Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Solitaire Spellbook Swapping is itty bitty but nifty

There was a game in the 2018 9-Card PnP Contest called Akur-Gal that consists of swapping cards on a 3x3 grid to complete a Sumerian tablet. It still holds the record for the slightest PnP that held me interest at all. I really think of it more as an activity than a game but it has worked well for me as a mental coffee break.

Solitaire Spellbook Swapping (SSS) from the 2019 Solitaire Contest takes the idea of swapping cards on a 3x3 grid and actually turns it into a game, at least by my lights.

The game consists of nine cards numbered one through nine with each book being a wizard’s spellbook. You need to put them in the right order, sorting out the library at at Hogwarts or the Unseen University (Ook!) And every move is swapping two cards in a 3x3 grid.

But, ah, here is the clever bit: Every book contains one spell. Okay, every card is an action card. Each one lets you do a specific kind of swap like swapping two even numbered cards or swapping Nd two cards that are touching. Every time you use an action, you tap that card and can’t use it again. Use up your action cards without getting the cards in a row, you lose.

I have had fun with SSS. The moment I saw it, I had try it and it only took a few minutes to make a copy. It’s not perfect (solving it may be easy enough that I have to switch to the more difficult variants) but it was worth the minimal effort to make it.

SSS is a very simple game that takes only a minute or two. It doesn’t elevate the idea of a nine card puzzle to the level of being the equivalent of Power Grid. But it definitely makes the choices more interesting.

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