April 4, 2012


I wrote briefly about the Way puzzle construction set by Volker Latussek back when I was reviewing all of the puzzles in the 2011 Puzzle Design Competition, and Volker was kind enough to send me a copy of my own so I could more fully evaluate it. Thanks Volker!

The puzzle is quite nicely crafted from beech wood, with a very smooth finish. The pieces are generously sized, which gives them a nice feel in your hands and makes it easier to manipulate them.

The goal of the puzzle is to create "free standing circuits".  Free standing in the sense that it won't topple over, and circuit in the sense that it is a closed loop. On the puzzle's website, there are almost 50 challenges, with more being added each week. Each challenge specifies what pieces are used, as well as the goal. Sometimes you're just building a circuit any way you can, other times the goal description hints at the position of a particular piece (e.g. an L-shaped piece is touching the table) or has other restrictions. This can either be a hint, or to restrict problems that would otherwise have multiple solutions.

The fun thing about this puzzle is that you can use logic to some extent to figure out how some pieces must be placed, due to the restriction that the puzzle must be free standing. For example, a C-shaped piece usually won't be able to rest vertically, since it would tip over. Sometimes other positions are only possible if there are other pieces in place to stabilize the structure.

There are no real downsides to this puzzle that I can think of. I really like puzzles with multiple challenges, since it gives you plenty of replay value. I personally prefer the challenges with fewer pieces, the ones with a lot of pieces are tough! Some of my friends saw this puzzle and were taking turns solving the different challenges, and had a really good time with it. I would think it would be enjoyable for children just to build with as well, trying to make interesting looking structures that don't tip over.

Overall, a solid puzzle that I'm glad to have had a chance to play around with more! If you're interested, you can purchase it by emailing Volker at the address listed at the bottom of his website. Also, check out Neil's review here, where he has posted lots of good photos and a video review as well.

April 3, 2012

The Yot II

I reviewed The Yot a while back, and have been wanting to try The Yot II ever since. It looks quite similar, so I wondered how it would be different. The folks at Puzzle Master were kind enough to sell me a copy at a discount to review. Thanks!

The Yot II is a bit thicker than the original YOT, but is otherwise identical. It is quite well made out of aluminum and has an unusual appearance that invites folks to play with it. As with the original, it has a trapped coin that you are trying to remove.

Before even getting the puzzle, I had a guess about how it would work, based on the fact that it was a bit thicker. Unfortunately, I was correct! This was a bit of a let-down, since I pretty much just took it out and opened it immediately. If you don't have this flash of inspiration, it may take a bit of time, but I think most people will come to the same conclusion fairly quickly if they are familiar with The Yot. A friend of mine who is fairly good with puzzles expressed similar disappointment when he found the solution fairly quickly.

The reason I tend to like puzzles that look similar but operate differently is that it really stretches your imagination about how many different mechanisms can be contained in a puzzle with the same appearance. In this sequel, they could have gone in a completely different direction, but it is quite similar to the original.

If you have The Yot already, it is probably not worth getting The Yot II since they are so similar. If you have neither, I'd probably recommend The Original Yot: it is cheaper and more fun to show people since you can open it right in front of them without them knowing what you did! However, if you're looking for a bit more of a challenge for yourself, you can try The The Yot II first so knowledge of the original Yot doesn't make things easier for you!

To read more, check out Jeff and Jerry's reviews of The Yot II.