What is your ideal 12-blink set to travel with?

I now own 40 blinks–one of each game currently released (minus dragon’s lair… though I’m STILL confused about whether or not that ever actually came out) plus 6 blanks. I love how having so many blinks allows me to play massive versions of certain games like thalassophobia, and especially hexenwood, but it has also got me to consider which games are best played with a more restrained number of blinks as well. I mean let’s be honest, a 40-blink game of Wham! is a nightmare scenario and likely a new-age version of one of the layers of hell, for example. So all of this got me thinking… what is the ideal number of blinks for variety of gameplay, ease of portability, and ability to take nearly every one of my personal favorite games to a get-together? Based on multiples of 6 (because sushi-rolls), I believe that 6 blinks is a bit too basic and restrictive, and 18 blinks is a bit bulky and starts including games that are personal 2nd-string players, for my taste, so I landed on 12. With all this said, I wanted to pose this question to the community: what is YOUR list of 12 blinks games that you would bring with you for various occasions, and why?

For my list, I wanted to include several single-player games for entertaining myself if I were on a business trip and trying to unwind in a hotel room, or for people who are afraid of confrontation and didn’t want to experience any of the multi-player games on offer. I also wanted to include a variety of games that show off the different features that blinks can offer–reflex games, puzzle games, dexterity games, strategy games, games best played sober versus games best played after a drink or two, etc. For the multi-player games, I wanted to include games that can at least make a fun experience (if not optimal) with 12 blinks when using 3 players, but am okay if 4 players isn’t really an option without increasing the blink size. Finally, I DID want to include a game or two that could potentially go up past 3 players, but that was more of a final touch rather than a central goal.

So after a lot of consideration and some difficult cuts, here is my list of 12 ideal blinks:
Single-player game blinks: Wham!, Puzzle 101, Dispel, The Cloud Game, Thalassophobia
2-player game blinks: Fracture*, Trifoil
2+ player game blinks: Bandits, Bomb Brigade, Darkball, Reactor, Heist

This post is already long enough, so I’ll add comments with an excessively in-depth review of my reasoning that will hopefully be interesting to at least one other soul out there! But with my cards on the table, please do let me know what your ideal set of 12 would be!

Edit*: Oops! Forgot that fracture can be either 2 or 3 player when using 12 blinks, my bad!

It has. But i think the only way to get it was through the Epic Adventure Kickstarter and it has never been sold separately (AFAIK). I guess the game store thing Move38 is working on will take care of that.

Although my opinion is “a bit” suspect in this case, I would definitely use 18 Blinks and include Hexenwood and the Hexenwood AI. Mostly because I do prefer more strategic games and also I happen to think Hexenwood is a very good display of what a Blink can do when pushed to the limit. It helps that it can be played solo (against the AI) and also against other people.

