Down Under

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)
Down Under by Siebenstein-Spiele (designed by Jürgen Reiche) is what I like to call a dynamic packing puzzle. These puzzles have always more than one goal, which makes them much more attractive than a simple and traditional packing puzzle.

Jürgen took the usual pieces used in the majority of packing puzzles (a triomino, three tetrominoes and two pentominoes) and turned them into a whole new puzzle. Made with laser-cut wood and acrylic, the puzzle consists of six distinct pieces, all made with a different type of wood. The acrylic covers 11 of the 25 units of the frame, which means there's a few holes in it that will help you move the pieces around, but it can also be a way to prevent some moves.

When you receive the puzzle, you'll see the T-shaped piece on top of the other five pieces. Removing the T piece will reveal that the other pieces are packed in such a way that they can't move, although there's some empty spaces available. The empty spaces equal the same area of the T, so there's at least one way to fit all the pieces in the frame without empty spaces left.

The main goal of the puzzle is to get the T inside the frame with the other five pieces, but there's also a couple other challenges you can attempt to do. But first, the main challenge: Removing the T is easy enough, but getting the other pieces out requires a careful sequence of movements, since the openings in the acrylic are narrow. Equally challenging is replacing all six pieces on the frame. You need to pack them in a specific order, so it's best if you already know how they're going to be arranged.

I suggest you try to solve the puzzle outside the frame first, and when you manage to solve the 5x5 square with all the pieces, think of a way to pack each piece at a time to recreate the same pattern you did before. If you're having trouble fitting the pieces inside the frame try to rotate your piece configuration by 90 or 180 degrees. The first couple of pieces can comfortably be rotated inside, since there's still a lot of room to shift them around. With each additional piece packed, it becomes harder, so choose wisely which piece goes first.

The other challenges seem interesting as well, although I didn't have time to solve them yet. They consist of getting fewer pieces inside the frame in such a way that they can't move in any direction. Do this with five pieces, then with four, and also with only three pieces. There's at least one solution for each.

I noticed that the puzzle currently on display at Brilliant Puzzles is a little different from mine. The frame has straight edges instead of concave, like mine, and the acrylic cover is mirrored from mine, although it doesn't affect playing at all. Also, the pieces have only two tones and mine has six. If you're picky about your puzzles, make sure you contact them before placing an order to know which version you're gonna get. I personally prefer the one I got, for obvious reasons, since it looks much better.


Closing Comments:

Down Under is a lovely puzzle. Although it's rated as a level 4/5, I reckon it's a little easier than that, but still challenging and fun enough to entertain you for a while.

Availability: Down Under is available at Brilliant Puzzles for $25.95 USD. You can also get other designs by Siebenstein-Spiele.


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