Puzzle Day Kickstarter Round-up!

Happy (Inter)National Puzzle Day, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

As I explained on Tuesday, today is a day dedicated to all things puzzly, and lots of puzzlers are joining the celebration!

For instance, our friends at Penny/Dell Puzzles are running a timed Word Seek challenge and encouraging solvers to share pics of themselves doing the challenge on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #PDPPuzzleDayChallenge!

And, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d do a crowdfunding round-up of some of the interesting puzzly projects on Kickstarter right now.

First off, I want to talk about Unspeakable Words, a Scrabble-style word-building game with a dash of H.P. Lovecraft.

The game went out of print a while ago, and remaining copies have been in high demand since the game was featured on Wil Wheaton’s board game webseries TableTop. The goal is to print a deluxe version of the game (originally allowing for seven players instead of six, but with several stretch goals reached, they’ve expanded to eight!), with additional stretch goals allowing for better game components.

Now, this is already a Kickstarter success story, because the game funded the first day, so you’re guaranteed to see a finished game before it hits stores.

For a taste of something different, Facets is a wood-and-magnets constructing puzzle toy that allows you to make various shapes based on the Platonic solids. Whether you’re interested in 3-D geometry or just like wooden building toys with a twist, Facets is right up your alley.

Facets has just crossed its funding goal with less than two weeks to go, and it looks like this might be the start of the next generation of Tinker Toys-style constructing toys.

Now, there are a LOT of other campaigns I could mention, like the small 3-D printed puzzle ship (pictured above) or this campaign to make the fake game Cones of Dunshire from NBC’s Parks and Recreation a real Settlers of Catan-style game, but I want to focus on one campaign that’s using puzzles to spread a deeper message.

Alyssa’s Puzzle Project is the brainchild of a young lady named Alyssa who is 12 years old and wants to educate the world — and her fellow students — about the dangers of moral and governmental corruption. So she’s created an awareness-building activity around a jigsaw puzzle, designed for classrooms and students to assemble together. It’s symbolic group problem-solving to raise awareness and spark conversation.

You can read more about Alyssa’s project and her ambitious goals here.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the phenomenal success of Exploding Kittens, a strategy card game that launched with a goal of $10,000 and has raised over 4 MILLION dollars in its first eight days.

It is now the most backed Kickstarter campaign in history, with more than 100,000 backers, and the sky truly appears to be the limit for this card game based on art from The Oatmeal.

I’ve been watching and funding Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns for a few years now, and I (and the rest of the world) have never seen anything like it.

Did I miss any puzzly Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns you’ve seen launched recently, fellow puzzlers? 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!

Thursday is National Puzzle Day! Are you ready?

I was recently informed that January 29th is National Puzzle Day.

Considering that I am something of a burgeoning puzzle scholar, I was surprised that I didn’t know there was a national puzzle day. I try to stay on top of these things, after all. So I started researching.

As far as I can tell, this isn’t a nationally recognized holiday in an official sense, which is why we don’t get the day off from work. Blasphemy! Everyone should have the day off to celebrate puzzles! (This is also why there seems to be some dispute over whether it’s National Puzzle Day or International Puzzle Day.)

Although more prominent coverage has only appeared over the last five years or so, I found references in school schedules and archived activity calendars stretching back years and years!

Some articles state that (Inter)National Puzzle Day was created in 1995 by a consortium of game companies, but some conflicting sources seem to predate that claim. And it is intriguing that Tetris debuted in the United States as a PC game on January 28, 1988.

But, in any case, Thursday is a day to celebrate all things puzzly, and I’m here to offer some suggestions for how to participate in (Inter)National Puzzle Day fun! (Many of these can be done any day of the year, which is handy for those of us snowed in right now!)

#1: Team-tackle a crossword puzzle

Are you daunted by the puzzles published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The L.A. Times, or even your local paper? Gather everyone in the house and tackle it as a team!

Not only are you pooling a greater wealth of knowledge by including more people, but one suggestion could trigger another, and then another, and suddenly, you’re filling in whole chunks of the grid with flashes of puzzly insight or bits of crowd-sourced trivia!

