International Tabletop Day Is Next Week!

tabletopday_logo

Over the last 18 months or so, an uncountable number of events had to be cancelled or postponed due to safety restrictions. Everyone knows someone whose wedding or graduation or vacation was affected by the pandemic. Major holidays were disrupted.

As more people across the country are fully vaccinated and things start to open up, people are naturally starting to plan get-togethers with those they haven’t seen and share communal experiences denied to them over the last year.

For puzzle and game fans, the same is true, as folks all over are gearing up for this year’s International Tabletop Day.

International-Tabletop-Day

As long-time readers of the blog know, International Tabletop Day is one of the highlights of the puzzle/game calendar, especially around here. We usually celebrate with an open game session with tons of games to try, snacks and game-themed treats, and more.

There was some controversy back in 2019 regarding when to actually celebrate Tabletop Day. It had been celebrated at the end of April for years, but then the official creators “moved” the date to June 1st, so there is a little bit of debate regarding when to celebrate this year’s game-fueled event.

But whether you’re celebrating on May 29th or June 1st (or any other date that suits you), we’ve got plenty of suggestions for how to enjoy the day, no matter what your circumstances!


In Person

If you’re gathering a small group of like-minded vaccinated chums for Tabletop Day fun, there’s plenty you can do:

  • Host a short game tournament and crown the winner King/Queen/Non-Binary Ruler of Tabletop Day
  • Have people dress up as favorite games or game characters
  • Have secret game-related rules for people to follow, like not being allowed to say certain words or trying to accomplish certain tasks (stealing a candlestick, referencing Clue, for instance)
  • Create specialized Bingo cards with games or rules or inside jokes to cross off as they happen, and have some small prize for people who get Bingo
  • Refresh with old classics OR break out something new from your stash that you’ve been desperate to play for months

[Image from Stranger Things courtesy of The Verge.]

At Home

If you’re trying to keep things mellow but still enjoy the day, here are some suggestions for the game fans in your household:

  • Play a communal storytelling game where the story goes around to each player and you have to build on what other players have said before. You can even add a twist to it with cards to play that add story elements, settings, and other weird obstacles to incorporate into the story at a moment’s notice.
  • Use Candyland as a guide, but each of the different colored spaces represents cards to draw or tasks to complete or other neat personalized challenges or prizes!
  • Try to kitbash together two games and make up new rules on the spot, and play your new hybrid game to see how it works! You’d be surprised how a few new twists can bring new life to old classics that have grown a little stale
  • In the same vein, make up your own game by playing 1000 Blank White Cards! (The link suggests everyone submit 5 cards, but I prefer that everyone submit as many cards as they can think of!)

no rolls barred

[Image courtesy of No Rolls Barred.]

Virtual

Maybe you’re still hesitant to gather together to celebrate. No problem! There are some terrific virtual options for you, no matter how you connect online with friends and family:

  • Writing games where you need to compare answers (like Scattergories or Hive Mind) are perfect for this sort of interaction, because all you need is some paper and something to write with!
  • Trivia Night! There are tons of ways to do this, either by having someone write the trivia, or use pre-set trivia games or websites, or even log into an app like Kahoot and have everyone virtually compete in the same online quizzes.
  • Play a social deduction game like Mafia or Werewolf by having one person run the game and assign players their rolls! This requires some coordination (and a willingness by players to shut their eyes and adhere to the rules), but it can be great fun if you pull it off!
  • Sign up for virtual board game spaces like Board Game Arena to communally play virtual versions of your favorites. (Also, there are tons of online versions of games as varied as Telestrations, Wits & Wagers, Uno, Secret Hitler, and many many more if you’re willing to search for them! All you need is one person to share their screen and run the game for you, and you’re in!)

horse race puzzle

One game that quickly became a favorite in our virtual office game group is Dobbins or Bobbins, a DIY parlor game that is huge fun.

Essentially, you pick a topic — the usual one is racehorse names — and have everyone who is playing submit 5 fake racehorse names each ahead of game time. Then you find 5 real racehorse names, and you create 5 lists.

Each list has a fake name from each of the players, plus one of the real names. (The person running the game can also submit a fake name if you want to spice things up a bit.)

Then everyone gathers (in person or online), and you read one of the lists. The goal is for every player to pick the real racehorse name. You get three points for guessing the real racehorse, but you also get a point for every player who picks your fake racehorse name! (Also, you can play with the rule that, if no one guesses the real horse, the person running the game gets three points, making them the antagonist.)

So even if you don’t find the real racehorse, you can clean up on points if you trick the other players into picking your horse!

After five rounds, the player with the most points wins.

