Welcome to the PuzzleNation Blog 2018 Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide!
We’re excited to be bringing you our biggest gift guide ever! There are so many tremendously fun and puzzly products to share with you. We just might be your one-stop shop for all things puzzly!
This guide is broken down into categories for ease of searching. We have puzzle books, downloadable puzzles and puzzles by mail, jigsaw puzzles, puzzle games, board games, card games, dice games, party games, and miscellaneous puzzle swag. We’re sure you’ll find the perfect gift for any puzzler on your list!
This year’s Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide is sponsored by Daily POP Crosswords!
Daily POP Crosswords offers a different themed puzzle every single day, spanning everything from TV and film to sports and music!
Pencil-and-paper puzzles are alive and well, and we’re happy to share some of our favorites with you.
Maybe you’re looking for one kind of puzzle, like their Logic Problems Spectacular ($8.99) or some variety with the Mammoth Grab A Pencil Book of Brain Boosters ($10.50). Or perhaps you’d like a little something extra, and you’d prefer the Signature Fill-Ins Puzzle Gift Set ($32.95), complete with pencils, coffee, and snacks to keep you puzzling, or the Signature Sudoku Puzzle Gift Set ($32.95). Or you want to unwind with their Flying Colors coloring book ($6.99) and sip some coffee from a snazzy I’d Rather Be Puzzling Travel Mug ($7.95). Either way, the folks at Penny Dell Puzzles have got you covered.
And be sure to check out their deals on Facebook and Twitter throughout the holiday season. They’ve got bundles and discounts for days!
And while we’re on the topic of puzzle books, some of the best constructors working today have released their own books for your perusal! And with New York Times and Los Angeles Times crosswords to their credit, you’re sure to find some quality puzzlers within these pages!
–David Steinberg’s Juicy Crosswords from the Orange County Register ($5.35)
–Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Octopus Crosswords ($5.59)
–Matt Gaffney’s Fast & Fun Mini Crosswords ($6.18)
–Andrew Ries’s Maverick Crosswords ($8.31)
–Todd McClary’s Fresh Freestyle Crosswords ($8.95)
–Erik Agard’s Food for Thought Crosswords ($8.95)
–Cynthia Morris’s American Acrostics Volume 6: Puzzling American Culture and American Acrostics Volume 7: Puzzling Explorers and Adventurers ($7.95 each)
The Gatekeeper’s Bundle by Mike Selinker, Gaby Weidling, and Eric Harshbarger
The Maze of Games is one of the most diabolical puzzle books ever conceived. It allows the protagonists AND the reader to choose their own path through various labyrinths and challenge themselves to dozens of different puzzles in the hopes of conquering each of the labyrinths within the book.
And The Gatekeeper’s Bundle combines The Maze of Games, The Theseus Guide to the Final Maze hint book, and the new Maze of Games Map all in one place! ($74.95)
Of course, if you’ve already got The Maze of Games and The Theseus Guide, you can pick up the Maze of Games Map on its own right here! ($14.95)
[Click here to check out our full review of The Maze of Games!]
Puzzlecraft: How to Make Every Kind of Puzzle by Mike Selinker and Thomas Snyder
Updated seven years after the original version hit shelves, the new and improved Puzzlecraft is a self-contained masterclass in puzzle creation. Covering everything from crosswords and Sudoku to logic puzzles and brain teasers, this is the perfect launchpad for any and all aspiring puzzlers and constructors! ($29.95)
Downloadable Puzzles and Puzzles by Mail
Many top constructors and organizations market their puzzles directly to solvers, so between by-mail offers, subscriptions, and downloadable puzzle bundles, you’ve got plenty of quality choices!
—The Crosswords Club, edited by Patti Varol (puzzle bundles by mail, $39.95 for 12 issues)
—Puzzle Your Kids by Eric Berlin ($3/month, or puzzle sets available starting at $3.99; one free puzzle per week)
—The American Values Crossword (subscription and daily puzzles) ($22 for 1 year)
–Andrew Ries’ Aries Xwords ($12 per year)
–Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crosswords ($30 for 1 year)
—Topple puzzle magazine ($1 per issue)
For a next-level jigsaw challenge, Puzzometry is tough to top. These beautiful pieces can be combined in seemingly endless combinations, and yet, there’s only one solution. Available as Puzzometry ($17), Puzzometry Jr. ($12), and Puzzometry Squares ($17), you’ve got three distinct challenges appropriate for different ages!
