https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF3ytADqdr4

It’s a cracker in every sense.

]]>Starting a game of BIG (Bomb mode) is like coming ashore in Day Z or landing on the military base in PubG. You can and will go dozen games before finding yourself in a viable starting position. In this it’s not unlike Minesweeper itself – while Growing Up mode gives you the health mechanic that lets you weather mistakes and even strategically *make* them to advance your level, here clicking on any monster is an instant game over.

So you’ll die a lot looking for a decent chunk of empty squares to get started on. But you shouldn’t settle, either. Be willing to bail on a game in the opening minutes if it’s begrudging you any momentum. I’ve spent hours on stingy maps that barely gave up a quarter of their squares, and wanton strumpets that yielded as many almost straight away.

They should teach this game in history classes about Napoleon and Hitler’s invasions of Russia. You can go on and on, cutting swathes into the field, feeling invincibly that your advance can never stall. But your momentum will always, always fail you, and at that moment you’ll look up and see the endless stretches of untouched tiles sprawling in all directions. BIG (Bomb mode) has 900 squares containing 221 monsters. This map. Is. Big.

As this is ostensibly a logic game, there are certain ways to identify the contents of squares based on mathematical certainties:

Corner cases. This is the obvious one: when a numbered square that only has one adjacent unidentified square, the level of the monster occupying the latter is unaccounted value of the former (the number minus the values of any other adjacent occupied squares.) You might vaguely be hoping that the entire map can be solved this way. It can’t. Which brings you to…

Contained equalities. A bit trickier, but you’ll still be grateful whenever you find one of these. What you’re looking for is two numbered squares, where the neighbouring set of one are identical to that of the other + {a few more}. Then you can compare the sums and work out what the value of the squares that are {a few more} must be. This is most useful when this latter subset must have a value of 0, because then you can click them for more clues. Unfortunately you will eventually run out of contained equalities: all numbered squares will have a different set of neighbours, making logical certainty as to their contents difficult to deduce. At this point your last resort is…

Overlapping inequalities. You have to use the ceilings and floors of the adjacent squares to tease out the last available mathematical certainties, by comparing the maximum values of some squares with the minimum values of others. If you can establish that a square is at most an 8 according to one of its neighbours, and at least an 8 according to another, then obviously its value *is* 8. This is where the annotation feature becomes insufficient; you have to break out an image editor and take screenshots, and now a handful of squares might take you a couple of hours. Also, there’s no save function, so I don’t recommend playing at a PC you can’t leave on standby for long periods of time.

On the flat frontier: you’ll know it when you find it. It’s a state of mind, but also a place that is horribly real. All games trend inexorably toward the flat frontier, where all surfaces are perfectly even and there’s no corner cases or contained equalities to be found. If you aren’t there yet it’s because you haven’t chipped perfect flatness out of your map yet, but you will. Overlapping inequalities are the only thing that might help you, but sometimes the inequalities yield no certainty, only an array of possibilities, only one of which can be real. This is where you learn the truth about Minemonsters BIG (bomb mode).

The truth of this mode is it will begin with guesses and it will probably end with guesses. It isn’t a true logic puzzle, a reality that was right under your nose when you started, but like the pig-headed idiot that you are you spent dozens of hours to learn. At some point – unless there’s a deductive heuristic that has escaped me – deduction and even bifurcation are likely to be of no use. You will have to take educated guesses, cross your fingers and click.

Fortunately, the realisation that deduction can take you no further has takes the stress out of even an advanced attempt. The anxiety of making a fatal click goes away. The game is effectively in a dead state once you reach the flat frontier. You might as well take a guess; if you’re lucky, you might even escape it and break through to the other side.

In this sense that game is still solvable, you just have to use logic to minimise the number of guesses you have to take and then get lucky each time. I anticipate on a good seed the number of absolutely necessary guesses could be low as three or four. The odds of each guess can be as harsh as 1 in 8, or as generous as 7 in 8. Several times I got to what I was certain was a winnable state (90% of the map uncovered) only to blunder in some catastrophic way. Even as I write this I’m feeling the urge to go back for one. More. Try. But for now, I’m crying peanuts.

]]>happily it flushed in the end #plumbingprotips

]]>*angry splashing noises*

**CA** I found Mamono Sweeper better suited for harder play but the grid squares were tiny. I definitely needed to zoom up the web page a few times!

I think the appeal of the video is more in the personality of the solver and his incredulous responses, who starts by thinking he’s being pranked. I approached the puzzle thinking it was solvable, and it was.

It was also much easier than most puzzles in Tametsi, which sometimes take me days to solve (I’m stuck in quite a few in parallel). The sudoku puzzle’s solve path isn’t very branchy, and it’s very obvious how you’re expected to progress (find/eliminate 1’s, 2’s, etc…). But in Tametsi I can spend a long time not having any idea where the next area I should focus is.

]]>Matt, Just had a go at this. This is definitely easier to work (although the grid was tiny and I kept fighting with right-click in Firefox) although I was forced into killing a higher level monster to ascend a couple of times after exhausting the grid of lower enemies. Still hate having to click at random, though. TSK TSK

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