Highlights (solution)

by Josh Ain

The puzzle is a series of 11 pictures of board games in progress. Each game, when examined carefully, has a numerical mistake—one number is replaced with another number.

Game Name Error Incorrect Number Correct Number
Race for the Galaxy The blue player has 1 card in hand, when he should have 5 cards in hand, based on the actions he has taken. 1 5
Dominant Species In a four player game, each player should have 4 action pawns, yet the green player instead has 7. 7 4
7 Wonders The game is at the end of the first age. The Halicarnassus player should have played 7 cards, based on her wonder ability, but has instead played 10 cards. A solver can also confirm that Halicarnassus did not discard any cards by counting the total money in circulation among the players, confirming no money has entered play through discarded cards. 10 7
The Settlers of Catan Normal number distribution in Settlers has two of each number, except one each of 2 and 12. In this game, one of the 4s has been replaced by a 3. 3 4
Puerto Rico The colonist ship has 2 colonists on it, when it should have been refilled to 5 colonists. 2 5
Power Grid The yellow player has 9 cities on the board, but only has marked himself as having 8. 8 9
Space Alert The main power supply has just been refilled, and has 9 power blocks, not 5. 9 5
Small World One of the Ratmen territories has 3 Ratmen in it, even though the race is in decline. Races in decline should only have a single token per square. 3 1
Saint Petersburg The red player has 4 cards in hand, when the maximum hand size is 3. 4 3
Vegas Showdown The blue player has played a fancy restaurant, worth 3 fame, but his fame track is only at 2. 2 3
Pandemic The game is at the end of the first turn, which was the dispatcher’s turn. She has drawn one infection card, but has not yet drawn the second card (10 cards in the infection discard pile). Based on the actions that have been taken on the board, the dispatcher should have 3 cards in hand, but instead has 6 cards in hand. 6 3
Indexing into the game names in order by the correct numbers, we get FIRSTDESIGN. Looking up the designer of each board game and finding the first board game design he or she published leads to this table:
Game Name Designer First Game Incorrect number Correct number
Race for the Galaxy Thomas Lehmann Suzerain 1 5
Dominant Species Chad Jenson Combat Commander: Europe 7 4
7 Wonders Antoine Bauza Chabyrinthe 10 7
The Settlers of Catan Klaus Teuber Barbarossa 3 4
Puerto Rico Andreas Seyfarth Zorro: The Fight Against Alcalde 2 5
Power Grid Friedemann Friese Landlord! 8 9
Space Alert Vlaada Chvátil Arena: Morituri te salutant 9 5
Small World Philippe Keyaerts Vinci 3 1
Saint Petersburg Bernd Brunnhofer Dodge City 4 3
Vegas Showdown Henry Stern Vegas Showdown 2 3
Pandemic Matt Leacock Borderlands 6 3
We have already used the missing numbers to get FIRSTDESIGN. Now, using the incorrect numbers to index into each designer’s first game leads to SCHRODINGER, which is the answer.

Bonus Material

In developing Highlights, we put together a number of board game scenarios that were not ultimately used in production. If you enjoyed solving Highlights and want more, check out these bonus game scenarios. Just like the 11 pictures in Highlights, each bonus picture should solve to a number that is incorrect in the scenario.

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In this Endeavor scenario, the green player is listed as having 9 shields, but reviewing his board position and tokens collected indicates he should only have 2 shields. In some of the scenarios that we used, we had to fix the game state to happen towards the beginning of the game, so that more was provably correct about the game board. I liked how much was going on in this game board, and how late in the game we were. Unfortunately, we decided that using Endeavor was confusing because it had two designers. Using the first design of the two designers collectively was inelegant. Endeavor was designed by Carl de Visser, and Jarratt Gray. Carl de Visser’s first game was Final Decrees.

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Developing a Battle Line scenario was thematically fun because of its proof mechanic, which is core to its gameplay. This mechanic was similar to the reasoning we had to use in some of the actual puzzle’s game scenarios, to be sure that a game had a single specific error.

In this scenario, the top player has claimed with a 6, 9, 10 against an empty column. This move is not legal. But if the 6 had been a 9, the player could have proved that he would win that column, and claimed it. This error, we concluded, was slightly odd because the error could also be interpretted as the top player illegally claiming the column. Playing the 6 in that column was a perfectly legal move, but claiming the column was illegal. In addition, there was some ambiguity about Reiner Knizia’s first design. So, much as I would have liked to represent Knizia in this puzzle, we dropped Battle Line.

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Here is another Vegas Showdown scenario. In this scenario, only 2 premier tiles are present, rather than the requisite 3 premier tiles. The Vegas scenario that we used in Highlights was straightforward -- a simple scoring error. I liked this more complex scenario more, but we had trouble getting it past our test solvers.
Sheila Sunshine
Sheila Sunshine