How Much Puzzle Can You Fit on a Single Page?


If you’ve ever picked up a puzzle magazine or downloaded a puzzle suite, you can’t help but be impressed by how much puzzle content can be offered in a relatively small space.

Across a half-dozen or dozen pages, you might encounter loads of different puzzly challenges to test you in various ways. Math puzzles, deduction puzzles, trivia, word searches, anagrams, spatial acuity… all of these puzzly disciplines and more could be covered in a single puzzle packet.

But it does make me wonder… what if it was confined to a single page? How much puzzling can you cram onto a single 8.5 x 11 piece of paper?

Let’s start simple.

pn pt puzzle 1-2 image

A single, untouched crossword puzzle. Freshly printed. 15x, probably. Perhaps 17x. Maybe you have a subscription service. Maybe you nabbed a PDF online from any number of talented constructors.

Three or four columns of clues fill the page, along with that pristine grid, waiting patiently for you to start filling in answers.

But there’s still a lot of white space on that page. We can probably fit more puzzle on that page.

Check out this Crostic puzzle, published by our friends at Penny Dell Puzzles:

crostic puzzle

Read the clues, fill in the answers, and then fill in the corresponding letters in the grid below to build some trivia.

Not only is it a straightforward puzzle, but it fills the page nicely, and you’re hardly losing any real estate to explanations or anything other than the puzzle itself.

But I think we can still fit a bit more puzzle onto the page.

rows garden

How about a Rows Garden puzzle?

Between that visually impressive grid, the across clues, and all the different bloom clues, that page is starting to fill up nicely.

But can we go further?

Indeed, we can, if we delve into the world of one-page RPGs.

year of one page

[Click here for more details on this bundle.]

Yes, we’re talking about an entire roleplaying game — rules, setting, character details, and gameplay — distilled onto a single piece of paper.

There are all sorts of places to hunt down one-page RPGs to fit whatever kind of game you’d like to play. Sarcastic or serious, fantasy or sci-fi, quick-play or long-form, clever game designers have got you covered.

One of my favorites is Grant Howitt, who creates both longer roleplaying games and one-page games to keep your roleplaying experiences fresh.

Perhaps his greatest creation when it comes to one-page RPGs is a little game called Honey Heist.

honey heist

[That is a LOT of detail jammed into a small space.
Click here for a larger version you can actually read.]

There are two things you need to know in Honey Heist:

1. You and your fellow players are attempting to pull off the greatest heist ever.
2. You are a BEAR.

Yes, in Honey Heist, every player portrays a criminal bear trying to steal a king’s ransom in honey from a honey convention.

Some of my favorite roleplaying moments over the last few months have been in games of Honey Heist. It’s a very silly idea, yes, but also one that allows for strategic gameplay, immersive roleplaying, and memorable experiences. What more could you ask for?

We’re sure there are other puzzles or puzzle experiences that also do an impressive job of condensing a metric ton of puzzling into a single page.

Can you think of any that we missed? Do you have any favorite one-page puzzles or games you’d like to see in the spotlight? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

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“Infinity Train” Arrives Soon With Some Puzzly Ideas (and Viral Marketing)


Puzzles pop up all over the television landscape, whether you’re expecting them or not. For instance, while watching an old episode of The Sopranos the other day, I was surprised to see a Crostic puzzle from our friends at Penny Dell Puzzles in the hands of an FBI agent on the show.

You never know where puzzly ideas will show up, though thanks to a recent viral campaign, we do have some details on the latest Cartoon Network show with a puzzle element.

Infinity Train.


[Image courtesy of Gizmodo.]

Based on an 8-minute short film by Owen Dennis — who worked as both writer and storyboard editor for Regular ShowInfinity Train is an adventure/mystery series featuring a student named Tulip who has a knack for coding and solving puzzles. Tulip ends up on the titular train, discovering not only endless strange worlds inside the train, but dangerous foes and a puzzly mystery to solve.

The folks at Cartoon Network even whipped up a puzzle-fueled challenge for interested viewers.

It started with this brief teaser trailer for the show:

A link in the description box on YouTube directed folks to this website, where a piano puzzle — similar to the one from The Goonies — awaits:


Intrepid solvers quickly figured out that the solution to the puzzle is to play that brief melody you heard in the teaser. If you press (in order) D, B, G, and F#, a full trailer plays as your reward, revealing more scenes from the upcoming TV show.

It’s a cool piece of viral marketing that definitely sparked greater interest in the show, and even before the first episode has aired, fans are already speculating about the infinite train, the strange number on Tulip’s hand that changes depending on her actions, and the sinister characters that want her to “return to her seat.”


