It’s Follow-Up Friday: View a Clue Animals edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, we’ve got answers to last week’s View a Clue game!


If you recall, we selected ten animals that commonly show up in crossword grids — some have become crosswordese at this point — to see if the PuzzleNation audience could identify them from pictures.

Without further ado, let’s get to the answers!

#1 (5 letters)

Answer: ELAND, an African antelope

#2 (3 letters)

Answer: KEA, a New Zealand parrot

#3 (3 letters)

Answer: EMU, a flightless Australian bird

#4 (5 letters)

Answer: COATI, a tropical raccoon-like animal

#5 (4 letters)

Answer: NENE, a Hawaiian goose

#6 (3 or 4 letters)

Answer: ERN or ERNE, a sea eagle

#7 (4 letters)

Answer: IBEX, a horned mountain goat

#8 (3 letters)

Answer: SEI, a large whale

#9 (5 letters)

Answer: OKAPI, an African animal and kin to the giraffe

#10 (4 letters)

Answer: ANOA, an Indonesian buffalo


How many did you get? Let me know in the comments below! And if you have ideas for another View a Clue game, tell us below!

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PuzzleNation Product Reviews: Takat and Noueni

In today’s product review, we look at two card games that are all about matching colors, identifying patterns, and scoring points, but in very different ways. Today, we put Takat and Noueni under the PuzzleNation Blog microscope!


Let’s start with Takat.

A card game for 2 to 4 players designed by Tyler Kilgore, Takat is different from most pattern-matching tile games or card games because it’s not about maximizing points…it’s about scoring as few points as possible as you place cards and create different colored shapes on the board.

The game starts with each player secretly drawing a card that reveals that player’s color for this game. Not only are you trying to conceal your color from your opponents, but you’re trying to guess what color they have, based on how they place cards and build shapes on the board.

[Some of the multicolored tiles. There are only two legal plays represented here: the second and third tiles in the top row, and the third tile in both the top and bottom rows.]

The multicolored patterns on the cards allow for all sorts of placement options. When you place a card, you can either neighbor a card on the board or partially overlap it, but you always have to make sure the colors match. If the edge of a card is red and blue, the card you place beside it must also be red and blue.

Since the goal of the game is to score as few points as possible, the strategy quickly becomes a mix of bluffing and deduction. You have to complete shapes in your opponents’ colors without revealing your own. (For instance, if you keep building red, blue, and yellow shapes but not green ones, you’ve told your opponents you’re purposely avoiding green, which will only encourage them to build green shapes and give you more points.)

In this game in progress, the players have mostly avoided completing any shapes; there’s the mostly-round yellow shape on the top right as well as the pointy red shape below it (which is partially formed by two overlapping tiles, unintentionally obscuring the black line at the bottom right of the yellow shape.) Those two are the only shapes completed, which means those shapes are worth more points than shapes that aren’t enclosed by black lines.

But since you can score points on neighboring tiles as well as completed shapes, you have to pay as much attention to who placed a tile as you do to what tile they placed.

For instance, on the bottom left, there’s 2 points for the neighboring red tiles, 3 points for the blue shape above it, and 2 points for the yellow rectangle beside the blue shape, despite none of those shapes being closed by black lines.

The game ends when all cards have been played. Then the players reveal their colors, and the points on the board are tallied up, based on how many shapes were made (and how many were completed), as well as how many cards were used in making each shape. The lowest score wins.

The game play of Takat is pretty easy to pick up, but the scoring is a bit more esoteric and takes some getting used to. It does, however, make for a fun variation on the usual tile-placement scoring game, and as a fan of games like Mafia and other bluffing/concealment games, it does make for a more tense playing experience than your average round of Qwirkle.


Now let’s take a look at Noueni.

Designed by 263 Games, Noueni is also a card game for 2 to 4 players that involves pattern-matching, color-based scoring, and cards that can either overlap or sit next to other cards. But there are some important distinctions between Noueni and Takat.

