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Published on March 8th, 2012 | by Greg


Games and Puzzles: A New Game and Book

Whether you’re in the mood for read­ing about puz­zles or play­ing a game, we’ve got you cov­ered in to­day’s pair. Books and games go to­geth­er like wine and cheese- well, maybe not quite as close­ly, since you can’t re­al­ly have them at the same time. But we still think they are a nat­u­ral fit, and even more so when the book is about games in a sense. And you’ve seen plen­ty of board games grace these pages, but not one quite like this.

To­day’s read is The Puz­zler’s Dilem­ma, by Der­rick Nie­der­man, now avail­able in pa­per­back from Pen­guin. We liked the ex­plo­ration, even if it does get some­times dry. Start­ing with ‘Ear­ly Puz­zles’ and con­tin­u­ing on through sec­tions like ‘Kan­ga­roo Puz­zles’ (a bit con­fus­ing, but de­fined as puz­zles that con­tain the an­swers in­side), ‘Lat­er­al Think­ing’, and ‘The Hu­man El­e­ment’, the au­thor wan­ders ev­ery­where from cross­words to Jeop­ardy, the Mon­ty Hall prob­lem, rid­dles, and plen­ty of lit­er­ary ref­er­ences (Poe to Steven­son). At 213 pages, it’s beach read­ing for puz­zlers, and pret­ty great to pick up a few pages at a time to ab­sorb the an­swers. Best of all, you’ll learn some new tricks and puz­zles that should woo even the most hard­core fan of games. $11 or so.

If you’d rather leap in­to a board game this week­end, pick up Mor­phol­o­gy. It’s re­ceived rave rat­ings from Time (#2 Toy of the Year) and the Chica­go Tri­bune (top ten games to get a par­ty start­ed), and we can eas­i­ly see where the pos­i­tive re­views are com­ing from. Grant­ed, at first, it can feel a bit ran­dom- kind of like some­one threw a bunch of stuff to­geth­er. But with a bit more time, the care­ful plan­ning be­hind the ma­te­ri­als be­comes ap­par­ent. Much like oth­er par­ty games, you di­vide in­to teams of any num­ber (four or more peo­ple are need­ed), and you’ll be work­ing cre­ative­ly. Each round, one play­er from a team has a minute to have his or her team guess a giv­en word from a card. But un­like par­ty fa­vorites like Dix­it or Ap­ples to Ap­ples or Taboo, you won’t use words. In­stead, you’ll use the in­clud­ed balls, blocks, string, sticks, fig­urines, and cir­cles. There are fur­ther re­stric­tions or changes based on rolling the die- like be­ing able to use on­ly one hand or on­ly some of the ma­te­ri­als- but the rules are su­per-sim­ple and thus easy to learn. It can take on­ly a few min­utes to play, as well, and does chal­lenge your brain. The ma­te­ri­als aren’t great, though, es­pe­cial­ly the string (which is key). Still, it’s fun for groups of any age or even mixed ages, and we had luck with adults and kids alike. A good pick for any­one look­ing for a new and dif­fer­ent par­ty game. Avail­able now, $25.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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