Friday, August 4, 2023

Summer mailbag: Puckdoku tips, history's most-hated captains, an all-Canadian league

Welcome to August, where nothing is happening and it’s the perfect opportunity to waste everyone’s time with a bunch of nonsense. “Um, slow news day?” No, dummy, it’s a slow news month, so let’s get weird.

Please settle the debate about the proper way to play Puckdoku. (And share any tips you might have.) – Eric C.

If you’re not already playing Puckdoku, you’re still getting work done missing out. The game is based on a bit we did on Puck Soup a few weeks ago, and is basically a hockey version of the Immaculate Grid craze. You’re presented with a 3x3 grid, with teams or accomplishments along the top and side, and you need to fill each space with a player who meets both of his square’s requirements.

How do you win? In theory, by successfully filling out the whole grid, although some people like to go further. Is there a right and wrong way to play? I don’t think so – this is one of those things where everyone should just enjoy what they enjoy, and play however they choose.

That said, you should make up your mind before you start each day's grid. As best I can tell, there are four distinct ways people are playing:

- Basic mode: Just get as many right answers as possible, which a lot of days is difficult enough on its own. A right answer is a right answer, and that’s all you’re looking for. I’d imagine this is how most beginners and/or casual fans play.

- Front-runner mode: In this version, you’re trying to guess the most popular answer for each square, which will usually (but not quite always) be an active and/or superstar player. This means you’re looking for the highest possible “uniqueness” score for each square. Or to put it more simply, you want your grid to match the “Popular picks” that show up at the end of the game.

- Sicko mode: The opposite of front-runner mode, this one has you searching for the rarest answers, and the lowest possible uniqueness score. Double-digits is good; single digits is better. It will not surprise you to know that this is how I play.

- Cheater mode: This is sicko mode on steroids, where you research your answers before you enter them to try to get as close as possible to a uniqueness score of zero. I’ll be honest, I don’t really get the appeal here, especially now that you can use this tool to easily find players nobody has ever heard of. But if it’s your cup of tea then go for it, with the only caveat being that you own it – no showing up in conversations between sicko mode fans and pretending your zero was legit.

If anyone has come up with anything more creative, be sure to let us know in the comments.

As far as tips, I’ll pass on a few.

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