Puzzle Strike

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Quick Start Rules

  • Pick your character, then put your starting chips in your bag.
  • Set up the bank.
  • Shake your bag to shuffle, then draw 5 chips.
  • Ante a 1-gem from the bank to your gem pile each turn.
  • Play action chips from your hand
  • Crash Gems let you send gems from your gem pile to the opponent after you and you get money for doing so.
  • If your gem pile totals 10 or more, you lose.
  • Buy at least one chip from the bank each turn.
  • Discard your hand, then draw 5 chips, plus any chips from the "height bonus" from having a full gem pile.
  • The next player takes his turn.

Puzzle Strike is "A card game played with chips instead of cards that simulates a puzzle game (that doesn't exist) that simulates a fighting game (that also doesn't exist)."


Object of the Game

Your goal is to overflow all your opponents' gem piles with too many gems. Your gem pile is analogous to your half of the screen in a puzzle video game. It's a special zone on the table, separate from your hand, your discard pile, and your bag of chips. Your gem pile fills automatically over time and the more full it is, the more chips you get to draw each turn, but the closer you come to losing. If you ever end your turn with the gems in your pile totaling 10 or more, you lose the game. (For example, four 1-gems, a 2-gem, and a 4-gem total 10.)

You start the game with a small “deck” of chips, but you buy more chips as you play, allowing you to customize your deck as you go. Eventually, your deck should be able to “crash” several of your own gems each turn, which means breaking them (removing them from your gem pile) and sending to your opponents.

Setup: Your Starting Deck

First, each player chooses a character from the 10 possible characters. Each character has exactly 3 Character chips with that character's picture at the top. Take your 3 Character chips, 1 Crash Gem chip, and 6 1-gem chips and put them in your bag. This is your starting deck. Draw 5 chips for your opening hand.

Setup: The Bank

This variation of starting stacks, along with the possible character choices in a 4-player game means that there are 411,863,760 different starting conditions in Puzzle Strike.

Next, set up the bank. The bank consists of stacks of all the chips players are allowed to buy during the game, but you don't use all the chips every game. There are 24 different Puzzle chips, each with 5 copies. Select just 10 of these 24 stacks, put them in the bank, and leave the other 14 stacks of Puzzle chips in the box. The bank always contains the Gem, Purple, and Wound chips. For your first game, we suggest these 10 stacks of Puzzle chips:

The Bank
Puzzle Chips - 10 Different Stacks Each Game*
PS Combos Are Hard.png
PS Draw Three.png
PS Gem Essence.png
PS Knockdown.png
PS One of Each.png
PS One-Two Punch.png
PS Risky Move.png
PS Sale Prices.png
PS Self-Improvement.png
PS Sneak Attack.png
Gems, Purples & Wound - Same 8 Stacks Every Game
PS 1-gem.png
PS 2-gem.png
PS 3-gem.png
PS 4-gem.png
PS Combine.png
PS Crash Gem.png
PS Double Crash Gem.png
PS Wound.png

Playing the Game

Turn Structure

A, A, B, C are the four phases each turn: Ante, Action, Buy, Cleanup. Do each phase in order on your turn.

Ante Phase

At the start of the game, your gem pile is empty. At the beginning of your turn, take a 1-gem from the bank and put it in your gem pile.

Action Phase

Each turn you may play one Action chip--any chip with a banner. To play an Action chip, put it face up on the table and do whatever it says. (It won't go to your discard pile until the cleanup phase.)

Chips with + PS Black Arrow.png on them let you play more actions that turn (see below).

If you ever have to draw a chip when your bag is empty, then put the chips from your discard pile (not including the chips you played to the table this turn) into your bag, shake your bag to shuffe them, then draw however many you're supposed to. Note that if your bag is empty, you don't actually fill it with your discard pile until you have to draw a chip.

PS Draw Three.png

Buy Phase

Skip your buy phase if the gems in your gem pile total 10 or more, lose the game, read the section about Overflow, and do not put your chips back in the bank. Other players continue until there's one winner, but it shouldn't take long!

During the buy phase, you buy chips from the bank. You must buy at least one chip per turn. Bought chips go to your discard pile.

