PuzzleNation Product Review: Batman Fluxx

batman-fluxx

The folks at Looney Labs specialize in games with high replay value and dynamic gameplay, and no game epitomizes their gaming spirit more than Fluxx. With its constantly shifting rules, goals, and actions, no two sessions of Fluxx are exactly alike, and with numerous variant games like Star Fluxx, Monty Python Fluxx, Holiday Fluxx and more, there’s no shortage of possible ways to keep the game fresh.

The latest addition to the Fluxx family of games is Batman Fluxx, and between the crafty creators at Looney Labs and Batman’s diabolical Rogue’s Gallery of villains, you AND the Dark Knight will have your hands full.

batfluxx2

[There’s even a rule card that allows you to take advantage
by wearing something with Batman’s iconic logo!]

Now, anyone who has played Fluxx in the past is familiar with action cards, goal cards, keeper cards, new rule cards, and surprise cards. For those unfamiliar with the game, the basic idea is to collect keeper cards in the hopes of completing a goal and winning the game. But since every player can change rules (like how many cards you draw during your turn, how many you drop, etc.) as well as what the current goal is that will allow you to win the game, you have to be on your toes.

And Batman is the perfect theme for one of Fluxx’s most recent and ingenious innovations: the creeper card.

batfluxx4

Creeper cards — featuring many of Batman’s most infamous foes, like The Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and Poison Ivy — prevent any player (including the player who plays that card) from winning the game, even if they’ve collected the necessary keeper cards to complete the current goal. So, much like Batman, you need to clean up Gotham City and get rid of all those villains before you can declare victory!

It’s a diabolical way to prevent the other players from winning (that is, unless they’re hiding a goal card that requires a villain!) and it surprised several experienced Fluxx players I know when we playtested the game.

And the Batman-flavored Keepers and Goals are not only great fun, but clearly created with fans of the Caped Crusader in mind.

batfluxx3

[Those Wonderful Toys references Jack Nicholson’s famous line in the first Batman film, and The Joker Got Away! is a sly reference to the Batman-fueled variation of “Jingle Bells” that got many a child in trouble back in the day. Myself included.]

With art straight out of The New Batman Adventures cartoon series from the late ’90s, both the style and the nostalgia factor is here in spades. And yes, both Robin AND Batgirl are along for the ride. (No Nightwing, though, sadly.)

Nonetheless, this has quickly become my favorite version of Fluxx yet, and the Dynamic Duo have converted several other card game enthusiasts I know into Fluxx fans as well.

[To check out more Looney Labs games I’ve reviewed in the past, click here, here, here, and here!]


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 Looks Back at 2014!

The year is quickly coming to a close, and as I look back on the past twelve months, I’m both proud of everything we at PuzzleNation accomplished and optimistic for the year ahead of us.

It’s been both a pleasure and a privilege to explore the world of puzzles and games with you, my fellow puzzle lovers and PuzzleNationers. I’m closing in on my 300th blog post, and I’m even more excited to write for you now than I was when I started.

Over the last year, we explored dice games and tile games, apps and pen-and-paper puzzles. We met designers, constructors, and creative types of all kinds. We cracked brain teasers and tackled mind-bending riddles.

We explored the different roles puzzles have played throughout history, from codebreaking during the American Revolution and the Civil War to Galileo’s anagrams and a Pope who crafted puzzles for the local paper.

We celebrated International TableTop Day, Star Wars Day, the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube, the 30th anniversary of Tetris, and the 75th anniversary of Batman, and we were happy to share so many remarkable puzzly landmark moments with you.

We spread the word about numerous worthwhile Kickstarters and Indiegogo campaigns, and along the way, we supported some fantastic causes, like saving a puzzle/game shop in Washington and donating to a campaign to adapt games for colorblind and visually-impaired puzzle/game fans.

And that’s just the blog. PuzzleNation’s good fortune and accomplishments in 2014 went well beyond that.

