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And yet another milestone is reached. Three and a half years later, I'm writing my 400th post on a blog that I never thought would be this popular. Fast approaching 300.000 page views, I reckon it's safe to assume someone must read this thing. With the added responsibility of writing something worth reading, my choice of puzzles to review becomes a little harder, but I'm rewarded with the occasional treasure. These treasures are what I like to call my top 10 from the last 100, a small list of puzzles I consider must-haves in any respectable collection. Read on, as I start the countdown from number 10. You can also click on their names for the full review and where to buy them.
I start with my favorite puzzle designer, Jean Claude Constantin. With over 50 reviews on my blog so far, it's hard not to include at least one or two in the top. Die Welle has a very elegant design, it's a sequential movement puzzle, more specifically a quinary or 5-ary, and the goal is to move all three balls from the right to the left. Concentration and patience are required as you try and solve one of the best-looking sequential puzzles out there with an unconventional curved design over the more traditional right angled puzzles.
Dubbed the round Rainbow Cube, the Twistball concept was designed by Josip Matijek in 1989, even though it was only launched a couple of years ago. The puzzle is well built and the movement is smooth, but the painted tiles aren't perfect, leaving sometimes a smudgy patch of paint. With 13 different Twistballs commercially available, ranging from easy to extreme difficulty, and a promise of more to come it's easy to understand why this Twisty puzzle has been so popular.
Oskar's contribution to SmartGames portfolio is one of the best designs in puzzle games since Rush Hour. Probably not a coincidence, Anti-Virus has a somewhat similar concept to its older cousin. With nine colored pieces and two blockers (static tokens), your task is to get rid of the virus, the red piece, by sliding pieces along the board until you free a path to the exit point. I found the Anti-Virus a little harder than Rush Hour, mainly because the movement of the pieces is done diagonally which is less intuitive. A very colorful puzzle game with 60 challenges that will sure put your skills to the test.
When Jerry Loo, a fellow puzzle blogger, launched his first ever puzzle design I was quite excited about it. After all, we bloggers weren't on the other side of the fence anymore. His concept? A very clever hidden mechanism inside an aluminum cylinder, simply called Ball in Cylinder No.1, where the objective is to remove a metal sphere. The puzzle was so well designed I couldn't ever thought it was coming from a newbie. Judging by the great craftsmanship that went into the building of Cylinder No.1, I can only expect great things from its successor.
Every year at the International Puzzle Party, Robrecht Louage presents us with yet another great design. Over the last few years his contributions consisted of a very simple concept: a maze, a coin and some other features that it's best not to divulge. The goal is always the same, remove the coin, but what strikes me is that each year he comes up with a design seemingly better than its predecessor. This year's puzzle was the Escape from Alcatraz, and the design alone is very original, but no matter how many of his puzzles you solve, he always has some way of surprising you and this one is no different.
Splinter Spierenburgh is another talented puzzle designer that surprised me last year with his first design, the MazeRoll, also featured in the last IPP. I loved that puzzle so much that I had high hopes for its successor. Fortunately, Splinter delivered yet another piece of genius, the Burgh Lock. This is among the best Trick Locks I've tried so far and knowing that it's the first time Splinter has tried to build one of these it makes it even more special. It's also the first Trick Lock made from 3D printing I've ever come across with.
Over the past year I've been quite obsessed with Siebenstein-Spiele for their magnificent craftsmanship and gorgeous puzzle designs. Similar in style to what you know from Jean Claude Constantin it's easy to fall in love with their puzzles too. The best-looking one I currently have in my collection is the Safe, a superbly designed puzzle by Jürgen Reiche reminiscent of a measure instrument from centuries past. The puzzle features a double maze with rotating discs and a trapped coin. The object is to simply remove the coin, but the puzzle itself is very challenging. An excellent puzzle for the more experienced puzzler.
Designed by a Russian duo, Dmitry Pevnitskiy and Kirill Grebnev, the Cast Harmony is one of the most beautiful puzzles ever released by Hanayama. The puzzle was first introduced in the 30th IPP and even won two awards that year, the Puzzlers' Award and the Jury First Prize. The goal is to separate both pieces and that's not even hard to accomplish, but the design speaks for itself. Puzzle design is an art and the Cast Harmony proves it.
I'm a sucker for puzzles that offer you plenty of challenges and different ways to play with them. The Roundominoes, designed by Kate Jones and produced by Puzumi Puzzles, is a perfect example of best value for money, as it comes with a 15-page booklet full of challenges for you to solve, including a few 2-player games. Made from 28 laser-cut acrylic pieces and seven vibrant colors it's very easy to get absorbed into this mesmerizing design and its addicting challenges. A true puzzler's dream.
Despite being my favorite puzzle designer, it's actually the first time one of Constantin's designs made it into number 1 in my top 10's. It just shows you how unique this puzzle is. I guess you could say it was love at first sight, since I was instantly drawn to it when I first saw it. All those gears and the different wood colors combine in a perfect way to make it one of the most stunning puzzles I currently own in my collection. The goal is to have all touching colors in the four main gears match. Once mixed up, it's actually a very tough puzzle to solve, but it's pure fun and joy to play with it. Absolutely recommended for anyone slightly interested in puzzles.
There you have it. 10 perfect gift ideas for the coming holidays. As always, for me, it's great to look back and see another 100 posts published, see the blog growing in numbers, see the comments in the reviews and getting feedback from you. Here's to another 100, and next time it's gonna be special with my 500th post. Stay tuned for more and thank you for reading.