A New Gaming Opportunity for Opportunity?

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia.]

Last month, the world collectively mourned the loss of the Opportunity Rover, as NASA declared that the incredible machine’s marathon body of work on Mars had officially ended.

Its mission was meant to last 90 days. Opportunity vastly overperformed, delivering photos and data for a mind-blowing fifteen years of service. The Little Engine That Could has got nothing on the Opportunity Rover.

The outpouring of sadness and affection for the Rover surprised many, serving as a heartwarming reminder of the amazing things we can accomplish. It also represents our almost magical ability to come together as a people in appreciation of an icon, one we’d come to adore and anthropomorphize into a plucky, inquisitive adventurer.

[Image courtesy of Tom Gauld.]

As you might expect, a character with this much esteem couldn’t pass into history without the game community immortalizing it in some way, shape, or form.

Thanks to WalrockHomebrew, an independent content creator for RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, the Opportunity Rover can now be part of your roleplaying campaigns!

Creating not only full stats for Oppy as a neutral good construct but a plausible explanation for how this real-world scientific device has found itself in a magical universe, WalrockHomebrew has crafted a fun fictional legacy for the much-loved rover.

Understandably, Oppy isn’t much of a fighter, though it can use its rock abrasion tool to scratch at any potential foes. It’s far more capable as an observer, seeing through magical illusions and glamours.

It can even see invisible creatures and creatures in the Ethereal Plane. As far as we know, the actual rover couldn’t.

Though, if it could, I suspect its reports to NASA would’ve been front page material every single day.

[WalrockHomebrew even offered rules for how to restore the rover in-game to full operational capacity. Pretty cool!]

This is a wonderful tribute to one of the most amazing devices ever conceived. Thank you, Oppy, for all of the wonders you revealed.

And thank you, WalrockHomebrew, for letting us hold onto that magic in an unexpected and delightful way.


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When (Cross)Worlds Collide: This Month’s Hashtag Game!

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 #PennyDellSpacePuzzles, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles with planets, astronauts, constellations, celestial objects, and more!

Examples include: World Seeks, Buzz All-Four-One-drin, and Tossing & Saturning.

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


Chess Solartaire

Triangle Suns

Diamond Rings of Saturn

Cosmic Sunrays

Space Battleships

Comet Combos

Bookwormholes / Blackout holes

All-Star Worm Seek Hole

Orbits and Pieces

Word Spiral-arm Galaxy

Nebulabyrinth

Nebula Square

Meteorite of Milky Way

Spaces, Please

Places, Pleides

Planets, Please

Polaris, Please

Point the Way Polaris

Point the Milky Way

Bits and Pisces

Hub-ble-caps

How Spaceman-y Triangles

Libra Tiles

Diagonal Orion’s

Penumbra Sleuth

Southern Cross Arithmetic

Scorpiusmaster

Quoteballs of Fire

Space Odysseys and Evens

End of the Karman Line

The Moon’s Shadow

Easy Plutoku

Exploraworld / Explorer 1 Words

A to Z Mars

Mars-bles

Marbles Rover

Four-fit the mission

Michio Kakuro / Michisu Doku

All Foursnax

Antilagrams

Countdown and Pair-blast-off / Pair LiftOff

The Disco-very mission

Headings for space

Alphabetics Centauri / Alpha Centauri Soup

Mission Dominoes / Missioning Dominoes

“Houston we have a Plug-Ins” / “Houston, we have a Deduction Problem!”

“Houston: the Crozzle has landed.”

Pulling-Strings theory

Board the space Shuffle

Lucky Rover

Lucky Shooting Star

Sputnik Satellites

Bull’s-Eye Spiral Galaxy

Scramble Across the Universe

Planet in the Round

Around the Sun

In and Around the World

World Ways

Mystery World

A Few Choice Worlds

Star Worlds

Battlestarships Galactica

“Not so expert and the Challenger crosswords”

“GROUND CONTROL TO MAJOR STEPHEN HAWKING’S BRAIN BOOSTER PACK”


Naturally, the intrepid puzzlers who submitted these marvelous puns couldn’t resist taking a crack at Neil Armstrong’s iconic words:

  • Two for One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.
  • One small Step by Step for man; one giant leap for mankind.
  • One small Step by Step for man; one giant leap for Three of a Kind.
  • One small Step by Step for man; one Puzzler’s Giant leap for mankind.

