Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments


(Click to Enlarge)

My latest acquisition is more than a simple puzzle. Invented by Boaz Leicht, the DBox is a construction set that allows you to create on you own endless challenges and solve many existing puzzles. If you're not already convinced, keep reading.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the LiveCube concept, also a similar construction set. Now, I don't have a LiveCube set to compare the two. However, judging from the comments of my fellow puzzle blogger Brian Pletcher, who tried both sets, the DBox cube connections are more stable, as they are twisted together instead of just pressed together.

A DBox set comes with 32 unit cubes. From those, 24 are connector cubes and the remaining eight are receptors. Each unit cube measures 2.5cm (1") and they come in two colors, yellow and blue. Each connector cube has a pin and five holes. They easily attach with each other by connecting two units and twisting them 90º to form a tight bond. Detaching the cubes is equally simple and easy. The receptors have holes in all sides and are used in each segment, for a total of eight. By creating segments of two or more units in any configuration desired, you can create pretty much anything from 2D to 3D challenges.

(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Close-Up of the Unit Cubes; Right: Example of 8 Possible Segments Using All Units

The possibilities of the DBox are endless and I could be here all day trying to describe each and every one of them. Instead, I'm just going to highlight a few of them and direct you to where you can find many more, so you can get a fresh new challenge whenever you like. Also, each DBox comes with a 30 page booklet that gives you a very good sense of what you can do with your puzzle set. A great source for many other challenges is the "Puzzle Will Be Played..." website. Here, there are literally dozens of puzzles that can be easily built with your DBox set.

(Click to Enlarge) - 5x5 Grid Common to Many 2D Challenges

First, I'll start with the 2D Challenges. Many of these are simple and ideal to getting accustomed to the DBox.

The biggest square grid you can do with one DBox set is a 5x5 with 25 units (above), or a 6x5 rectangular grid, if you use 30 units, or even an 8x4 if you use all of them. From these grids, there are many ways to dissect them in multiple flat segments and create countless puzzles. To get the most out of these, try it with another player. Each one of you dissects a given shape into a few segments and gives it to the other to solve it. For an added difficulty, build the segments in a checkered pattern so that the solution to the challenge is also a checkered grid. Below, you can see a couple of these 2D Challenges, that can be solved into a 5x5 grid.

(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Lucky 7; Right: 5x5 Step-Up Pentomino

Besides the 2D dissections, you can also create 2D pattern matching puzzles. In the photos below, you can see one of such puzzles thought up by me. Given the eight square segments as seen from the picture, try to place them side-by-side, forming one of those two shapes, so that each unit cube is next to another one of the same color (the arrangement of the segments in the first picture shows the color rules). This is relatively easy to accomplish, however, if you want to add a little more complexity, try to build this concept, but with a second set. The higher number of segments will surely create a tougher challenge.

(Click to Enlarge) - From the 8 square segments at the left, build the following two shapes as by the rules described above.

(Click to Enlarge) - 3x3 Cube

The 3D challenges can be a little tougher, but also much more rewarding when you solve them. Here, the variety of challenges is far greater than 2D, so there's plenty to try before you even start to get tired of them.

Probably, the most obvious 3D puzzle you can build with your set is the classic Soma Cube by Piet Hein, with seven pieces or segments. The Nob's Cube or the Impuzzables (Red Impuzzable is shown in one of the photos) are other interesting choices of a 3x3 cube dissection that you can try as well. Below, in the pictures are a few examples of these.

(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Impuzzable (Red); Middle: Nob's Cube; Right: Soma Cube

Of Course, a 3x3 cube isn't all you can do as a 3D puzzle. You can also build 3D structures, as shown below. The pictured example is a Step-Star puzzle sculpture by Tom Longtin.

(Click to Enlarge) - Step-Star

You can find on the DBox website or on their Youtube Channel, other interesting challenges or strategy games, many of which suited for two players. One of these is called Symmetrix Duo. The basic rules are as follows: Check the shape chart at the bottom of this page. The players agree on a shape that will be used as the challenge. After distributing the unit cubes as 12 connectors and 4 receptors to each player, you are then required to build 4 segments of your choice that will build the correspondent shape of the current challenge and pass them scrambled to your opponent. The first to solve the shape, wins. For other Strategy Games, check out this page. Stay tuned to their Youtube channel, as they release occasionally competitions where you can win a few prizes, with money included.

To DBox is available at Amazon for about $25 USD.

Closing Comments:

The DBox puzzle is an ambitious and fascinating concept. The diversity of puzzles and challenges you can create is staggering and I believe you won't find many other puzzles out there that are so cost-effective. Just imagine if you had to buy all the puzzles you can easily build with your set. It's an overwhelming thought. The DBox is a powerful game tool that will surely keep you entertained for many months to come without the slightest sign of boredom. If you do get tired of all existing challenges out there, why not create your own puzzles? - If you do, you can share your creation with the DBox community by sending them an e-mail.

My only advice? - If you can afford it, buy two sets, as it will widen much more the number of possible challenges (4x4 cubes, for example)... As if the available ones weren't enough already.


George said...

Interesting, I have a lot of LiveCubes but I have not heard of these Dbox cubes. Livecubes are smaller (1.5cm on a side) and cheaper. The disadvantage is LiveCubes can come apart quite easily. Especially for puzzle pieces where the cubes are laid in a chain which twists in 3D. LiveCubes can also be glued together, which solves this problem but then they are no longer reconfigurable.

Dbox Cube cost (on Amazon): $25/32 cubes
LiveCube bulk cost (puzzlemaster.ca): $30/200 cubes.

So you can get 5 LiveCubes for the cost of one Dbox Cube.

Gabriel said...

You make an interesting point, George. I tried to build a Burr with cubic units out of these, but there's just not enough cubes. I would need at least, another one or two sets. From my experience, I think puzzle segments made with Dbox cubes could withstand those twist movements without any problems. I guess, in the end, one has to weigh the pros and cons between the two products and see which one serves better his goals.

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