# Solution to Last Week’s Merry Birthday Puzzle!

A week ago, we shared a brain teaser sent in by a PuzzleNationer named Darrin (who credited Marilynn Rapp Buxton as the creator of the puzzle). Darrin challenged us to solve the following logic puzzle.

Today, we’re going to share not only the solution, but how we got there! Please enjoy this brief solve and tutorial, submitted by one of your fellow PuzzleNationers!

Four friends — two girls named Holly and Joy, two boys named Kris and Noel — all celebrate their birthdays during December. Though none was born on Christmas Day — each was born on a different day — they all have festive names. Can you figure out each person’s last name and order of birth?

1. Nobody’s first name goes with the traditional last name (Berry, Fully, Kringle, or Singer) that you might expect.
2. Someone’s birthday is three days after their friend Joy’s birthdate.
3. Holly’s birthday is three days before Noel’s and three days after Kris’.
4. Miss Fully’s birthdate is six days after Joy’s.
5. Noel’s birthdate is six days after the one whose last name is Berry.

[Image courtesy of Moji-Moji Design on ravelry.]

Let’s sort out the order of birth first.

We know from rule 3 that Holly’s birthdate is three days before Noel’s and three days after Kris’s. So their birthdate order is Kris, Holly, Noel.

But we also know from rule 2 that someone’s birthday is three days after Joy’s. Since they all have different birthdays, that means Joy’s birthday comes first in the order, giving us Joy, Kris, Holly, Noel.

Rule 4 tells us that Miss Fully’s birthdate is six days after Joy’s, so Holly’s last name is Fully.

Rule 5 states that Noel’s birthday is six days after the one whose last name is Berry, so Kris’s last name is Berry.

That gives us Joy ____, Kris Berry, Holly Fully, Noel ____.

Rule 1 tells us all four last names — Berry, Fully, Kringle, and Singer — and that nobody’s first name goes with the traditional last name that you might expect. Logically, those names would be Holly Berry, Joy Fully, Kris Kringle, and Noel Singer.

Since Kringle and Singer are the two remaining last names, and Singer can’t go with Noel, our final list reads Joy Singer, Kris Berry, Holly Fully, Noel Kringle.

How did you do, fellow PuzzleNationers? Did you solve this one? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.

Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

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# A Festive Brain Teaser Submitted For Your Puzzly Pleasure!

[Image courtesy of SharpBrains.com.]

When’s the last time you had your brain properly tied in knots by a riddle?

That’s a pretty common occurrence around here, honestly. In our puzzly explorations of the world, we stumble across all manner of brain teasers, riddles, logic puzzles, math problems, mind ticklers, deduction games, and wordplay-fueled bits of linguistic legerdemain.

Sometimes, we even receive them directly from our fellow PuzzleNationers!

And on those occasions, we happily share them with you, dear reader, so that you can also enjoy the challenge of unraveling whatever fiendish puzzly conundrum has been placed before us.

This time around, a solver named Darrin submitted this festive holiday puzzle he found in his aunt’s collection of puzzle books. (He credits Marilynn Rapp Buxton as the constructor of this puzzle.)

Let’s see how we do.

Four friends — two girls named Holly and Joy, two boys named Kris and Noel — all celebrate their birthdays during December. Though none was born on Christmas Day — each was born on a different day — they all have festive names. Can you figure out each person’s last name and order of birth?

1. Nobody’s first name goes with the traditional last name (Berry, Fully, Kringle, or Singer) that you might expect.
2. Someone’s birthday is three days after their friend Joy’s birthdate.
3. Holly’s birthday is three days before Noel’s and three days after Kris’.
4. Miss Fully’s birthdate is six days after Joy’s.
5. Noel’s birthdate is six days after the one whose last name is Berry.

Will you be accepting this puzzly challenge from a fellow PuzzleNationer? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Treat yourself to some delightful deals on puzzles. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# PN Product Review: Coaster Games

[Note: I received a free copy of this game in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

Games come in all shapes and sizes these days. Some are so elaborate that they practically come with their own wheeled suitcases to transport everything, while others happily fit in an Altoid tin.

But even with today’s market for micro-games, it’s rare that six different activities can all fit in your pocket at once.

Still, the game designers at The Dark Imp have managed to do precisely that with the subject of today’s review. Please join us as we explore Coaster Games, a six-pack of games each designed to fit on a drink coaster.

Coaster Games is designed to be played with nothing more than the coasters themselves, something to write with, and something to write on. Some games are for two players, while others are for 2 or more. And each one offers a totally different sort of gameplay.

Alien Farm is a hand-drawn version of Sushi Go, where you place different aliens in different spots on your farm, hoping to maximize your score at the end of the game.

Letter Market is a curious mix of Boggle and Scrabble. You have 25 points to spend on letters, and the letters have different values. You’re trying to write down as many valid words as possible, using the letters you’ve purchased.

Ice Cream Truck is a wagering game where you try to make the most successful ice cream truck business on a budget. Each round, you wager some of your money on either ice cream or investments and see how the weather affects your business.