[Check out the full review of Puzzometry by clicking here!]
Tavern Puzzles / Tucker-Jones House Inc.
These hand-forged beauties are ready to challenge your dexterity and cleverness, as you accept the Tavern Puzzles challenge. Whether you’re trying to remove twice as many pieces in a Collaborative Effort or free the triangle from Tridiculous, you’re sure to put your skills to the test. ($25 each)
Cat Crimes (ThinkFun)
A mischievous cat has turned your living room upside-down… can you figure out which one? Cat Crimes adds an adorable domestic twist to deduction-style puzzling with a cuddly cast of kitty miscreants for you to place at the scene of the crime, if you can read the clues properly! ($12.99)
[Check out our full review of Cat Crimes by clicking here!]
IcoSoKu (Project Genius)
Perhaps the most diabolical brain teaser is the one you make yourself! In IcoSoKu, you place the numbers into the grid ball, and then try to puzzle out how to place the plates so that they all fit! It’s tougher that it looks and twice as fun! ($19.99)
[Click here to check our full review of IcoSoKu!]
Zendo (Looney Labs)
Puzzle games are all about the rules, but what if you don’t know the rules? That’s where Zendo comes in. In this puzzle game, you arrange Looney pyramids and other shapes into various designs, and then see if those designs conform to a mysterious rule. A game of deduction and trial-and-error, Zendo is a very different solving experience. ($40)
Plus there’s a brand-new expansion pack with additional rules for the game! ($5)
[Check out our full review for Zendo here!]
Lexicon-GO! (Winning Moves UK)
Are you a word-forming pro? Take your speed-solving skills and try them out with Lexicon-GO!, a Scrabble-style tile game suitable for solvers of all ages! ($12.95)
[Click here for our full review of Lexicon-GO!]
Chroma Cube (Project Genius)
Deduction puzzles have never been so colorful! In Chroma Cube, you need to puzzle out where to place twelve richly colored cubes, with only a few tricky clues to help you out! Take logic puzzles into the third dimension with this minimalist delight! ($19.99)
[Check out our full Chroma Cube review here!]
Pinbox 3000 (Cardboard Teck Instantute)
How about the chance to build your own game? Is that puzzle enough for you? Pinbox 3000 provides all the pieces you’ll need, plus valuable advice for brainstorming and creating your very own pinball game. It’s endlessly customizable, so you can make your Pinbox pinball game as simple or as complex as you like! ($49.95)
Some of the puzzliest games on the market today are being made by top-flight board game companies, and we’ve got some marvelous games that will appeal to puzzlers of all ages!
Deblockle (Project Genius)
It sounds so simple! Just move your four cubes from one side of the board to the other. But Deblockle is more than meets the eye, and as you race against your opponent to puzzle out a path to victory, you’ll push your puzzly skills to the limit! ($24.99)
[Check out our full review of Deblockle here!]
The Island of Doctor Lucky (Cheapass Games)
People have been trying to kill Doctor Lucky for over twenty years, and this time around, you’re visiting his exotic island estate to try your murderous luck against the titular Doctor! The Island of Doctor Lucky offers a new gameboard to explore and new movement mechanics — including the Doctor’s very distracting cat — this is the best addition to the series yet! ($40)
[Check out our full review by clicking here!]
Castellan (Steve Jackson Games)
Build a castle and then occupy it in Castellan, a game of strategy and opportunity. With great modeled pieces that really add to the aesthetic, Castellan has style and substance. ($34.95)
[Check out our full product review here!]
Shadows in the Forest (ThinkFun)
It’s lights out with this unique exploring game that pits players against brightness and darkness! In Shadows in the Forest, one player searches the board for magic little creatures, while the other players try to keep them hidden! In the darkness, who knows who will win? ($24.99)
[For our full review of Shadows in the Forest, click here!]
