Friday, August 19, 2016


Unplugged Dilintia -- Clue Master

Several years ago, Thinkfun published a game called Grid Works.  It's a logical deduction game where you have to place nine pieces -- three each of crosses, circles, and triangles, in blue, green or yellow, for a total of nine unique pieces -- on a 3x3 grid according to pictorial rules -- certain patterns either MUST appear or CANNOT appear in the finished configuration.

And it was pretty decent.

Then Chocolate Fix came out, and I'm afraid I was a little put off by how similar it was in concept to Grid Works.  I skipped it, thinking it was just a reskinned game.  But when Thinkfun started making apps, I thought what the heck and downloaded the game.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that, although the basic game was quite similar, the puzzles were designed to require slightly different tactics.  Where a lot of the solving in Grid Works comes from simply spotting patterns in the rules and building from them, Chocolate Fix has much more to do with setting up known patterns on the board and building on them -- to this end, the game comes with several temporary markers to help you visualize your solution.

So when I saw Clue Master on the shelf, I was open to it.  Hey, if they made Chocolate Fix so much different from Grid Works, maybe this new game will have its own little spin on things.

Guess what, it's just Grid Works.

I mean, I sat down and put the two games side by side and... although Clue Master has a decent share of new puzzles, a number of them are just 1:1 copies of the older puzzles.  So if you already have Grid Works, it's hard to give this new game a very strong recommendation.

However, I do think I like Clue Master better for a couple reasons.

For one, it's been reskinned with an 8-bit aesthetic that makes it a close match to Code Master.  Grid Works came out at a time when Thinkfun seemed to be moving away from the cartoony themes of games like Rush Hour and Stormy Seas and toward more abstract visuals like Tilt and Turnstile. It's nice to see Grid Works getting sort of a second chance now that Thinkfun is coming back to games with stronger personality and theming.

And the package as a whole is slightly nicer.  All of the solutions are arranged in one handy page at the back of the book, making it easier to check your answer (and this is the kind of game where checking your answer at the end is important).  The pieces are also nicer -- more solid compared to the spongey pieces in Grid Works.

And hey, Grid Works has been out of print for years.  If you missed out on it the first time, you might want to take a look at Clue Master now.  If you liked Chocolate Fix, you might find this take on the idea interesting.  And even if you already have Grid Works, maybe the couple of new puzzles and the flashier package will be worth it to you.


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