PuzzleNation Product Review: Zendo

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

Experienced puzzlers are familiar with deduction as a puzzle-solving method. They may know it from solving logic puzzles, determining who brought what to Thanksgiving dinner. They may know it from asking questions in Clue in order to eliminate possibilities and figure out who killed Mr. Boddy, where, and how. They may know it from brain teasers, riddles, puzzles, or card games.

But they’ve probably never tried their hand at a deduction puzzle game quite like 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.

[Can you tell what the rule is by looking at these two structures?]

They can do so in one of two ways. The first is by saying “Tell,” wherein the moderator marks the player’s structure with either a white token or black token, depending on whether the structure fits the secret rule.

The second is by saying “Quiz,” wherein every player guesses whether the given player’s structure fits the rule. Every player who guesses right gets a guessing token.

Guessing tokens, as you might suspect, are spent to guess the secret rule. But the moderator doesn’t answer with a simple yes or no. The moderator instead must build a new structure, which will either fit the secret rule (but not the player’s guess, and get marked with a white token) or fits the player’s guess (but not the secret rule, and gets marked with a black token).

This back-and-forth between players can be frustrating or informative, depending on how specifically you frame your guesses. It also tests the creative mettle of your moderator, which adds a curious wrinkle to the game. Not only are you competing with your fellow players to figure out the secret rule, but you have to deal with the often crafty skills of the moderator.

[Does this second sculpture give you any hints?]

It’s an ever-evolving puzzle that can change in an instant with a new bit of information. You might confirm you’re on the right track, or realize you’ve been looking at the structures incorrectly all along, and you’re back to square one (or, you know, pyramid one or wedge one).

But thankfully, Zendo is easily scalable for solvers of any age or solving skill level. You can keep the secret rule simple or make it complex, depending on who is playing. And if you’re the moderator, you have a free hand in determining how much information your structures reveal.

Like Fluxx and other games under the Looney Labs umbrella, Zendo has tons of replay value, and it’s a puzzle-game that ages well, since solvers with more experience are not only better players, but more devious moderators as well. This is some seriously puzzly fun.

Zendo is available from the crafty crew at Looney Labs, and it’s also featured in this year’s Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide!


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Answers to our Thanksgiving Logic Puzzle!

It’s been a week since Thanksgiving, so it’s about time we gave you the answer to our Turkey Day logic puzzle!

In case you missed it, here’s the puzzle:

Connor, Emma, Russell, and Taylor are celebrating Thanksgiving together. To save money, each of them is bringing a different side dish (cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, or yams). Each of them is also bringing a different dessert (apple pie, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie, or sugar cookies). With the help of the clues below, can you puzzle out who brought which side dish and which dessert?

1. Emma didn’t bring the green beans, but she did bring pumpkin pie.
2. Connor brought the cranberry sauce, but he didn’t bring chocolate cream pie or apple pie.
3. The person who brought the yams also brought the chocolate cream pie.
4. Taylor brought the green beans.


Okay, last chance to solve it before we give you the solution!

Here we go!


Now, this isn’t as difficult as some of the diabolical brain teasers we’ve tackled in the past, but for someone new to logic puzzles and deduction, a puzzle like this can be daunting.

The key to logic puzzles is to organize your information in a simple and efficient way, so that you maximize the amount of information you glean from each clue.

So let’s list out our four holiday guests and all of the possible food options.

Now, let’s proceed through the clues and fill in our chart.

1. Emma didn’t bring the green beans, but she did bring pumpkin pie.

Since we know nobody brought the same dessert as Emma, we can black out pumpkin pie for everyone else, as well as blacking out the other dessert options for Emma, since each person only brought one dessert.

2. Connor brought the cranberry sauce, but he didn’t bring chocolate cream pie or apple pie.

When you add Connor’s info to Emma’s, you not only get his side dish and his dessert, since he didn’t bring chocolate cream pie, apple pie, or Emma’s pumpkin pie.