[Image courtesy of Infinity Train Fans.]

There is an intriguing mix of danger and excitement to the proceedings, as Tulip and her companions seem eager to unravel the train’s many mysteries, but never forget that they are in peril. It’s a tough tightrope to walk narratively, but if done correctly, it will add tension and drama to the show’s puzzly premise.

Given how much fun — and how challenging — solvers found some of the puzzles connected to Gravity Falls, there’s real potential for those same solvers to find new joys with Infinity Train.

Only time will tell.

Oh, and hey, here’s the full trailer in case you couldn’t crack the piano puzzle:

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New Puzzle Book Roundup!

It’s been a while since we’ve done a roundup of new puzzle books and packets available from top constructors, so I reached out to the puzzle community on Twitter and asked for recommendations for my fellow PuzzleNationers! Let’s see what we’ve got!

First off, Patrick Blindauer has a new PuzzleFest available, and this one is Broadway-themed!

Now, if you’re not theater-savvy, don’t worry. You’re not required to know anything about Broadway, it’s simply the unifying link between all the themed puzzles. So there’s some theatrical wordplay afoot!

Click here for more information. Patrick is charging $20 for a downloadable and easily printable PDF, and based on his track record of terrific PuzzleFests, this should be another great one!

Along a similar line, the puzzles from both this year’s Bryant Park puzzle tournament and last year’s tournament are available for download as a package deal for only $10! You can’t go wrong with two year’s worth of puzzles for such a low price!

Turning our attention to puzzle books, Foggy Brume has a collection of One-Word Word Searches available.

It sounds simple. All you have to do is find one word in a field of letters. How hard could that be? Well, it’s more challenging than you might expect!

This puzzle book is priced to move at $7.50 on Amazon.

Friend of the blog Cynthia Morris has a new edition in her long-running American Acrostics puzzle book series, and Volume 5 is all about American holidays and celebrations!

Did you know there’s a special day set aside each year to be in a bad mood? Or a day to do everything in reverse? There’s even a day to celebrate ice cream…

This puzzle book will run you $9.95 on Amazon.

And finally, puzzle book master Pierre Berloquin has a collection of puzzles centered around the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Victorian London. Based on the classic novels and short stories, the world of Holmes comes alive with all sorts of puzzly fun wrapped in Sherlockian trappings.

This puzzle book and walk down Memory Lane for mystery fans is available on Amazon for $14.95.

Hopefully one of these puzzle books or puzzle sets piques your interest, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers! Let us know if you snap any of them up!

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Cross Worlds with Crosswords (and Other Puzzles)!


You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For years now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellPuzzleGeography, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles and countries, cities, landmarks, tourist spots and more!

Examples include Stepping Stonehenge, Sri Linkwords, and Istanbul’s-Eye Spiral!

So, without further ado, check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny Dell Puzzles came up with!

Match-Up Picchu

Warsaw Squares

The Shadow of Liberty

Bricks and Mauritania

Empire State Building Blocks

Around the Block Island


Leicester Anagram Magic Square / Amazon Magic Square


TimbukTwo at a Time

Three Sommes

Across and Down Under

Ups and Churchill Downs

Torontop to bottom / Top to Foggy Bottom

Rhyme Times Square / Times Square Deal / Time Squares / Times Squares

Charing Crossroads

Around the Great Bend

Bermuda Triangle Seek / Bermuda Try-Angles

Paris in Rhyme


Arctic Circle Search / Arctic Circle Sums / Arctic Circles in the Square

Hidden Circle in the Squares / Piccadilly circles in the Square

9 of Diamonds Head


Classified Addis Ababa

Grand Tours / Rio Grande Tour / Grand Canyon Tour

Boston Common Bond

In the Middle East

End of the Maginot Line

HidDenali Word Squares

Make the MaConnection / Make the Connecticution

It’s Ural Move / It’s Your Mo-ja-ve

United KingDomino Theory

Quote Niagara Falls / Niagara Quotefalls

Montauk Point the Way / West Point the Way

QuotaGramercy Park


Right of Appian Way

Dubl-In and Around


Madriddle Me This


Helsinkey Word


Mount Skill-O-Gram-jaro

Pentagon Match

Missing Sphinx

Word Thames


Continent Search


Three from Rhine

Middle of the Abbey Road


Lake Tahoe Many Squares?





