It’s no secret that I’m a fan of puzzles. We’ve shared about licensed jigsaw puzzles, educational scientific puzzles, colorful puzzles, vintage round puzzles, wooden jigsaw puzzles, puzzles based on board games and even puzzle accessories. Gathering around the table assembling one jigsaw puzzle after another with my family was actually a highlight of the lockdown for me. Seldom before that had I been able to get them to dedicate large amounts of time to this favorite pastime of mine. When games implement an element of this into the gameplay, I’m pretty much sucked in. PicTwist National Parks Edition from The Op is an example of this.
Players use a combination of slide puzzle rules and programming to try to be the first to properly reassemble a 9-piece puzzle. PicTwist National Parks Edition doesn’t have much in terms of components so setup is pretty easy. Give each player a frame and action cards in their designated color and a random two-sided picture with the associated pieces. The timer is placed in the center of the table.
The game takes place over three stages: Preparation, Reaction and Reconstruction. Players select a side of their picture then make sure all tiles have that side facing up. Shuffle and rotate them, making sure to keep the correct side facing up. Assemble them into a 3×3 square then cover it with the photo.
Players move one seat to the left to work on the puzzle that was scrambled by another player. Place the design frame beside the photo and the action cards nearby. The action tiles are what are used to reassemble the puzzle. There are three different colors that have different functions. Green actions are for rotating and blue ones for swapping places of two specific pieces. They’re reusable from round to round. Red tiles are one-time use only as they are more powerful allowing any two tiles to be swapped or swapped and rotated.
When everyone is ready, a player gives a countdown and everyone starts simultaneously. The photo is removed to reveal the mixed up tiles. Place action cards into the frame to indicate which tiles will be moved. It’s important to pay attention to which ones are placed where because tiles will be resolved from top left to bottom right. As soon as someone is done placing their initial tiles, they flip the timer, allowing all other players an additional 30 seconds to finish theirs.
The reconstruction stage is where players run their program. Starting with whomever flipped the timer, players take turns for this phase to ensure the order and steps are completed properly. Starting with the top left, tiles are rotated, swapped and moved according to the action card that corresponds to their location. It’s unlikely someone will be able to complete the entire reconstruction in one round. If they did, the game is over. If not, players discard any red cards that were used then repeat phase two. This continues until someone has completed their image.
PicTwist is a simple concept and despite use of a timer, isn’t really a speed game. You can order a copy of this National Parks game direct from The Op website but check your local game store as well. The puzzle-nature of this game is a good stepping stone for introducing programming concepts to younger players. The Op consistently has unscrambled pictures on their social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) so check them out and see what else they have in their catalog!
When was the last time you visited a National Park?