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This question is part of the best-puzzle award series.


What are your nominations for the best puzzles, here on Puzzling.SE, of the first quarter (Jan/ Feb/ Mar) 2017?

Suggested guidelines for nomination:

  • Nominate each individual puzzle in a separate answer, so they can be upvoted/downvoted separately.

  • No more than 3 nominations per person.

  • Don't nominate your own puzzles.

  • Before you nominate a puzzle, check to see if someone else has already nominated it. If they have, then add to that nomination as a comment (or edit it) instead of nominating the same puzzle again.

  • In your nomination, explain what it is that (in your opinion) makes the nominated puzzle such a good one.


Some lists to help jog your memory (your nomination doesn't have to be from these lists):


Meta-meta issues:

  • Is this kind of thing allowed on SE?

  • What's the point?

    • To highlight and encourage good practice in a way that goes beyond upvotes.

    • To work towards building a 'hall of fame' of some of the best puzzles on the site (perhaps to reside on a future puzzling.SE blog) - think of it as our 'greatest hits album'.

    • To prompt members to put forward their own reflections on what makes a high-quality puzzle.


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Miniature Puzzle by stacksfiller

So much content was packed into a tiny image here, and the whole thing was immensely satisfying to solve. If you have time and don't mind opening up your image editor of choice, I'd definitely recommend you try this one out.

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    $\begingroup$ Hadn't seen this, but it's brilliant! $\endgroup$ – n_plum Apr 2 '17 at 0:25
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GRID-THIRTY-SIX by TheGreatEscaper

A 6x6 grid, with a mini-puzzle in each slot. Rebuses, cryptics, some grid-deductions. Looks simple enough, right?

Wrong.

This is not just a grid of thirty six things; this is GRID-THIRTY-SIX, a connected whole. The parts talk to each other. They relate to each other. They form meta-puzzles, meta-meta-puzzles, and so on...up to unimaginable depths.

  • Variety of puzzle types.
  • Absolutely enjoyable solution path.
  • Novel answer extraction techniques.
  • Concise and condensed; not a single speck is unused.

It's a puzzle that tied together not just a number of puzzling ideas, but also a actively collaborating community in its solving process. It's GRID-THIRTY-SIX.

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    $\begingroup$ Ah, Yes. This. was. Stunning. I haven't seen any puzzle that looks so simple and is so deep and fun to work out. $\endgroup$ – Sid Apr 3 '17 at 15:39
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A crossword to appease all by Sp3000

  • "Absolutely amazing puzzle, beautifully intricate and beautifully executed." -- Rubio

  • "...This is briliiant!" -- M Oehm

  • "That is a superbly constructed puzzle and it was a satisfying solve..." -- M Oehm (again)

A meticulously constructed puzzle that seems no different than your run-of-the-mill cryptic crosswords at first glance, until you realize there are a lot of devilish things going on where you'd least expect. A multilayered enigma that started out trying to appease all, and ended up managing to amaze all.

If that doesn't appease a wordplay-crossword-aficionado, I wonder what will.

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Empty Sudoku Puzzle by Maria Deleva

You know you have done something right when the resident expert on Grid deduction puzzles terms it "lovely".

This was a fantastic puzzle. A beautiful variation to a normal sudoku puzzle. Everything could be logically deduced as in an ideal Grid Deduction puzzle. I would imagine the time taken to create such a puzzle without it having multiple solutions would be humongous. It shows the dedication of the puzzler into making the puzzle. Excellent stuff.

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WITLESS - A Puzzling Journey by TheGreatEscaper

Very belated entry, but after recently dusting off The Witness to finally play that through, my memory was jogged and I (re)discovered this wonderful puzzle. I hadn't worked through it at the time it was posted and could remember no spoiling specifics, so took the opportunity to start my journey towards enlightenment...

It's a pity that this puzzle looks like a wall of text at first glance, because it's actually a purely visual grid deduction puzzle that is actually quite aesthetically pleasing and marries nicely with the flavour text. However, part of what makes this puzzle brilliant is the very fact that each set is gated off, forcing you to learn the lessons of one part before moving on to the next, so it's done for good purpose.

The way the puzzle teaches you its secrets bit by bit, each time forcing you to question your assumptions is great. It leaves each set feeling unique and challenging, and yet when you look back at prior sets (and you will), you are left thinking, "How could this set have taken me so long, it's so obvious?". Some leaps are harder than others, but everything is always well hinted, fair and (almost entirely) unambiguous when you get there.

A few minor quibbles arguably keep it a step below perfection, but this is still an outstanding puzzle and easily one of my favourites I've encountered on this site (or beyond).

Also, kudos to the users who posted answers and provided unfolding hints/spoilers that allow people to continue working through the puzzle themselves should they hit a mental road block or want validation of a step.

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