I struggle to classify Strike. This is going to be a review, I promise, but it’s also going to be me wrestling with this game’s taxonomy in real time. Game? Is it even a game? Oh god, we’re not going down that road. It has rules, it has a winner, it’s definitely a game. No debate there. But what exactly is Strike, and why does it win friends everywhere it goes?
Well, it’s definitely a dice game. It’s literally just dice in a box with a special insert and a foam pad, it would be weird to not call it one. The game starts by handing everyone a fistful of dice, last person holding dice is the winner. Every turn you have to toss at least one die into the arena. I say toss, but the game’s intentionally loose with its terminology on that front. You can toss it, roll it, drop it, bank it off the wall, whatever. The rulebook is very clear that you can be as careful or as reckless as you please as long as a die goes towards the arena. Are you starting to see why I’ve been struggling?
Anyway, you release a die from your hand somehow. If it bounces out of the arena everyone points and laughs at you, then you lose that die. Otherwise you check if any of the dice match numbers. If they do, nice! You scoop all those dice up and your turn’s over. Otherwise you have a choice to make: take another toss, or hold the rest of your dice and end your turn.
So you could argue this choice makes Strike a push your luck game. And yeah, it is! The more dice that are in the bowl, the better the chance your roll will find a match. Unless of course you roll the X, which replaces the 1 pip and is immediately removed if rolled, meaning everyone is slowly bleeding out as they take each other’s dice from the center. Or if you bump the other dice with your throw, which will happen a lot, sometimes even intentionally. A hefty hit could turn a bunch of dice to matching sides for you! It could also flip them to things you don’t care about, or Xs, or cause a strange quirk of physics that leads to a die being ejected from the deceptively springy box insert to the collective awe of all in attendance. Is this making sense? I hope so, explaining Strike in this much detail makes me feel like I’m edging an aneurysm.
And again, we’re back to talking about what kind of game this is. Since you can bump other dice around with a good toss but bouncing the die out of the arena means you lose it, does that make this a dexterity game? Sure, I guess so? But I’m not convinced that being especially dexterous grants any special advantages. At the end of the day it’s still a die roll, y’know? And any die is capable of coming up X, complete with your friends making the Price is Right loser horn noise. Sometimes that happens 3 times in a row! Pain!
The appeal of Strike is no secret. The very act of rolling chunky math rocks is fun. We are animals, easily swayed by simple pleasures, and causing a clattering cacophony as dice clack into each other is the simplest kind. We also enjoy the high of gambling, and while I will not openly encourage putting cash on the line for Strike I’m certainly going to say that it would be, shall we say, suitable. But there is one last rule. The most important rule. The rule that gives this game its best moments. Should any player manage to remove all the dice from the arena, the next player must go “all in” and heft all of their dice into the box. They get to salvage any matches as usual, but sometimes there are no matches to be had, or enough Xs that they’re severely wounded and left to nurse a grudge. Is it luck? Is it skill? That would be for you to determine for yourself, though I will say that I prefer to declare every instance of this a “skill issue” for the victim. Makes it just a little bit spicier, y’know?
So it’s some kind of dice, push your luck, dexterity hybrid. I guess. It’s also none of those things. But it kind of is? ARGH. You know what? I don’t care! I don’t care what it is. I care about how it feels to play, what it does while it’s on your table, and it rocks. Everyone I’ve ever played it with has loved this goofy thing, and none of them stopped while playing to wonder what to call it. How’s that for your genre taxonomy? Take your BoardGameGeek tags and smoke ’em!
You wanna know what Strike is? It’s a game where people toss dice into a box and yell. That’s its genre. It’s defined not by a simple mechanical concept, but by the functions it performs and experience it provides. Who cares about what other games Strike does or doesn’t resemble when you can call it by what it actually is? It’s a table centerpiece. A lunch break dynamo. A party starter. A beer accessory. A joy machine. Reject genre, embrace emotion, and just play Strike several times in a row. It’s more fun that way.
A copy of this game was independently purchased for review.