October 17, 2010

Silver Revomaze

The Silver Revomaze is the fourth puzzle in a series of five increasingly difficult puzzles. Check out my entries about Blue, Green, and Bronze if you'd like to read more about these puzzles. If you're not familiar with them, the entry on Blue is a good place to start so you know the basics of how they work.  Thanks to John Devost for loaning me this puzzle!

I have been working on the Silver Revomaze since March of this year, and only just solved it now. I didn't keep track, but I think it took somewhere in the range of 40-60 hours for me to complete it, which I think makes it the hardest puzzle I've had the pleasure of solving so far! This puzzle is definitely not for the faint of heart, it will take a ridiculous amount of patience.

Along with incorporating the feature that was introduced in Bronze, this Revomaze also features gravity pins, so the orientation that you're holding the puzzle in matters! This is noted on the website, so I don't think I'm spoiling anything by mentioning it. These don't turn out to be too much of a problem once you figure out how to deal with them.

After working on it briefly, I discovered a very unusual feature: there was a canyon that obstructed my path that goes all the way around the maze! Based on my understanding of the way these puzzles work, it seemed impossible for this to be true, since it doesn't seem like there could be any way to get across.

I was completely baffled! After being stumped for days, I set it aside for a few weeks. After this break, I approached it again with renewed vigor and finally was able to cross the canyon! I think it took me a good 25 hours or so just to make it past this part. I wasn't entirely sure what I had done, but I was across the canyon and didn't look back.

As soon as I started to make progress, I was immediately stuck again. The second phase of this puzzle is referred to as the swamp. It is an area that you can enter and wander around in, but it appears that there is no way to exit it other than the way that you came in. Quite baffling!

Again, I was completely stuck for days and couldn't figure out how to proceed, so I set it aside again. It became really frustrating to try the same thing over again for hours without thinking of anything new to try. Hopefully with some time, I would have some kind of inspiration.

A puzzler friend of mine Derek Bosch had solved this puzzle a while ago, and every time I would chat with him, he'd ask me how Silver was going. Usually, my reply was that I hadn't really spent much time on it recently, but I got sick of giving that answer and decided to give it another shot. After all, Derek had solved it, so I should be able to solve it as well with enough time!

I finally started putting some time into this puzzle again, and started to make what felt like progress, though I wasn't really moving forward. I was just starting to really think about the puzzle again and what my options could be. Finally, with some encouragement from Derek, I had the flash of inspiration that turned out to be the solution to the swamp!

Unfortunately, the flash of insight is only half the battle: actually implementing the solution would be really difficult, if I was correct. It turned out that I was indeed correct, and indeed it was really difficult. I can't really say any more about it without giving anything away, but suffice it to say that it is pretty insane. I was surprised that it was even possible!

Even after I had figured out what I needed to do, it took me a few more days to actually execute it correctly. Finally, a few days ago, I was able to get to the other side of the swamp! I could finally see that I was really close to the end, but I couldn't quite make it!

After a few more hours of frustration, I finally had figured it out how to get to the end. Phew! I was so excited that I called Kellian and posted on Facebook. As of the time that I'm writing this, it looks like only 27 people have solved the Silver Revomaze so far, though the list may not be entirely up to date. I don't actually own this puzzle, so I can't get on the opening order list, but here's a photo to prove that I did it!

Once I got it solved, I very carefully took it apart. Derek had warned me that it is easy to lose some of the small pieces, so I was quite careful. It was pretty stunning to see how it was actually constructed, the picture I had in my mind's eye was spot-on for certain features, but completely off for others. It is beautifully crafted and excellently designed.

One big downside to this puzzle, in my opinion, is that if you don't put it back together just right, it may end up locked forever! Because of this, I was very careful putting it back together. I didn't want to be responsible for turning John's puzzle into a very expensive paper weight.

Overall, I would say that this is a superb puzzle, but sadly only a small group of persistent solvers will be able to fully appreciate it since it is so absurdly difficult. There were a few aspects of the design that I would change somewhat, but overall it was very well done. I am quite intimidated to see what the Gold Revomaze will bring! It is sure to be packed full of even more tricky features.

Thanks again to John for loaning me this puzzle, and Derek for his encouragement! It feels pretty awesome to finally conquer this beast! 

5 comments:

  1. Well done on finishing the Silver, Brian - it really is a brutal puzzle, isn't it? So far the Open Silver group on the Revomaze forum only has 28 people admitted - so you can't be far off being the 27th to have opened this puzzle! Good job!

    allard

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  2. Thanks Allard! It sure is a tough one. I'm glad that I was able to get it eventually!

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  3. Brian
    Great Job! I now own my own silver revo but I've no hope of actually solving it. I met the inventor Chris Pitt last week at the Essen Game Fair. He was the nicest guy, just really genuine. We talked for quite a bit and I encouraged him to join IPP. He may in 2011 if admitted. I really enjoyed talking with him. I bought the blue and black plastic versions and he was sold out of green. He said he'd send one to me. I also bought the Silver Extreme (metal). He talked with me about his thoughts for the next one. He also very kindly gave me a core for the metal Red puzzle as a collectors item. It was one of the first prototypes so I'm honored to have it in my collection. I'm sure I'll meet him at another Game Fair and I can't wait to see what else he comes up with!
    Cheers
    Tanya

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  4. Chris is one of the greatest guys one could ever meet. Congrats on catching the eye of allard, another great contributor to the Revomaze world. Silver is a beast! a rediculously difficult puzzle, but rewarding. (i've had hard puzzle that werent rewarding) behold the gold, its coming soon!

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  5. Indeed, it would be great to meet Chris at some point! Perhaps at a future puzzle event.

    Silver sure was ridiculous, I look forward to seeing what further trickery is in the Gold! It sounds quite insane.

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Please don't post spoilers! Thanks for commenting!

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