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This is the third maze in the Wormeus series. Previous puzzles are here and here This shouldn’t be too difficult but contains a cute gimmick that isn’t possible in the original Theseus mazes sans the requirement of eating all the apples.

enter image description here

Here is a quick recap of the rules:

  • Wormeus’s actions are: Up, Left, Right, Down, Eat, Delay
  • Stickotaur’s actions are: Up, Left, Right, Down
  • For every action by Wormeus, Stickotaur takes two actions (unless Wormeus has just eaten the last apple).
  • Stickotaur always moves closer to Wormeus if possible, and horizontal moves take precedence over vertical moves.
  • Wormeus is allowed to do the happy dance after eating the last apple (thanks Bass for his excellent solution for the 2nd puzzle).

Your task is to eat all the apples in at most 153 moves.

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First steps first: we need to not get caught instantly. The only way to do that is to juke the Stickotaur into the top right corner. To do that, we must poke our head up on the first row, and eat an apple to get the rhythm correct. We can choose either of the top two apples in column 4. To keep things simple, let's choose the apple on row 2. (EDIT: as pointed out by OP in the comments, this was a lucky choice. Eating the other apple would have caused insurmountable problems some hundred actions later.)

Then, we are free to clear all apples except those on the top row: the Stickotaur will kindly sit in the corner at row 2 column 4 while we do it.

Then, we must do something with the Stickotaur. The only other place where it's even theoretically possible to trap the Stickotaur is the bottom left corner, so that's what we must do. This allows us to eat the top left apple in peace, but there are still 4 apples on the top row. Nothing to do but run. If we eat exactly one apple while running, the Stickotaur will reach r1c4 just as we leave that square. This is excellent, since it means we can run another loop around the board, and arrive at the same position, with yet another top row apple eaten. Rinse and repeat, and we can step into the top right corner, and eat the final apple while maintaining eye contact with the Stickotaur that's basically touching us at that point.

Since our path is pretty much forced, there's nothing more left to do except to count the actions:

Initial juke:           LeUDR (5)  
Clean-up on aisle 5:    DeDeD eDeDe De (12)  
Columns 3&4:            LeUeL eUeRe UeLeU eReUe LeUeD RDLDR DLDRD Le (37)  
Columns 1&2:            LeLeR UeUeU eUeUe UeLeD eDeDe DDe (28)  
Stickotaur to r8c1:     RDRRR LLLUL (10)  
Eat r1c1:               UUUUU Ue (7)  
Grab r1c2 and RUN:      ReRRD R (6)  
Reset:                  DDDDD DLRLL LULUU UUUU (19)  
Grab r1c3 and RUN:      RReRD R (6)  
Reset:                  DDDDD DLRLL LULUU UUUU (19)  
Grab r1c4 and BE BRAVE: RRReR (5)  
Eat final apple:        e (1)

But this all adds up to 155 moves. What could we improve?

We can clean up column 1 while the Stickotaur is stuck at the bottom right. This saves two moves, because we don't have to move left and right in the "cleanup columns 1&2" phase, which has now essentially become "cleanup column 2".

So the final solution is

Initial juke:           LeUDR (5)  
Clean-up on aisle 5:    DeDeD eDeDe De (12)  
Columns 3&4:            LeUeL eUeRe UeLeU eReUe LeUeD RDLDR DLDRD Le (37)  
Column 2 & bottom left: LeLeR UeUeU eUeUe Ue (17)  
Stickotaur to r8c1:     DDDDD DRRRL LLUL (14)  
Column 1:               eUUeU eUeUe Ue (12)  
Grab r1c2 and RUN:      ReRRD R (6)  
Reset:                  DDDDD DLRLL LULUU UUUU (19)  
Grab r1c3 and RUN:      RReRD R (6)  
Reset:                  DDDDD DLRLL LULUU UUUU (19)  
Grab r1c4 and BE BRAVE: RRReR (5)  
Establish dominance:    e (1)

Yay!


Afterthought: doesn't it seem a bit suspicious that..

In the first phase, we need to give the Stickotaur an Up so it goes to the top row. Then, after the initial cleanup, we let the Stickotaur down from its prison near the top. After that we definitely have to run around..

Did we just get low-key trolled by a deviously brilliant puzzle setter?

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    $\begingroup$ Here's a GIF. Let me know if there are any mistakes, I just quickly stitched a tool together where you can enter a Wormeus map and the moves of Wormeus and it then spits the images out. $\endgroup$ Apr 17 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ @LukasRotter wow, that's brilliant! $\endgroup$
    – Bass
    Apr 17 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ Wormeus wins again, good job! $\endgroup$
    – happystar
    Apr 17 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ Actually I think Bass's answer has a small error. He states that Wormeus can choose to eat r1c4 or r2c4 as the first apple. But if Wormeus ate r1c4 first then he loses as far as I can tell. But the answer is still worthy of the check-mark in my opinion! $\endgroup$
    – happystar
    Apr 17 at 23:09

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