James Marshall's Games and Puzzles Page

I've split this up into a few categories: puzzles, board/card/tabletop games, gamebooks, video games, interactive fiction, Magic: The Gathering, role playing games.


In general, I enjoy logic puzzles such as the very popular sudoku, but my favorite ones are other types of pencil puzzles created by the Japanese company Nikoli The Nikoli Wikipedia article and list of Nikoli puzzle types are good places to get information about the types of puzzles they create. If anyone reading this knows Japanese and could translate rules for me, please let me know. Most books I have don't include English explanations and computer translations with trial-and-error only go so far. Thanks. To help others, I've started to create my own page of Nikoli puzzle rules in English with brief descriptions of how to play some of Nikoli's puzzles as I (think I) figure them out. Please let me know if anything is unclear or incorrect so that I can fix it and ensure we all have access to correct instructions. A number of web sites have games to play online or print, with the number of games available varying by site. For some sites you can submit a free registration to get access to more games, but others require you to pay for a subscription to get more games. Here are some puzzle sites I found that looked interesting: Nikoli's Everybody's Page, Griddlers.net, Java and Puzzle World, Conceptis Logic Puzzles (but only weekly puzzles seem to not show solutions in advance), Puzzle Laboratory (in Japanese; try the honkaku page or the honkaku graphical index), and http://indi.s58.xrea.com/ (also in Japanese). A few other places that seem interesting are PuzzLinks.com, which covers all sorts of puzzles, Zotmeister's blog posts with a "puzzle" tag, Grant Fikes' puzzle blog who also owns glmathgrant's blog on LiveJournal, but no longer posts there (this link will get you the first 100 puzzle-tagged posts there), grandpascorpion's blog with some interesting puzzles that are variations/hybrids of Nikoli puzzles, Puzzle Picnic which focuses on logic puzzles that you can play online, The Art of Puzzles blog by Thomas Snyder who has won the World Sudoku Championships and develops new puzzle ideas (many in the Nikoli style), and Mellon's Puzzles with Nikoli-style puzzles and variations. Also, you might be interested in Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection which contains many Nikoli-style puzzles; I have a version of it on my smartphone.

Board/Card/Tabletop Games

I'm using this category to cover a variety of types of physical games. These aren't always big on my list of things to do, but once in a while, I do enjoy playing these kinds of games. Recently, I've been interested in and supported a number of board, card, and other tabletop games that appeared on Kickstarter, though I don't expect to get all of my games from there. So far, I've preferred card-based games and ones that have some kind of solo version so that I can play them alone if I need/want to, but I also have some that are only multi-player. Board Game Geek is also a great site for information on all sorts of board games, including print-and-play copies for some (free games!).

Instead of listing most of the games I have, I'll mention a few that I particularly like. Not really in any special order... Button Shy Games focuses on wallet-sized games, typically 18 cards, though I think they have some other options as well. My personal favorite is Pentaquark, but you can't really go wrong with anything they publish. Their Board Game of the Month Club offers other games in addition to occasional extra content for existing games in their catalog, so that's worth a look if you like their games. Palm Island is a similar game in that the solo version is 17 cards, but the full version has other play modes and more cards to use in them. Also, you don't need a table to play; it's designed to be played with the cards held in your hands. It might be nice to see more games like this; maybe this will start a series? One Deck Dungeon by Asmadi Games is another one I enjoy. They have one stand-alone expansion for it already, and it look like this is likely to grow into a larger series of games over time. The Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective series may be of interest to Sherlock Holmes fans. There are currently three games, all stand-alone, with a fourth planned where you travel around, visiting places and people to gather clues, and try to solve mysteries and compare your score to Holmes' score. Fun, but it's probably going to be a rather long game, and I've heard that beating Holmes is virtually impossible. For a similar, but generally easier and shorter game, check out 221B Baker Street, and try to find the new Deluxe Edition that contains 200 cases. It's designed to be competitive, but can be adapted easily for solo or co-op instead. The Tiny Epic series by Gamelyn Games is also pretty good. I think they take a regular, full-sized game concept and find a way to shrink it down so that you get the big-game feel in a small form factor. And if you're into sports, check out Pocket Sports, which started in Australia (AU web site) and moved to the US; there's a UK distributor as well. These games are small, easy to carry around, and fairly quick to play, but being dice-based, the play is mostly random with not many choices. They are still fun though, especially if you're familiar with the sports. You can play them solo (I do), but they're probably best played with others, like a real sports game. There's a nice variety available, with a dozen games or so for sale, so chances are you'll find at least one sport you like in the series.

