MW Puzzles; 350 copies
2.5 lbs; 7.5″ x 3.75″ x 4.25″
Metal, Walnut, Acrylic

When I was a kid, I had a miniature slot machine with tiny tokens that would make the wheels spin; hitting a jackpot would release whatever tiny tokens had been inserted thus far. While entertaining to my nascent mind, there wasn’t all that much to it – pull the arm, spin the wheels, lose and repeat until you win.

MW Puzzles has taken the classic one-armed bandit and made something fun, tricky and unique, something instantly recognizable, such that the ultimate goal is clear from the start even as the path to it is not.

This makes for something that demands to be picked up, sure to catch the eye of puzzlers and non-puzzlers alike. It begs to be handled; at 7.5″ x 3.75″ x 4.25″ and 2.5 lbs (that’s just over 1 kilo for you metric weirdos), it fits perfectly in two hands, a necessity for all the exploration it will require.

When you first sit down with MW Puzzles’ Bandit, you will almost certainly do what comes most naturally: pull the Bandit’s one-arm… and you will find it does nothing but rotate freely: the wheels don’t spin and a jackpot is most definitely not in the cards. This is sure to reel you in and pique the puzzling mind in the way that a good puzzle does, spinning you around while sucking you in so you just want to try one more thing, just like the real thing catches you with just one more quarter; the difference is that you can actually win with Bandit, should you put in the thought and effort – the payoff is in the cards, to mix casino metaphors.

So begins a sequential discovery journey that rewards experimentation and patience, teasing you with a partial view of its inner workings through a semi-opaque acrylic back, framed by lovely walnut sides and a glistening metal frame that comes in one of four colors.

I had the welcome opportunity to test a late prototype and to compare it to the final version, getting a glimpse into the careful planning and patient meticulousness of the puzzle’s creator. This is not a hastily thrown together puzzle but is instead the result of ample thought and cast-aside proto’s – there were a few changes following even this late prototype that proved to me that MW is a puzzle maker who takes this art seriously; in seeking to entertain, it will be done with pride in a well-made product.

I shouldn’t be surprised after solving MW’s previous trilogy of metal puzzles, all reflecting their excellent craftsmanship and puzzling prowess; Bandit is a larger evolution of MW’s puzzle oeuvre that secures its place as a puzzlemaker to be followed.

Crafting a puzzle that actually looks like something is not all that easy – other than Karakuri, most makers shy away from the innate restrictions imposed by holding oneself to an existing aesthetic but MW leans into it, using the well-known game of chance to inform and obfuscate its puzzling mechanisms, with multiple tools (some quite well hidden) and a progressive puzzling journey whose finale provides the payoff one hopes for. MW has made something that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is recognizable, with puzzling that does not disappoint.

The goal is not so much to “fix” a “broken” slot machine but to discover how this strange cousin functions instead, achieving a jackpot through skill rather than stumbling upon it by luck: this is no game of chance but rather one that requires thought to understand and conquer.

MW began taking pre-orders for the initial run of Bandit a couple weeks ago; pre-orders appear to currently be closed at this time but I would reach out via discord or the website if interested, as interest seems to (unsurprisingly) be high. Bandit will be limited to 350 copies, 75 of each color with an initial run of 300 and plans for a final 50 down the line.


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