#700 – Strike

Base price: $30.
2 – 5 players.
Play time: ~15 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 25 

Full disclosure: A review copy of Strike was provided by Ravensburger.

Whew. 700 reviews. Thanks so much for reading, everyone! If you’ve been here since the beginning or are just joining us, there are still many great games to come! I appreciate y’all even more given how tough this year has been, so, thanks again! Y’all flatter me with your readership.

I think this is the highest playcount I’ve logged before a review in a while, but, to be fair, this review has been years coming. Ravensburger just released this reprint of Strike with updated art and, thankfully, I was able to get a copy to tell y’all about. I’ve been playing this at conventions for years but never got to have one in the house (though I’ve had and quite enjoyed Impact, Strike’s cousin). It’s released at just about the worst possible time for cool dexterity games, but I will figure something out if I have to play it by myself or play it on the patio. Let’s dive into the review before I promise anything worse.

It’s Strike! You’ve got dice. They’ve got dice. You want to be the only person with dice. How do you solve that? You throw your dice into the center. Anything that matches, you get. Anything that doesn’t, stays. Take everything to force your opponent to refill the center with everything they’ve got. Many will play, but only one person can win! Do you have what it takes?

Contents

Setup

Very little, which is always great, for me. Set out the box bottom with the plastic insert and the foam bottom:

And then distribute dice to the players:

  • 2 players: 8 dice, each.
  • 3 players: 7 dice, each.
  • 4 players: 6 dice, each.
  • 5 players: 5 dice, each.

Once you’ve done that, chuck one of the remaining dice into the center, rerolling it if it comes up “X” until any other face is up. You’re ready to start!

Gameplay

Your goal in Strike is to be the last person standing. Every turn, you’ll send some of your dice into the center and retrieve them under certain conditions. The last player with dice wins! Let’s see how that shakes out.

To start a turn, take one of your dice and chuck it into the center. If any dice now show an X, immediately remove them from play and set them aside. If any dice are showing the same value, take them and add them to your collection of dice; your turn ends. If no dice are showing the same value, you may throw another one of your dice into the center. And you kind of just keep doing that until you run out of dice, claim dice, or decide that you’re done.

Note that there are no limits to how you throw your dice into the center; you can toss them, lightly roll them in, pitch them, whatever! Just, if any of your dice bounce out of the center, they’re also removed from the game, so be gentle.

One last thing to watch out for! If, at the end of a turn, the center is empty, well, you just can’t have that! Helpfully, the next player will refill the center by rolling all of their dice into the center simultaneously. Any matching dice are then removed, and their turn ends. If no dice match, well, they lose. Tough.

The last player standing wins!

Player Count Differences

There aren’t many, beyond the time between your turns slightly increasing as more players get involved. There can only ever be five dice in the center (pigeonhole principle), so, that’s the maximum that will ever be there. Beyond that, you just kind of have to deal with the player before you having a good turn and trying to make sure that the player who follows immediately after you does not have the opportunity to have a good turn. From that perspective, you’re really only ever competing with the player before and the player after you. I will say that at higher player counts there’s more people to root for (or against!), so that’s fun, but you also start with fewer dice, so it’s easier to be eliminated. Either way, I’ve had fun every time I play this game, so I’m not particularly partial to any player count. I just love playing Strike.

