Thursday 18 July 2013

Man Of War

Man of War
Time again to review one of my dwindling supply of puzzles from Puzzle Master - I am going to have to order some more very soon. This time it is a nice, rather complex looking, wire disentanglement from their own brand disentanglement selection. They have an enormous selection of these and it is my aim to work my way through the whole lot if possible just as I did with the set I got a few years ago from Livewire puzzles. Puzzle Master's set is rather more extensive and so this will take some time but, never fear for your intrepid blogger's sanity, that went a very long time ago and there's nothing further to be lost! So I will keep plugging away at them as a public service for you.

The Man of War puzzle was given it's name because of it's resemblance to a Jelly fish and that it is supposed to have a sting in its tail! The puzzle arrived as is usual in the standard Puzzle Master clamshell plastic packaging and the picture on the cardboard insert said simply to try and remove the string loop from the bottom of the Jellyfish (i.e. take the sting out of the tail). The loop of string has a large ball on it to stop it from being fed completely through the loops in the wire. It is rated as a 10 (Mind Boggling) on the Puzzle Master 5-10 scale. This is the hardest level and so you should be afraid (very afraid)! .....Or should you? I actually would not rate this one quite that high - I reckon it's a 9! There's no solution supplied with it but it can be downloaded from their website here. Anyone who is well practiced at this type of puzzle should not need the solution but any newbie foolish enough to try may well find themselves requiring it. As far as I can tell none of the other bloggers have reviewed it and there is only a single review on the product page giving it 5 stars and saying how challenging they found it. I also would give this a 5 star review.

So how should one proceed with something like this? Rather than just fiddle (which is my usual approach) I decided that there were too many options for this one, so my first step was to just examine it properly and look for exit points and also look for any similarities to previous puzzles. Having perused the Master's (Dick Hess) compendium of wire puzzles in the past, I could easily say that there are still many types of wire puzzle that I have not seen before and that there was a high chance that this one would share nothing in common with anything else.

BUT after a minute or so I had a little Aha! moment. There is a sort of exit point on this but it is very well hidden and the way to get to it is disguised. Only by actually searching for it are you going to see it. So having found it, did I immediately take it apart? Unfortunately not quite as easily as that. Just because I know where the exit is does not mean that I could actually reach it! My first attempt suddenly revealed to me that this was going to be a multi stage operation. I had to abort the first attempt as I started to get knotted up and so quickly backtracked to the beginning and looked again - where did I need to get to? Amazing you need to use the exit point more than once!! After this realisation I moved the loop from one section to another and then to yet another. Each stage requiring just a little more thought. Finally, after another series of moves it came free:

Tail removed!
What about returning it to the beginning? I reckon if you had fluked it by random turning then you would really struggle. But because I had actually planned my attack step by step, I was able to do it almost immediately! Now there's a first! I have given this to a couple of friends and none have solved it - although I suspect I have not given them enough time to do so! After a few moves things were looking so awful that my poor heart couldn't take it any longer and I had to take it away from them and untangle it. It probably took me about 5-10 minutes in total but the others had spent about 30 minutes each with no success!

I have to say that I really enjoyed this one - I still don't think that it is a 10/10 but it has a really good Aha moment, a very nice logical sequence of movements during which you can actually see a stepwise progress towards the end and even at that end there's a little extra step making it less obvious. There are several places to go wrong and luckily not too many ways to get it really badly knotted. This is well worth the $14 to own it. I intend to carry it with me for some time yet and torture my colleagues for a while with it!

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