And you don’t have to limit the game to racehorses. Our group has played Dobbins or Bobbins with board game names, Christmas movie titles, professional wrestler names, and more!

(Yes, you do need one person to host/organize this one, but it’s great fun to watch everyone play. Also, tricking them with a fake name is very satisfying.)


Will you be celebrating International Tabletop Day, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.

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

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!

Paint By Number Sleuth: A Puzzly Hashtag Game!

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie or hashtag games on Twitter.

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 #PennyDellPuzzleArt. Today’s entries all mash up Penny Dell puzzles with artists, famous pieces, techniques, styles, and more from the world of art!

Examples include: The First and Last Supper, O’Keeffeword, and Rows Avant-Garden.

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


Puzzly Artists!

Vincent On-The-Van Gogh Word Seek

Christo Crosswords

Three-Toulouse-One

Paul Cezanneagrams

Picassudoku

Michel(Try-Angle)o

Eugene DelaCrostic

Henri Word-a-Matisse

Camille PissarRows Garden

Paul Klee-from-nine

Anagram Magritte Squares

Eileen Gray That Again

Paul GaugIn the Middle

Marc ChagAll Fours

Grand Tour Moses

Elizabeth Catlettgories

Thomas EakInsert-a-Word

Piet Mondriagain

Liubov Sergeievna Popoverlay

Alfred StieglIts Your Move

Frank Lloyd Right Angles

Man SunRays

Man Raylroad Ties

CrackerJackson Pollock

Joan Miro Image

Johannes Vermeer-or Image

Wassily KenKendinsky

Louise Burgeois Tiles


“Here I sit so broken hearted…”

You can Fill-In the rest!

#Fitting Description


Famous Puzzly Art Pieces, Styles, and Terminology!

“Still Life with Apples and Pairs in Rhyme” (Paul Cezanne)

“The Two (for One) Fridas” (Frida Kahlo)

Pen and In(k) the Middle

Crisscrosshatch

DADArtboard

RocoCodebreaker

Around the Baroque

Letter DrOP Art


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

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

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!

Candyland: Pastime or Past Its Prime?

If you ask the average person to name five board games off the top of their head, you can pretty readily guess some of their replies. Monopoly is always there, Scrabble is often second, and then you’ll get a smattering of Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Sorry, and the like, and then a few outliers like Mouse Trap, Trouble, The Game of Life, and so on.

Candyland is a perennial name on that list, but if you look around the Internet where modern board game enthusiasts congregate, Candyland often appears on lists of the worst board games.

Why is that? Does Candyland get a bad rap?

Well, yes and no.

Strangely enough, the reason that causes so many game fans to put it on “worst” lists is the same reason it is celebrated as a good intro game for children: lack of choice.

Candyland isn’t really a game. There are no moves to make, no strategy to employ. Nothing you say or do will make you the winner. The game is purely one of chance. Once the deck is shuffled, the game is essentially over. (Chutes & Ladders and the card game War suffer from the same problem.)

Defenders of Candyland say that this is intentional… which is true. The game was designed to entertain and distract children either suffering from polio or trapped inside because of polio.

But defenders also argue that the game teaches children about reading instructions, learning to take turns, pattern-recognition, and more, all without the “complication” of actual tasks to complete.

But this is a weak argument, because virtually ANY game can teach these things and still offer children choices to make that affect the game.

Still, kids absolutely love Candyland. It’s bright and simple and silly, and the characters are charming.

So, what can we do to make the game engaging for solvers who actually want to do something, but won’t alienate the simplicity factor that makes it appealing to the youngest board game fans among us?

We institute some house rules!

1. Pick a card

Give the players two, three, or four cards to choose from. By allowing them to actually choose a card, there’s some level of strategy involved, even if it’s still a race to the end.

A variation on this idea is the push-your-luck house rule. In a regular game of Candyland, after you draw your card, you can ditch it for a second random draw. If you choose the second card, you must play it. This is a simple modification, but one that still allows players to affect the game in a meaningful way. Do you press your luck or accept the card you know you have?

2. Spot the color

One house rule suggested that a child should have to look around the room and point out an object that’s the same color as the card before they can move forward. While this doesn’t affect the gameplay, it does reinforce the idea that you can use Candyland to teach pattern recognition.

[A gritty reboot of Candyland by artist Shira-Chan.]

3. Deception

Now, it’s probably not a great idea to teach your kids about lying through board games. (After all, you’ll never be able to trust them in a game of Battleship ever again.) But adding a deception element can turn Candyland into an introductory poker game.

Basically, you draw your card, and announce your move without showing the card. If someone thinks you’re lying, they can call you out.

