Title:
Multiple design creation puzzle game and display
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A puzzle game in which game play creates different pictures or designs by assembling the constituent pieces in different arrangements. In one embodiment, a tray is configured to hold a set number of pieces that are generally cube-shaped blocks. Individual sides of the blocks desirably display different colors. Different blocks, or group of blocks, may carry different sets of colors to provide numerous color choices for visible display. A mosaic picture may be formed by arranging blocks in the tray to orient a specific colored side of each block for visible display at a designated location. The resulting picture may be displayed in the tray by hanging the tray from a wall or propping the tray to a substantially vertical orientation. Alternatively, the assembled picture or design may form a playing surface of a board game.



Inventors:
Stewart, David (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/013187
Publication Date:
06/16/2005
Filing Date:
12/15/2004
Assignee:
STEWART DAVID
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/06; A63F3/00; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TRASKBRITT, P.C. (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
1. A puzzle game for creating a mosaic design, comprising: a tray defining an area in which to receive a plurality of removable game construction pieces in side-by-side planar assembly; said plurality of game construction pieces, each one of said game construction pieces comprising a parallelepiped structure defined by six substantially planar surfaces, at least two of said surfaces being structured to be visually distinguishable from each other, said game construction pieces and said tray being structured in harmony such that said game construction pieces can be arranged over said area to form said mosaic design.

2. The puzzle game according to claim 1, further comprising: a mechanism for retaining said game construction pieces in said tray, said mechanism being effective to resisting departure of said game construction pieces from an ordered position in said design as said tray is reoriented from a substantially horizontal configuration to a substantially vertical configuration.

3. The puzzle game according to claim 1, wherein: said parallelepiped structure is a cube.

4. The puzzle game according to claim 3, wherein: each of the six faces of a said cube carries a different one of six colors.

5. The puzzle game according to claim 3, further comprising: a plurality of differently colored faces distributed among a plurality of cubes operably to include a color assortment for display in said design comprising a total of at least 6 colors.

6. The puzzle game according to claim 3, further comprising: a plurality of differently colored faces distributed among a plurality of cubes operably to include a color assortment for display in said design comprising a total of at least 36 colors.

7. The puzzle game according to claim 6, wherein: said tray is constructed to receive said construction pieces in a rectangular array comprising 25 rows and 25 columns.

8. The puzzle game according to claim 2, wherein: said mechanism for retaining said game construction pieces in said tray comprises a transparent lid securing over said tray.

9. The puzzle game according to claim 2, wherein: said mechanism for retaining said game construction pieces in said tray comprises a close fit between adjacent construction pieces and between perimeter construction pieces and bounding structure associated with said tray.

10. The puzzle game according to claim 2, in combination with: a holding structure adapted to maintain said tray in an orientation operable to place said design in a substantially vertical display orientation.

11. The puzzle game according to claim 7, in combination with: software operable in a computer system to form an instructional color map based upon an input picture, said map providing sufficient instructions for a user to orient construction pieces in said tray effective to produce a digitized replication of said input picture as a mosaic display.

12. The puzzle game according to claim 5, in combination with game playing pieces comprising: a first die comprising six differently colored faces; and a second die comprising six faces, each face of said second die carrying structure arranged to indicate a different number.

13. The puzzle game according to claim 12, wherein: said construction pieces comprise a designated start piece and a designated stop piece; and said tray comprises a plurality of storage bins configured to accommodate said game pieces and to accentuate the position of said start and stop pieces.

14. The puzzle game according to claim 13, wherein: each said designated piece carries visible indicia effective to differentiate over all other construction pieces.

15. The puzzle game according to claim 12, wherein: a game board formed by said construction pieces comprises between about 50 and 150 of said construction pieces.

16. The puzzle game according to claim 12, in combination with: a plurality of taws comprising 2 different and distinguishable groups, individual taws of each group being structured to resemble one-another.

17. A method of playing a board game, the method comprising: arranging a plurality of removable game board construction pieces, in a tray configured to receive said construction pieces, such that the resulting collection of visible surfaces of said construction pieces cooperatively forms a game board with spaces on which a game may be played by moving a game piece from space-to-space; and moving one or more game play pieces along the constructed game board from space-to-space according to rules of play of a game.

18. The method according to claim 17, further comprising: providing a first die having six differently colored faces; and selecting the color of a destination space, for a player's game piece during that player's turn, by rolling said first die.

