Block-a-Pix, another new Conceptis puzzle (Thought Dump Thursday 6/16/16)

The last time Conceptis introduced a new logic puzzle was late February 2015, when they introduced Cross-a-Pix (which has become one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite). Now, in 2016, yet another new form of puzzle is introduced: Block-a-Pix. Unfortunately, due to…well, everything that’s happened since the beginning of freaking May, I couldn’t put together a blog post as close to this release date as I could with that of Cross-a-Pix; instead, I had to do so more than a month after the introduction of the new puzzle format (which was early May). Still, better late than never.

Block-a-Pix, at a glance, seems a lot like Link-a-Pix. Comes in B/W or color, numbers littered all over the board… The difference, however, lies in what happens to those numbers as the puzzle progresses towards its solution. Instead of having to connect two numbers with a link that covers a certain number of squares, the number is surrounded by a rectangular formation with an area equivalent to the number. Also, unlike Link-a-Pix, you shouldn’t have any blank squares whatsoever once the puzzle is completed.

Let’s look at an example:

First off, these sorts of puzzles normally have “dead giveaway” clues, and Block-a-Pix is no exception. What I mean is that we can go ahead and fill in all the 1s, because doing so would create a 1-square formation around the 1, just as the rules dictate.

Now, here’s an important point to consider: if a number is prime (i.e., can only be divided evenly by itself and 1), then it must be surrounded by a Nx1 or 1xN rectangle, where N is the number in question. For instance, the 5 in the top-right corner must be surrounded by a 5×1 or 1×5 rectangle. (For non-prime numbers, however, you have to consider the possible factors; e.g., hypothetically speaking, a rectangular region surrounding the number 24 could be 24×1, 12×2, 8×3, 6×4, 4×6, 3×8, 2×12, or 1×24.)

Something else to consider: when surrounding a number by a rectangular region, the other numbers become obstacles. For instance, a rectangular region surrounding the 15 on the far right cannot extend beyond the 15th column because of the 2s to the immediate left of the 15. Additionally, the 3 in the top-left corner can only be surrounded by a rectangular region extended downward, because the 2 to its right is too close to the 3.

Keeping this sort of dead-end logic in mind, you should end up with something like this (or something more complete if you’re like me and like to work ahead):

I mentioned before that there should be no blank squares on the board, which brings me to my next point: if there are blank spaces that can only be filled with one particular number, use that number to fill that space. Here are a few examples I can think of:

  • row 2 column 2 covered by the nearby 2
  • row 1 column 6 covered by the gray 5 to the right
  • row 1 column 12 covered by the 2 below
  • row 3 column 14 covered by the 6 above
  • row 4 column 2 covered by the gray 4 to the right
  • row 10 column 13 covered by the gray 2 to the right
  • rows 14-15 column 12 covered by the 8 to the left

Keeping that in mind, the board should end up looking like this:

I trust that this explanation will suffice for solving the rest of the puzzle.

Here is what the puzzle should look like once it has been completed: https://i.gyazo.com/f42be22a4e5a6ae577034d41b5b23663.png

 

Nowi Wins That takes care of my explanation of this new puzzle format. It is quite fun, especially more so than Link-a-Pix. I hope this post has been of use somehow, and y’all have fun solving puzzles!

Spontaneous Saturday 4/11/15: Sym-a-pix, the puzzle that I underestimated

If you recall on June 14, 2014, when I wrote my first Conceptis article (http://wp.me/p4GI1b-u), I stated the following:

Looking back, that was a shallow judgement on my part, and I regret it wholeheartedly. It dawned on me last week when I decided, “Hey, why don’t I do every puzzle instead of just ignoring those three in particular?” I mean, Dot-a-pix is still child’s play and Maze-a-pix is average at best, but when I did last week’s Sym-a-pix puzzle, I found out the hard way that there is more to Sym-a-pix that meets the eye.

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 12.48.51 AM

You see, when I first looked at a board like this, I thought, “Well, just draw the smallest possible box around all the colored circles, simple as that.” For a while, I was going along with that logic and thought, “Eh, this is getting boring.” That was where the shallow judgement came from. Then, that one fateful week, I tried to apply my shallow-minded way of thinking to that week’s weekly puzzle (not the one shown above) and, surely enough, found out to my dismay that I had 64 wrong walls. Going through the many errors that I had committed, I was taught the true nature of Sym-a-pix. That is the focal point of discussion on this Spontaneous Saturday.

