Top Ten Puzzle Games

Yes, if you haven’t noticed I exclusively write about puzzle games, abstract games and ” “-and-write games for our blog. As I continue to write about them, it may become a little unclear on what I really truly think are the greatest hits, especially considering on average they get “B for Great”. So, I present to you: My Top Ten Puzzle Games!

Azul

Not only are the bits yummy and gorgeous to look at, but the scoring in this game rewards the long-term planner. You’ll want to assess not only your board, but the boards of others to lay ceramic tiles in the Palace in the most advantageous way. Paying attention to timing, placement and supply is key. This game never gets old.
Warning: Please do not eat the bits. If you must, replace them with candy.

  • Designer: Michael Kiesling
  • Publisher: Plan B Games
  • Player Count: 2 to 4
  • Length: 30-45 minutes

Chronicles of Crime

This game makes extensive use of its app and QR codes on cards to create sustainable storylines that drive investigation into, well, crimes. Augmented reality to explore crime scenes, dialogue with characters, spending time as a resource, and even the passing of time creates the type of immersion you’ve always wanted in your fantasies of sleuth life.

  • Designer: David Cicurel
  • Publisher: Lucky Duck Games
  • Player Count: 1 to 4
  • Length: 60-90 minutes

Escape Room in a Box: Flashback

Quality components, locks, fun technologies and unconventional solving techniques will greet you in this old-school themed game. Cherry on top: all-woman designers!

  • Designers: Juliana Patel, Ariel Rubin
  • Publisher: Mattel
  • Player Count: 2 to 9
  • Length: 30-90 minutes

Exit: Dead Man on the Orient Express

Part traditional escape game, part logic game to solve a murder — this is the best Exit game in the Kosmos lineup. The story, characters, and scene setting is the most successful attempt at immersion in a 2D game I’ve seen as well.

  • Designers: Inka Brand, Markus Brand
  • Publisher: Kosmos
  • Player Count: 1 to 4
  • Length: 45-90 minutes

Ganz Schön Clever

Establish your street cred in trying to achieve different scores and perhaps even receive the most elite title of “You’re so clever!” This was my first introduction to roll-and-writes and I’m still constantly perplexed by it. The most engaging part of this game is the satisfaction of creating efficient chain reactions. Still haven’t broken 300 but… soon. Soon.

  • Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
  • Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
  • Player Count: 1 to 4
  • Length: 30 minutes

Letters from Whitechapel
(with Dear Boss expansion)

I adore cat and mouse games, and will almost always volunteer to be Jack the Ripper. Trolling the police is exhilarating; with the expansion it adds the extra challenge of restrictions in murdering and traveling. The puzzle in this game is calculating hidden movement and deceit, and it’s done very well.

  • Designers: Gabriele Mari, Gianluca Santopietro
  • Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
  • Player Count: 2 to 6
  • Length: 60 minutes

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures

Listen, I know I just talked about Jack the Ripper and I promise I’m not a murderer at heart. This time, you’re trying to catch him and if you are familiar with this series it will slap you upside the head. Like the real life Jack, it’s hard to piece together anything about him so if you’re a investigatory masochist like me this is the one for you. Sherlock will school you hard when you’re ready to “solve” a.k.a. guess correctly.

  • Designers: Suzanne Goldberg, Gary Grady, Jérôme Ropert
  • Publisher: Asmodee
  • Player Count: 1 to 8
  • Length: 60-120 minutes

Star Maps

This is a pleasant and mathy roll-and-write, as well as merciless. It’s sort of like having a crush on someone, them insulting you endlessly during a date and then being okay with it because at least you got to go to an aquarium together. You also get to name stars, and there are black holes and everything!

  • Designer: Bryan Fischer
  • Publisher: The Spiel Press
  • Player Count: 1 to 4
  • Length: 30 minutes

Welcome To…

Oh boy, Welcome To… the world of flip and writes. Racing for advantageous contract points, trying to plan with wiggle room, prioritizing pools or palm trees or large estates, the strategy is up to you. Towards the end of the game, you and your opponents will bond over the pain of your lack of options as room in your neighborhood is scarce.

  • Designer: Benoit Turpin
  • Publisher: Blue Cocker Games
  • Player Count: 1 to 100
  • Length: 25 minutes

Wish You Were Here

No leads, immersive postcard art, and real world knowledge, you start to lose sleep and/or lose touch with reality. Yet when you complete the game, you can raise your head up high from your table laden with nonsensical notes and say “I am a genius.”

  • Designers: Khiara Foss and Logan Giannini
  • Publisher: The Enigma Emporium
  • Player Count: 1 to 4
  • Length: 120-180 minutes