Play as many Gem chips as you want from your hand to the table (not to your gem pile!), then add their values to any +gem power you might have gotten during this turn's action phase. That total is how much money you may spend this turn. Gems in your gem pile do not count as money.

You don't have to spend all your money each turn, but you get no benefit from unspent money because all your money--spent or unspent--will go to your discard pile at the end of your turn. You can buy as many chips as you want each turn, as long as you can afford to pay for them.For example, if you had 6 money to spend this turn, you could buy any chip costing up to 6 or you could buy two chips costing 3. You could even buy a chip costing 1 and let your other 5 money go unused, if you want.

Wound chips are notable because they are the only chips in the bank that cost 0 to buy. Even if you have no money during a turn, you must still buy a Wound for 0.

Remember that the chips you buy go directly to your discard pile and their effects don’t trigger when you buy them. You’ll draw those chips later in the game though, so buying now is planning for the future.

Cleanup Phase

Make sure any chips you bought this turn are in your discard pile, put all the chips you played to the table this turn (including gem chips used as money) into your discard pile, and discard the chips in your hand. Then draw 5 chips.


If you end your turn (or forfeit) when your gem pile totals more than 10 and there’s at least two more players left, send the excess gems as 1-gems to your next opponent. For example, if you end a turn (or forfeit) with a gem pile totaling 13, then send 3 1-gems to the next opponent. He can counter-crash them (see page 5) if he likes, but any excess he sends back to you doesn’t overflow again.

The Height Bonus

The higher the sum of your gem pile is, the more extra chips you get to draw. Remember this shorthand: “If your gem pile has 3 / 6 / 9 in it, then draw an extra +1 / +2 / +3 chips.” In other words, if your gem pile totals 3, 4, or 5, draw an extra chip. If it totals 6, 7, or 8, draw two extra chips instead. If it totals 9, draw 3 extra chips instead. These bonus draws are in addition to the usual 5 chips you draw during the cleanup phase.

Remember that if you must draw and your bag is empty, you put your discard pile into your bag, shake it up, then continue drawing.

Stuff on the Chips You Need to Know

There are a lot of symbols and terms on the chips. Here’s what they do:

PS Black Arrow.png PS Chip.png PS Pig.png PS GemPower1.png
You may play another Action chip sometime during the action phase this turn.
Draw an extra chip from your bag.
Piggy Bank
During the cleanup phase, you may keep a chip in your hand that you didn't play rather than discard it. If you do, draw one less chip at the end of the turn.
Gem Power
Get extra gem power (money) to spend during the buy phase this turn.

PS Brown Arrow.png
PS Purple Arrow.png
Colored arrows give you an action that you can only spend on chips with a banner of that same color. There are brown, purple, red, and blue arrows; each one gives an extra action just for chips that have the corresponding color of banner. PS Red Arrow.png
PS Blue Arrow.png

Icons in the Banners of Chips
PS Fist.png PS Blue Shield.png PS Orb.png PS Purple Shield.png PS Exclamation.png
Attacks cause negative effects to other players.
You can play reacts on other players’ turns when you’re attacked (by a PS Fist.png ).
Crash Sphere
These appear only on Combines, Crash Gems, and Double Crash Gems.
Crash React
You can only play this when an opponent sends gems to your gem pile, but not if your opponent crashed a 4-gem (4-gems are too powerful!)
The mightiest of all chips. Look on it and despair.

Some Important Terms

Trashing a Chip

To trash a chip means to return it to the bank. It’s a way to make your deck more efficient by getting rid of chips you don’t need anymore. If you trash a character chip, just set it aside in a trash pile (no one can buy character chips).

Gaining a Chip

To gain a chip means to put it in your discard pile--not your hand. You’ll draw it later though, don’t worry.


It costs an action to play an “ongoing” chip to the table. Once it’s there, you get the benefit each turn without paying an action.

Main and Reaction

Main refers to what the chip can do when you use it during the action phase of your own turn.

Reaction refers to what it can do as a reaction to something an opponent does on his turn. The situation you can react to is specified on the chip, except for the purple chips. Their reactions are explained below.

You can only play one reaction to any given event and you discard a reaction on use.

On Top of Your Bag

Putting a chip on top of your bag means just that--putting it on top of your bag rather than inside it. When you draw from your bag, first take any chips “on your bag” into your hand before drawing chips from inside your bag. If you put multiple chips “on your bag,” then stack them and draw them in order.

