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Deducktion, another clever design by Raf Peeters and produced by SmartGames, is a logic game where you can play with numbers in a fun way, and it's also very educational for the young and growing minds. If you like mathematical puzzles and games, keep reading to find out how it works.

The game is nicely presented in a notebook style with clasp. Inside you'll find two sets of booklets with 48 challenges on the left, divided by four difficulty levels -- could've been more, but it's enough to get you busy for a while -- and a magnetic board with 12 duck magnets on the right. The ducks are grouped in three families, each color representing one family comprised of a mother duck and its corresponding ducklings. There's a 3x4 grid which shall be filled entirely by the 12 ducks, although there are some rules to take into account before you start:

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 6

- When starting a challenge pay attention to the numbers and colors on the squares.
- There can be an isolated number without a specific color, or just a color, or even both (more common on the starting challenges). These squares can indicate that a specific duck with that number should be placed on that same square, but may not indicate its color, or the opposite, where you are given the color but not the actual number - You have to figure out for yourself. If there's a square with a color and a number, no "deducktion" is necessary - it's that specific duck.
- Each duck family must be placed on the board in a chain. This chain may not be straight, but the numbers do have to be adjacent (for example, you can't have duck #4 next to #2 and so on). The chain needs to have the correct number sequence (horizontally or vertically).

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 29

The logic behind this game reminds of Sudoku, because you have to use strategic planning and deductive reasoning skills. Since I love Sudoku so much, it's easy to understand why I also enjoyed Deducktion. The subtle but creative way that the designer found to have bigger and smaller duck families allows you to find the correct logic in every challenge to solve them (green family has only three ducks; red family has four and yellow family has five ducks). You'll have just the necessary information to solve all 48 challenges.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 42
Closing Comments:

Deducktion is one of the most educational games you can find in the SmartGames catalog. It's a great tool to exercise your brain, whether it's for a growing 6 year-old or a 66+ year-old that needs to keep their brain as sharp as possible. If you know anyone that can't have enough Sudoku puzzles, this is a great gift for them.

Availability: Amazon is your best bet to find the Deducktion game or any other by SmartGames.

No Way

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No Way is an interesting packing puzzle produced by Brilliant Puzzles, and it's actually a 2-in-1, as you have two challenges to solve, both of them quite difficult.

This is a well made puzzle built from hardwood, quite strong and resistible. Five pieces, all different, comprise this unusual packing puzzle. Its dimensions are moderate for this kind of puzzle, measuring about 11.5 x 13 cm (4.52" x 5.12"). It's a double-sided tray, meaning twice the fun.

Jean Claude Constantin has a version of this puzzle called Fact, which is what four of the five pieces represent: F A C T. The original version was presented at the 20th IPP by Luc de Smet. The two puzzles are similar, but the original is only one challenge. Which one you should get would depend on what you want from a puzzle, looks or challenge.

(Click to Enlarge) - Second Challenge
There are two main objectives in this puzzle. The first is an odd-shaped tray where all the pieces should fit exactly inside the boarders of the puzzle without any wiggle room. This is a bit difficult, but an experienced puzzler can solve it pretty quickly. The second challenge, however, is much mode demanding and requires a bit of outside-the-box thinking. The reason for this is that the second tray has uneven dimensions compared to the pieces, so there's a very specific way to pack the pieces in a way  that they all fit inside with very little room to spare.

Since I already knew Constantin's version, this one was solved in no time, but if you're unfamiliar with the concept, I reckon it could be rather challenging to solve. There's the extra challenge with the odd-shaped tray, which is a bonus - that one actually took a while to solve - so not everything was spoiled.

Closing Comments:

No Way is a great puzzle for anyone looking for a challenge...or two. It's a cheap, but good quality puzzle, so it's a no-brainer.

Availability: No Way is out of stock as of the writing of this review. You can check out Brilliant Puzzles website regularly or ask for restock dates.

