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Opinion: In times of anxiety, I turn to board games and puzzles Rachel Lowe – Toy News

As ToyNews readies to celebrate the explosively exciting and ever-innovative board games and puzzles scene in its April issue available to read online now we give the floor to Rachel Lowe, MBE, as she delves into the reasons why in a time of global crisis, theres a lot of comfort to be had in the tabletop hobby.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to consume our nation, we are all trying to say in doors as much as possible to prevent the virus from spreading even further.

We are confined to our homes, only going out for essential trips to a shop or daily exercise. We need activities to keep us busy and entertained and our minds stimulated. Books, films, music are all wonderful ways to keep us distracted but for me, board games and puzzles offer us an escape into another world and allow us to relax while keeping the mind active.

Board games and puzzles have been undergoing a renaissance for nearly a decade now with broadening appeal amongst the general public and increased sales. It is estimated that the board games market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nine per cent between 2016 and 2022, whereas the global puzzles market looks set to increase at a CAGR of 15.1 per cent from 2018 to 2025.

With the country lockdown in place for the foreseeable future, people will turn to board games and puzzles to fill their time. They are a great way for us to escape these uncertain times and relax our minds and bodies. I have used board games and puzzles throughout my life as a way of coping with stress or anxiety, which I know many people will be feeling at this time.

Both board games and puzzles are an activity that keep us engaged and they are one of few activities which spans generations. Everyone in the household can get around a board game and get involved or contribute to a 1,000-piece puzzle. Games get our competitive juices flowing and when that last puzzle piece is finally put in place, the sense of achievement can be monumental. There is a game or a puzzle for everyone.

Having been in the board game industry since 2002, I believe board games and puzzles will help us through this crisis, keep us occupied and ensure our mental health is looked after. So, if you want to send your grandparents something new for them to try or youre stuck for something to do with your child who is off school, turn to a puzzle or a game and get playing.

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Opinion: In times of anxiety, I turn to board games and puzzles Rachel Lowe - Toy News

Capcom releases browser game that combined cats, puzzles, and Street Fighter – Nintendo Wire

While this years April Fools Day might be more subdued, we should still see efforts from the various game companies to play with their properties in fun new ways.

Capcoms likely April Fools joke (its already Aprilst in Japan) is a browser game called Neco Drop. This little title is a puzzle game that sees you matching color squares to try and lure Street Fighter themed cats out of hiding. The cats are adorable, and the puzzle gameplay is entertaining.

If youre looking to kill some time, check out Neco Drop, at least to see how adorable the Chun-Li cat is.

A video editor by trade, Bryan Finch is a lifetime Nintendo fan, and he loves writing about his passions. He also spends too much time playing and watching fighting games. Bryan enjoys movies, comics, cooking with his wife, and the idea of Elite Beat Agents 2.

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Capcom releases browser game that combined cats, puzzles, and Street Fighter - Nintendo Wire

The Games and Puzzles April issue of ToyNews is available to read online now – Toy News

As the Games and Puzzles issue of ToyNews makes its way to readers up and down a country turned on its head by the current COVID-19 pandemic, theres an old saying I like to turn to in times like these:

You dont know resilience until youve put a magazine to press with a screaming five year old rolling across your laptop, while holding on to your very last nerve with fingers covered in what you hope is chocolate, as life as you know it changes around you by the minute.

Actually, there really isnt. There isnt an old saying or rule book to fall back onto for comfort or wisdom for any of what we as a collective are experiencing right now. There is nothing to tell us what is right and what is wrong apart from a moral compass and the direction it is pointing as we write these pages of history ourselves.

These truly are unprecedented times. And what a privilege it is that when all of this is over and normality is restored I can say I stood with an industry that can look back with pride at its actions throughout this global upheaval and the manner in which it conducted itself.

Of the conversations I have had with retailers and industry experts through the week in which the UK took its toughest knock amid the COVID-19 pandemic, all of them were about support, community, resilience, perseverance, and coming out of this unified and stronger than ever.

