The Mirror Cubes, as expected, are a fest for the eyes and fingers.The Axis Cube is really nice to look at when scrambled but it turns horribly (might lub it later). The Megaminx isn't nearly as hard as it seems; just a bit time time-consuming as you must perform the same simple tasks over and over again. I kept having troubles with the Ghost Cube but today I finally found the solution (I was misplacing two identical tringles, ending up with impossible situations). From now, apart from getting a few 2x2 and 4x4 I might focus on trying to learn Fridrich method (at least F2L) and improving my finger tricks (BTW: this week Collin Burns broke the 3x3 world record by solving it in only 5.25' seconds).

It might not seem so, but these things are really, really soothing. They're very sensual to manipulate and you can really forget about everything around while you immerse in solving them. I highly recommend them to any of you who might be interested. Post edited on 1st May 2015, 5:08pm

I do am considering getting one of these if possible. Problem is, I'm not rich.

The metallic limited series were made to commemorate the release of the mass produced Ghost Cube by Meffert's, to this day priced $36.00. It's been clearly and repeatedly stated that they'll never be produced again, so I was too late. Four colors were available for the general public: silver, gold, blue and purple; a special green version was only available for Meffert's Jade club and an ultra rare red version could never be purchased at all but could only be given as a gift directly by Meffert, who gave them to speedcubing champions and to a few collectors and designers who he believed have made a special contribution to the puzzle community. Originally priced $39.00, some regular metallic colors are now resold for about $200, some green ones for about $1000 and the red ones, of course, will never be given away by their owners (there's also an artistic ghost cube made from actual metal). So: am I going to spend $200 in a puzzle? I do am considering it, cause it's indeed rare and beautiful (I already spent $800 only in my gorgeous Dollfie Dream and I still think it was worth every cent and more). Post edited on 1st May 2015, 3:04pm

>>2877 Little update: CrazyBadCuber is accepting offers for one of his custom made all-color metallic Ghost Cubes (including red). Also, a certain store is selling a limited edition of a "crystal" version for $150 each. Hand-made higher order ghost cubes can also be made on request by a certain guy for a few hundreds.

>>2886 How do you solve those, Anon? I remember having some friends during highschool that told me once that they used some kind of mathematical formula after glancing around the positions of the colours of the cube, but I never really understood what they meant by that. Can the same approach be done with these more complex ones?

I've gotten several more puzzles delivered and happily learned to solve some more and stuff, which I might post about sometime later when I have time.

This, however, it's so exciting that I just can't wait.

After thinking it might have been stolen or lost at the sea, I just finally got delivered my copy of the legendary Hexadecimal puzzle, which is basically a set of 16 8-bit binary challenges all in one beautiful single artifact.

You can see a guy doing a speedsolve of the hardest challenge here (n-ary puzzles usually involve several hundreds of moves even for the most efficient solution):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4bNG6YF49Q

The current license for its production expires at the 190 copies; mine was #79 so there still might be some time, but if you happen to fall in love with it like I did I'd advice to get it as soon as possible (it's really expensive, I know, but totally worth it). Post edited on 1st Aug 2015, 6:57am

>>2891 Yes, it is solved partly using formulae but you don't really need to have any special mathematical knowledge for doing it; you just learn the appropriate algorithms for each situation (say, like you learn combo sequences in a fighting videogame) and make your way through until the end.

A normal 3x3 you can learn to solve it by beginners method in like half an hour (less if you're quick), as it only involves 3-4 (including the cross) intuitive steps and then like 4 algorithms. A 4x4 only needs you to learn 2 more intuitive steps (aligning centers and reducing edges) and 2 more parity algorithms, in order to reduce it to an unsolved state of a 3x3 and then solve it as one; a 5x5 only needs you to learn 1 more intuitive process (change pairs of center pieces) and 1 more algorithm (reduce the last 2 edges) to do the same; after that you should be able to solve any given nxn cube with the exact same techniques; it won't be harder, just more time consuming.