Single player games:
1. Wham!: As a more experienced player, I can win fairly consistently with 10 blinks, and very rarely with the full 12. For my own entertainment, this means that Wham is perfectly suited for the 12-blink limitation, since I am not losing any experience by not having more blinks available to me. On the other hand, when showing the game to other people who might be new to the Blinks Game System, or with some (but little) experience, the absolute flexibility of Blink numbers and board setup is ideal to suit the interest level and difficulty desires of a more novice player. The gameplay goal is straight-forward, the player input is simple, the strategy level is low—all of these make the game very approachable for the timid, but also potentially challenging for the bold. The game is engaging and emotionally stimulating even when dead-sober, but also has the potential to become even more boisterous and memorable if sobriety slips during the course of a get-together. Overall, I can agree with sentiments I’ve heard on livestreams that Wham is pretty much the perfect ice-breaker for new players to get introduced to the idea of what blinks are, but at the same time it is still very satisfying for repeat-play for an experienced player when alone.
2. Puzzle 101: In contrast to Wham, Puzzle 101 is a perfect introduction game to new players who might want a more slow, thoughtful experience rather than something high-energy and intense. While the introduction process might be slightly more involved than with the gameplay of Wham, the barrier to entry is still quite low, and the gameplay loop is relatively short. I think this game is a perfect way to get the Blinks Game System’s hooks into new people who are a bit more reserved and less prone to playing competitive experiences. On the other hand, by having exactly 12 blinks, one can run 2 simultaneous games of Puzzle 101, either as a competitive endeavor to see who solves their puzzle first, or as a way to engage 2 new players at once to avoid the boredom of taking turns one at a time to play. Finally, as a long-time player, I can still have a lot of fun playing Puzzle 101 on my own, even if it doesn’t hold my attention for as long as some of the other single-player games I’ve chosen.
3. Dispel: In my mind, I consider this game to be a sort of “Puzzle 202” as far as where it fits in my game library. Whereas Puzzle 101 has a very rigid setup of exactly 6 blinks, Dispel allows a single-player puzzle experience with a flexible difficulty setting, which I really appreciate for trying to introduce the game to people with different levels of interest and desire for intellectual challenge. This game is not something I would lead the way with when introducing a new player, but is a good “next step” game for somebody who has already shown interest in what the system has to offer. Best of all, this is one of the few games in the entire library that regularly challenges me at its hardest difficulty, yet doesn’t feel “unfair” like a 40-blink game of Wham would.
4. The Cloud Game: This is a very new introduction to my library of games, and honestly I didn’t think much of it when I watched the tutorial video, but after playing it… my views have changed. The idea and interface are both very simple, which makes it easy to introduce to a new player—it is a bit simple and whimsical, with pleasing visual appeal like some of the open-ended games such as Zen Flow or Honey, yet it has a specific victory-goal for a sense of purpose. The fact that the game doesn’t care about the number of blinks used nor the formation of those blinks allows a lot of creative replayability as well, and overall I think this game has a lot of potential to capture the imagination of a player who is neither competitive nor overly strategic, but still wants to have a good time. When playing the game myself, I’ve found that I have about a 50/50 split of mindset in trying to find the optimal solution for a shape in as few clicks as possible versus just following a whimsical instinct of clicking seemingly random blinks towards the goal of eventually ending up at a solution practically by mistake!
5. Thalassophobia: Oh my… what a game! I don’t know if I’ve ever been sold on a game idea faster than when watching the tutorial for Thalassophobia. This game is a great example of how a bit of imagination can combine with a simple “abstract” game design to both tell a story and provide an interesting and fun game experience. The simple green and blue LED coloration is very visually pleasing, easy to read/understand, and the gameplay is so simple that it is easy to hook a new player on their first game. This is the game that convinced my wife to get into Blinks, and has consistently been a favorite among people I’ve introduced the system to. Interestingly, after playing around with different blink #s and game board shapes, I’ve come to the conclusion that the game actually becomes too easy if you add too many blinks, since there are more open tiles to explore at any given time if you get blocked off by an unlucky wall of seaweed. In fact, I feel that the game is a bit too lenient in difficulty with its time-limit in general since it is a factor that isn’t directly alterable in-game, so I have to use an outside timer (or widget) to give myself a more restrictive time limit to keep things interesting when playing for myself. On the other hand, the generally lax difficulty level is a boon when introducing the game to new players, so I still think it is a good fit for this 12-blink limit exercise. In fact, I feel that 12 blinks is pretty much exactly the best number for keeping the game ever so slightly challenging, yet impressively “big” enough to hit-home the idea of “more blinks means more possibilities” for a newly introduced player. Finally, compared to many other games in this list, I feel that Thalassophobia is a unique inclusion because each individual game can last several minutes, yet it is still very immediately repayable, which gives this game a somewhat unique role to play when rounding out the overall experience set of this 12-blink restriction exercise.

Dragon’s lair did get released? Unless I’ve lost my mind, I’m 100% sure I was in on that kickstarter (one of the only kickstarters I’ve backed in my life) but never received it as part of my package… I wonder if I accidentally got shorted this inclusion?

As far as hexenwood, that is definitely my current favorite game overall and was really hard to leave out, but it really benefits from the “more blinks=more fun” idea and even 18 might be cutting it a bit short, IMO! SUCH a cool demonstration of the potential of the game system though. I’ve had so much fun just setting up a board of 40 blinks with 4 AI players and watching what happens!

