Cryptic Clusters

This page contains six cryptic cluster puzzles. You can also download a printable version of these puzzles.

This puzzle format contains a list of encrypted items that belong to a specific category. For example, all the 10 items in the first puzzle belong to interactive training techniques.

The items in a cryptic cluster puzzle are encrypted using a simple letter substitution system; each letter in the item is consistently replaced by some other letter of the alphabet (for example, every “E” in the item is replaced with an “N”). The challenge is to decipher the items by using a combination of cryptographic principles and knowledge of the subject-matter area.

For practice, let me help you solve the first puzzle on this page. From the information on the top, you realize that the list contains the names of interactive training techniques typically presented in this GameBlog.

As you scan the list, you notice that many of the two-word items end with the encrypted word “RLUNK”. You think back on the various training techniques, trying to recall the most-frequent endings for two-word phrases. Remember anything? It suddenly dawns on you that the word is probably “GAMES”. So you write this word below the encrypted version.

Because the same substitutions are used throughout the puzzle, you know that R=G, L=A, U=M, N=E, and K=S. Write the correct letters below each corresponding cryptic letter. Study the location of letters, pay attention to the location of hyphens in a couple of items, recall names of different interactive training techniques and see if you can solve the entire puzzle by yourself.

Print out the puzzles and solve them.



For an interesting simulation game that incorporates this puzzle format, please see Downsizing somewhere else in this issue.