 

For simplicity, the example will not be the one above, but instead a more basic one.

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 1.09.43 AM

The point of Sym-a-pix is not to draw the possible box around all the circles, but to create walls on the grid such that:

  • All enclosed areas have one and only one circle within them.
  • All enclosed areas have rotational symmetry, meaning you could theoretically rotate them 180º and still see the same shape.

Things to note when solving Sym-a-pix puzzles:

  1. Start with corners and edges. If a circle is taking up one of the corner squares, it is actually okay to apply my “shallow judgement algorithm” (SJA, as I’ll call it), and surround the circle with the smallest possible box (1×1 for circles in the center of a square, 2×1 for circles on an edge, and 2×2 for circles on a corner). If a circle is taking up one of the edge squares, create walls that are both parallel and as close as possible to the edge in question. Applying this step to the example should result in the following:
    Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 1.24.09 AM
  2. Divide adjacent circles. In this case, adjacency refers to the concept that the smallest possible boundary boxes of two circles will overlap at at least one edge. This edge or set of edges should be highlighted, as it is the means by which the “adjacent” circles will be divided. Applying this step to the example should result in the following:
    Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 3.36.06 AM
  3. Consider the symmetry. This is the sole most important rule of Sym-a-pix, and where the “sym” part of the name comes from. As mentioned before, the boundary surrounding a circle should be rotationally symmetrical, meaning that it can be turned 180º without its appearance changing. Similarly, if you take any borders that surround a circle and rotate them 180º, using the circle as an axis, the resulting image should depict borders that are to be highlighted if they are not already. This is a complex process, so here are some elementary derivatives:
    Circle in center: For any boundary that is a part of the SJA box (the box generated by my Shallow Judgement Algorithm, mentioned above) of the circle, the line on the other side must also be highlighted. Applied to the example:
    Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 3.37.15 AM
    Circle on edge: This is slightly (but only slightly) more complicated. The dimension of length 1 works the same as any dimension of the SJA of a circle in the center, but the dimension of length 2 is a different case. If a border lies on that dimension, not only must its “reflection,” so to speak, be on the other side in terms of its own orientation, but in terms of its perpendicular orientation as well. This goes back to the previous definition of the rule; whether it’s on the left or the right (relative to the circle), if you rotate the boundary 180º, it should still be on whichever of the left or the right it was on before. It’s really difficult to explain this any further, so I’ll just fill in the example:
    Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 3.50.55 AM
    Circle on corner: Similar to circle on edge, only both dimensions are of length 2. In the example (not much change here):
    Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 3.51.51 AM
  4. Consider which tiles belong to which circles. The easiest way to think about this step is by looking for the “dead ends” of the puzzle—for instance, row 3 column 9 and row 10 column 1.
    Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 3.53.28 AM
    Anything not covered by any of the first two rules or the first check of rule 3 will probably fall under this rule. On some occasions, this one included, you can keep doing rule 4 checks until you’ve reached an impasse, like I will for this example…never mind. It turns out simple dead end analysis is really effective for low-difficulty puzzles like this one (mind you, this one is low difficulty relative to Sym-a-pix, not puzzles in general). However, sometimes, you will have to refer back to rule 3, and from there back to rule 4 again, in order to complete the puzzle.

The sample, if completed successfully, should look like http://i.gyazo.com/671ef2c147982cd4fff22c4fcbf62f06.png

 

Nowi Wins Once again, I have been, in a manner of speaking, slapped in the face and told to check myself before I wreck myself. (It may not be “once again” in terms of Vouiv-review, but overall I’ve made dumb errors like this too many times to count.) In closing, I take back what I said before about Sym-a-pix; it requires plenty more thinking than I gave it credit for, even more so than I can explain (at the moment), although this does not mean it’s the most difficult form of puzzle out there (personally, I find Pic-a-pix more difficult). That said, I hope this post has been of use somehow, and y’all have fun solving puzzles!

Spontaneous Saturday 3/14/15: Cross-a-Pix (new Conceptis puzzle!)

In 2014, I wrote a number of Spontaneous Saturday articles about Conceptis Puzzles (June 14, August 12, and August 30). Recently (i.e., two weeks ago), contrary to my expectations, Conceptis came out with a new type of puzzle: Cross-a-Pix.

