Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords - hands-on

Either way, winning requires much more than good color coordination. In our hands-on time with the game, we constantly had to weigh the costs and benefits of going for an immediate blow, using our mana to cast a spell or taking the time to collect more mana for a future, deadlier enchantment. Other options, like matching four in a row for a second turn or going for gold coins instead, also kept us on our toes. And, if we didn't make the right move, the other guy was always ready on his next turn to do it for us.

Puzzle Quest is more than a puzzle game, too - there is that "Quest" in the title, after all. The story campaign combines the game board elements with familiar fantasy RPG elements to create an intriguing hybrid. You will choose a character class, create a hero, collect treasure, wander the land and accept quests from kings and queens. Grid battles take the place of the usual monster encounters. Even in multiplayer, you can bring your custom avatar, with all of his or her experience and learned skills, into the one-on-one arena.

Puzzle fans, strategy fans, role-playing fans... Puzzle Quest is casting a wide net. If the addictive gameplay we experienced doesn't grow old after a few hours and if the story and characters are at all worth a damn, it might appeal to an equally wide audience.