Puzzle Pod Junior

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From the creators of puzzles such as Puzzle Pod Cryptex (previously reviewed) and Vino Vault, comes a new puzzle for all gift lovers out there. Puzzle Pod Junior offers a fun and interesting way of getting your loved ones a thoughtful gift with an adventure attached to it.

For someone who's not very creative when it comes to gifts, the Puzzle Pod Junior is the perfect way to overcome that. Offering money or a gift card is a nice way of giving the other person an option to get what they wanted without running the risk of disappoint them. What better way to do that than enclosing the money or a gift card with the Puzzle Pod Junior?

The puzzle is pretty small compared to the original. It measures about 10.5 x 9.5 cm (4.13" x 3.74"). While the original was used for small objects, this one is specifically used for money or gift cards: basically, anything that fits inside the small compartment (8.3 x 10.2 x 0.2 cm or 3.27" x 4.02" x 0.08"). The puzzle unlocks by rotating the three discs so that the three key letters are aligned with the arrow at the top of the puzzle. When that happens the back of the puzzle slides off as a drawer, showcasing its contents to the deserving enigma solver.

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The idea of this puzzle is similar to the original Puzzle Pod, in that you set a keyword that unlocks the puzzle and its contents for the person you're giving the gift. The key is any three-letter word you can think of, but it's not limited to three letter words. You can use three words and set the key to the first letter of each word, or the first three letters of a bigger word, or assign letters to numbers from an equation. You see, there's a myriad of options, only limited by your creativity.

When you have your keyword ready you can then set the provided stickers accordingly to the puzzle and lock it. All you need now is to give some clues to the recipient of the gift and see them struggle to solve the cryptic puzzle.

The only drawback from this puzzle is that, unlike its predecessor, there's no easy way to reset it. It can only be used once, since the stickers are very hard to pull off once they're on the puzzle. While it's true that the puzzle only serves one purpose for the person who's giving the gift, it could be recycled, as the gift recipient could've use it again to offer something to another person. One could use the same clues or new ones for the same keyword, though.

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Closing Comments:

While in practice it can only be used once, the Puzzle Pod Junior is perfect for offering money or a gift card, instead of just being another dull or a banal present. The puzzle provides the gift giver and recipient a way of engaging in a creative and fun adventure of puzzle deciphering, which would be something difficult to accomplish otherwise.

Availability: You can find the Puzzle Pod Junior in the following links:


Video Demonstration - Courtesy of

Ghost Hunters

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Do you believe in ghosts? You better, because SmartGames' latest logic game is haunted, and your task is to hunt every single one until you're ghost-free.  Are you brave enough to move forward? Keep on reading...

Made with the same high quality and effort SmartGames puts in all their products, Ghost Hunters promises a scary but fun ghost-hunting adventure. Presented in their new packaging, which is more practical and travel-friendly, the game shines with personality. The artwork is cartoonish, light-hearted, and the pieces have this translucent effect that enhances the visual effect the flashlights have on the ghosts. It's really well thought-out to the tiniest detail.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 8

The game is pretty simple to understand. There are 30 challenge cards, each with a challenge on both sides, which makes a total of 60 different challenges with four levels of difficulty. The higher the number on a challenge card the harder will be to solve it. There are only six pieces that fill the entire game board (4x4 grid), but the difficulty of this game is not filling the board with the pieces, it's how you do it by following a small set of rules: each piece contains at least one flashlight painted on one side, meaning you can only use that side for the solution; you can successfully capture all ghosts in a given challenge by strategically placing the pieces so that the transparent circles of the light beams cover every ghost; if there's any ghost left covered by the blue part of a puzzle piece or the flashlight design itself, you're doing it wrong.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 33

As usually, the game starts with some challenges that are very easy to solve, to get you acquainted with the game's rules. This means that most pieces' outlines in the starter challenges will be visible, telling you the shape and position of the pieces. Later challenges will only reveal colored flashlights but not the outline of the pieces. Some will only show the flashlights but not their actual color, just position and orientation. But the most challenging ones will only show the actual position of the ghosts. You will have to figure out the rest all by yourself. These are the ones that will put your solving skills to the test, and also your patience.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 55

Closing Comments:

Essentially a packing puzzle with some elements of pattern recognition, this game however, is much more than the sum of its parts. It's a journey of discovery, with many satisfying moments, especially when you finally catch the last ghost of any given challenge. It's quite a fun experience, whether you're a 6 year-old kid or a young at heart 106 year-old chap. It's highly recommended for the whole family.