Cross-a-Pix is a picture logic puzzle (like Fill-a-Pix and Pic-a-Pix) which, while it looks like another form of B/W Pic-a-Pix, is actually radically different from any other puzzle of its kind. In this particular type of puzzle, you have multiple regions of differing shapes and sizes that you either fill in or mark blank, depending on the clues. Cross-a-Pix comes in two forms: Single Clue and Double Clue.

 

Single Clue

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1.24.09 AM

Like the name implies, Single Clue Cross-a-Pix puzzles have only one number as a clue to a row or column. For these types of puzzles, you have to consider the following:

  1. Small and large numbers. For large numbers, if you have a region (or a tile set) of a length greater than N – n, where N is the number of tiles left in the row or column and n is the number represented by the clue, the region must be highlighted. Similarly, for small numbers, if you have a region of length greater than n, where n is the number represented by the clue, the region must be marked blank (although this goes without saying). In our example, the 8 and 2 (both on rows) are the clues of interest. 4 > (10 – 8) and 3 > 2, so:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1.36.57 AM
  2. The number of tiles remaining in a row or column. As you work through the puzzle, consider the regions you have and haven’t highlighted. In this case, look at the row marked with a 7. Because the L-shaped region has been marked blank thanks to our previous rule, the row now has 9 spaces left. This means the 3-space region can be marked like so:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1.43.30 AM
  3. Completed rows and columns. I know this goes without saying, but pay attention to rows and columns that have already been completed, like the column marked with a 2. As you can see, that one already has 2 marked tiles, so we can mark the rest blank, like so:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1.45.27 AM
  4. The patterns of a row or column. This factor is where a bit more thinking is involved. Look at the fifth column from the left, the one marked with a 6, the rightmost of two adjacent 6s. If you look closely, there’s no way to complete the column without highlighting any of the 2-space regions. This seems more like a complex version of factor 2, but nonetheless, it is something to note. Our example can now become:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 1.50.54 AM

Taking all of the following into consideration, if you complete the example correctly, it should look like this: http://i.gyazo.com/46cacf0465705a382e181a1a1556b0ad.png (posted as a link for fear of spoilers)

 

Double Clue

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 2.01.06 AM

In Double Clue Cross-a-Pix, the clues are marked with two numbers instead of one. The first number (leftmost in a row, uppermost in a column) represents the number of squares to be filled, while the second number (rightmost in a row, lowermost in a column) represents the number of groups into which the filled-in squares must be divided. Thus, the criteria to consider while completing these puzzles are quite a bit different:

  1. Clue numbers that are close to each other. In a row or column, if a region takes up a number of spaces greater than (a – b + 1), where “a” is the first clue and “b” is the second clue, it must be marked blank. Knowing this, our example can be marked as follows:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 3.26.55 AM
    Using the formula, the 2 2 column and row, as well as the 3 3 row, cannot contain any regions that take up any more than 1 space (2 – 2 + 1 = 1; 3 – 3 + 1 = 1); and the 4 3 column cannot contain any regions that take up more than 2 spaces (4 – 3 + 1 = 2).
  2. Rows and columns with a second clue number equal to 1. In this case, you have to think about the patterns, similarly to how you’d consider factor 4 of Single Clue. Specifically, start from the beginning and/or the ending tile, and count as many tiles as the first clue. If you happen to end on a tile that is within the region rather than on the end, you must mark blank whatever tile you started on (beginning or ending tile). For instance, if you start on the end of the 6 1 column and go six tiles up, you end up on a tile that is not the end of the region, so you would have to mark blank the last tile in that column, like so:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 3.36.43 AM
    (the red circle is there to make it easier to tell)
    If you keep going through this process, you may just end up whittling a row or column down to the point where there are only just enough tiles in the row or column to support the first clue. (This just so happens to be the case in this example, you see?)
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 3.40.28 AM
  3. Unifying and breaking groups of blackened tiles. Here is something to keep in mind when solving Dual Clue Cross-a-Pix: the number of groups in a row or column does NOT constantly increase. For instance, in the 7 3 column, if I were to blacken the 6th tile down, the current number of groups would decrease from 3 to 2 (a concept to which I refer as “unifying”). Now, if I were to do that, there would be no way to increase the number of groups, so that’s a no-no. Instead, you have to mark that tile blank so that the groups are broken rather than unified. Similarly, the black tile in the 2 2 row should be “broken” as well. The result:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 3.46.49 AM
    The tiles marked blank are circled above. Note that marking blank the tile in the 7 3 column leaves just enough tiles to satisfy the first clue, so I decided to go ahead and fill up the column accordingly. Note also that the converse process is also true; if you find that you have too many groups in a row or column, you might have to blacken a region to unify a set of groups. However, I cannot think of an instance of this scenario in our example, so just take my word for it.
  4. Once again, the patterns of a row or column, particularly one that already has one or several blackened regions. Let’s skip ahead a little…
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 4.03.46 AM
    Now, look at the lower of the two 4 3 rows. If you were to fill in the 2-space region taking up the middle two tiles, you would have 3 blackened tiles in 1 group, making it impossible to have 4 blackened tiles in 3 groups; therefore, that region must be marked blank, like so:
    Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 4.10.46 AM
    If you look closely, you’ll also notice by factor 4 of Single Clue that there is no way to complete the 4 3 row without blackening the 4th tile from the left. (If so, good eye!)

