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It's not everyday that I have the pleasure of reviewing a puzzle from someone that I truly respect and has been an inspiration when it comes to collecting puzzles. I remember back in 2008, when I first started to "gather" all these magnificent objects, looking at her collection in awe. I'm, of course, talking about miss puzzles, Roxanne Wong.
Her first venture into the world of puzzle design debuted last year with the Pionir Pyramid, which was her exchange puzzle at the IPP 32 in Washington D.C. With the help of Mr. Fok, the manufacturing was entrusted to MF8, which implemented the convenient blocking mechanism that prevents the puzzle from being accidentally scrambled.
Rox was inspired by a classic puzzle, the Pionir Cube, which also had beads around its edges. If you know the Varikon puzzles, it's the same concept except it has cubes instead of beads. You can look at the Pionir Pyramid as a natural evolution from its cube predecessor, just like the Meffert's Pyraminx is to the Rubik's Cube (except the Pyraminx was invented first).
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The Pionir Pyramid is, in theory, easier to solve than the cube version. There are a total of 52 beads, whereas on the cube you have 67 beads. I haven't actually tried the Pionir Cube, so can't really test which one is faster to solve. The Pyramid did take a while to be fully solved, and I didn't solve it in one sitting. That's where the blocking mechanism comes in handy to keep the beads in place, so you don't have to start from scratch every time you pick it up.
The object is fairly simple, although it takes some patience and concentration to solve it, mostly because the steps are repetitive and have to be done in a sequence: There's a "missing bead" to allow a space for the beads to move around, and the goal is to get each of the eight edges with the same color. The movement of the beads is relatively smooth. It might need the occasional tap on the surface to make the beads slide across the edges, but other than that it has a good quality build.
The diagonal edges carry six beads each and the horizontal edges seven. If you feel adventurous, you can try a harder challenge, which is to have alternated color patterns on each edge. It can be in groups of 2, 3 or 4, depending on which edge you're going for (vertical or horizontal). Keep in mind which colors belong to which edges (red, light pink, dark blue and green for vertical, and black, light blue, dark pink and yellow for horizontal). There are many different patterns you can go for when you have mastered the puzzle.
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I didn't attend last year's IPP, but I'm glad I could get my hands on this nice little puzzle. Rox's efforts to design the Pionir Pyramid have paid off, at least with know how for her next projects, which I look very much forward to see. If you like sequential puzzles, I highly recommend this one. It's not hard to solve, but it gives a satisfying and rewarding feeling when you do it.
Availability: I got my Pionir Pyramid from PuzzleMaster, but they seem to be out of stock for the moment. Keep checking back for updates on restock, or try to contact Roxanne Wong directly for a copy, as I'm sure she has a few of them still lying around.