To round out what has apparently become Puzzle Week, I wanted to talk about puzzles in another media type besides books and video games. I tried to think about puzzles in movies/television and the closest I can come up with is are shows like Psych or possibly Leverage (which come to think of it is probably one of the reasons why I like those shows so very much...) where there is some mystery to solve (who murdered that person or how are they going to steal that?) and in theory you are given just enough clues you might be able to guess it. The problem is that if they give too many clues, then it ruins any twists or surprises the writers have in store, but if they give too few, then it's like a Sherlock Holmes story where there is absolutely no way to guess the outcome because the clues Sherlock Holmes discover are never revealed until the end when he explains the answer. So ultimately, the episodes are designed so you can't solve it ahead of time, so they're not really puzzles.
So I decided to talk about puzzles in board games. I'm not talking about jigsaw puzzles or Mastermind, but something with a little more depth and variety in its puzzles. The only example I can really come up with is the game Mansions of Madness. I haven't actually been able to finish this game yet, let alone play it multiple times, so I can't do a proper review, but one of the things that made me buy the game was that it had in game puzzles that needed to be solved by players before they could achieve their goal. I was very curious how it was possible to make a repeatable puzzle in a game that both gave players time to think, but didn't completely stall the game for all the other players.
What they have come up are pipe and lock puzzles where you are given random pieces in a predetermined format and must swap and rotate them so that all the colors/shapes/whatever align. Not a very difficult puzzle, but these can definitely be tricky. The genius part is that you are only allowed to move and swap a set number of pieces each turn (determined by your player's Intelligence trait). So if you know how to solve the puzzle quickly, but your character is an idiot, it will take a long time to solve it or if you can't figure it out, you can think about your next few moves while other players are taking their turns. Again, I haven't played this enough to see how consistently awesome this is, but from what I saw it was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for when I bought the game.
I'm still trying to figure out a way to combine the Usborne puzzles and maybe some Cliff Johnson puzzles into a board game in such a way that it offers deep and clever puzzles that are replayable and not game-stalling. I'll let you know when I figure out how to do that...