Combinations is also a game I originally developed for SmartGames, not in 2022 but in 2014! But Smart decided not to publish it for the right reason. It would not really fit in the SmartGames collection, because it looks a bit flat next to 3D games like Squirrels Go Nuts or Cats & Boxes. But it does have some very good and interesting puzzle challenges, so I am glad that The Happy Puzzle Company picked up this old concept and turned it into a product for their brand.

When I started, the idea was to make something very educational for schools. I wanted to make a set of puzzle pieces that could be used for different types of challenges. Each set would come in its own stackable storage compartment, but could be combined with the same lid and puzzle pieces. This way you didn’t need many different games, but still would have a lot of variation, depending on the needs of the classroom.

This idea didn’t make it to the final product, which only includes one storage compartment below the transparent game board (that doubles as a lid). But the game still features multiple levels, each very different. The game is named “Combinations”, so that’s what you need to look for. There are 6 puzzle pieces, 2 of each color. The object of the game is to place all pieces on the game board in such a way that the combination of the information in the square windows, results in the information visible in the round window of the puzzle piece of the same color. We had a lot of ideas for different levels and themes, but eventually we choose the following:

STARTER: additions and subtractions number 1 to 9 or dice 1 to 6

JUNIOR: mixing primary colors to make secondary colors

EXPERT: combining simple shapes in more complex shapes by overlapping them

MASTER: making a robot photo of suspects by combining face elements

WIZARD: additions and subtractions numbers 1 to 19

The game includes 24 double sided cards, but has 72 challenges in total. This is possible because the STARTER and WIZARD levels have a unique solution for both additions AND subtractions (a different one of course). Challenges gradually become harder, not only because of the theme but also because the easy levels only show what is needed for the solution, while the harder levels also show a lot of “fake” information. In the easy levels there are exactly 9 squares with information. But in the harder levels the grid on the challenge card is completely filled, so a lot of info must be hidden below the puzzle pieces. For those challenges you first need to look for valid combinations, before you can even start to puzzle. Although the game looks very easy with only 6 simple puzzle pieces, this becomes surprisingly challenging in the harder levels.

Currently, the game is exclusively available from The Happy Puzzle Company in the UK and Timberdoodle in the US.

Example of a challenge and solution of Combinations

Examples of a challenge cards of the different levels of Combinations

GAME RULES COMBINATIONS

1) Remove the transparent lid. Place all cards back in the tray with your chosen card on top and close the lid.

2) Place the coloured puzzle pieces on top of the transparent lid to make the right combinations:

Number puzzles: STARTER Challenges 1 to 16

These challenges feature the numbers from 1 to 9 and include blank spaces and some numbers having been coloured in the same colour as the correct ‘frame’ as a clue. Each card can be solved as an addition challenge (so that adding the numbers together in both of the squares will equal the number in the same coloured circle), or as a subtraction challenge (so that subtracting the smaller number from the larger number in both of the squares will equal the number in the same coloured circle).

Dice puzzles: STARTER Challenges 17 to 32

These challenges feature dice faces. Each card can be solved as an addition challenge (so that adding the number of dots together on the dice faces of in both of the squares will equal the number on the die face in the same coloured circle), or as a subtraction challenge (so that subtracting the smaller number of dots from the larger number of dots on the faces of the dice in both of the squares will equal the number on the die face in the same coloured circle).

Colour puzzles: JUNIOR Challenges 33 to 40

The aim of these challenges is to create the secondary colours (orange, green and purple) using the primary colours (red, yellow, blue). In other words, the colours that appear in the squares, when mixed, would make the colour that appears in the circle on the same coloured frame.

Shape puzzles: EXPERT Challenges 41 to 48

There are two different types of these puzzles. Some display outlines of shapes that need to be combined. Others show solid shapes to combine. Shapes must overlap but can't be rotated when combined.

Face puzzles: MASTER Challenges 49 to 56

These challenges require you to place two face elements (indicated by a dotted outline) in the square holes, that when combined, would create the complete face that appears in the round hole of the same colour.

Challenging number puzzles: WIZARD Challenges 57 to 72

These challenges feature the numbers from 1 to 19. Each card can be solved as an addition challenge (so that adding the numbers together in both of the squares will equal the number in the same coloured circle), or as a subtraction challenge (so that subtracting the smaller number from the larger number in both of the squares will equal the number in the same coloured circle).

3) There is only one solution for each challenge.

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