Tabletop Review: ‘Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle’ Is Perfect for Trips and Outings

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‘Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle’ from ThinkFun. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Travel season is now in full swing as the weather warms up, and schools are beginning to releasing kids for Spring Break. Outdoor sport seasons are also starting to kick up again, which means a lot of families are clocking in extra traveling hours, or hours at sport practices and games. I’ve previously written about our favorite things to bring along to entertain kids (and especially non-participating siblings) in these cases, so when ThinkFun sent me a complimentary copy of their new Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle, I was eager to see if it might be a fun addition to our entertainment bag.

What is Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle?

Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle is a logic based game of deduction for a single player age 8+ and is made up of 40 challenges that increase in difficulty, each taking minutes to play. It has an MSRP of $14.99.

Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle Components

Components for ‘Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle.’ Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle contains the following:

  • 1 Instruction Book
  • 9 Magnetic Minecraft Pieces
  • 1 Challenge Booklet with Magnetic Board, Challenges, and Solutions

The component list is very simple, which is exactly what you need for a game that’s supposed to be travel friendly. The Instruction Book gives a good overview of the logical and deductive reasoning reasoning needed for the game which can be helpful for kids who aren’t as familiar with logic based puzzle games. The Magnetic Pieces are all big enough to be easy to keep track of, but small enough to be travel friendly. They are all designs that Minecraft players should be familiar with (Sword, Pickaxe, and Armor) in 3 different colors each. The Challenge Booklet is a particularly clever design. It’s bound so that you can open it up and have the Challenges appear on your left and the Magnetic playing board (it looks like a Crafting Table) on the other. There’s just enough space on the sides of the board to keep the magnets at the ready until you place them. Beneath all of the Challenges is a grid with all of the solutions. The whole thing small enough to put in a kid’s lap or on a restaurant table, and you can easily fold up the Instruction Book under the Challenges and keep the Magnetic Pieces on the Board  to keep everything perfectly contained between play sessions.

How to Play Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle

Goal

The goal of Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle is to solve each Challenge Puzzle by using logic and deductive reasoning along with positive or negative clues provided by the Challenge.

Setup

A game all set up and ready to go. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Because of the travel based nature of the game, there is minimal set up involved. The first time you play, the Magnetic Pieces do need to be punched out of a sheet, but even a kid can handle that part. Otherwise all you need to do is push the Magnetic Pieces to the side of the Magnetic Board and choose a Challenge to play. That’s it.

Gameplay

The Challenges

The Gameplay mechanic is quick to catch onto, but the logical reasoning you need to solve the Challenges is where the real brain power comes in. Once you’ve selected your Challenge, you simply follow the clues provided to determine where to place each Magnetic Piece on the 3×3 Magnetic Board.

Challenge 1 solved. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

The first 20 puzzles (Beginner and Intermediate level) use positive clues, or clues that tell you where pieces go. The clues might involve color or object type as well as something about the location the piece will end up in as well. Challenges 20-40 (Advanced and Expert) start working in negative clues which  are clues that tell the player what patterns should not appear in the final solution. You can see some Challenge examples below.

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If you think you’ve solved the Challenge, you can check it against the Solutions which appear behind all of the Challenges.

The Solutions are tucked behind the Challenges. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Game End

There’s no true end to the game, although you can declare yourself a winner if you solve all 40 Challenges.

Why You Should Play Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle

I’m a big fan of logic games and puzzles for kids (although you can play them too, grown-ups!) and I’ve been a fan of ThinkFun’s puzzles since we first purchased a copy of on of their best known games, Rush Hour.  The educational value is clear, they’re casual enough to pick up for a small amount of time or a longer session, and setting up and cleaning up goes fast. They’re usually a calmer, quieter activity, which sometimes we need. I love the simplicity of this travel version that keeps all of the brain power of the other ThinkFun logic games, but with the ease of something that can be taken on the go. I really hope this is not the last travel puzzle ThinkFun rolls out with.

The pieces and components are perfect for a travel game, and like I said, I’m a big fan of how compact the Challenge Booklet is.

Gameplay is fast to catch onto, but the Challenges are where the brain power comes in. I handed off the game to A, our 9-year-old, to play during the ride on a recent day trip. A takes to logic and spatial reasoning puzzles pretty well (he made Gifted for that skill set), and he was eventually able to solve all of the puzzles, but admitted that the negative space ones were a lot trickier to do. He would happily keep the game in our car’s entertainment bag to bring out and replay again. The age recommendation of 8+ is just about right, but a slightly younger kid with decent logic and spatial reasoning might be able to take to it too.

One of the nicest features is that even if your kid doesn’t play Minecraft, they won’t be at any disadvantage to playing this game. If your kid is Minecraft obsessed, they’ll probably really get a kick out of the tie-in art that goes along with this. With a MSRP of $14.99, it’s reasonably priced to grab for your own entertainment or even to gift to a Minecraft fan you know. If you want the game for an upcoming trip, you can even grab an Amazon Prime eligible copy right now for $13.92.

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