Microsoft Treasure Hunt – Subtraction

Microsoft Treasure Hunt Strategy Guide


Subtraction is a simple but powerful technique to reduce complex problems into simpler ones. Consider the following case:


2-3-2-1 is not a pattern included in the Guide’s list, but through subtraction we can transform it into one of them. The trap in the upper left influences the counts below, 2-3-2-1. To see what it would be without the trap, we subtract 1 from each flagged adjacent square, resulting in 1-2-2-1. That’s a standard pattern the two traps below the 2’s.


Here’s another messy example:


Here we subtract 3 adjacent flags from the 4, and 1 adjacent flag from the 2, simplifying 4-1-2 to 1-1-1. The single trap is under the 1.

The rule of subtraction is a basic and essential tool for resolving complex puzzles. I cannot emphasize how important this tool is, so here is one more example:


3-3-1-1 becomes 1-2-1-1. The traps are under squares the first and third unexposed squares.

7 Responses to Microsoft Treasure Hunt – Subtraction

  1. Marilyn says:

    I understand the subtraction, but I don’t understand how this relates to where the traps are?

    • Kevin says:

      My approach is based on recognizing patterns. Each pattern indicates where the traps are. Subtraction transforms complicated patterns to the standard ones where traps have already been figured out.

  2. fatharock says:

    Great Blog Kevin!

    Can you state simply what the subtraction rule is in addition to the samples?
    E.G. The subtraction rule is: blah blah blah etc….

    I’ve read and re-read this part of your guide and still have a starting point.

    • Kevin says:

      You can simplify a complex pattern by visually ignoring one of the exposed traps, and subtracting 1 from the number of adjacent traps displayed. What you are doing is removing the trap and recalculating the number of adjacent traps. The result can be a standard pattern covered in the tutorial.

  3. Judy Conley says:

    No matter how good or lucky one is to get through a level, it is very difficult to move on after completing a level without the escape stairway visible. Since installing MS vs 10, I have only seen the escape stairway a few times. It makes for a very frustrating game when you know the odds are heavily stacked against your escape to the next level even though you’ve earned it. Why doesn’t MS fix this????

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