PuzzleNation Product Review: Are You a Robot?

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

Whether you’re playing a board game like Clue or a card game like Werewolf or Mafia, you and your fellow players have accepted the challenge of a very different form of puzzle gaming: the social deduction game.

Social deduction games operate under a simple premise — the cards determine the role you play — and from that point forward, you’re trying to determine who is secretly a danger to you and others in the game.

In this particular case, there might a robot lurking among the humans aboard your space station.

You see, in Are You a Robot?, all of the players randomly select a card. There’s always a human card for every person playing the game, plus one robot card. (So, for instance, if five people are playing, you have five human cards and one robot card in the deck.) You shuffle the cards, deal out one to each player, and put the last one aside. Everyone looks at their card (but doesn’t show anyone else) and discovers their role for the game.

Now, at this point, there’s between zero and one robots in the game, and the rest of the players are human. The humans want to suss out if there are any robots disguised as humans, and the robot wants to get the humans to accuse each other and whittle down their numbers so the robots can take over.

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[A whole lot packed into a little envelope.]

This is the social aspect of the game. There are three things players can do in order to figure out who is who: shake hands, shoot a laser gun at another player, or talk. If the players all agree that there are no robots in play, two players can agree to shake hands. If there are no robots in the game after all, the humans win. If a robot is present after all, the humans lose.

Humans can shoot other players, but robots cannot. If a robot is shot, it’s gone from the game and the humans rejoice. If a human is shot, three things happen: the shooter is immediately removed from the game, the human who was shot comes back to life and returns to the game, and there’s a chance another robot slips into the game.

This element of chance involves all of the players closing their eyes, any robots secretly revealing themselves, and all of the remaining players turning in their cards. Those cards are shuffled randomly, a robot card is introduced, and the cards are redistributed to the surviving human players.

It’s possible everyone remains human, and it’s possible one of the humans is now a robot in disguise.

The game now resumes, and the players must once again figure out if there are any robots in their midst. (And your mind immediately begins spiraling out with possibilities. “Did so-and-so not shoot me because he believes that I’m human? Or because he’s a robot and can’t shoot me?”)

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[The set up for a four-person game: instructions, four human cards, and one robot card.]

Play continues until either the humans have eliminated any possible robots (and have shaken hands to confirm this) or the robots have overwhelmed the game and the humans have been whittled down to a single player.

In my estimation, Extended Mode, designed for 5 or more players, is the most interesting version of the game. The core game is for two or three players, consisting of two human cards and one robot card. Adding a second game allows for up to four players, a third game allows for up to six, and so on.

Our Extended Mode testing involved eight players (and four copies of the game), which allowed for multiple rounds of play, the introduction of several possible additional robots, and so on, making for a deeper, more engrossing (and nerve-wracking!) play experience.

And that’s the beauty of Are You a Robot? when compared to similar social detection card games like Mafia and Werewolf. Not only can you have satisfying play experiences with fewer people but the element of randomness that comes into play with more players adds tension to the game. (In Mafia and Werewolf, the number of antagonists is set at the start of the game. In Are You a Robot?, the number might increase, or it might not. It’s a simple change that adds so much.)

An elegant balance of silliness and suspenseful, consequence-loaded gameplay, Are You a Robot? is a winner with any number of players. Bring your laser gun, bring your skepticism, and bring along a couple of sets so everyone can play.

[Are You a Robot? is available (for $2!) from Looney Labs and other participating retailers.]


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Answers to the Punderful Pop Culture Halloween Costume Game!

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

That’s right, today we’ve got the answers to this year’s edition of the Punderful Pop Culture Halloween Costume Game!

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


PuzzleNation’s Punderful Pop Culture Halloween Costume Game!

#1

It’s Beauty AND the Beast!

#2

It’s the Black (Pink) Panther!

(Black Panther from the Marvel Universe + The Pink Panther)

#3

It’s the Darth Knight!

(Darth Vader from Star Wars + Batman, aka The Dark Knight)

#4

It’s Ronald McDonald Weasley!

(Ron Weasley from Harry Potter + Ronald McDonald)

#5

It’s a Royal Lifeguard!

(Royal Guardsman from Star Wars + lifeguard)

#6

It’s Gand-ALF!

(Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings + ALF)

#7

It’s Snow-ba Fett!

(Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs + Boba Fett from Star Wars)

#8

It’s Sailor Freddie Mercury!

(Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon + Freddie Mercury of Queen)

#9

It’s OB-GYN Kenobi!

(OB-GYN + Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars)

#10

It’s Doctor Cindy Lou Who!

(Doctor Who + Cindy Lou Who from How the Grinch Stole Christmas)

#11

It’s Doctor Stranger Things!

(Doctor Strange from the Marvel Universe + Netflix’s Stranger Things)

#12

It’s Hermione Texas Ranger!

(Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books + Texas rangers)

#13

It’s Stevie Wonder Woman!

(Stevie Wonder + Wonder Woman)

#14

It’s a WeresWaldo!

(Werewolf + Where’s Waldo?)

#15

It’s Ash Wednesday!

(Either Ash from Pokemon + Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family OR Ash from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness + Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family.)


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

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The Weird, Wonderful World of Dice

[Image courtesy of ThoughtCo.]

