Ten Year Celebration: A Brief History of PuzzleNation

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As you no doubt saw across all our social media yesterday, PuzzleNation is celebrating ten years of delivering quality puzzles to solvers.

Given this marvelous milestone, I thought I would take you on a brief trip through the history of PuzzleNation.

It all started with a website. PuzzleNation.com. A place to sign up, solve puzzles, and engage socially with fellow puzzlers in both forums and head-to-head puzzle-solving.

But that nearly wasn’t our name. No, in the early days, there was the suggestion that we call our site Puzzle Beach, but that got nixed fairly quickly. After all, you can really only enjoy the beach at certain times of the year, whereas you’re welcome to visit PuzzleNation and enjoy puzzles whenever you like!

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As the cover image for our Decade of PuzzleNation Puzzle Packet, I made a timeline chronicling the history of PN through our various puzzles, and the first few images are from PuzzleNation.com puzzles.

It started with a handful of puzzle types to solve. There were some favorites from our friends at Penny Dell Puzzles like Tanglewords and StarSpell, along with classics like crosswords, Sudoku, and word searches.

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I started working for PuzzleNation as the volunteer forum manager for the site. I answered questions, offered solving advice, posted conversation starters, and hosted contests for site users.

But even then, we knew our future rested in the pockets of millions of solvers: puzzle apps.

By the time we launched PuzzleNation Blog, our Penny Dell Crossword App was already available for iPad and iPhone.

Fred, our Director of Digital Games, joined us not long after, and has been deftly steering the ship ever since.

We soon followed with iBooks for Classic Word Search and downloadable puzzle collections called Penny Dell Jumbo Crosswords. The green, blue, and red icons should be quite familiar to our long-time app users.

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In 2014, we expanded our iPad puzzle app library to include Classic Sudoku and Classic Word Search, as well as launching an update to Penny Dell Crosswords, our flagship app. The next year, Penny Dell Crosswords came to Android by popular demand.

We relaunched a much improved Penny Dell Sudoku for all platforms the following year, and in 2017, we launched the first in our Daily POP series, Daily POP Crosswords. Focusing on themed days and the freshest puzzle themes and cluing, Daily POP Crosswords launched us to the next level in puzzle apps.

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Along the way, our programming team has gone from strength to strength, and the addition of insightful puzzlers, both behind the scenes and in the ranks of our contributing constructors, have made our puzzles better than ever.

Our most recent app launch was Daily POP Word Search, and as for what’s on the horizon… well, all I can say for now is that we have some very exciting projects in the works. Be sure to watch this space.

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[And this space too.]

And, as you might expect, as our brand evolved and grew, so did my duties at PuzzleNation. Soon I was social media manager for the forums… and then occasional blogger for PuzzleNation Blog… and then social media manager for the whole brand… and then lead blogger for PuzzleNation Blog as well.

It’s been an amazing journey, and we’re so grateful to have you, our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers, along for the ride. Thank you for your enthusiasm, your support, and your puzzly spirit.

For anyone who would still like to participate in our Decade of PuzzleNation Celebration and receive a free downloadable puzzle packet, there are a few ways you can do so:

  • Like us on Facebook and share our anniversary post there
  • Follow us on Twitter and share our anniversary post there
  • Join us here on the blog and share this post to either Facebook or Twitter

You only need to do one of those things! Once we’ve seen your shared post, we’ll contact you with the special code to download our anniversary puzzle packet by clicking the link below!

[Special super-secret PN Anniversary Packet link]

Thank you so much for supporting PuzzleNation and celebrating a decade of terrific puzzles with us. Happy puzzling, solvers!

Celebrating Ten Years of PuzzleNation With a Free Puzzle Packet!

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Hello PuzzleNationers!

Today marks ten years of PuzzleNation. Yes, on October 11th, 2011, we launched PuzzleNation.com and started on this marvelous journey of puzzle fun, learning, and growth.

A decade later, we have a marvelous line-up of puzzle apps and a thriving community of fellow puzzlers to design new puzzly delights for every day!

