## Dee Cube

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(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.

**Closing Comments:**

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.

## 7 comments:

Do you know how many solutions there are for the 4x4x4 using the Dee Cube pieces? I devised another 4x4x4 packing problem and was rather amazed when I asked BurrTools to calculate the number of solutions. It chunked away for many minutes and I grew impatient. But eventually I let it run overnight and it finished with a count over 3 million! And yet, it is not trivial to find a solution by hand. Not hard, but not trivial.

Thanks for the info, George. That's quite an impressive number. I actually thought it was easy to find a solution. Probably, I was lucky enough to find one of the easiest ones, but I think overall, it's easier than the Soma Cube, despite the higher number of pieces.

Cheers ;-)

The number of 4x4x4 solutions for the Dee Cube is also very large. I entered it into BurrTools, and it has already found a million solutions in only 6 minutes of run time, with "years" remaining! Have you tried a Bedlam Cube? This is much, much harder. As I recall the number of solutions is less than 1000, I have never found one by hand. Not so much fun, though. :(

The Bedlam Cube has over 19000 solutions and I also think it's one of the hardest in the Soma family. I don't think I ever found more than two solutions for this one. I believe the difficulty has more to do with the nature of the pieces than with their actual quantity. That's why I think the Soma Cube is harder than the Dee Cube.

The Bedlam Cube is harder because most of the pieces are 3D, and they all are made from 5 or 6 cubies. A few small 2D pieces help a lot because they can be "saved for last". By the way, it is also possible to make a 3x3x3 cube from the Bedlam pieces ... but this is also quite tricky.

The 3x3x3 Bedlam, I didn't know. I have to try that. You know, the Bedlam Cube was my second obsession, shortly after I started my collection. I remember seeing all these cool different versions and special editions, so I also started to collecting them and ended up with 25 of them. They have now been rebranded to Crazee Cube and I sort of lost interest in collecting them... As if 25 of them wasn't enough :P

The standard size Dee Cube, which is the one shown here, is now available with a draw-string muslin bag from the Dee Cube website.

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