19. The method according to claim 17, further comprising: providing a second die having six faces, each face carrying structure arranged to indicate a different number; and selecting the number of spaces between a start position and a destination space for a player's game piece during that player's turn by rolling said second die.

20. The method according to claim 17, further comprising: subsequent to a first period of game activity, rearranging an orientation of certain game construction pieces to form a game board having a different design effective to change the arrangement of spaces on said game board from the arrangement provided during said first period of game activity.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

Claim of Priority: Pursuant to the provisions of 35 U.S.C. § 119(e), this application claims the benefit of the filing date of provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/259,655, filed Dec. 15, 2003, for “MULTIPLE DESIGN CREATION PUZZLE GAME AND DISPLAY,” the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to puzzles and games. More specifically, the present invention relates to a puzzle game that includes arranging an assembly of a plurality of game pieces to create one of multiple pictures or designs, and to display the assembly for visual entertainment or for use as a game board.

BACKGROUND

Puzzles and games have been available for a considerable number of years. Consequently, an assortment of puzzles and games has been developed. Puzzles are commercially available in a variety of types, including picture puzzles, and logic puzzles, and in both 2- and 3-D form-factors. Commercially available games include activity games incorporating coordination and skill of the participant, such as board games, card games, games of chance, and a plurality of other sorts of games. Some games incorporate one or more elements, such as chance and logic.

Known picture puzzles generally comprise a single image that is formed as a result of assembling constituent pieces of the puzzle in a single predetermined manner. One ubiquitous picture puzzle is manufactured from a planar sheet of cardboard backing on which an image is adhered. The image and backing are divided into a plurality of separable interlocking pieces. Generally, the pieces each are irregularly shaped, and are configured to have a planar size, in both width and height directions, which is substantially greater than a size in a thickness direction that is orthogonal to the width and height of the piece. Typically, the portion of the original image carried on the piece, and the shape of the piece, provide clues to a user to indicate an assembly position for the piece to recreate the original image.

Such planar picture puzzles are generally assembled on a horizontal flat surface, such as a top of a table. The principle contemplated use of the puzzle is simply to solve it by reassembling the disassembled constituent pieces. However, a user often only uses such picture puzzles once or twice. After conquering one picture puzzle, a user typically then moves on to other puzzles, which can present different challenges. In general, the conquered puzzle is simply disassembled and placed back into its container.

Displaying the image formed by an assembled picture puzzle is often problematic, as many puzzles are not capable of mounting for display of the formed image in a substantially vertical plane without first destroying the puzzle's ability to be disassembled. The picture puzzles discussed above offer no convenient arrangement to permit moving the assembled puzzle to make a substantially vertically oriented visual display of the image. The physical nature (size and shape) of the puzzle's component pieces typically causes the assembly to break apart upon an attempt to lift the assembly from the table's top or other support. Furthermore, such puzzles generally lack structure operable to suspend, or hold, an assembled image in a vertical orientation.

Therefore, some sort of constraint must first be applied to the pieces of an assembled ubiquitous cardboard picture puzzle to permit forming a vertically disposed display of the puzzle's image. For example, it is possible to apply a transparent media to the assembled puzzle to affix the pieces in an assembled position. The media can be a liquid plastic that cures, or hardens subsequent to exposure to the atmosphere, to form a semi-flexible sheet that retains the individual pieces in a fixed position. Such a composite arrangement may then more conveniently be mounted on a wall as a visual display object.

Other puzzles are known that display a second image on a lower surface, or are capable of assembly in a few different ways to form one of a few designs. One type of picture puzzle includes a second image on the opposite side from the first image, thereby increasing difficulty of assembly of each puzzle image. Such dual-image puzzles also fail to provide a convenient arrangement to permit display of the assembled images in a vertical or hanging orientation.

A type of 3-D puzzle is provided by multi-piece sets of interlocking building elements that are commercially available under the Lego™ brand. The constituent brick-like building elements can be assembled to form a variety of 3-D shapes in the form of cars, trucks, castles, buildings, and the like. However, structures formed by assembling Lego™ elements generally lack suspension structure, and do not lend themselves to display in a vertical orientation, such as by hanging them from a wall.

