Acrostics are beastly puzzles to set–harder in some ways than cryptics because with cryptics you can often finesse your way out of a tight corner but acrostics box you in with letter distribution. I wish I could have made all the clues boardgame-related (or even boardgame-adjacent) but that just wasn’t possible. I also want to credit this year’s game The Initiative with giving me the idea of how to encode the second layer of the riddle in a way that would make it harder to skip to a solution without solving the entire puzzle.
The answers to the clues were as follows:
Entering all those letters into the grid resulted in the following message:
Once you’ve answered all the questions take the initial letters of the answers, reflect them using the atbash cipher and you’ll have the ultimate clue you’ll need to solve the puzzle. Good luck and happy solving!
The initial letters of the answers were “hkrvowvhqzsivhdrmmvinnrr”, which when decoded and parsed spelled out “Spiel Des Jahres Winner MMII”. Thus the answer to the contest was Bill Payne’s 2002 SdJ winner Villa Paletti–still in print and still fun!
We had twelve correct entries–the first arriving a mere two hours after the puzzle went live!–and using my online random number generator our winner is Matt H, from Whitby, ON. He’ll be receiving a copy of dV Giochi’s Deckscape: Mystery of Eldorado. Congrats to our other correct entrants, and never fear, I’m already thinking of ideas for the Non-Denominational Holiday contest in December!