Once completed, the example puzzle should look like this: http://i.gyazo.com/ae6de6bdf1abe224f9a591af04f5000f.png (again, posted as a link for fear of spoilers)

 

Nowi Wins Final note: Factors to consider in Single Clue will definitely help in Dual Clue, but not vice versa. I somehow found Dual Clue easier to pick up, but Single Clue is subjectively easier overall. I hope this post has been of use somehow, and y’all have fun solving puzzles!

Spontaneous Saturday 8/30: Conceptis Puzzles part 3 (finale)

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 1.19.55 AM

 

It has been a while (at least one month) since the last time I talked about Conceptis, but I’m ready to put this topic to rest.

Before I go on, here are the previous parts of this series:
Part 1: https://vouivreview.wordpress.com/2014/06/14/spontaneous-saturday-conceptis-puzzles/ (Sudoku, Calcudoku, Kakuro, Battleships, Skyscrapers)
Part 2: https://vouivreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/spontaneous-saturday-conceptis-puzzles-part-2/ (Tic-Tac-Logic, Hitori, Fill-a-Pix, Pic-a-Pix, Nurikabe)

Now, after the puzzles I have already mentioned, there remain three more: Link-a-Pix, Hashi, and Slitherlink. Along with those, I will provide a brief summary of those I have already covered.

 

Link-a-Pix is another one of those self-explanatory puzzles that are really easy to solve. What you have is a plethora of pairs of numbers that must be connected using the number of squares corresponding to those numbers (including the squares on which the numbers are situated). Here is a solved puzzle for visual reference (notice how the 1s are not connected to anything):

 

This puzzle and the next are, in my opinion, the hardest to solve without guessing. The three tenets, straight from the horse’s (i.e. Conceptis’) mouth, are:

  • There are no more than two bridges in the same direction.
  • Bridges can only be vertical or horizontal and are not allowed to cross islands or other bridges.
  • When completed, all bridges are interconnected enabling passage from any island to another.

The main things to note are: the number of bridges from an island should equal the number on that island, and islands cannot be isolated. Here are a few tips to remember while getting started:

  • If the island is labeled with an even number N and has N/2 possible paths for bridges, all of those paths must be covered with two bridges each.
  • If the island is labeled with an odd number N and has ceil(N/2)—ceil is a ceiling function, basically meaning “round up”—possible paths for bridges, each path must be covered with one bridge and the rest will be left for later.
  • If the island is labeled with an odd number N and has ceil(N/2) + 1 possible paths for bridges, one of which is (or can be) connected by one bridge, the remaining paths must be covered with two bridges each.
  • If the island is labeled with an even number N and has N/2 + 1 possible paths for bridges, one of which is (or can be) connected by one bridge, the remaining paths must be covered with one bridge and the rest will be left for later.

All in all, just keep these four tips in mind and remember not to isolate.

 

Here are the three tenets of Slitherlink, again, straight from Conceptis:

  • The value of each clue equals the number of links surrounding it.
  • Empty squares may be surrounded by any number of links.
  • When completed, the solution forms a single continuous loop with no crossings or branches.

The main things to keep in mind while setting up the solution are corner numbers and neighborly 3s. The corner numbers are taken care of in the following manner:

Corner 1s cannot be marked on the outer edges, corner 2s must be labeled as if the 2 were trying to embrace the board, and corner 3s must be marked on the outer edges.

