It took Ernõ Rubik more than a month to solve his namesake puzzle the first time. Today, competitive cubers can best the classic brain teaser in less than five seconds, and casual players can do it in minutes. Their not-so-secret weapon is math. More specifically: algorithms. Devising or memorizing sequences of moves that accomplish a particular goal—for instance, swapping two corners—is key to cracking your Rubik’s Cube. When game designers start stacking more layers onto a standard 3-by-3-by-3-square cuboid, it doesn’t change those algorithms much; it just makes the solve mega-tedious. But changing other variables like rotation angles and block depths creates puzzles for many skill levels and breaking points.
The nine-block Floppy Cube is one layer of a classic Rubik’s, so it’s perfect for a beginner twister. When it is scrambled, smooth movers can solve it in as few as eight clicks. Even random guessers will get there eventually; the colors have only 192 possible combinations.
Instead of rotating faces, the Dino Cube has rotating corners. The arrangement creates 12 moving parts that can’t go upside down and confuse you. That simplicity means novices can solve the cube by sight alone—no Googling for the algorithms.
The Gear Cube is more likely to crunch your fingertips than your gray matter, thanks to the way its toothed pieces intertwine and move together. When you spin one of the cube’s faces, it moves the inner ring along with it, minimizing just how mixed up its colors can get.