Certain known logic puzzles are formed by a collection of different square tile-like pieces configured in an interlocking planar arrangement to slide in a grid pattern with respect to one another in trapped engagement in a frame. The individual pieces of such logic puzzles are structured to resist their removal from the frame at any time. The pieces are arranged in orthogonal rows and columns, with pieces filling all available positions except one. As a tile is moved to the unoccupied position, a new unoccupied position is created in its wake. One such puzzle includes a numeral carried on a visible surface of each tile (e.g. 1-15). The goal of that puzzle is to place the numerals into consecutive order, subsequent to scrambling that order. Therefore, an identical image is formed each time, at completion of game play.

One 3-D logic puzzle is commercially available and is generally known as Rubik's cube. Such a logic puzzle is arranged as a cube having each of the six sides of the cube divided into nine square colored elements disposed in a regular grid arrangement. The cube is structured to permit rotating rows and columns to move colored elements into different display positions. The goal of the game is to arrange the elements so that all nine elements on each face of the cube have the same color. Similar games are available in different 3-D forms, such as pyramids. However, each of such puzzle games forms the same image on completion of each game play. The constituent elements are not separately removable to permit forming alternative images. Furthermore, such 3-D puzzle games lack holding structure operable to suspend the puzzle from a wall to form a vertically disposed visual display of the puzzle's image.

The display surface of boards used in board games incorporates a static image, and that image provides spaces that may be occupied by game pieces in accordance with rules of play of the corresponding game. Separate and distinct game boards are available for various games such as Monopoly™, chess/checkers, backgammon, etc, and each such game board has a corresponding unique image. Typically, the image is affixed to a substrate or is formed in the substrate as a unitary composition. Some substrates can be folded to reduce space required to store a game. However, no games are known in which separable construction elements may be reordered to form an alternative image to change the arrangement of spaces on which game pieces may be placed in accordance with rules of the game.

Accordingly, a puzzle game that allowed multiple designs and pictures to be created, by reusing constituent pieces, and for the resulting designs and pictures to be oriented as desired to form a visual display or to be utilized for a gaming surface, would be an improvement in the art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a puzzle game that may be used to form different pictures, or designs, using the same pieces. Embodiments constructed according to principles of the invention include a tray defining an area in which to receive a plurality of removable game construction pieces in side-by-side planar assembly. One currently preferred tray is constructed to receive construction pieces in a rectangular array including 25 rows and 25 colurnns. A second preferred tray holds a game board formed by between about 50 and 150 of the construction pieces. Certain preferred trays include a plurality of storage bins configured to accommodate game pieces. Trays may also be structured to accentuate the position of certain special spaces, such as formed by start and stop pieces.

In general, game construction pieces include parallelepiped structures defined by six substantially planar surfaces. Desirably, at least two of the parallelepiped's surfaces are structured to be visually distinguishable from each other. A colored block with different colors on the different planar surfaces of the block is operable as a construction piece. Such colored blocks may be inserted into the tray to form a mosaic design. Each of the six faces of a block, such as a cube, may carry a different one of six colors. Alternatively, a plurality of differently colored faces may be distributed among a plurality of blocks to provide a color assortment including a total of at least 6 colors. A different operable arrangement includes a plurality of differently colored faces distributed among a plurality of blocks to provide a color assortment including a total of at least 36 colors. Sometimes, construction pieces include a designated start piece and a designated stop piece. Typically, such a designated piece carries visible indicia effective to differentiate over all other construction pieces.

Desirably, a mechanism for retaining the game construction pieces in the tray is also included. For example, a picture may be formed by arranging colored blocks in a predetermined pattern with the tray in a horizontal position. The tray may then be placed in a vertical position, as by hanging on a wall, to display the picture formed by the blocks. An operable mechanism is effective to resist departure of the game construction pieces from an ordered position in the design as the tray is reoriented from a substantially horizontal configuration to a substantially vertical configuration. One useful mechanism for retaining the game construction pieces in the tray includes a transparent lid securing over the tray. An alternative mechanism for retaining the game construction pieces in the tray includes a close fit between adjacent construction pieces and between perimeter construction pieces and bounding structure associated with the tray. Embodiments may include, or be used with, holding structure adapted to maintain the tray in an orientation operable to place the design in a substantially vertical display orientation.

Any number of different pictures may be formed by reordering, or rotating, individual of the construction pieces in the tray. A number of potential pictures may be provided to a user as written instructions. Such instructions may be provided in the form of a book, detailing different puzzles. Software may be provided as an addition to or with the puzzle game allowing users to create instructions in order to turn pictures of their choice into a picture formed by the blocks of the puzzle. Such software is operable in a computer system to form an instructional color map based upon an input picture, the map providing sufficient instructions for a user to orient construction pieces in the tray effective to produce a digitized replication of the input picture as a mosaic display.