Availability: You can find the Ghost Hunters game at Amazon or many puzzle stores around the world. Check out other fun games by SmartGames as well. They have many different games that will delight any puzzle enthusiast.

Tetrahedron In Cage

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If you've been following my blog posts for a while, you probably know that Vinco is among my favorite puzzle designers. His puzzles are made with the best quality wood materials and the finish work he applies to all his puzzles is top notch. If there was ever a reason to visit the Czech Republic, Vinco is certainly a very good one.

Tetrahedron in Cage is Vinco's take on a classic design by Stewart Coffin, the Ball Room. This is a very interesting design made with two contrasting wood types, one for the outer frame and the other for the actual pieces. It measures 10 x 6 cm (4" x 2.4").

In the original design you had four pieces made with spheres glued together in different arrangements. The idea was to build a pyramid with those pieces so that it could fit inside a square box. In this version, however, Vinco takes it one step further and makes the puzzle with only three pieces (or is it backwards?). But that's not all...Instead of having a box where you can freely touch the pieces, Vinco made a cage with the pieces already inside, and with little room to wiggle.

Vinco rates this as a difficulty level 4/5, and I completely agree. It's a little challenging to solve. You can separate the solving process into two steps: first you have to figure out how to build a pyramid out of those three different pieces. When you do, you have to actually build the pyramid with the very limited space inside the cage, since you can't take the pieces out. The openings in the sides are all you got to work with. Also, the pyramid won't fit with its base on the bottom, so you also have to work out the actual orientation, and that's maybe the most difficult part of the puzzle.

Closing Comments:

Tetrahedron in Cage is a very clever design by Vinco that shouldn't be missed. I like how it requires a different way of thinking and it messes with your spatial awareness. Definitely recommended for anyone who likes a challenge.

Availability: Tetrahedron in Cage can be purchased at Brilliant Puzzles for just $16.95 USD. Many other designs from Vinco are available.

Parking Puzzler

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At first sight, this interesting puzzle game looks like an alternate version of the classic Rush Hour game. A closer inspection, though, shows a completely different concept, and a great one at that. This is the Parking Puzzler, one of Raf Peeters latest designs, made with the quality that SmartGames has accustomed us for many years now. Is it worth your time and money? In short: Absolutely! But keep reading to find out why...

The Parking Puzzler comes packaged with SmartGames' newest box design, which to me are much more practical and environment-friendly. The smaller size box means you can easily take it with you on your travels and make the journey a little more fun. I really like the style of the game, with the clear pieces adding a touch of class and sophistication to the sleek design. The cars are the perfect size and are glued to the pieces, so even a small child can play with it (the box says 6 to adult, so keep that in mind).

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 5
This game works like a traditional packing puzzle, so if you're familiar with those you're already halfway there to understand the mechanics of it. There are six pieces (two straight ones and four L-shaped ones), each of them having one or two cars attached to them. Actually, only one of the pieces has two cars attached to it. The game board is comprised of a 4x4 grid, with 12 of the 16 spaces used for "parking" the cars. A horizontal line is used as a drive way or an access lane to the parking lot, so no cars can occupy those spaces when you're solving any of the provided 60 challenges.

