Dale Yu – Review of the Holiday Hijinks Series (Spoiler Free)

The Independence Incident / The Kringle Caper / The Pumpkin Problem

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The Holiday Hijinks series are a set of three (so far) pocket sized escape room/puzzles.  I first encountered The Indepence Incident after a friend received it as a gift from the Gathering of Friends.  We brought it to the table as an opener for game night, and we were quite impressed with the challenges provided by this small packet of 18 cards.  The idea here is an “Escape room” of sorts- with the goal being to get though the deck to the last card.

To play any of these games, simply unwrap the little sachet of cards, and you’ll find the instructions on the inside surface of the packet.  Keep all the cards facedown until instructed otherwise.  You will need a smartphone or a computer to play the game as well – there is a link on the instructions to a web based app.

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As you work on the puzzles, you will eventually find red magnifying glasses next to questions – when you find the answer to that question, type it into the app and see if you’re right.  If you have put in the correct answer, you’ll be instructed which card(s) to reveal from the deck to continue your adventure.

The standard sized playing cards definitely limit how “large” the puzzles can be – though some of the puzzles will be spread out over multiple cards.  I was pleasantly surprised with the variety and difficulty of the puzzles.  As with many games in this genre, having a few solvers work on the game together will help because sometimes a gamer will just “see” a puzzle and instantly solve it, and other times, it helps to have a couple of brains working on a puzzle at the same time in order to make the necessary breakthru.

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While all the puzzles are contained on the cards, it would definitely be recommended to have pen and paper near.  Sure, you could write directly on the cards, but if you don’t, then you’ll have a nice gift to give to someone else when you’re done.  One of the great things about this series is that nothing is destroyed – so after you finish it, you can pass it on and let someone else enjoy this great system.

The web-app is well done.  It’s a nice system for entering answers and checking them.  The hint system is also very helpful, and it’s a nice backup if you get completely stuck. 

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There are also links to some common puzzle solving things which you might need.  The app also keeps your time, and it’s expected that you’ll spend between 60-90 minutes to finish each game.  

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The Pumpkin Problem is rated 2 out of 3 (the easiest of the group so far), and it took 2 of us about 35 minutes to solve it.  The Independence Incident and Kringle Caper are both rated 3 out of 3.  Independence was finished by 4 of us in 41 minutes and the Kringle Caper took 2 of us 55 minutes (mostly because we refused to take a hint and spent about 15 minutes on a single devious puzzle!)

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The games are pocketsized and affordable,  They are currently $10 each or you can get the full set for $25.  An even cheaper option is to buy the print and play version, but with any puzzle game, I would strongly discourage this option as I think it’s really hard not to spoil something accidentally in the process of printing and cutting up the bits.  Anyways, the quality of the professionally produced sets are quite nice – the quality of the cards and the cardboard sleeve is top notch, and for the prie, I’d definitely recommend that route.

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There are plenty of holidays on the calendar, and I’m hoping that the people behind this series continue to find themes to make more editions in this series.  They pack a great punch for their size, and I look forward to the next challenge from the Grand Gamers Guild team.

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2021, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

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