PS Combine.png
PS Crash Gem.png
PS Double Crash Gem.png

The Purple Chips

The three purple chips are the heart of the game. They allow you to combine the gems in your gem pile and to get rid of those gems and send them to your opponents.


This chip combines two gems in your gem pile into a single gem if the total is 4 or less. For example a 2-gem and 1-gem combine to a 3-gem. (Put the 2-gem and 1-gem in the bank, then take a 3-gem from the bank and put it in your gem pile.) You then get an additional action because of the + PS Black Arrow.png .

Crash Gem

You can use a Crash Gem on your own turn, or as a reaction on the opponent’s turn (that’s what the purple shield means). When played as a reaction, it’s called a counter-crash.

If you use it on your own turn, break one Gem chip in your gem pile, send that many 1-gems to the gem pile of the opponent who will take his turn next, and gain +1 gem power (money). For example, if you break a 3-gem, put the 3-gem back in the bank, send three 1-gems (from the bank) to the player who will take his turn after yours, and you get 1 extra money to spend during this turn’s buy phase.

If an opponent sends at least one gem to you, as long as he didn’t break a 4-gem, you can play a Crash Gem as a PS Purple Shield.png reaction to counter-crash. This lets you crash a gem from your pile back to your opponent!

When you counter-crash, your gems and your opponent’s gems collide in the air! Each 1-gem from your counter-crash negates a 1-gem sent by your opponent. Negated gems go back to bank. Any left-over 1-gems are sent to the player who crashed fewer gems.

For example, if an opponent crashes a 2-gem at you and you counter-crash a 1-gem, you negate one of the two incoming 1-gems, and the other one lands in your pile. You break a 1-gem and receive a 1-gem, so your pile stays the same size. If you counter-crash a 2-gem, you negate both incoming 1-gems. If you counter-crash a 3-gem, you negate both incoming 1-gems and send a 1-gem to your opponent. Be careful — your opponent can counter-counter-crash that gem!

You can only play one PS Purple Shield.png reaction for each chip that sends gems to you, and you only get gem power (money) on your turn.

Using a Crash Gem as a reaction is good because it doesn’t use up an action on your own turn, but it’s usually a defensive move. Crashing on your own turn lets you defeat opponents more easily and it gives you gem power (money).

Double Crash Gem

The Double Crash Gem works the same way as the Crash Gem except that you can break two Gem chips in your gem pile instead of just one, and you gain +2 gem power that turn, instead of +1.


PS Uncountercrashable.png

4-gems are special. If you crash a 4-gem in your gem pile, no one can counter-crash it; they can’t even play a purple shield chip as a reaction because the 4-gem is just that powerful! (If you use a Double Crash Gem to break a 4-gem and another gem, the whole thing is uncounter-crashable.)

Start Playing Now

You can probably stop reading these rules now. The rest of this stuff is just annoying, nitpicky rules in case you get stuck on some detail. You already know enough to start playing, so get started! Oh, and here are some recommended sets of 10 Puzzle chips to get you going:

First Game

Combos Are Hard, Draw Three, Gem Essence, Knockdown, One of Each, One-Two Punch, Risky Move, Sale Prices, Self-Improvement, Sneak Attack. (Use Self-Improvement against Knockdown!)

Lots of Attacks

Combo Practice, It’s a Trap, Knockdown, Mix-Master, Really Annoying, Recklessness, Self-Improvement, Sneak Attack, Stolen Purples, Thinking Ahead.

No Attacks

Draw Three, Gems to Gemonade, Iron Defense, One of Each, One-Two Punch, Recklessness, Roundhouse, Sale Prices, Secret Move, Training Day.

Combo Crazy

Combo Practice, Draw Three, Master Puzzler, It’s Combo Time, One of Each, One-Two Punch, Recklessness, Roundhouse, Sale Prices, Sneak Attack.

Master Puzzler

Combos are Hard, Draw Three, Gems to Gemonade, Knockdown, Master Puzzler, Mix-Master, Risky Move, Roundhouse, Self-Improvement, Training Day.

