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A Minotaurus has always been an intimidating mythological creature, but since they're not real there's nothing to worry about, right? Well, Siebenstein-Spiele's Minotaurus puzzle is very real and quite intimidating as well, so be prepared for an herculean fight with this beast. It was invented by Jürgen Reiche, who designs all wooden puzzles manufactured by Siebenstein.
Minotaurus is a sequential movement puzzle with two distinct mazes, and you navigate with two screws through them from one position to another. The puzzle is superbly built with two wood colors, mostly just to distinguish them apart, and has a sliding mechanism that moves left and right. The size of the puzzle is satisfying enough for a comfortable play, measuring 14.8cm x 8.7cm. You have to be constantly moving the two screws around to prevent your moves from being blocked.
You start with the two screws in the bottom right part of the mazes. The starting positions are also marked in the top maze, so it's very easy to get started. As you try to move one screw around you'll notice that many of the movements will be blocked by the other. The trick is to alternate between them and make one movement at a time, always trying to anticipate where each screw needs to go in order for the other one to get where you want it.
The design reminds me a lot of Jean Claude Constantin's Two Keys puzzle. The difference is that the Two Keys had just one screw and the two mazes were smaller, but the concept and mechanism is very similar. I see the Minotaurus as an advanced version of Two Keys, for more experienced puzzlers.
There are lots of dead ends and you'll feel a bit lost sometimes, but try to focus on the bottom maze and plan your route as best as you can. Treat those two screws as a team working for the same objective: reach position B, on the left end of both mazes.
The difficulty of the Minotaurus puzzle is as tough as you'd expect a sequential puzzle to be. It's rated as a level 6/7 on the manufacturer scale and, to be honest, I wouldn't be so surprised if this one was actually a level 7/7. On my first attempt it took me about 15/20 minutes to solve it, with lots of backtracking. I was able to cut it short to a little over 5 minutes on subsequent tries, but it wasn't easy, since there are a lot of movements and knowing them by heart is a monumental task. I still haven't learned all the exact movements, but I know have a better idea on where to place the screws at key moments and the route is less random as the first times.
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The Minotaurus is certainly an intimidating puzzle and it's not for everyone. If you feel courageous and capable of tackling the most challenging puzzles, then this is the right one for you. On the other hand, if you're easily frustrated by an extremely difficult puzzle, I'd recommend you try something a little less complex. Note that Siebenstein-Spiele also has much easier puzzles on their catalog.
Availability: The Minotaurus puzzle is available at Sloyd.fi for €17.50. You can also buy the larger version, with balls instead of screws, for €25.80.