Free the Frog is like a mixing pot of Hangman, Charades, and 20 Questions. One player is the frog, and chooses a word to break the spell. All the other players are trying to guess that word using the questions available on the coaster.

Treasure Split is essentially the Prisoner’s Dilemma made into a game. You and your fellow player walk along a path, picking up treasure. But you have to secretly decide whether you’re splitting the loot or stealing it. Each has its benefits, but the path is different depending on the choices both players have made.

Sleuth Box is like Battleship, but there’s only one spot your opponent is hiding. But you’re hiding somewhere too, and each of you has to sleuth out the other’s location.

Each game has its pluses and minuses, but even if one isn’t your cup of tea, you’re bound to enjoy some of the other offerings. Free the Frog was an instant hit, and we were able to vary the game’s difficulty through our choices of vocabulary.

Similarly, Sleuth Box inspired lots of replays. We would quickly start to develop techniques to find our foes, which our opponents started to counter the more we played. Instead of replays detracting from the fun, it allowed for some very cool, intense showdowns of cleverness and guile across a half-dozen sessions in a row.

Each game only lasts a matter of minutes (no more than 10 or 12 for the most involved ones), so new players are invited to sample all sorts of play styles, whereas people more familiar with each game monopolize their favorites for a few rounds before passing them along and picking up another one. This collection is a great way to keep a group occupied without making anyone wait too long for their turn, which can be a serious concern when you’re gaming with a big group or at a family gathering.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with Coaster Games. The gameplay for each was easy to pick up with a single playthrough, and none of the games invited burnout even after multiple quick replays. If you need a great stocking stuffer or travel game, look no further.

[Coaster Games is available from The Dark Imp for just £6.99.]

Halloween is almost here, and we have some spookily good deals for you to check out. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

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# Solution to the Peppermint Patty Brain Teaser!

[Image courtesy of SharpBrains.com.]

A week ago, we shared a brain teaser sent in by a PuzzleNationer named Bethany, who challenged us to solve the following stumper.

Today, we’re going to share not only the solution, but how we got there! Please enjoy this brief solve and tutorial, inspired by one of your fellow PuzzleNationers!

The Peppermint Patty Riddle

You’re facing your friend, Caryn, in a “candy-off,” which works as follows: There’s a pile of one hundred caramels and one peppermint patty. You and Caryn will go back and forth taking at least one and no more than five caramels from the candy pile in each turn. The person who removes the last caramel will also get the peppermint patty. And you love peppermint patties.

Suppose Caryn lets you decide who goes first. Who should you choose in order to make sure you win the peppermint patty?

When I posted this brain teaser, I said that “the question basically demands that you not only achieve victory, but figure out how to do so with your very first move.”

That was meant to be a hint. Because the best way to unravel this riddle is to start at the end.

Look at the last turn. If there are five or fewer caramels left on the board and it’s Caryn’s turn, she wins. For you to guarantee a win, she needs to see six caramels on her last turn. (Seven or more allows her to take just enough to leave YOU with six, which means she wins on her next turn.)

And that six is the magic number. Her previous turn, you need to leave her with 12 caramels. The turn before that, 18 caramels. The turn before that, 24. And so on and so on.

Why? Simple.

Let’s look at the 12 caramel turn. If she takes any number of caramels (anywhere from 1 to 5), she’ll leave you with between 11 and 7 caramels. You can use your turn to remove whatever number of caramels are necessary (anywhere from 5 to 1) to leave her with six.

The entire game can be broken into six-caramel increments.

And the closest multiple of 6 to 100 (your starting point) is 96 caramels.

Which means you can’t let Caryn go first. You need to remove 4 caramels on your first turn, and then use every subsequent turn to ensure Caryn faces a multiple of six, which eventually gives you the victory and the peppermint patty.

So the answer to the riddle is you should go first.

Diabolical!

Did you solve the brain teaser, fellow PuzzleNationer? Or do you have a brain teaser you’d like us to unravel with you? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.

Well, summer’s over, but we still have deals galore for you to check out. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# Another Brain Teaser Submitted by Readers For Your Puzzly Pleasure!

[Image courtesy of SharpBrains.com.]

When’s the last time you had your brain properly tied in knots by a riddle?

That’s a pretty common occurrence around here, honestly. In our puzzly explorations of the world, we stumble across all manner of brain teasers, riddles, logic puzzles, math problems, mind ticklers, deduction games, and wordplay-fueled bits of linguistic legerdemain.

Sometimes, we even receive them directly from our fellow PuzzleNationers!

And on those occasions, we happily share them with you, dear reader, so that you can also enjoy the challenge of unraveling whatever fiendish puzzly conundrum has been placed before us.

This time around, a solver named Bethany submitted this riddle she found online. It’s known as the Peppermint Patty Riddle.

Let’s see how we do.