The Appalachian Word Trail

Little Fancy Five Points

Little Rock Puzzler

Mount Places Pleasant / Places, Belize

Eiffel Tower Power / Flowrida-er Sunshine Power

Florida Keywords / Turkeyword

Trafalgar Squares

Minsk Bag / Mixed Baghdad

Dublin Crosser

Amsterdiamond Rings

Birminghome Runs

Madaga-stars and Arrows

Sum-alia Triangles

Alaskan Penin-syllacrostic

Puzzle Der-bai

M_ss_ss_pp_ng V_w_ls

Who’s Whousatonic

Ottawat Is It?

Picture Paris

Chicago Fish


Pencilvania Pusher

Stockholm Runs

Say That Againsville?

Okefenokeyword Swamp

Angkor What’s Left? / What’s Left Bank?

Finnish the Fours

Battleships Creek


Sierra Leone and Only

Tierra Dell Fuego

Caribbean carnival

Red Rock Challenge

There were a few submissions that deserve their own section, as several of our intrepid puzzlers went above and beyond.

One offered a tourism pitch for a puzzly destination: Mount OddsandEverest: Only a HopSkipandJump ToptoBottom

Another offered the following exchange and puzzly directions:

1: “Excuse me, how do you get to these Places, Please? Could you Point the Way?”
2: “Just follow the Word Trails until you get to the Borderline. If you see the Quotefalls, you’ve gone to far. At the Four Corners, Keep On Moving until you reach the Crossroads. Then it’s just a walk Around the Block and you’ll be at the Crypto-Zoo!”

Finally, one offered a quick tour of her favorite puzzle locale:

One of my favorite locations to visit is Anagram Magic Square, where if you take your PLACES, PLEASE, you can ESCAPE A SPELL to anywhere on earth. You can travel to PARIS in PAIRS, or dine on ALPHABET SOUP at an UPBEAT L.A. SHOP. And whether you’d rather see a SLICK DUBLIN BOG or a GLIB LISBON DUCK, you can find it in the BUILDING BLOCKS of this amazing place.

Have you come up with any Penny Dell Puzzle Geography entries of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them!

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5 Questions for Acrostics Constructor Cynthia Morris

Welcome to 5 Questions, our recurring interview series where we reach out to puzzle constructors, game designers, writers, filmmakers, musicians, artists, and puzzle enthusiasts from all walks of life!

It’s all about exploring the vast and intriguing puzzle community by talking to those who make puzzles and those who enjoy them! (Click here to check out previous editions of 5 Questions!)

And I’m excited to welcome Cynthia Morris as our latest 5 Questions interviewee!


An author, editor, and puzzler, Cynthia is the mastermind behind Acrostics by Cyn, her online acrostic puzzle empire. Her brand is soon expanding to eight puzzle-book titles that mix crossword-esque cluing with intriguing themes and quotation-style content.

Cynthia 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 Cynthia Morris

1. How did you get started with puzzles? What drew you to acrostic puzzles more than other styles, like crosswords, word seeks, or encrypted puzzles?

I got started at a really early age, thanks to my mom. She was a former schoolteacher who knew how important it is to exercise our brains every day, so one year during summer break from school — I think I was 8 years old — she offered to pay me $10 for every book of puzzles I completed, cover-to-cover, without peeking at the answers in the back.

I chose variety puzzle books — I’m pretty sure they were the Dell puzzle magazines that were sold at the grocery stores. I thought they looked like the most fun. I had never even heard of acrostic puzzles at the time, but as soon as I discovered them, I was hooked. 

I had always loved books and also loved to write, so the combination of quotations from books and crossword-style clues was completely irresistible to me. Plus I loved that acrostic puzzles are a bit like solving a mystery, because the clues lead you to a fun or funny quote at the end, instead of just a grid filled with words.

I remember that I would solve the acrostic puzzles in the variety books first, and then race through the rest of the puzzles as quickly as possible so my mom would buy me another volume and I’d have more acrostic puzzles to solve.

We ended the $10-per-book deal when summer was over, but I was totally addicted to acrostics by then, and kept solving. It turned out to be a lifelong addiction.


2. What, in your estimation, makes for a great puzzle? What do you most enjoy — or try hardest to avoid — when constructing your own?

I love themed puzzles — and I especially love when a puzzle is “slyly themed,” so that when you finish the puzzle, you realize that far more clues/answers pertain to the quotation solution than you knew when you were solving it. I love learning something new, whether it’s from the clues and answers, or from the quotation solution.

I love clever or funny clues, as well as those that have a bit of misdirection thrown in.  I love a good quotation solution. And I love punny, groan-worthy puzzle titles — which is something I’ve picked up from my husband, Bryan. I write all of my puzzle titles with him in mind, and if I get a chuckle out of him I know I’m on the right track.

