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Did you ever felt puzzled over those giant plugboards found at the server rooms? How can they know where each cable goes? - The puzzle I'm reviewing today, the Plugboard, is not so complex, but it can still be a little tricky to find your way around all these strings.
The plugboard-inspired design is very original and the concept is rather unique. There are six plugs attached by strings that need to be connected to the board so that each one fits perfectly without gaps. The solution is unique and each plug has only one possible spot.
The Plugboard measures 14 x 7.5cm (5.5" x 3") and is manufactured in hardwoods. There's a slight noticeable contrast between the darker wood tone of the board and the lighter tone of the plugs, which gives a more appealing overall look. The strings are only there as part of the design and to avoid any loose pieces. Note that the colors of the strings may vary. The picture in the Brilliant Puzzles' website shows red strings and mine came with blue strings - Not that I'm complaining, because I actually prefer blue over any color.
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Being a level 3/5 puzzle, the Plugboard is not extremely challenging, but for a casual puzzler it can a tough nut to crack. The tricky part is that each of the six plugs is unique with pins of different lengths. And that's not all: the holes in the plugboard, all have different depths as well, which explains why there's only one possible configuration to have all plugs in the board.
My first attempt to solve the puzzle didn't take that long - approximately 10 minutes - but I reckon it was because I still had the overall placement of the plugs in my head. Had I been presented with the puzzle in its unsolved state without looking at the solved configuration, and the story would've been different - It might have taken double the time...
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The Plugboard is a hard puzzle to classify. It's not a string puzzle just because it uses strings, as its main use is purely for visual purposes. Can it be considered a packing puzzle? - You do need to place the plugs in a specific configuration within a given limited space, so I guess it has to be... What do you think?
As for the puzzle itself, I really enjoyed solving it. The idea behind it is fantastic and it's not overly complex, so it can be attempted by anyone. To make it more challenging, it would be nice to have an extended board where we had, at least, double the number of plugs. Just an idea for a resourceful craftsman out there...