Life will certainly be different on the other side of this, and Im optimistic for what we can achieve.

In the meantime, its been noted across the industry that throughout this period of social distancing, self isolation, and school closures, that more than ever families, children, and individuals are turning to the relief of board games and puzzles and their ability to transport players to new worlds, and new reaches of cognitive abilities, as we all play our parts in the fight against COVID-19.

The Games and Puzzles issue of ToyNews takes this opportunity to showcase some of the latest developments in this ever-exciting space, including in depth discussions with Ravensburger North America and Funko Games and the latest evolution of the tabletop game, opinions form the industrys experts, a run down on what to expect from this years UK Games Expo when it lands on its new date later this year, and plenty more.

We also get up close with this months cover stars, Metomics to find out what the team is bringing to the construction toy space for 2020 and beyond, and explore the great outdoors market with MV Sports and plenty more.

Of course, no issue of ToyNews would be complete without its exclusive regular content and faces, and we deliver it all in this months issue.

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The Games and Puzzles April issue of ToyNews is available to read online now - Toy News

How to have a game night while practicing social distancing – CBS19.tv KYTX

TYLER, Texas Social distancing doesnt mean people cant have a social life. With a smart phone or computer, virtual game nights can take place anywhere and with anyone.

A number of classic games now have online versions.

Websites like Playingcards.io offer free classics like crazy eights, checkers, go fish and even the adult game Cards Against Humanity.

To start a game, the host can create a room and send the link to friends. All the movements are synchronized so everyone will be seeing the game play as it happens.

Theres also Pogo.com, which has over 100 options for free. Games range from card and board games to puzzle, sports and word games like Scrabble.

Do not forget, if you want some face to face interaction during the games, theres video apps that allow you to talk with multiple people like Zoom, Skype or Houseparty.

Houseparty even has a free game: Heads Up! The game has been featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where a contestant has a limited amount of time to guess the hidden word as friends give them clues.

For the video game lovers, one of the most popular video games can now be downloaded in an app store for free. Mario Kart Tour has characters from the Super Mario Series race around courses inspired by real cities in addition to the classic courses.

Players can race up to seven people as long as they are in-game friends.

If the internet starts lagging during the virtual game night, which we all know is bound to happen, there is always conversation games like 20 questions, Would You Rather or Never Have I Ever to keep the games going.

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How to have a game night while practicing social distancing - CBS19.tv KYTX

Special Olympics athletes stay connected online through conversations, games amid COVID-19 pandemic – KHOU.com

HOUSTON How can we stay engaged with the people we love? Its a challenge for all of us, but overcoming obstacles is what one group excels at.

Special Olympics athletes share a bond with their community that is truly meaningful. That is why during these times of social distancing, the Texas chapter is turning to the internet to keep everyone connected.

Tank Shottle uses social media to spread positive vibes. Now the organization he loves is doing the same.

Its been tough for not just for Special Olympics Texas but for around the world that wont be able to compete with this coronavirus situation, says Special Olympics athlete and coach Tank Shottle.

Its devastating, says Special Olympic Texas CEO Tim Martin. Not only is it a place to stay active and play sports, but in a lot of situations truthfully its the only social activity for our participants

Special Olympics Texas president Tim Cook is proud of this new venture, S.O. Connected. Athletes, coaches and families across the state pos fun videos, daily puzzles and conversations to make sure those most vulnerable know theyre not being forgotten.

I think so many of our athletes have developed that complex that maybe our community doesnt want me in their life, says Martin. The reality is we desperately need our athletes in our lives because they make us feel great.

I think its wonderful that we are able to communicate with one another to see how all of us, our families are doing, says Shottle. I know were going to get through this and hopefully we will go back out there and compete again

If you would like to know more about this initiative, you can visit https://www.sotx.org/.

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Special Olympics athletes stay connected online through conversations, games amid COVID-19 pandemic - KHOU.com

The ABC’s of At Home Activities – KBTX

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Now that we are in our second week of shelter and place, KBTX has an activity challenge that we want to see you doing at home!

After consulting the websites the Local Adventurer, Smile if Youre Happy, and Child Fun, we have come up with a list of different activities for all ages that go with each letter of the alphabet.

Tag us on social media and show us what you are doing with each letter of the alphabet. If you think of something not on this list, go ahead and show us your idea, too!

Use the hashtag:#ABCATHOME#KBTXABC

Tag us: Facebook: @kbtxmediaTwitter: @KBTXNews

For the kidsWith each of the 26 letters, we have incorporated a learning and fun activity.

A:Aerobics, Art, Astronomy, Audio Books, and Ab Workout.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Astronauts and Animal Masks.B:Ballet or Barre, Bake, Backyard Baseball, BBQ, Breakfast in Bed, Bingo, Bike, Board Games, Books, Brunch, Bubbles, Bubble Bath, Bucket List, Burgers, and Burritos.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Bugs and Bubbles.C:Cake, Candlelight Dinner, Candy, Card Games, Chili, Cheese, Chess, Christmas, Club Sandwich, Clean, Cocktails, Coffee, College Day, Cook Something New, Crafts, Crossword Puzzle, and CupcakesoLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Clouds and Crafts.

D:Dance, Darts, Desserts, Disney, DIY Project, Donate, Donuts, Download the KBTX app, and Draw with Chalk. oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Dinosaurs and Dress Up.E:Eating Something Exotic, Education, Egg toss, and Exercise.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Experiment (Science) and Elephants.F:Facials, Fashion Show, Fiesta, Films, Fine Dining, Fishing, Fitness, Flowers, Fondue, Football, French Food, and Fruit.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Flags and Fairies. G:Game Night, Garden, Gelato, Goals, and Gyros. oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Globe and Grow Something. H:Happy Hour, Healthy Meal, High Tea, and HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) Workout. oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Horses and Hula Hoop.I:Ice Cream, Inspiration/Idea Board, Indian Food, and Italian Dinner.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Ice and I Spy.J:Jazz, Jigsaw Puzzle, Jog, Journal, Juggle, and Japanese Food. oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Jungle and Jump Rope.K:Karaoke, Kebabs, Key Lime Pie, Knit, and KBTXoLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Kindness and Kites.L:Learn Something New, Line Dance, Listen to Music, and Lobster. oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Laws and Lemonade.M:Mahjong, Magazine, Manicure, Magic Tricks, Meditation, and Movie Night. oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Measuring and Musical Chairs.N:New Restaurant (Takeout/Delivery), Nachos, Netflix, NFL, and Noodles.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Nutrition and Noodle Necklaces.O: Opera, Outside, Organize, and Origami.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Opposites and Octopuses.P:Paint, Pinterest, Playlist, Podcasts, Pizza, Ping Pong, Puzzles, and Paper Airplanes.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Paint and Pizza Party.Q:Quilt and Quiet TimeoLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Queens (& Kings) and Quiet Game.R:Read, Ramen, Remodel, and Roller Skate.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Rainbows and RocketsS:Salsa Dance, Steak, Stargaze, Seafood, Spa Day, Swim, Slipn Slide, and Smores.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Seasons and Sing.T:Tacos, Tango, Theme Day/Night, Tie Dye, Trivia, Treat Your Self, and Treasure Hunt.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Time and Tie Dye. U:UnplugoLearning and Fun Just for Kids: USA and Unicorns.

V:Virtual Reality, Vegetables, Violin, and Videogames.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Vegetables and Volcanoes.W:Waffles, Walk (at a safe social distance), Western Dancing, Wine Tasting, Woodworking, Writing, Workout, Wash Car, and Watch the Sunset. oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Water and Watercolor.X:XboxoLearning and Fun Just for Kids: X-Ray and X Marks the Spot (treasure hunt).Y:Yoga and YouTube.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids: Yardstick and Yellow Collage.Z:Zoo, ZZZs, and Zumba.oLearning and Fun Just for Kids:: Zoo animals and Virtual Zoo Visit.