The next step is to learn speed solving techniques, including the so called "finger tricks" but specially a famous solving theory for the 3x3 named Fridrich Method (divided in F2L, OLL and PLL; I've only learned it partially, since it has several versions that range from learning about 20 algorithms to over a hundred; each one helps you to progressively reduce time). A minimally respectable speedcuber solves the 3x3 in under 30 seconds (I'm still around one minute); a world competition solver is normally under 20 seconds; an to have good rank you must forcibly be under 10 seconds; the current single and average world records are a little over 5 seconds (Feliks Zemdegs is widely considered the best speedcuber alive and in history).

Back in the 80's it sure must have been a hell of a challenge since people had to figure it out all on their own (here's a veteran hero who explains how he did it all alone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhaXYA3e8ic). But now we have the results of decades of other people's experience, internet and lots of tutorials to fully guide you or just partly help you whenever you need to, as there's not just one way of solving these things and people keep discovering new techniques and sharing them all the time. Personally, I always look for tutorial for twisty puzzles, but n-ary puzzles, mazes and burrs I've decided (and managed) to solve them on my own... and it's a sometimes frustrating but finally joyful experience. Post edited on 1st Aug 2015, 10:27am

>>2904 It's TEH shit, isn't it? and once you've understood the general logical theory of the solution (well, of the Chinese Rings' one actually), in principle you're ready to deal with any n-ary puzzle they put in front of you.

>>2877 And well, in the end I got it: a purple metallised Ghost Cube.

It costed me a little fortune, but I knew it was most likely my last chance ever to get one (an auction from an old veteran selling his collection made over decades to invest in land) so I gave it my all for it, even borrowing some money from relatives. It was worth every cent.

In many ways, the jewel of my collection (together with Hexadecimal, of course).

I think this is my limit in cube size. Up to 5x5 it was increasingly fun but this is too tedious already, specially making the centers (edges aren't so bad since it's fun to adapt the respective 4x4 or 5x5 algorithms for each case). They're also starting to be rather heavy; I might just get a Shengshou 7x7 mini to have a proper/better 7x7 and that's it. I don't even remotely feel like stepping into the equivalent higher order dodecahedron series (kilominx, petaminx, yotaminx,...); megaminx was enough.

Anyway, for all I've seen, cuboids are overall a much harder challenge. I've avoied them because they shapeshift wildly (almost nonsensically) and never seem quite right even in their solved state, which disgusts me. However, WitEden cube-shaped ones can look really beautiful; 3x3x7 II, 3x3x9 and RoadBlock II in particular caught my attention; they're intimidating but very attractive, so I might give that family of puzzles a try. Post edited on 29th Aug 2015, 6:56pm

Do those weird cubes even fit neatly in something like the symmetric group the way rubik's one does? I can't even picture what transformations are possible on some of those.

>>2920 I'm not sure which ones you're refering to, but as far as I know most if not all twisties' solutions are developed over the same basic process: permuting and rotating pieces through a combination of commutators and conjugates...

Of course each family of twisty puzzles has their own sets of basic problems to deal with and the resulting general algorithms governing them, depending on if they are face-turning, corner-turning, edge-turning, petal/orbit-exchanging, combinations of families (like Dayan gems and others), rather sui generis, etc. Say, all normal nxn Rubik's cubes belong to the face-turning family, as well as most of their shape mods (including the Ghost Cube, which essentially/structurally behaves exactly the same as any Supercube, i.e. a normal nxn with orientation in centers); the Megaminx family, despite being dodecahedrons, are also face turning an so adaptions of nxn cube strategies and algorithms can be used on them; however, the Mixup family are mods that can turn edges into centers and viceversa... I mean, in twisties is not really the seeming shape what matters but the function that a certain piece has in the overall mechanism what determines if it's a center, corner, edge, petal or whatever, and in the mixup cubes the function of pieces can be changed so extra strategies are needed in order to solve them.

It might seem overwhelming at first but going step by step, adding difficulty little by little, anyone can get into twisties and enjoy them. I think I've been comparatively slow, but it's all for my own amusement anyway so no pressures are involved; each one can go their own pace so the whole experience keeps being interesting and rewarding. Post edited on 29th Aug 2015, 11:54pm

Another couple of extremely beautiful and extremely hard (ranked 10/10) puzzles: Bi-Nary and Seestern, both by Jean-Claude Constantin.