So how does the game work? Simple: just choose any of the 60 challenges, which are divided into four different difficulty levels, and place the six pieces in a way that it completely matches the positions and colors seen in that particular challenge. All cars have to be in the vertical orientation, so the pieces can only be placed in two directions instead of the usual four.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 23
As you progress through the difficulty levels, the hints in the challenges also become more ambiguous. Grey cars will show only their position on the parking lot, but not the actual color. You'll have to figure that out for yourself. Black squares mean you can't have any cars on that particular space. Also, many of the later challenges only show part of the game board, so you have to work out which part it is, since it doesn't show the entire grid. There's only one possible solution for each challenge, so only when you have matched exactly what is shown in the challenge will you have solved it.

The later challenges are quite tough to solve, mainly because they don't show the entire grid. You think you're doing great and you worked out where the pieces should be, only to find out later that the pieces can't be placed on that space, so you have to shift your thinking and start again. It's a really difficult game and that will satisfy and reward anyone looking for a challenge.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 41
Closing Comments:

This game was a pleasant surprise, from the moment I unpacked it, to the moment when I finally solved a particular difficult challenge that was bugging me for a while. Everything about it was cleverly designed to make your brain think in different ways and challenge you to your absolute best. This is a must-have and a perfect gift for anyone who likes a good packing puzzle.

Availabilty: Amazon is your best bet if you want to find the Parking Puzzler or any other by SmartGames.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 51

Sudoku Bunt

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If you like both wooden puzzles and Sudoku puzzles, you're in for a treat, as Jean Claude Constantin makes yet another great-looking puzzle that promises not to disappoint fans of either category. 

Sudoku Bunt takes the basic idea of Sudoku and turns it into a beautiful puzzle by twisting the rules a little bit. The result may not be for everyone, as this takes more or less a trial and error approach, but the high difficulty level should keep you intrigued enough to keep trying, or at least keep you busy.

The puzzle is beautifully made with five different actual wood colors, not painted wood. Nine different pieces make up the total of 25 wooden chips joined in groups of two and three units each. It's made of laser-cut wood, which makes the puzzle lighter and of course, much more affordable.It measures 13.5cm in diameter (5.3").

This type of puzzles, seen in countless versions by now, are based on the original design by Mcloughlin Bros, known as The Giant Puzzle, which was invented in 1888. The goal is simple: on a 5x5 grid there should be a different color in each of the rows and columns. No repeating colors shall appear in any of the rows or columns. By order of elimination, the diagonals will have a unique color in each space as well.

The goal would be fairly simple if the pieces were individual colors, like the original puzzle. In fact, the solution is pretty straightforward once you understand the logic. In Sudoku Bunt's case however, that logic is thrown out the window because of the nature of the pieces. As you have groups of two and three colors joined together in a unique piece, the puzzle becomes much more difficult and the solution is switched from logic into trial and error. Now, if you're not that good at puzzles, this is good news for you, since you'd be in the same playing field as an experienced puzzler. To solve this, it's more like a stroke of luck than pure skill.

Closing Comments:

The clever twist in the original concept makes this puzzle a must-have for fans of Sudoku and the classic Giant Puzzle. Even though it's a bit difficult to solve, I believe it's accessible to any level of skill. It's a gorgeous design that manages to capture the attention of any curious and puzzle-orientated minds.

Availability: The Sudoku Bunt is available at Brilliant Puzzles for just $18.95 USD. There are also many other interesting designs by Constantin available.


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If there was one thing I thought I'd never do is write like a millennial. But I guess there's a first for everything, and this time, thanks to SmartGames and the brilliant design skills of Raf Peeters I'll be writing like a 16-year-old with their first crush. Joking aside, stick around, because this one is worth your time and any other from SmartGames.

For anyone that has been absent from planet Earth since the past 20 years or so, XOXO means hugs and kisses. What some of you may not know, at least I didn't, is that X is for kisses and O represents hugs. Also, contrary to popular belief, the X has been used to represent kisses since medieval times. Not a recent internet fad.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 37 (Starting and solved positions)

What is quite recent though, is the game by Raf Peeters, IQ XOXO. This is a brilliant twist on the traditional pentominoes puzzle game, which has been around for the past few decades (introduced by Martin Gardner in 1965). The game features 10 different pentominoes, but instead of the usual flat surface, Raf introduced the theme XOXO and used it on each of the pentominoes double-sided pieces.

A careful inspection on each piece will find that there's an X on one side and an O on the opposite side. Another neat surprise is revealed when you first remove the pieces from the game board. At alternating intervals of 2 units the board has a small dome that fits perfectly in the O's on the pieces. That's when you realize that you can't solve the puzzle any way you want. There's a rule that you need to follow, so not every piece can fit on the board with every possible position.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 82 (Starting and solved positions)

As any other IQ game, the rules are simple: set up one of the provided 120 challenges and try to fit the remaining pieces on the board. The more advanced a challenge the less pieces it will show at the starting position. The finished puzzle will have a nice pattern of alternating X's and O's on the horizontal and vertical lines. Curiously, the diagonals will have repeating X's and O's. All ten pieces have a distinct color so it's easier to identify them when you're setting up the challenges.

Closing Comments:

I love packing puzzles. They are some of my favorite puzzles. Because of this, I particularly enjoyed the IQ XOXO and the clever twist it made on such a beloved concept. If there's a perfect gift for a young and curious mind, this has to be a great candidate for that. We need more ideas like this to pass the time, instead of the screen devices that control our lives nowadays.

Availability: You can find the IQ XOXO and many others from SmartGames at any major toy store or Amazon.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 99 (Starting and solved positions)


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We all know that Constantin likes to make extremely challenging puzzles, but his latest design, the Labynary, takes the cake as one of the most confusing and challenging puzzles I've ever seen from him...Or anybody else!

Labynary is very well built from plywood slabs and acrylic on the top and bottom of the puzzle. I like the name of the puzzle, because it cleverly uses the term "n-ary", which these sequential movement puzzles are popularly known for. The puzzle has a circular shape, but the labyrinth inside is laid out in a 4x4 square grid. Scattered throughout the area of the puzzle are sliding pins that will lock or unlock the movement of any of the six sliding wood strips (four horizontal and two vertical). The goal is to free the metal sphere from the puzzle.

The movement of the strips will allow a small metal sphere to navigate through the labyrinth and eventually be freed from one of the three exit holes. These three holes positioned at the edges of the puzzle indicate the presence of three different paths, which means three mazes, or three different solutions. Sounds complicated? It should, because this is one hell of a challenge.

What makes this puzzle so complex is the number of sliding pins. With so many different things to manipulate and move, it becomes quite confusing to know which move you should make next. The puzzle has a binary concept, which means that it has two different states (1 or 0 - on or off - left or right). It seems simple, but understanding how the mechanism of the puzzle works in this binary environment will be the hardest part in your attempt at solving it. I would classify this as a difficulty level 10/10, or more likely 11/10. I don't remember ever seeing such a complex and difficult puzzle...

Closing Comments:

The Labynary will be the ultimate puzzle to test your patience levels and of course, your solving skills. Even the most experienced fans will have a hard time with this one. As a collector, it doesn't matter if it's difficult, because it's a very attractive puzzle to add to your collection.

Availability: You can find the Labynary puzzle at Brilliant Puzzles for $44.95 USD. Check out other interesting puzzles by Jean Claude Constantin as well.

Anti-Virus Mutation

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In this day and age we live in such a fast and changing world, it's hard to take some time and get away from all the technology surrounding us. Amidst all this frenetic pace, it's quite refreshing to see a company like SmartGames delivering new games every year that don't require anything else beside your gray matter.

It's often said that if something isn't broken, don't fix it. However, fortunately for us lovers of logic games, that doesn't seem to be the case with the new Anti-Virus Mutation, based on the classic game Anti-Virus by Oskar van Deventer. Instead, what you'll find is a carefully designed game by Raf Peeters, a bit more accessible for beginners, that simply took the best ideas from an already amazing game and mutated it into a very interesting alternative...or a complement, if you're like me and already own the original version.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenged 12 (Starting and Solved Positions)

There are two major differences between the two games that makes the new version really worth considering your time and money. The first is that the board is a little smaller, ideal for travelling. Also, smaller means less pieces (6 instead of 11 found in the original), and less pieces means easier to solve. That's good if you like casual games and you're easily frustrated by difficult puzzles, but troublesome for someone looking for a tough challenge. In this case, I recommend going directly to the Wizard challenges, which could take between 10 and 20 minutes each to solve. To make it a little more challenging, there are three blockers that are placed in the board to block the movement of some pieces, so you need to get around them. They are considered part of the game board, so you can't move them.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenged 20 (Starting and Solved Positions)

The other major difference between the original and the new version, and most importantly, is the way it's played. The layout of the board this time consists of vertical and horizontal movements instead of diagonal. Since the pieces are moving differently, you can expect a whole new experience, which in itself is enough to justify adding this great game to your collection. 

Differences aside, the core gameplay is essentially the same. You need to free the red virus from the board by sliding the other colored pieces out of the way. If you've played any sliding games before, you'll feel right at home with this game as well. I breezed through most of the challenges, although I'm a sucker for sliding games and I'm better at them than other types of games. What I can say is that if you like sliding puzzles and games, I can't see any reason not to get the Anti-Virus Mutation. It's more from what you love, so it's a no-brainer.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenged 34 (Starting and Solved Positions)

Closing Comments:

I really liked the new take on the original Anti-Virus, one of my favorites from SmartGames. The game is made with high quality materials and the colorful design makes it for a rather pleasant experience. I also liked the new packaging - It's more practical, it's sleek and easier to take with you anywhere. Can't recommend it enough.

Availability: You can find the Anti-Virus Mutation on Amazon or any other major puzzle game store.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenged 45 (Starting and Solved Positions)

Newton's Gravity

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Professor Puzzle, the company that produces Newton's Gravity, has many clever designs in which a creative mind is needed to solve the problems they propose. Most of these can't really be called puzzles, as they usually require a simple trick or other clever movements to be solved. Nevertheless, like any other traditional puzzle, this one will make you think...

This puzzle couldn't be simpler. Two small wooden pieces, a cup and a bullet, work together to create a basic physics principle. However, you don't need to be a physicist to discover the solution to Newton's puzzle, but a resourceful mind will help. The puzzle is quite small and fits in the palm of your hand, measuring about 4.5cm (about 1.8") in diameter.

Newton's Gravity's goal, like its presentation, is as simple as it gets: you have to put the bullet inside the cup and then find a way to remove the bullet without moving the cup. This looks like an impossible task, since at first, your only idea to accomplish this is to tilt the cup upside down, but that's exactly what you're not supposed to do. How is this done then?

Ok, I must confess, this puzzle had me baffled for a while and I couldn't resist looking up its solution. I just couldn't figure out how to remove the bullet without moving the cup. It seemed to defy logic and rational thinking. I suspected there should be a trick involved, as some kind of illusion. Well, as it turns out, the solution is indeed some sort of trick, and knowing now how it's done, I reckon it would be a while before I could come up with such a creative solution. It's not an obvious or intuitive solution, that much I can tell you.

Without revealing much of the solution, I can say that the puzzle doesn't need to be exclusively on a flat surface. You can be holding it in your hands while performing the solution. Also, the solution involves some sort of propulsion, but that's about as much information I can give you without completely revealing the solution. It is very clever and simple, but can be quite difficult to discover it. I have to disagree with the 2/5 difficulty rating, though. I believe this is much more difficult than the designers made it out to be, even for experienced puzzlers. You won't find too many people out there that will be able to solve this in a timely manner. This is a level 4/5 at least, in my opinion.

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Closing Comments:

Newton's Gravity is a perfect puzzle for a party, with lots of friends and family. Challenging people and observing how they try to solve it is probably more entertaining than many other collective activities.

Availability: You can find the Newton's Gravity at Brilliant Puzzles for just $5.99 USD.


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Uhrwerk (German for clockwork) is yet another great puzzle from the family of sequential movement, which is a type of puzzles usually made by Jean Claude Constantin, and very well made, I might add. This beautiful contraption is sure to capture the attention of anyone because of its eccentric and unusual design.

One of the things that pops right out of this incredible design is its size. It measures about 21cm diagonally and features four big cogs placed at each corner. The material used is laser-cut wood, which is easier to work with, especially due to the small dents of the cogs. The movement of the puzzle is smooth and works flawlessly.

The design of the puzzle, which by the way, doesn't look like a real puzzle at all, but something from the mind of Leonardo da Vinci, is in itself a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The four wheels, or cogs, or discs, whatever you want to call them, work simultaneously if you rotate just one of them. Carved in the face of the wheels is a winding path that's being navigated by four small metal spheres. Your goal, however, is to free just one of these spheres (there's a larger hole in the frame), since the other three are there just to make your task a bit more difficult by blocking some of the movements.

This puzzle is quite difficult to solve, because it has a large number of movements required to free the sphere. The level of difficulty is 9/10, so this is a big challenge for the more experienced fans. The movement of the puzzle is classified as 3-ary (ternary, because of its three states). Solving it requires utmost concentration, as you need to pay attention to how the wheels turn and to keep the spheres in the correct path. It takes a while to get used to the movement of the puzzle and to find the correct sequence, but once you do it's easier to solve.

Closing Comments:

Uhrwerk by Constantin is a magnificent puzzle. You can play with it without even trying to solve it, just playing with the movement. To solve it, however, you should be an experienced fan, otherwise it can be extremely frustrating.

Availability: You can find the Uhrwerk puzzle at Brilliant Puzzles for $34.95 USD. There are also many other interesting designs from Jean Claude Constantin.


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As a sliding puzzle fan, every new design that uses an original idea is always welcome, even it it has already been done, which is the case of Siebenstein-Spiele's Confusion, designed by Jürgen Reiche (the company's founder). A very challenging puzzle that will surely frustrate even the most patient fans.

The concept featured in this puzzle was firstly used, to my knowledge, by Hanayama with their Puzzle Impossible. Siebenstein-Spiele has also made a similar version before, which I have played and really liked called Digits - both identical in difficulty.

The puzzle is very well made from a combination of acrylic pieces and a wooden frame. It measures 13.4cm in diameter, which is nice to handle in your hands. The pieces can't be removed from the puzzle, so the only way to solve it is by sliding the pieces (or to dismantle the puzzle, but that would be cheating...). The difficulty level is a 6/7 by the manufacturer or a 9/10 by an alternative scale.

The idea behind the puzzle is brilliant and consists of using numbers like the ones you see in digital clocks and wristwatches and then changing the way they look by moving some of their segments. You do this by sliding the pieces, in two layers. The combination of the segments in both layers, when correctly displayed, will show a number, but as soon as you move one or more pieces from their space you'll see strange and odd characters, as if your watch is out of whack. The goal is to mix the pieces and then rearrange the numbers in the correct order from 1 to 9.

The bottom layer of the puzzle has nine pieces, but the top has only eight. This empty space will be how you move the pieces around the frame. You can even use a piece from the top layer in the bottom and vice versa. The number of possible combinations is staggering and because of this the puzzle is extremely difficult. You need to study the appearance of each digit and know really well which segments compose each number to understand how you can move your pieces and not become frustrated by so much confusion - hence the name of the puzzle.

Closing Comments:

Confusion by Siebenstein-Spiele is a great puzzle and one that shouldn't be missed if you like very difficult puzzles. Its design is also very attractive and will look beautiful on any shelf or coffee-table. I wouldn't recommend this one for beginners.

Availability: You can find a copy of the Confusion puzzle at Brilliant Puzzles for $30.95 USD. There are also many other puzzles by Siebenstein-Spiele.


