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Number scramble

The goal is to place letters in a 5x5 square to create a wordsearch style grid containing a target set of words. To solve each level it must be possible to spell all the target words using horizontal and vertical jumps between letters, the words don't need to chain together. The target words are always integer numbers (for example SIX, ELEVEN, TWENTYTWO). The more words you have to try and make fit, the harder the puzzle!

Before you start on the first challenge notice you can spell ELEVEN by bouncing up and down in the first column (repeatedly using the same E). You can also spell TWO starting in the top corner, stepping left to W and down to O. Now satisfy yourself you can also spell THREE and FOUR. Note that a single E can be used to spell eleven, but not three (consecutive letters require a jump).

Level 1


Available letters:

Current goal

No current rule


Click on the top grid to add and remove letters.
Click on the bottom grid to select an available letter.
Click on Level-Up to progress to the next level.



Shortcuts and spoilers

Puzzle design notes

This puzzle was born out of the ABRACADABRA maze which is a single challenge on a fixed grid. Following on from this I was looking to design a second puzzle with more depth and multiple challenges. First I needed a set of related words with a good distribution of repeat letters. The integer number series was perfect, but with an infinite number of words to play with I had then to decide what subset to focus on. I started toying with numbers 1-99 on a 6x6 grid and quickly realised it was theoretically possible to make all the words fit. Furthermore, the same would be true on 5x5. Plausible but unlikely, I thought.

Well, that wasn't quite the puzzle I had in mind. But hey, the meta-puzzle might be a better one.

Thus I started to explore the meta-puzzle using pencil and paper, not knowing if there was a solution or not. Initially my goal was limited to 20-99, because to satisfy 11-19 I would not only have to find space for an L (just to spell ELEVEN and TWELVE) but somehow also squeeze in the tricky TEENs. Well, I eventually solved the grid for 20-99 and lo-and-behold I had a spare cell left that might accommodate that pesky L. Thus several hours (and much head-scratching) later I had the full monty... 1-99.

With thanks to the members of the Thinky-Puzzle-Games discord for play-testing, feedback and suggestions for extra levels. For anyone curious to know if 0-99 is the limit on 5x5, well, we don't know. There is at least one solution to level 4 (1-99) which leaves 2 grid squares empty. So it remains a tantalising open question whether ONEHUNDRED might also be possible.

puzzle design - © Andrea Gilbert - 2020
HTML5 implementation - © Andrea Gilbert - 2020