More Rules

Choosing Characters

In a casual game, choose your characters however you like. In a serious competition, first determine the turn-order for each player randomly. Players then choose their characters one at a time in turnorder. The first player has the advantage of choosing any character he wants, while the last player has the advantage of choosing a counter-character--a character that’s good against the other, already-chosen characters.

Choosing the 10 Puzzle Chip Stacks

In a casual game, choose the 10 stacks of Puzzle chips however you like. In a serious competition, choose the stacks randomly. If you’re playing multiple games in a row against the same opponent(s), then after each game, each player other than the winner of the previous game can swap one stack in the bank with one stack in the box. The player who lost first in the previous game chooses first, and so on. If a stack is swapped out, it can’t be swapped back in until next game.

These are all the colors of the banners across the tops of chips: brown, red, blue, purple, gray (wound), and gold. If a chip has more than one color in the banner, such as Really Annoying’s blue and red banner, then it counts as all those colors.

Do Things In Order

When a chip tells you to do more than one thing, do those things in the normal reading order: left to right, top to bottom. If a chip tells you to choose two or more things to do, first choose, then do your choices in any order.

Do Everything You Can

If it’s impossible to do everything a chip tells you to do, then do as much as you can. Don’t move on to playing other chips until you’ve done everything you can on the current chip.

Simultaneous Effects

If a chip affects multiple players and the order matters, resolve the effects in turn-order, starting with the player whose turn it is.

Reaction Timing

If an opponent plays a chip then you play a reaction, your reaction resolves first, then the opponent’s effect resolves.

Discard Piles are Public

All discard piles are public information and any player may look through any other player’s discard pile at any time.

Running Out of Chips

If a stack in the bank runs out of chips, tough luck, you can’t buy any more of them and effects that would let you gain those chips don’t do anything. See page 8 for notes on running out 1-gems, 2-gems, or wounds though.

Notes on Specific Chips

Puzzle Chips

PS Combo Practice.png
PS Combos Are Hard.png

Combo Practice

If a player discards a Purple Orb chip instead of two chips, that chip must literally have a purple orb printed in the banner.

Combos Are Hard

The bank contains Puzzle chips, Gem chips, Purple chips, and Wounds. Remember that “gain” means to put the chips in the discard pile. You can’t gain Master Puzzler with this.

PS Draw Three.png
PS Gem Essence.png

Draw Three

So yeah... you draw three chips.

Gem Essence

The trashed gem chip goes back to the bank. You can use either the red arrow OR the blue arrow to play Really Annoying.

PS Gems to Gemonade.png
PS It's a Trap.png

Gems to Gemonade

This only works when gems are “sent” to you. Crashing or counter-crashing gems in a gem pile “sends” gems but other operations like Sneak Attack do not. If you “send” gems to Rook then he uses Stone Wall to reflect, you can use this chip.

You can’t counter crash AND play this chip as a reaction to the same “send” because you can only play one reaction per event.

It’s a Trap

You can trap any kind of stack in the bank: a puzzle, gem, purple, or wound stack. If a stack runs out of chips, it stays trapped (that stack might fill up again if players trash chips). You can trap an empty stack if you want, as it might fill up later.

PS It's Combo Time.png
PS Iron Defense.png

It’s Combo Time

You pretty much just read the chip.

Iron Defense

You can use the Crash Gem on your own turns or use it to counter-crash when an opponent sends gems to you. After you use the Crash Gem, it goes to your discard pile as usual.

PS Knockdown.png
PS Master Puzzler.png


If an opponent has more than one Gem chip tied for largest in his hand, he only discards one of them.

Master Puzzler

You cannot play or gain Gem chips with this. You cannot play chips from your hand in the middle of resolving Master Puzzler. Remember to put the chips you “gain” with Master Puzzler into your discard pile. You don’t gain a chip if it trashes as part of its effect, such as It’s a Trap. If the bank is out of a certain chip, you can’t use Master Puzzler to play that chip.

PS Mix-Master.png
PS One of Each.png
PS One-Two Punch.png


For example, if an opponent’s largest gem (in his gem pile) is a 3-gem, he splits it into three 1-gems. If an opponent has more than one Gem chip tied for largest in his gem pile, he only splits one of them.

One of Each

One-Two Punch

Check page 4 to see what the symbols do.