Unfortunately my copy of Bi-Nary came cracked but is still usable and, after 3 months, I thought it'd never arrive at all so I'm happy all the same. You can learn more about that one and other such puzzles here: http://www.puzzlemad.co.uk/2015/04/when-bi-nary-is-not-binary.html

>>2923 This might be excesive, but I wanted to give you a better view on the faces of this one. As you can see, they are not stickers but actual wood inlay work, which makes them all the more exquisite. Here's a video of the making of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljh4oBJD0QI Post edited on 22nd Sep 2015, 12:42pm

Classic hungarian 3x3x2 Domino cube, made in the 80's (there are still a few available at eBay).

EXTREMELY stiff right out of the box, but with a bit of (100% silicone) lube will work great. Strong built (baquelite, I think), appealing look and not hard at all if you get by with the 3x3x3.

As I understood the mechanism and made my way through it, at some point I started feeling something wasn't quite right. After looking at all the pictures I could find online and comparing them with my own copy, I finally realized that the puzzle had been incorrectly assembled in such a way that the upper and middle layer were mirrored. I didn't know if the wood could take the necessary fix, but I took my chances, carefully disassembled it and succeeded to replace the 12 screws in the right position. Therefore, this is the actual initial state of the puzzle as it was designed; it takes at least 1330 movements in the right order to be solved.

All in all this wasn't a very nice experience (parcel took a long time to come with no tracking number, one puzzle came broken and the other incorrectly put together; communication wasn't the best either), so I don't think I'm buying from that store again (www.puzzle-shop.de). Post edited on 5th Oct 2015, 3:59am

It isn't as good as in the 3D preview but not too bad either. Overall I really like it; I made other designs and will purchase them later. Post edited on 19th Oct 2015, 3:20pm

I don't know how this one is called in english ("Cubo con rayas" in spanish), but it's a non-locking 3D puzzle.

This one is tricky. There are only 8 corner pieces, but each one has 3 possible orientations; that means there are 6,561 combinations to try, many of which don't seem to be wrong until reaching the last one or two pieces. After over 1 hour of unsuccessful random attempts, I decided to analyze the pieces and realized that, put in the appropriate orientation, they were in fact 4 sets of laterally symmetric couples; I thought that if taking one member of each pair allowed me to build a 2x2x1 block, the remaining ones would forcibly behave the same way (just mirrored) and then, because of the same symmetry principle, those two blocks should fit together... which was the case. Post edited on 22nd Oct 2015, 7:35pm

I was skeptic about this one. Execution wasn't obviously the best, but when I learned the foundation of its construction it suddenly became beautiful: it illustrates the geometric principle over which the basic ovoid shape is built.

Many figures can be made from it, appropriately including birds. This sort of toucan was the first one I could make spontaneously.

I was really looking forward to this one. It pretty much fell apart by itself at unboxing, but I've seen that before in non-locking puzzles so I thought the challenge could be getting the sticks back in. So I was analyzing the pieces and trying for a while, but that was on the assumption that I should overall fill the gaps formed inside the box; when I abandoned that idea the puzzle came together in like 5 seconds...

It was very, very disappointing. It wasn't so much that it was ridiculously easy, but that the concept seemed deceiving; after inserting 3 convenient pieces in (not hard at all), the last one can join them with just one or two movements so it could hardly be called a sequential puzzle. However, I looked for pics online and found that there are other versions with same design but different pieces, which need of lots of blind movements to take out even the 1st one stick; therefore, it's just my own version that was dumbed-down to the extreme for whatever reason. I will buy a proper one latter. Post edited on 6th Nov 2015, 1:04am

This one, on the contrary, was a delight as an introduction to this puzzle family. A true burr, it was tightly locked and took me about 4 minutes to find the key piece and take it all apart. I could quickly put it back together since I kept track of the pieces as I dissasambled it; however, when I was taking the pictures, the separate pieces fell, I lost record of the right order and orientation, and so I had to really face solving the puzzle from zero. It shamefully took me well over one hour (maybe two) of careful analysis; it was frustrating and I was close give up many times but fortunately I didn't and so, when I finally arrived to the solution, I had a true understanding of the puzzle's structure. I previously thought that the solving consisted in reducing it to a pair of 3-piece burrs (first the clear pieces then the dark coats, or first coating then inserting the pairs); I was wrong: it's a true 6-piece burr in which, if we conveniently name the clear pieces {1, 2, 3} and their coats {1', 2', 3'}, then the only possible solution is given by the sequence <1, 1', 2, 3, 2', 3'>. As said, this wasn't obvious for me at first sight so I was very happy to go have gone through it by myself.

