Cast Hourglass

Posted on Feb 19, 2019 by Gabriel | 3 comments
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The sands of time will torment you with the new Cast Puzzle, the Hourglass. There's no time limit for this hourglass, but will you solve it in a timely manner?

The new Cast Puzzle was designed by Korean JinHoo Ahn and was launched in September 2018. The elegant shape of the puzzle is what gives it its name, but don't let its beauty fool you, because this is a very difficult puzzle, rated as level 6/6. It's not the most difficult Hanayama puzzle, but it will certainly put your solving skills to the test. Once you take it apart, a harder challenge awaits you, as putting it back to its original shape is even more difficult.

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There are four interlocked pieces, which at close inspection revels two groups, each with identical pieces. The goal is to separate all four pieces, one by one. The puzzle is small and the details even smaller, so you need to pay close attention as to where the pieces connect with each other and where exactly is the exit point.

Getting the pieces loose is not a difficult task. What's difficult is to find the correct sequence of movements that allows you to put the pieces where you want them. I found the puzzle a little confusing at first. I didn't know how to position the pieces for the next movement, so I had to use some trial and error until I felt I was close to the solution.

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Sometimes the expression "trial and error" is not very well received, since it's not logical thinking, but think of it this way: if you're trying to solve the puzzle for the first time, and you don't know how to solve it, you need to explore various routes and outcomes to see which ones point you in the right direction. This is not a puzzle to use logical thinking, it's more about dexterity and experimentation.

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Solution: If you get stuck, you can download the solution here.

Closing Comments:

The Cast Hourglass may not be for everyone due to its level of difficulty, but if you like a serious challenge with little to no clues about how to solve it, then this is perfect for you. The design itself is already a good excuse to add it to your collection.

Availability: You can get a copy of the Cast Hourglass at PuzzleMaster for $15.99 CAD. If you like Cast Puzzles, check out Hanayama's collection.

Loyd's 15 - Block & Roll Puzzle

Posted on Feb 5, 2019 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.

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