In another illustrative embodiment, a design formed by the colored blocks may be used as a game board for use in play of a game. The colored top of each block may form a space for the movement across the game board. Game pieces may be moved across the surface of the board in accordance with a set of rules that determine moves based on color of the space and a separate action, such as the roll of a die. The rules and game play may include the construction of the game board. As each game board can be different, based on the individual puzzle constructed, game play and strategy will need to be adjusted by the players for each game.

A game board structured according to the instant invention may be used in combination with game playing pieces including dice and markers, and/or taws. Operable dice include a first die with six differently colored faces, and a second die with six faces that are each structured to indicate a different number. Markers may be color-coded in agreement with colors carried by construction pieces. Operable taws include a plurality of taws forming 2 different and distinguishable groups, individual taws of each group being structured to resemble one-another.

One method of using the invention includes arranging a plurality of removable game board construction pieces in a tray configured to receive the construction pieces, such that the resulting collection of visible surfaces of the construction pieces cooperatively forms a game board with spaces on which a game may be played by moving a game piece from space-to-space. Once the game board is assembled, play continues by moving one or more game play pieces along the constructed game board from space-to-space according to rules of play of a game. The method may also include providing a first die having six differently colored faces; and selecting the color of a destination space, for a player's game piece during that player's turn, by rolling the first die. Additionally, game play may include providing a second die having six faces individually arranged to indicate a different number; and selecting the number of spaces between a start position and a destination space for a player's game piece during that player's turn by rolling the second die. In certain cases, subsequent to a first period of game activity, play may include rearranging an orientation of certain game construction pieces to form a game board having a different design effective to change the arrangement of spaces on the game board from the arrangement provided during the first period of game activity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, which depict the best modes presently known for carrying out the invention:

FIG. 1 illustrates a top view in perspective of one embodiment of an assembled puzzle board game that is structured in accordance with principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view in perspective of a tray and cover for the embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a view in perspective of a set of block pieces useful in certain embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a color chart illustrating a range of colors that may be carried in combination by the blocks of FIG. 3;

FIGS. 5A to 5F illustrate a plurality of color layouts effective to assign the color scheme of FIG. 4 to a set of block pieces, such as to the set of pieces illustrated in FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a rear view of an embodiment of a tray illustrating several alternative different hanging structures effective to visually display a completed puzzle game image;

FIG. 7 is a side view of a multi-leg support structured to hold a tray in a substantially vertical orientation for visual display of a completed puzzle game image;

FIG. 8 is a front view in elevation of an arrangement operable to generate puzzle directions to form a mosaic display corresponding to a selected input;

FIG. 9is a top view in perspective of a second embodiment of a puzzle board game structured in accordance with principles of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a top view in perspective of a tray portion and a cover portion for the embodiment of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a view in perspective of two embodiments of dies useful in practicing certain aspects of the present invention; and

FIG. 12 is a view in perspective of some game pieces that may be used in certain embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention provides a puzzle game that may be used to create different pictures by reusing the same constituent construction pieces. The assembled puzzle game may then be used as a visual display, which can be positioned in space in a substantially vertical display orientation. The invention can also be used to create differently colored patterns for use as a game board. Embodiments structured according to principles of the invention may be dismantled and reassembled as many times as desired, thereby permitting creation of a plurality of different images. Different aspects and inclusions may be provided to facilitate the creation of different pictures, or to enhance the play of a game on a resulting game board.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the embodiments herein described, while illustrating certain specific and exemplary embodiments, are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art will also understand that various combinations or modifications of the disclosed embodiments may be made without departing from the scope of the invention.

Turning to FIG. 1, one embodiment of the present invention, generally indicated at 90, is depicted. A puzzle game 90 includes a tray 100 and a number of individually colored construction pieces, such as illustrated game construction pieces, or blocks, 102. Tray 100 is best shown in FIG. 2, along with a cover 104 for retaining colored blocks 102 in the tray 100. As depicted, tray 100 includes a recessed area 106 for receiving the colored construction pieces 102 and retaining them in an assembled order to display a picture resulting at the end of game play. A currently preferred cover 104 includes a substantially transparent window portion 108, through which to permit visual observation of an arrangement of blocks 102 in a tray 104.