>>2960 >>2964 OK, it turns out there really are more interesting configurations for the version I have (I guess it was just packaged in a trivial one for convenience).

I just checked the configuration and key piece of the one in the pic to give it a go in. Then randomly turned the box so I'd lost all relative positions and could give it a go out from zero. It still took me just about 7 minutes (I think it was actually an easier way than the one shown in the pic) but it definitely felt more rewarding. I tried a few more random configurations in and out, scrambling the pieces every time; by the 3rd one I fairly understood the puzzle mechanics and came up with a couple of simple rules (or just notions) that any solvable configuration should follow disregard its difficulty level.

In the end it turned out to be a pretty good puzzle. It has depth but one needs, so to say, to ask for it. Post edited on 7th Nov 2015, 4:27pm

Dayan Megaminx (stickerless, white face, no ridges).

Right out of the box it was quite stiff. After lubing and a first tension-adjusting it is much better, though it still could use some work. I'm by no means a Megaminx speed-solver (no way in Hell), but even at the first solve this one significantly cut down my times compared with the Shengshou. I might take this chance to learn some advanced techniques.

In any case, it's a simply a pleasure to look at, specially when scrambled. Post edited on 10th Nov 2015, 5:37pm

I thought I'd write a bit more about this one: Astrolabrium, by Jürgen Reiche (Siebenstein Spiele).

The purpose is to align the 4 rings (2 white, 2 dark) in such way that all white circles are covered by dark ones. First I thought I could directly brute-force all possible solutions using binary code: 1 for a circle, 0 for an empty space; the plan was to map the rings and all their possible combinations, which meant writing down four 15x15 binary matrices (2 of them retrograded, since I read dark and white in opposite directions) and then check for solutions, so that for every 1-white entry there would be a 1-dark in the same column.

Needless to say, that became exceedingly tedious before finishing even one matrix. I gave it a bit more thought and realized all I needed to do was finding the minimal configuration for the white rings (the one with lesser total amount of visible circles), which could be done in seconds, and then I could easily arrive to a few partial solutions manipulating just the dark rings. Only one of them is correct though, since the small white circles around must be covered as well; when trying to determine how to remember such right combination I realized that, using the same figured handler as mark points, the relative positions of the rings meet a simple arithmetic rule: 1+4+8=13. Remembering that, one can quickly set the full solution at any given time.

>>2980 After a little research, I learned that in 1753 (the year showing at the center) Sweden switched from Julian to Gregorian calendar. They did it by letting February 17 (notice that February is the 2nd month and -(1-3)=2; also: 1+7=8) be followed directly (in just 1 day) by March 1 (i.e. 1 of the 3rd month; 1+3=4). I thought maybe the solution <1,4,8,13> could stand for <1-day,1+3,1+7,-(1-3)> but I guess I just tripped out. Nice cosmology-concerned puzzle design, in any case.

I finally got one of these to try out, since they're rather expensive for what they are. It is pretty loose which is nice, but it has zero corner cutting and the pillowed shape isn't the best for finger tricks. It also has painted squares instead of stickers. More of an eye-catcher than a speed-solving option.

For this one I had to look at the solution at least to take out the first piece, cause it just wouldn't move at all. It turned out it was truly stuck, far more thightly than what a burr needs to work properly; after a little sanding in the right places the puzzle became much more manageable. Not all that great but nice design and tricky solve.

>>3016 I think it's mostly an homage to Chaplin's movie.

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Anonymous
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>>3010 I thought I'd write a bit more about this one.

It is allegedly based on the construction of the hexagon from a circle, and one can sort of see it (sort of).The goal is, seemingly enough, to take out the ring. After like half an hour I managed to do it, but it felt to me like cheating for the following reasons:

i) The last part involved doing a radically different move from all the previous ones.
ii) The solution, if meant to be as I did it, would not be unique.
iii) I didn't need to pass for all the slots.