In February, we launched the Penny/Dell Jumbo Crossword App, our most successful puzzle app to date. In March, we launched Classic Sudoku for the iPad, and in May, we added Classic Word Search for the iPad.

With numerous new puzzle sets (including two launched in December!), we have proudly maintained a steady stream of topnotch puzzle content for our solvers, and we’ve got plenty more on the way in 2015.

Not only that, but in September we relaunched our website, gearing it entirely to providing you with the best mobile puzzle gaming experience around.

And your response has been terrific! We also amassed over a thousand followers for the blog and over 1600 followers of the PuzzleNation Facebook page in 2014, numbers that are both humbling and encouraging.

2014 was our most productive, most exciting, and most creatively fulfilling year to date, and 2015 promises to be even brighter.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, your support, and your feedback, PuzzleNationers. Have a fantastic New Year. We’ll see you in 2015!

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: Parking Lot 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, in the spirit of yesterday’s post about The Riddler, I’d like to post a brain teaser for you to solve!

Can you explain the numbering system in this parking lot?

Also, do you have any favorite riddles or brain teasers? Let us know and we might feature them in a future post!

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!

Riddle Me This, Batman!

With so much Dark Knight-related news floating around, this might very well be the Year of Batman.

Not only is it the 75th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance in comics, but he’s going to be all over screens in the coming months. There are already teaser images out for the 2016 Batman Vs. Superman film, plus Fox’s upcoming prequel drama Gotham. As if that wasn’t enough, it was recently announced that the entire 1960s television series is coming to DVD and Blu-ray!

So it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at Batman’s puzzliest foe, The Riddler.

Played by Frank Gorshin (and John Astin, in one episode) in the 1960s TV series, The Riddler was absolutely manic, often breaking into wild fits of anger and laughter, compulsive in his need to send taunting riddles to the Caped Crusader. (This actually became a point of contention with his fellow villains in the Batman film, since they didn’t appreciate Batman being tipped off to their plans by the Riddler’s riddles.)

His riddles were similarly inconsistent and unpredictable. Some of them were genuine puzzlers (highlight for answers):

  • How do you divide seventeen apples among sixteen people? Make applesauce.
  • There are three men in a boat with four cigarettes but no matches. How do they manage to smoke? They throw one cigarette overboard and make the boat a cigarette lighter.

Others were similar to children’s jokes, silly in the extreme:

  • What has yellow skin and writes? A ballpoint banana.
  • What suit of cards lays eggs? One that’s chicken-hearted.

While Gorshin’s Riddler is probably the most famous and familiar version of the villain, my personal favorite was the Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series.

This Riddler (voiced by actor John Glover) was more suave, sophisticated, and cunning. In his debut episode, entitled “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?”, he challenged Batman and Robin with a boobytrap-filled labyrinth, complete with numerous riddles that were far more challenging than Gorshin’s Riddler would ever use.

Fittingly, a final riddle — the Riddle of the Minotaur — awaits Batman at the center of the labyrinth. Can you solve it?

I have millions of eyes, but live in darkness.
I have millions of ears, but only four lobes.
I have no muscles, but I rule two hemispheres.
What am I? The human brain.

This version of the Riddler only appeared a few times in the animated series, due to the writers’ difficulty coming up with his riddles and keeping his complex plots simple enough to fit into a single episode’s runtime. Nonetheless, this Riddler remains a fan favorite.

In the film Batman Forever, Jim Carrey actually gives us three versions of the Riddler: the scientist Edward Nygma (who definitely has a screw or two loose), the businessman Edward Nygma (a charming, public facade betraying none of his truly villainous tendencies), and the Riddler (a diabolical, borderline insane villain with an ax to grind with Bruce Wayne). Whether you like Carrey’s take on the character or not, he embodies an effective combination of Gorshin and Glover’s Riddlers.

Of course, despite his bizarre plan to read people’s minds through television and become smarter by doing so, this Riddler had one advantage over the previous versions: he had puzzlemaster Will Shortz designing his riddles for him.

