Our next series: Out of Shape

Better shape up.

With Word▶️ halfway over, we want new subscribers to know what we'll be launching in September.

"Variety cryptic" tends to mean puzzles that take the already tricky nature of cryptics and make them trickier — the clues may be further complicated, the entries may have to be further manipulated, the secret theme has to be uncovered and implemented, or any of dozens of such acts of chicanery.

But in the straight crossworld, "variety puzzle" means something else entirely. Many solvers who hadn't heard the term before might have come across it recently in reference to a New York Times contretemps, where they announced the Games team was were reducing digital support for these alternate puzzle forms: acrostics, diagramless, Marching Bands and many others (including, yes, cryptics). Very occasionally these puzzles will deviate from the crossword clueing norm, but mostly they're about breaking out of the familiar across/down routine: What if a grid wasn't a grid?

Our next collection, Out of Shape, merges those two variety traditions. We're not the first to take the spiral or the coded crossword or the Some Assembly Required and make it cryptic, but such puzzles are few and far between. This is our attempt to make them, uh, nearer and closer between … and also to rack and frack them.

We'll have a free preview puzzle out in May to coincide with a certain [redacted], with the new series launching after Word▶️ concludes in August. It's always a good time to subscribe.

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