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Hertel's Top 10

Puzzle connoisseur Hertel keeps notes on every puzzle he does, and has agreed to share his top 10 favorites out of the over 100 Artifact puzzles he's enjoyed: #10 Justin Hillgrove...

Puzzle connoisseur Hertel keeps notes on every puzzle he does, and has agreed to share his top 10 favorites out of the over 100 Artifact puzzles he's enjoyed:

#10 Justin Hillgrove Overwhelming Odds (257 pieces)

Absolutely hilarious picture, and I love what the octopus is staring at. This one has 257 larger-than-average sized pieces, with lots of randomly shaped rectangle and triangle pieces. I really like the connectors in this one too, with the various circle, duck, and tail connectors. And what is the octopus looking at? You'll have to open the box to see!



#9 Jonik Wizard Workshop (358 pieces)

A really fun picture, with all sorts of wizarding chaos going on. The pieces are "axe" shaped, so every other piece goes in a different direction, with connectors shaped like arrow heads and tails. (and no doubt it was the cat that caused all the trouble! ;) )

Zoom-in on the flying red imp:


#8 Kristian Adam Jacuzzi Boyz (283 pieces)

A hilarious picture that just makes me laugh whenever I see it.

All the pieces are themed after water and plumbing, with threaded pipe connectors mixed-in with dripping water connectors.

The edge is cut along the picture, so you don't get the black part shown below.

There's even random faucets sticking out of the silhouette.



#7 Roch Urbaniak Sage of Yamatai  (346 pieces)

The rectangular connectors work really well with this theme, and help give the puzzle a completely different feel from the others. The themed edge looks great too!

#6 Rachell Sumpter Islander (262 pieces)

Beautiful when put together, and the shapes fit so well too. It starts off pretty slow with not much to make out, but it turns into a work of art with the picture and piece design when finished. The piece edges do get in the way of the artwork a bit, but that also helps you see the beautiful overall piece patterns too. 



#5 Richard Friend The Just Reproach (386 pieces)

Really beautiful colors, and I love the artwork.

The pieces are almost shaped like traditional pieces, but they're angled kind of like in a frame, with everything converging in the center.

Plus, there's a cat, so bonus points!


#4 Bruce Riley Stem Cell (191 pieces)

My first Artifact puzzle, this one has a stunning picture with some perfectly themed piece design. It's full of hex shaped pieces and connectors, with lots of little organisms roaming about the puzzle.

The silhouette is really well done too, with everything expanding outward in little bubbles.


#3 Diego Mazzeo Mechanical Griffin (207 pieces)

A fun steampunk picture, and the piece design really takes inspiration from the artwork on this one. Everything in this puzzle is based around gears, with gear shapes used in the silhouette and connectors.

(Spoiler alert!) There's even inner gears that you can actually turn once you complete it with a special key! I really hope to see more elaborate moving pieces in the future!


#2 Dan Dos Santos Stalking The Unicorn

I really like this artwork, it just kind of draws you into this strange new world. I haven't actually read the Mike Resnick book this is from, but I really like how deep this puzzle goes, with the footstep pieces traversing the puzzle, and arrow connectors lading everywhere (but maybe somewhere?)

#1 Justin Hillgrove Imps and Monsters (442 pieces)

A really fun picture that you can't help but smile at, with a huge cast of colorful characters, and some amazing piece design that captures the spirit of these little forest creatures. 

The pieces sort of bend around each other in different patterns, so every piece has a different feel to it. And the whimsies are some of the most animated characters I've seen, with the little forest creature up to who knows what across the puzzle.


Have you done 100 or more of our puzzles and want to share your top 10 favorites and why? Other puzzlers would love to hear! Send us an email to


6 comments on Hertel's Top 10
  • Janet
    JanetApril 07, 2022

    This is great-thanks! I am giving a “Joy of Wooden Puzzles” presentation soon and if it’s ok, I’d like to share this with the participants. Please let me know…

  • Diane Delany
    Diane DelanyMarch 02, 2022

    So fun to read this, Hertel – thank you! It has set me to figuring whether I’ve done 100+ Artifact puzzles, and what my top 10 are. Such fun.
    I just finished your #10, Overwhelming Odds, and had to text my 4-yr old niece that she had to return the little extra that came in the box as it was integral to the puzzle! Artifact always keeps you guessing.

  • Gary Hertel
    Gary HertelFebruary 28, 2022

    Thanks for putting this together Maya!

    It’s definitely does get a bit challenging remembering ALL the puzzles I’ve done over the years, and I’m sure the order would probably change if I were to do them all over again. But I also never redo puzzles, or at least I haven’t since I was a kid and we didn’t have a choice. ;)

    I keep thinking I’ve caught up with finding all my favorite ones, but I always keep finding that next one hiding somewhere! I’ve even started a bit of a family puzzle library with all of these favorites and more. (our own little Hoefnagel club)

    I look forward to hearing about new ones to try from others too!

  • Hardcore Grandmother
    Hardcore GrandmotherFebruary 27, 2022

    Would love to see a post like this but for really hard puzzles!

  • Michael Brandt
    Michael BrandtFebruary 27, 2022

    100 Artifact puzzles? That seems like an awfully high qualifying standard to be allowed to participate. Perhaps with a couple more years of membership in the Hoefnagel club I might get to that many.

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