Friday, January 1, 2021

Boardgame - Puzzle Postcards - The Enigma Emporium

"♫ Address unknown... No such number... "


NOTE: I received a review copy of the original "Wish You Were Here".

The Enigma Emporium
Khiara Foss, Logan Giannini
# of Players:
1-5 (I recommend 2-4)
14+ (I'd say 10+)
30-90 min per card, 5 cards per set

BoardGameGeek Reference:

Game Design & Mechanics

Sample game components

  • Let's start off with one big clarification: puzzle postcards aren't real postcards. In a market where some puzzle designers will mail you boxes and envelopes on a regular basis, one might easily suppose that this is another subscription scheme, and that you'll be receiving actual postcards. Nope. In fact, every "episode" is a set of 5 cards, packaged in an envelope. Should you purchase a whole series at once, you'll get a cute tuckbox to keep those envelopes in.
  • The initial game, "Wish You Were Here", was pretty much a stand-alone product, but then sequels came out, and eventually the whole set was repackaged as "Series 1", just in time for a "Series 2" Kickstarter.
  • Now, it's hard getting into the game mechanics without spoiling anything, so I'll stick to the basics. Every individual postcard hosts 4-6 puzzles on its two sides, and you'll have to figure them out. In general, those puzzles will follow a certain pattern through all five cards (ex: having to find a date on each card, or the name of a country, etc), which means that the very first card will typically require a bit more ramp-up, as you figure out those patterns. There are no time limits.
  • Every game (with the notable exception of "The Copycat Files") also has some sort of "meta plot" through which you'll end up validating most of the answers you found, over the web. Sometimes you can do it one card at a time, other times it'll be all lumped at the end (better keep those notes handy 😉), but by the time they're done, players who care about plot should be satisfied.
  • Like I just said, you'll need an internet connection handy, not only to gather any missing knowledge you might require, but also to visit fake websites (and a few real ones - you'll have to send the occasional codeword to certain email addresses). Likewise, hints and complete solutions are available on the company's website.
  • The puzzles are fairly diverse, reasonably challenging, and highly entertaining. There are lots of clever ways of hiding information on a small piece of cardboard. 😍
  • The visuals felt pretty slick to me. Somehow, the cards kept making me look forward to the mysteries lying ahead.
  • Some of the storylines felt particularly engaging.
  • It might be hard justifying a cost of 15$US for 5 shiny pieces of cardboard. 🤔 I do think the cost-vs-time ratio makes the purchase worth it, but in the end that's your call to make. I do suggest going for the "full series" season package, and make group orders if you're in Canada.
  • The need to keep a computer nearby somewhat cancels the game's light weight. This might not be the right game to bring on camping trip...
  • While the puzzles are quite original, there is some repetition from one envelope to another, meaning you might want to wait a bit between them. (Paradoxically, you'll want to play individual cards in a relatively short period of time, so you don't lose track of the game premise.)

Other considerations

  • If you're on the fence about trying out this product, have a look at TEE's Facebook page, which offers a plethora of visual puzzles. While typically simpler than what you'll see on the postcards, they still give you an idea of the sort of things you could expect on them.
  • Haven't even solved this one yet...
  • Even better, as I write this, TEE is still offering a free PDF version of "Wish You Were Here", as a form of "COVID stress relief". You can get it on their website. Let's hope it'll convince you of the product's worth.

Currently Out (underline bold titles are those I've played)
  • Series 1: Predator or Prey
    • Wish You Were Here
    • The Copycat Files
    • Blowback
    • Parabola
  • Series 2: Cycle of Learning
    • Trial By Cipher
    • Migratory Patterns
    • Cryptic Cryptids
    • Veritas

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