Eureka. Since I had pretty much all of the difficulty level five and six puzzles at this point, except for Cast Ring II, I decided to buy some level four. Cast Devil appealed to me because it was one of those puzzles that looked like it would be fairly straightforward, so I was curious how it could be difficult or interesting. I also picked up Cast L'oeuf, which I didn't really understand how it worked based on looking at it, but figured it was worth a try.
As I left the store, I started to unpackage Cast Devil thinking I could give it a try on the way on the T. I got it out of the package and literally the first thing that I tried worked, I think it took me all of five seconds, which was pretty disappointing. I just wrote it off to my general brilliance and the fact that I was getting better at solving these things. I thought it wasn't a complete loss since it would be a fun one to give to people who might not have the patience for the harder puzzles.
I did end up bringing it to a party and it was really interesting watching people try to solve it. Some people got it quite quickly like I did, but other people were completely baffled. I could do it right in front of them and they couldn't replicate the solution. I think this must exploit a mental blind spot that some people have, like a lot of good puzzles do. In fact, I loaned it to a friend of mine who had done a lot of the hard ones like Cast Enigma and Cast Vortex, but he was unable to solve it.
So despite my initial disappointment, this is a puzzle I like to bring with me quite frequently when I decide to bring along a few puzzles to a party or something. It is quite solid and well made, with a nice shiny finish. It is based on a design from 1905 that was re-designed by Nobuyuki Yoshigahara.
Cast L'oeuf was pretty interesting. As you could probably guess, it is a design by Oskar van Deventer, who has all sorts of interesting puzzles in the Hanayama series that have a maze-type theme. I couldn't tell how this one worked from the pictures, so allow me to explain:
There are two egg-shaped plates of metal, one silver and one gold, that have different shaped mazes cut into them. Each plate has a nub that sticks out into the other plate and is too wide at the tip to be pulled through. In the picture you can see the nub from the silver side sticking through the maze on the gold side. On the other side, there is a gold nub sticking through the silver side. In order to navigate both nubs to the hole that is wide enough to release them, you must rotate and slide the plates so that the two nubs move through the maze.
It was fairly challenging, but definitely doable if you fiddle with it long enough. It is kind of a two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of feeling, since you have to frequently move one nub backwards to advance the other.
The puzzle is well designed, but I would have preferred a somewhat more sturdy construction. There are points where you can force it a bit, and it is unclear whether or not this is intended. If it was made somewhat thicker, then I think this could have been avoided. Also, I don't know what the two holes on the left and right are for, they do not seem to surve a purpose. Overall, I would recommend Cast L'oeuf if you like interesting maze-type puzzles.
Tomorrow I'll write about a few more Hanayamas that I got: one of which is an award winning puzzle that is also good for novices.
19 hours ago