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Stave Puzzles 101: What is a Troublemaker Puzzle?

Have you heard of Stave Troublemakers before. We kind of look at them as the little cousin of Tricks (if you aren’t familiar with Tricks, make sure to check our blog on them!).. Arguably not as hard as Tricks, it does a great disservice to them to say they won’t frustrate you and keep you scratching your head while staring at the pieces laying there on your puzzle table. In actuality, they are a great innovation in puzzle design and you can learn more about their features and see some examples as well. So let’s dive in…

Trick or Troublemaker?

Troublemakers as a category are relatively newer compared to Tricks. Like Tricks, the ones that we have come across all have directions that have multiple challenges to fully solve the puzzle. Rather than try to explain all the elements, let’s take a closer look at a puzzle called Cabbie Conundrum which is rated 2 Pitchforks in difficulty out of a possible 4.


“Cabbie Condundrum”

Framed In

Similar to Teasers and some Tricks, this puzzle, and all Troublemakers we have seen, consists of a frame and you must figure out how to get the pieces inside in the right way. This particular puzzle has 4 challenges that you must solve as you can see in the directions that are included. By having to replace 1 of the passengers for each of the challenges, you are essentially having to solve an entirely new puzzle. You are getting great value for money!


“Cabbie Condundrum Directions”

No Knob Puzzles

What sets this apart from most other Stave Puzzles as they seem to have been modeled off of push-fit puzzles in that they have no knobs for connecting the pieces. While there are some modern puzzles you may be able to find today, push-fits were a style of puzzle you often saw around the turn of the 20th century. They don’t have knobs, so it makes them a lot harder to assemble, and often were just cut in a grid pattern, so you were stuck with a lot of square pieces. (One thing you learn quickly when doing push-fits is never bump the table or all your hard work quickly gets spread out!)

Hints – Maybe Not

Given the nature of these puzzles, we don’t have a lot of suggestions for solving them other than a lot of trial and error. One thing you will notice on some is there will space between pieces in some of the solutions, so if you are trying to make them fit like tangrams (which are a form of puzzle!) from when you were in preschool, you may not solve it. That being said, it’s not the case for all the solutions, so not sure how much help that really is. Best thing is to dive and just start working on them.

Troublemakers Making Trouble

So let’s get to the fun part. Here are some examples of Troublemakers, sans the solutions except for a very small part of one puzzle.




“Chic Boutique”

This is part of a series with a Paris theme. Notice it has a nice 3D element and is rated 2 Pitchforks with 2 solutions.



“Spa de Bow Wow”

A fun title this puzzle comes with a 3 Pitchfork rating. Similar to Chic Boutique in design, it is a little more complex in the solution.




“London Larceny”

Stave’s most difficult Troublemaker with a 4 Pitchfork rating. As you can see from the directions, there is a lot to solve and large number of pieces to work with, so no easy task!