2-player games:
1. Fracture: As a game that is supposed to have exactly 12 blinks when playing with 2 (or 3… oops!) players, this seemed ideal for the restrictions of this exercise. This game is simple enough to understand, but has enough strategic depth that it can scratch the itch of players looking for a bit of competitive matching of wits. I think this game really strikes the sweet spot of being simple to understand, yet rewarding players as they gain more experience and/or think harder about their moves. This game also provides a good example of how one can interact with the game board without ever “pressing” a blink, since all actions are based around the separation and re-connecting of blinks in different orientations. The gameplay loop is short enough that it is immediately repayable, yet long enough that a game with two well-matched opponents can play a longer game that “tells a story” during its duration, as well as in the memory of each player after the game is finished.
While I accidentally placed this game in the “2-player only” section, originally forgetting that it can technically be played with 3 players when using 12 blinks, I do personally believe that it is best played as a 2-player experience. IMHO, the rules of the game are best suited to a battle of wits between two combatants; however, the ability of the game to be expanded to a 3-player experience with a bit more random chaos is nothing but icing on the cake when considering the goals of this 12-blink restriction exercise. What a game!
2. Trifoil: Oh boy… this game is good, but I am not good at this game. Being the only TRULY 2-player-only game on this list, Trifoil provides a VERY unique experience within the set of games I’ve chosen for this exercise. Even though the base game only requires 6 blinks and has a rigid setup scheme, and I personally feel that the game is best played in this way, the fact that the game doesn’t technically fail when adding more blinks or changing the formation is a testament to the creative power of both the Blinks Game System and the intelligence of the game designer at the same time. Unfortunately, this game is so new to my collection that I haven’t had the opportunity to play it with anybody except my wife, who is an exceptionally smart and puzzle-minded individual and seems to decimate my comparatively simian mind on every occasion that I’ve played this game with her. I’ve included this game because it is uniquely designed to be for only 2 players, has a simple ruleset with a very deep level of complicated implications, and is the game that I feel would best hook new players who are deeply intellectual and strategic but also competitive. Not only does this game leverage the power of a simple single-click interface, but the “minority rule” allows the lateral thinking fun and creativity of re-shaping the overall game board by moving blinks to come through. I think that this game will only “hook” less than 10% of potential people I show it to, but for that 10%, this is the best example I can think of when demonstrating the depth of a pure strategy game experience that the Blinks Game System can provide—at least when keeping to the 12-blink restriction… sorry, Hexenwood!

It did. I have it. But you have to explicitly request it (and pay extra).

Sure, I would definitely not recommend playing Hexenwood with only 12 Blinks (it is too easy and you would need an extra Blink to use the AI anyway) but it is playable with 12. 18 Blinks does allow it to be challenging and 21 is probably the best cost/benefit ratio. But, of course, the more Blinks the better (I currently have almost 90 Blinks).

That’s a really funny coincidence for me XD. About two months ago I went on a vacation and while I took all my blinks (5 sushi roll cases) I was thinking about taking just one roll on the go, mostly in mind entertaning myself if I had to wait somewhere. the wizard pack wasn’t out then (was supposed to be, but was delayed with the bug fixes) I did download Dispel and Forget me not on two other blinks, because they seemd to me the most convenient to “entertain-on-the-go-with-probably-no-or-only-small-surface”. But Forget me not needs 7 Blinks and Dispel also has a use of 7 and this is how I ended up on taking 2 rolls.

I even found out, that, a tiny bag you can add to a belt I made much longer ago, for a completly diffrent purpose, fitted two rolls absolutely PERFECT! But when deciding for my 12 games, I guess there was much more personal preference in consideration.
I’m actually still missing out on two packs of older games (I’m about to get them this year, but they’re still with my brother) So while I downloaded two games, I didn’t even think about if there was anything in these two packs I could use.
And Hexenwood is one of my favorite games, but in mind that it’s not much fun with only 11 blinks (because AI) But still taking other favorite games that would be more fun with more blinks these are my 12:

Puzzle 101
Trifoil
Alchematch
Dispel
Thalassophobia
Darkball
berry
Forget me not
Pain brush
WHAM!
Widgits
Dragons Lair (yes I have the published version as well)

I focus more an playing alone when bored, but also took in consideration what would be great if there was someone to play with and berry is propably the only game you can’t even play against yourself (Yes, I did this with paintbrush and Trifoil)
And Widgits could just come in handy in diffrent situations, I guess.