3. The person who brought the yams also brought the chocolate cream pie.

At first, this clue doesn’t seem to tell us much, because we don’t know who brought the yams or the chocolate cream pie. But we do know that Emma didn’t bring the chocolate cream pie, so she didn’t bring the yams either.

And if she didn’t bring the yams, the green beans, or Connor’s cranberry sauce, by process of elimination, she brought the mashed potatoes.

4. Taylor brought the green beans.

This last clue ties it all together. If Taylor brought the green beans, then Russell had to bring the yams. And since the person who brought the yams brought the chocolate cream pie, we know that was Russell as well, and Taylor brought the apple pie by default.

And there you have it. All that info in four simple clues.

We hope you enjoyed our little Thanksgiving logic puzzler!


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A Puzzle For Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, PuzzleNationers!

On a day dedicated to celebratingwith family and friends, giving thanks for all the good things in our lives, we here at PuzzleNation want to thank and celebrate our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers, because you help make PuzzleNation one of the greatest puzzle communities in the world today.

And when it comes to saying thanks, a Thanksgiving puzzle seems like the perfect offering.

So we’ve cooked up a little Thanksgiving logic puzzle for you to enjoy!

Can you unravel this holiday puzzler?

Connor, Emma, Russell, and Taylor are celebrating Thanksgiving together. To save money, each of them is bringing a different side dish (cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, or yams). Each of them is also bringing a different dessert (apple pie, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie, or sugar cookies). With the help of the clues below, can you puzzle out who brought which side dish and which dessert?

1. Emma didn’t bring the green beans, but she did bring pumpkin pie.
2. Connor brought the cranberry sauce, but he didn’t bring chocolate cream pie or apple pie.
3. The person who brought the yams also brought the chocolate cream pie.
4. Taylor brought the green beans.

Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving!


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A Puzzly Story for the Whole Family!

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

In honor of a day dedicated to family and giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives, I’ve got a puzzly story to share with you.

Let’s start with a brain teaser: Samuel was born first, but his twin brother Ronan is older. How is that possible?

[Image courtesy of Cape Cod Healthcare’s Facebook page.]

The answer? When Daylight Savings Time gets involved.

In the early hours of Sunday, November 6, Emily Peterson was at the hospital with her husband Seth, delivering twin boys. But after the birth of her son Samuel, the time change got involved and made the blessed event a tiny bit stranger.

From an article on Fox News, passed along to me by friend of the blog Gina Kanter:

Emily Peterson gave birth to the first baby, Samuel, at 1:39 a.m., before clocks turned back at 2 a.m. […] Then, 31 minutes later, she delivered Ronan. Because Ronan’s birth came after the time change, his official birth time was 1:10 a.m., not 2:10 a.m.

And although one of the nurses said she’s never seen something like this in 40 years of work as a nurse, the father wasn’t surprised. “I said earlier that night that they were either going to be born on two different days or the time change was going to come into play.”

Of course, we know which child is actually older, but when you look at the delivery times and then ask who is older, it makes for a great story. It’s not every child that inspires a brain teaser on his day of birth, so kudos to Ronan and Samuel for creating a wonderful little puzzly gem.

Have a marvelous holiday!


And don’t forget, our Penny Dell Sudoku app contest ends at midnight tonight! Click here for the full details!


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Playing With Our Food edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’m posting the results of our #PennyDellPuzzlyFoods hashtag game!

[Image courtesy of Dreamstime.com.]

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For over a year now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellPuzzlyFoods, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles and anything and everything having to do with breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, drinks, candy, and more!

Examples include Lucky Eggs Clover Easy, Cheese Three, and Tiramisudoku.

