(Click to Enlarge)
Continuing with puzzles that have multiple challenges to solve, today's featured puzzled is the Dee Cube by Dee's Invention Corporation in Canada.
The puzzle is comprised by fifteen different pieces that can be assembled into a 4x4x4 cube (read the comments for extra info), but there's much more to it than just building your average cube, as with the Dee Cube's pieces, there are literally thousands of 3D shapes you can create (as of now, there are 59 known shapes).
(Click to Enlarge) - All 15 Pieces
A nice feature of the Dee Cube is that among the fifteen pieces, there are seven that can be used to build the classic 3x3x3 Soma Cube. Since it's a smaller cube than the 4x4x4, it's easier to assemble, in theory... I actually think it's harder, but maybe that's just me. Knowing that there are more than 6000 shapes built by the Soma Cube pieces, then imagine what you can build with a Dee Cube.
I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the puzzle, which is bigger than I thought. It comes packaged in a rectangular shape with 8x4x2 unit cubes (same in inches and 20cm x 10cm x 5cm) and the pieces are made from solid plain wood. There's a smaller size available, with the same number of pieces, packaged in a 3" cube (7.6cm).
My first challenge right after I took it apart was to assemble the cube. This proved to be quite an easy task, as I mainly stacked together the pieces with just the four unit limit in mind and it was done in a couple of minutes. I think the shape of some pieces makes it easier to assemble. However, the easiness of the puzzle stops with the cube shape, though.
(Click to Enlarge) - 4x4x4 Cube
As I started to attempt solving other shapes, I could see how frustrating some of them could be. It's easy when you only have to think about a cube form, but it can be seriously tough to get the right pieces in the right places. There are a some shapes easier than others, so in the beginning, it's best to tackle the easiest first and when you master them, move on to the harder ones.
(Click to Enlarge) - "A"
One simple shape, or two actually, are the Wall and Tower. These can be used as a training for higher difficulty levels. To assemble these two shapes, you'll be using all fifteen pieces, so start by separating the 2D pieces from the 3D ones. Next, from the two groups, build the Wall followed by the Tower. While the Tower is a little bit harder to solve than the Wall, you should be able to assemble both within 10 minutes or so. After this, the other shapes won't look that much difficult.
(Click to Enlarge) - Tower & Wall
Another thing that you can try for yourself is creating your own shapes. Now, unless you build something just by stacking pieces and ending up with a random solid shape, this is much harder to accomplish than you'd think. If you think of a particular shape and want to assemble it with all the pieces, you have to account for the total number of unit cubes necessary to build it. Designing and planning are necessary, but it's definitely an interesting challenge.
If you need an incentive to create new shapes, then you got one. There's currently a contest going on the Dee Cube's website for the person that can build as many new figures as possible. There's over $500 in the prize fund, but it can go up to $1000. To know more, check out this page.
Having so many shapes to solve is a big plus for the Dee Cube. There's something for every level of play, depending on your solving skills. However, the minimalist packaging with the loose pieces is something that could have been improved. A plastic container, for example, because when you're done with the puzzle there's nothing for you to store the pieces in. Other than that, I can definitely recommend the Dee Cube to anyone interested in Soma-type puzzles.