It’s a great technique for building both familiarity and confidence in crosswords, and a neat way to challenge yourselves as a team! (By the way, the Penny Dell Crosswords App is ideal for such activities, since you can use the alternate clue feature AND pass the phone around with ease!)

[Image courtesy of mykidcraft.com]

#2: Make your own jigsaw puzzle!

If you’ve conquered all of the jigsaw puzzles in your house, you can always make your own! Either flip one over and draw something new on the back of an old puzzle, then separate it and re-solve…


Get a big piece of paper, create your own image, cut it up, and try to solve!

I’ve found that cutting them into triangles, squares, and other common shapes is easier — and surprisingly more challenging — than trying to recreate jigsaw-style pieces.

And, of course, some companies sell blank jigsaws so you can create your own images!

#3: Create a scavenger hunt!

Now, I realize that scavenger hunts can be very time-intensive, but a great one can be simpler than you think! Limit the scope, but make it more personalized.

For instance, do you have a lot of books? Great! Make it a book-focused scavenger hunt! Ask for a book…

–with fire on the cover
–with sky on the cover
–a book that’s a certain color (or your favorite color)
–a book based on a movie
–a book without a person on the cover
–a book where a word in the title starts with the same letter as the author’s name
–the book with the funniest word on a given page

Toys, photos, funny google searches… if you tailor it to your family or household, a terrific scavenger hunt can be both easy to prep and fun to play!

#4: Come up with your own wordy puzzle challenge!

Are you good at anagrams? See how many words you can make with the letters in a given word, like INCREDIBLE.

Are you good at rhyming? Create rhyming phrases and see if people can guess the original!

Put your creative strengths and puzzly skills to the test by creating puzzles for those around you!

Let us know how you’re celebrating (Inter)National Puzzle Day, PuzzleNationers! Our pals at Penny/Dell Puzzles are working on a Word Seek Challenge for Thursday, and I’ll post more details when I have them. But until then, keep on puzzling, and 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!

Penny Dell Crosswords featured in the App Store!

Hello there, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

Yes, it’s true that we don’t normally post on Mondays, but we’ve got some exciting news to share with you and we just couldn’t wait ’til tomorrow!

Our friends at Apple are featuring the Penny Dell Crosswords App on the App Store for iPad!

The feature is listed for iPad and the app is available for iPad, iPhone, AND iPod touch devices! You can download the app for free by clicking here to get started puzzling!

Please share this post with your friends, family, and fellow puzzle-lovers!

Thank you to Apple for the attention and thank you to all PuzzleNationers everywhere for your support and enthusiasm! We’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: Pious Puzzling 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’m proud to announce the latest edition to the PuzzleNation line of apps and games: Penny Dell Bible Word Search for the iPad!

Featuring our signature TOUCH-to-SOLVE technology, which allows you to circle words and phrases with just a fingertip, Penny Dell Bible Word Search is not only a fun puzzle-solving experience that’s suitable for all ages, but it can also be a useful memorization tool for Bible passages!

Each passage is broken up into searchable words and phrases hidden in the grid, merging an enjoyable puzzly challenge with time to reflect on the words themselves.

With multiple sets, each containing 65 puzzles, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to study the Good Book and share its messages and wisdom with family and friends.

Getting started is easy because Penny Dell Bible Word Search is a FREE download for iPad!

We’re absolutely thrilled to add this title to our library of quality downloadable content, one that we hope all our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers will 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!

Scaling a Word Ladder to Success!

If I challenged you to transform the word ROCKS into the word SPARK, could you do it? By changing one letter at a time, making a new word every time, five changes would complete that chain of words.


Congratulations, you’ve chipped away at those rocks, created a spark, and ignited a puzzly fire! Not only that, but you’ve just built yourself a Word Ladder.

Word Ladders, also known as Changawords, word-links, laddergrams, doublets, word golf, and numerous other names, have been around in their current form for nearly a hundred and forty years. Lewis Carroll is credited with creating them, publishing a series of them in Vanity Fair magazine and a collection of them under the name Doublets.

