I used to love GAMES Magazines annual Games 100 issue with its listing of the top games of the year–usually heralded by a cover contest with a scavenger-hunt-like puzzle using bits from the myriad of games listed therein. So I wanted to do something like that for this year’s contest. I needed a format which would impel people to comb through their collections and/or BGG without falling back on Google searches.
Then there was the issue of the metapuzzle–what to do with the games once found. I’d gotten bored of making acronyms from the titles and other such wordplay, so I decided to quantify them. The idea of using sudoku came pretty early on, so I knew I’d need a translation mechanism that could give me numbers from one to nine–BGG ID’s seemed like a natural fit that was accessible to all.
The last challenge was constructing the sudoku itself. I wanted to make it difficult, but also for the final stage I wanted the cells used for the final answer to be among the last to be filled in. I’d entered puzzle contests before where it was possible to short-cut your way to end by only solving as much as you needed to extract the answer–which was also why I required a filled-in grid as part of every qualified entry.
There were plenty of online make-your-own sudoku websites; unfortunately, I don’t remember which site I used to create this one (I should have bookmarked it–dang). But it generated a symmetric set of clues (which I happen to find appealing as opposed to some rando arrangement). I test-solved the grid to make sure it was solvable and challenging enough, then worked backwards from the clues to find games on BGG with ID #’s with final digits that matched the clues. I wanted a range of games–some really well-known, some more obscure–and they all had to be games I owned because I was going to have to take pictures of them. This last factor was to prevent people from simply using Reverse Image Search to find the games on BGG.
And there you have it: the origin story of our puzzle. Here’s the grid with the names of the games in place of the original clues:
And here’s the solved sudoku grid:
The highlighted cells give the final answer 41183, which if you append to the BGG URL gives you the game with that ID #: Folly. And if there’s a better (non-swear) word to sum up 2020 I don’t know what is.
Eight people managed to machete their way through to the correct answer. Jeremy S was randomly-selected to be our winner, and we’ll be sending him a copy of Splendor Marvel. Don’t collect all those Infinity Stones in one place now!
Thanks and congratulations to all who entered and we hope to bring you more Tabletop/puzzly fun in 2021.
Thanks to Asmodee Canada for providing the prize for our contest.