If you are lying, you don’t move AND you lose your next turn. But if you’re not lying, the player who accused you loses a turn.

4. Add trivia

This was a variation in my house on more than one occasion. Since there are six colors on the game board — and six categories in Trivial Pursuit — we combined the two.

When you draw a color card, you must answer a question of the corresponding color. Get it right, and you move on. Get it wrong, you stay where you are.

There are all sorts of terrific ideas out there to make Candyland more enjoyable for players of all ages — for instance, we found some good suggestions listed here which we didn’t cover — and with a little creativity, you can resurrect a classic and make it new again.

And we’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s a good or bad game after that.


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

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!

May the Fourth Be With You!

Hello fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers! It’s Star Wars Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a puzzly Star Wars brain teaser!

Yes, we’ve created a Jedi-themed logic puzzle for you to unravel! Can you crack this Star Wars-inspired mystery?


On a small planet in the Mid Rim, a group of Jedi dispatched several squads of battle droids. Reporters had a hard time piecing together descriptions of the five Jedi who saved the day, even after interviewing many witnesses.

The only thing the reporters were sure of? The names of the five Jedi:

  • Drosco Wrs
  • Ko Duus
  • Pramyt Gorc
  • Wendo Grars
  • Seredwok

Each of the Jedi wielded a different color lightsaber (green, yellow, blue, orange, or purple). Each held a different title within the Jedi Order (Padawan, Knight, Master, Instructor, or Council Member). And each of them was a different species (Barabel, Bith, Nautolan, Twi’lek, or Wookiee).

Based on the information gathered below, can you figure out which lightsaber color, title, and species belongs with which Jedi?

1. Drosco Wrs (whose lightsaber is either orange or green) is neither the padawan nor the knight.

2. Either Ko Duus or the Bith is the council member, and the other has the yellow lightsaber.

3. The Jedi has the blue lightsaber (who isn’t on the council) is either the Twi’lek or the Wookiee; if Twi’lek, then Drosco Wrs is the instructor, but if Wookiee, then Seredwok is the instructor.

4. The padawan (who has neither the blue lightsaber nor the green lightsaber) is not Seredwok.

5. Wendo Grars (who isn’t the knight) doesn’t have the yellow lightsaber or the blue lightsaber.

6. The Barabel (who is either Pramyt or Seredwok) isn’t the Jedi with the purple lightsaber.

7. The master has either the purple lightsaber or the yellow lightsaber. Neither the purple lightsaber nor the yellow lightsaber are wielded by the Nautolan.

Good luck, fellow puzzlers! This puzzle requires NO actual knowledge of Star Wars to solve. All you need are your puzzly wits!

Let us know if you solved it in the comments below! And May the Fourth Be With You!


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

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!

I-Got-The Christie’s: A Puzzly Crime Hashtag Game!

170831526_4007871395926244_6804303427308015657_n

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie or hashtag games on Twitter.

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 #PennyDellPuzzleMystery. Today’s entries all mash up Penny Dell puzzles with TV shows, movies, books, characters, concepts, and anything else that fits the mystery genre!

Examples include: Sherlock Home Runs, Two at a Crime, or The Bricks and Mortar of Roger Ackroyd.

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


Agatha Crisscrosstie

Mixed Bagatha

Murder on the Easy Crossword Express

Murder, She Quote / Murder, She Quotefinds

Mary Higgins Clark’s The Shadow of your Smile

Mary Higgins Clark’s On the Stretch Letters Where You Live

Joanne Fluke’s A Cinnamon Roll Recipe Time Murder

Paige Shelton’s The Killer Maze

Perry Mason’s The Case of the Mystery Melody

The Mirror Image Crack’d from Here to There

The Secret Word of the Old Clock

The Purloined Letterboxes

The Glass Keyword

Secret Word Agent

Double Trouble Agent

Word-a-Mata Hari

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Word Squares

Nancy Drew: Double Trouble Shooter

Sorry, Wrong Number Sleuth

D.O.ABC’s

Alfred Hitchcock and the Three of a Kind Investigators

Alphagrid HitchCrackers

PsyCodeword

To Catch a Themewords

Dilemma “M” for MurDittos / Dial-A-Grams for Murder

Rear Windowboxes

The 39 Stepping Stones

John GrishAnagrams

Miss Marbles

Hercule Poirows Garden

Fill-In Marlowe

Crackerjacks Reacher

The Alphabet Soup Murders

Pretty Maids All in a Rows Garden

They Only Kill Their Masterwords

Who’s Calling the Great Chefs of Europe?

