Riddle me, GridL

For many of us, a certain period of our timeline from 2021-22 bears an unforgettable ordeal... that we sometimes wonder about with a certain anxiety. Life was pretty strange and difficult during the Pandemic era, and it was no different for me.

Stuck in the corridors of the house, confined to a moribund, tense environment all the time, your brain starts getting used to the doldrums and accepts beauty in small things - for us (and for a lot of people in the world too), board games were one such escapade we looked forward to.

In those early days, as you would remember, supply chains being hit worldwide, one couldn't really get their hands on things they wanted. Luckily I had a good personal collection of board games at home - and my two close friends happened to stay adjacent to my residential apartments. We used to meet up whenever possible (or until we ran out of ways to deceive the strict security guard) and so it was me, my wife, and my two friends who could play almost every board game we had.

Of course, this was also a time when I was designing games for other publishers (Chai Garam to begin with), so my mind's design space was open to experimenting with new ideas. Like other avid designers, I loved to tear apart existing games, add in some beguiling twists and see if it held together - most certainly they won't, but sometimes they do - only eventually to end up as word.doc inside a codenamed folder on my PC.

My wife loves casual, quick party games, and we played them quite often during the pandemic. We had the usual score of regulars you would expect - Codenames, Wavelength, Sushi Go, and so on.. till we started repeating them quite often.

Among the party games, we shared a mutual love for deduction games! It was at that moment - one dull evening on a usual locked-down weekday - that we thought of combining some of the great takeaways we had from playing a lot of these deduction games - into making something pretty interesting and different, and at the same time trying not complicating it too much! What if we played a word deduction game, but on two dimensions?

GRIDL old image

Quickly creating a prototype, we started playing - just for fun, with no other intentions back then. We called it GRID since it was literally a Grid of 3x3, and each axis of the grid had two random adjectives that varied from 3 degrees on a scale of Low, Medium, and High. A Cluemaster received a secret card pinpointing a certain coordinate on the grid as the 'solution'. With the help of the two words and their relative degrees, they had to think of precise clues for the other players, into making them guess the secret coordinate as accurately as possible.

Surprisingly, it turned out to be a lot of fun! And we started playing it regularly alongside the party games we had if we ever wanted to play something different. It remained as a private in-house game for the longest time...

..fast forward to early 2022 when we started up Zenwood Games - when I was drowning myself in understanding all the legal and operational work amidst hundred other items. But one of the best parts of my job - was being the 'commander in chief' for recruiting my already existing game ideas and seeing which ones are fit to make it to the Zenwood bandwagon! It began as an exercise in sifting through the numerous half-finished rulebooks and concept docs, playtests and personal feedback, rummaging through my prototypes carton, and finally arriving at a prospective new recruit list! 

Parikrama aced the recruit list - the calm, brainy chap who would take the huge task of representing Zenwood as the first wave.. and would also lead the other games to follow... while there were a lot of exciting and interesting fellows who would complete the team later on.

Of course, with time you will get to know all of them...

Waiting in the queue among other potential games (and possibly other games joining from different designers ;)) was a crazy little lass named GRID, who had also made it to the list, albeit needing some work and improvement. 

Parikrama and GridL board games

A lot of our beloved customers and supportive patrons consist of first-time gamers who requested us for a fun, quick, casual game - that will help them get into the hobby better. While Parikrama did that for some (and is still doing so), I and my wife pondered upon the idea of introducing the cool concepts of GRID to the world. A game, that is quite on the opposite spectrum of where Parikrama lies in terms of mechanics and gameplay styles. We happened to discuss moving up the waiting list for GRID and skipping the queue (pun intended - ah, other games were a bit grumpy!)

We began playtesting and brainstorming GRID shortly thereafter - refining it to represent what it is today: a grid board of 5x5 coordinates (as the earlier 3x3 felt quite easy), two ranges of word lists on opposite sides of each word card - easy/hard - making it to a total of 380 different words in the game, advanced variants where you pick powerups beforehand much like the game Pocket Tanks, to be used one at a time in a turn - and so on.

We renamed it to GridL - a wordplay of Grid and Riddle, while the L actually represented the X and Y axis scale of degrees that form the core principle of the game! GridL donned the classy neon theme reminiscent of the 70s vaporwave and cyberpunk that many of us are huge fans of (including me)! 

Finally, after multiple playtests, hilarious sessions, unforgettable memories about oddly explicit clues given by people, and getting it manufactured just in time for a Comic-Con release - we are here proudly with our second recruit, following Parikrama in his quest of meeting gamers and players - introducing his little neon-loving crazy sister, "GridL"

GridL is now officially available to order from zenwoodgames.com! Hope you have as much fun playing it with your friends and family as much as we had designing :D

 ~ Sid

Gridl an abstract deduction game

Back to blog

Leave a comment