If you want more fun activities, crafts, snacks, etc. to go with each letter, CLICK HERE.

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The ABC's of At Home Activities - KBTX

Direct mini highlights A wide variety of games coming to Nintendo Switch this year – Nintendo Official Site – Nintendo

During the latest Nintendo Direct Mini video presentation, Nintendo shined the spotlight on a breadth of different types of games launching for the Nintendo Switch system in 2020 some of which are available today! Games featured in the video include sprawling role-playing adventures like Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition and BRAVELY DEFAULT II; classic franchises like Borderlands, XCOM 2 and BioShock coming to a Nintendo system for the first time; remakes of fan favorites like Burnout Paradise Remastered and Panzer Dragoon: Remake; and titles perfect for both casual and longtime gamers like Good Job!, Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

The Nintendo Direct Mini also revealed upcoming content for currently available Nintendo Switch games like a free update for Ring Fit Adventure, more details about the upcoming paid DLC for Pokmon Sword and Pokmon Shield, as well as news that the first fighter in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass Vol. 2 is arriving from the ARMS game.

No matter what type of experience you are looking for, Nintendo Switch has you covered, said Nick Chavez, Nintendo of Americas Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. In addition to Nintendo franchises, 2020 will see the Nintendo Switch library grow even more with strong support from a diverse field of publishing partners like 2K, Electronic Arts and SQUARE ENIX.

To view the Nintendo Direct video in its entirety, visit https://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct. Some of the highlights revealed in the video include:

Now available!

Launching in 2020

Even more games are coming to Nintendo Switch in the coming months, including Saints Row IV: Re-Elected (March 27), Trials of Mana (April 24), The Elder Scrolls: Blades (Spring 2020), Minecraft Dungeons (Spring 2020), Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus (May), MR. DRILLER DrillLand (June 25), The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III (June 30) and Vigor (fall).

Remember that Nintendo Switch features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access. For more information about other features, visit https://www.nintendo.com/switch/.

*Additional games, systems and/or accessories may be required for multiplayer mode. Games, systems and some accessories sold separately.

**Full version of game required to use DLC for that game. Sold separately.

***Free software will be available to download from Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch, which will allow up to three players to enjoy a selection of games in local multiplayer with a player who owns the full version of the game. Additional accessories may be required for multiplayer mode. Full version of the game, systems and some accessories sold separately.

****Nintendo Switch Online membership (sold separately) and Nintendo Account required for online features. Not available in all countries. Internet access required for online features. Terms apply. nintendo.com/switch-online

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Direct mini highlights A wide variety of games coming to Nintendo Switch this year - Nintendo Official Site - Nintendo

Big Ear Games brings the sound of music education to children – VentureBeat

Finnish music education startup Big Ear Games scored a big partnership with the Lang Lang International Music Foundation to bring its music education app to more than 24,000 elementary school kids in the U.S.

And then the very next day, most schools in the U.S. went into home-schooling mode as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread. Big Ear Games CEO Aviv Ben-Yehuda was also scheduled to start a fundraising trip in the U.S. But now its adapting with a virtual music education strategy for music fans and learners, using its mobile app on iOS and Android.

Big Ear Games mission is to encourage folks to create, learn, and socialize through music. The app (Big Ear) is about discovering inspiration from popular tunes to explore how music works and encourage users to make music, said Ben-Yehuda in an interview with GamesBeat.

The love of music knows no boundaries, said Ben-Yehuda. It adds meaning, both emotionally and socially, to our lives. Even simple tunes can be effective and evoke meaning, so users are encouraged to create and share their music from day one.

