Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Charming Snakes Into a Box – Snake Pack 2

Snake Pack 2 by Haym Hirsh
I was fortunate to acquire Snake Pack and Snake Pack 2 from a generous soul on the Mechanical Puzzle Discord (thank you Mark).  To be honest, I approached these puzzles with a bit of trepidation.  I had heard that they were difficult and I was prepared to be assaulted by a variety of coordinate motion dexterity moves worthy of a modern dance performance.  There were even comments from frustrated puzzlers with pieces stuck in the box.  I decided to start with Snake Pack 2 since it was supposed to be the easier of the two (although Haym said that he found it more difficult).

Snake Pack 2 is a charming puzzle designed by Haym Hirsh and made by Brian Menold at Wood Wonders.  The box that the snakes are packed into has an opening in the corner and 3 poke holes inviting your fingers to enter and manipulate the snakes.  The box is made from Canarywood and is absolutely gorgeous!  The varying colors throughout the wood look fantastic!  The 5 identical “B” tetracube snakes that need to be charmed into the box are made of Moabi.  The Moabi looks great, but the poet in me cries for Snakewood – just because.

So what would I expect from a packing puzzle with 5 identical pieces.  The first couple of pieces have lots of room to rotate and could be put in any orientation needed.  The last piece will drop right in.  The next to last piece may require some shifting of the prior 3 to get in place and maybe even a rotation or two.  The third piece will be a pain – enough room to expect rotations and not enough room to accomplish them easily.

I worked with the snakes outside of the box to discover a workable assembly that could be inserted.  A little bit of experimentation shows that there are 2 ways that the snakes can be inserted through the box opening.  The major thought during this process was coming up with an assembly where the first snake could easily be removed from the box followed by a second.  To be honest, at one point I was stuck in a rut and turned the whole thing upside down so that the opening was on the bottom.  This helped me find what I was missing and led me to the solution.

In the end, I thought that the rotations were well behaved and I really enjoyed the puzzle.  And yes, determining what the third piece was and how to get it into place was the crux of the solution.  Once you figure it out, it’s not hard to do.

It turned out that this was an apparent cube puzzle as well.  However, there are supposedly other solutions and I don’t know whether this is the only apparent cube solution or one of many.

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