Desirably, the tray 100 and cover 104 are cooperatively structured to permit a user to move a completed puzzle game 90 from a typical substantially horizontal game-play, or assembly, orientation to a substantially vertical display orientation. In currently preferred embodiments, the cover 104 operates to maintain the individual game construction pieces 102 in reception in tray 100, or otherwise resists departure of game construction pieces 102 from an ordered position in the assembled design or picture. One workable cover 104 can be formed from a clear plastic material including boundary walls arranged to form a socket structured to fit in close siding assembly with respect to edges of tray 100. It is within contemplation for a cover 104 to be hinged from tray 100, or to be structured to form an interference fit with cooperating structure of tray 100. Various catches and latching mechanisms may be included to hold a cover 104 in assembled position with respect to tray 100 in workable alternative embodiments.

An operable set of game pieces, including six game construction pieces 102a-f, is indicated generally at 110 in FIG. 3. As illustrated, individual game construction pieces 102a-f may be embodied as substantially cube-shaped blocks having different colors on their different sides. While it is preferred for construction pieces 102 to have opposite sides that are parallel, departure from a mathematical parallelepiped shape is allowable. For example, edges and corners may be chamfered, or radiused to produce a comfortable “feel” to a user. It is simply desirable that such edge details do not detract from a visual display presented by the remainder of the piece's side area.

In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, blocks 102 have a different color disposed on each of their six sides. Such construction blocks 102 may therefore be arranged in the tray 100 to reveal a particular color operably to form a desired picture. Each block 102 may be sized as desired for a particular application. Also, construction blocks 102 do not all have to be the same size or shape. For example, each block 102 may be sized 1 inch in length, width and depth directions, although smaller or larger blocks may be used. The sizes in length, width, and depth directions may vary between different game pieces 102, and do not necessarily have to be the same even for a single game piece 102. Similarly, tray 100 may be configured to hold any number of blocks desired. In one embodiment, tray 100 is configured to hold 625 one-inch cubic blocks 102 in a (25×25) block square.

A number of different colors selected from the visible spectrum may be provided for display in a game 90, generally with one color assigned to each respective side surface of the game pieces 102. Since each cube-shaped block 102 has six planar sides, each such block 102 may be used to provide six different potential colors to a user for inclusion in the picture or design image. In one preferred embodiment of a puzzle game 90, thirty-six different colors are provided, and are illustrated in the color chart schematically depicted in FIG. 4, and generally indicated at 112. Column and row numbers are used to designate the individual positions in the color chart 112, and are used in illustrations in this disclosure to indicate a color. For example, A1 may be white, and F6 may be black. The remaining spaces, or positions, in chart 112 are assigned designated colors selected from the visible spectrum.

Of course, it will be appreciated that fewer or additional colors can be provided for use in a game 90, as desired. The number of colors included in a game 90 will have a direct effect on the number of pictures that may be assembled from the game's constituent construction pieces 102. Similarly, the number and size of construction pieces 102 that may be placed in a tray 100 has a direct effect on the level of resolution to which a picture can be reproduced in the assembly. More than 36 colors can be provided, e.g. by including additional sets 108 that are assigned different colors, increasing the number of elements 102 included in a set 108, or including other groups of alternatively decorated blocks 102, with different colors on the sides thereof. Similarly, the puzzle game 90 may be provided with either the exact number of constituent game pieces 102 that a corresponding tray 100 is configured to hold, e.g. to facilitate game clean-up and storage, or may be provided with excess game construction pieces 102 to allow for the creation of a greater number of pictures.

FIGS. 5A through 5F depict one possible color layout for blocks 102 included in the embodiment of FIG. 1, which provides the puzzle game 90 with all colors in the color chart 112 of FIG. 4. With reference to FIGS. 3 and 5A through F, each individual block 102a-f can be assigned the six colors contained in one corresponding column A-F. Alternative grouping arrangements effective to distribute a selection of colors over a set 108 of blocks 102 are within contemplation.

In practice, each individual color of the color chart of FIG. 4 may be given a corresponding designation, such as the illustrated alphanumeric designations. The identifying number or indicia can also be disposed on the side of the block carrying that corresponding color. Desirably, the indicia will be structured to not interfere with a visual impression given by the side of the block. For example, the indicia can be made small in size to reduce its visual impression. Also, the indicia can be formed from a distinguishable color, but one that is close to the denoted color.