While each riddle by itself meant little, except for providing a challenge to Batman’s intellect, all of them combined revealed the Riddler’s identity and set up the final showdown between the heroes and villains.

As for the newest version of the Riddler in Fox’s fall premiere Gotham, we don’t know a lot about him, since this is set in the days before Batman prowled the streets.

Apparently, the younger Edward Nygma (played by theater actor Cory Michael Smith) is a forensic scientist working for the police (who may formulate his notes in the form of riddles).

Hopefully, this Riddler will carry on the fine tradition of Riddlers past, challenging the defenders of Gotham to outthink him, rather than outfight him.


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!

5 Questions for Director and Editor David Rogers

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

We’re reaching out to puzzle constructors, video game writers and designers, writers, filmmakers, and puzzle enthusiasts from all walks of life, talking to people who make puzzles and people who enjoy them in the hopes of exploring the puzzle community as a whole.

And I’m overjoyed to have David Rogers as our latest 5 Questions interviewee!

An Emmy-award-winning editor, producer, and director, David has worked on NewsRadio, Seinfeld, Entourage, and The Office (as well as the sadly short-lived but very funny shows Andy Richter Controls the Universe and The Comeback).

During his time on The Office, he edited 60 episodes and directed 9, including the funniest episode of the show’s final season, “A.A.R.M.” He’s currently contributing to The Mindy Project, which is in its second season on Fox.

David was gracious enough to take some time out to talk to us, so without further ado, let’s get to the interview!

5 Questions for David Rogers

1.) You’re both a director and an editor for The Mindy Project, which means you play a significant role in taking disparate scenes and shots and assembling them into a cohesive, entertaining whole. Sounds like just about the ultimate in real-life jigsaw-style puzzle solving. What goes into the production of a given episode, and what are your thoughts as you prepare it for air?

I think the process of putting together any episode of any television show is more like solving a puzzle than anybody watching at home actually realizes, and The Mindy Project is a perfect example of this. From the moment the writers start on a script, they have to be conscious of who is currently doing what and what has happened before, and what’s going to happen down the road. Once the script gets into the hands of a director and the production staff, then more puzzle solving begins.

You break it down and start scouting locations and casting guest stars and then the first ADs (Assistant Directors) put together a shooting schedule. But they have to build it in a way where they can accommodate actors’ availabilities, place locations on a day where we can get the most done, and they also have to be aware of “turnaround issues” for cast and crew, that is whenever we wrap on one day, the cast and crew get a certain amount of time off before the next day’s call time.

An example I’ll give is when I directed “Bro Club For Dudes,” we shot two days, Thursday and Friday, of a Mixed Martial Arts Arena fight down at Hollywood Park. But we had a cameo from Dana White, the president and owner of the UFC, but he was only available Tuesday morning and we didn’t have the location for that day.

So we shot at another location that looked like a dingy hallway that looked like it was a part of our arena, and we also shot a street fight in the loading dock there between Morgan and Ray Ron, and since they were near our stages at the Universal lot, we finished a little after lunch and then came back to our stages and shot more there.

Another example was Adam Pally, who really kicked ass in his fighting scenes, wasn’t available to shoot on the following Monday and we had a hospital room scene of he and Mindy bonding as she stitches him up. Our solution was to build a small three-wall set at our Hollywood Park location and shoot the scene at the end of Friday night.

As an editor, you’re getting multiple takes and different jokes and plenty of alternate lines and performances, and you really have to sift through everything to figure out what’s the funniest, what’s the best, and how do they all connect together to make a cohesive story. It just takes time and building different versions until you see what truly works the best.

And in the process of cutting out time and sharpening the story, you move scenes around, add and change lines with additional dialog recorded later, and there are lots of other elements that come into play including music, sound FX, and what we call “invisible” visual FX that all help make the show we want to make.

[David with his Emmy Award for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series (one of two he’s won for The Office!)]

2.) You’re a big fan of comic books. What influence does that sort of long-form serialized storytelling have on your approach to TV production?

