It’s Follow-Up Friday: Games Across the World 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 revisit International Games Day!

The American Library Association has been promoting community through gaming for years with International Games Day, and last Saturday, November 15, was the latest edition of this marvelous holiday.

Libraries across the world opened their doors to puzzle fans, board game devotees, card players, gamers, and especially families, inviting them to socialize and share culture through a common medium: games!

I’ve been meandering through photo archives, checking out all the great events and fun ways people have gotten into the IGD spirit.

Check out this giant-sized Settlers of Catan board, created by one intrepid dad so more kids could get in on the fun!

Each year, game and puzzle companies donate to libraries, giving both needy libraries and newbie game players the chance to try out some terrific games. This year was no exception, as Ravensburger, USAopoly Games, Steve Jackson Games, and Looney Labs all donated games to various libraries in support of this terrific holiday.

[Two tweets from a grateful librarian after some awesome donations to their upcoming IGD event.]

But, of all the anecdotes I’ve encountered, my favorite concerns an event hosted at last year’s International Games Day: the Global Gossip Game.

You know the game Telephone, right? Where you whisper a message in your friend’s ear, and they whisper what they heard to another person, and so on and so on, and eventually, you see how the original message has changed from the beginning?

Imagine that, but touching all 7 continents.

From the ALA.org site:

The game began in Geelong, Australia, as “Play is training for the unexpected” (from a paper by biologists Spinka, Newberry and Bekoff).

It then traveled through Antarctica, Asia, Africa and Europe, then branched twice in the Americas. The three endings on the day were:

“I love the world” in Washington, DC;
“Zombie” in Winlock, Wash.; and
“Clouds travel around the world” in Talkeetna, Ark.

In all, the GGG had 840 participants and ran for 29 hours straight, through 74 libraries in 18 international jurisdictions and 6 languages. The longest branch traveled 114,609 kilometers (71,230 miles), and the total distance traveled was 151,927 kilometers (94,423 miles).

Now THAT is some international community building.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! And remember to check out our Facebook Giveaway for the chance to win a free puzzle app download!

Beware the power of crosswords!

Both athletes and sports fans can be superstitious. Some have rituals before game or during game, or certain things they have to do or say after a big play.

Sometimes, it’s a playful thing, a form of passive support for the team, or a fun activity for everyone gathered around the TV on a Sunday afternoon or in the parking lot tailgating.

But other times, it’s taken much more seriously. After all, where you have superstitions, you also have curses.

Well, we might just need to add crosswords to the list of possible ways to jinx a team or player.

You see, sports fan Evans Clinchy knocked one entry off his bucket list by publishing a crossword with the New York Times, a worthy goal to be sure.

But he’s afraid his entry for 58-Across, KEVIN DURANT, may have jinxed a long-time favorite player and idol. You see, news went out the next day that Mr. Durant fractured his foot and will be out from 6 to 8 weeks.

I highly recommend reading the entire article, which is very funny and offers some hilarious insight into the mind of sports fans everywhere.

And his post does raise an interesting question: have any of the constructors or puzzlers out there jinxed an athlete, an actor, or a celebrity with their puzzles, or worried about doing so? I have a hard time believing Mr. Clinchy is the only one, especially since there are plenty of sports fans in the puzzle constructing community.

Let me know! I’d love to hear your stories.

Better luck with your next puzzle, Mr. Clinchy! And heal up soon, Mr. Durant. Your team, and Mr. Clinchy’s conscience, need you.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Don’t forget to check out our Facebook Giveaway for the chance to win a free puzzle app download!

PuzzleNation “You Like Us, You Really Like Us!” Giveaway

Hello fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

It’s been an awesome year for PuzzleNation, and a much of the credit for that success goes to you, the PuzzleNation audience.

We appreciate everything you’ve done: your comments and feedback, your enthusiasm and support, the puzzly spirit of everyone who reads these blog posts, everyone who enjoys our Pinterest page and follows us on Twitter and hits up Facebook every week for Wordplay Wednesday or Follow-Up Friday.

To show our thanks, and continue growing PuzzleNation, we’re launching a Contest to build the PuzzleNation audience! Just Like our Facebook page to enter!

We’ve organized some outstanding prizes to give away, and we’ll be randomly drawing names from our list of Facebook followers to receive great prizes!

