Puzzling Issues


I've been working on fulfilment of my newest puzzle box for the last few months. Loki's box of tricks has a number of puzzles locked in layers inside the box itself. As you solve each puzzle you progress to the next layer down until you get to the bottom of the box and your just rewards. Backers from my kickstarter campaign are still waiting for the box itself but a lucky few people have had the chance to play the whole game and this has led me to some interesting and tough decisions.

The final puzzle inside the box is a 6 piece board burr puzzle, once the burr is solved you're able to match the letters up to the code symbols and decode the messages in the box. It's a bit of a tricky solve requiring 24 moves so I set the puzzle up with some sign posting to show players the starting position. My issue is that the few people who have played the game have struggled even with the sign posting. I know they're mostly word puzzlers and definitely not mechanical puzzlers (no offence if they read this) but also a lot of my backers aren't mechanical puzzlers so it has me worried about the difficulty. It rather ruins the flow of the game because you get down to the third level, get massively stuck and put the box to one side, right before an AHA moment. When you finally get round to solving it all the momentum and enthusiasm is gone.

At the same this puzzle is proving a bit tricky to manufacture. I'm using 6mm ash veneer MDF and for whatever reason it seems to vary in hardness so it's not all cutting cleanly. If I turn the power up I get a lot of char and it's even worse if I have to cut the sheet twice to get all the way through. Some of it isn't entirely flat so the two sides for each burr piece have to be clamped and pressed. It's not all consistent thickness so after all that sometimes the pieces just don't fit between each other. I've been left with a very tough decision to redesign the puzzle and find a suitable alternative.

In steps the new Jormungandr puzzle to be a replacement. This puzzle had some very specific boots to fill and I think it's done a reasonable job. In a solved state it has to draw a connection between letters and symbols. It has to have an ouroboros snake theme. It has to fit in a game just 13mm wide and it has to be easier than the burr puzzle it's replacing.

Sure it's another tray puzzle and I really didn't want to do a tray puzzle in this box but I'm going to give my backers the choice between the difficult burr puzzle and the slightly easier tray puzzle. I'm hoping there will be a roughly equal split between the two especially because I've made 200 of the burr puzzles already.

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