Along the lines of game systems, I like the Decktet, a six-suited deck of cards. Many games that can be played with it are available in the Decktet Wiki. A print-and-play version of the deck is available if you want to try it out, and there are at least two stores that sell printed decks if you'd prefer a professionally made deck. If you'd like a book with some games and other information, the Decktet Book is available in printed and PDF forms. As similar product is The Everdeck, designed to be a universal card system. This can be used for traditional 52-card decks, a tarot deck, a hanafuda deck, and various other sets of cards; it's even compatible with some word games and other modern games. For some examples on using the deck, see the Games Playable with The Everdeck list at Board Game Geek, which also links to similar lists that could be helpful. For a board game version of a deck of cards -- a set of pieces that can be used to play lots of games -- check out the piecepack: 24 tiles, 24 coins, 4 dice, and 4 pawns. It's probably most readily available in the The Infinite Board Game version (Amazon link), which includes a book of rules for a bunch of games, but there are other sellers and you can make your own if you prefer. Be sure to check out the Piecepack Wiki for even more games and information. A bit different, but still worth mentioning, is Dicecards. It's a typical 54-card deck of playing cards except that the pictures on the cards "feature more than thirty random elements that can be used in any game". There are dice, of course, but also things like treasure maps, targets, compasses, poker chips, dreidels, letter tiles, short straws, runes, tarot (but just the Major Arcana), dungeon tiles, and more. This makes it usable in lots of different ways, which is pretty cool, and you can find some games playable with this deck on their web site.

I'll also mention some classic strategy games, though I rarely if ever play them: chess and variants of it like shogi (Japanese chess; also check out Shogi.net), xiangqi (Chinese chess; this looks like a good tutorial on tactics and such), and janggi (Korean chess, derived from Xiangqi). These three have entries at the ChessVariants.org site, where you can find even more variations. If you already know chess, I'd suggest starting with this intro to shogi and this intro to xiangqi for info on those games. I haven't really learned any of these variants, but they are interesting, so maybe I'll learn the basics eventually. For fun, I have to mention Taikyoku shogi. The sheer size of this game is truly awesome -- each player gets 402 pieces of 208 different types and the board is 36x36. :) Along the lines of taikyoku shogi being a huge version of shogi, check out this RPS-25, a version of the classic rock-paper-scissors game with 25 different gestures and 300 outcomes; there's an even larger (and probably less playable) version now, RPS-101, with 101 gestures that include some two-handed gestures and 5050 possible outcomes. For more about the classic version, try the World RPS Society. I started looking into go (also called igo, weiqi, or baduk); Sensei's Library is a good place to get more information on the game and GoBase.org looks good, too. And for what it's worth, I'm not very good at any of the games mentioned here because I play them so rarely or haven't really learned them (e.g., go and the Asian chess variants).


For the most part, these were single player games in a book where the story was split into small numbered sections and you'd flip around between them, making choices as needed to keep the story going. Some like the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf series were much like role playing games (RPGs), with statistics for you to track and battles to fight. Others like Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) were more like interactive stories than actual games. In general, I prefer the ones that were more like RPGs. Computer and video games kind of pushed gamebooks aside, but they're still good and making a bit of a comeback with reprints of old classics; reissue status depends on series. Project Aon is producing full, legal, digital copies of the Lone Wolf books, one of my favorite series. The Fabled Lands series has been republished in full. It's too bad that only 6 of the planned 12 books were written, but book 7 will be produced thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. I think this is a good sign that demand for the rest of the series exists, and I hope this encourages the authors to eventually produce the remaining books of the series. Also available now are reprints of at least some books from the Blood Sword, The Way of the Tiger, Golden Dragon, and Falcon series, plus four Virtual Reality books under the new name of Critical IF. Check out the Fabled Lands Publishing store if you're interested in purchasing any of these reissues. The more support gamebooks get now, the more likely we are to get more reprints and maybe new books. If you want to know some more about gamebooks, Demian's Gamebook Web Page is a very comprehensive source of information on the subject with a huge checklist and lots of book/series reviews, and thus an excellent place to start. I have an inventory and wish list there, but it may be out of date; in particular, I'm not sure if I still have all my inventoried books somewhere. The Internet Archive's Game Book Collection appears to have a number of gamebooks available for free, and Abandonia's HotU Legacy Collection has some as well, ones that are/were considered abandonware. Note that some of these gamebooks have been reprinted though, so you should purchase them if you can. If you want an idea of what some books are like, maybe to see if you'd be interested in getting them, I typed up some back of the book blurbs from series such as Lone Wolf, Fighting Fantasy, and Fabled Lands (blog), just to name a few of the major classic series. Some of the newer gamebooks I've added include The Midnight Legion trilogy and the Graphic Novel Adventures series; I may also post the Two-Fisted Fantasy gamebook blurbs at some point.

Video Games

The way I'd classify these video/computer/electronic games are into computer games, online games, and video games. And for reference, here's info about video game genres. One I'm not sure how to categorize though, so I'll mention here, is Google's augmented-reality game Ingress -- this game also has a pretty detailed story behind it, with most of the info on Niantic Project.

