community chart is wrong about that, or if it’s wrong somewhere else such that Troq should be played less in the Nash equilibrium, then Perse falls out of it.

. Although she is definitely a high variance character – she can lose games due to P&P giving a draw instead of the crucial 2nd wound and she can ranndomly win otherwise hopeless games due to landing a lucky MC. And that sort of swingyness makes her hard to evaluate accurately.

On reflection, I’m not sure whether Geiger should be Niche or Bottom. Unlike Argagarg, he does have a few counterpick niches, but they’re very narrow ones.

In general, the cases where Geiger is the best counterpick are mostly cases where the bank’s already bad for the opposing character, but they won anyway.

[quote=“rabid_schnauzer, post:1, topic:153”]
This could be due to variance or it could indicate flaws in the matchup chart.
[/quote]As I’ve said repeatedly, I think the MU chart is… I won’t say wildly inaccurate, but I think a lot of the matchups are underexplored. When we were making the chart, there was a lot of “I think this MU is X-Y, any objection?” and nobody would respond, so that’d go in by default, but that was in part because there just wasn’t a lot of participation in the discussion.

Speaking as one of the biggest Midori-repping tournament players (I think) (I still need to finish that Playing Against Midori guide) I don’t think it’s plausible that Midori is in the maybe-too-good tier. I don’t think it’s likely that he’s in the same tier as Setsuki. He’s more heavily vulnerable to draw variance, and while he has some chips that make him really good, he also has some chips that make him super-sad, so he’s also vulnerable to bank variance.

For clarity, I think Midori is probably in the Jaina/Oni tier, or just below it, but is a good tournament pick because he’s harder to play against in a lot of ways.

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I think the Matchup chart is more a set of vague approximations. The variance that the bank adds to the game can tilt given matches very far one way or the other, and since most of the cast is reasonably balanced against each other, that tilt can make true matchup ratings very hard to estimate.


I have not played Puzzle Strike competitively, but I am surprised at the lack of regard for Gloria and DeGrey. These are my choices when I am playing to win. DeGrey for his insane thin-decking and economy disruption, Gloria for her pile control and first turn 3 gem buys. Is there something I am missing that makes these characters so low?

I definitely agree Persephone is up there, she is an evil character in the right hands. Zane is also very mean, leave my purples alone you pirate!

[quote=“Rook96, post:10, topic:153”]Is there something I am missing that makes these characters so low?[/quote]DeGrey just can’t get going fast enough. Troublesome Rhetoric is almost always what you’d least want, and the slimdecking is only a lategame advantage. He’s also extra vulnerable to discard chips, and super vulnerable to stolen purples. Gloria has some tech (Bucky has a pocket Gloria), but in general her econ boosting helps her opponent almost as much as it helps her.

The main thing that’s relevant is that the Power Trio of Onimaru, Jaina, and Setsuki more or less defines the meta. If a character has bad matchups against them, they don’t end up in the competitive meta. Setsuki just out-econs both Gloria and DeGrey, Jaina kills DeGrey before he gets going, and playing Saving Grace against her often helps her get more Combines. Although in some banks it’s pretty even, I think. And Onimaru is just strong and flexible, and again, Saving Grace often helps him overcome economy hurdles and get more expensive puzzle chips for WTT. Against DeGrey, Riposte more or less negates early Pilebunkers.


Both DeGrey and Gloria do fine vs. Zane, and the online tournament community never really moved into a mature post-Zane metagame. If Zane-Grave-X* strategies ever become popular, which would happen at the expense of Jaina-Setsuki, DeGrey could make a run at Tournament tier.

I should also add that Pocket tier doesn’t mean the character is bad; it just signals a major weakness to some high tier characters.

Gloria, on the other hand, had important tech that never became popular, the double combine opening. Nobody ever executed it well (although I did lose a tournament match by executing it poorly), but I think it erases most of her disadvantage in the high tier rushdown matchups (Jaina, Midori and to a lesser extent Rook) and even swings the Jaina matchup slightly in her favor. But she still has the problem that none of her important matchups are all that much in her favor (except Perse, which shouldn’t be important).

*Zane is advantaged vs. Jaina and Setsuki, and Grave is advantaged vs. Onimaru. The third character should have a good Grave matchup while not being too disadvantaged against any of the Big Three.

The candidates for the third slot include Jaina and Setsuki, but also Midori, Rook and Troq. Someone could also develop a pocket Gwen with special attention to the Jaina matchup.




Tiers are ordered.

A+: Jaina, Onimaru, Sets

A : Perse, Midori, BBB, Troq, Grave

A-: Zane, Menelker, Degrey

B+: Rook, Lum

B: Quince, Vendetta, Val,

B-: Arg, Gwen, Geiger

C: Gloria


Notable differences between deluks’ ranking and mine:

Perse (Deluks 4, Bucky 14-18)
Zane (Deluks 9, Bucky 1-4)
Rook (Deluks 13, Bucky 4-8)
Gwen (Deluks 18, Bucky 9-13)
BBB (Deluks 6, Bucky 9-13)

Perse, Zane and BBB are partly explained by my larger emphasis on high tier matchups; I feel BBB and Perse are both held back by their bad Jaina, Grave, Midori and Rook matchups, and Perse additionally suffers from bad matchups with BBB and a bunch of low tier characters, while I put Zane at the top mostly because of his Big 3 spread.

Rook has one of the strongest purple games and the economy to back it up, making him one of the most stable leadoff characters. He’s a bit soft to the Big Three, but that’s his only downside.

Gwen is an underdog’s pick, with a chance of upsetting anyone off a lucky first two cycles. I’ve seen her used to good success in tournaments in that capacity.

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I have been playing more and have had fun playing Vendetta and Arg. I could never win with Arg as I could never get in the defense mind set. But it clicked the other day and I started to get wins. I realised what I thought was defense was actually econ and that is why I kept losing to rushdown. I worked out that defense is not just counter crashing, but crashing lots.

Vendetta was fun because I worked out you cannot play him like Jaina. My idea of rushdown was to combine heaps and crash 4’s. This works great with some characters such as Jaina, but I had inconsistent results with Vendetta. I discovered that Vendetta works best with a pseudo-defense strategy of crashing gems when your opponent cannot counter crash (not just 4 gems) and stopping your component from combining. Getting better results and love that I am discovering these things.


Sneaking minicrashes around :pspurpleshield:s is a critical technique for aggression with defensive characters. It’s particularly important to :chibivalerie: :chibibbb: and :chibionimaru:, whose aggressive wins often come from a character chip crash and a 4-crash on consecutive turns.

If you want to take your Vendetta (or Valerie) play to the next level, practice mixing in small amounts of :psfist: or extra ante chips.