And to close out today’s entry, a special shout-out to several sci-fi savvy puzzlers!

The first offered a delightful take on a famous TV monologue:

Space: the final Mind Tickler. This is the Grand Tour of the Lucky Star-ship Penny. Its Five-Alive mission: to Explora-strange-new-worlds, to Word Seek out new Face-to-Face Puzzlers and new Cryptobotanies, to Bowl Game where no solver has Word Gamed before.

The second, more movie-minded contributor said: All I could think about when I read the theme was space was the Spaceballs theme song…

If you’re livin’ in a Build-a-Pyramid and you haven’t got a Connection
Well, you’re gonna be in Double Trouble cause we’re gonna Split & Splice your air
‘Cause what you Give is what we Take and all we do is dirty Decisions
We’re the Spaceballs, What’s Next! cause we’re the Spaceballs
We’re the Mixmaster of space
Hey, Don’t mess Around the Block with the Spaceballs!


Have you come up with any Penny Dell Space Puzzles 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!

These anagrams are out of this world!

Planets are in the news, as Pluto’s dubious planetary status is under the microscope once again.

Recently, a debate over the defining qualities of a planet was held at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and three of the top names in planetary science presented their cases to the attending audience.

Now, although the audience overwhelmingly voted in favor of Pluto’s planethood, that’s not binding. This wasn’t an International Astronomical Union vote or anything like that.

But it did put the solar system back in the news cycle, and that reminded me of a puzzly planetary story.

In the 1600s, Galileo Galilei was doing amazing work with his telescope, redefining our understanding of the solar system and our place in it. He was doing controversial work, but he still wanted to be able to prove he was the primary person behind a given discovery, so he mailed a letter to his colleague, Johannes Kepler.

Galileo sent Kepler this anagram: s m a i s m r m i l m e p o e t a l e u m i b u n e n u g t t a u i r a s

When properly solved, the anagram reads “Altissimum planetam tergeminum observavi,” meaning “I have observed the most distant planet to have a triple form.” You see, Galileo had glimpsed Saturn and its famous rings, but due to the poor magnification of his telescope, he’d mistaken the rings themselves for two moons orbiting the planet.

This was a tremendous discovery, adding to our knowledge of what was (at the time) the furthest reaches of our solar system.

But Kepler, while trying to untangle the anagram, came to a different solution. Believing that Galileo’s latest discovery involved Mars, not Saturn, Kepler’s solution read “Salue umbistineum geminatum Martia proles,” meaning Mars has two moons. (The ambiguity of Latin V’s and U’s didn’t help matters.)

So, while Kepler was wrong in his solution, he was unintentionally correct about Mars! (Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars, wouldn’t be confirmed until 1877.)

Amazingly enough, this wouldn’t be the only time Galileo relied on Kepler and anagrams to prove provenance when it came to his discoveries.

In 1611, Galileo sent another anagram to Kepler: Haec immatura a me iam frustra leguntur o.y.

Properly unscrambled, the message reads “Cynthiae figuras aemulatur mater amorum,” or “The mother of love imitates the shape of Cynthia.” This one requires a little more explanation. The mother of love was Venus, and Cynthia was the Moon, meaning that Venus, when observed from Earth, has phases just like the moon.

[Click here for a larger version of this image.]

This probably sounds less important than Galileo’s studies of Saturn, but it’s not. This was an earthshaking discovery, because it was observable evidence that Venus had to pass on both sides of the sun, meaning that Venus orbited the sun. This violated the geocentric model of the solar system so strongly espoused by the church!

It was evidence like this that led to Galileo’s battle with the Inquisition.

And, weirdly enough, there might be one more twist to this story.

Some historians believe that Kepler also solved this Galilean anagram incorrectly, and that his solution once again revealed an unintentional discovery about the solar system.

According to the as-yet-unverified story, Kepler’s solution read “Macula rufa in Jove est gyratur mathem…,” which translates as “There is a red spot in Jupiter, which rotates mathem[atically].” (Again, yes, there’s the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, but there was no way for Kepler to have known that at the time.)

It’s hard to believe that Kepler could twice unravel a Galileo anagram and twice make accidental predictions about the solar system. While the first story is widely accepted, the second is viewed with far more skepticism.

But either way, it just goes to show that anagrams, while delightful, might not be the best method for announcing your great discoveries.

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