It’s a Murderer’s Rows Garden of Plant Punnery!

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 #PennyDellPuzzlePlants. Today’s entries all mash up Penny Dell puzzles with trees, flowers, shrubs, landscaping, gardening terms, and more things associated with the world of plants!

Examples include: Sunflower Power, Broccoli and Mortar, or Sodoku.

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


Wood Seek: Missing Wist…eria

Sweet AlysSum Totals

Snow Drop-Ins / Snowdrop-Outs

DianthusGrammless

Lottomatoes

HydranJigsaw Puzzle

BattleRoseHips

Piece by Piece Lily

Stargazer Lilies and Yarrow

Clematis Figures

Maxi-Pointsettia

Pointsettia the Way

Blackout-Eyed Susan

Bull’s-Eye Spirea

DaffoDilemma

Forsythia ‘n’ dAftodils

Forsythia-Fit / Forsythia Corners

Four-Fit-Me-Not

Four Leaf Clover-Somes

These Three Leaf Lucky Clover

Three’s ComPansy / Three’s ComPeony

Chestnut Solitaire

Fiddlehead Ferns-Frame

Fiddleheads & Tails

ChamomileFlage

ColumBingo

Crisscross-santhemum

Amaryllist-a-Crostic

Carry-Clovers

Violetter Power

Stretch Jacob’s Ladders

Secret Mums the Word

Hedge-agrams

Shasta Daisy

Tossing and Turnips

Two At A Time-lips / Tulip at a Time

Delphiniumber Square

Dellphinium

Penny Cypress

Rake It from There

Thymed Lattice Framework

Cold Framework


One intrepid puzzler wrote a lovely little piece about looking for puzzly ideas for the hashtag game around the house:

For inspiration, I looked out over my MonStara and Spiderweb house plants and on to my garden, which is a bit of a mishmosh: the Digitalis Display is next to the Face to Fatsia, the Johnny Double Jump Ups border the AbaColeus, and the Starspell of Bethlehem shadows the patch where I tried growing Share-a-lettuce last year, but the bunnies ate it. Perhaps they took it literally. At least the Sudokudzu and MixMustard haven’t invaded and overtaken everything!


Members of the PuzzleNation readership also got in on the fun when we spread the word about this hashtag game online!

Twitter user @pauliscool1927 quickly replied with an idea, offering up the delightful ReallyLily as an option!


Have you come up with any Penny Dell Puzzle Plants 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!

PuzzleNation Product Review: Sword in Stone, Cathedral Door, and Grecian Computer

Puzzles come in many forms, all shapes and sizes, but there’s probably no puzzle genre that offers more variety and range in difficulty than mechanical brain teasers.

The physical element adds so much to the solving experience that cannot be replicated in other puzzle styles. Whether you’re assembling pieces into a given shape, manipulating two pieces to separate them (or put them together), or twisting and turning a puzzle until it becomes the desired shape, mechanical brain teasers offer a world of possibility.

And in today’s product review, we’ve got three different varieties of brain teaser to test out, all courtesy of the creative minds at Project Genius. All three are part of their True Genius line of wooden brain teasers, rated for ages 14 and up, and each has its own ranking on a scale of 1 to 5 in difficulty.

Without further ado, let’s get solving!

Our trilogy of puzzle styles begins with a 3-out-of-5-star difficulty brain teaser. To conquer Sword in Stone, you must live out the legend of an ancient knight who plunged his sword into a stone and must remove it from its new home.

The sword can move up or down depending on how you twist the hilt back and forth, hoping to outmaneuver a maze of different paths you cannot see. It’s a marvelous little puzzle where you have to build a model of its interior in your mind by process of elimination, turning the sword this way and that, lifting and lowering it in stages until it’s free.

[Yes, I’m posting this to prove I solved it.
But I’ve hidden the key’s details to prevent spoilers.]

You really do feel like a champion once you’ve made the final twist and the sword slips from its forever tomb. There’s a playful give-and-take between you and the brain teaser that encapsulates the patience, determination, and deductive skill necessary to be a strong puzzler.

But then, once you’re completed the Herculean task, you have to put it back into place. And despite the fact that you’ve literally just performed the last few steps, doing them in reverse and returning the blade to the stone is even harder.

