Sunday 3 March 2024

Minima Series (#1-12)

This week, dear reader (for there can surely only be one!) I bring you thoughts on a most excellent little set of puzzles – the Minima Series, designed by Frederic Boucher and made by NothingYetDesigns.

I missed out on these when they were initially put up for sale (in my defence they didn’t last long!) so I was very chuffed when I spotted a set on Puzzle Paradise at a reasonable price. One or two of my puzzling mates had said some encouraging things about them so I was intrigued.

NYD have done a great job of making up the boxes in frosted acrylic – all neatly marked with their appropriate identifiers. The pieces are all in their own little drawstring bags and there’s an instruction card for each of the dozen little terrors. Most of the instructions just ask you to place all of the pieces inside the box and remind you that rotations are allowed. (A couple of the later puzzles impose some restrictions on where certain coloured blocks need to be placed.)

Diving right in, I figured I’d start at number one because, clearly, that would be the easiest one, right?

M1 has just three pieces to be placed inside the 2*2*3 box (the boxes are all 2*2*3 – it’s just the openings that differ between them) – the pieces take up 11 voxels so we have one spare voxel inside the box when we’re done… given the shape of the openings, there’s literally only one place those pieces can be inserted, sure there are a couple of places where a bit can be temporarily parked outside the box, but they’re all going in through that single little opening…

I end up spending some time thinking (literally) outside the box while exploring the different assemblies that might fit inside the box, and then trying to reverse pieces out of the way using the imaginary holes in the right places… that doesn’t immediately lead to a suitable solution so I go back inside the box and begin exploring all of the potential rotations that might be possible with that combination of holes… and then some pennies start dropping… and M1’s solved.

A brief break to enjoy a little dopamine hit (hey, I’ve got to take all I can get, this solving thing doesn’t happen that frequently!) and I’m onto M2…

I make steady, albeit slow progress until I get to M4 which proves to be a bit of a blocker for me… but that’s nothing like M8, it turns out – that one keeps me thoroughly stumped for a long time – and it remains the only one in the series that I haven’t solved for weeks.

You’d think things might get a little samey after the first half dozen or so – but they don’t – Frederic’s put together an excellent set of challenges that never gets predictable – to the point that going back to the start again a week or two after you’ve solved the lot of them will still provide some amusement – and in my case – another serious challenge.

I really love this set of puzzles, and so far, everyone I’ve inflicted them on has had the same reaction: “How the heck can this simple little thing be that difficult?”


  1. From the first line of this blog, I was curious to learn your thoughts about M8. Even hoping you might provide a hint.

    To contrast, I was able to solve a couple within a minute or two, while most took between 10 and 15 minutes. Then a couple at 30 minutes and one at an hour. And then there is M8. Still not solved after many hours over many sessions.

    NYD assures me that all puzzles were "factory tested" before being shipped out. FB has the better of us.





    1. ...isn't that weird? All I can suggest is have you used all of the holes on that one... and how else could you use them? I'm sure you'll get it, Tyler!