Strategy

  • I have no idea, but whatever I am doing seems to be working. It’s hard to have too much “strategy” in a game like this when you’re just throwing dice, but I do win a decent amount of the time. I think a major factor is trying to make sure that you don’t let the die bounce out of the box bottom when you throw it; beyond that, a lot of it comes down to luck? Skill? Something between those two.
  • The pigeonhole principle can be your friend. The Pigeonhole Principle states that if there are only X possible options and you have X+1 items, at least one of those items must be a duplicate. Here, since there are only 5 valid numbers to have on dice in the center, if you roll a sixth dice into the center and an X doesn’t come up, it must match one of those five options. Also, if you roll a die randomly, you’re more likely to hit any match if there are more potential matches in the center.
  • Your mileage may vary on whether or not trying to strike other dice with your die is useful. Sometimes it works really well! Other times you knock a perfectly valid die to an X and get nothing for it. If you really know what you’re doing, you could probably turn this into an actual skill; I just don’t have it.
  • An important part of the game is understanding the sunk cost principle. You gotta know when you’ve thrown too many good dice after bad ones and when to end your turn. If you’re significantly ahead on dice and don’t stand to make many more, you might just want to call your turn early and let your opponents make their own mistakes.
  • This isn’t really a game where I would try to strategize, too much. That seems like a surefire way to suck some of the fun out of it. It’s a high-energy dexterity game, and sometimes that just means you’re along for the ride. If you’re taking too much time on your turns trying to come up with the ideal dice placement, I think your opponents will start making fun of you, justifiably.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • I think this is a like, foundationally brilliant dexterity game. It’s hard to talk about Strike without talking about how simple it is, conceptually. You just throw dice and remove sets of the same number. That’s pretty much it. But that description does Strike a massive disservice. In the hobby community, it’s earned a reputation of just … being beloved, I suppose? And it holds up, which is nice. I’ve been playing Strike at conventions for a few years, so I was very excited when Impact got announced. Even more excited now that Strike is readily available again. It demonstrates that you don’t have to have a lot of frills if you just focus on the fun.
  • Plays extremely quickly, benefitted even more by how easy it is to reset. There’s a pretty straightforward point where you’ve lost the game, but once that happens you just redistribute the dice and you go again. Nothing else to it. A game can take 5 minutes or 30 seconds if you’re having a particularly bad round (it’s happened).
  • You can get surprisingly into this game. It’s a big thing at conventions. People cheer other people on and everything. I’m here for it, once conventions start happening again.
  • I love the box art! And the color, too. I don’t see a ton of like, bold yellow board game boxes in my collection. It looks great and it does a good job conveying what kind of game Strike is. All in all, I think it lands really well and I love the modern refresh.
  • I’m always glad to see reprints of very popular titles. I had been a bit irked a few years back because there was essentially no way to get Strike easily, and as people are wont to do, some people were being jerks about having a very fun, out-of-print game. Impact deflated that, a bit, but having the original back in wide circulation is good. It torches the overpriced resale market, as well, which I think is a very good thing. It’s a fun game! More people should have the opportunity to play it easily without needless barriers.
  • I think this is a really interesting study in gameplay vs. theme, given how popular of a game this is despite having virtually no theme whatsoever. I’m a theme guy. It’s known. But I love this game, quite a bit. No real theme to speak of, just dice and a plastic tray. It works, though. I love that it works, but I don’t totally understand why it works, sometimes. I suspect it’s the combination of fun and fast dexterity and quick setup / teach making it very easy to play over and over again. Add in “player interaction” that feels combative even though it’s largely impartial and you’ve got a recipe for success, it looks like.

Mehs

  • Still don’t love player elimination, but the game happens so quickly that it hardly matters. I’d complain more if the game took longer than 10 or 15 minutes, tops, and that’s if the game is going well. If you get eliminated, just cheer against the scoundrel who goes before you and left you such terrible dice.
  • This is one of the releases that makes me regret being in a “virtual board gaming only” lockdown situation. I love playing this, but it does not support remote play and my board gaming situation is not particularly sustainable right now unless I play online games. It happens, but it’s unfortunate.
  • The larger box makes it a bit less portable than Impact, but whatever. Not like I can go anywhere anyways, but I appreciate the different shape between it and the Impact box. I don’t really have strong opinions on how the shape affects gameplay, but I appreciate that they’re not the same.

Cons

  • The foam pad scuffs surprisingly quickly. You’d never know because it’s not visible in any of the photos, but I’m a consummate professional and turned the scuffed side upside down. It’s just odd since so much of the game is chucking dice into the middle; I assumed it wouldn’t mildly discolor so fast.

Overall: 9.25 / 10

Overall, yeah, I love Strike. It’s just … one of my favorite quick dexterity games, pretty much ever. A few things gently outstrip it, but hey, Catch the Moon is just an all-time favorite game; I can’t be expected to give up the ghost that easily. What does Strike have going for it? It’s fast! Basically no setup, either. You can teach it to almost anyone, and they’ll get it pretty quickly. Love that. It’s also infectious! I’ve never played only one game of it, really; it always turns into a few, then a few more, and then a “alright we need to put this away or we’ll play this all night”. I love games that can do that, and I’m excited to get to teach people Strike. This newer version removes the access barrier that was there earlier when it was out of print for a while, so that’s also good news. From a photography standpoint, I’m not sure I love how quickly my foam pad has started to mildly discolor, but I don’t think it really affects gameplay. It just impacts the aesthetics. I also wish it were possible, somehow, to play this remotely, but I think that requires better tech than we currently have available. I’ll sulk at home in the meantime. That said, if you’ve got the group for it and you’re looking for a fast and fun dexterity game, I can’t recommend Strike enough! I think it’s an absolute blast.


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