Monday, July 13, 2020

The Best Value Twisty Puzzle Ever???

Puzzles Aplenty!

Only a few years ago, it was unthinkable that the puzzles we have today would even exist. In fact, turn back the clock to the 80s and what we have now was called "Science Fiction"! Ridiculous!

Imagine the Petaminx!



Eitan's Star!



and for a completely surreal experience, how about Oskar van Deventer's 17x17x17



But most of these amazing puzzles come with a skyhigh price tag. Eitan's Star costs $100, the Petaminx will set you back $239, and Oskar's 17x17x17? Around $1,600! This is not a cheap addiction!

So when you're on a budget and you need puzzle after puzzle after puzzle, for a ridiculously low price, where do you turn?

You turn to CubeTwist, of course.

CubeTwist haven't done much lately, but a while back, they put out the

3x3x3 Bandaged D.I.Y. Kit

 

This is a complete kit which will enable you to make precisely 3,563 3x3x3 bandaged puzzles, including the 6 which had already been mass-produced.

I'm sorry...transmission error...

3,563?????

That's right. This figure comes from the world's foremost authority on bandaged cubes, Andreas Nortmann. You can read all about it on this page.

So, three and half thousand puzzles? That must cost a lot more than an arm and a leg.

I hope you're sitting down. The cost of these puzzles is ...

$17.82

That's right. Less than $18 for 3,563 puzzles.

Let's Take Stock...

OK. So, 3,563 puzzles for $17.82. By my calculations, that works out to around half a cent per puzzle. I challenge you to find any other brand new puzzle which costs half a cent.

And how many hours of enjoyment will this provide? Let's average each puzzle at around an hour. This is probably a conservative estimate as many of these puzzles would take quite a bit longer. Some may have you stumped until the stars fall from the sky.

An hour per puzzle...

3,563 hours...

149 days...

21 weeks

That's 21 consecutive weeks with no sleep, no food and no toilet breaks.

You'd want to be fairly committed to the task.

What on Earth is a Bandaged Puzzle???

If you took out your favourite 3x3x3 cube and also took out a bandage from your medicine cabinet - that's right, an actual bandage - you would be able to "bind" two or more of the cubies together.


 so that when one moved, the other moved also.


and if one of the bandaged pieces tried to move where the other ones didn't want to, then none of them would move.

 This is all bandaging is, at its core (no pun intended).

Bandaged puzzles have been around for a while, and you can see some examples here:


How It Works

Alright. So we've accepted that with the bandaged cube kit, you could probably keep yourself occupied for the rest of your life, or marriage...whichever ends first.

But how does it work?

The kit is a 3x3x3 cube, along with all the bits required to make any of the puzzles.

The cube itself is a black plastic cube with holes in it which enable the parts to be pinned in.


For the life of me, I still haven't worked out why some surfaces have only 4 holes, while others have 6. If you know, leave a comment and put my mind to rest.

And the pieces? They start with one 3x2 piece of each colour.


There is also one 2x2 piece of each colour. This makes sense since it's impossible to place two of them on one face.


There are two 3x1 pieces of each colour...



Four 2x1 pieces of each colour...


And nine 1x1 pieces of each colour.


In providing these pieces, CubeTwist made the call not to bandage an entire face. This was smart in my opinion as there's not a whole lot you can do with a face completely bandaged.

You simply click on and click off the lego-like tiles to make a cube. A comment below reminded me that I should say something about getting these pieces off.

The key with all of these pieces is to not press them down too firmly to begin with. If you do that, you can almost always guarantee to be able to slip a fingernail in and pry them off. 
If, however, they're down too tight, then I've found the best thing by far is a pair of tweezers. Without fail, the piece will pop out. Give those a go!

With these pieces, you can make each of the six mass-produced 3x3x3 bandaged cubes.

The 2-bar 4 cube


The 3-slices cube

The bandaged-3 cube


The big block

The fuse cube



And the Bicube


I've tried all five, and in my opinion, the order of difficulty ranges, from easiest to hardest,

2-bar 4
3-slices
big block
fuse cube
bandaged-3

daylight

bicube

The bicube is currently impossible for me. Maybe one day I'll conquer it...

But what about others? Here are a few from the twisty puzzles forum thread on solving these things, all invented by the master-solver Burgo...

The Alcatraz series

Bandaged Fortress

Big block clock

Stalctites

Double block

Bandaged YZ


Help! I'm Stuck!

Here's the best part of the whole thing. Go ahead and make whatever bandaged cube variant you like. If you can't solve it, just pull it apart! Easy.

This Kit Is Still Available???

Amazingly, this kit has not sold out, and is still available at its original price of $17.82 US.

Honestly, I'm staggered that it didn't sell out as it's such incredible value for money, and provides anyone with the ability to take baby steps in learning to solve bandaged cubes.

You can buy it from hknowstore. I can unreservedly recommend nowstore as a seller. Their prices are good, when the free shipping is factored in, and their followup customer service is outstanding. And no, I don't work for them!

What are waiting for? If you don't have this kit yet, make sure you get one before they sell out. It is, after all, the best value puzzle money can buy.

You can also click the picture below to buy it.




Your Say!

So, whadda ya think? Did I get it right? Is there a better value puzzle out there? Has this post made you want to buy the kit? Leave your feedback below...


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Crazy Octahedron Standard

The Crazy Octahedron Standard is one of the set of Crazy Octahedra, released by mf8+dayan. These are obviously twisty puzzles in an octahedral shape. The set contains puzzles which have some circle faces and some non-circle faces. On this puzzle, all faces are non-circle faces. You can buy this puzzle here.

The Basic Plot
  1. Solve Edges
  2. Solve Triangles
  3. Solve Corners
1. Solve Edges

The first stage is to solve the edges. This is done quite simply by turning edges into place, or by using the edge piece series (eg. L'ULU').


2. Solve Triangles

The triangles are placed by using a double edge piece series flip. This move is

L' R L R'    F R' F' R

This flips the UFL and UFR corners. It also flips the two sets of triangles connected to those corners which are on the Up face. For our purposes, we don't care about corners, so we can flip triangles in this way. Most of the time, you will need one or two setup moves to position appropriate triangles so they can be flipped.

If you're down to the last two triangles, or just need another pair of the same colour to flip, you can perform the setup move R DR. This will place a pair of triangles of the same colour at the UFR position, meaning that only the triangles in UFL will be involved in the flip.


3. Solve Corners

The last stage of the solve is to place the corners. To do this, we will use a sequence based on the edge piece series. This sequence is

L' R L R'   B DL B' DL'   R L' R' L    DL B DL' B'

This first cycles three corners on the front face. It then replaces the upper corner with another unused corner. Then it undoes these moves. The overall effect is to cycle the three corners at FD->UFL->UB.

The mirror can also be used, namely

R L' R' L    B' DR' B DR    L' R L R'   DR' B' DR B

If the last two corners are in position but flipped, then move them out of position using the sequence above and involving a 3rd corner. Then place them back into position correctly oriented.



And that's it. Your Crazy Octahedron Standard is now solved. I trust this site has been helpful. If you have any questions or want some clarifications, please use the comments to do so. To buy this puzzle, click here.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Curvy Copter 3

The Curvy Copter 3 is a twisty puzzle which is related to the curvy copter. It's cut deeper, though, and so new pieces are opened up. The curvy copter 3 can be jumbled, but in this tutorial, I will not be involving jumbling. The puzzle is interesting and challenging enough without jumbling. To buy this puzzle, click here.

The Basic Plot
  1. Solve Edges and Centers
  2. Solve Petals
  3. Solve Pentagons
  4. Solve Corners
Step 1: Solve Edges and Centers

Solving the edges is simple. They can't move, but can only rotate. Turn them so all edges are correctly oriented. To place centers, carry out (UL UR) x 2 and similar. This keeps edges intact.


Step 2: Solve Petals

To solve the petals, I'll use a sequence based around the edge piece series. It's 

(UL UR)x2  UB UF UB  (UR UL)x2   UB UF UB

This will cycle a petal on the left face to the up face to the front face. No other pieces are moved. Of course, the mirror can be used to involve a petal on the right face. The sequence itself is super simple. The hard part in this stage can be the setups required.


Step 3: Solve Pentagons

To solve the pentagons, I'll be using another sequence based around the edge piece series. It's

((UF UR)x2  FR) x 4

Again, it's incredibly easy to remember and carry out, and there are almost no setups. This will cycle the F(ul) pentagon to the U(fr) pentagon to the R(ur) pentagon. No other pieces are moved.


Step 4: Solve Corners

To solve the corners, I'll use a sequence which is a corner piece series followed by its mirror. On a standard cube, we would turn the upper, right and left faces. On this puzzle, there are no faces, so instead, we'll turn the up-front edge, up-left edge and up-right edge. The sequence is

(UF UR UF UL)x2   (UF UL UF UR)x2

This will cycle FLU->URF->RUB. No other pieces are moved. Using this sequence we can place and orient corners at the same time.




And that's it. Your Curvy Copter 3 is now solved. I trust this site has been helpful. If you have any questions or want some clarifications, please use the comments to do so. To buy this puzzle, click here.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Geared Mixup

The Geared Mixup is a cubic shaped twisty puzzle. This puzzle is absolute top quality and is a must-have for any collection. It continues the gear puzzle tradition but takes it to another level. There are no sticker issues and the puzzle looks brand new after 30 solves. It's a challenging solve. You can buy this puzzle here.

The Basic Plot
  1. Solve Outer 2x2x2
  2. Place Centers
  3. Place Edges
  4. Rotate Edges
  5. Flip Edges
1. Solve Outer 2x2x2

The first stage is to solve the outer 2x2x2. By this, I mean the large corners. Forget everything else and just place the 8 corners. Do this using your favourite 2x2x2 method.


2. Place Centers

To place the centers we'll use the basic move for this whole solve. This move is

(F4 R' F4' R) x 3

This sequence swaps the UB and DF edges as well as the U and D centers. It also rotates the two centers on the L and R faces.

We ignore the edges and use setups, such as R B R' to place the centers. It's simple and quick and you should make the most of it.


3. Place Edges

To place the edges, we use precisely the same sequence as above. Our centers will swap but they won't leave the center positions. Continue swapping edges until all are in their correct positions. Note that it makes no difference whether they are rotated or flipped or correctly oriented.

Help! My Edges Are Solved But 4 Centers Are Out!

If all edges are solved but some centers are unsolved, you'll notice that there will be four centers unplaced all on the same axis. To deal with this, hold the puzzle so that the wrong centers are moving from up to down. Now simply turn either the left or right face 4 turns. This places the centers correctly but swaps two sets of edges. Use the basic move to swap them back. After the first set of edges is swapped back, ensure that when you swap back the second set, the last pair of centers is also swapped.


4. Rotate Edges

In this stage of the solve, we flatten any edges pointing up by rotating them. To do this, I use a sequence based on the basic move used so far. Here it is:

U'   [ (F4 R' F4' R) x 3     U2     (R'  F4  R  F4') x 3     U2' ]    U

This sequence rotates the FL and FR pieces anticlockwise and the BL and BR pieces clockwise. It also moves around some edges. One edge in particular is always moved out of its correct axis. We need to put this piece back by (normally) carrying out U' (F4 R' F4' R) x 3  U. Once this is done, the pieces at FR and BL are then flattened. The end result is that only two edges are rotated. There is no need at all to place the other edges (or centers) back in their correct positions. As long as they're in their correct axes, all is well.


Help! I Have A Single Edge To Twist!


A single twisted edge means that one of the centers is also twisted. We can't see it, but that's the only explanation. So we put a center in the BL position along with the twisted edge in the FL position. The key thing is to ensure that the FR and BL positions must both be edges. To accomplish this, we use the setup

R B' R'  y  D2  B'

Then rotate the edge and center. Finally undo the setup moves.

Help! There Are Two Edges on Different Axes!

If one of the edges is on a different axis to the other, use setups to turn it into the BL position. However, make sure you turn it from the UR position. 

Once the rotation is done and setups are undone, you will definitely find that some centers have been dislodged. Put them back in the same way as above. Then return all edges to their correct axes.

You may find that you again have a single twisted corner. While annoying, it's perfectly possible and just means you need to carry out its fix once again.


5. Flip Edges

Flipping edges is much less involved than rotating edges. The sequence used is almost identical, however.

U'   [ (F4 R' F4' R) x 3     U4     (R'  F4  R  F4') x 3     U4' ]    U

This sequence flips the FR and BL edges.

The very cool thing is that it makes no difference whether there are an odd or even number of edges. If you are left with a single flipped edge, just place a center into the other edge's position and carry out the flipping sequence.



And that's it. Your Geared Mixup is now solved. I trust this site has been helpful. If you have any questions or want some clarifications, please use the comments to do so. To buy this puzzle, click here.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Crazy 2Face Puzzle Kit - Awesome Value and Lots of Puzzles!

Back in early 2013, I had an idea. Ideas don't come that often to me, so I held onto this one. It seemed worthwhile. I'd been struggling with the Crazy Uranus Tetrahedron for a while, and was really getting nowhere with it. I still find it pretty impossible, as evidenced by the fact that there's no link to it on this blog. The Crazy Uranus Tetrahedron has 3 faces which have "0" centers (meaning the pieces inside the circle stay fixed when the face turns), and a 4th face which has no circle parts at all. The thing about a face with non-circle pieces interacting with a "0" face is that any non-circle pieces on the "0" face will prevent that face from turning. It's a pig. Really. It makes life incredibly difficult, particularly when there's hardly anywhere to hide those non-circle pieces.

[Now, in case you're wondering, yes, I'm going to tell you how to get your hands on what I'm talking about in this post. Stay tuned for details on some amazing puzzles for a relatively small amount of money.]

Inventing The 2Face Cube

So anyway, mf8 (who put out the crazy tetrahedron series) had already named the "0" face as well as the "1" face (where the circle pieces turn when the face is turned). And on the tetrahedra, they had some faces which had no circles, which they named "2" faces. Have a look at this diagram and things will make sense.


Mf8 had also released a series of Crazy Planet 3x3x3 cubes. Same deal. Six faces.

I had a thought (yep, this is THE thought...) that maybe if I made a cube with five "0" faces and one "2" face (as in, a normal Rubik's cube face), it would give me more room and help me to figure out how to go about solving the crazy uranus tetrahedron. So I grabbed a spare mf8 planet cube and modified one face worth of pieces, to change it from a circle face to a non-circle face. This was done using some superglue, milliput and sandpaper. A pretty simple mod.

I realised that even with just that single new "2" face, I had a kit. Just change the centers on the circle faces and I'd get different puzzles.

And thus was born the Crazy 2Face kit.

Presenting the 2Face Cube Kit

In March, 2013, I presented it on the Twisty Puzzles forum. You can go have a look here if you'd like. It got some good reactions, probably because it was such a simple mod but created a whole new series of puzzles. Later, I made a video showing how to make the kit. Here's a schematic of the original Crazy 2Face puzzles. Note that I actually had enough parts to make a set of puzzles with one "2" face as well as a set of puzzles with two "2" faces.



Puzzles A through K are those with a single "2" face. Puzzles L through Z have two "2" faces. You can imagine how excited I was to discover that there were 26 puzzles in total! Alas, it turned out that there were two duplicates. What I haven't shown above is the chart of Crazy 2Face puzzles with three, four and five "2" faces. (Obviously a puzzle with six "2" faces is a Rubik's cube.)

If you have a good look at the chart above you'll notice that the yellow face is always a "2" face. This was a decision on my part based on .... I have no idea. But in some, the green or white faces are also "2" faces. If the two "2" faces were next to each other (Linear) it was yellow and green. If they were separated (Non-linear) it was yellow and white.

Puzzle D above shows the red, white and orange faces being "0" faces, the blue and green faces being "1" faces and the yellow face being a "2" face.

The Eleven Iconic 2Face Puzzles

Here's a chart of just the 11 "iconic" Crazy 2Face puzzles (those which have only one "2" face). See if you can figure out the naming scheme for the duplicate planets. These duplicate planet puzzles are different puzzles.



2Face Puzzles With More Than One 2Face

So, just how many possible "2" face puzzles can be made?

35.

That number takes into account all  "2" face puzzles with one, two, three, four or five "2" faces and at least one circle face. It should be noted that the single puzzle with five "2" faces is not worth thinking about, as it can only really be scrambled like a Rubik's cube.

So let's call it 34.

My friend on the twisty puzzles forum, Burgo, took hold of the Crazy 2Face idea and sent it to a different stratosphere. He ended up making and selling a bunch of kits which he called "Crazy B4Cube". These things had bandaging all over the place and were a labour of love. This was all well and good (and it was good!) but partly due to this, and partly due to my own inability to get into solving the Crazy 2Face puzzles at the time, the Crazy 2Face series/kit/puzzles sort of got forgotten.

That is, until earlier this year, when Burgo suggested to Calvin Fan, of hknowstore.com, that he partner with mf8 to make and sell the 11 iconic Crazy 2Face puzzles.

And that's what happened. Sort of.

The 2Face Kit Is Released

There is indeed now a kit available from nowstore which will enable you to easily make all 11 of the iconic Crazy 2Face puzzles. Fantastic! This is really good news because puzzlers have long been saying we need more kits, rather than individual puzzles.

However, I think there are two issues with this approach.

1. The kit is a nowstore exclusive. This means that only nowstore can sell them. Great for nowstore. Not so great for people who don't visit nowstore. My problem with "exclusives" is that they limit and constrict the ability of puzzles and puzzlers to connect. Not so good. And from my own point of view, I think these puzzles are brilliant, and I want as many other people to experience them as well. Exclusivity doesn't help that. I should also say that I was sent some kits by nowstore as a recognition of it being my design, but I don't get any "royalties" from any other kits which are sold.

2. Having the puzzles in kit form meant that it sort of appeared on nowstore with no fanfare, no explanation, and worst of all, no picture of an actual 2face puzzle. It was quickly pushed down the list by other puzzles, and once again, seems to have gotten lost in the mix. What you see instead is an unstickered black puzzle with a set of stickers, center caps, a set of planets logos, and an "rline" sticker. 


[For those wondering, rline is me, and it was a nice gesture to make a sticker showing me as the inventor.]

Now, I ask you, does that image above make you want to buy whatever-it-is-being-sold? No, me neither.

What they should have done is

1. Release the kit as they've done but showing a stickered "ready-to-go" puzzle as well.
2. Release each individual puzzle with its own photo, stickered, in all its glory, selling each individual puzzle as cheaply as possible.

I don't run nowstore so it is what it is...

Getting A Kit With ALL 2Face Puzzles

So where does that leave us?

Well, the kit itself is $28. That means you can have 11 Crazy 2Face puzzles for around $2.55 each. Pretty cool. And believe me, these puzzles aren't the sort of puzzles you pick up, solve in 2 seconds, and never touch again. They're much more interesting than that.

But what about the 2face puzzles with two or more "2" faces?

Well the kit in itself won't get you any of them. But you can make ALL the Crazy 2Face puzzles (not just 2face puzzles with a single 2face) by buying

* one crazy 3x3 plus - 4 circle faces (F, R, B, L) cube




* one crazy 3x3 plus - 2 circle faces (U, D) cube



Yep, that's all you need to make all 34 of the 2face puzzles. But it gets better! Not only can you make all the 2face puzzles, you can also make ALL the Crazy 3x3x3 Planet cubes as well! Plus a Circle cube! Plus a Rubik's Cube!

At current prices, with each puzzle costing $23, that's 44 puzzles for $46. I make that to be around $1.05 per puzzle. Incredible value!

Even cooler, there's the possibility to make many more hybrid puzzles using 2face parts on circle faces and vice versa.

2Face Puzzles, Stickered And Ready To Go!

And what do the puzzles look like in all their glory? Beause I wanted a few more permanent members of the Crazy 2Face set, I went ahead and made
  • 8 of the single 2face puzzles to have as standalone puzzles
  • 2 of the two "2face" puzzles to serve as a kit for all the two "2face" puzzles
  • 2 of the three "2face" puzzles to serve as a kit for all the three "2face" puzzles
  • 2 of the four "2face" puzzles to serve as a kit for all the four "2face" puzzles
Here's a photo of my 14 Crazy 2Face puzzles.


A while back, I wrote a post called The Best Value Twisty Puzzle Ever???

This Crazy2Face series isn't quite in that category, but it's not far off.

If you'd like to add just the 11 iconic Crazy 2Face puzzles to your collection, you can go here.

If you'd like to be able to make all 44 possible puzzles, you can go here.

Charts With Colour Scheme Of ALL 2Face Puzzles

All the single 2face puzzles



All the two 2face puzzles


All the three 2face puzzles


All the four 2face puzzles


Constructing And Stickering Your Kit

Alright. So you've bought the 2 required puzzles. Now what do you do?

First, if you twist the puzzles and find them turning badly, don't worry at all. All these mf8 puzzles do that at the start. They improve dramatically with use and with a drop or two of lube.

Now, let's sticker.

Grab the 4-circle face puzzle and sticker it as follows:

U- 2face - Orange
D- 2face - Red
F- circle face - White
R- circle face - Blue
B- circle face - Yellow
L- circle face - Green

Grab the 2-circle face puzzle and sticker it as follows

U- circle face - Orange
D- circle face - Red
F- 2face - White
R- 2face - Blue
B- 2face - Yellow
L- 2face - Green

Having done that, you'll now have 2face pieces in every colour, and circle face pieces in every colour. You'll also have six "0" face centers, and six "1" face centers.

To construct your desired puzzle, simply pull apart the individual puzzle pieces and mix and match to get what you want. It's incredibly easy to do. But if you're having any trouble, please...



Friday, November 28, 2014

Dayan Gem 6

The Dayan Gem 6 is a twisty puzzle with 30 faces. It's one of the last two Gems to be released. It's a challenging, intriguing and addictive puzzle. It's also really beautiful when fully scrambled. Due to the many colours, it's a visually challenging puzzle. You can buy this puzzle here.

Note: In the videos below, I've often cut portions where I'm just trying to locate a piece.

The Basic Plot
  1. Reduce Edges
  2. Reduce Corners
  3. Place Reduced Edges and Corners
  4. Solve Pyraminx Crystal Edges
1. Reduce Edges

The First Face

We'll reduce the edges on a face by face basis. On each face, begin by placing four triangles next to the large center. This should be so that a square is formed.

For the first face (which is the longest to do) choose any edge piece. By comparing with the 8 central corners (three-pronged pieces), determine whether it belongs on an axis or whether it's connected to a central corner. If it belongs on an axis, start with that one. If it's connected to a central corner, find another one. Reduce that edge by attaching to it, a triangle and a kite on either side. To do this, first pair a kite with a triangle, then add to that pair the other kite. Finally, place these around the edge. (This may sound complicated but it's very simple).

Next, complete the remaining edges on that first face in the same way.


Next Three Faces

The next three faces become progressively easier. This is because the desired pieces are located on those faces rather than anywhere on the puzzle. Continue to reduce edges in the same way.


Last Two Faces

To complete the last two faces, focus only on the 5th face to begin with. My 5th face is red, so I'll refer to that here.

Reduce four red edges as normal. Only the red and yellow faces can be involved, but that's no problem as we only need one corridor to move pieces around.

Once the last red edge is reduced, store it in the yellow face. Now, reduce two yellow edges as before. The difference is that there's less space to work with. However, there's certainly *enough* space to get the job done! 

At this stage, all red edges and two yellow edges will be reduced. Replace the red edge into its position. There are now three possibilities for the remaining four kites.

Solved

This is wonderful and you can move onto reducing the corners!

One Kite in Position and the Other Three Kites in a 3-Cycle

This is probably most common. We can cycle these kites home using the corner piece series.

U+ R U- L  U+ R' U-  L' 

U+ indicates a clockwise turn of 45°.

This cycles UBr -> FUr -> FRu, where the UBr piece means the kite on the right hand side of the Up-Back edge position.



Two Kites Need To Swap!

You may find you have two of the last four kites in position with the other two swapped. Alternatively, you may have all 4 kites out of position and in a 4-cycle. If either of these is the case, you need to turn the top babyface 45°. From there, re-reduce the yellow edges but make sure you always turn the top babyface an even number of turns.


2. Reduce Corners

The First Four Corners

Before reducing the corners, check whether the central (three-pronged) corner matches up with the colours surrounding it. If not, turn every babyface 180°.

Now, to reduce a corner, use one face as the top face (white in my video). Turn the upper babyface to place the desired outer corner onto the central corner. Then rotate that piece so the central corner can receive the next outer corner.

To rotate corners clockwise simply carry out (RF'R'F)x2. To rotate them anticlockwise carry out (F'RFR')x2.

Once one corner is reduced, put it onto the bottom and reduce the next one. In this way, reduce the first four corners.


The Last Four Corners

For the last four corners, instead of reducing all parts of a corner, just reduce two parts on each one. Once that's done, turn the babyface so that the edges match with the face below. 

If you're left with a 3-cycle, do a simple move replacement.


If you're left with a swap of outer corners or a 4-cycle of outer corners, turn the upper face (babyface) one 90° turn. Re-place the babyface edges using the edge piece series. For the last two babyface edges which need swapping, cycle them home so that the last double edge is inverted. Again, this probably sounds way harder than it is.

Once the edges are back together, continue re-reducing corners as before. You will find that you end up with either a 2+2 swap, or a 3-cycle of outer corners (which are functionally the same thing).


3. Place Reduced Corners and Edges

Now that the edges and corners are reduced, it's time to place them onto the puzzle, just as we would for a normal cube. Place the edges first, followed by the corners using the corner piece series (U R U' L' U R' U' L).

If you find that all the reduced corners place correctly, proceed to the final stage.


Two Swapped Reduced Corners

If you find that you're left with a swap of two reduced corners, turn the inner upper face (that is, not the babyface, but the one below it) one 90° turn. Then re-place the inner edges, re-reduce any corners, and finally re-solve the reduced cube.


4. Solve Pyraminx Crystal Edges

The final, and easiest part of the whole solve, is placing the small pyraminx crystal edges. They are called pyraminx crystal edges because they look like, and behave like, the edges on a pyraminx crystal puzzle. Moving them around does not disturb any other part of the puzzle. Use the edge piece series (up up down down) and similar to solve them.

Near the end, you may need some setup moves to position the pieces where you need them.

If you find you have the last two in position but flipped, then carry out an edge piece series involving those two pieces and one other piece. Now re-place them correctly into their positions.


Two Swapped PC Edges

You may find you end up with two edges swapped. If you look carefully, you will see that there are some duplicate pyraminx crystal edges. What this means therefore is that you have a 2+2 swap. You can use these two duplicate edges to complete the puzzle.




And that's it. Your Dayan Gem 6 is now solved. I trust this site has been helpful. If you have any questions or want some clarifications, please use the comments to do so. To buy this puzzle, click here.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dayan Gem VIII (8)

The Dayan Gem 8 is a twisty puzzle with 8 faces and in the shape of a truncated octahedron. It's one of the last two Gems to be released. You can buy this puzzle here.

The Basic Plot
  1. Solve Triangles
  2. Reduce Edges
  3. Place Reduced Edges
  4. Solve Centers
1. Solve Triangles

The first stage is to solve the triangles. By triangles, I mean the pieces attached to the centers. There are 3 on each face, and each triangle points to one of the small faces. Place them using simple moves.


2. Reduce Edges

Each edge has one corner on each side of it. Our goal is to match the correct corners with each edge. Once this is done, the edge has become reduced.

To reduce an edge, find a missing corner and move it (by turning the large faces) next to its edge. Move it onto the edge by turning the small face. Now move the edge (with new corner attached) onto an adjacent face using the edge piece series. Once done, turn back the small face so that all triangles are replaced correctly. Continue this procedure until you're down to either two or three edges.

If you have a 3-cycle of corners, just cycle them home using the same procedure.

If you have two edges left, both of which are unreduced, first locate the edge which has the correct corner next to it but wrongly oriented. Then locate the other corner of that colour. Now, use this corner to push out the wrongly oriented corner. Move the edge onto an adjacent face. Finally, bring it back to that position but reversed.

All of the above is clearly explained in this video.


3. Place Reduced Edges

We now place the reduced edges.

However, we first need to make sure that each small center is opposite the large center of the same colour (eg. red opposite red etc). Once this is done, place the edges but always use 4 turns to do so. This will ensure that the centers easily solve at the end.


4. Solve Centers

The last stage of the solve is quick and easy. If the centers are not already solved, hold the puzzle so that two large faces are on Left and Right, and so that two small centers needing to swap are at Up and Front. Now carry out (L R' L' R) x 3, which is just the edge piece series.




And that's it. Your Dayan Gem 8 is now solved. I trust this site has been helpful. If you have any questions or want some clarifications, please use the comments to do so. To buy this puzzle, click here.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Adventures With Eitan's Star

The Prologue

"Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!! It must be Eitan's Star!"

Now, to be fair to myself and my reputation as a funky dude, I don't think I actually said the words above, but I'm pretty sure they're what I thought. My wife had emailed me to say there was a pink slip in the mail. 

(This may come as a surprise to some of you. Not that there was a pink slip in the mail, but that I still have a wife. I assure you it's true. She is without a doubt the most longsuffering wife in the world. I've had more than my fair share of eye-rolling, and have been asked more than once "How many is enough?" [This was when we were talking about puzzles, not children.] But to her credit she did make me a Rubik's cube cake for my most recent birthday. She's a good woman and she knows I have issues. But enough about her...)

In Australia, a pink slip means there's a parcel waiting at the post office. There was only one thing on its way, so it had to be Eitan's Star.

This was way cool. It was Friday. A Friday parcel means the weekend can legitimately be devoted to puzzle solving. After all, what else is there in life?

So, down I went to the post office to collect the thing. Took it home in my car. Here's a picture of me driving home.




If memory serves, I think my exact words were: 


"Excuse me, I'd be ever-so-grateful if you'd speed up a little or remove yourself from the road. I have a  most important matter to attend to."

Home at Last


Finally, after the longest 5 minutes of travelling ever, I was home. In my rush to get inside and unwrap the box, I knocked over 3 of my 17 children (figures used for illustrative purposes only; may not be exact), dislocated my own shoulder, and stepped on the cat. But what did it matter? I was home. With the box. With the puzzle in the box. And the cat outside.

The thing was so well wrapped I had to get my wife to open it. I don't like to admit that sort of thing, but I'm not particularly good with scissors. I took it out, held it up and this is what I saw.



Stickering the Monster

There's no getting around it. Eitan's Star is a monster of a puzzle. It's a complex, mind-numbing and incredible achievement. Only one problem. I had to sticker it. So, I did what any self-respecting parent would do: I asked my daughter to do it. She declined. (Actually, she did do a face or two, but there was something about her having to get ready for some school dance or something that night. What is the world coming to when a once-a-year school dance takes precedence over stickering a puzzle?)

To be honest, I wasn't particularly happy with some of the stickers. I think mf8 (the company which produced the puzzle) could have taken a little more care with them, but that's no reflection on the puzzle itself.

By the time I was done stickering, I had some serious neck issues, completely glazed eyes, and a puzzle which looked like this.




The Unboxing

Every newish puzzle deserves an unboxing video, so that's what I did next. If you've seen it, feel free to skip ahead. If not, have a look. I think it gives a nice overview of the puzzle.




Beginning the Solve

What I like to do with a puzzle is to try some known sequences out on it without scrambling. That's what I like to do. What I normally end up doing is try some sequences out and accidentally scramble it. And so of course that's exactly what I did. That's not so bad with a Rubik's cube, but this thing? My world consumed itself. 

This was not how things should have gone. I was supposed to discover all required sequences for moving around the pieces, note them down, then scramble and efficiently solve the puzzle, all within the following hour if possible.

And by the way, what about the different pieces? There are four piece types.
  1. Centers (the equilateral triangles with a single colour)
  2. Corners (the bits that stick out, each with 5 colours)
  3. Wide triangles (those thin triangles with a single colour)
  4. Edges (2 colours each)
Pretty simple, I'm sure you'll agree.

Maybe not.

So by this point, I had a partially scrambled puzzle and a giant headache. What to do? Scramble it properly, of course! If I was ever going to get it solved again, I didn't want to have a "half-solve" under my belt.

So that's what I did: scrambled it well and good.

And now I had a visual nightmare. Trust me: the solved puzzle does not prepare you for what happens when the pieces are all over the place. There are 20 faces and therefore 20 different colours. Some of the colours are extremely similar. When everything's mixed up, it's simply bamboozling.

And that's how I felt...bamboozled.

I decided to start by attempting all the wide triangles. You see, I had a fair idea that the edges would need to be solved last, or close to last. Before I scrambled it, I had found a nice sequence to move around centers without moving anything else. So I knew I could leave them till the end. I'd also found another nice sequence to move around corners. This sequence took some edges with the corners, but no triangles. And so triangles were first.

After 5 minutes, I gave up. I literally had no idea how to even start placing them. Honestly, at that point, I was incredibly close to putting the puzzle away never to touch it again.

I'm glad I didn't.

Eitan's Star = Bauhinia Dodecahedron...Sort Of

I'd remembered reading on one of the threads on the Twisty Puzzles forum, that Eitan's Star was the "logical" equivalent of the Bauhinia Dodecahedron, whatever that meant. It was Konrad I think who made this point, and I'm not surprised. Konrad has often provided something - a picture, some encouragement - to help me through. I wondered, therefore, whether that meant it might be solved in a similar manner.

So I thought about how I'd solved the Bauhinia. A block-building method. Maybe that would work here too. (If you've not seen my Bauhinia method, have a look here.)

And so a block-building method is what I tried.

Things began looking up. After a while, I ended up with this


Believe me...This was a giant step for me. Around this time, I think I started believing I might even be able to solve this thing.

You can see that since the centers on the Bauhinia corresponded to the corners on the Star, and since I built my block around the centers on the Bauhinia, I should try building my first block around the corners of the Star. 

It's nice when things work out.

Nice, yes, but still a long way from getting the whole of the lower half solved.

Next, I added in the lower equator edges. (Keep in mind that although you're looking from above, the part of the puzzle you're looking at is what I'm referring to as the lower half. This is because eventually I'll turn it over.)




From there, it seemed logical to continue on and add in some triangles. This was one of the more straightforward parts of the process. It was easy enough to include the centers, so I did them too. The dark green part on the central right of the picture below shows the new bits added.




After this, the next obvious thing seemed to be the equatorial corners.



The most difficult part of this lower half was finding a way to complete it. On the picture above, you'll notice the corner on the left (white-purple-light blue-green-dark blue). This corner has its correct edge in the white-blue position, but it still needs the blue triangle along with the blue-green edge to make it complete.

Figuring this out took a long time, and I'd say it's one of the most annoying parts of the solve. However, once I did, this is what I had.



I admit, it's impossible to verify that the rest of the lower half is complete, but trust me, it is! Completing it was one of the great moments of my life. (And no, that doesn't bode well for the rest of my life.)

Tackling the Upper Half

In any kind of block-building method, the more stuff you build, the less room you have left to play with. And so with the whole of the lower half complete, I needed to figure out the best way to proceed. I decided to tackle the centers first, mainly because it was an easy algorithm, but also for a visual aid. 

But as I started, I realised that due to the way the faces turned, I could, and should, place one particular set of edges first. These were the 5 edges above the triangles touching the equator. It was fairly quick, and ended up looking like this. (In the picture below, it's the green and white triangles which I'm talking about.)




So, on to the centers. As I said above, the centers were fairly easily done. My longtime readers will be happy to know this was by nothing more than the Corner Piece Series. Love the CPS!

I worked out which centers should go where by looking at the corners. You can see on the picture below that the bottom right corner shows that the centers are correct, even though it's difficult to tell whether the other centers are correct. (They are!)



From here, I decided to do the wide triangles. This was because I knew I should do edges last, and that the corners would take edges with them. 

But as I began, it became obvious that moving triangles moved centers. My precious in-place centers.

What to do?

Abandon the centers, of course. Count my losses and move on.

The bottom row of triangles (speaking of the upper half of the puzzle, now) were not too hard. Once they were done, the other triangles were significantly harder. Setup moves were often involved, and it took much longer than I'd like.

On the picture below, you can see all triangles complete, but my centers abandoned.



Next, it was time to re-do the centers. Things looked better with the triangles also done.




Now I felt good! Life was looking up. (Mind you, I'd spent most of Saturday doing this puzzle).

Corners were next and I was on a roll. I did the corners using, you guessed it, the Corner Piece Series. I held the puzzle slightly differently from when I did the centers, but it was the same set of moves.

I have to say that placing the last 3 wasn't easy. But once they were done, the puzzle looked great. Here it is.




The last pieces to place were the edges. I started trying to place the edges using the analgous sequence to the one I used for the Bauhinia. This was a [4,3] commutator. For all the Cuba Gooding jrs out there (...think "Show me the Algorithm!!!") it  looks like this:

(UL' UR UL UR')    (UFL  L  UFL')    (UR UL' UR' UL)    (UFL  L'  UFL)

I managed to place maybe one or two edges, but this sequence drove me mad. The 3 pieces which cycled were nowhere near each other, and the setups were killing me. I knew there had to be a better way.

As is often the case, Burgo (from the Twisty Puzzle forums) provided the spark. Back on the Bauhinia thread, he'd presented a beautiful 3-cycle for the little triangles, which were done last. It was 20 moves long, so most people didn't care for it, but I loved it! And I wondered whether it might come in handy here.

Wow! 

I basically transposed the sequence onto the Star, and found that it cycled 3 edges and the edges were all close together. In fact, 2 of them were next to each other. Even better, it's a super-easy sequence to remember.

Again, here's the algorithm:

[FDL'   FL' FR FL FR'   FDL   FL' FR FL FR' ] x 2

For my long-time readers, you'll easily recognise the Edge Piece Series there. Love the EPS!

The only thing I'll add about this edge-cycling sequence is that it does move centers around. That's ok, though. Centers are the easiest part to deal with so they can be fixed at the end.


A Disaster of Epic Proportions!!!

But just when you thought the end was nigh, think again. Not even close. Little did I know what horrors awaited me.

Even though it's a super-easy sequence to move edges, I must have done an FR instead of an FR' somewhere along the way, because while solving the next edge, it all went wrong. I finished the sequence and everything was different. instead of being able to post about my success, I knew I'd have to wait for another day.

My puzzle ended up like this



and I ended up like this



You may notice I had aged quite a bit during the solve. This has not been photoshopped!!! This is really me! When the solve was going well, I was stressed, but this...the puzzle largely destroyed because of one wrong move...This pushed me into old age.

Take note: if you want to solve Eitan's Star, expect some severe changes in your appearance, wrinkles and fashion sense. Take out your life insurance and thank your wife for the many (too few) wonderful years you've had together.

Eitan's Star is particularly unforgiving on wrong moves. It's incredibly difficult to see what to "undo" if you turn the wrong face or turn the right face the wrong way.


Back to the Grind


What could I do? I did what any self-respecting solver would do: I sat there and thought how terrible my life had become, and how I should have known this puzzle was trouble right from the start. I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.

The next day, I awoke, as you do, with a new sense of determination. I was going to beat this thing. Sure, yesterday was consigned to the history books, but today was a new day.

Onwards and upwards.

I re-solved the triangles, then re-solved the corners, then took photographic evidence.



It felt good to be back to the point I was at 24 hours earlier...


A Disaster Which Puts the Last Disaster into the "Fun" Category

But just when you thought the end was nigh, think again. Not even close. Little did I know what horrors awaited me.

What? Am I repeating myself? De ja vu?

Yes!!!!!!!!!

Once again, one wrong move, and it was destroyed. I thought about covering this one up, and pretending it never happened, but I know I could never live with myself.

The concentration required to complete this puzzle is amazing. I solved enough of the remaining edges that I had 12 to go.

Only 12!!!


Remember how I talked about aging?

Here's me, alongside the puzzle after this 2nd disaster.

    


Sure, I'm smiling, but that's because I now no longer had any concept of my life or the world around me. 

My wife looked at me and said "You're going to have a brain aneurysm!" I sure felt like I could.

If you look not-overly-carefully, you'll see that this time the puzzle looks really messed up. That also isn't photoshopped...

Back to Square 1

And so I had no real alternative than to go back to the start and begin again.

Yep. That's what I did.

First I re-did the lower half.



Next came the upper half triangles.



I was on a roll now. Corners followed soon after.


The End Is Nigh!!!



As far as I was concerned, I was on the home stretch. I knew I could deal with centers easily enough and there wasn't a whole lot of danger of messing up the puzzle while solving them. The real problem was these edges.

So while I solved edges this time, I concentrated. I mean, really concentrated. I was like some religious person repeating a mantra for my algorithm. 

Up...Down...Up...Down

(That's me remembering an algorithm; doing it by direction rather than face names.)

It wasn't easy, and at times I wondered whether they were actually diminishing. But they were. I kept working my way through, until I had only 3 edges to go.


Can you spot them?

Now I was 20 moves away (plus setups) from overcoming this problem of these edges. Nothing was going to make this go wrong. I had been writing down my setup moves because it was too risky not to. Each time I completeed a sequence, I'd cross it out to avoid the risk of looking at the wrong one. 

Here's a historical document showing it.


I know, I know, I could have been a doctor. My writing's terrible, but remember, I'd aged to about 103 by this stage...

And so passed the longest 30 seconds of my life. If I mucked this up, I'd probably have to give up twisty puzzling.

Up...down...up...down...

Yeehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



This baby was so close to being solved, I was already celebrating!

I didn't care about the eye-rolling wife. She didn't know the pain I'd been through and the reason she now looked at me and felt 50 years younger.

I was about to conquer this beast.

But enough talk. Onto the centers.

............

And...


Oh my goodness. 



The relief. 

The joy. 

The welling up of the tears of my soul.




What a marvellous, complex, horrendous and beautiful puzzle. Lots of kudos to Eitan Cher and to MF8.

Could anything top this experience???




Well, yeah...Maybe I could solve it a second time.




The Aftermath

And that's it. I hope this has been an informative read. I hope you don't commit road rage when you pick up your own Eitan's Star. If you have any questions about my sanity, or want some clarifications on the reliability of information, please use the comments to do so.