It’s Follow-Up Friday: Save a Shop Edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of crowdfunding and puzzles.

I’m a sucker for a great puzzly Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns. We’ve covered several terrific ones in my time here at PuzzleNation Blog — including Baffledazzle and Board Games: Now Blind Accessible, both of which I’ll be updating you on in the coming weeks — and I love spreading the word about interesting and worthwhile projects that the PuzzleNation Community can take part in.

Today, I’ve got another good one for you. A friend of the blog pointed me toward the Indiegogo campaign for Completely Puzzled, a puzzle and game shop in Port Townsend, Washington, that is in danger of closing.

The intrepid Sara Kingsland, long-time patron of the store and puzzle lover, wants to keep the store open, and is hoping to revamp its image and restock on games and puzzles galore with the help of fellow puzzlers and game fans.

The Pacific Northwest is home to a lot of wonderful gamers, puzzlers, companies and shops that represent the best in puzzles and games, and it would be terrific if we could do something to help preserve that fine tradition of puzzle fun in Washington State.

For details and to donate, check out the Completely Puzzled Indiegogo page here. Good luck, Sara!

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 our library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

5 Questions: Alumni Edition!

Welcome to a special edition of PuzzleNation Blog’s interview feature, 5 Questions!

Normally, I’d be posting a new interview with a puzzle constructor, game designer, puzzle enthusiast, or a member of any other creative field that enriches the world in a puzzly way.

But instead, today I thought I’d reach out to our 5 Questions alumni and bring you news on what they’ve been up to since their sessions of 5 Questions.

First off, puzzle constructor Trip Payne’s new Puzzle Extravaganza launches tomorrow, August 1! You can still sign up through the end of August, and the extravaganza is only $10 (a little more for bonus puzzles).

Put your puzzly skills to the test against a topnotch constructor who has contributed to dozens of newspapers, outlets, and puzzle books, including Will Shortz’s WordPlay!

[To check out Trip’s session of 5 Questions, click here!]

Next up, the dynamic duo of Aubrey and Angela, better known as The Doubleclicks, are continuing to fulfill all the promises made in the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for their newest album, Dimetrodon!

And they’re currently touring across the Midwest and East Coast! Their ambitious schedule of venues includes Toronto, Boston, Brooklyn, and plenty of other cities, many that will experience the Doubleclicks live for the very first time!

In addition, they’ve just completed their Weekly Song Wednesday project, where they posted a new song and video every Wednesday for ten weeks. You can visit their YouTube page to explore all sorts of delightful content fit for puzzlers and game fans of all ages.

[To check out Angela and Aubrey’s session of 5 Questions, click here!]

And lastly, I have some exciting updates from BaffleDazzle founder Rachel Happen.

After launching a tremendous Kickstarter campaign to fund BaffleDazzle’s first line of jigsaw-inspired puzzles, Rachel recently sent her Kickstarter backers an update on how the production phase is going.

So far, she’s on target to deliver all of her promised puzzles by the end of August!

As a one-woman puzzle-making machine, Rachel is exceeding expectations on all fronts, not only redesigning and improving every aspect of the looming delivery process, but designing brand new bonuses to include.

Just take a gander at these stacks of Codebreakers puzzles, freshly produced and awaiting happy homes and eager puzzlers:

[To check out Rachel’s session of 5 Questions, click here! And for a spoiler-light review of the BaffleDazzle puzzle Cirkusu, click here!]

These are just a few examples of puzzly people doing amazing, entertaining, fascinating things, and I’m glad I’m lucky enough to share their work with you, my fellow puzzlers.

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 our library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

Let’s get it (kick)started!

The newest tool in the arsenal of big thinkers and big dreamers is crowdfunding, wherein creators take their ideas directly to the people in the hopes that a lot of small donations will add up into capital to make their ideas reality.

Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have literally made dreams come true — heck, LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow Kickstarter just raised over a million dollars in ONE DAY — and it’s quickly becoming a key outlet for worthy puzzle projects. Some top-tier constructors are going straight to the fanbase with their puzzles, and with marvelous results. Constructors like Trip Payne, Eric Berlin, and Matt Gaffney have all had success on Kickstarter and Indiegogo with previous campaigns.