The fact that people are singing from balconies in Italy to entertain their neighbors and thank medical professionals is heartwarming for Ben-Yehuda, who was trained as a medical doctor but decided to dedicate himself to music education. Ben-Yehuda calls that balcony singing as the language of hope.

The game is free-to-play, and it could eventually generate revenues from a subscription model, Ben-Yehuda said.

Meanwhile, Big Ear Games is working with Finnish performer Darude (his big hit was Sandstorm) to create the biggest introduction of a music virtual classroom, starting in Finland as a pilot.

Above: Big Ear

Image Credit: Big Ear

Under the partnership with Lang Lang International Music Foundation, students enrolled in the Keys of Inspiration (KOI) grant program were supposed to use the Big Ear Games app to further enhance their music learning experience in learning to play the piano.

The foundation partners with school districts across the country to implement the program in Title 1 elementary schools. Designed to redefine what music education looks like in American public schools and inspire change from within, KOI weaves rigorous, keyboard-centric, musical instruction into selected Title 1 public schools mandatory curriculumintegrating group piano classes for grades 2-5, twice a week.

The idea is to help students build self-confidence, develop a drive for excellence, and cultivate a sense of group and individual achievement. But now the company has had to pivot.

Adapting is exciting and challenging, Ben-Yehuda said. The whole team works from home, which brings us new perspectives, especially now when almost everybody works/learn/teach from home and for us it is a practical matter, as our Big Ear is a fun learning game and we clearly see the opportunity.

Luckily, our game has some social features of sharing songs, puzzles and feedback, Ben-Yehuda added. But we know now that there is a great potential in adding more educational features that could serve teacher/students communication/collaboration classroom and on the other hand consumer-related collaboration like a band room.

Lang Lang normally plays sold-out concerts covering all continents of the globe. He was designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on global education, and worked as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF). He hails from humble beginnings and is committed to creating and participating in charitable activities focused on children through the strategic work done at his foundation.

Ben-Yehuda said so many of us love music, but not as many are actually engaged with music creativity. When people do explore musical creativity, the high rate of drop-outs show that something is missing. This is true both for traditional instruments and computer music.

Big Ear Games believes that Anyone can make music, anytime and anywhere, and at any level. Hence, it aims to lower the threshold of engaging with music in a fun and creative way.

The app has more than 10,000 installs. The launch started in Finland, and it is now expanding throughout Europe, China, and the U.S.

Above: Aviv Ben-Yehuda is CEO of Big Ear Games.

Image Credit: Big Ear Games

Ben-Yehuda knew the importance of a musical education while growing up in Israel.

When I was about four years old, I was taken to a violin teacher to start music lessons, but it was a disaster, he said. The teacher played the violin for me. But you know the violin can be quite sad. I just cried and cried and went out and decided to leave. But when I was six, I started playing drums. My parents directed me to the piano, but I felt the drums were my thing. They put me in a conservatorium.

He continued to study music and other things through high school, and he decided he wanted to be a doctor. He went to medical school and became a doctor. But then he dropped everything to do music again. He switched fields and became a music teacher.

After 20 years of teaching, he was inspired to create Big Ear Games. He decided to use his knowledge, skills, and passion to create something that would bring fun music education all over the world. While music teachers serve serious students well, they dont necessarily succeed in getting enough students interested in the first place. It has high hurdles, and could benefit from more simplicity, Ben-Yehuda believed.

I thought that we had to try to make music a bit more available to people in general because so many people think that they cant play an instrument, Ben-Yehuda said. Today you have computers to make music. You have apps to make music like GarageBand from Apple, but they dont give you the cues, how to do it right. These are great tools, but they miss something. And thats where we thought of making something that can make people understand how music works. We want to encourage them to play around with it and to try out things and to compose it.

In 2017, Ben-Yehuda started his company with support from the Finnish government. He found coders to help implement the ideas. They found backers like Peter Vesterbacka, former marketing chief for Angry Birds maker Rovio. They created an app that was kind of a puzzle game and platform game put together, where users had to solve puzzles to progress. The team has four members.