The Peppermint Patty Riddle

You’re facing your friend, Caryn, in a “candy-off,” which works as follows: There’s a pile of one hundred caramels and one peppermint patty. You and Caryn will go back and forth taking at least one and no more than five caramels from the candy pile in each turn. The person who removes the last caramel will also get the peppermint patty. And you love peppermint patties.

Suppose Caryn lets you decide who goes first. Who should you choose in order to make sure you win the peppermint patty?

Now that’s interesting, because it doesn’t ask us specifically HOW to achieve victory. But the question basically demands that you not only achieve victory, but figure out how to do so with your very first move.

Tricky indeed.

Will you be accepting this puzzly challenge from a fellow PuzzleNationer? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Well, summer’s over, but we still have deals galore for you to check out. You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

# PN Product Review: Zendo Expansion #2

[Note: I received a free copy of this game in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all that.]

Even the best designed games need a little sprucing up from time to time. This is especially true of logic/deduction games, where after a while, it can feel like you’ve seen every trick either the game or the other players can offer.

And there are very few game companies that consistently deliver great expansions. It’s a brutal tightrope to walk; you have to add to the established game in an interesting or fresh way, but without breaking the rules, introducing problems that players won’t know how to handle mechanically, or betraying in some manner the spirit of the original game.

For the team at Looney Labs, though, creating an expansion pack seems like another day at the office. We’ve reviewed expansion packs in the past for Fluxx (Fluxx Dice), Just Desserts (Just Coffee/Better with Bacon), and Star Trek Fluxx (the Bridge Expansion), and each one revitalizes the game and adds delightful new wrinkles without hampering any of the qualities that made the original game such a treat.

Today, we’re looking at a new expansion pack for one of the company’s most immersive and challenging puzzle games: Zendo.

In Zendo, the players pull pieces from a communal pile in order to build different structures, using pyramids, wedges, and blocks. One player, the moderator, chooses a secret rule for the players to uncover, and builds two structures. One of these structures follows the secret rule, and one does not, and both are marked as such.

Secret rules can be as simple as “must contain all three shapes” or “must contain exactly four pieces.” They can be as complex as “must contain more blue pieces than blocks” or “must contain at least one yellow piece pointing at a blue piece.” Some rules involve how pieces touch, or how they’re stacked, while others demand no touching or stacking whatsoever. The field is wide open at the start of the game.

Players then try to deduce the secret rule by building structures themselves, arranging pieces from the communal pile into various patterns and asking the moderator for more information.

So, how does Zendo Expansion #2 affect the original?

[Here are two sculptures: one that follows the secret rule and one that doesn’t. Can you figure out the secret rule? Is it about shapes? Colors? Placement? More?]

Zendo Expansion #2 is a ten-card deck of new secret rule cards that allow the moderator to create fresh challenges for the other players to unravel. The structures and arrangements may look the same, but players must reexamine what they think they know and observe to figure out the new secret rules.

Because, you see, the cards offer more than just the new rules. They demand greater cleverness from the moderator, in order to create designs that are fair for the players — not immediately obvious, but not impossible to discern either. It’s a difficult task for moderators.

And the challenge is even greater for players. After all, it’s not just about the shapes and how they interact, but all aspects of what the players see. Zendo Expansion #1 had cards where the rule involved the shape of the structure’s shadow. You could look at the pieces, the colors, how they’re placed, where they’re placed, how close, how far away, how many of each, and the shape of the shadow could NEVER occur to you.

[Here’s another sculpture that removes blue pieces as a possible
element in the secret rule. Have you figured it out yet?]

With one medium rule card and nine difficult rule cards (as opposed to the easy-to-difficult range of the first expansion pack), the game will only become more surprising and thoughtful from here.

These cards include rules about relationships between pieces, conditional rules (example: something that’s true of the sculpture if something else happens theoretically), and even rules regarding something that ISN’T happening in a particular sculpture. Players will have to wrack their brains and truly example both sculptures from every angle to puzzle out these new rules.

There are even decoy tags on certain cards, to make players think the card has more variables than there actually are! Diabolical!

Although I’m a moderator far more frequently than a player, I’m excited to try out both sides of these new rule cards. After all, with the base set and two expansions’ worth of cards, there’s no way I can remember ALL of the possible combinations available. I’m as likely to be outwitted and outpuzzled as the next player.

[One more chance. Here’s a much simplified version that DOESN’T
adhere to the secret rule. What can we learn from this one?]

And that’s the charm of Zendo. From a small gathering of pieces and rules, you can make practically any scenario you wish. Will the players figure it out first try, or will the moderator’s ability to reinvent their sculptures as needed be put to the ultimate test?

Zendo is at once the most collaborative and one of the most curiously devious puzzle-games in the Looney Labs catalog, and with this expansion pack, only the truly inventive and observant will thrive. What a treat.

[Zendo and the new Zendo Expansion #2 are available from Looney Labs, and the expansion pack is only \$5!]

Oh, and if you figure out our secret rule for the post, we’ll send you a Zendo-themed prize!

Have you checked out our special summer deals yet? You can find them on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search! Check them out!

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