Author: Brian Tivol
First, solvers need to recognize each game from the cards shown; it's
not all that easy, even for someone who has a lot of games. I
purposely picked some games that pretty much nobody knows, but have a
famous publisher or author and are therefore listed alongside the more
well-known titles. None of the games is collectible, so anyone who
owned the game could, if they wanted that extra bit of verification,
find the card I chose by opening up the box and thumbing through it.
How can you go about finding games you don't know? Well, there are a
lot of websites: there are stores that sell games on line, publishers
that list their wares on line, magazines that review titles on line,
and game players who list their favorites on line. (Oh, and some of
these pages are even in English.) If you've found some games, you
probably will benefit from looking at the manufacturers' web sites for
other games. There are also local game stores that teams went to
visit, but most were small and had too few workers to devote to
helping them solve this puzzle. I don't think anyone said, "We'll buy
one of each game that you can recognize off this list," but that
probably would have helped immensely.
As I list the games, I'll also mark how hard I think they should be.
"1" means pretty much any adult who's played games should be able to
figure it out; a trip to Toys R Us should do it. "2" and "3" means
that any person who's played a lot of "twinkie" games or the newer
German games should be able to handle these; people who gather friends
to play games should be able to get the 3s, and people who arrive as
guests to these events should be able to get the 2s. "4" means that
you really need to either be an utter insane die-hard or that you have
to have stumbled across the right web page; mua-ha-ha. I researched
it, so can you. There are few enough of them, though, that you don't
really need all the 4s before moving on.
Once Upon a Time (2)
Verraeter (3) -- German game of the year nominee
Elfenland (2) -- German game of the year winner
Nuclear War (3)
Robo Rally (2) -- yes, there really is a space in its name
Outburst II (1) -- meant to get Outburst; this should do fine
Mu (3) -- which German game company makes games with hedgehogs?
Eurorails (2) -- many in this series, but only one in Europe
Elements (4) -- from Adlung-Spiele
Lunch Money (2)
Acquire (1) -- many versions, but all have Luxor Stock
Shit! (4) -- from Adlung-Spiele; my way of adding obscenity to the Hunt
Titan: The Arena (3)
Honeybears (4) -- not well-known, but by Reiner Knizia
Adlung-Spiele is a German game company that makes card games
exclusively (including Verraeter, which got it its recent acclaim).
It released another dozen games last fall at the industry fair in
Essen, so it looks fairly prominent in recent reviews. It has a very
thorough web site, too, if anyone goes to look at it, and there one
can find pictures of Shit! and Elements. Hmm, I wonder how many web
searches will hit this page due to the phrase "pictures of Shit!".
Anyway, once all the games are found, it should be clear from the
introductory paragraph that players are supposed to take the initial
letter of each game and rearrange the trigrams. Arranging the letters
such that the players' initials spell a word gives you HERRING and
gibberish, so you'll want to try something else. The right answer is
"LAST WORD OF SEVENTH GAME". The seventh game is Robo Rally, so the
answer is RALLY. The designer of Robo Rally is also the creator of
Magic: The Gathering, which wraps up the whole story nicely.
(Speaking on stories... I'd decided to give the players names so that
it would give better breaks between the sets of three cards and lend
itself to a better story. I knew that people would try to use those
names as a key to rearrange the trigrams, so I purposely gave them
names whose initials spell a misleading word-- I'd always liked
puzzles that managed to have both a real method of getting an answer
and a secondary method of getting the phrase THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER.
For flavor, I figured that the names should be names of game designers
and, where I could, picked names that matched at least one of the
cards in the puzzle. "Richard" from my list was intended to be
Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic and Robo Rally. As is turns
out, he was actually on one of the teams competing this year! I'm
told that he enjoyed the puzzle, but that he also had to ask "Is Robo
Rally have two words or one?")