But I’m also planning on making a handy little bag for 8 sushi rolls next month, when I’ll get some more blinks my brother still has.

2+ player games:
1. Bandits: I think that any good casual game night has a need for a social deception game, so I was unbelievably excited when Bandits was released, and couldn’t wait to get it into my own hands. Because of covid, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to experience this game with more than two players (my wife and I), which is sad because even though this game CAN be played with 2 players, I think it really needs 3 or more players to shine. The risk/reward balance is amazing, and allowing “stealing” from a previously scored blink makes “who is winning” much less predictable, keeping interest high even if you’re behind. In addition, allowing one player to “steal” from another player introduces just enough competition and indirect conflict to bring out a higher level of emotional investment while still keeping the mood light and fun.
I will make the concession that this game is one that might be the most limited by the 12 blink restriction, since I don’t think 12 blinks is enough to have a 4th player, and even with 3 players, games will be cut shorter than if there were 18 blinks just by virtue of having less pieces of the board to build out, but I’m still forming my opinion on if this restriction is enough to bump it out of my “perfect 12” list. I really wanted to include this one because it has a unique spot in the 12 as the on only betting/bluffing game I’ve included. While there are other betting/bluffing type games in the Blinks system (tip-toe volcano specifically comes to mind), it will take me feeling significantly restricted by the limited blink count in future playtesting for me to consider dropping this game from the list just because the gameplay is so good!
2. Bomb Brigade: This was one of the first games that came to mind when originally thinking up this list. Not only is the gameplay quick, easy to understand, and very repeatable, but it is unique among the 12 in that it is not limited to a specific number of players by either the inherent programming rules nor the 12-blink limitation. In fact, this game can reasonably be “cloned” and run in 2 parallel games fairly optimally within the limit of only 12 blinks! In my mind, this mixture of attributes makes Bomb Brigade an ideal game to choose when attempting to get as many interested parties to jump into the action as possible, as soon as possible. I would start introductions to the game system with a single-player game like Wham first, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to break out Bomb Brigade as a 2nd game once everybody seemed comfortable with the idea and interface of the game system.
3. Darkball: In my experience, this game is a great one to pull out early in the introduction phase to new players because the interface is so easy and because there is no “strategy” element, preventing alienation of players who might not be as interested in either appearing foolish in front of others or who just plain aren’t looking for that kind of “thoughtful” gameplay experience. On the flipside, I’ve encountered a set of player personalities who are timid about reaction-based games, but I feel like the multiple hitpoints design and relatively quick games inherent to Darkball mitigate this hesitancy to a degree. While the 12-blink restriction puts limits on the number of players, especially if you want to create a more complicated pathway, I think that the overall experience is only slightly limited when only playing with 12 blinks, making it a solid inclusion in this list. I think the 2 player experience is good, the 3 player experience is great, but 4 players is pushing it with this setup. Finally, I’ve found that Darkball, as compared to Reactor, is a game that gets more fun (and more loud) after a few adult beverages have entered the equation, so it can be a particularly good game to pull out (or to revisit) later in the evening.
4. Reactor: Even though it parallels Darkball in many ways, and part of this 12-blink restriction exercise is to include as many unique experiences as possible, I eventually concluded that Reactor’s gameplay was unique enough and brought enough to the table to be included in this list. Of the two, I have a hard time choosing a favorite between Reactor and Darkball, and I think it is because Reactor introduces a few more advanced interactions and rules complications that make it a good “next step” for players who show a higher level of interest and aptitude with the Blinks Game System.