Computer Games

Including any games played on a computer, my main source for them now is Steam (here's my Steam profile for anyone who's interested). While I do buy directly from them, typically during major sales, I also get a lot of games in bundles, which also helps me save money. Most of my bundles come from Humble Bundle, Indie Gala, Fanatical (was Bundle Stars); Groupees, and I tend to buy more often from ones listed earlier. Some of my favorite games are adventure ones like the Myst series of games (Myst, Riven, Exile, Revelation, and End of Ages are the main line) described at Myst Worlds. There are also realMYST (original Myst remade in full 3D) and Uru which takes place off the main line of the others. Here's a pretty good Myst discussion board, and check out Myst Online: Uru Live, which is now available to play for free. Also of interest might be The Abandonware Ring for links to sites with older computer games that have basically been abandoned by the companies that made them. Home of the Underdogs is a great site for that, but make sure you read a FAQ on abandonware first though so you know how it works. There's also a set of games (generally for download) referred to as Rogue-like games after the original game of this style. These are sort of a single player, roam the dungeon type RPG, normally in a text or low-graphics interface. Angband and NetHack are two of the most popular games, but ADOM (Ancient Domains Of Mystery) is nice because it's not all dungeon. In my experience, you pretty much have to read spoilers for these games to survive, so try this List of NetHack Spoilers, Angband Spoilers, and the ADOM Guidebook. You might also want to check out the Game Giveaway of the Day site, a great place to pick up free licenses for computer games, with one new game being offered every few days.

Online Games

I enjoy playing games online now and then. I find about them from various sources, but here are a few sites, listed alphabetically, that have many games (primarily, if not all, Flash-based): 1Cup1Coffee.com 2DPlay, Addicting Games, Armor Games, GamesOnline.fm, Jay Is Games, Kongregate, Miniclip, MMOGame, NewGrounds, Physics Games. A few specific games I like include Neopets and Flash Flash Revolution (FFR) (here's the FFR main page and a link to the FFR forum), but I'm not very active on either of them anymore. You might be able to find something you like at this very large list of Free Online Games, or the Internet Archive's Internet Arcade and Console Living Room.

Video Games

Perhaps console games is a better term, but I'm not very big in this particular area of gaming, so I don't know. However, I do have a Nintendo Wii that my wife and I bought. I particularly like the user interface where the controllers are used in essentially real-life actions to control the on-screen actions. For example, in a baseball game, you hold the controller and swing it as you would a real baseball bat to make the game character swing his/her bat. We have a few games for it, but don't use it a lot. It is still a good way to pass the time now and then though, and we enjoy it.

Interactive Fiction

Interactive fiction (IF), also known as text adventures, are games where everything is text and you have to solve a series of puzzles in order to complete the game. The biggest site for downloading games is the Interactive Fiction Archive, also accessible through Baf's Guide to the Interactive Fiction Archive which gives reviews, etc. and provides links to the games at the archive site. You can also play online at iFiction, but if you're not sure where to start, you'll probably want to check out a Beginner's Guide to Playing IF. The pages on Reading IF are "meant to help acquaint people with some of the edges of what is done in IF" and will provide some game suggestions as you get into them, and the Interactive Fiction Database (IFDB) is a wiki with lots of helpful information. I'd also suggest checking out the Interactive Fiction Competition which has been running annually since 1995; the community-chosen winning games are always good. For more general information and news, try Brass Lantern, the Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games (SPAG), or XYZZYnews; content may be old on some of these sites, but should still be useful. One of the biggest companies to produce interactive fiction was Infocom, now owned by Activision. The Infocom Documentation Project is trying to collect copies of all the original docs. Info about Scott Adams' games can be found at Scott Adams Grand Adventures (SAGA) site. Some older games came with "feelies", small items such as a coin, flyer, picture, etc. that related to the game and were nice souvenirs. There was a web site selling items for some of the games you can download from the IF Archive, but unfortunately it appears to be gone now.

Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering (MTG) by Wizards of the Coast is the original collectible/trading card game. Its introduction in 1993 started the whole genre of games where you collect cards of different types and rarities to create your own unique deck to play with. I started playing about a year after it came out and followed it for years, mostly on a casual level, before basically giving it up for other interests. For more information about the game, try the links at Yahoo's Magic page. You can discuss the game on the Wizards Community and find news (and rumors) about the game at MTGNews.com. Lots of good information like rules and card rulings are available at Crystal Keep and one of the semi-standard price lists for Magic cards can be found at MagicTraders.com.

Role Playing Games (RPGs)

These are basically games where you play the role of some character in it. Dungeons & Dragons is my favorite, but I haven't played it in ages. If you like paper and pencil RPGs, there lists of free RPGs at John Kim's Free RPGs on the Web and The Free RPG Compendium. There are also play by e-mail games, but I find the action there too slow. There are all sorts of online RPGs, and one I've been on for a long time is Realms of Despair I usually only visit now and then to read notes and see what's happening, but I contributed a number of pages to the Official Guild Of Mages web site. If you're looking for other games like this, try Top MUD Sites for rankings of the most popular MUDs. Similar are persistent browser-based games (PBBGs), which seem to be like RPGs played in your web browser with a memory to store the state of your game. I tried out Sryth in the past and started getting back into it again. If you join the Sryth's Adventurers Guild like I did, which gives you access to more game content, please say that Dronak referred you. And just for the record, while there are in-game purchases available, it is absolutely possible to play all of the game with nothing but the one-time, lifetime account upgrade fee ($20, I think).

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