When we took it to the schools here in Helsinki to just test with kids, we knew that the kids were gamers already, or mobile gamers at least, he said. We went there and we saw the feedback was great. Not only from the kids but also from the teachers who said its was a very creative thing.

Tthe idea is to encourage digital music-making, or simply develop and deepen ones music appreciation skills. The app also develops computational thinking, which is vital in modern society.

With the app, you can listen to popular songs, based on genres that you like such as rap or rock. Then you use the app to build simplified versions of them. You can get one part of the song down and then you can unlock other parts of the game to proceed. So you can learn about music. The game comes with cute characters who teach you the different parts, like bass guitars or drumming.

You can interact with it in a very simple way, he said. So you can mute or unmute instruments in a song. You can hear different combinations. You can hear only the drummer with the lead guitar or whatever.

If you make a mistake, the character will get you to go back and try it again. Once you complete the different modes, you can unlock the composer mode, which is like a simplified GarageBand.

You can go in there, create your own version of the song, and change whatever you want, Ben-Yehuda said. Maybe you want to change an instrument you dont like the lead guitar, you can put a piano in there with a few clicks. You can do that with a popular song, or do it on your own from scratch. In this way, it is like user-generated content, like in Minecraft.

Then you can share it. The good thing is that most of this can be consumed on a mobile device and shared digitally.

You dont have to have the instrument with you, Ben-Yehuda said. Its more based on computer music or sequencer. Even our puzzles are actually like a sequence.

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Big Ear Games brings the sound of music education to children - VentureBeat

16 Aesthetically Pleasing Puzzles and Games to Play at Home – The New York Times

In the 2018 film Puzzle, a stifled, suburban Connecticut woman finds unexpected liberation in the world of competitive jigsaw puzzling. When you complete a puzzle, when you finish it, her puzzle partner tells her, you know that you have made all the right choices. Its an appealing thought, especially in a time of heightened uncertainty. And you dont have to go pro to experience that same satisfaction or the sense of tranquil determination that precedes it, when you are fully focused on the task at hand, and not, say, on a global pandemic. Advocates of puzzles cite their meditative, anxiety-reducing effects; they have also been shown to keep practitioners mentally sharp.

And then theres the simple fact that, now that New York Citys bars, restaurants, libraries and theaters have shuttered, leisure activities are strictly limited. In the absence of studio fitness classes, everyone is a runner now, and parks have become a contemporary agora. For a mental workout (or break) that keeps you away from your phone and may even alleviate the tension that can come with a wealth of aimless together (or alone) time try a puzzle or game. Here are a few of Ts favorites, from whimsically illustrated decks of cards to design-conscious dominoes.

In 1995, the conceptual artists Madeline Gins and Shusaka Arakawa completed the Site of Reversible Destiny, a created landscape in Yoro Park, just outside Nagoya, Japan. The couples idea, as the writer Marie Doezema explained in T last year, was that the site, which displays an aversion to right angles, an absence of symmetry and a constant shifting of elevations, might stimulate the immune system and actually help viewers live forever. Whatever its powers, this 285-piece puzzle depicting the space will certainly engage your mind, and eyes, for an afternoon. $35, slowdownstudio.com

Adorned with a collage of the 1980s-era artist Keith Harings black-and-white graffiti-like illustrations of grinning humans and animals, this puzzle from the Museum of Modern Art presents a unique challenge: Chopped up into 500 monochromatic fragments, it gives you no color clues, only lines and geometry, to work with. $35, store.moma.org

Toward the end of his life, the Dutch Post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh painted blooming almond blossoms against a vivid azure sky the work was a gift for his brother and sister-in-law, who had just had a baby. In puzzle form, Almond Blossom, 1890, from the British puzzlemaker Wentworth, is ideal for someone whose art tastes run more toward Impressionism than graffiti, and who is up for a real undertaking: Opt for the extra-difficult 321-piece version, with piece shapes that repeat themselves. $58 for 321 pieces, wentworthpuzzles.com