For example, each player chooses their color at the start of the game, and there’s no attempt to conceal it from your opponents. Also, like many pattern-matching games, highest score wins. In this game, your score is determined by how many of your scoring orbs are on the board by the end of the game.

Each card has two colored scoring orbs and a pattern of black lines emerging from them. Those lines are the connectors, and they determine how the cards placed on the board line up. Any card played must link up with the other cards on the board, whether there’s zero, one, two, or three connectors along that neighboring edge.

As you can see, the green scoring orb on the upper left connects to the red orb by three connections, but the other red orb connects to a yellow orb with only two. So far, there have been no overlapping cards played, so all four players are tied with two scoring orbs showing apiece. (The connections aren’t part of the scoring; they’re just the mechanism for lining up cards.)

A few moves later into the game, the yellow (upper right), red (upper left), and blue (middle) players have all added to the board using those matching connections, but the green player has overlapped half of a blue card, using those connections and obscuring the blue scoring orb.

Overlaps allow you to cover your opponents’ scoring orbs and claim those spots for yourself, but you have to exactly match the connections they left behind. (You can only overlap half of a card already on the board, so even if the green player had a card exactly matching BOTH of the blue card’s connections, that’s an illegal play. The green player could, however, overlap half of one card and half of another, if the connections lined up.)

And that’s where the strategy aspect of Noueni comes into play. It’s a mix of expanding the board and placing as many scoring orbs as possible, but also seizing the opportunity to hide your opponents’ orbs and match those same connection patterns.

The game ends when all cards have been placed, and the player with the most visible scoring orbs wins.

Noueni is more straightforward than Takat, which will make it more accessible to new players, but it also lacks the tension of hiding your color and ferreting out your opponents’ colors. On the flip side, Noueni does maintain that ever-present paranoia that at any point, someone might drop a card on top of yours and steal a key scoring orb at a crucial moment in the game.

Both are terrific games that build on the pattern-matching color tile game format in interesting ways, requiring more from a player than simply outscoring their opponents. You need to outthink them too.

Takat and Noueni are both available from The Game Crafter.


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New Puzzle Sets for the Penny Dell Crosswords App!

Hello puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

That’s right, it’s a bonus blog post today because we’ve got some exciting news!

We’ve got new puzzle sets available for both the Android AND iOS versions of the Penny Dell Crossword App!

For our iPhone and iPad users, we just launched Deluxe Fun Set 1, a collection of 30 easy, medium, and hard puzzles to test your puzzly mettle, plus 5 bonus puzzles you can unlock!

Not only that, but just in time for that most romantic of holidays, we’ve got our Valentine’s Day 2016 Deluxe Set! You get 30 easy, medium, and hard puzzles, plus 5 unlockable bonus puzzles with a Valentine’s theme!

And there’s more!

For our Android users, the Penny Dell Crosswords App now offers THREE full collections of crosswords. Each collection offers easy, medium, and hard puzzles for your enjoyment! And be sure to check out the in-app Puzzle Store for special discount offers!

It’s a veritable puzzle bonanza!


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The Art of Puzzle Fort Construction

Members of the PuzzleNation community have been asking for more details on the puzzle fort I built in celebration of International Puzzle Day, so today I happily share my documentation of our celebratory puzzle fort’s construction, brief moments of glory, and demolition. Enjoy.


The initial spark for the fort came from when I stumbled upon this treasure trove of puzzle magazines at the Penny Dell Puzzles offices. They often donate puzzle books to hospitals, troops overseas, and to other worthy causes, and these books were the latest batch to be set aside for such service.

And when I saw these raw materials available, naturally my first thought was…I could build a fort out of these.

So, Friday morning, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

I started with a simple brick wall layout for the base of the main wall, alternating magazine positions at the corners Lincoln Logs-style, both for aesthetics and to allow for details like the window feature you can see in progress here, providing much-needed ventilation and light.

Here are the primary support columns flanking the entrance to the fort. Since I was using the actual wall as part of the fort, there was no need for the alternating pattern of the other columns, so I originally went for a straight stack of puzzle books.

At this point, I’d run out of the thicker puzzle books and began working with thinner monthly puzzle titles, raising the columns to accommodate a person’s seated height.

