One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2022 has been to work myself up to constructing 21x puzzles comfortably. For those who think I’ve done that plenty already, I have not, at least not all the way: In my years as half of the Daily-Venzke constructing pair, I did all the cluing and much of the theme generating, but none of the gridding. And thus I’m not nearly as experienced a gridmaker as some people believe I am, and making a big ole puzzle is something that still intimidates me and that I’m not always sure how to do. It’s something I WANT to do, though, since the market for 21x has so much less competition than 15s. Hence, my resolution to systematically teach myself how to do this.
Where I am with my New Year’s resolution is that I’ve studied a number of 21x grids to see what they have in common re: theme entry placement, and I have tried generating a theme set that matches the lengths of theme entries in a grid that follows a pattern I’ve noticed, placing the entries in that grid design, and filling the grid around it. I’ll do that again a few times before I try designing a grid on my own. With these efforts, I’m generally not coming up with the most interesting themes since I’m not looking for practice on theme generation and if I come up with a theme I think is awesome, I’ll save it for when I’m better at making a grid so I can try and sell that puzzle. From time to time I may throw one of the puzzles I make on this site if I think it doesn’t suck.
The above description does NOT apply to the puzzle I’m posting today. I like this theme a lot, enough so that I made the puzzle back in late 2020 when it was even more of a slog for me to try to make a 21x than it is now. I tried selling it a couple of different places, but editorial consensus seems to be that the theme is a little too esoteric for most. But hey, this site is Tough as Nails and that’s what you all come here for, right? So here’s the puzzle, and I’m going to caveat: My inexperience in 21x gridmaking will be evident. I hope you enjoy it anyway, should you choose to give it a go!