At 1,000 likes, two randomly chosen followers will receive a free Classic Word Search app for Android/Kindle Fire devices! ($2.99 value, per app)

At 1,250 likes, a randomly chosen follower will receive a free Penny Dell Jumbo Crosswords app for iOS devices! ($9.99 value)

At 1,500 likes, we’ll give away three more Classic Word Search apps PLUS two more Penny Dell Jumbo Crosswords apps!

At 2,000 likes, we’ll give away five more Classic Word Search apps and three more Penny Dell Jumbo Crosswords apps!

Just imagine the possibilities. If every person who follows this blog likes the PuzzleNation Facebook page, we would blow through those first few targets!

And if you’ve already liked our FB page, you’re automatically entered in the giveaway! (But if you share this Contest with friends and they Like our Facebook page to enter, make sure they message us and tell us you recommended them!)

This promotion is live today and will run until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on November 30! Winners will be announced on Facebook and the PuzzleNation Blog on December 1st!

For full contest rules, click here.

Good luck, fellow puzzlers! We can’t wait to give away some prizes and see the PuzzleNation audience grow and flourish!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: Riddled and Tippled 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 riddles and brain teasers!

We’ve featured plenty of them on the blog over the years, from this Parking Lot puzzler to Lewis Carroll’s most infamous riddle. But it never occurred to us to test our riddle-solving and brain-teasing skills under the influence of a few glasses of wine.

Thankfully, Sudoku enthusiast and YouTuber Hannah Hart (of My Drunk Kitchen fame) took it upon herself to ask her fans to submit riddles for her to unravel while tipsy.

Did you figure them out faster than Hannah? Do you think a glass of wine would help your puzzling? (Or perhaps I should ask “do puzzles drive you to drink?” *laughs*)

Since people were submitting more riddles for her to solve, I couldn’t resist tossing in one of my own:

Four jolly men sat down to play,
And played all night till break of day.
They played for cash and not for fun,
With a separate score for every one.
When it came time to square accounts,
they all had made quite fair amounts.
Now, not one has lost and all have gained -
Tell me now, this can you explain?

A little something to keep you busy on this lovely Friday. Enjoy.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

Kickstarter Updates: Pairs, Baffledazzle, and Board Games for the Blind!

The Internet has truly changed everything: how we communicate, how we shop, how we learn, how news spreads, how businesses rise and fall. And the puzzle world is no different.

The Internet allows us to bring PuzzleNation apps right into your phones and tablets. Constructors are making names for themselves marketing directly to solvers. And now, with the growing influence of Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other crowd-funding platforms, puzzlers and game designers are bringing terrific, innovative puzzles to life like never before.

I sincerely enjoy sharing crowd-funding news with the PuzzleNation audience, because it’s a rare opportunity to see a puzzle or a game go from an idea to a finished product from start to finish. I’ve reported on plenty of them, and today, I’d like to update you on a few successful campaigns that made it through the crowd-funding gauntlet and recently delivered their products to market.

The first comes from our friends at Cheapass Games, who actually launched two Kickstarter campaigns this year. Not only did they recently wrap up the funding process for a storytelling strategy game called Stuff and Nonsense, but they introduced a terrific new card game, Pairs, under their Hip Pocket Games brand.

[A handful of different Pairs decks, including a pirate-themed deck,
a goblin-themed deck, and a Professor Elemental-themed deck.]

Their campaign did so well that they’ve released the original Pairs deck (known as the Fruit Deck, pictured above) and ELEVEN alternate decks, each with a different theme, great custom artwork, and rules for an additional card game specific to that deck.

A social card game that’s easy to learn and hard to master, Pairs (confidently and humorously subtitled A New Classic Pub Game) recently hit stores, and I expect it will be a big hit.

Back in April, I posted about a campaign launched by the folks at 64 Oz. Games called Board Games: Now Blind Accessible. The campaign raised funds for several products designed to bring established board games to the visually impaired, including braille sleeves for card games and a 20-sided braille die, each allowing sighted players and non-sighted players to enjoy the same gaming experience.

It’s a wonderful cause, and I’m pleased to report that this month, they’ve released accessibility kits for numerous popular games, including Munchkin, The Resistance, and AEG Love Letter, with more on the way!

In addition to the accessibility kits, they’ve produced a card game called Yoink!, designed to be played blindfolded and relying on touch alone. I received a copy this weekend and tried it out with friends with great success.

[Check out the different patterns and shapes on these Yoink! cards. You have to collect three of a kind or three totally different ones to win, but it's not as easy as it sounds.]

With other top games on the to-do list, 64 Oz. Games is doing great work for board game fans everywhere.