PS Really Annoying.png
PS Recklessness.png

Really Annoying

This chip is both red and blue, so if you have either a red or blue arrow from another chip, you can play the main action of this chip. When played as a reaction, it counts as a blue shield and a red fist, so other players can react to the reaction with Really Annoying or Self-Improvement, for example.


Wow, three arrows!

PS Risky Move.png
PS Roundhouse.png

Risky Move

If you put a 4-gem from your hand to your gem pile, you don’t get to gain a gem from the bank. There’s no such thing as a 5-gem.


Simple and good.

PS Sale Prices.png
PS Secret Move.png

Sale Prices

Treat the on-sale chips in the bank as if their costs really are lower. For example, Training Day looks at the discounted cost, not the cost printed on the chip.

Secret Move

You get the +piggy-bank even on the turn you play this chip. You only discard this from the table if you buy a Combine, Crash Gem or Double Crash Gem chip.

PS Self-Improvement.png
PS Sneak Attack.png


It can’t trash itself. You can only play one reaction to any given event. The reaction is unusual in that its effect happens after the attack finishes resolving.

Sneak Attack

The ante comes from the bank.

PS Stolen Purples.png
PS Thinking Ahead.png

Stolen Purples

Opponents discard only the chips that actually have purple spheres printed in their banners. You must steal a purple orb chip if possible. If there aren’t any chips to steal, you don’t trash this chip, but you must trash it if you do steal a chip.

Thinking Ahead

Remember that whenever you draw chips, first take any chips “on top of your bag” before you draw chips from inside your bag. For the reaction, you can trash the chip (return it to the bank), rather than discard it, if you’re trying to thin your deck.

PS Training Day.png

Training Day

It can’t trash itself. The chip you gain can’t cost less than the trashed chip.

Character Chips

PS Reversal.png
PS Martial Mastery.png

Grave - Reversal

This only works when gems are “sent” to you. Crashing or counter-crashing gems in a gem pile “sends” gems but other operations like Sneak Attack do not. If you “send” gems to Rook then he uses Stone Wall to reflect, you can use this chip.

You can’t counter crash AND play this chip as a reaction to the same “send” because you can only play one reaction per event.

Grave - Martial Mastery

It can’t trash itself. Character chips count as cost 0.

PS Versatile Style.png
PS Playing with Fire.png

Grave - Versatile Style


Jaina - Playing with Fire

Example use: put a 4-gem from your hand into your gem pile, then crash it with Unstable Power that same turn.

PS Burning Vigor.png
PS Unstable Power.png

Jaina - Burning Vigor

The ante comes from the bank.

Jaina - Unstable Power

Just like a Double Crash, this does give you money if usd on your turn. See the the entry for Double Crash Gem on page 8 for more details. If someone plays Stolen Purples and you have Unstable Power in your hand, you don’t have to discard it because it doesn’t have a purple sphere in the banner.

PS Dragon Form.png
PS Rigorous Training.png

Midori - Dragon Form

The ante comes from the bank. This does stop opponents from reacting with Crash Gems, Double Crash Gems, Gems to Gemonade, Grave’s Reversal, and Rook’s Stone Wall. See the “Gem Chips” on page 8 if you run out of 2-gems.

Midori - Rigorous Training

“Gained” chips go to your discard pile.

PS Purge Bad Habits.png
PS Speed of the Fox.png

Midori - Purge Bad Habits

The “gained” chip comes from the bank and goes to your discard pile.

Setsuki - Speed of the Fox

It’s pretty self-explanatory!

PS Bag of Tricks.png
PS Double-take.png

Setsuki - Bag of Tricks

Have fun.

Setsuki - Double-take

If you gain extra actions (+arrows) with this chip, you can’t actually use them because your action phase ends before you can. If you Double-take an attack, each instance requires a separate reaction.

PS Stone Wall.png
PS Big Rocks.png

Rook - Stone Wall

The reflected gems are “sent,” so the opponent can play reactions that usually trigger off sent gems such as a Crash Gem or Grave’s Reversal. You can’t counter crash AND play this chip as a reaction to the same “send” because you can only play one reaction per event.

Rook - Big Rocks

For example, you could trash a 2-gem from your hand (return it to the bank), then take a 3-gem from the bank and put it in your hand. Trashing a 4-gem would be a bad move though; you wouldn’t get anything for it.