We want to thank you for your support, so we’re celebrating ten years of PuzzleNation with a free anniversary puzzle packet!

There are three ways to receive this wonderful puzzle bundle chronicling a decade of PuzzleNation in puzzly form:

  • Like us on Facebook and share our anniversary post there
  • Follow us on Twitter and share our anniversary post there
  • Join us here on the blog and share this post to either Facebook or Twitter

You only need to do one of those things! Once we’ve seen your shared post, we’ll contact you with the special code to download our anniversary puzzle packet by clicking the link below!

[Special super-secret PN Anniversary Packet link]

Thank you so much for supporting PuzzleNation and celebrating a decade of terrific puzzles with us. Happy puzzling, solvers!

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!


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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!


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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!

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

PuzzleNation is Sponsoring This Year’s Lollapuzzoola!

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The summer is always a marvelous time for puzzly events. We just had the Boswords tournament, and next weekend, there’s another online crossword tournament awaiting solvers!

Lollapuzzoola returns on Saturday, August 21st, and this year, we’re proud to announce that PuzzleNation is one of the tournament’s sponsors!

That’s right, we are providing free subscriptions to The Crosswords Club Digital to all twelve of the tournament finalists (12 in all).

Be sure to click the link for more details, or to sign up for this year’s event.

And if you’re unfamiliar with The Crosswords Club Digital, let’s fill you in on the details!

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It’s a digital subscription service that provides you with six Sunday-sized crosswords each month, created by some of the sharpest crossword constructors in the business today, and edited by puzzle luminaries Patti Varol and Brad Wilber.

You can solve them on your desktop, on your tablet, or printed out, and each month is guaranteed to provide you with puzzles as fun as they are challenging. Plus each month, you receive a bonus word puzzle!

Click this link to check out a sample of the terrific puzzles you’ll get through The Crosswords Club Digital.

I have been a huge fan of the The Crosswords Club for years, and their Digital service is another fantastic way to get top-notch puzzles with the click of a button.

You can check out the full details for The Crosswords Club Digital here, and don’t forget to give Lollapuzzoola a chance as well.

They’ve announced the constructors for this year’s tournament, and the field is loaded with talent! This year’s puzzles will be handled by Brooke Husic, Sid Sivakumar, Wyna Liu, Amanda Rafkin, Patti Varol, and Robyn Weintraub. (Plus they’ve assembled a dynamite ten-person team to craft their bonus event, the Mid-day Multi Mini Meta Mayhem.)

Will you be virtually attending Lollapuzzoola, fellow puzzlers? Or checking out The Crosswords Club Digital? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


dailypopwsicon

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!

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 For Your Puzzly Pleasure!

[Image courtesy of SharpBrains.com.]

A few weeks ago, we shared two brain teasers submitted by one of our fellow PuzzleNationers! Well, that must have inspired some of the readership, because we received another brain teaser to solve and share this week!

This brain teaser, submitted by puzzle fan Brian, is called The Smith-Jones-Robinson Problem, and Brian says it has been slightly altered from the original for clarity’s sake.

So, without further ado, let’s get to the puzzle! (We’ll share the solution next week!)


The Smith-Jones-Robinson Problem

Every fact is important. The puzzle is as follows:

On a train, three men named Smith, Jones, and Robinson are the fireman, brakeman, and engineer, but not necessarily in that order. Also on the train are three businessmen who have the same names as the train crew. They will be referred to as Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Robinson.

  • Mr. Robinson lives in Detroit.
  • The brakeman lives exactly halfway between Chicago and Detroit.
  • Mr. Jones earns exactly $20,000 per year, paid in thousand-dollar bills.
  • The brakeman’s nearest neighbor, one of the passengers, earns exactly three times as much as the brakeman, and is also paid in thousand-dollar bills.
  • Smith beats the fireman at billiards.
  • The passenger whose name is the same as the brakeman’s lives in Chicago.

From the information listed above, can you figure out the name of the engineer?

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!


dailypopwsicon

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!

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