Dice have been an integral part of gaming for centuries. They’re the simplest way to introduce randomness to a game.

The six-sided die is, by leaps and bounds, the most familiar die. The d6, as role-players call it, is a staple of classic board games like Yahtzee and Clue, as well as the centerpiece of role-playing systems like GURPS.

But the d6 is hardly the only kind of die you see in gaming. Plenty of games and role-playing systems rely on dice of other shapes in order to run smoothly.

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia.]

If you play World of Darkness role-playing games like Werewolf or Vampire: The Masquerade, then the d10 is your friend. If you enjoy updated editions of Dungeons & Dragons (or even board games like Unspeakable Words or Scattergories), the d20 is a familiar sight, whether it has letters or numbers on it.

A standard dice set for beginners Dungeons & Dragons contains six different dice shapes: a pyramid-shaped d4, a d6, a d8, a d10, a d12, and a d20. (Many come with 2 d10s, one with single digits and one with double digits, allowing you to calculate percentages).

[Image courtesy of Instructables.]

Heck, if you think about it, flipping a coin to decide something is simply rolling a two-sided die.

But when you start delving into the history of games, it’s amazing to see just how far back some of these traditions and conventions go.

Did you know that The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a d20 in its collection?

Dating back to Roman times (somewhere between the 2nd century BC and the 4th century AD), the above die is inscribed with Greek letters. It’s not certain if this particular die was used for games or religious divination, but there’s no doubt it’s a beautiful example of craftsmanship.

And this is just scraping the surface. One of my favorite dice in my collection is an oversized 3D-printed d20 with Braille markings for every number. Such a cool piece.

Can you think of any strange dice in favorite games of yours, fellow puzzlers? We’d love to hear about them! (Unless they’re fuzzy dice hanging from your rearview mirror. Those don’t make reliable rolls in regular gameplay.)


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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!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: Spooky Puzzling 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 #PennyDellSpookyPuzzles hashtag game!

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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 #PennyDellSpookyPuzzles, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles and anything and everything having to do with Halloween, horror movies and TV, costumes, Octobers, anything spooky!

Examples include Trick by Brick, Halloweaver Words, & Stepping Tombstones.

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


Spooky Puzzles!

Boodoku

Zombie ZigZags

Anagram Magic Scare

Creepy Crawler Crosswords

Wicked Witch Word Seeks

Fang-Tastic Fill-Ins

Scaremaster

Sprite of Way

Four-Ghost

Crypto-Zoo-mbies

Exchange Ouija Boards

Skull-a-crostics

Tombworms

Pumpkins, Please

Guess Boo!

Witch Way Words

Missing Howls

Jigsaw Scares

Word Shriek

Heads & Tails & Arms & Teeth & Feet & Brains & Ears & . . .

Four Coroners

Gore-Master / Grand Gore / Lucky Gore

Jeepers Creepers Word Seekers

Who’s Lurking in the Shadows

Skull and Crossbone Word Game Puzzles

Frameworked for Murder

Missing Body Vowels

Tortured Soulocrostics

Sunday Bloody Sunday Crosswords

Wherewolf Are They Now?

Mummystery Word

Crazy for Ghosts

Double Trouble, toil and trouble

Crackerjack-o’-lantern

Black Cat-egories


Spooky Movie and TV Puzzles!

Tales from the Cryptograms / Tales from the Crypto-Zoo

The Nightmare Before-’n’-Aft Christmas

Frankenstein’s Mon-Star Words

Frankenine of Diamonds

Frame-kenstein

Cujo-ku / SudoCujo

Salem’s Lottery / Salem’s Lotto

Carrie-Overs

Pet Sum-etary

Dash-IT / Zip IT

Criss-Crosstine

The Texas Changaword Massacre / The Texas Chain Words Massacre

An Anagram Werewolf in London / An Anagram Here & There-wolf in London

The Rocky Horror Picture This Show / The Rocky Horror Picture Sleuth

“Let’s do the Timed Framework again.”

Ghostpuzzlers

Alfred Hitchcock’s…..The Bird Words

“Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the best Extreme Sudoku player of them all?”

Scream Talk

Eight Heads and Tails in a Duffle Bag

Heads and Tails-Less Horseman

Polterguess Who?

“They’re Here and There.”

Countdown Dracula

Hotel Transyllacrostic

The Addams Family Ties

Elvira: Missing List of the Dark

Crackerjacks Skellington

Zombie ApocalBlips

“I saw a werewolf drinking a Pine Cone Colada at Trade-Off Vic’s. His hair was Perfect Fit.”

Chips, the Friendly Ghost

The Legend of Spellbound Hollow

The All Mixed Up Family

“It’s the Guess Who Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

Halloween III: Season of the Witch Way Words

Anagram-ville Horror / Amityville Scorewords

Rows Garden’s Baby

Pumpkinheads & Tails

“Let’s play a Word Game!”

It’s just a framework…framework night…it’ll get you so Tangled…you won’t know What’s Left when the Shadows come to fright…

“Ooooo who knows other than Vincent Price will turn back the clock… “Tick Tock” “Tick Tock” time to Wordseek, before the wicked Queen Ellery strikes…


Have you come up with any Penny Dell Spooky 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!