PS Strength of Earth.png
PS Pilebunker.png

Rook - Strength of Earth

If you can legally combine, you must. If you can’t legally combine, you still get the +brown arrow.

DeGrey - Pilebunker

If an opponent has more than one Gem chip tied for largest in his hand, he only trashes one of them. Can’t hit Lum’s Poker Winnings.

PS No More Lies.png
PS Troublesome Rhetoric.png

DeGrey - No More Lies

The trashed chips go to the bank.

DeGrey - Troublesome Rhetoric

“Equal or lesser value” refers to the cost of the chip.

PS Burst of Speed.png
PS Chromatic Orb.png

Valerie - Burst of Speed

Breaking gems on your own turn always sends them to “the opponent who will take his turn next.” If you take an extra turn, you do NOT become that opponent. The gems still go to the next player.

Valerie - Chromatic Orb

This chip is purple, brown, red, and blue, so an arrow of any of those colors will let you play it. You can’t use the crash effect as a reaction, but others can react to it with a purple shield. You don’t get $1 from this.

PS Creative Thoughts.png
PS Research & Development.png

Valerie - Creative Thoughts

Enjoy the chip.

Geiger - Research & Development

If you don’t find any Purple Orb chips in your bag, you can’t complete the exchange. In this case, ignore the text on the chip and just gain +action.

PS Future Sight.png
PS It's Time for the Past.png

Geiger - Future Sight

Remember that whenever you draw chips, first take any chips “on top of your bag” before you draw chips from inside your bag.

Geiger - It’s Time for the Past

Puzzle chips are the chips with a black puzzle piece icon at the top.

PS Poker Winnings.png
PS Panda's Bargain.png

Lum - Poker Winnings

This costs an action to play and gives +$2. It’s not actually a 2-gem, so Risky Move can’t put it in your gem pile and Pilebunker can’t trash it.

Lum - Panda’s Bargain

Have fun.

PS Living on the Edge.png
PS Hex of Murkwood.png

Lum - Living on the Edge

The check of your gem pile size only happens the moment you play this chip--if your gem pile size changes later in the turn, it doesn't matter.

Argagarg - Hex of Murkwood

The ante comes from the bank.

PS Bubble Shield.png
PS Protective Ward.png

Argagarg - Bubble Shield

The ongoing effect of the bubble triggers only after your chance to counter-crash. It will not trigger if you countercrash all incoming gems. If some gems are still incoming, the bubble’s effect is not optional. The bubble negates only one of the 1-gems sent to you, and triggers even if the opponent crashes a powerful 4-gem at you.The reaction half of the chip can only be played when the chip is in your hand, not when it’s “ongoing” on the table.

Argagarg - Protective Ward

The +blue arrow is not part of the “ongoing” effect. You get the blue action only the turn you play the chip to the table. This chip does stop Setsuki from getting the effect of her Double-take on a brown-banner chip.

Purple Chips

PS Combine.png
PS Crash Gem.png
PS Double Crash Gem.png


If your gem pile has gems that you can’t combine or no gems at all, you can still play a Combine chip to get the +action. You might do this to turn a +purple arrow into a +black arrow.

Crash Gem

You only get the +$1 if you actually break a gem in your gem pile.

Double Crash Gem

If you have only one gem in your gem pile, it’s still legal to play a Double Crash Gem, though it would do nothing more than playing a regular Crash Gem in that case. You get $1 for each gem you break, which would normally be $2 total.

Gem Chips


PS 1-gem.png
PS 3-gem.png
PS 2-gem.png
PS 4-gem.png

These only count as money when you play them from your hand to the table during your buy phase. They don’t count as money when they’re in your gem pile.

In the unlikely event that you run out of 1-gems, you can still ante with face-down puzzle chips that you aren’t using in the current game. They can represent 1-gems in your gem pile. Do the same if Midori in Dragon Form needs to ante 2-gems and the bank is out of them.

PS Wound.png


You are only allowed to buy one Wound per turn. Wounds are bad for your deck, so you wouldn't want to buy more anyway, unless you were trying to disrupt the game. If there are no wounds left in the bank, you don’t have to buy a chip at all that turn.