Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.14
I can say with fair certainty that this is the absolute most blocks I’ve put in a freestyle grid on this site — I used 40. It usually happens that the block count gets high when some sort of big stack is put in the middle, because, if you really like the stack, you make it work no matter what. The long 12-letter downs were in no way planned at the start, but they were necessary to make the stack work (and part of the reason I had so many blocks). They weren’t shoehorned in, either — I got pretty lucky that I liked both of those 12s a lot as well. That the long answers across and down in the middle fit together so fortunately well gave me some freedom to be a bit more closed-in around the periphery — not that I enjoy 3×3 blocks in the corners, but I dealt with it to make everything else work.
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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.
As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Tuesday!