You can also see a new patterning to the column on the left, thanks to some volumes of an old encyclopedia allowing for extra stability and support. The column on the right also shifts slightly as it rises, to compensate for the switch from alternating puzzle book placement to straight stacking.

Here are the completed flourishes beneath the window, allowing for air flow and a bit of visual style, breaking up the pattern of puzzle book spines and text.

I started in on the roof next with the aid of puzzler and friend of the blog Keith Yarbrough. (As you can see on the left side, I also redesigned the main columns to redistribute thicker magazines to the freestanding column for better support.) A few broken-down cardboard boxes made for a fine skeleton for the tiled roof, which you can see the first “shingles” of over to the left.

A close-up of our “shingles,” adding a bit of color and flair to the fort.

Our patchwork roof takes shape nicely here, anchored along the columns by more puzzle books, and providing both style and a touch of extravagance to the whole affair.

This picture offers a sense of how much coverage the roof actually provides, allowing for some suitable shadowing and privacy for fort dwellers (that the flash on my camera obscures in most pictures).

And here is your humble fortsmith, posing inside his creation. All in all, not a bad hour’s work.

It was a big hit around the office, with many fellow puzzlers coming by to admire its magnificence and get photos of themselves inside.

People also asked if I needed to acquire permits to build such a magnificent structure, but since it was built of natural materials sourced from the area itself, I believe it’s technically classified as an igloo, and therefore outside the strictures of building code formalities.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and I was told the puzzle fort had to be gone before the end of the workday. Forts, much like snowmen, are not meant to last. We must simply appreciate them to the utmost while they are there.

So, with great reluctance, I began disassembling my beloved creation.

But then, disaster struck!

Yes, I was buried by an avalanche of puzzle delightfulness! In that moment, I knew what it felt like to be Corbin the puzzle bear on International Tabletop Day after that fateful round of Jenga.

I dug myself out and resumed demolishing the puzzle fort, endeavoring, as I always do, to leave the place a little better than I found it.

Mission accomplished. And a new International Puzzle Day tradition was born.


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: International Puzzle Day edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of puzzly holidays!

[Let’s celebrate with some crossword cake!]

Today is International Puzzle Day (or National Puzzle Day, depending on who you ask), and we here at PuzzleNation couldn’t resist getting involved in the puzzly celebrations!

In fact, we went all out this year, building a puzzle fort from various puzzle magazines! Check it out!

puzzle fort

And that’s just for starters. We’ve also assembled a new rundown of all the terrific puzzle apps and games PuzzleNation has to offer!

From the iOS and Android versions of the Penny Dell Crossword App (including new puzzle collections for both!) to our Classic Sudoku, Classic Word Search, and Bible Word Search apps, you can get all the details on our library of apps right here!

And to cap off the day’s festivities, we’ve collaborated with our pal Darcy over at Penny Dell Puzzles to concoct a little puzzly quiz for you!

Click here to find out What Kind of Puzzle Am I?, complete with links to share your results across social media!


So how are you celebrating International Puzzle Day? Are you kicking back with your favorite app or puzzle book? Meeting with friends to do a bit of tabletop gaming? Or maybe tackling an Escape the Room event and testing your puzzle mettle! Let us know in the comments!

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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore everything PuzzleNation on our website!

View a Clue: Crossword Animals

Welcome to the third edition of PuzzleNation Blog’s newest feature: the View a Clue game!

I’ve selected ten animals that commonly show up in crossword grids — some have become crosswordese at this point — and I want to see if the PuzzleNation audience can identify them from pictures. It’s a visual puzzle I call View a Clue!

Without further ado, let’s give it a shot!


#1 (5 letters)

#2 (3 letters)

#3 (3 letters)

#4 (5 letters)

#5 (4 letters)

#6 (3 or 4 letters)

#7 (4 letters)

#8 (3 letters)

#9 (5 letters)

#10 (4 letters)


How many did you get? Let me know in the comments below! And if you have ideas for another View a Clue game, tell us below!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!