Loyd's 15 - Block & Roll Puzzle

Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments
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Loyd's 15 is one of the most popular sliding puzzles of all time. Comprising 15 sliding tiles across a 4x4 grid, the missing "16th" number provided an empty space to move the tiles around the frame and solve the puzzle in a variety of solutions. Ever since its first introduction at the end of the 19th century, countless designs of the 15 Puzzle were created. One of such designs was made by Doug Engel, and I love its originality. It's made by BrainWright and it's called The Block & Roll Puzzle, and instead of numbers, you'll be playing with colored marbles.

So, how does this work? Is it just a simple exchange of numbers for colors? Well, not exactly. At first glance, there seems to be very few similarities between this puzzle and the classic version, besides the fact that you'll be sliding your way around a 4x4 grid. And indeed, the two puzzles couldn't be more different... and that's a good thing.

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15 marbles make up the four groups of orange, yellow, purple and green colors. Unlike the original 15 Puzzle, here you'll be constrained by two barriers that will prevent you from freely navigate the marbles from one row to the other, just like a labyrinth. This is clearly seen in the photos, where two of the rows (one in the front and another in the back) have been cut in half and no marble can pass across it. This will, of course, raise the difficulty to a higher level than the original version.

One thing that I always like about puzzles is the ability to create patterns or to have multiple solutions. Here, The Block & Roll Puzzle does this in great style, as it offers you 44 different challenges with patterns to reproduce exactly as you see them. The challenges will be quite difficult, as the first two challenges seen in the photos took me around 30 minutes to solve. Not a bad thing, though, since I like a good challenge.

(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Challenge 1; Right: Challenge 2

Closing Comments:

Loyd's 15 The Block & Roll Puzzle is yet another great sliding puzzle that I'm happy to add to my collection. The concept is different from what I'm used to see in sliding puzzles, and the high difficulty will certainly test your patience and solving skills. Definitely recommended.

Availability: The Block & Roll Puzzle can be found at PuzzleMaster for just $14.99 CAD. Check out other cool puzzles by BrainWright.

Cat Stax

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
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Over the years I've come to really enjoy puzzles made by BrainWright. They always have these original designs that are quite fun to play with, but also rather challenging. And that's what I look for in a puzzle, really. Cat Stax, created by Bob Ferron, is such a cute and nice puzzle that will delight cat lovers around the world.

The puzzle comes in a travel-like package, which is light and small so you can take it with you to kill some time on a long trip. Inside, 12 different cats await for you to start playing with them. To get you started, 48 challenges divided in four difficult levels promise to keep you busy for quite a while. You can also put your creative skills to the test and create your own puzzles, since there are almost infinite combinations to stack and nest the cats in all sorts of arrangements.

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The goal is to choose a particular card and arrange the cats so they fit inside the grid provided in the challenge. You must nest the cats in a way so that they won't go outside the grid. Depending on the challenge, you could be solving a 2D puzzle or a 3D puzzle. Each card will tell you how many layers a specific puzzle must have in order to be solved.

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As expected, the 3D puzzles are much harder and complex to solve than their 2D counterparts. Nevertheless, if you solve the puzzles in the correct sequence, they are introduced gradually in difficulty, so it's not like you're thrown an impossible challenge. Since I'm more of a fan of 2D puzzles, I naturally like them better, but I also had fun with the 3D challenges. The only drawback is that, because you don't have a box to place the pieces inside when solving a 3D challenge, it's much more difficult to visualize how to stack the cats together. Other than that, this is a great puzzle.

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Closing Comments:

Cat Stax is a really cleverly designed puzzle. As a cat lover myself, I found it very entertaining and challenging enough for my solving skills. If you're not that fond of cats, don't despair, there's also a dog version and a farm animals version.

Availability: You can find the Cat Stax puzzle at PuzzleMaster for $21.99 CAD. Check out other puzzles by BrainWright as well.

Tower Puzzle

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
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Ah, Sliding-Piece puzzles! My Kryptonite... Every time I can get my hands on one of these I feel like a kid again. This is the type of puzzle that I knew of way before starting my puzzle collection. They always fascinated me somehow.

The Tower Puzzle is a superb puzzle, in the sense that it not only has you slide the pieces from the classic arrangement of A to B, but also from A to C and A to D. A slide puzzle with multiple solutions, you say? Count me in...

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 1 (26 moves)
This is what Russian puzzle designer Vladimir Krasnoukhov came up with for the 37th IPP in Paris, France, in 2017. This is quite an original design for a slide puzzle, and I was excited to have a try. As you may know, the classic slide puzzle has an usual arrangement of 8 pieces laid in a 3x3 grid with an empty space so you can move the pieces around. This time, you do have the same number of pieces, but instead of perfectly square tiles, the Tower Puzzle has three different sized pieces. And this is where it gets complicated.

So, first of all, the design: I really love the design and overall look of the puzzle. The dark color of the tiles contrasts beautifully with the yellow contours of the images of the Eiffel Tower and surrounding buildings. It looks like a nightscape where you only see the silhouettes and nothing else. Really stunning. It measures 10.1cm x 9.3cm (4" x 3.7").

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 2 (61 moves)
Since the pieces are not the same size, you need a slightly different approach from the usual 3x3 sliding puzzles. But the idea is the same. Get the pieces from one location to the other. If one challenge wasn't enough already, you are given three different tasks, each one moving the Eiffel Tower farther away from its starting position. The first challenge is easy, with only 26 minimum moves. However, the third and most complicated challenge involves a total of 115 moves, so a lot of planning is necessary in order to solve it.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 3 (115 moves)
Closing Comments:

I did find the last challenge a bit difficult, but nothing extraordinarily hard or frustrating. If you know how to solve sliding puzzles, you're pretty much in known territory and only a few minutes will separate you from the goal. Nevertheless, it's still great fun to solve it and I highly recommend it for sliding puzzle enthusiasts.

Availability: You can get a copy of the Tower Puzzle from PuzzleMaster for $26.99 CAD. Also, check out other great puzzles by Vladimir Krasnoukhov.

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