An instruction manual may be provided with the puzzle game 90 of FIG. 1, containing instructions to create different pictures to by placing blocks 102 in the tray to expose different colored surfaces, thereby creating a digitized, mosaic-like picture. Additional instructional manuals may be available for use with the puzzle game 90. The instructional manuals may provide instructions by color or by color code, and may be in the form of a “map” of the desired picture.

Upon creation of a desired picture, cover 104, which may be a clear plastic lid, may be placed, or secured, over tray 100 to retain blocks 102 in the desired conformation. Puzzle game 90 may then be supported, or held, by a display structure, such as a hook, hole, or other structure that can be associated with the rear surface of tray 100, or even placed upon a constructed holding shelf or other support, to display the created picture in a substantially vertical orientation. FIG. 6 illustrates a plurality of operable display structure, including loops 114, blind- or through-hole 116, and support wire 118. Such holding structures are generally known in the art of hanging pictures. FIG. 7 illustrates a multi-legged easel arrangement 120 operable to hold tray 100 in a substantially vertical orientation effective to display a constructed image held in the tray 100.

It will be appreciated that alternative ways for retaining blocks 102 in tray 100 may be used and are within the scope of the present invention. For example, the fit between the inserted blocks 102 and the sides of the tray 100 may be close enough that a sufficient friction is formed there between to retain the blocks 102 in the tray 100. Alternatively, a resilient structure, such as a ribbon spring or a soft layer of foam can be mounted around the inside wall of tray 100. Upon insertion of blocks 102, the resilient structure would press inwards upon the blocks 102, retaining them in the tray 100. Alternatively, the inner surface of the tray 100 may be configured to interact with a structure on the blocks 102, retaining each block therein.

In another aspect of the invention, computer software can be provided that is configured to create instructions for the reproduction of pictures using the puzzle game 90. With reference now to FIG. 8, one or more pictures may be input into a computer system, generally indicated at 124, running such software. Such software may be configured to either accept computer readable picture files, such as JPG or GIF format files, or may be configured to interact with a scanner for inputting printed pictures. For example, picture 122 may be scanned using scanner 126 to create an image input for the digitizing software. Following a set of instructions contained in the software, the computer may then create instructions for recreating the same picture using the puzzle game 90 to form a digitized mosaic reproduction. For example, the desired picture may be divided into a number of squares, each square corresponding to a block 102 of the puzzle game 90. The overall, or average, color of each square may then be compared to a color array, such as color chart 112 of FIG. 4, and the closest color of the color chart to the overall color may be assigned thereto. From these assignments, an instructional map 126 of the picture, with the colors represented by the corresponding number (and/or the actual color from the color chart) may be created. The instructional map may then be printed with printer 128 and used as a basis for recreating the picture with the puzzle game 90. It is within contemplation that the software may manipulate the digital image, such as by adjusting brightness and contrast, cropping, and may permit naming and storing the images in a custom gallery.

Turning now to FIGS. 9 and 10, a second embodiment of a puzzle game structured according to principles of the invention is generally indicated at 190. Puzzle game 190 includes tray 200 and a plurality of construction blocks 202. Similar embodiments may be found in design patent D485,920, issued Jun. 6, 2004, titled “COMBINED GAME BOARD AND BLOCKS,” the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference as though set forth herein in its entirety. In the embodiment presented in FIG. 9, the construction blocks 202 are similar to blocks 102, discussed earlier herein as having different colors on their different sides. A preferred embodiment 190 includes construction blocks 202 that each has one of six total colors available for display, depending upon the orientation of the block 202 in the tray 200. Such multicolored construction pieces 202 permit forming a variety of patterns on a game-playing surface, generally indicated at 204, on which to play games by moving game pieces in accordance with rules of game play.

As illustrated in FIG. 9, one currently preferred embodiment 190 includes “start block” 206 and “stop block” 208, each of which desirably include additional distinguishing markings as a convenience to differentiate them from other construction blocks 202. For example, the “start block” 206 may have one or more green dots and the “stop block” 208 may have one or more red dots. In one currently preferred and exemplary embodiment of game 190, there are 100 variously colored blocks 202 (including one “start block” 206 and one “stop block” 208). That preferred embodiment is illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10, and includes construction blocks 202 being arranged in an array of (7×14) elements. It will be appreciated that virtually any sort of distinguishing markings, holes, protuberances, or colors, may be applied to, or carried on, blocks 202,206, and 208. Furthermore, other numbers of construction blocks 202 or start and stop blocks 206, 208 may be used in alternative workable embodiments.