The Great Dinosaur Rush (APE Games)
Bring the insane real-life rivalry of paleontologists Cope and Marsh to life in The Great Dinosaur Rush! As you collect fossils and discover your own unique dinosaur, you must also steal bones, sabotage other scientists, and more! Show off your cunning and creativity in this game that proves historical truth is weirder than fiction! ($50)
Walk-By Scrabble Board, Tile Securing Travel Scrabble, and Drawing Room Scrabble (Hammacher Schlemmer)
Hammacher Schlemmer has several Scrabble variants available, including Tile Securing Travel Scrabble for those who want to solve on the go ($39.95) and Drawing Room Scrabble for those with swankier taste ($249.95) — not to mention the mindboggling World’s Largest Scrabble Game for $12,000! — but few are as clever or as convenient as the Walk-By Scrabble Board! Designed as a family game for people on the go, it’s a perfect way to bring back Board Game Night for busy families! ($29.95)
[Check out our full product review of the Walk-By Scrabble Board here!]
Laser Chess (ThinkFun)
The classic game of positioning and strategy gets a 21st-century upgrade! In Laser Chess, you use mirrors and careful piece-placement to bounce your laser beam across the board! Can you remove your opponent’s obstructing pieces and light up their king with your laser? If you do, you win! ($39.99)
Tsuro: The Game of the Path (Calliope Games)
A path-laying game with tons of style and historical spirit, Tsuro casts up to eight players as flying dragons, and tasks you with laying out your path with special tiles. Try not to meet any other dragons or fly off the board! It’s a simple mechanic with plenty of replay value, and perfect for quick games with large groups. ($23.00)
The first thing you learn in chess is how the pieces move. But what if that could change? What if you could make new pieces that move in unexpected ways? How would that change the game? With Chessplus, you’ll find out, as you mix and match chess pieces in order to capture your opponent’s king. The possibilities really are endless! ($39.95)
[Click here for our full review of Chessplus!]
A wonderful mix of Uno and Mexican Train Dominoes, Qwirkle is a tile-placing game where you try to maximize your points while minimizing the help you give to your opponents. With six bright colors and six different shapes to match up, Qwirkle is endless fun that’s so easy to jump into! ($18.39)
Star Trek Fluxx, Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx, and The Bridge Expansion Pack (Looney Labs)
The chaos and ever-changing rules of Fluxx finally meet their match as they tackle the crews of the Federation’s most famous vessels. Whether you’re using the original series team in Star Trek Fluxx ($20), the crew of the Enterprise-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx ($20), or combining both decks with the help of The Bridge Expansion Pack ($5), these cards will take you where Fluxx has never gone before!
[Click here for our full reviews of Star Trek Fluxx, Star Trek: The Next Generation Fluxx, and The Bridge Expansion Pack!]
Ricochet Poker (Hip Pocket Games)
Have you tried poker without the bluffing? With Ricochet Poker, you’ll sharpen your wagering and tactical skills by playing the cards, not the players! The player with the worst hand controls the action, but the player with the best hand wins the pot! ($10)
[Our full review of Ricochet Poker can be found here!]
Spaceteam (Timber and Bolt)
Can you repair your ship and get the engines up and running before a black hole ends your space adventure forever? That’s the name of the game in Spaceteam, a cooperative, communication-based game where you have to accomplish various tasks with your fellow players while sharing tools. It’s delightful chaos, heightened by the five-minute hourglass timer counting down your dwindling seconds before disaster strikes! A definite favorite around here. ($24.99)
Get the MacGuffin (Looney Labs)
Endurance is the name of the game here! (Except not.) In Get the MacGuffin, your goal is to outlast your opponents by being the last player with cards in their hands or in play! If you get the MacGuffin, you’ll be in good shape! But beware the thief, he could spoil your day! ($10)
[Click here for our full review!]
Unspeakable Words (Playroom Entertainment)
Some word games might drive you mad, but only Unspeakable Words actually makes keeping your sanity part of the gameplay! As you spell different words, you have to make a die roll to see if spelling the word cost you a bit of your sanity. If you lose too much of it, you’ll start uttering unspeakable words, which can be worth more points… if your sanity can take it! A fun twist on Scrabble and other word-forming games. ($21.83; deluxe edition $24.34)
Constellations (Xtronaut Enterprises)
Sometimes, we can move heaven and earth! Constellations is all about collecting stars and building famous constellations, then placing them in the night sky! The more effective your constellation-building, the higher your score! ($19.95)
[Check out our full review of Constellations here!]