Finally, I have an update about Rachel Happen’s Baffledazzle campaign.

Raising nearly $14,000 dollars for a laser cutter and supplies to bring her jigsaw puzzles-with-a-twist to life, Rachel has completed production on her first run of Baffledazzle puzzles, shipping them out to backers AND loading up her new Etsy store.

And in honor of her successful campaign, I thought I’d do a brief series of unboxing photos to show you the care and attention she paid in packaging her puzzles for backers and customers.

Here’s the absolutely monstrous box I received in the mail,
loaded to the brim with packing peanuts.

And here are the carefully bubble-wrapped parcels of each Baffledazzle brand puzzle. The larger ones came complete with storage bags, hint and solution envelopes, and pins for each puzzle. (You can see two in the corners of the puzzle cards, as well as one on the drawstring of the top green bag.

And here’s a better look at some of the packaging. High-quality bags protect the wooden and acrylic puzzle pieces, and each is labeled with a signature “Hello, my name is Baffledazzle” sticker.

Two of the beautiful laser-cut wooden pieces from the Ozuzo puzzle.

A close-up of some of the carefully crafted puzzle pieces for the Cirkusu puzzle.

Rachel absolutely outdid herself with the Baffledazzle campaign, and I cannot wait to see what she cooks up next.

With the successes of Pairs, Board Games: Now Blind Accessible, and Baffledazzle, we can chock up three more victories for the online puzzle community. With so many creators out there and the technology at our fingertips, the puzzly possibilities are virtually limitless.

And in closing, I’d like to hear from you, PuzzleNationers. Have you supported any Kickstarter or Indiegogo puzzle campaigns? If not, would you in the future? Let me know!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

PuzzleNation Product Review: ThinkFun’s Robot Turtles

ThinkFun has always specialized in games that educate as you play, from the optics and angles of Laser Maze and the chain problem-solving of Gravity Maze to its Brain Fitness line of puzzles-for-one.

Robot Turtles is their newest game, designed for players age 4 and up, and the premise of the game is quite intriguing: it’s a board game designed to teach young minds rudimentary programming skills.

[The first game board the Turtle Masters will encounter.]

Robot Turtles is a game where players have to navigate their turtles to their chosen gem. In order to do so, the player (or Turtle Master) plays cards that dictate the turtle’s movements. An adult or older sibling serves as the Turtle Mover, following the instructions of each Turtle Master as each card is played.

As the Turtle Masters grow more proficient at selecting their cards and directing their turtles toward the gems, the Turtle Mover sets up more difficult game boards, incorporating towers to navigate around, crates to push, and even ice towers to melt with lasers! The solutions to each game board grow more complicated, and the Turtle Masters must plan steps in advance in order to reach the gem.

There are no losers in Robot Turtles; each player selects cards until their turtle reaches its gem. But the real genius behind the game is that the Turtle Masters are learning the basics of programming as they play. The player lays out sequences of commands (move forward, turn right, activate laser, move forward, etc.), and then “run” the program by having the Turtle Mover execute each command.

[Here, one Turtle Master has navigated his turtle between two towers, melted an ice tower with the laser, and awaits the next command: to cross the puddle left behind by the ice tower. This turtle's gem can be seen on the left, behind a wall of towers.]

As players develop, they can program small macros by replacing a sequence of cards with a “function frog” card, saving several moves and reaching the gem sooner. (There’s even a “bug” button for each player to hit when they’ve played an incorrect card, allowing them to remove the last card played and try again. Players are debugging the programming as they play!)

With a Turtle Mover determining the difficulty of the game board (there are a few suggestions from ThinkFun, but parents and siblings are encouraged to create new challenges for the Turtle Masters), the game has the potential for endless variations, all of which encourage players from age 4 and up to plan more detailed, more challenging “programs” for their turtles.

[One of the tougher suggested layouts.
A bit different from the starter layout, isn’t it?]

Robot Turtles is a fine addition to the ThinkFun lineup. The mechanics are simple, the educational aspect is couched in enjoyable steps, and everybody wins. Robot Turtles was the most backed board game in Kickstarter history, and in your very first game, you’ll easily see why. I can’t wait to serve as Turtle Mover again for the young programmers in my family.

Last year, in one of our earliest editions of 5 Questions, author Robin Sloan said, “I really do think that, in the year 2013, people ought to know how to code, at least a little bit.” I think Robot Turtles could play a big part in making that a reality.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!