How many types of puzzles exist? That kind of depends on what you consider a puzzle to be.
At its simplest, a puzzle is “a game, toy, or problem designed to test ingenuity or knowledge.”
Puzzles are usually grouped together into four groups: logic puzzles, mechanical puzzles, word puzzles, and other puzzles. There are tons of puzzle types in each group so let’s check them out!
Logic puzzles involve no guesswork, everything is solved using logic. There are many types of logic puzzles such as sudoku, cryptograms, brain teasers, and more. Let’s check out some of the most popular types of logic puzzles.
Sudoku is a logic puzzle played in a 9×9 grid. It’s not a guessing game, but a game of serious thought and logical moves.
The numbers 1 through 9 are placed (once) in each column, row, and square in the grid with no duplicates.
Path Puzzles (ABC or 123)
Path puzzles are made on a 5×5 grid. The first number or letter (1 or A) is pre-placed somewhere in the grid.
The goal of the puzzle is to fill in all the cells so that all numbers or letters (1 to 25 or A to Y) appear exactly once. Around the edges of the grid are clues to help you.
Hitori is a logic puzzle played in a grid. The object is to shade squares leaving a single continuous area unshaded.
Mine Finder is a logic puzzle with a series of mines that are randomly hidden in a grid. It’s your job to figure out the location of those mines and mark them off.
Kakurasu is played on an empty grid. The goal (using the clues provided) is to figure out which cells need to be colored and which ones should be left blank.
Brain Teasers are a group of logical puzzles that require thought to be solved. No pen or paper is typically required!
There are several common types of brain teasers including riddles, syllogisms, truth tellers and liars, and more.
Nonograms / Picross
A nonogram is a grid puzzle where you fill in the grid based on the numbers at the top and to the side. When you’ve completed the puzzle, there should be a clear picture!
A properly designed nonogram puzzle will require no guessing.
Battleship Solitaire / Warships
Battleship Solitaire is a puzzle based on the popular board game, Battleship. Unlike the game, the puzzle is designed to be played alone.
The puzzle consists of a grid with numbers indicating how many spaces contain pieces of a ship. Each puzzle has 10 ships and the goal is to discover them all.
Chess puzzles utilize the rules of chess but without playing a full game with another person. Each puzzle will utilize it’s own setup and challenge.
A cryptogram is an encrypted passage that can be solved with a cipher.
Mechanical puzzles are ones that you manipulate physically such as Rubik’s Cubes, Jigsaw Puzzles, and Nail Puzzles. Mechanical puzzles may have a logic component or they may be completely trial and error.
The Rubik’s Cube is a 2.25″ (5.7 cm) cube made of 6 different colors. At the start, the cube would be a mixed up assortment of colors and the goal was to get each side all the same color.
There are now hundreds (thousands?) of variations of the Rubik’s cube in different sizes and shapes.
Assembly puzzles involve taking a bunch of given pieces and assembling them into a specific shape, pattern, etc., Jigsaw puzzles are a simple example of an assembly puzzle but there are many, many more!
Disassembly puzzles are the opposite of assembly puzzles. You’re given one object and must disassemble it into all of its individual pieces.
Some disassembly puzzles are also a challenging assembly puzzle once you’ve completed the disassemble.
Word puzzles are all about the words. They may test your vocabulary or they might be logical (or both). There are a lot of different word puzzles you can play including crossword puzzles, boggle, anagrams, word searches, and more.
Word Scrambles / Anagrams
A word scramble is when the letters of a word are arranged out of order. To solve the puzzle you must rearrange the letters to make the correct word.
An anagram is similar to a word puzzle, but the letters are arranged to spell different words.
For example: LISTEN = SILENT
There are three major types of crossword puzzle: fill-in, hints, and cryptic.
A fill-in crossword puzzle provides a list of words that must be fitted into the given grid. For an extra challenge, try number fill-ins!
A hints crossword puzzle provides a list of hints (such as trivia). The answers to the hints must be fitted into the given grid.
A cryptic crossword puzzle is a more difficult type of hints crossword. It provides a list of puzzles (such as riddles, puns, wordplay, etc) as the hints. The answers to the puzzles must be fitted into the given grid.
A word search is a grid filled with letters. You must find all the words hidden in the grid. Most word searches provide a list of words to be found.
A similar (and often more challenging) puzzle type is the number search puzzle.
Boggle Solitaire / Word Grid
Boggle Solitaire is based on the Boggle boardgame. In Boggle Solitaire, you’re given a grid of letters and must find as many words as you can.
The rules are simple: words must be made from letters that touch and each letter can only be used once per word. To make it more challenging, set a time limit!
In a letter arrangement puzzle you’re given a set of letters and must organize them into one (or more) word(s).
Scrabble is the classic example of a letter arrangement game.
If logic puzzles, mechanical puzzles, and word puzzles aren’t enough puzzle types for you, don’t worry! There are still other puzzle types including math puzzles, trivia puzzles, rebus puzzles, and more!
If you like math, you’ll love math puzzles. Math puzzles can be wordy or logic or trial and error.
Are Trivia Puzzles word puzzles? They can be. Trivia puzzles are typically focused on a topic or theme and exact vocabulary is often unnecessary.
Rebus puzzles use words, pictures, and other elements arranged as a clue for the solution. They’re often abstract and require good critical thinking skills.
There are several activities that aren’t really puzzles but are puzzle-like and deserve a mention.
Paint or Color By Numbers
Painting or coloring by numbers isn’t really a puzzle because you’re just following a guide. BUT, they offer a similar mental satisfaction so if you’re not so interested in regular puzzles, this might be more your style.
Spot the Difference
Spot the Difference is puzzle-like but not quite a puzzle. Like paint by numbers, they offer a similar mental satisfaction upon completion.
Now that you know about many of the different puzzles types (but not all), it’s time to grab some puzzles and get puzzling!
Or buy a book of puzzles…