I thoroughly enjoyed tackling his mechanical puzzle. It hit the sweet spot of challenge and satisfaction without taking up too much solving time. It won’t take you 900 years to crack this one, but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.

For a more traditional jigsaw-style solving experience, you can try Cathedral Door, a 4-out-of-5-star difficulty brain teaser. Again, the challenge laid before you sounds simple: reassemble this beautiful door by placing all of the pieces of wooden adornment into the stained glass pattern.

Yes, this one even helps you place the wooden pieces by offering a color pattern to follow, with various shapes leaving outlines for you to complete with the many wooden jigsaw-style pieces.

Of course, these pieces are unique in shape and design, some of them squat and complex, others long, thin, and rangy. It’s amazing how many ways you can place these puzzle pieces that seem to fit the pattern to a tee. With seemingly infinite permutations, how will you ever put them all back?

And yet, when you place a piece properly, it immediately feels right. It’s a very curious solving sensation — knowing for sure that a piece FITS somewhere, even if the other pieces around it haven’t been placed yet — but it’s one that makes solving Cathedral Door a very engaging challenge. I didn’t find it all that much harder than Sword in Stone, so I’m not sure a full star in difficulty difference is warranted, but this remains an eye-catching and challenging puzzle.

We round out our trifecta of brain teasers by maxing out the difficulty scale with this 5-out-of-5-star-ranked mathematical puzzle, Grecian Computer, created as a spiritual successor of the Antikythera Mechanism. And undoubtedly, this puzzle might leave people just as baffled as the piece that inspired it.

You must spin and twist this wooden “computer” until the numbers in all twelve columns add up to 42 at the same time. That’s daunting in and of itself. But it’s more than just spinning various dials.

There are cut-outs in some wheels where the numbers below can be shown, flaps that block other numbers, and joined pieces that spin together. Each of the four wheels — plus the base — have numbers at all 12 clock positions, and even a small rotation can vastly change the arrangement of numbers in front of you.

It genuinely feels like the mathematical equivalent of a Rubik’s Cube, each twist bringing one column to completion while leaving others further than ever from a unified solution. There are a lot of variables at play here, and it can be a little frustrating.

And yet, you never despair. You never feel like giving up. Each small victory, each alignment that makes sense in your head, inches you closer, and before long, you’re spinning and twisting like a dervish, eliminating false paths and unhelpful combinations en route to victory.

This brain teaser most definitely deserves the 5-out-of-5 difficulty rating, and it’s also beautifully engineered. The bottom wheel spins at the barest touch, and while others have more resistance, you can’t help but marvel at this well-made and devious machine.


Sword in Stone, Cathedral Door, and Grecian Computer are all available through Project Genius as well as certain online retailers.

Whether you’re looking for a deduction puzzle, an assembly puzzle, or a twisty puzzle, one of these impressive brain teasers from Project Genius is sure to hit the spot. And all three are part of this year’s Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide, coming soon, so be sure to check it out!

[Note: I received a free copy of each brain teaser in exchange for a fair, unbiased review. Due diligence, full disclosure, and all 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!

Farewell, Alex.

For the last 18 months or so, puzzlers, trivia fans, and game show enthusiasts have followed the story of Alex Trebek, pop culture icon and long-time host of Jeopardy! after his diagnosis with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in March of last year.

Through ups and downs, updates and hopeful moments, and even a brief boom period for the show during the reign of James Holzhauer, the well-being of this beloved figure was first and foremost in the minds of many.

Sadly, Alex’s battle came to an end, as he passed away early Sunday morning.

During his treatment, Alex was honest and open with fans and well-wishers, sharing both his determination and his struggles. Heartbreakingly honest, at points. But his humor and spirit remained constant fixtures.

Back when he first announced his diagnosis, Trebek stated, “I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” then quipped, “I have to because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years.”

He leaves behind a lasting legacy of four decades of entertainment, grace, and class. His tenure on Jeopardy! began on September 10, 1984 with the debut episode, and in 2014, he was honored by the Guinness Book of World Records for hosting the most episode of a game show, at that point reaching the 6,829 episode mark. He is a 7-time Daytime Emmy Award winner, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Of course, his reach extends far beyond that. He’s an instantly recognizable figure. He was parodied on Saturday Night Live, he joyfully lampooned himself after a recurring bit on Conan O’Brien’s talk show, and appeared on shows as varied as How I Met Your Mother, Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and Orange is the New Black. He even has his own collectible Funko Pop! figures.

alextrebekxfiles

[Image courtesy of IMDb.]

