Thursday, October 22, 2009

Test Your Visual Acuity

From Life Publishing comes HOLIDAY Picture Puzzles: Can You Spot the Differences? How keen is your vision. On each page puzzlers are presented two almost identical photographs. Thanks to the miracle of photo editing software one of the images has been altered in several very subtle ways. As you scan back and forth between the two photos see if you can determine what is different.

Puzzles are rated with ascending difficulty levels. Total number of changes is indicated with small check-off boxes. Some are readily spotted (like different colored pants on Santa Claus). Other differences are tricky to find.

In all cases Picture Puzzles: Spot the Differences are fun-filled activity for all ages between 7 to 137 years.

Trade Gold Sheep Grain and more with Settlers Catan Dice Game

Settlers of Catan Deluxe Dice Game players use their gold dice rolls to trade for sheep, lumber, wool, grain or brick. Settlers of Catan Board Game has become a phenomenally successful and probably the most well-received adventure roll playing game over the past several years. Now comes along a streamlined version of the game. It is played with specially designed and embossed dice.

On each turn players have the opportunity to roll six dice up to three times. Between rolls some dice may be set (i.e.kept in place with no further opportunity to roll). Use combinations of dice to build roads, settlements and cities. For example a settlement requires 1 each of lumber, brick, sheep and grain.

Settlers of Catan Deluxe Dice Game is an very clever game which can be enjoyed by ages 8 to 137 years. So if you are the type of person who is a little adventurous with new game choices (and who does not stay with the standard unos, monopolies, yahtzees, pictionaries) then we highly recommend Settlers of Catan Deluxe Dice Game. And we suspect that after playing the dice version a few times you will look forward to playing the full board game with all its various enhancements.

Friday, September 25, 2009

BananaGrams Game Goes to Book

Bananagrams the crossword creation game has taken off with phenomenal success over the past 3 years. For fans of this game comes Bananagrams! the Official Book. Word devotees will delight with this compilation of word themed puzzles, word brain teasers, and all around fun with the English language. Bananagrams the book has a variety of puzzles to pique the curiosity and challenge the skill of word lovers. If you play the tile game you will learn several great techniques for improving your game.

Try Banana Trees, where the object is to build word grids based on a theme. Or Banana Splits, a collection of four quick anagram puzzles to be solved in rapid-fire style. Or Banana Filling - what happens when you add a 'K"?

Bananagrams Book is a great way to keep one's mind sharp, keen and engaged. College and Graduate students will find it a fun and helpful to prepare for language tests. You'll find word puzzles that are different from the actual tests questions, yet still practical for enhancing abilities.

If you are a fan a crosswords, acrostics, jumbles, cryptogram, word search, scrabble maybe it is time to try some new, unusual and stimulating variety of puzzles.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chunky Metal Brainteasers

We love Brainteasers that draw people to them automatically. Almost everyone who walks by these shiny chunky puzzles in our store will stop and try the demos.   The objective is straight forward. Take apart the two pieces and then attempt to join them back together.  The key with these seemingly simple puzzles is all in positioning the two pieces relative to each other. From here twist the two pieces simultaneously and voila !    No force is ever required.  Amazingly as one solves the puzzle the two pieces simply glide apart.

Often we notice that the people who have the quickest and greatest success in solving these metal entanglements first pause and observe the puzzle before beginning to twist and turn the pieces.   These are terrific brainteasers that stimulate that part of the mind which is employed when one needs to fix something.  How often in life do we run into some minor broken item around the house or auto that needs a simple repair ?  The most successful fixes are those that involve a small study of the situation before actually proceeding.
A small hint for the chunky metal brain teasers.   On each piece of the puzzle look for the narrowest space between the twisting metal.   Usually lining up the opposing open spaces is an excellent place to start.
Placing these chunky metal puzzles on a desk or coffee table will draw people to them automatically.   You will be amazed how much humans enjoy brain teaser challenges.  I like to think there is a "figure it out" gene deep inside the human biology.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hold-Up your opponent with six-gun slinger Wild Bill.   Try to capture all the loot in his hand. Oops! Sheriff McCoy and Slippery Sam are going to save the day. Actually they are going to save your gold from your opponent.  Bandits is a Rootin', Tootin' Wild West Card Game  where two to six players battle to hide their gold, raid their opponents stash and generally have an all around good time.
We enjoy playing this very clever and engaging card game from Buffalo Games.   Great graphics, fast play, and an outcome that is never certain.   And did we mention the Booby Trap Card and the Backfire Card ?  Just when you felt you had conquered the Wild West things get turned upside down.   

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Maze Book That Comes Alive

We always enjoy a new twist on an old puzzle style.   Mazes and labyrinths completed by pencil have been around for a long time.   Picture Mazes or Conceptis Puzzles have also been around for some 20 or more years in Japan and other Asian countries.   Now these picture mazes are developing a strong following here in the United States and Canada.   Picture Mazes start exactly the same as a regular maze.   Begin at the entrance, avoid dead ends, and work your way around to find the path which exists elsewhere.   The add-on is coloring or shading the maze (generally with colored pencils or markers) according to a set prescription.   At this step it is almost like paint by number.    

