Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Puzzle Candy - ThreeTIC, TriadTIC, TripleTIC, NeuroTIC, TriumviraTIC


Puzzle Candy
There is something nostalgic and completely satisfying about a dish full of colorful treats in an assortment of pretty colors.  Delicious!  However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to replace sugar with plastic.  Thanks to Andrew Crowell’s new Turning Interlocking Cube (TIC) designs, I can continue to feed this habit.

Andrew has been developing several TIC designs that consist of only 3 pieces, which I refer to as puzzle candy.  Not a meaty solve that you can sink your teeth into, but something refreshing that you can experience in short burst of time.  It may only take you a couple of minutes, but will surely leave you with a smile.  And the best part, there are no filler pieces.  All 3 pieces are integrally involved in the solution.  These 3-piece wonders also don’t have externally visible voids.

With only 3 pieces each, it is not difficult to determine where the pieces go.  The entire effort is in discovering the moves and rotations required to entangle those pieces and cajole them into looking like cubes.

I have done 5 of them and recommend them all.   Each was made with a white piece, a gray piece (light or dark), and a unique color to make that puzzle stand out from the others.  A veritable rainbow of colors enticing you to grab one to enjoy.  Each puzzle requires an amazing number of moves and rotations that you can marvel at.

ThreeTIC by Andrew Crowell

White/Light Gray/Light Blue.  Level 7.9 (Although the 9 is mostly rotational moves, which are difficult to enumerate).  After figuring out how the first 2 pieces are aligned, you’ll need to determine the sequence of rotational moves to get them in place.  Keep in mind that most of the 9 moves are rotations.  If you’ve done several of these types of puzzles, this won’t be a problem.  If it’s your first, I suggest holding them both up next to each other in their final respective orientation and imagine that they are together while moving and rotating one of them until you have an imaginary separation.  Now reverse the process and assemble them for real.  The final step is to imagine the third piece in the assembly to figure out how that would be removed/added.  This puzzle is the easiest of the bunch and can be solved exactly as you would expect.

TriadTIC by Andrew Crowell

White/Dark Gray/Light Green.  Level 12.5.  After solving ThreeTIC, you may think that the solving process would be the same for all of these puzzles - but you would be wrong.  TriadTIC has a very different ordering of assembly for the pieces making it slightly more difficult than ThreeTIC.  Of course, you will discover this the hard way when solving it.  This puzzle requires a lot of moves to complete like the others, but has the least number of rotations in the solution.  Only 2 simple rotations are required to solve TriadTIC.  With the explosive growth in TIC designs in the last 2 years, these 2 rotations can be considered on the easy end of the TIC spectrum.  If you are unsure whether you would like rotational moves or not, this one is for you to get a taste of what it’s all about.


TripleTIC by Andrew Crowell

White/Dark Gray/Dark Blue.  Level 14.3.  TipleTIC is reminiscent of TriadTIC and although it has its own sequence of moves, it will seem familiar.  I think it is the same level of difficulty as TriadTIC or maybe ever so slightly harder since it’s 2 rotations are paired together in a sequence.  Of course you should get them both, but if you decide to get only one, I’d recommend this one for the slightly more interesting rotations.


NeuroTIC by Andrew Crowell

White/Dark Gray/Orange.  Level 13.3.  Like TriadTIC and TripleTIC, NeuroTIC only requires 2 simple rotations.  However, one of these simple rotations is rather sneaky and I found this one to be more difficult than the prior 3.  It looks so easy now, but it did take me a while to figure out that rotation.  Yes, I know that his one doesn’t start with a “T” and makes it stand out like the ugly duckling.  But just like the ugly duckling, this one turns out to be awesome!


TriumviraTIC by Andrew Crowell

White/Light Gray/Purple.  Level 16.2.  This puzzle is the hardest in the set and requires all pieces to be rotated at some point.  All 3 pieces are equals in the TriumviraTIC and they are all required to start working together from the beginning.  The rotations were more difficult to discover for this puzzle and it was a lot fun determining how to accomplish them.  TriumviraTIC was my favorite of the puzzle candy set.


If you have never solved a TIC, this is the place to start.  If you are an experience TIC solver, you will find these to be enjoyable little excursions.  My recommendation would be to get them all and have them delivered with all the pieces mixed up together in a Sadleresque puzzle pile - so named after that master puzzle blogger who has his friends mix up his puzzle pieces for him.  If you were worried in the past about receiving puzzles unassembled, this is your opportunity to give it a try.  You can acquire your own copies on Andrew’s arcWoodPuzzles Etsy shop.

Puzzle Candy Pieces

This is the 11th post of the monthly Andrew Crowell Rotations and Obstructions Series - Turning Interlocking Cubes (ACROSTIC).  You can find the prior posts of the series here:


  1. I've just worked my way through the three-piece TICs as well and absolutely loved them - great low-intensity puzzling for inbetween VC meetings! :-)

    1. Perfect use for them! I'm guilty on taking the bowl of mixed pieces and putting them together while on a telephone call. They should come in bags of 100.

  2. I'm working on some more of this style. A few more 4x4x4s: TriTIC and TreTIC; and then a few at the 5x5x5 size. Glad you guys enjoy them!