|(Click to Enlarge)|
Tantrix has been around since 1988 and was invented by Mike McManaway from New Zealand, although the origins of the puzzle are even older and with some differences. There have been many different versions of the Tantrix, but I'm going to discuss only on the Discovery one, and since I'm more into puzzles than games, I will only focus on the puzzle aspect of it, even though Tantrix is better known as a strategy game.
For someone unfamiliar with the concept, the Tantrix Discovery is the perfect set to start. It comes with 10 distinct hexagonal tiles made from Bakelite (or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, for short), numbered and each with three lines of different colors. The lines can be curved or straight and, when connected, the tiles form all kinds of patterns. In this case, closed loops as required for the solo puzzles.
There are so many types of puzzles you can do with a set of Tantrix tiles, especially the 56 tile set, that I'm afraid the review would be too long if I mentioned all of them. Since the Discovery set is simpler, which helps to better understand the rules, there are only a few things you should keep in mind:
- First, place the tiles with the numbers facing up. Notice that the numbers have different colors.
- Pick the first three tiles and build a loop. Since the no.3 tile is yellow, the loop will also be yellow.
- Next, pick the tile no.4 and build a loop with the extra tile. Pay attention to the color of the number.
- You should continue with the same rules until you reach the final 10th tile. Here, you can build a loop with any of three colors, although red is easier and yellow is the hardest.
- When building a loop, all adjacent colored lines must match. Not just the ones in the intended loop.
- No holes are allowed in the construction of the loop.
(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Wrong arrangement (secondary lines don't match and there's a hole); Right: Correct arrangement
With this set of rules you're now ready to tackle the Discovery puzzles. The difficulty is obviously going to increase as you progress to bigger loops, but from what I've experienced they're easier than the expected times printed on the package, even though I was trying them for the first time. The last loop for the 10 tiles, the red one is expected to be solved in 18 minutes, but I was able to solve it within 10 minutes. All the others were solved within 5 minutes. I'm sure the 56 tile set is much harder, however, I found this simplified set too easy.
(Click to Enlarge) - Loops made with 3, 5 and 10 tiles, respectively.
The Tantrix Discovery is a great way to get to know this amazing concept. Most of you won't be able to stop with just this set and will want to venture to harder paths. Still, the Discovery set is a lot of fun to play with and I highly recommend it.