With reference to FIG. 10, a currently preferred tray 200 includes bounding structure, such as walls 210, that is adapted to form a perimeter around an area 212 in which to receive a plurality of blocks 202. Blocks 202 desirably are sized in harmony with bounding walls 210 to cause a close fit between adjacent blocks 202 and between perimeter blocks 202 and walls 210. Such close fit generally lends a solid “feel” to an assembled game board 190 and can resist undesired displacement of individual blocks 202 from a proscribed position in a game board design.

In certain embodiments, walls 210 are arranged to form a pocket 214 in which to receive one or more start block 206. In such embodiments, a second pocket 216 is generally also provided to receive one or more stop block 208. Furthermore, wall 210 desirably is arranged to form one or more storage bins 218 in which to hold game play pieces, or other materials related to a game. In preferred embodiments, such storage bins 218, or pockets 214, 216 may operate to accentuate the position of the start and stop pieces 206, 208. It is desirable to include one or more finger holes 220 in the bottom of a pocket 216, 218, to facilitate removal of the construction pieces 202, 206, 208.

In general, a cover 222 is included as a structure operable to maintain a position of construction pieces 202 in proscribed order in a game board image. Contrary to the exaggerated illustration of FIG. 10, an interior surface of cover walls 224 is typically arranged in harmony with an exterior surface of walls 210 to form a slide-on fit. All of, or a portion of, the cover top surface 226 may be transparent to permit visual inspection of the game image without removing the cover 222.

Covers 104, 222 and trays 100, 200 may be manufactured from materials nonexclusively including: plastic, wood, metal, and paper products, such as various types of cardboard. Construction elements 102, 202 may be manufactured from any workable material, or composition of materials, including plastic, wood, metal, and paper products. The individual components of a puzzle game may be decorated as desired, such as by painting, dying, embossing, or coating with colored materials.

One exemplary embodiment of game 190 includes a pair if throwing dice, generally indicated at 228 and 230 in FIG. 11. Die 228 is arranged to indicate a different color on each of its six faces, with the colors being in harmony with colors found on the six faces of construction blocks 202. Die 230 is configured to display a different number, between 1 and 6, on each of its six faces. A number of other game playing pieces may also be included, such as markers 232a-f, and/or taws generally indicated at 234, and 236(see FIG. 12).

In one currently preferred version of game 190, there will be 6 colored playing pieces 232a-f, with each marker 232i denoting a different color that corresponds to a color carried on each surface of the construction blocks 202. For example, the displayed colors may include 232a=red, 232b=yellow, 232c=green, 232d=blue, 232e=purple, and 232f-black. Also included in the exemplary game 190 are a number of disc-like taws 234 and 236, respectively. Illustrated taws are disk-like, similar to pieces found in a conventional checkers game. Desirably, taws 234 are one color, such as red, and taws 236 are a different color, such as black. Alternative colors may be applied to taws, such as brown and ivory. In the exemplary preferred embodiment, 14 taws are included; 7 each, of two distinguishable colors. Markers and taws may be manufactured in any desired 3-D shape, from any operable material.

In one version of play, players arrange the game board by placing construction elements 202 in tray 200 in any desired configuration. Next, each player chooses one of the colored playing pieces 232 to be their color. Then, all players roll the numbered die 230 to determine who goes first. One rule dictates that the player with the highest roll goes first, although an alternative selection may be made. All players begin the game with their pieces off the board.

Play begins, and players take turns in rotation. Each turn will include the following: a dice roll, a beginning square, a counting, and a landing square. The first player rolls both dice 228 and 230 and then, if possible, moves their marker 232 the number of squares indicated by the numbered die 230, to land on a square (or space defined by a block 202) that is the color indicated by the colored die 228. In some versions of the rules of play, the players must count the start block 206 as “number one” of their first move onto the board, while in subsequent moves the players do not count the square on which their marker 232i rests (the beginning square) when they move. If a player can move, then the player must move, following which it becomes the next player's turn. If a player cannot move as the dice indicate, it becomes the next player's turn.

