Greetings to the Clue Community!

Hello again everyone!

Although it’s nice to be back home again in Northern California, I have to say my trip to Japan was simply spectacular, with activity-packed stops in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and a side trip to the *Ninja Museum* in Ueno City.  Lots of good sush, sightseeing, and treasure hunt scouting in the land of the rising sun.  🙂

Happily, we’re also currently putting final touches on two new Japan treasure hunts: at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo and at the National Museum in Ueno Park.   Look for them on our website in the next few weeks!

Me at Osaka Castle

Here on the homefront, look for Dr. Clue’s new treasure hunt at New York’s Bronx Zoo, coming soon!  What a busy Dr. Clue summer lies ahead!

In today’s issue of the Dr. Clue newsletter, we’ve got 3 more puzzles for you to solve, an icebreaker that is standing room only, and an article about joys of collaborative games.   Enjoy!

Dave Blum
Editor, Dr. Clue Icebreaker Newsletter

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Frame Games

Last issue, we gave you these 3 puzzles:

Thanks to everyone who sent in a solution.  The correct answers were:

For the common defense
Divided Highway
One foot in front of the other

Alas, there were no correct solvers this time.  🙁

This Week’s Puzzles:

Here are three more puzzles to challenge your brain cells.  As always, let’s see who can get them all the fastest and be named the “F2S” (first to solve).


Email your answers to me ASAP at:     This one is going to go fast!

Good luck!

This Week’s Icebreaker

Here’s an old favorite from 2008.


Set Up: None

Process: Inform participants that they must find two other people and share with them their favorite hobby. Give them a few minutes to discuss their hobbies, then bring everyone back into the larger group. Now inform people that they must all line up, by hobby, in alphabetical order. Once in order, have people share what they love about their hobby with the person in front of them and the person in back of them.

In subsequent rounds, you can repeat the process, using favorite places to travel, favorite foods, favorite movies, etc. As an extra challenge, you can do the line-ups silently, with people acting out their favorites by gesture.

Discussion Questions: What did you learn about your own interests and preferences? What was surprising about other people’s favorites? How did you feel differently about your conversation partners once you’d shared your interests and heard theirs?

The Point: People are like icebergs—we can only see a small part of their personality, that which they choose to share with us, “above the water level.” When we start to learn more about each other’s passions, we then see our colleagues as real people, rather than as titles or positions. As we lower the water level and show more of ourselves, we also build trust.

(with thanks to

———————————————————————-Featured ArticleLessons from Collaborative Games
By Dave Blum

What exactly is a “game”?  A quick search on Wikipedia delivers this definition:



“A form of play or sport, esp. a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.”

Although I agree that games must necessarily have rules (and structure), what strikes me as Interesting about the definition above is the phrase “[especially] a competitive one”.   It seems that the internet, like most of society, has bought into the notion that games must be competitive in order to qualify as “games”.  But is this necessarily so?

Consider two of the most popular collaborative board games on the market:  “Forbidden Island” & “Pandemic”

1) Forbidden Island 

In this cooperative board game, you and the other players are fearless adventurers on a do-or-die mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of a mysterious island. Your team must work together to earn the treasures, even as the island slowly sinks beneath you!   The challenge in Forbidden Island is not to win the game individually (by reaching a designated end point or accruing the most points).  Rather, you all play together, win together or lose together.  The competition, in a sense, is against the island itself, which seems (for vaguely supernatural reasons) to be bent on your destruction.  Each player receives a role card which gives them specific powers:  For example the Explorer has the ability to move diagonally around the board; the pilot can fly anywhere on the board for one action per turn, and so on.  In order to beat the island and “win” t, players must talk out each move and leverage their teammates’ special powers.

2) Pandemic

In this similar but more advanced “co-op” game, virulent diseases have broken out simultaneously all over the world.  You are all disease-fighting specialists whose mission is to treat disease hotspots while researching cures for each of four plagues before they get out of hand.  As in Forbidden Island, you each have specific roles and abilities that will aid the team’s efforts.  For example, the Operations Expert can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases and which allow for greater mobility between cities; the Scientist needs only four cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal five. And so on.  Once again, it’s all for one and one for all in Pandemic.   You win (or lose) together; either you discover the cures that save the world, or the diseases outbreak all over the world and mankind is doomed!

Do all future games need to be cooperative and collaborative?  Not at all.  There will always be a role in society for soccer and football, Monopoly and Chess, Survivor and the Amazing Race.   But co-op games are gaining on the competitive games in popularity, proving that people can have loads of fun working together, moving towards a common goal.  Perhaps most importantly, at the end of co-op games like the ones above, you tend to feel more unified with the other players rather than divided from them.  Who hasn’t, for example, lost a game involving head-on competition and left the board feeling animosity toward their “opponent” (or negativity towards themselves)?   In co-op games, the “vibe” is very different.   Whether you win, lose or draw, you’ve all gone through it together. Very rarely do you feel it’s one person’s “fault”.

What does this all mean for leaders and managers in the workplace?  Simply that we should think about our goals the next time we set up a game or a competition amongst our employees and team members.  How do we want people to feel towards each other once the game is over?   Is there any way we might, perhaps, add a little collaboration into the mix?

As always, thank you for being a part of the Dr. Clue Community!

Dave Blum, Editor, The Dr. Clue Friday Icebreaker newsletter

Feel free to contact us at 707-566-7824 with your thoughts and comments,
or email Dave personally at