Pouroboros Puzzle Coasters – Enigmailed

  • Reviews
Pouroboros puzzle beer coasters from Enigmailed

A well-bodied puzzle game that’s full to the brim with challenges.

If you’ve listened to any of the episodes of The Infinite Escape Room, you’ll know that there are two things that pair very well together – puzzles and beer.

Beer is a pretty good cognitive lubricant. Before playing an evening escape room, if I’m able, our team will head to the nearest watering hole and procure a pint of something flavorsome and fermented before tackling the room.

This heavenly combination isn’t on Enigmailed, who specialise in puzzle games contained inside unusual and unexpected places – for example, the Chocolateral puzzle chocolate bars.

It’s precisely this puzzle / beer combination that they’ve gone for with their upcoming Kickstarter for Pouroboros – a series of puzzle beer coasters that enable teams to take on a virtual or real-life pub tour.

CHECK OUT THE KICKSTARTER FOR POUROBOROS

One iconic route.
Nine stunning locations.
Puzzles as your compass.

EXCELLENT PRODUCTION VALUE

Let’s not beat around the bush here – the Pouroboros coasters are gorgeous. Puzzles aside, I’d be happy to use these for their primary function, and they’d make for interesting conversation with guests too.

The version that I played was a sampler of the Deluxe set of beermats, which are made from corkboard and have a laminated finish. They most definitely feel premium – they’re sturdy, solid and unbendable. And with the laminate finish, the whole thing is wipe clean. No more worrying about soggy coasters!

The Pouroboros coasters have an elegant, two-tone, art deco aesthetic that reminds me of 1920s speakeasies. The kind where there’s the sound of jazz everywhere, most people are wearing fedoras and feather boas, and you need a secret code get in.

Given the puzzley nature of the coasters, that’s actually pretty dang appropriate (the secret code, not the feather boas. Although …)

The text would benefit from being a larger – especially seeing as some of these beer mats will be solved after a few stiff sherries in the smoking room of a dimly-lit tavern. This is something creator Step Lockyer has already noticed and is already on the case to tweak for the final product.

CHALLENGING AND SATISFYING WORD PUZZLES

If there’s one thing you can say about Enigmailed, it’s that they’re able to hide puzzles into anything.

Chocolate? Check.

Failed delivery cards? Check.

Greetings cards? Check.

And Pouroboros is no exception. Each coaster is packed with puzzles.

Each coaster takes you to a single location, using What3words. That means every coaster has four distinct puzzles – one for each of the three words, and a puzzle to determine the order the words go in.

There’s a huge variety of puzzles in the three coasters I played too, with some innovative puzzle types that I’d seen for the first time. There were also some refreshing takes on classic puzzles that I’d seen before.

Quite a few of the puzzles involve some wordplay, so people with less-than-fluent English skills might struggle with some of them.

You will need to do a spot of Googling in a few areas, especially when out the order of the puzzles. But, given that you’ll be in a pub and almost everyone is on their phones anyway, that’s no biggie.

Pouroboros is a game that excels when there’s a group playing it. I played it solo, and it meant if I hit a wall, I completely useless until I got a hint. The variety and challenge level of some puzzles means that a healthy mix of players and brain types is where you’ll get the most success, and the most fun.

Don’t let the communal pub setting fool you, though – these are challenging puzzles, even when you’re sober. You might want to have solved the first couple of destinations before you hit the town. I imagine that once you start to get a few cheeky bevvies down you, the difficulty level might increase a little bit.

EXPERIENCE

As this was a Kickstarter preview, there was no dedicated hints system set up yet. I needed a hint for two puzzles – one on the first coaster, and one on the second. I messaged the creator Step, who was able to nudge me in the right direction without giving anything major away. I still felt like I’d done the heavy lifting on the puzzle when I’d solved it, which was good.

As I like to tell anyone who’ll listen, I’m in South Wales, which is pretty darn far away from London. So, even though I wasn’t able to experience Pouroboros in a live setting, I was still able to solve the puzzles and get my answers without any fuss.

During the campaign, creator Step Lockyer is also releasing a daily podcast to track progress and share insights into the design process, which I think is a cool way to engage with the community of backers and curious puzzlers alike.

A note on sustainability

Once you’ve played the puzzles, these coasters are perfect to use as, well, coasters. They’re high quality and study enough to last quite a while.

They should also remain in a good enough shape to gift to a friend and take them on a pub tour. The Kickstarter campaign also says that all paper and printing will be sourced with sustainability in mind.

SUMMARY

Wonderfully detailed and fiendishly clever, Pouroboros is a full-bodied puzzle experience that’s packed to the brim with challenges in a deceptively compact and highly portable package.

Best paired with good friends and great beer, though you might want to solve a few ahead of time before the alcohol kicks in.

Definitely one to check out – go now before the campaign ends!

Pouroboros
Designed by Step Lockyer
Cost: £14 for the base set of nine coasters, £34 for the deluxe set
Requirements: phone or tablet with access to the Internet, What3words app (optional, you can also use the website).

CHECK OUT THE KICKSTARTER FOR POUROBOROS

Date played: 5-9 November 2021
Team: Jamie
Time to finish: A little over an hour in total

Disclosure: We were offered a complimentary game for the purposes of writing a fair and honest review. This has not affected our opinion of the game whatsoever. Check out the disclosure policy for more info.