Crux Club – Mob Treasure [Hivemind Review]

Mob Treasure is a puzzle book treasure hunt created by Crux Club.

Mob Treasure book cover and open book displaying a puzzle.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Book
  • Light puzzle hunt
  • Play on demand

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, mobile device, pen and paper, scissors

Expect to use an internet-connected device (phone or PC) to do research for some of the puzzles.

Recommended Team Size: 1-3

Play Time: No game clock. Chapters took anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so of active puzzling.

Price: $15.99

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure

Description

In this book, you are on a quest to find the rumored treasure of mobster Dutch Schultz. This treasure hunt is divided into fifteen chapters full of illustrations and a bit of text, and each chapter contains about five puzzles. To solve each puzzle, you must analyze the information within the chapter and sometimes consult outside sources. You verify your answer by comparing it to the solution list in the back of the book. Once you have completed all of the puzzles within a chapter, you may proceed to the next chapter.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Mob Treasure takes you on a journey into the seedy world of organized crime and all the casinos, restaurants, and bootlegging dens that normally come with it. This puzzle book follows the story of you as you solve puzzles in your fictional search for a hidden treasure that may or may not actually exist IRL.

It’s just about impossible to talk about individual puzzles here. There are 75 of them divided into chapters of 5 puzzles each – 4 plus a meta, specifically. There is a very broad range of puzzle types and difficulties, making this a good choice for small groups of solvers of mixed experience levels. Most puzzles were very fair and fun to solve. We utilized the hint systems a few times, and the solutions once or twice for puzzles that totally stumped us. Interestingly, the same hints in the back of the book are available online, but the online version offers them in smaller progressive chunks.

Ultimately, the usage of real people and a “real” treasure leads to mixed feelings. While it was nice to learn about a mobster I had never heard of, I felt unsure when a puzzle was asking me to do some outside research. And the ending exposition felt very stunted after 75 puzzles.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

I’ll start this review by saying that, overall, I enjoyed Mob Treasure. There were some fun “aha!” moments and most definitely a robust amount of content for the price point. I typically find myself enjoying most of these narrative-laden puzzle books, though they can be quite frustrating at times. I’ve played several over the years to varying degrees of enjoyment. Mob Treasure was largely more puzzle-y and did a fine job of incorporating real life historical facts into the narrative, effectively blurring the lines between fiction and reality. All that said, there were more than a few times that the puzzles felt like a bit of a stretch. Thankfully, this book did what many others of this type failed to do, which was to provide both a light hinting section as well as an answer section. Though I hate to resort to looking up answers, I appreciated that there was a mechanism to give me a nudge in the right direction. Unfortunately, at times, even once I knew the mechanism by which to solve, I was still pretty confused. For me, this book was hit or miss from page to page. But again, overall an enjoyable time. So, if puzzle books are your thing, check it out and see if it’s up your alley!

Brett Kuehner’s Reaction

  • + A huge variety of puzzle types
  • + Lots of puzzling for a low cost
  • + Varying difficulty levels could make it good for a family to work on together
  • -/+ Some puzzles weren’t to my taste, but since the book provided hints and solutions, I could skip the ones I didn’t enjoy.
  • – Art quality varies considerably (though it is all at least functional)
  • ? Just enough story to stitch together the puzzles. If you are primarily interested in puzzles, you’ll probably be glad you don’t have to wade through lots of text to get to them. If you want a detailed narrative, you may be disappointed.
  • + Some puzzles go beyond the book and require outside research, and the book clearly tells you this might be necessary.
  • + Puzzles take advantage of the properties of paper to give more varied solutions
  • + Because of the puzzle style, variety, and hinting system, I enjoyed this more than some other puzzle books (i.e. Journal29)

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

I found this book to be a satisfactory collection of light puzzle sets that was well suited for quick puzzling sessions over several evenings. The illustrations and scenarios offered a playful rendition of the real-life treasure mystery surrounding mobster Dutch Schultz. Each chapter provided a handful of narratively related puzzles that moved us closer to this goal. Although all of the mobster names, hideouts, treasure maps, and narrow escapes blurred together by the end of the fifteen chapters, they offered fun (though occasionally morbid) vignettes throughout. For a reliable stream of quick dopamine hits, this was a pleasant jaunt.

That said, a small minority of puzzles suffered from some avoidable frustrations, often clustered together by chapter. We caught a few mistakes in either puzzles or their hints, and a couple of puzzles had no discernable path to discovering their gimmick. The puzzles that required outside knowledge felt like Google-centric busywork, and the puzzles that referred to earlier parts of the book often felt like searching for a needle in a haystack. However, if a particular chapter was heavy in these issues, the next usually returned to the even-keeled quality of the rest of the book.

Overall, this was a light, amusing diversion that I would recommend both to novice puzzlers and to anyone who likes to keep a backlog of puzzling materials for a rainy day.

Disclosure: Crux Club provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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