So, starting now from what seemed to be the exit slot, I tried to make my way back in with only "legal" moves to backengineer the true solution. After several hours, exhausted, I found myself unable to reach the starting position. The next day, since I knew that there's a youtube video with the solution for this one, giving up, I gave it a check. It turned out their solution was even more doubtful than the one I came up with, forcing the puzzle way too much for my taste, only showing the trajectory out and not really addressing the part I was stuck at, just one step away from the goal. However, they also got it out in the same slot and in one of the positions I had considered, since I tried several, addressed all the possibilities and stablished one single optimal deterministic route. I decided to stick to it a bit longer and realized there was another possibility along the way that I overlooked before, as it seemed to be a dead end; I tried with it again, did one step differently and after another full ride through the puzzle, it finally came back in. I felt very happy I could do it on my own in the end.

I first thought the idiomatic name (C'est la Vie! = Such is life! / It can't be helped!) referred to the need in life to sometimes think outside the box and solve things strangely. But now, with one clean and single solution in hand and due to its structure, now I think it refers more to those times when you're really close to something, but need to take a roundabout to reach it even in what seems to be the opposite direction. That, sometimes, the straight path just can't get you where you want, and you absolutely need to surround it, to flutter and almost seduce it, to get there. If so, I think it's a brilliant concept, not identical in structure but close in spirit to that of n-ary puzzles in general which the designer excels at.

Jean-Claude Constantin is truly an artist and a poet of puzzles. Doubtlessly my absolute favourite designer. Post edited on 10th Jan 2016, 4:25am

Not a 3x3 or skewb mod but an entirely new concept, as it jumbles with every move (the core is pyramidal). Consequently, it's actually difficult to scramble as it blocks constantly. But then, surprisingly, I was able to solve it intuitively in like 5 minutes. But that's because I just had to return it to cubic shape and all sides are equal; the original, with color code, must be way harder.

Very beautiful. I'm considering buying the blue version, cause it looks like Evangelion's Ramiel.

EDIT: the core has 6 axis OVER the pyramid. It's... strange. Post edited on 19th Jan 2016, 9:08pm

The original puck concept, which >>2903 sprung from. This is a remake, though; the original version (no longer vailable) had the colors in rainbow order. Very nice all the same.

I needed lots of help for this one. There were a couple of steps I would have never figured out, either because they involved moving several pieces at once or because I wouldn't have dared to force it in some ways... And in fact it did break, while putting it back together, because I didn't set the corresponding configuration exactly as it should be at that particular point. The fix was easy, though; I learned where to be specially careful and now it can come in and out without trouble.

It is clasified as a 13.3.12.5 burr, meaning that: "[it] takes 13 moves to remove the first piece then another 3 to remove the second piece then 12 more to remove the third and still 5 more to remove the fourth piece [there are 6 pieces]." I don't solve it as such, though; I mean, I don't count or anything, but just set up some successive stages that I need to accomplish in order to go on (like: "now, I have to make enough room for this piece down there, so I have to do this and this...").

Rated a 10/10 of difficulty, it totally beat me up this time; but I hope to have learned from it and consider a wider scope of possible movements from now on. By all means, it's a gorgeous puzzle and I'm very happy to have it in the collection.

That's also pretty much the best online store for non-twisty puzzles right now (they have them as well but, for twisties, hknowstore, mefferts and others can be better). Another good one is http://sloyd.fi/

Finally here: Zahnradlaby (Double Gear Maze), by Jean-Claude Constantin (1st version).

After the first movements, I quickly realized something was wrong. In this case, it was assembled correctly but one of the ball was placed in the wrong spot and so the puzzle couldn't be solved. It was a bit hard but I managed to get the ball out and now the puzzle works correctly. Very beautiful...

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... and so, here's my Jean-Claude Constantin and Jürgen Reiche puzzle collection so far. I might give it a rest for a while. Post edited on 22nd Mar 2016, 4:27pm

It only works on Rubik's brand cubes (slightly larger) and now they all have tiles instead of stickers, so the borders of the new stickers can get a little messed up. Nice looking all the same and harder to solve than I thought.