Well I did come here on 'puzzling.stackexchange.com' and I've tried solve few challenges. Let's say I didn't succeed.

I wanted to ask for Books, Tips, Videos or any other type of Educational material for being able to solve riddles.

I want to learn how to solve the following tags:

  1. Pattern
  2. Cipher
  3. Lateral thinking

Those riddles that I solve usually take a lot of time from 20min to an hour or more...

What's the best approach or strategy that you use when solving riddles. Again I'm sorry this is not a riddle, I don't know even if I'm allowed to post a question like this, however it would be useful if someone could provide material from the topics above that you have found beneficial.

  • $\begingroup$ If you're asking for three different things, I think you'll have more luck if you ask three different questions $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ You can read up the tag wiki here on Puzzling. $\endgroup$
    – Mordechai
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ This is an acceptable type of question to ask on this site. While my first thought is that this should be 3 separate questions, I think these are okay together. Not because they're related, but because Pattern/Lateral thinking shouldn't require a crazy explanation or a ton of information. And ciphers you can be pointed to BG's guide on ciphers: puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/52118/… $\endgroup$
    – n_plum
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ I thought that questions like this should go to the meta? By the way, I suggest you to start with riddles. It's the easiest for me (to build) by far. Just stick to a rhyme dictionary, Wikipedia, thesaurus, calculator, and boom! one question submitted. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


1: Patterns

I'll start with a few good answers (good because they describe the solution method):

With patterns, well, basically look for a pattern. Try the most obvious thing, and if that doesn't work, try the next most obvious thing. Sometimes there are hints from the flavortext, and almost always the title gives a big hint. As in the first nice answer, notice some patterns that seem to almost work and think about what other sequences have that property. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but more often than not this helps.

2: Ciphers

For ciphers, there is this excellent resource (thanks to Beastly Gerbil) which explains tonnes about ciphers.

  1. Lateral thinking

There's really no 'one size fits all' method for this. As stack reader said, looking at the puzzle from a different perspective is key. The best way to learn to look from different perspectives, in my opinion, would be to try questions. Here's a nice list to start you off:

The quickest way to get more puzzles would be to just search them up under tags at the top right, or by clicking on these:


I have no "material" to suggest as I have never used any, but here are some advices.

1- Patterns :

Just look at existing pattern puzzles, and pay attention to the answers. It could be anything from chain of numbers to shapes or repeating logical patterns. The only kind of material that I could imagine helping you would be some that shows you many examples.

2-Cipher :

This is a hard one, some basic knowledge on ciphers would be necessary, but where to start? There is way too many ciphers and most would be way too hard for common folks like us to simply crack by hand in a casual puzzles.

There are a very few simple ciphers that are frequently used in puzzles like ROT or Cesar but the best thing to do is just to look at a few examples on stackexchange and see which ones are frequent.

Any decent cipher puzzle will give subtle hints as to which cipher algorithm is needed and if none are given, the puzzle makers are pretty much just being jerks.

The real challenge is usually finding the password to unlock the cipher. The actual deciphering job should be done by a tool you can easily find online.

3-Lateral thinking

Simply put, thinking outside the box. I doubt any books will help you with that. Some people are better than others to get out of their comfort zone and see things from other perspectives, but mostly these puzzles are accessible to all. Just do like us, read the question over and over and stare at the screen until you get that "AH!" moment.

4-Practice makes perfect.

This is by far the most important thing. No one is good at first when they start puzzling. Puzzles are meant to be clever and most of the time trick you away from the good answer. There is no one way to solve puzzles that can be learned. If there was, it would pretty much break the whole purpose of puzzles. When a puzzle type gets too easy, people will revamp it with twists and such.

Read a lot of examples, practice a lot and train your brain! It is the only way to keep up!

  • $\begingroup$ Awesome, thank you both for the answer, however the first one appealed more to me $\endgroup$
    – innicoder
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 13:18

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