Now, concerning neighborly 3s, there are two types of setups to note: the photo setup and the prison setup. (Those are not official names, mind you; they are merely mnemonics.) The photo setup is used for 3s that are one tile diagonal from each other, while the prison setup is used for 3s that are adjacent to each other. Here is a visual presentation of the two setups (photo on the left, prison on the right):

Using the corner setups and neighborly 3 mnemonics, as well as avoiding isolation, should help in solving the puzzle to a great extent.

 

Finally, a summary of the puzzles I have covered (this is the tl;dr portion for those who do not want to read everything).

  • Sudoku: You all know it; none of the same number in any column, row, or box; most varied type of puzzle on Conceptis
  • Calcudoku: None of the same number in any column or row; the combination of numbers and operands should equal the specified total number of the field; comes in SingleOp, DualOp, and QuadOp
  • Kakuro: None of the same number in one column or row; solved like a crossword puzzle
  • Battleships: All ships must be completely separate from each other; the number of a row or column must equal the number of black spots in that row or column (also, I recently found out a nifty trick: click the number of a row or column to fill the rest of it with water)
  • Skyscrapers: None of the same number in any column or row; the number in a row or column must equal the number of skyscrapers (with heights equivalent to the numbers on the board) that a person would see down the row or column
  • Tic-Tac-Logic: No three X’s or O’s in a row; no more X’s than O’s down a row or column; no two rows or columns can be completely alike
  • Hitori: No more than one number down a column or row; circled numbers cannot be isolated; remember the Triplet, Stalker Duo, and Sandwich mnemonics (consult Part 2 if confused)
  • Fill-a-Pix: Number on a tile = number of blackened tiles surrounding that tile; numbers to note: all 9s and 0s, 6s on edges, and 4s in corners
  • Pic-a-Pix: Numbers on a column or row determine how many tiles must be colored and in what manner; number omitted = Grid dimension (height or width) – ∑ clues (consult Part 2 if confused); comes in B/W and Color
  • Nurikabe: Black tiles cannot be isolated; number on a tile = number of spaces a white “island” must take up; no two numbers on the same island; no 2×2 or larger black areas
  • Link-a-Pix: Connect pairs of numbers using a number of tiles equal to the corresponding number (including the squares on which the numbers are situated); comes in B/W and Color
  • Hashi: No more than two bridges in the same direction; bridges do not cross; number of bridges from an island = number on the island; all islands must be connected (i.e. no isolation)
  • Slitherlink: Number on a tile = number of links surrounding it; continuous loop (i.e. no isolation); remember how to deal with the corner numbers and neighborly 3s

Overall rating: 9/10. I’m not stating the reason again since I did on both my previous posts.

Spontaneous Saturday 7/12: Conceptis Puzzles part 2

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 1.19.55 AM

For this Spontaneous Saturday, I shall expand on my previous post about Conceptis puzzles by talking about 5 puzzles that I hadn’t covered previously: Tic-Tac-Logic, Hitori, Fill-a-Pix, Pic-a-Pix, and Nurikabe.

11/2/15 EDIT: I just realized that 1 has a link to 2 but 2 doesn’t have a link to 3. Let me fix that.
https://vouivreview.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/spontaneous-saturday-conceptis-puzzles-part-3/

 

While it is a puzzle inspired by tic-tac-toe, it is not the tic-tac-toe we all know. No, instead of trying to get three in a row, the objective is to not get three in a row. Although, that’s only part of the objective. The objective in full is to fill the board with X’s and O’s to fulfill the following conditions:

  1. There must be no more X’s than O’s.
  2. There must be no more than three consecutive X’s or O’s down a column or row.
  3. No two rows or columns can be completely alike.

Quick review exercise: Figure out everything wrong with this incorrectly solved puzzle.
Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 2.54.49 AM

 

From the website (since I can’t word it any other way): “Each [Hitori] puzzle consists of a square grid with numbers appearing in all squares. The object is to shade squares so:

  • No number appears in a row or column more than once.
  • Shaded (black) squares do not touch each other vertically or horizontally.
  • When completed, all un-shaded (white) squares create a single continuous area.”