In the past, we’ve covered several crowdfunding campaigns, including Rachel Happen’s Baffledazzle puzzles, The Doubleclicks’ board game and pop culture-infused musical endeavors, and a company making board games and card games accessible to the visually challenged.

And I wanted to spread the world about some other puzzly endeavors that might interest the PuzzleNation readership.


The first is Peter Gordon’s Fireball Fortnightly News Crosswords.

Peter Gordon is known across the puzzle community for his Fireball Crosswords, a challenging brand of puzzle for ambitious solvers, as well as an easier weekly news-themed puzzle for The Week magazine. So now, he’s combined the two to create Fireball Fortnightly News Crosswords!

Every two weeks, you’ll receive a crossword by email that includes as many topical news-related items in the grid as possible. So you get your news and your crossword in one fell swoop. Not as difficult as his usual Fireball Crosswords, these puzzles will still let you flex your solving muscles twice a month.

With backer prizes like additional crossword books and the chance to create a puzzle with a master puzzler, Fireball Fortnightly News Crosswords might be right up your alley!

The second Kickstarter campaign features a puzzle app for Android devices.

Blackout is similar to Lights Out, Q*Bert, and other puzzle games where you must make every icon on the screen the same color, which becomes a tougher task to complete as the patterns grow more complicated and each click affects neighboring shapes.

The game will feature multiple levels of difficulty — including one where the icons change shape as well as color — ensuring it’ll keep you thinking and clicking for quite some time to come.

Finally, we have Block Party.

Block Party is a pattern-matching game featuring several shapes, colors, and patterns, and players must find parties — groupings of similar aspects or collections of each different aspect — without touching the blocks. The first player to shout “Party!” then reveals the grouping they’ve spotted, and the game continues.

Block Party combines visual reflexes, pattern-matching skills, memory retention, and spatial reasoning to create an immersive game that appears deceptively simple at the outset.

With backer rewards like a printable version of Block Party and limited-edition versions of the game, this campaign is ready to engage solvers of all ages.

The amazing thing about all of these projects is that the audience, the potential fans, have an enormous role to play not only in sharing their thoughts with game and puzzle creators, but in showing their support for designers and projects they believe in, and doing so in a meaningful way.

Here’s hoping each of these projects finds success.

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!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: The Future! edition

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

For today’s Follow-Up Friday post, I thought I’d do a bit of Follow-Ahead Friday by alerting my fellow puzzlers to all the joyous shenanigans afoot this weekend.

The Baffledazzle Kickstarter wraps up this weekend, and Rachel has met her goal of $12,000, thanks in part to the marvelous puzzlers in the PuzzleNation readership! Congratulations, Rachel! I can’t wait to see the final tally and the gorgeous puzzles you’ll be producing soon!

Plus, the Kentucky Derby returns today — if you couldn’t tell from our Wordplay Wednesday post — AND this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! Check out participating comic book shops near you for more details!

As if that wasn’t enough, Sunday is Star Wars Day! (May the Fourth Be With You!) We’ll be doing some Star Wars Day picture posting across our Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook accounts for the occasion, so keep your eyes peeled!

Finally, for the block-happy puzzlers out there, there’s the Sunday night premiere of The Simpsons’ LEGO Spectacular, an episode dedicated to everyone’s favorite building toy!

So much for puzzle lovers to enjoy this weekend!

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!

Follow-Up Friday: Kickstarter edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

For those new to PuzzleNation Blog, Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and update the PuzzleNation audience on how these projects are doing and what these people have been up to in the meantime.

And today, I’m happy to update you on some of the Kickstarter accounts we’ve featured in recent weeks.

First, the Board Games: Now Blind Accessible Kickstarter — dedicated to modifying existing card games and board games to allow visually impaired people to play — wrapped up yesterday with great success.

In total, the campaign met its goal nearly three times over! (Over $20,000!)

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on further updates from 64 Oz. Games and this very worthy cause.