My favorite part of constructing? I don’t think I can answer that one, because I enjoy every aspect of it. I love selecting the quotations, although this often takes way longer than it should because I’ll open a book with the intention of skimming it for a good quote, and end up reading the whole thing! I love deconstructing the quotation solution into a word list, which is just as much fun as solving a puzzle. And I love writing the clues, especially trying to come up with clever clues that will make my solvers laugh.

I avoid dictionary definition clues as much as possible. I include a few in each puzzle as “gimmes,” because otherwise it can be difficult to get a toehold on a puzzle, but they’re not my favorites — I like to be more creative than that when it comes to clues. And I make a conscious effort not to copy any other constructor’s style — I’ve worked hard to develop my own signature style.

3. You have acrostic books for younger solvers and older solvers. What’s more challenging: creating an engaging puzzle for a younger solver or creating a truly difficult but fair puzzle for an established solver?

You’d think my AnimaCrostics series, which are easy, animal-themed puzzles for kids and new acrostic solvers, would be the easiest to construct, but this isn’t the case. They’re just as difficult to create as my challenging puzzles for adults.

Technically, I’m much more limited when it comes to which words I can use as answers, because I have to be sure they’re words that are in children’s vocabularies. Then again, one of my goals is to help kids expand their vocabularies, so I like to include a few words in each puzzle that may be a bit of a stretch for them at first. It’s a difficult balancing act, so I put a great deal of effort into every one of those short, easy puzzles.

Creatively speaking, AnimaCrostics are also a bit of a challenge, but a fun one. When I was first constructing them I had about 75 kids at a local elementary school for testers, and one thing was clear: Kids like gross stuff. They love learning about things like vulture vomit and hippo poop and fish farts. The puzzles with these types of quotation solutions were the biggest hits, and the puzzles that kept the kids coming back for more. So I try to include as many of them as I can in each book, along with other fun animal facts.

I originally called this series Kids’ Krostics, but it turned out that many adults who were new to acrostic puzzles were enjoying them as well, and even snagging the books from their kids when they weren’t in use. So I renamed this series AnimaCrostics to make it clear that these puzzles are fun for everyone, not just kids.

My two other series, American Acrostics and CynAcrostics, are equally difficult to construct, but for different reasons. 


Each volume of American Acrostics tells a story — the history of the United States (Volume 1), the story of American inventors (Volume 2), tales about our presidents and first ladies (Volume 3), and fun facts about each state (Volume 4, forthcoming). Finding the specific quotations I need for these volumes can be challenging. But I love that sort of challenge, which involves bringing about 80 library books home at a time, because I get to read so many wonderful books while searching for quotations. 

Choosing quotations for CynAcrostics is a bit easier, because I keep a running file of quotes I come across in books I’m reading. For example, I already have all my quotations for CynAcrostics Volume 3: You Don’t Say? selected, and I haven’t even started constructing those puzzles yet! I’m a rabid reader, and I have very eclectic tastes, so the CynAcrostics are a fun way to share quotations from the wide range of books I read. 

Both my American Acrostics and CynAcrostics series include themed puzzles — some volumes more than others. Themed puzzles are more challenging to construct than your average acrostic puzzle, because the goal is to include as many clues/answers related to the theme of the quotation solution as possible, but to clue them in such a way that the theme isn’t too obvious, which would make the puzzle too easy.

Overall, I think finding the right difficulty level — whether the puzzles are geared for adults or kids — is one of the hardest parts of the construction process. I try to include a mix of easy, medium, and difficult puzzles in each volume, but of course a puzzle that’s easy for one person may be difficult for another. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that it’s impossible to please all of the solvers all of the time, so I just focus on constructing the best puzzles I can, and hope my solvers enjoy them.

4. What’s next for Cynthia Morris?

On the puzzle front, I’m finishing up my eighth volume of puzzles, American Acrostics Volume 4: The Puzzling States of the Union. This may be my favorite volume yet.  I’ve managed to find really great, quirky quotation solutions, and because the puzzles are themed, I’ve learned a lot of fun trivia about each state. I’m really looking forward to sharing this volume, and hope to have it available in time for the holidays.

As an author/editor of nonfiction books, I also have exciting news. My book, Micronesian Blues (co-authored with my husband, Bryan Vila) is in development with actor Patrick Dempsey’s production company (Shifting Gears) and Cinemax. A Cinemax original TV series based on the book is in the works, and I hope to have more information about this project to share soon.


