There are probably a dozen different things I'd like to write about here in my journal this very moment - how Funspot went, the Disgaea hardcore I'm chronicling in disgaea, how the PBEM game of SMAC is NOT DEAD, beverages, work, playing cards, Xbox Live Arcade games, programming and game design, stuffed animals, Shinobi and the MAME Decathalon, Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, fiction in general, fiction in specific, Twenty/Zero - well, that's over a dozen right there, and I could keep going - but given that the USPC is this weekend, and I know plenty have come visiting my journal in the hopes of practicing, I figured I would not be fulfulling my civic duty [places fist over heart] if I did not provide some additional training material in this crucial time.
So here you go. Thursday and Friday will have puzzles as well.
See Puzzle 1 for instructions to Islands in the Stream, of which this is a variant. It's solved the same way, only the numbers denoting the islands and their area have been replaced with letters. The letters and the values they represent have a one-to-one correspondence. For example, if you determine that an 'X' in the grid must be a '5', then all 'X's must be '5's, and all letters other than 'X's must be some value other than five.
Cipher versions of puzzle designs are nothing new, but as far as I know this is the first time anyone's done this with Nurikabe. Be warned - it's fair, I promise, but it's tougher than it looks. I tackled it pre-deciphered to see how it would have stood as a regular Islands puzzle, and it was quite tough even without the code. It was fun to build, so expect more in the future. You may want to invest in studying the design to try to find tricks and techniques.
I suppose you can email me with your solutions if you like; I do read and appreciate them, even if I don't respond right away (I have messages in my inbox over a year old I still intend to reply to eventually). I'm not sure what I could offer in terms of prizes at the moment, but... I know, tell me what you'd like me to talk about in my journal with your solution, and I'll see what I can do. - ZM