And second, one lucky solver will be getting a set of Baffledazzle Code Breakers puzzles, courtesy of Rachel Happen!

In Rachel’s edition of 5 Questions, she not only discussed her Kickstarter campaign for high-end, high-quality, challenging jigsaw puzzles — 80% funded with 9 days to go! — but she snuck a puzzle into her interview answers!

And intrepid solver Caroline Kerstens was the first to unravel Rachel’s puzzle by spotting the clues and following the breadcrumb trail!

From Caroline’s post:

Hey, I was wondering if the puzzle you hid in the Puzzlenation interview has already been solved. If not, I think I have the answer!

Clues:

  • a “clever British spy” (female) 
  • translating Polish sayings 
  • French public transport 
  • navigating into new waters

There was a woman of Polish nobility who worked as a spy for the British SOE during WWII, which combines the first two clues. She outwitted the German Gestapo on various occasions and even tricked a Gestapo officer into carrying her package of illicit documents into Poland by making him believe it was a bag of black-market tea for her mother.

(You could link French public transport to her as well: the most famous public transport system in France is the Métropolitain or subway, which is an underground network. She, as a spy, was also part of an underground network, and she also operated in France.)

Her whole life was a series of “navigating new waters”:

  • from Polish nobility to adventurous spy 
  • she had a “varied” love life 
  • She skiied into occupied Poland with British propaganda, so if snow counts as water, this would work 🙂 
  • After the war, she worked as a cruise ship stewardess and literally navigated new waters.

So, is the answer to the hidden riddle Christine Granville? Or am I thinking in the wrong direction?

She was, in fact, correct, and will soon receive her very own set of Baffledazzle Code Breakers puzzles.

Here’s hoping Baffledazzle sees the same sort of wonderful success as the folks at Board Games: Now Blind Accessible.

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 Reviews: Cirkusu (by Baffledazzle)

In our most recent edition of 5 Questions, I introduced you to Rachel Happen, the puzzler behind Baffledazzle, a Kickstarter to create high-end jigsaw puzzles that are aesthetically pleasing and more challenging than the average puzzle.

She sent us a review copy of one of the five initial Baffledazzle puzzles she’s created, so let’s give Cirkusu the full PuzzleNation review treatment!

[Note: This is intended as a spoiler-light review, so while I do discuss the completed puzzles in vague terms, I won’t include any pictures of completed puzzles.]

Cirkusu is a series of jigsaw puzzles centered around the history of games. It’s up to the solver to complete each puzzle, and once they’re assembled, to unravel the identities of each game.

cirkusupiecesall

[A fleet of puzzle pieces awaits the solver upon opening the box.]

First off, these pieces are beautiful. The wooden pieces are well cut, visually interesting, and simply fun to play with. Despite the curious shapes and inscribed patterns, it’s still a very challenging jigsaw-style puzzle. And since there’s no picture on the cover to bias the solver, it becomes a matter of matching words, patterns, and different fonts in order to solve the seven puzzles included.

cirkusupieces

[Just a small sample of the variety of Cirkusu puzzle pieces.]

Each puzzle is inscribed with text, presenting historical context for the game’s creation or rules on how to play, enriching the solving experience and offering clues for the second part of the solve: determining each game’s identity.

Also included are numerous miscellaneous bits and bobs, made from wood, plastic, acrylic, and other materials. These allow some of the puzzles to become full playable games, encouraging the solver to experiment further with different play styles, perhaps even inventing your own game along the way toward figuring out the actual game. (Other puzzles explain how to create a given game on your own, even providing blueprints for how to do so.)

close-upforreview

[A close-up of a few individual pieces.]

What separates a Baffledazzle puzzle from the average jigsaw is not only the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail, but also the exploration each puzzle encourages. You can hit the library or take to the Internet in order to find out more about the puzzles, or you can play with the games and make it your own. You dictate when the puzzling experience ends (particularly when there are hint and solution envelopes included).

Solving the puzzle becomes one part of a greater journey. And that makes for a truly memorable solving experience.

[You can check out all of Rachel’s Baffledazzle puzzles, including Cirkusu, on her Kickstarter page.]

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