Basically, in Hitori, you have two options: circle or shade. Numbers can only be shaded if they appear twice or more in a row or column and if adjacent numbers are unshaded. There are three main patterns I use to crack at Hitori puzzles: the Triplet, the Stalker Duo, and the Sandwich. Here are all three of them, presented in one image:
Hitori patterns

  • Triplet: If three of the same number appear consecutively in a row or column, shade the outer two and circle the middle one.
  • Stalker Duo: If two of the same number appear consecutively in a row or column with a non-adjacent one of the same number, shade the non-adjacent one.
  • Sandwich: If two of the same number surround a different number in a column or row, circle the surrounded number.

These are 100% guaranteed to yield logical results, but they aren’t be-all-end-all. Just keep the three tenets in mind when solving the rest of the puzzle.

 

In Fill-a-Pix, there are numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. What do these numbers mean? They represent the number of shaded squares surrounding them. Think of it like Minesweeper, but without the mines. It is really simple. Like, unbelievably simple. It’s still fun, though, because unlike some puzzles (see previous installment), it actually requires thinking. Here, I’ll include a solved puzzle to alleviate the brevity of this description.
Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.35.39 AM

 

As (subjectively) far back as 10 years ago, there was this one puzzle game I happened upon called Picross. It was basically B/W Pic-a-Pix: each row/column is marked with clues that indicate how many squares must be highlighted, and in what pattern. Here is a sample B/W puzzle:
Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.49.05 AM
and here is a sample color puzzle:
Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.50.43 AM
So, for instance, column 5 of the colored puzzle must be filled in the following manner: 1 red, 4 blue, 2 black. These puzzles were really confusing to me at first, but there is an algorithmic way to approach it: use the size of the grid and the clues to chip at the puzzle little by little until the full image is created. Use the following equation:

Number omitted = Grid dimension (height or width) – ∑ clues

where ∑ clues is determined in the following manner: Add the numbers in the row/column clue. For every consecutive clue number of the same color, add an extra 1.

Using this formula, if the Number omitted (we’ll call it N) is 0, you can complete the row/column without hesitation. Consider the B/W image shown earlier. Column 4 yields an N value of 0, so let’s fill it out real quick.
Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.59.09 AM
But, if N is not 0 and is no greater than any of the clue numbers, you can try to complete the clue, but you must skip N tiles (or the clue number, whichever is less) per clue while filling it in. This time, I will use the color puzzle as an example; column 5 has an N value of 3, columns 3 and 4 have N values of 2, and row 6 has an N value of 1. So, we can incompletely fill these fields out.
Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 2.26.05 PM
Sometimes, chipping away at the puzzle like this may lead to odd breakthroughs (for example, row 6 now has 3 red tiles instead of 2, thanks to the column hints), and that’s what it’s all about. All in all, Fill-a-Pix requires math skills (I sometimes use a calculator when doing weekly Fill-a-Pix) and plenty of patience. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Ah, good old Nurikabe. Yes, good old chances-are-if-it’s-Medium-I’ll-have-to-guess-my-way-out-of-it Nurikabe. Wait, what? Sorry.

Once again, I’ll quote the rules from the website since it’s hard to explain. “Each [Nurikabe] puzzle consists of a grid containing clues in various places. The object is to create islands by partitioning between clues with walls so:

  • Each island contains exactly one clue.
  • The number of squares in each island equals the value of the clue.
  • All islands are isolated from each other horizontally and vertically.
  • There are no wall areas of 2×2 or larger.
  • When completed, all walls form a continuous path.”

Basically, the main things to keep in mind are: isolated “islands” with only one clue each, continuous path of black with no 2×2 squares, and the number of squares per island should be equal to the number within the island.

Review exercise: Compare the following puzzle to its solution:
Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.20.32 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.21.24 PM

 

Copied from the previous installment: “Overall website rating: 9/10. The only thing I could ask for Conceptis to change is to either set Sound to “Off” by default or to allow account-based defaults so that they apply no matter the device used (my computer’s data got wiped once and I had to turn the sound off again for every single puzzle). Also, more free-to-play puzzles would be nice. (Come on, just one per category per week?)”

Spontaneous Saturday 6/14: Conceptis puzzles

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 1.19.55 AM

Conceptis puzzles is my go-to website for passing time, teasing my brain, and having fun with logic puzzles. The website (which can be accessed by clicking on the header image) provides some starter puzzles and releases new puzzles weekly, one per category for free and several more per category (some higher in difficulty) that can be bought. You can’t go wrong with free-to-play, and that is why I am a frequent visitor to the site.