My personal favorite Trebek moment is when he showed up unexpectedly in an episode of The X-Files, playing one of the mysterious Men in Black. It’s unclear if he was playing himself, though. As Agent Scully states, “Mulder didn’t say it was Alex Trebek, it was just someone who looked incredibly like him.”

Of course, one cannot look back on the legacy of Alex Trebek without acknowledging his lifelong dedication to philanthropy and giving back. In addition to his work for organizations like World Vision Canada and the USO, he donated to land conservation efforts, homeless shelters, and the University of Ottawa. He also donated his time to educational efforts like the National Geographic Bee and the Great Canadian Geography Challenge.

Although we are saddened by his passing, we are grateful to have known him, to have welcomed him into our homes for decades, to have bragged to our friends about answering the Final Jeopardy! question, and, more often than not, to have dropped our jaws in bafflement at the mad trivia fiends he brought into the spotlight.

When it comes to figures in the world of puzzles and games, there are few as iconic as Alex Trebek.

Farewell, Alex. Thank you for everything.


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!

Answers to the Punderful Halloween Costume Game!

Halloween has come and gone, but the glorious puns remain.

That’s right, today we’ve got the answers to our latest edition of the Punderful Halloween Costume Game!

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the punny answers!


#1

It’s universal healthcare!

#2

They’re Halls and Oats!

#3

She’s Oscar buzz!

#4

This twosome is Garth Vader and Obi-Wayne Kenobi!

#5

She’s eye candy!

#6

It’s Popeye the Sailor Moon!

#7

He’s Alice in chains!

#8 and #9

This clever pairing of dual dueling costumes is Captain Kirk Cobain and Santa Jaws!

#10

She’s a seal of approval!


How many did you get? Have you seen any great punny costumes we missed? Let us know!

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!

PuzzleNation Product Review: Knot Dice and Knot Dice Squared

knot dice

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

You can easily lose yourself in a Celtic knot design if you stare long enough. Elaborate unbroken paths, formed within circles, crosses, and other shapes, weave together in compelling patterns.

There are many dice games on the market today, but none of them capture the same intricate flow and beauty found in Celtic knots. Except for one, that is, which just so happens to be the subject of today’s review: Knot Dice.

dice types

[The six faces of a Knot die. Top row: end-cap, chain, branch;
Bottom row: sharp corner, rounded corner, crossing.]

In the puzzle game Knot Dice, you have eighteen identical six-sided dice featuring a different pattern on each face of the die. In order to form a completed design — in either one dimension or three dimensions — a solver uses the patterns on each face to form unbroken paths.

You can create designs both simple and complex as you play around with these gorgeous dice. I’ve seen players just freeform different patterns as they explore the potential of the dice in front of them, their imagination coming to life as they tinker with all six sides.

There are two rulebooks included, one for single-player puzzles, and the other for single-player and multi-player games that utilize both the dice and a small selection of tokens.

dice stack

The puzzles center around completing designs by moving dice, sliding them, or rotating them, depending on the puzzle, and many of the puzzles begin with starting patterns provided by the game designer. These puzzles are simple and quite elegant, making wonderful use of the various patterns on each die.

The games are a bit more inventive, many of them centered around Celtic history and mythology. Whether you’re collaborating with other players to build elaborate knotworks, racing to complete different knots, or capturing your opponent’s token, there are numerous clever and creative ways to employ the patterned dice to their fullest potential. (There’s even a game board and a score sheet included in the rulebook.)

dice patterns

And those possibilities only expand when you incorporate Knot Dice Squared, a second set of dice that offer new puzzle opportunities and game options for solo solving and multi-player engagement.

Designed to work in conjunction with the original Knot Dice, Knot Dice Squared offers 26 dice with fresh patterns to create more elaborate designs and more involved gameplay styles.

Unlike the dice in the base game with their standard six-sides, the dice in the expansion consist of four types of knot dice: crossed, squared, rounded, and bridge. Not all of these dice line up perfectly with the originals, meaning you have to be more creative to complete the various designs as presented. This adds a delightful new wrinkle to each of the games already familiar to Knot Dice solvers.

dice pop

It cannot be overstated how beautiful these dice are. They’re arguably the best part about this game. Whether you’re using the classic green shading or the alternate blue dice (pictured below), the richness of color makes the intricate patterns pop, drawing the eye immediately.