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


Abacustard

Petit Four Square

Chex Mixed Bag

Sausage Link-words

At 7 and 7

Pear Off

Pears in Rhyme

Picture Pears

Little Twizzler

Tidbits and Pieces

A-Maize-ing Quote

Batterships

Brick by Brickle

Brick by Brick Oven Pizza

Double Turkish Delight

Double Trouble Bubble Gum

Almond Four One

All Flours

Flour Power / Sour Power Patch Kids / Flower Powerbars

Quotagraham Crackers / Cryptograham crackers / Diagraham Crackers / S’more Cryptograham Crackers, Please?

Scrambled Eggs Up

SpinachWheel

Make the Baconnection

Piggyback bacon

Syrups and Downs / Ketchups and Downs

Stew at a Time / Roux at a Time

Stew-Step / Roux-Step

Stewdoku / Beef stewdoku

Cake-kuro

Roll of the Spice

Trail Mix and Match / Word Trails Mix / Trail Mixed Bag of Trix

Bits & Reese’s Pieces

Berried Treasure

Circles in the Lemon Square

Cheese & Crackerjacks

Gumdrop-Outs

Half-and-Halftime

Pizza by Piece

Eye of Rounders

Truffle Shuffle

Banana Split Personalities

Starburst Words

Cookieword / Kiwiword / Whiskeyword / Sukiyakiword

Cake a Letter

Sunraisin

ShadowLox

Beet the Clock

Right of Whey

Roulettuce

Wonton and Only

Build-A-Burger Quote

Anagram Magic Square bars

Tossed and Turnip Salad

Topsy-Turvy “Fill-in the Blank” Alcoholic Drinks!

Spinwheel Spaghetti and Meatballs

Analog Nog

Rhyme Thyme

Rye-Angles / Trifle-Angles

Lemon Drop-Outs / Lemon Drop-Ins

Flan Words

Grand Torte

Pickle and Choose

Ghee’s Company

InCiders

Colabyrinth

Hot Crossed bun Pairs / Hot Cross Sum Buns / Hot Crostics Buns

Pixie Cros-Stix

AnaCheese Sticks

7 Match-Up

Match-Up-Side-Down Cake

Pine Scone

Stepping Scones

Dim Sum Triangles / Dim Sum Totals

Onion Ringmaster / Onion Ringers

Macaroni & Places, Please

Beer & There

Missing Domino’s Pizza

Alphabreadics

Gravy-Words Word Seek

Grocery Missing Word List

Mystery Meat Person

Gizzard Words

Wheel of Fortune Cookies

Cookie Sha-dough

Campbell’s Chunky Alphabet Soup

TV Appe-Teaser

Penny’s Finest Chinese Takeouts

Pass the Scrambled Eggs Across the Table

Balancing (the diet) Act

Tossing and Turning the pancakes

A Perfect Ten-course meal

Three’s Company, but four’s coming to dinner

Countdown to Thanksgiving

What’s Leftovers?


There was a submission that deserves its own introduction. One of our intrepid puzzlers tackled the classic Tootsie Pop conundrum in proper puzzly fashion:

How many Lick By Licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll of the Dice

That’s a Square Deal. Take it Piece by Piece then Crack’er open.


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

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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Thanksgiving Answers edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’m posting the answers to last week’s Thanksgiving Slide-O-Gram puzzle!


Here’s the grid and puzzle to jog your memory:

Using the given letters, place the eleven Thanksgiving words and phrases below into the diagram above, one per row. When all the words and phrases are entered properly, one of the columns reading down will spell out an 11-letter word that is related to Thanksgiving.

Casserole
Corn
Cornucopia
Cranberry sauce
Giblets
Pumpkin pie
Rolls
Stuffing
Sweet potato
Turkey
Turnip

So let’s take a look at the completed grid!

Our bonus answer tying the word list together was, appropriately enough, CENTERPIECE.

(If you had trouble with the puzzle, the anchor words that would’ve gotten you going were Corn, Cornucopia, Giblets, Pumpkin pie, and Cranberry sauce.)


How did you do? Let me know in the comments below!

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!