You will find colored dots throughout the maze.  As you reach a color dot change your pencil to that color and fill-in the entire path of the maze. 
When you finish you will be amazed at the image you have created.    Picture Puzzles combine the skills of puzzle solving with some creative artistry.  A nice 'zen-like' blend.   
Picture Puzzles will appeal to most ages between 9 to 137 years. They do require some steady drawing skill required for younger children.     Great activity for after school programs, summer recreation and camps.  Even Grandma's might want to have a few at the house when the grandchildren visit.   

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Holiday Weekend Brain Teaser

Lucy’s mother Mary had three daughters.   The first daughter was born in the month of April.  Mary decided to name her April.   Mary’s second daughter was born during the month of May the following year and she proceeded to name her second daughter May.    Mary’s third daughter was born in the month of June.   Can you figure out what name Mary gave her third daughter?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tayu Waterway Creation Game

We just received a very easy to learn strategy game called Tayu  (Tie You).   Simple rules, endless possibilties, as well as game that exhibits a pleasant charm. The game construction is an elegant design with solid red tiles and evenly distributed indentations which hold playing pieces in place.     Each tile is rectangular with white lines which represent water channels. Each solid tile has three outlets.  There are a total of 84 tiles with 28 unique waterway designs. Players attempt to make as many water channel connections as possible across the game board from east to west or north to south.  The game ends when no more tiles can be used.   You will find tiles challenging to place.   An open outlet (the white line on a tile) cannot be a dead end.  It must maintain the potential of a future connection or end at the edge of the game board.   Scoring at the end of the game is based the number of beginning outflows (on one side of the board) multiplied by the number of outflows at the opposite side.  Tayu is manufactured by Goliath Games. Game is best played with 2 or 4 players, although there is a variation for three players.   Instructions are provided in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese,  and English.
Goliath Games is based in Europe and has recently begun distrubting many excellent games in the United States.

We really like the feel of the tiles and game board as well as how clever the game unfolds.

Parking Lot Puzzle

Ever had the experience of trying to retrieve your auto from one of those big city parking lots where every square inch of ground is used to cram in as many cars as physically possible. It is a great way to generate the most revenue but comes with a certain problem.   What if you car is the furthest from the exit gate ?  Imagine how much shifting of vehicles needs to take place to extricate your car when you want it.   There is a great puzzle called Rush Hour Traffic Jam which mimics this problem of switching around vehicles in a small confined space.
Rush Hour is almost as iconic as the Rubik's Cube Puzzle.   It far exceeds the rubik's in terms of play value.  The manufacturer Think Fun has created dozens of puzzles challenges which are grouped into four levels of difficulty.   The puzzle is intergenerational meaning a  PHD engineer at MIT will enjoy as much as a  7  year old.   

To begin extricating your shiny red card choose a "beginner" challenge card and arrange the other vehicles on the grid according to the placement designated.   You will not use every vehicle with a given challenge card.  The simple restrictions are that you cannot lift any vehicle from the playing surface once placed in position and you must move vehicles forward/backwards or up/down according to the grid pattern.    Remember it is exactly the same as getting your real auto out of one of those big city parking lots.
This is an extremely tactile puzzle.   A given puzzle challenge may possibly be accomplished in say as few as 35 moves.  It is okay if it takes you 60, 80 or 100 moves as long as you can eventually drive your red car out the gate.       
Puzzles like this are great because they stimulate forward thinking.  How should I go about removing my car?   What are the possibilities ?   How can I go about moving the other blocking vehicles ?   Although Rush Hour Traffic Jam is at least 8 years old, we are amazed at how many people still have never heard of this hands-on Brain Teaser.    Teachers, Camp Counselors, After School Programs, YMCA's, Boys and Girls Clubs will find this an exceptional puzzle to have in their game closet.

Most Difficult Brain Teaser

Often puzzlers are looking for the most difficult new brain teaser to come to market. The 36 Cube Puzzle created by Think Fun Company is just such a puzzle. When assembled the puzzle must form a cube. The width, length and height are all equal.
The puzzle consists of a base with 36 permanent thin posts in varying lengths. The permanent posts form a six by six grid.
There are also 36 removable colorful thin pyramid shaped pieces which vary in length.
The objective is straightforward. Only one of each color pyramid in each row and each column. The top of the puzzle must be even (just like a flat-top haircut). One notices in the packaging that each row has ALL the same color as oppossed to the solution which requires only One of each color in each row and column.

So as you progress placing pieces on the base watch out for duplicating the same color in any given row or column. Getting between 31 to 34 pieces on the puzzle base is considered very, very good. Between 27 to 30 pyramid pieces placed correctly is Okay. One is a very Accomplished Puzzler if they can arrange all 36 pieces on the base. A person who claims they have arranged 35 of the 36 pieces is considered a fabricator.
So puzzle enthusiasts who like a real good challenge should try the 36 Cube Brain Teaser. We cannot guarantee You will be totally stumped. But we are fairly certain that most people will be baffled.

Purchase Information for 36 Cube