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Jean Claude Constantin might as well be the king of packing puzzles. His designs and concepts are always much more than simple puzzles. He adds little ideas here and there that just makes for a perfect puzzle with an added difficulty, even if you knew the basics of that concept.

A great example of these improved designs is the Nagelbrett (German for Bed of Nails or Pin-Board), using 12 common pentomino pieces. This otherwise ordinary puzzle would be quite easy if it weren't for the pins attached to the tray, which makes it exponentially harder than a regular pentomino puzzle.

The puzzle, as any other Constantin design, is beautifully made in six types of wood and a deep red wooden tray. The result is this magnificent, visually stunning, colorful puzzle. With a diameter of 12.5cm (5"), it's also a pleasant object to handle - Not too big nor too small.

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Each of the twelve pieces has a hole strategically placed to fit one and only one pin. When you have all the pieces correctly placed in the tray, it should have an empty square-shaped space in the middle. Now, I'm not entirely sure the empty space has to be a square, since it does not state anywhere that it should be that way. I'm just assuming that it should be this way, because it comes packaged in this form.

Curiously enough, when I tried to solve the puzzle for the first time I wasn't able to pack the pieces in the correct way to show the empty space in the middle. Instead, I ended up with two empty spaces with the same area. After a careful observation, I easily corrected it by moving just two pieces. There should be other solutions as well with different empty spaces in other shapes, which is actually good for the puzzle's replay value.

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Solving the Nagelbrett can be a little tricky, especially if you don't have experience with packing puzzles. You should pay attention to where each hole is located in the pieces and try placing it in different positions. Fortunately, this is somehow intuitive and after some of the pieces are in place it gets progressively easier. Like I said, you could end up with a different shape or place for the empty space, but that's not exactly an incorrect solution. Just not that elegant like the original one.

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Closing Comments:

The Nagelbrett by Constantin is yet another perfect packing puzzle. It adds an original idea to a known concept combined with a beautiful presentation in several different woods. What else could you ask for? If you're a fan of packing puzzles, this one is a must-have.

Availability: The Nagelbrett came from Brilliant Puzzles, but as of this writing it's out of stock. You can check out other puzzles from Constantin in the meantime. Check their site regularly for restock updates.



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