For a sweet study-break of a puzzle, try this slice of cherry pie from the beloved puzzle manufacturer Areaware. With just over 70 pieces, it should only take about 20 minutes to complete. (If youre after something more involved, the brands 500-piece Dusen Dusen pattern puzzles come recommended by multiple members of Ts staff.) Little Puzzle Thing Cherry Pie, $15, and Pattern Puzzle Dusen Dusen, $25, areaware.com

Those craving a bit of armchair travel, which is practically the only kind safe or possible at the moment, might consider setting a course for the remote Japanese island of Yakushima, part of the Ryukyu archipelago. Its covered in a dense, lush forest that echoes the dreamy landscape shown, as Ts editor in chief Hanya Yanagihara wrote in 2018, in Hayao Miyazakis landmark 1997 film Princess Mononoke. $50, store.nytimes.com

Playing cards longevity and widespread appeal they are thought to have originated in Asia around the ninth century before moving west to Medieval Europe might be attributed to the myriad games you can play with just a deck or two. Ts writer-at-large Nancy Hass makes a case for taking this period of social distancing to learn bridge. People think its hokey, but its actually the hardest, most intellectually demanding game, she says. And it can be sexy you communicate through secret signs with your partner. An added incentive might come in the form of a deck more stylish than your old navy blue or red Bicycle one, perhaps Misc. Goods Co.s Art-Deco-inspired design, available in five colors; Art of Plays Lucky Draw cards featuring geometric illustrations; or Christian Lacroixs Maison de Jeu set of two decks. For something easier (and more kid-friendly) than bridge, try illustrator Richard McGuires Go Fish cards housed in a case like a sardine tin. $15, misc-goods-co.com; $15, artofplay.com; $33.60 for set of two, libertylondon.com; $12.99, chroniclebooks.com

Perudo, a classic dice game popular in South America, is played with two to six people each player receives five dice and a cup, and the objective is to be the last one with remaining dice after a series of bids (and bluffs the game is sometimes known as liars dice). A luxurious leather-bound set is available from the British brand Noble MacMillan (with cups in bold tangerine, purple, light blue, green, red and ivory), and more affordable plastic versions are easy to find. Around $140, noblemacmillan.com

References to backgammon in which players move a series of pieces clockwise around a board can be found in ancient Greek texts, but this transparent acrylic set (recalling the Lucite and Perspex accessories that have shown up in recent collections) is anything but stodgy. $140-$200, food52.com

The 28 tiles that compose a set of dominoes can be used to play games of varying degrees of complexity. Or, you can simply stand them on their ends, push one over, and watch the rest tumble in a mesmerizing cascade (try not to think of this as a metaphor). Wolfum makes a classic set that comes in printed boxes in a variety of patterns; Fredericks & Mae offers a more esoteric option that, in lieu of black dots, shows the phases of the moon. $68, wolfum.com; $45, fredericksandmae.com

Another game that features precariously arranged blocks, Jenga gets a rainbow-minded upgrade. $16, sunnylife.com

Marcel Duchamp, who famously abandoned art in favor of chess, was the one who taught his friend and fellow artist Man Ray the rules of play. As Man Ray writes in his memoir, Self-Portrait (1963), this got him thinking about how the chess pieces themselves might be a fertile field for invention. His first chess set design, with sculptural silver-plated pieces, was produced in the 1920s, and a beechwood reproduction of it is available from Design Within Reach. The work is as much an art object as a game set, and has a price tag to match. Just as classic, though, are the roll-up styles seen in Manhattans Washington Square Park. $680, dwr.com; $4.99 for a board, thechessstore.com

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16 Aesthetically Pleasing Puzzles and Games to Play at Home - The New York Times


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