In previous editions of this series, we’ve presented some new puzzles for crossword devotees and Fill-In fans to try out. Today, let’s turn our attention to Sudoku enthusiasts.
Now, before we talk about other types of puzzles, there are numerous Sudoku variants to choose from, if you’d like just a little twist on the familiar Sudoku formula. In fact, I did an entire blog post about them, as well as posts about new variants like Will Sudoku and Pentdoku Puzzles!
There are a few lesser-known number-placement puzzles out there that might scratch your puzzly itch if you’re a Sudoku fan: Futoshiki and Beehive Hidato.
[Futoshiki image courtesy of PuzzleMagazine.com.]
Futoshiki will seem fairly familiar, since the row and column rules of Sudoku are in effect. But you have an additional placement rule to consider: the less than/greater than signs in the grid, which indicate where to place lower or higher numbers in the grid. (Futoshiki translates to “not equal” in Japanese.)
[Hidato image courtesy of TheGuardian.com.]
Beehive Hidato eschews the traditional Sudoku row/column system of the deduction in favor of chain-placement of numbers in its hexagonal grid. Your goal is to fill every cell in the grid by filling in the missing numbers between 1 and the highest number. So, instead of placing the same numbers in every row and column, you’re placing a different number in each cell, forming a single chain from 1 to the last number.
The cell containing the number 1 must neighbor the cell containing the number 2, and the cell containing the number 2 must neighbor the cell containing the number 3, and so on, all the way around the grid.
If you’re looking to go a little farther afield and leave numbers behind, I’ve got you covered.
After all, some people tend to think of Sudoku as a math puzzle, but it’s really not; it’s more of a deduction and placement puzzle. You could check out not only Fill-Ins, but also all the puzzles I’ve previously recommended for Fill-In fans. That’s a great place to start.
You could also try your hand at Brick by Brick.
[Click here or on the grid for a larger version.]
Brick by Brick puzzles are a terrific bridge between placement puzzles and crosswords, using aspects of both. You’re given the complete first row of a crossword, and all of your clues, both across and down.
But, instead of the black squares you’d normally rely on to help guide you through answering those clues and placing your words, you’ve got 3×2 bricks filled with letters and black squares, a scrambled jigsaw puzzle to reassemble.
Here you can use your deductive Sudoku skills to place black squares and entire bricks into the grid as you apply crossword-solving skills toward answering the across and down clues, working back and forth between the two to complete your grid, assembling chunks of answer words as bricks fit neatly together.
And if you prefer quote puzzles to crossword puzzles, there’s always Quotefalls.
[Click here or on the grid for a full page of Quotefalls.]
Quotefalls gives you all of the letters in a given quote, plus the black squares that separate each word from the next. But it’s up to you to figure out where in each column to place the letters above so that the quotation reads out correctly.
Sometimes that’s easy, like in the fourth column of puzzle 2 above. Since there’s three black squares and only one open square, you know exactly where that E will go. Seedling letters like that can go a long way toward helping you fill each word, and eventually, the entire quote.
It’s a different form of deduction, but one not too terribly far from the number-placement solving of Sudoku.
Any one of these puzzles could add some welcome variety to your puzzle solving, while still honoring the style and play inherent in your favorite puzzle. Give them a shot, and let us know how you like them.
Next time, we’ll be tackling recommendations for Cryptogram fans, but if you’ve got puzzle recs for your fellow puzzlers in the meantime, please let us know in the comments!
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