There are 16 different puzzles to choose from, but three of them I just completely don’t bother with: Sym-a-pix, Dot-a-pix, and Maze-a-pix. Those puzzles are so self-explanatory that a child could do them and have no fun factor to them whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I say these hardly qualify as logic puzzles; rather, they seem more like preschooler activities.

4/11/15 EDIT: This was a shallow judgement on my part. Refer to: http://wp.me/p4GI1b-6c

Rant aside, there are 13 puzzles I play regularly, but I will only cover 5 due to the tedium of having to explain all 13.

7/12 EDIT: I cover 5 more in my most recent Spontaneous Saturday, viewed here: https://vouivreview.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/spontaneous-saturday-conceptis-puzzles-part-2/.

Yes, the logic puzzle we all know and love: Sudoku. The aim of the game is to fill squares in with numbers 1-9, but not in a completely haphazard manner; only one of a certain number can be in any row, column, or box. Notice the illegality of the placement of the brown 3 (two in the same row), 8 (two in the same column), and 1 (two in the same box) in the image below.
Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 1.33.24 AM
Variants include Mini Sudoku (smaller boxes), Mega Sudoku (bigger boxes), Irregular Sudoku (oddly shaped boxes), Diagonal Sudoku (only one of a number 1-9 can be in any diagonal line of symmetry), Multi Sudoku (multiple Sudoku grids overlapping each other), Sum Sudoku (there are fields within the board which specify a required sum of numbers), OddEven Sudoku (certain tiles are restricted to either even or odd numbers), and Chain Sudoku (like Irregular Sudoku but with more freedom in shaping). Unfortunately, only regular Sudoku offers free-to-play puzzles every week.

 

These puzzles are what got me into Conceptis in the first place (I was a OneMoreLevel frequenter before I became a Conceptis frequenter). You could say it’s kinda like Sum Sudoku but not. There are no boxes to be factored in, but the “no duplicate numbers in any columns or rows” restriction still applies. However, there are fields that specify a number and an operation. The numbers within the field must be able to equal the number when the operation is applied. For example, a field labeled 45x with three empty spaces would require two 3s and a 5 (5 * 3 * 3 = 45), while a field labeled 3- with two empty spaces could either contain 2 and 5 or 1 and 4 (5 – 2 = 3, 4 – 1 = 3). Puzzles are distinguished in the following types: SingleOp (only one operation; operation label omitted for obvious reasons), DualOp (Addition+Subtraction or Multiplication+Division), or QuadOp (all four operations).

 

Kakuro is a puzzle with a board shape much like that of a crossword puzzle, with a sum specified for each “Across” or “Down” field instead of a clue. The aim is to fill in those fields with numbers that add up to equal the sum without repeating numbers. It’s much easier for me to teach with a visual aid, so here’s an image of an already solved puzzle.
Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 1.59.44 AM

 

I’m sure you are familiar with the board game Battleship, where you pick a tile and the opponent says “Hit” or “Miss” depending on whether you hit one of the opponent’s ships, and there are multiple lengths of ships. Well, this puzzle is a single-player spinoff of the game. The first thing you may notice is the numbers on the right and bottom, which specify how many of the tiles in the corresponding row or column are part of a battleship. You are also given already-filled tiles (sometimes), the ships that are hiding in the water (so to speak), and the restriction that ships cannot be adjacent to each other (even diagonally). Below is an unsolved Battleships puzzle, along with its solution.
Puzzle: Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 2.08.20 AM  Solution: Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 2.08.08 AM

 

Skyscrapers is a really hard-to-get puzzle at a glance, but thankfully, Conceptis does provide rules for their logic puzzles, and within the Skyscrapers rules, I found the following helpful image:

Looking at this image, you may or may not notice that the number in front of the person is how many of the towers on the grid they see. That’s the point of the game: you have to imagine that the numbers on the grid each have a certain height and that higher numbers can obscure lower numbers from an arrow’s vision. Also, this puzzle does have the “no duplicate numbers in any columns or rows” restriction involved in Sudoku and Calcudoku.

 

Overall website rating: 9/10. The only thing I could ask for Conceptis to change is to either set Sound to “Off” by default or to allow account-based defaults so that they apply no matter the device used (my computer’s data got wiped once and I had to turn the sound off again for every single puzzle). Also, more free-to-play puzzles would be nice. (Come on, just one per category per week?)