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Continuing my reviews on Puzzle Crafthouse's designs, today's post is about another great puzzle by Dave Janelle, "Around the Barn" which, as its name suggests, has nine different objects and animals related to the life around the barn.
This edge-matching puzzle is comprised by nine octagon-shaped pieces that need to be placed in the frame so that all edge sides next to each other have the same symbol. The symbols are perfectly engraved into the pieces made from Alder wood, and show an incredible level of detail, considering that each piece measures about 4.5cm (1.8").
Dave decided to make the puzzle a little more difficult than your average edge-matching puzzle by getting eight symbols per piece instead of the usual four or even six. While the puzzle is considered to be a level 3+ difficulty, expect to spend a little while "going in circles" around the barn looking for the correct solution. The puzzle is believed to have two different solutions, excluding rotations or mirrored images, but if you do find out more, contact Dave, because he would like to know about them.
Edge-Matching puzzles, particularly the more complex ones, have a fair amount of luck involved that will be essential to determine whether you can solve the puzzle in just a few minutes or in several hours. Suffice it to say, I wasn't lucky enough to fall in the "minutes" category, but rather in the hours', although it was just two of them. I say two, but it could have been much more. It's all about how you choose the pieces and how you manage the available pieces and their symbols.
(Click to Enlarge) - Not Solved
I found that there's a couple of subtleties in the pattern of the symbols you can use to your advantage. If you look closely, one of them is easily spotted, as it's the only one with the same exact symbol repeated four times in a single piece. This special piece can be placed in a strategic spot in the frame, making the solution a lot more easy and with far less possibilities. I have tried to find the second solution with this in mind, by removing a few peripheral pieces and replacing them with others, but haven't succeeded yet.
Solution: Click here, if you'd like to see the puzzle in its solved state.
The outstanding visual appearance of the puzzle alone is sufficient to captivate the attention of any puzzle aficionado or collector, but the challenge itself is also worth a try, for its eight symbol pieces are something you don't see everyday.
Availability: The "Around the Barn" puzzle is available only at Puzzle Crafthouse for $14 USD. If you want a custom designed puzzle with other symbols, just contact the store and they'll do it for you. Other types of wood are also available.