I am a huge fan of comic books and have been ever since I was 5 years old and got my first “The Brave and the Bold.” It’s interesting that when I was younger I was all about the art, and as I got older it was all about the writing and the art didn’t have to be from John Byrne or George Pérez or Neal Adams. But when you read a comic book, you’re really watching a TV show or movie in your head. You’re “casting” voices for the different heroes, you’re imagining what the action scenes and explosions are like, and you’re giving life to still images on a page much like a director uses a set of storyboards.

And that’s the part of a comic book where even if the artist isn’t a favorite like the ones I mentioned above, their work is still essential to what makes the comic book a living, breathing thing. There are these great examples given in How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way, where John Buscema and Stan Lee demonstrate two different pages of art work for the same material. One is fine and gets the story across, but the other is so much more exciting and dramatic and really puts you into the action — and that’s what good directors are constantly aware of when they’re shooting a scene.

What is visually better for the material? What adds to the humor or the drama or the action? And in TV where the schedule is so tight and the budget is always being looked at, what can you do with the tools and time that you have?

I came from The Office, where we were limited with how to shoot scenes because of the hand-held documentary style of the show, but we would still focus on things like shooting it spy or in the room, cross-covering with two cameras, or whipping around with just one, and really blocking positions and making the most of what our shots looked like without them looking like they were set up.

In the penultimate episode “A.A.R.M.,” I directed a scene where Dwight runs Angela off the road and then proposes to her with a bullhorn as traffic goes by in the background. The shots included a go-pro camera set up in Angela’s car where we would see Dwight pull alongside of her as they both “free-drove” — that’s when the actors are really driving the cars.

Meanwhile we get a “boat to boat” shot, where a free-driving process trailer — a truck made for rigging cameras and lights — leads in front of them with two cameras shooting straight back to cover the action. The shot from inside Angela’s car shows their faces very clearly as the scene plays and really brings out the comedy of the situation. Then from the outside, our Stunt Driver Dwight cuts off and runs Stunt Driver Angela off the road and this shot really highlights the action and danger of the stunt.

When we get to the next part of the scene and the cars are on the side of the road, we blocked the actors and cameras in a way so that when Dwight is tender and heartfelt (and yet proposing with a bullhorn), we can see the noisy cars going by on the street behind them, which adds to what should be a very intimate and yet very comedic marriage proposal.

Choosing how to shoot and compose a scene like that, and then executing it is absolutely like putting together a gigantic, complicated, wonderful puzzle!

3.) I understand you’re also a classic television automobile enthusiast. What can you tell us about that?

I don’t know if I’m so much a classic television automobile enthusiast as I am a Super Car enthusiast. I love the Mach 5 from Speed Racer, the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future, the 1966 Batman television show Batmobile, Herbie the Love Bug, and of course K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider. I just bought a full sized Trans-Am Firebird replica of K.I.T.T and I’m in the process of adding a Season 4 1-TV dash and really making the interior look like the car did on the show. It’s a fun side project and it’s something I’ve wanted since even before I could actually drive!

4.) What’s next for David Rogers?

I hope to continue editing. directing, and producing on The Mindy Project, which I really think is an exceptionally funny, very high quality, well-made show. I am also starting to develop some of my own ideas for TV shows as I look to direct more things down the road, including hour-longs and maybe even an independent film.

5.) If you could give the readers, puzzle fans, and aspiring TV and filmmakers in the audience one piece of advice, what would it be?

Persistence. Never give up and always work on your skills. So often getting the first job is really all about being in the right place at the right time. And you have to be ready to deliver when the pieces all come together and the time comes for you to step up and show everyone what you can do!

Many thanks to David for his time. You can see his work on The Mindy Project, which airs on Tuesdays at 9:30 P.M. Eastern on Fox, and be sure to check out his full filmography on his IMDb page. I can’t wait to see what he crafts for us next.

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation blog today! You can like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter, cruise our boards on Pinterest, check out our Tumblr, download our Classic Word Search iBook (recently featured by Apple in the Made for iBooks category!), play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!