We’re working with an absolutely fabulous team of folks — in addition to Patrick Dempsey, Emmy-winning director Greg Yaitanes and New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Tropper are on board — so we couldn’t be happier with this project. (Of course, as soon as we signed on with Patrick’s production company, I couldn’t resist constructing a celebratory puzzle based on a quote from his Grey’s Anatomy character, Derek Shepherd. I ended up using it in CynAcrostics Volume 2: Reel-y?)

I also continue to work as an editor, and I have several other books in progress, so I certainly can’t say I’m ever bored.

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

Just one? Yikes!  I’m not known for my brevity. OK, here goes:

I view acrostic puzzle construction as an art, and my goal with each puzzle I construct is to hone my craft. For readers, this may provide some insight into how much of ourselves we constructors put into each acrostic puzzle. For my fellow puzzle writers, I’m sure you can relate to this. For puzzle fans, this means that your feedback is invaluable to me. And for aspiring constructors, this means that no matter how many acrostic puzzles you’ve solved, it takes more time than you might imagine to become good at constructing, so be prepared for that. I’ve been constructing for 11 years now and I’m still learning to be a better constructor all the time, as both my skills and my understanding of what constitutes a good puzzle evolve.

A huge thank you to Cynthia for her time. You can check out all the acrostic offerings from her on her website here, and be sure to follow her on Twitter for the latest updates and puzzles!

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Other puzzles you might not know! (Volume 1)

We’re all puzzle fans here, right? And sometimes we need something new, something fresh and engaging to rejuvenate our love of puzzles. We know all the classics — crosswords, fill-ins, logic puzzles, word seeks, Sudoku, cryptograms, and anagram puzzles — but there’s a whole wide world of puzzles out there to explore that you might not even know about!

So, in today’s post, I’m going suggest some puzzles to check out, based on each of those classic solving experiences.

Let’s start with crosswords.

From the New York Times and LA Times crossword puzzles to the Penny Dell Crossword App, there’s no shortage of terrific crosswords of all difficulty ranges awaiting solvers.

But there are also some terrific variant crosswords for you to try out, like Double Trouble.

[Click here or on the grid for a larger version, complete with clues.]

In a Double Trouble crossword, you can put one, two, or three letters into a box, making for a more difficult solve that the standard one-letter one-box crossword.

But if you want to go a little farther afield, you can try something like Marching Bands.

[Image courtesy of Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website.]

A Marching Bands puzzle has two sets of clues. The first set clues the rows reading across, with two clues per line. But the second set is where things get interesting. See those alternating rings of light and dark shading? The second set clues words reading clockwise along those rings, or bands.

So instead of words meshing across and down, as in a standard crossword, you have across clues and band clues interacting to help you fill the grid. It’s a wonderful variation on familiar crossword rules, but one challenging enough to keep you interested. (For a more in-depth look, click here!)

But maybe you like crossword cluing but you’d like an answer more interesting than just a grid filled with words. Fair enough, have you ever tried Crostics?

[Click here or on the grid for a larger version.]

Crostics, also known as Anacrostics (from our friends at Dell Magazines) or Acrostics (as made by friend of the blog Cynthia Morris), feature a series of clues and letter blanks to be filled.

Those letter blanks each have coordinates assigned, so that when you fill the correct letters into those blanks, you’re also filling blanks in a grid below to spell out a bonus message, quotation, or anecdote. (It’s a one-to-one ratio, so each letter blank corresponds to a letter blank in the grid. If there’s one J in the message, you’ll find a J in the answer words.)

Although you don’t have the overlapping entries to help you puzzle out answers like crosswords or Marching Bands do, you can use the grid below as a solving aid. As each word in the message emerges, you can fill in those letters in the blanks above (using those same coordinates).

And for something along the same vein, you’ve got Word Games Puzzles.

[Click here or on the grid for a larger version.]

You still get the message reading out in a grid and the letter blank coordinates like in Crostics, but instead of a bunch of crossword-style clues, you instead get four mini-games to solve. One might be trivia or encryption, another might involve some wordplay, another might offer themed clues, and the fourth might be an anagram game.

Each will challenge you in different ways, and the use of repeated letters — a change from Crostics with their one-to-one letter blank to grid letter ratio — gives you more than one chance to fill in the final message.

Hopefully, one or more of these puzzles will pique your interests and offer a welcome new solving experience!

Next week, I’ll have recommendations for fans of Fill-In puzzles, and in future installments, we’ll tackle word seeks, logic puzzles, Sudoku, and more! If you’ve got recommendations for your fellow puzzlers, please let us know in the comments!

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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!