Puzzleduck PasturesKel Snache; 36 copies
It may not be new but it is still worth writing about: I got my copy of Puzzleduck Pastures upon release way back in ye olden days of 2019. Back then, my blog was still pretty new, my tens of readers a mere fives of readers. I was writing less frequently than I am now (which really is still not as frequently as I’d like) and simply never sat down and wrote about this gem of a sequential discovery take-apart puzzle.
Puzzleduck Pastures is Kel’s “response” to Michael Toulouzas’ Fairy Door (and, in turn, precedes Tracy Clemons’ take: Dark Fairy Door). The puzzle looks like the facade of a playful, cartoonish home, the roof slightly askew, a bulbous door, sketched windows, and so on. The puzzle is a sizable 12″ tall and 8.5″ at its widest point on the base; at 3.5″ at its deepest, it evokes a sense of a theatrical facade from which one might expect Puck to dramatically emerge (“And those things do best please me, That befall prepost’rously.”)
And this is just part of its appeal: it’s playfulness is a manifestation of Kel’s good nature and reminds us that we are here to have fun – belying this intentionally imperfect aesthetic are the internal mechanisms that interact in varied ways, locking Lil Ms Fairy Pants’ door and tempting the puzzler with a number of holes across multiple sides.
The door is quite firmly locked: two of the three square central “locks” on the door move just a few mm, with the bottom one spinning freely. But don’t think that the rest of the puzzle can be ignored! In typical Kel fashion, you will find a number of interacting internal mechanisms keeping you from solving the puzzle and opening the door, although only the chimney appears to have any give when reset. It is quite typical of Kel’s style: multiple misdirections as you embark on a semi-linear sequential discovery journey with very few blind spots. Re-solving the puzzle after a few years, I was pleased by how well everything worked, even as I was sure something was wrong at one or two points (nope: it was me). And I was super pleased with myself when the door finally pulled open once again!
At the end of the journey you are rewarded with a view of some of the internal mechanisms as well as, even more delightfully, some lovely art of Lil Ms Fairy Pants’ home created by artist Nicole Lees for the project. (This is not a spoiler as it is stated in the description)
I love this kind of finale, bringing the story full circle and rewarding the puzzler with a good, satisfied laugh. By no means will you wonder if it is solved: it is quite clear that you’ve helped Lil Ms Fairy Pants home and you can sleep soundly knowing you’ve done a good deed for an imaginary person.
Puzzleduck is fun and tricky, Kel’s deviousness abounding throughout the puzzle’s playful frame. While not as long a solve as Kel’s EWE UFO, it is similarly smartly silly and delightful to behold (and they look adorable next to each other). Now if I could just get myself a copy of Toulouzas’ Fairy Door, I would have the trifecta, thereby opening a portal into the world of the fae!