In accordance with one set of currently preferred rules, players can move their markers 232i forward, backward and side-to-side. Diagonal moves are not allowed in such currently preferred version of play. It also is preferably not allowed for a player to count any square twice during any turn, including the beginning square. It may also not be allowed to count a square that is occupied by another player. However, in some versions, a player may land on a square occupied by another player's marker 232i and, upon doing so; send that player's piece 232i off the board and back to start (capture the opponent's piece). Certain rules of game play provide that, should a first player miss a possible move, and another player determine that a move could have been made, the first player's piece 210 is sent off the board and back to start. The first player to land on the stop block 208 is the game winner.

In a second version of play intended for two players, each player has number (such as seven) game playing pieces, or taws 234 or 236, to play with. As before, the players arrange the game board by placing blocks 202 in tray 200 in any desired configuration, or according to a configuration proscribed by rules of the game. Next, each player chooses a set of game playing pieces, such as one set of either Red 234 or Black 236. One player will have the start block 206 as their “home” and the other player will have the stop block 208 as their “home.” Players line their pieces (e.g. 234 or 236), across the row of blocks 202 just above their “home” block. Then, the players select who will have the first turn, such as by each player rolling the numbered die 230 to determine that the player with the highest roll has the first turn.

The first player rolls both dice 228 and 230 and then, if possible, moves any one of their game plying pieces 234 (or 236) the number of squares indicated by the numbered die 230, and then lands on a square that is the color indicated by the colored die 228. According to one set of rules, players may not count the square on which their flat piece 234 (or 236) was resting (the beginning square) when moving that flat piece 234 (or 236). If a player can move, then a move must be made, following which it becomes the next player's turn. If a player cannot move, the dice are passed to the next player and it becomes the other player's turn. The basic rules call for one roll, per-player, per-turn.

Players can move their flat pieces 234 (or 236) forward, backward, and side-to-side. Diagonal moves are not allowed. It may also not be allowed to count any square twice during any turn, including the beginning square. It may also not be allowed to count a square occupied by any of the player's own flat pieces 234 (or 236) or any of the opposing player's flat pieces 236 (or 234). If a player lands his game piece on a square occupied by any one of the opposing player's pieces, that opponent's piece is captured and removed from the board. Captured flat pieces 234 (or 236) remain out of play for the rest of the game.

Should a player determine the opposing player that could have moved any one of their flat pieces 234 (or 236) and did not, thus “missing” a move, they can capture the opponent's flat piece 234 (or 236) that could have moved. The first player to land on the opposing player's “home” square or the first player to capture all of the opposing player's flat pieces 234 (or 236) is deemed the winner.

Games may be played using the invention with any combination of above-mentioned rules, and any of the following options. One operable rule is that players may invent their own rules. A “land mine” color may be designated—land on that designated color and your game piece is sent back to start. A “wild card” number or color may be selected, e.g. roll a preselected number or color with the dies 230 or 228 and your turn continues with another roll. Landing on a space that is the same color as your marker can enable an additional roll to extend a player's turn. Multiple players may play in an elimination tournament format, where play continues until all but one player lands on the stop block. The remaining player may be eliminated from the subsequent round of play. A longer game may include an “up-and-back” path, wherein a player must traverse his game piece from the start block to the stop block, and then return to the start block. The game board may be constructed with fewer than the total number ofpossible construction pieces 202, e.g., to create a “racetrack” having an open portion at the center of the board. Play may then progress in a clockwise, or counterclockwise, direction around such “track.” One or more laps may be required to complete a game. One or more blocks 202 can be removed from the board to leave a “hole.” If the only move a player can make puts their game piece “in the hole,” they must jump “in the hole” and lose their next turn. Play called “Red light, Green light” can entail losing a turn for a red roll, and gaining an additional turn (or roll) for each green roll of the die. A “red zone” can be created in the game board design, and all players may try to move their playing pieces into that “red zone.” Optionally, a player may not be required to move a piece out of the “red zone” even if no other move is possible. However, a player may optionally move out of the “red zone” to capture an opponent's piece. The player with the most pieces in play and all pieces in the “red zone” is declared the winner.

The outcome of the game may then be used to design the arrangement of blocks 202 in tray 200 to form the game board for a subsequent game. For example, the winner of a game may design the board (e.g. by arbitrarily rearranging the position of displayed colors), for subsequent play. Alternatively, the losing players, or the position of the remaining play pieces 234 and 236 may be used to determine a proscribed arrangement of blocks 202 for a subsequent game.

It will be apparent that details of the apparatus, processes, and methods herein described can be varied considerably without departing from the concept and scope of the invention.