Edelweiss 4.0

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Here's a puzzle that looks as intimidating and difficult as it actually is. No deception - What you see is what you get. A perfect example of simplicity turned into complexity. This is puzzle designing at its best and, when it comes to great puzzles, Jürgen Reiche from Siebenstein-Spiele knows what he's doing.

Edelweiss 4.0, as its name suggests, is made with just four different pieces, but don't let the low number of pieces fool you. This is quite a difficult puzzle. Made from laser-cut wood - wouldn't be possible otherwise due to the size and complexity of the pieces - the puzzle has each of its four pieces in a different natural color to differentiate between them, as they're quite detailed, with their edges filled with bumps of different sizes and spacing. The frame is small measuring only 9.1cm in length (3.6").

As with most packing puzzles, the Edelweiss requires some trial and error to be solved, but since the edges of the pieces are so different you'll know beforehand that some combinations aren't possible. This is also an edge-matching puzzle, since all pieces must match their adjacent neighbors in two ways. The pieces must also match the corners of the frame.

This has a difficulty rating of 8/10 from PuzzleMaster and 4/7 from the manufacturer. The manufacturer's, however, makes it look like an average difficulty puzzle and I don't agree. I reckon PuzzleMaster's rating is more accurate, as it shows how challenging this puzzle actually is.



Closing Comments:

I love puzzles like the Edelweiss 4.0. It challenges your way of thinking, without making it completely frustrating. There's a logic to it, you just have to find it. If you think this is too easy, Siebenstein-Spiele also has a 9-Piece version, appropriately called the Edelweiss 9.0.

Availability: Edelweiss 4.0 is available from PuzzleMaster for just $15.99 CAD. Check out other great puzzles by Siebenstein-Spiele.


V-Sphere

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The Rubik's Cube was the first puzzle in my collection. Ever since, I collected an assortment of puzzles with different shapes, sizes and colors. Once you start realizing how many different puzzles are there, you'll certainly feel overwhelmed and spoiled for choice. Over the years, I developed a preference for sliding puzzles, but never forgot which type of puzzle got it all started.

So, it's not difficult to understand why I was so excited when I first heard about the V-Sphere, a combination of Rubik-like solving with a 3D sliding mechanism. It's the perfect combination. Now, all that was needed to prove was if the mechanism was good enough to provide a pleasurable and satisfactory experience, which many puzzles fail to deliver.

Fortunately enough, I had nothing to fear. The V-Sphere is manufactured by one of the most respectable and dedicated companies that produce twisty puzzles, the V-Cube by Verdes Innovations. Their flagship V-Cubes are some of the most appreciated and high quality twisty puzzles you can find, and so, the V-Sphere is not any different. The puzzle was invented by Greek designer George Chronopoulos.

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So, what is the V-Sphere anyway?

The V-Sphere is an intimidating puzzle with 8 spherical triangles fixed to the internal frame and six rows of tiles that cross the entire perimeter of the sphere. Each triangle has a different color and is surrounded by 12 moveable tiles, except for one triangle (blue), where it has only 11 tiles surrounding it. I would've preferred to have another color with the missing piece, like the white one for example, since I like the blue color most, but it's just a minor annoyance. The missing piece is so that there is space to move the tiles around to mix and solve the puzzle. Since the blue triangle is the one with one piece missing, you should leave it for last, as it will be solved automatically when you solve all the other seven triangles.

This is quite a fun puzzle to mix, I should say. Well, most puzzles are fun to mix and scramble, but the V-Sphere, with its smooth mechanism, adds another layer of fun to the experience. You should try and have all the colors well mixed and not have more than two identical colors adjacent to each other. Only then should you try and solve it. And that is when the real challenge begins...

The V-Sphere is hard to categorize in terms of difficulty. It will depend much on your skill level. If you've been solving twisty puzzles for a while, especially the higher difficulty ones, like the V-Cube 4 and upwards, then this should be a walk in the park. If you struggle to solve a 3x3x3 cube, then this will definitely be an interesting challenge, to say the least. Don't despair though, because I still think the V-Sphere is a little easier to solve than a 3x3x3 cube. Patience and persistence will, in the end, be rewarded.

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Closing Comments:

The V-Sphere is a superb puzzle, even if it's just to mix and play without worrying about solving it. It's a great stress reliever, and most importantly a great exercise for your brain. It is among my favorite 3D sliding puzzles, and that's saying a lot. I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in puzzles, albeit a bit difficult for newcomers.

Availability: You can find the V-Sphere at JWS Europe.

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Cast Dot

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Akio Yamamoto is one of the most prolific puzzle designers when it comes to Hanayama. At least, 13 of the 70+ Cast Puzzles available are from the Japanese designer, all of them rather unique puzzles in their own way. The latest to join the family is the Cast Dot, an intriguing but fun puzzle to play with.

The Cast Dot comes in two identical pieces, one black and one silver. Quite honestly, I would have preferred to have the combination of silver and gold, like many other beautiful Cast puzzles. Nevertheless, it's a stunning puzzle. The idea is to disentangle the two pieces by figuring out how the dots interact with each other.

This is one of those puzzles that's easy to take apart, but quite a whole different story to put back together - well, most disentanglement puzzles, actually. Think of the pieces interacting with each other as folding paper. It's like doing Origami, but without the possibility of messing up the paper...

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This is a level 2/6, rated by Hanayama, but I half agree. You see, you have two tasks: one is to take the pieces apart, which is fairly easy and accomplished within a couple of minutes; the other part, however, not that easy, and definitely not a level 2. I'd say it's more like a level 4, which is already a rather difficult challenge.

I found there are multiple ways to solve this puzzle, both by taking it apart and by putting it back together. To ease your task of getting it back together, I suggest taking a photo of the solved puzzle, so you know where you should go. Since there are multiple ways of getting there, just keep trying until you reach the final position. The ride is pretty fun and not at all frustrating.

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Closing Comments:

The Cast Dot was a very pleasant surprise. I was expecting an easy puzzle, as suggested by Hanayama, but what I found was a much more challenging puzzle - in a good way. It just goes to show you that you shouldn't tackle a puzzle by underestimating its difficulty. It just might surprise you. Whether you like it or not, that depends on how you like your puzzles...

Availability: The Cast Dot and all of its Hanayama brethren are available at PuzzleMaster.


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