This game is just so much more DESIGNED than Darkball (no offense to that game) when it comes to balance, comeback mechanisms, and allowing players to feel smart. Even though both games reward quick reflexes, Reactor is able to draw in players who also have pattern recognition skills, and make them feel rewarded for their abilities. The game also rewards people who can split their attention because of the brilliant addition of the “unstable blinks” element, which keeps players invested even if they are on the path to losing, and especially if playing a 3 player game where one player is “eliminated” but still has an opportunity to get back in the action if they grab an unstable blink. Even though each game is relatively short, “player elimination” is an undesirable element inherent to many multiplayer games, and by giving the “eliminated” player a way back into the game, it keeps everybody invested and having fun until the ultimate winner is decided. Even better, by requiring the players still in the game to split their attention between the central blink and the unstable blink, while allowing the “eliminated player” to ONLY need to focus on the unstable blink, that player’s chances of rejoining are improved. This dynamic is not present if playing with the “pay-up” rules alteration which makes this variant less appealing to me personally, but since this is a totally optional and separate way to play the game, the variety allowed only benefits the game as a whole. Finally, I can’t give enough praise to the designer for adding travel time between the player input and the central blink. With this subtle design decision, not only is there an added level of visual intrigue, but there is a built-in rubberbanding mechanism that slowly gives the advantage to the player(s) who is/are closest to being eliminated from the game. All of this is accomplished without adding a single iota of mental or mechanical burden to the players, nor complicating or altering the original design of the game.
As one final note, I wanted to point out that the rulebook and the instructional video actually leave out one very important detail when playing Reactor… one that you, the reader, might not possibly know about either! Both the video tutorial and the rulebook say that players can “buzz in” when 2 same-color patterns are shown in a row; however, what they don’t tell you is that you can ALSO buzz in when 2 different-color but same NUMBER patterns are displayed in a row. This means that a 1-pip yellow flash followed by a 1-pip magenta flash (even if not in the same directional orientation) is a valid combo to “buzz-in” for. I’m not sure if this rule was added after the instructional materials were already finalized, or if it was simply overlooked, but I figured it was worth talking about!
5. Heist: Last but not least is the single sliding/dexterity game representative of this 12-game set. Not only do I like Heist on its own merits, but I felt that omitting a game that utilizes the sliding/flicking possibility built into the unique interaction possibilities that the Blinks Game System offers would be a major disservice. Even though other games, specifically FlicFlop and Crownfall, also demonstrate this gameplay element, I felt that the ease of play (compared to Crownfall) and minimal required blinks for multiple players (compared to FlicFlop) made Heist the best choice to represent this gameplay style to people new to the Blinks Game System.
Gameplay of Heist is fairly straight-forward, and the flexibility of allowing players to share a single blink and change team colors between players makes it ideal for the 12-blink limitation of this exercise. In my mind, the ideal minimum vault size is 5 blinks, and by allowing up to 4 players to share the same flicking blink, this means that 2 instances of the game can be run in parallel to allow up to 8 players to join in on the fun at once! Also, compared to the other flicking games, I believe that Heist is playable when restricted to a relatively small play area, which makes the game viable even if you find yourself without an expansive flat play area option in whatever social gathering situation you might encounter. Even though I don’t feel Heist is as attention grabbing and/or replayable as many other choices on this list, I couldn’t NOT include it just for the fact that it demonstrates a unique playstyle that might help new players better understand what makes the Blinks Game System so compelling and unique.

Seems like a solid lineup to me! Berry was one of the hard cuts that I had to make in my choice of 12 games, but ultimately I decided to leave it out because of the scoring system. I don’t consider myself a dullard, but despite my extreme interest and investment in Blinks, when I originally got Berry it took me a while to wrap my head around the scoring system, even if the rules of the game are otherwise very straight-forward. If I didn’t have Tri-foil, I probably would have included it in my set of games. Also, if Berry had a built-in way to automatically detect, tally, and remember points, I think it would beat out Trifoil.
Alchematch was also a game that I originally considered including, but based on my interactions with people I’ve introduced the Blinks Game System to, I have had a bit of trouble keeping enthusiasm and attention when demonstrating games that don’t have a “win condition”. Even though this means that my 12-blink set omits this unique form of game design, it was a concession that I was able to come to terms with for my own intentions with this exercise. If I were to make an 18-game set, Alchematch would definitely be in there though!
Finally, Widgits is an interesting inclusion from my point of view! I guess I just never really felt compelled by the example games that the free-form ruleset allows, and haven’t been clever enough to apply those functions beyond simple things like adding a more restrictive timer to thalassophobia. Just goes to show that we all get "hooked’ by different aspects of this awesome little game system though :slight_smile: