Puzzle Master decided to launch their first Kickstarter campaign with 3 puzzle designs. If enough backers pledged to fund the development in return for receiving a copy of the final product, the production of the puzzles would be initiated. I guess that the CA$66,880 pledged from 998 backers towards the goal of CA$9,000 was sufficient to convince them that these puzzles needed to be made.
The 3 puzzles that were offered in the Kickstarter campaign were Dirty Dozen, Lattice, and Slideways. Each of the puzzles is made in a striking color with anodized aluminum. It should be noted that these puzzles are not unknown nor even unavailable. I’m guessing that Puzzle Master pursued this Kickstarter campaign because they thought that they could make a highly attractive version at a very reasonable cost. And they succeeded.
Slideways by Ray Stanton is a classic, and I included it in my pledge even though I already have a copy in wood. My reasoning was to have a copy of this classic puzzle that I could hand to beginning puzzlers without having to worry about it. These aluminum puzzles are nigh indestructible. As such, it is beautiful and will serve that function well. However, the anodized aluminum offers no friction and the puzzle falls apart too easily. Even my 5 year old grandson didn’t seem to be too excited in being able to take this one apart. Of course, he couldn’t get it back together, but he’s only 5 and the Slideways
box had a big 6 on it. Maybe next year. Sometime in the future, I’ll
have a post on Slideways and Slideways deviants (the puzzles not the
people that play with them).
The other 2 puzzles, Dirty Dozen and Lattice, are board burrs designed by Jerry Loo. I’ve solved Dirty Dozen and have yet to tackle the scary looking Lattice, which I’ll discuss in a future post after I get it back together.
Dirty Dozen was manufactured using a bright orange color that looks fantastic. The pieces also have a pleasant weight to them and the lack of friction that I disliked with Slideways, works very well here. Several questions usually run through my mind when I see a puzzle like this: Do the pieces come out one at a time or do they come apart as connected subsets? Do the pieces peel off the ends or do they get pulled out of the center? Will the pieces have to be rotated? To be honest, all these questions were answered during the disassembly and I would have had to wait years before reassembly if wanted to attempt it with a clean state. I only waited a couple of months.
Although 12 pieces is a lot for this type of puzzle, they are all identical, which makes the puzzle much easier. The way that I tackled the assembly was to think about this 12-piece puzzle as a set of 3 interacting rings: an outer ring, a middle ring, and a center ring. The outer ring can be constructed in 8 different ways but using the properties of the pieces, all but 2 can be eliminated as invalid when considering how additional pieces can be added. The 2 remaining possibilities provide mirror symmetric solutions. The middle ring has the same properties as the outer ring. The inner ring can be made 4 different ways and only one of them is valid when considering how other pieces would be added.
Ignoring mirror symmetry, there are 2 assemblies for this puzzle, but only one can be constructed. That’s a 50% probability of getting it right. During the assembly process, there will be a point where you can go one of 2 ways. One way heads towards the solution and the other heads towards the unsolvable assembly. Please don’t let this description make you feel cheated out of a wider assortment of faux paths. They’re there if you want to really want to travel along them.
With the results of the ring analysis and the recollection of how the puzzle came apart, I had no problem putting it back together. On my second reassembly attempt, I ended up unable to get the last 2 pieces in and realized that I was working on the unsolvable assembly and had to back up to the fork and take the other path, which doesn’t take much time. Puzzle Master gives Dirty Dozen a rating of 9 out of 10 in difficulty. It is certainly no higher than 9 and might even be considered an 8.
The packaging for this puzzle was new and much more appreciated than the dreaded clam shell packaging. I’ll certainly be keeping these boxes. The boxes for all 3 puzzles are the same size with a different color trim on each. Each puzzle was nestled in a molded piece of foam. The only thing that I couldn’t understand is why the thick piece of foam backing was only on 1 side of the puzzle leaving the puzzle pressed against the box on the other side. It seems to me that the backing should have been split with one half on each side. Except for that minor point, the packaging was well done.
If you are interested in a lattice puzzle, I highly recommend starting with Dirty Dozen. It’s very attractive, feels good in the hands, moves well, and isn’t very difficult. You can get a copy at Puzzle Master here. Lattice and Slideways are available as well.
At some puzzle parties, there seems to be a tradition of dissassembling a batch of puzzles and mixing the pieces up to provide a greater reassembly challenge . Since I received 3 puzzles at the same time, I thought that I would give that a try and dissassembled all 3 and mixed up the pieces before reassembling them. Although, I still need to assemble Lattice, separating the pieces was a piece of cake and I don't really see what the big deal is. 😇
For a preview on Lattice, It didn’t take long to take apart but it is much more complex and fortunately, or unfortunately, I won’t be able to remember anything about the disassembly. Although it only has 8 pieces, it is a lot more intimidating than Dirty Dozen.