Wormeus lives in a labyrinth containing lots of apples. His main ambition in life is to eat as many apples as possible but his nemesis, the evil Pink Lady Stickotaur, has other ideas – if you pardon the terrible cliché!
Wormeus can move up, right, left or down one space and so can the Pink Lady Stickotaur. Neither can move through walls. Wormeus can also eat an apple if it occupies the same square as the apple. After Wormeus makes a move, the Pink Lady Stickotaur takes two turns. The Pink Lady Stickotaur will always move towards Wormeus (unless blocked by a wall), and will favour moving horizontally over moving vertically if both options are available. If she lands on the same square as Wormeus, the latter dies a horrible squishy death.
Wormeus can also delay, granting the Pink Lady Stickotaur two extra turns. Under the right circumstances, this can be advantageous.
Wormeus wins if he can eat all the apples and loses if he dies a horrible squishy death. If neither side can make progress the game is drawn.
As you may have guessed, this puzzle is based on the well-known Theseus And The Minotaur mazes by the American computer programmer and game inventor Robert Abbott (1933-2018). If you are not familiar with these mazes, I recommend you do some homework before trying this puzzle 😊
- Eating an apple costs a turn. Wormeus cannot automatically eat after moving to a square containing an apple.
- Eating an apple is never mandatory just because Wormeus occupies the same square as an apple. Wormeus may prefer to move, especially with the Pink Lady Stickotaur in hot pursuit.
- Wormeus cannot “half-delay” and grant the Pink Lady Stickotaur exactly one extra turn.
- If Wormeus eats the last apple the Pink Lady Stickotaur cannot use two extra turns to salvage a “draw by mutual checkmate” if you will!
EDIT: Deusovi suggests I remove the optimality criterion since finding even a non--optimal solution isn't entirely trivial. If this puzzle is too easy then I can always pretend it was a warm-up and have an excuse to post similar mazes in future 😊