For example, in Doublets he challenged solvers to connect CAIN to ABEL. He did it in nine steps. Can you match him, or beat him?

Can you turn TEARS into a SMILE in six steps?

As you can see, there’s often a theme or connection linking the words. Some Word Ladders connect anagrams (like SEAT to SATE) or semordnilaps (like WOLF to FLOW). Others connect two words in a phrase (like TRUE to BLUE) or link two words in the same category (like LION to LAMB if the theme were “Mammals”).

They can vary in word length as well as in number of steps between words. Often (but not always), the fewer steps, the easier the solve.

But, as it turns out, solvers continue to add new variations and wrinkles to the established format.

Sunday’s New York Times crossword puzzle featured Word Ladders as themed answers, but these Word Ladders actually formed coherent sentences! 92 Across, for instance, was clued “Boisterous oaf confused the previous set of actors.” And you’d have to be a pretty savvy solver to come up with LOUD-LOUT-LOST-LAST-CAST as the word ladder that fits the clue!

And the constructor, Joe Krozel, kindly offered a few bonus Word Ladders for solvers to unravel. Can you crack them all?

1. Table tennis: For ages, the only joy in my life.

2. Unspeaking inspirer will simply have to communicate in taunts.

3. Upon removing the strap, Mr. Rogers dashed away from his snow vehicle and glided.

4. Sell contraband to a flock of Jerry Garcia fans with intensity.

5. Audacious poet (with signs of aging) outlaws military conflict.

How many successful Word Ladders can you build? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

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 App Review: Hedgehog Gardens

Welcome to the another edition of PuzzleNation App Reviews! Today we continue our quest to explore the world of puzzly games and apps for your tablet or smartphone!

Our resident app player and puzzle fiend Sherri has another intriguing game for us today, so let’s get down to business and dive into her review of Hedgehog Gardens for iPad and iPhone!

Hedgehog Gardens is an iOS game that offers a cute twist on a simple counting game. But in this case, it isn’t so simple at all!

A pretty efficient hedgehog has taken up residence in the Back Garden. His goal, and yours, is to clear out all of the vegetables. To do this, you must number the tiles from 1 to 36, while following specific rules. In much higher puzzles, you must count even higher!

[Where would you place a 3 to continue the
hedgehog’s clockwise path around the garden?]

Each Back Garden puzzle is divided into four different sections, each of which is filled with a different vegetable. There are three rules to follow in order to clear the vegetables and number the tiles: you must move clockwise around the board, you must move in a straight line from section to section, and you can’t revisit a tile.

Now don’t panic about where to start because when you start a puzzle, some of the tiles have already been numbered. Your goal is to complete the puzzle by guessing the remaining numbers and having the hedgehog follow a path from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on.

Once you complete enough Back Garden puzzles, you open up the Orchard, which has its own set of rules. There are other sections you can open once you complete enough puzzles.

If you enjoy counting and Sudoku-type games, this is a great game to play. You get over 1,000 puzzles spread over several sections. However, all of the puzzles are not immediately available. The more you play, the more you open. The sheer volume of puzzles will keep a player busy.

Counting and Sudoku-type games aren’t really my thing, but I find myself playing a puzzle here and there because they are puzzling and almost soothing. They are a pleasant way to work the mind. And I have to admit, the rolling hedgehog is very cute.

Ratings for Hedgehog Gardens:

  • Enjoyability: 3/5 — If you enjoy Sudoku-type numbering games, this one is for you. The sheer number of puzzles, over 1,000, should keep you occupied for a quite a while.
  • How well puzzles are incorporated: 4/5 — The puzzles get progressively harder and bigger the later you go into each section. Since each puzzle has a unique solve, you really need to think and puzzle out how to complete each one, especially with the rule changes in other sections.
  • Graphics: 2/5 — They’re pretty basic, just static pictures related to each particular section. For example, pictures of vegetables in the Back Garden. The rolling hedgehog is rather cute.
  • Gameplay: 2/5 — It’s pretty much the same thing through all of the puzzles. There are different rules for each section, but you’re really just counting. There isn’t much variety.

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!