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Big Digital Fox

EnigMarch season is almost upon us! Every day in March, the team at EnigMarch HQ (myself included) will share a single-word prompt as inspiration to create 31 puzzles by the end of the month. Anyone can share their puzzles on our Discord or use the hashtag #EnigMarch on social media to show off what they’ve made.

We created this event to help both new and experienced constructors improve their skills and confidence in the context of a fun, low-pressure puzzle challenge. During each of its first two years, participants wrote over 1,000 puzzles in total—an amazing show of grit and creativity!

A puzzle featuring eight bird nests, each with several eggs in them labeled with letters, titled "Cuckoos," with header "Day 2, Nest, @mrklrsn — mrklrsn.com"
EnigMarch puzzle from the prompt “Nest” by Mark Larson, designer of the RECON 23 game The Shop of Theseus

Whether you’re interested in flexing your puzzle design muscles or just dropping in whenever the prompts move you, here are a few tips for enjoying EnigMarch to its fullest.

Make a plan

Most people aim to complete 31 puzzles for the month, but really there are no rules. You don’t have to finish every puzzle by midnight that day, or follow the daily prompt structure at all. It’s okay to pick and choose from the prompts that interest you, or combine 2 or 3 into a single puzzle, or write one big game or story using a whole bunch of prompts. Whatever sounds fun! 

Build in room for exceptions

If you do want to create a puzzle every day, it helps to plan ahead and decide what to do if you fall behind or need to skip a day or two, so you can keep the momentum going.

A puzzle featuring multicolored 8-bit-style squares with letters in them, labeled "EnigMarch Day 9, Glitch, by Sarah Willson"
EnigMarch puzzle from the prompt “Glitch” by Sarah Willson, REA writer and co-creator of EnigMarch

Embrace imperfection

Spending several hours every day crafting a perfect puzzle isn’t feasible for most people—and anyway, the whole point of EnigMarch is to create a bunch of puzzles really fast. So although there may be a few days when you spend more time working on a really cool idea, it’s ok to create a slapdash puzzle some days… or even most days. It may feel less satisfying in the moment, but you never know: oftentimes it’s the careless last-minute ideas that end up delighting solvers the most.

Add hints and solutions

After doing this for 2 years, it’s become clear that the puzzles people stick with the most are the ones that have some kind of feedback built in. Especially for more difficult or obscure puzzles, solvers generally appreciate having hints and solutions to refer to. If you have the time, consider providing a few hints or an answer checker link alongside your puzzle.

A puzzle featuring five famous paintings, titled "Unmasking," labeled "EnigMarch Day 16, by Matte Stein and Scotch Kominers"
EnigMarch collaboration by REA writer Matthew Stein and Scott Kominers

Try out other people’s puzzles

You don’t have to create puzzles of your own to participate in EnigMarch. Dozens of puzzle designers are hoping for an audience to solve their creations, and they’re usually grateful for any support and feedback. Whether or not you’re taking the EnigMarch challenge this year, check out some of the clever, strange, and beautiful puzzles other constructors are sharing. Not only is it fun, but we can learn a lot from each other, too.

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