The original game took almost a year to deliver to Kickstarter backers, and much of that time was spent making sure that the mass-produced dice for the game met the high standards of Matthew O’Malley’s early designs. He wanted the dice to be vivid, polished, and usable for the numerous puzzles and games that had been devised for the set. That rigorous attention to detail and demand for perfection has clearly paid off; it’s obvious in the dice, the packaging, the rulebooks, and the overall presentation of the entire product.

The end result is a truly eye-catching game as fun to look at as it is to play.

blue knot dice

Knot Dice and Knot Dice Squared take a step back from traditional dice games, injecting a patient, methodical, aesthetic style of puzzly engagement to the usual luck-of-the-draw rolling. By doing so, it puts a new twist on the genre, allowing for fluid gameplay and design that appeals to both puzzlers and game fans alike.

[Knot Dice and Knot Dice Squared are available from Black Oak Games and will be part of this year’s upcoming Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide, launching in a few weeks!]


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!

Halfway through the Boswords 2020 Fall Themeless League!

boswords new

Last night marked the fifth week of competitive puzzly fun in the Boswords 2020 Fall Themeless League.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Boswords 2020 Fall Themeless League is a clever weekly spin on traditional crossword tournament-style solving. Instead of cracking through a number of puzzles in a single day (or two), the Fall Themeless League consists of one themeless crossword each week, scored based on your accuracy and how fast you complete the grid.

Each week’s puzzle only has one grid, but there are three sets of clues, each representing a different difficulty level for solvers. Smooth is the least challenging, Choppy is the middle ground, and Stormy is the most challenging. (When solvers registered to participate — which you can still do now! — they chose the difficulty level that suited them best.)

With a lineup of top-flight constructors involved and the Boswords team organizing, it was a can’t miss prospect, and hundreds of solvers signed up for the challenge of two months of themeless puzzle solving and a bit of friendly competition.

120718_crossword_L

Now that we’re officially halfway through the season, it feels like the right time to take a moment and reflect on the last four weeks of puzzling.

I will only be referencing the previous four puzzles — not last night’s Week 5 themeless — so there are only potential spoilers for non-participants. Competitors may read at their leisure.

Although I am quite familiar with crosswords, I am far from the fastest or cagiest solver, nor have I ever competed in any tournament solving, so I opted to enter the Choppy rank.

And I have very much enjoyed the experience thus far. Themeless puzzles always often a fun challenge, mixing long answers — often crossing or stacked with other long answers — with strong cluing, clever grid design, and most notably, no theme around which to frame the grid (or your solve, if you happen to dig into the theme entries immediately).

The cluing feels very fresh, mixing topical entries, meme fodder, and slang with traditional crossword classics and a dash of pop culture references. Although my lack of football knowledge betrayed me in week 1, I’ve made up some ground in weeks 3 and 4, posting my two quickest times, both with clean grids.

My times are far from cheetah-like; the top solvers in the Choppy rankings often solve these puzzles in half the time I do, and manage perfect scores to boot. I am getting faster, it seems, which is probably due to a growing familiarity with the solving interface, wasting less time maneuvering the screen.

I’m definitely finding it challenging. There are plenty of clues I pass over two or three times before coming up with something that fits the entries I’ve already placed, and these diabolical constructors always slip some devious wordplay and a-ha cluing into their puzzles.

In October alone, solvers contended with puzzles from Tracy Gray, Nate Cardin, Amanda Rafkin, and David Quarfoot, each bringing a unique style and flavor to their grid entries and cluing. Each themeless has been a challenge all its own, and once you finally figure out each solver’s tricks, you’re confronted with a new constructor the next week, and you start all over again.

Still, it’s great fun, a nice puzzly touch to the week that feels like you’re part of a community, bolstered not only by a communal solving experience once a week, but by Twitch chats and interactions with the organizers and fellow solvers.

We’re only halfway through, and I’d have to declare the Boswords 2020 Fall Themeless League a rousing success. I can’t wait to see what surprises the November puzzles bring, and what awaits the top solvers in the championship round.

Whether you’re competing alongside us or simply enjoying puzzles at your own speed, thanks for visiting. And happy puzzling!


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!