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MaischloßAnother scary sequential movement puzzle from Jean Claude Constantin that will surely keep you busy for a long time. Can you open this extremely difficult Puzzle Lock?

As you can see from the photo, this is quite a big puzzle, considering that other puzzle locks are usually smaller. It measures 18cm x 11.5cm, which is rather satisfying for a puzzle that looks so stunning and intriguing at the same time. This lock consists of 20 pins - five groups of four - and each group of pins moves left or right. The pins don't move independently from each other, instead they move simultaneously within each group.

The design of the puzzle is what's most striking about it. It's made to look so complex that it will certainly intimidate even the most experienced puzzler. There are four different rectangular mazes in the form of sliding platforms that the groups of pins need to navigate. When you want to make a move you need to make sure all pins aren't blocking your movements. The two middle platforms are the most important since they're the ones that will be first removed. Only when they're out of the puzzle will you finally be able to remove the last two platforms, which are connected to the shackle. The platforms move vertically, which is perpendicular to the movement of the pins.

This is an extremely difficult puzzle to solve, a level 10/10, so only if you feel confident you can solve it should you attempt to do it. A beginner will most certainly feel frustrated in no time. This looks like one of those n-ary puzzles Constantin also makes very well (a binary puzzle for example), but this is not one of those. In fact, I believe that because it's not a n-ary puzzle it's even more difficult, because its sequence is not linear. It's more chaotic and it doesn't follow any specific rules. You will need to solve it step by step by always figuring out the next move, not by a predetermined sequence but by a random set of movements - like a maze! We all know that mazes aren't logic, so just keep trying until you can open the lock.

Closing Comments:

If you like difficult puzzles, Constantin has so many great ones for you that it will be difficult to choose just one. The Maischloß is a great choice if you're looking for a good challenge and a different concept. It has all the ingredients an experienced puzzler wants.

Availability: You can get a copy of the Maischloß puzzle at Brilliant Puzzles for $38.95. For more Constantin puzzles check out their other offerings.


Posted on by Gabriel | 1 comments
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Fans of labyrinths and puzzle boxes have a reason to love Jean Claude Constantin's new puzzle, the PLD Box (also known as Laby Box), since it combines these two distinct concepts perfectly into a brilliant and unique puzzle.

As you know, a puzzle box has a hidden mechanism or some other locking device that needs to be deciphered in order to open it. However, this box is a little different, because the locking mechanism can be seen. It's a labyrinth, but don't think it's easier than any other puzzle box. In order to open this box you have to solve the labyrinth and remove its acrylic cover.

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and overall design of this puzzle. It is quite big and sturdy, measuring 12.5cm x 9.7cm x 6.5cm. The body of the box is made of this lighter shade of wood, almost the same color as bamboo, but I'm not sure exactly what type of wood it is. The top of the box is decorated with a geometric maze consisting of two sliding plates that move in opposite directions. The goal is to navigate the two mazes by moving the six pins up and down while pulling on the plates back and forth. Only one of the plates can be removed, as you can see by carefully analyzing the mazes. Only one of the mazes is actually linked as one continuous path. The other maze is separated into three different path that are not linked together.

The pins can't move independently from each other. They move in pairs vertically, so you have to solve both mazes simultaneously, always planning your moves strategically. With each move you'll have to move some pins up, others down, or you won't be able to slide the plate out of the box.

The difficulty level of this puzzle is very high, because of the high number of moves involved in the solution. To remove the cover you have to repeat many of the movements, as if you were following a logic sequence. Once you understand the logic behind the maze, you'll solve the puzzle in no time.

Closing Comments:

The PLD Box by Constantin is one of his best puzzle box designs. The combination of two different concepts works flawlessly and solving one will be a great accomplishment accompanied by a rewarding feeling.

Availability: The PLD Box is available at Brilliant Puzzles for $39.95 USD. There are also many other interesting Constantin's designs.

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