Combine the card game War with elements of Chess and Memory, and you’ve got something approximating Scrimish, a card game that’s effortless to learn, but offers endless possibilities. Can you protect your crown card while hunting down your opponent’s? With cards for both defense and offense, there’s a lot packed into just 25 cards apiece! ($9.99)
[Check out our full product review of Scrimish by clicking here!]
Timeline (Asmodee Games)
Timeline pits your knowledge of history against a growing timeline of important events, inventions, and historical moments. You don’t have to know exact dates; you just need to know if something happened before or after something else. Was the toothbrush invented before or after the syringe? Which came first, language or agriculture? Timeline is a fast, fun way of learning (or relearning) history! ($14.99 and up)
Girl Genius: The Works (Cheapass Games)
When you mess with the machine, you never know what might happen! In Girl Genius: The Works, you will play, spin, and remove cogs (cards) from the machine in order to earn points. But be careful, since chain reactions could leave your opponents in better standing by the time your turn is done! With multiple starter decks to choose from, Girl Genius: The Works will keep you coming back for more. ($10)
[Check out our full review by clicking here!]
Mary Engelbreit Loonacy (Looney Labs)
The singular pattern-matching chaos of Loonacy gets a lovely aesthetic update in the newest edition of the rapid-fire card game! Mary Engelbreit Loonacy marries the bright colors and warm tones of Engelbreit’s art with the fun and furious card-slapping gameplay of Loonacy! ($15)
[Click here to check out our full review!]
The Oregon Trail (Pressman Toys)
The classic computer game comes to life as you and your fellow players team up to survive the perilous journey along The Oregon Trail. With art evoking old-school computer games, rampant threats and calamities to endure, and a long and challenging road to travel, will any of you will make it to Oregon? ($14.99)
[Check out our full product review of The Oregon Trail by clicking here!]
Button Men (Cheapass Games)
It’s one-on-one combat with dice in Button Men, a quick-play game that deftly balances luck and calculation! Can your strategy and math skills overcome your opponent and the random chance of rolling and re-rolling the dice? ($35)
[Click here to read our full review for Button Men!]
Sagrada (Floodgate Games)
One of the most beautiful strategy games on the market today, Sagrada is a singularly peaceful gaming experience. Compete with other players to build the most beautiful stained glass window, but with dice instead of glass! Unique and challenging, Sagrada is something else. ($44.95)
Get ready to put your bluffing skills to the test with a kid-friendly round of Fluff! This fun version of Liar’s Dice will have you wagering, guessing, and deceiving your way to victory… or dicelessness! ($12.99)
Knot Dice (Black Oak Games)
Can you twist, turn, and spin these dice to complete beautiful, elaborate patterns inspired by Celtic knots? That’s the name of the game with Knot Dice, a dice game as challenging as it is gorgeous. With single-player and multi-player puzzles included, you’ll be tying yourself in knots for days! ($29.95)
[Click here to check out our full review!]
All of us have rolled dice in games before, but can you roll what you need as fast as possible? That’s the challenge of Tenzi, a game that pits up to four players against each other in tests of speed and dexterity. Can you roll ten 6’s before everyone else? ($14.95)
Slapzi will keep you on your toes. In this quick-reaction game, you’ve got to match your picture cards to the clue cards before your opponents. But with clues like “Not sold in a hardware store” or “Two of the same letter together,” this isn’t as easy as it appears! ($19.95)
[Click here to check out our full review of Slapzi!]
Schmovie (Galactic Sneeze)
Are you the funniest, punniest one in your group of friends? Find out by playing Schmovie, the party game that pushes you to scribble down the best name for an imaginary movie created on the spot! Now redesigned in a sleeker box and playable by all ages, this is the movie game for everyone. ($18.95)
[Check out our full product review of the original version of Schmovie here!]
Decrypto (IELLO USA)
Can you covertly communicate with your teammates without revealing your secret code to the opponent team? That’s the name of the game in Decrypto, a party game all about word association and deduction. The first team to crack the opposing team’s codes twice wins! ($19.93)
Miscellaneous Puzzle Swag
If you’re looking for puzzly magnets, keychains, teddy bears, and more, the team at All of the Things have puzzle treats for you! Their table was one of the marketplace highlights at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and we’re happy to welcome them to the Gift Guide this year!
Thank you to all of the constructors, designers, and companies taking part in this year’s holiday puzzly gift guide!
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