Evil Under the Sunrays

Word Trails of the Pink Panther

Against All Odds and Evens

Body Double Trouble

Se7en-Up

Along Came a Spider’s Web

The Da Vinci Codewords

Trixie Belden and the Secret Words of the Mansion

Knives Out of Place

SpyMasterwords

Whopunit

The Dresden Tiles

Arth-Here-and-Thur Conan Double-Trouble-Doyle, Word Seek Mystery Person!

He’s the WatSunrays to your Sherlock Homeruns

The Sign of the Four Corners / The Sign of Foursomes

The Man With the Twisted Blips

221 ABC’s

Alphabet Soup For Two-Twenty-One-B Baker Street

Matchmaker Street Irregulars

“…What’s Left must be the truth.”

The Seven Percent Solution is on Page 178


I’m not very familiar with the mystery genre. I’ve heard of author Sara Pairsetsky and her novels Critical Masterword and Spellbound Game, though.

APPMystery


One intrepid puzzler went above and beyond by submitting the following pun-fueled message:

I have recently begun reading an author by the name of C.J. Boxes, needless to say he writes Mystery Word Seeks and I believe that that the C.J. is short for Crackerjacks.

Boxes is best known for his Joe Picker Upper series of novels and some of my favorites are “Savage Home Runs,” “Blackouts of Range,” “Breaking Point the Way,” and of course “Vicious Circle Sums.”

Recently Boxes’ latest series featuring a pair of Montana private investigators has been picked up by ABC’s television and the show depicts Double Trouble and the detectives come Face to Face with Deduction Problems in stories such as “Pair Off Dice Game Valley” where they ultimately answer the Big Question.

I’m glad to share this with y’all.


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

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

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!

Puzzling Virtually at Norwescon 43!

nwc43

Over the weekend, I participated in an online version of the celebrated sci-fi, fantasy, and horror convention Norwescon.

Although many of the convention’s panels and events have a writerly focus, plenty of attention is also given to art, films, games, and pop culture, so there was plenty for puzzle and game fans to enjoy at the event.

Naturally, since the convention was being held virtually rather than in person, some creativity was required to redesign events to be enjoyed from the comfort of attendees’ homes.

For instance, costumes were shown off through video or submitted photos — there was even a closet cosplay challenge held where participants had twenty minutes to create a costume based solely on what they could find in their closets!

As for my contributions, each year I host a themed scavenger hunt and an escape room for teen attendees to enjoy.

thumbnail_PBSH500

The scavenger hunt adapted to the format easily. We cast volunteers to portray different characters from the film The Princess Bride, and players had scheduled times to actually interact with them through Zoom chats. Players downloaded a PDF of the rules and some puzzles to be solved, and they would receive a code phrase upon completing each of their assigned tasks.

(The code phrases, when properly combined, revealed a secret word which would “trigger” a surprise video.)

Their more puzzly tasks included using instructions to whittle down a list of 40 possible ingredients down to the three Miracle Max would need for his miracle pill for Westley, as well as solving a logic puzzle to find evidence that an ROUS was innocent of a royal guardsman’s disappearance.

And on the last day of the convention, they attended the wrap-up panel where we explained the hunt in full, thanked the cast, announced the winners, took suggestions for a theme for next year’s scavenger hunt, and even played a Cameo video from a member of the film’s cast as a surprise for all the attendees!

It was a rousing success.

3po top half

Adapting the Star Wars-themed escape room for a virtual format was far more daunting. After all, one of the most satisfying aspects of escape room solving is to actually physically solve puzzles, unlock containers, open doors, and defeat all sorts of key locks, combination locks, and more.

My solution to this problem was to still allow players to “unlock” and open something, just something virtual: password-protected PDF files.

wall unit 2

[This “panel” required a 5-digit code and a 3-digit combination to unlock.]

I created a webpage with images of all the “locked” panels for them to virtually open, each of which had symbols to indicate what sort of lock there was, as well as links to the password-entry screens. As they found keys and solved puzzles, they coordinated to try different panels and see which keys and codes unlocked the PDFs, which then opened to give them new tools and puzzles to solve.

It wasn’t the most elegant solution, but once players got the hang of it, they were soon racing through the room, using a built-in chat window to keep track of items they hadn’t used and working out passwords in real time.

One of the players even started livestreaming her efforts to solve a pipe puzzle on Twitch so everyone could solve along with her. It was a very cool and innovative way to virtually solve!

Hopefully, we’ll be back in person for next year’s convention and we can get back to opening locks and running around for a proper scavenger hunt. But either way, it’s nice to know we’re adaptable and creative enough to still pull them off in the virtual space when circumstances arise.

After all, as long as the players had fun, we can definitely call it a win.


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

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!