Go Beyond the 9x9 Grid: Try Out a Fun Sudoku Variant
When you flip to the end of a newspaper or periodical, if you find any puzzles at all, they're bound to be the standard fare. Typically, there may be a crossword, perhaps a word search, and maybe even a sudoku puzzle.
For that sudoku puzzle, it's probably a 9x9 grid with a few numbers filled in it. Perhaps there's even a posted difficulty level. For many, this represents the outer limit of their puzzle knowledge.
Challenge Yourself With New Types of Sudoku
Did you know that there's much more to sudoku than the typical puzzles you see in the newspaper? Colors, different configurations of cages, words, and images make for puzzles that test your logic even more than the typical 9x9.
If you're ready for a challenge, here are six different sudoku types that cover the gamut from easy to extremely difficult and offer a creative spin on the beloved brainteaser.
- Different Grid Sizes: 4x4, 6x6, 16x16, and More
- Color Sudoku
- Image or Symbol Sudoku
- Word Sudoku
- Jigsaw Sudoku
- Samurai Sudoku
1. Different Grid Sizes: 4x4, 6x6, 16x16, and More
When most people think of sudoku, they think of a number puzzle with a whole bunch of squares. Whether they know the number or not, they probably visualize it as a 9x9 grid.
Many more variations involving different grid sizes have come about that change up the game. Smaller grid sizes like 4x4 and 6x6 tend to make for an easier game, while larger grids like 16x16 and 25x25 exist for a real challenge.
Generally, grids exist in the form of x2, where x is the number of squares vertically or horizontally in a square cage (also sometimes called a house). Here are a few of the grid options you might encounter in this form:
- 4x4 (2x2 in a cage)
- 9x9 (3x3 in a cage)
- 16x16 (4x4 in a cage)
- 25x25 (5x5 in a cage)
There are also grid layouts that do not conform to this standard, though, such as 6x6.
Try It: You can try out a 6x6 sudoku puzzle for free online.
2. Color Sudoku
Take the numbers you're used to seeing, and now assign each one to a specific color. The concept behind solving each sudoku puzzle is the same, but the change from numbers to colors makes for an interesting variant.
In number puzzles, you may have been able to take simple notes like "Possibly 1, 2, or 3"; with this variant, you have to make note of colors. This simple change means that more information needs to be processed, making for an oftentimes more difficult game to play.
Another twist with color is using it to define a cage or to outline places in which all of the specific numbers need to be utilized.
Try It: Color sudoku is also available to play for free online if you want to test it out.
3. Image or Symbol Sudoku
Instead of colors or numbers, images are used as inputs in this version of sudoku (from time to time, symbols may also be used as inputs). This provides yet another interesting experience; now, instead of numbers or colors, players have to worry about potentially even more details.
Images where there are very slight variations, like the hieroglyphs in the puzzle shown above, create very difficult games. On the other hand, though, apparent differences in images may help make playing sudoku easier. When paired up with smaller grid sizes, image-based sudoku puzzles can become a breeze. This pairing is pretty common when it comes to puzzles designed for younger sudoku players.
Because of the nature of these puzzles, it may be hard to find physical versions of them. Numbers, and even colors, are much easier to input on paper than detailed images are. (If you do find a physical version, you may be asked to cut out and arrange the symbols in the grid rather than drawing them.)
Try It: As with the other variants, you can play image sudoku online.
4. Word Sudoku
There are a couple of variations out there that combine letters with sudoku. Generally speaking, you simply replace the standard numbers with letters to understand this version.
Because the use of letters allows for words to be spelled, you may occasionally find hidden words within puzzles. These words will often be as long as the puzzle grid is wide or tall. For instance, in a 9x9 grid, you may have to use the letters AYEMRHCIN—later discovering that the hidden word is MACHINERY.
Try It: Online versions of word sudoku exist as well, for no charge.
5. Jigsaw Sudoku
In all of the previously mentioned sudoku puzzles, the cages have been squares. In jigsaw sudoku, this standardization is thrown out the door with cages in various configurations.
The configurations themselves are often so interlocking that they look like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This also allows for some pretty interesting puzzle designs! When colored in, jigsaw sudoku puzzles can become particularly exciting to both look at and play.
Because most sudoku tips and tricks are dependent on the cages being rectangles or squares, jigsaw sudoku is more difficult to master and solve.
Try It: You can test your skills at jigsaw sudoku online.
6. Samurai Sudoku
Are all of these puzzles too easy for you? Then you might like samurai sudoku. This type of puzzle combines five overlapping 9x9 grids for a huge challenge.
The overlapping parts respect the normal rules of sudoku, while the rest of each board plays off of those overlapping parts. It's essentially like playing five different games of sudoku at the same time, except that four corners of the outer puzzles are the same as the corners on the middle puzzle.
As with the variation in grid sizes, you may find even larger puzzles like the one shown above. If you do attempt these, good luck!
Try It: Samurai sudoku puzzles are available online if you dare.
Are These Variants Easier or Harder Than Standard 9x9 Sudoku?
Distinct Images or Symbols
Similar Images or Symbols
Tarasquirrel from Azores on June 01, 2017:
I actually love playing samurai sudoku. The standard 9x9 doesn't do it for me anymore unless it is dificult. Yet i find samurai much more challenging and more exciting to play.
darkrai on January 28, 2016: