Can you find the gold?

The story behind the creation of Goldmine

Raf Peeters, January 2018

The category of magnetic travel games is the most difficult to develop an interesting SmartGames for. That is because you are limited to flat puzzle pieces and a small square grid. On top of that your number of puzzle pieces need to be limited and not too small in size. Deducktion is for example already on the edge of that requirement with 12 little ducks.

I have used transparent puzzle pieces in other games, but never in a magnetic one, because of the magnet at the backside of the puzzle pieces. And I didn’t want to create a “packing problem” or “fill up the grid” kind of puzzle, because SmartGames already has so many of those. So I decided to use one of my favorite themes: ladders. The concept is that of a connection puzzle. You have to place the puzzle pieces with ladders in the right position.

Originally the game was about a miner who wanted to go to the gold he dug up. But later in the design process we changed the miner into a fantasy dwarf. The nice artwork is made by my colleague Hans.


There are 3 puzzle pieces with gold, 1 with a dwarf and 3 pieces with ladders. Two of those pieces have 2 ladders. All puzzle pieces with ladders can be used in 2 orientations. The magnets are hidden by the artwork. The hardest part in the development process was to design the mine in such a way that it was clear that it was divided into different compartments or caves. Every cave has a different color and can have a width of 1, 2, 3 or 4 rectangles. The most important game rule is not immediately evident: You can never go directly to another cave on the same floor. You always have to use a ladders to go to an adjacent floor and than go back to your original floor. Another design problem was to make it clear that your figurine can’t reach a ladder which is on the floor above him. This makes perfectly sense. In real life you can’t use a ladder that stands on the second floor to climb to the second floor, when you are on the first floor. But people were afraid that this might be confusing for players. To solve this, we made the figurine short (it helped a lot that it was already a dwarf). So even if the dwarf wanted, he could never reach a ladder on a floor above him, if he was reaching out with his arms.

Once you understand the rules and why some solutions are valid and other are not, most challenges are not that hard to solve. So that why the cover of the game says 6+. It’s one of the more original magnetic travel games and a lot of fun if you like these kind of connection puzzles.

The 7 transparent puzzle pieces included in Goldmine

the seven transparent puzzle pieces included in Goldmine

example of a easy challenge/solution of Goldmine

example of a easy challenge/solution of Goldmine

example of a difficult challenge/solution of Goldmine

example of a difficult challenge/solution of Goldmine


The object of Goldmine is to place the ladders on the game board so that a path is created from the dwarf to the gold.

1) Select a challenge. Place the dwarf and one, two or three gold puzzle pieces on the game board as shown.

2) Place the puzzle pieces with ladders on the game board to create a path from the dwarf to the gold:

- The goldmine is divided into different floors with different caves.

- The dwarf can move from one floor to an adjacent floor using a ladder.

- The dwarf cannot move from one cave to an adjacent cave on the same floor! The dwarf can only go to an adjacent cave which is on a different floor. 

- Ladders can only connect adjacent floors. Floor skipping is not permitted!

- Transparent puzzle pieces should be placed with the artwork facing upwards and without overlapping other pieces or the border of the game board 

3) There is only 1 solution, shown at the end of the challenge booklet.

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