Sunday 20 August 2023

Scramb L Was Less of a Strugg L

Scramb L by Junichi Yananose
Beautifully made from Iroko, with the protrusions crafted from Jarrah and Bamboo, and the box constructed from American Cherry and bamboo plywood. It is a nice solid 100x100x64mm in size.

Scramb L and Strugg L
I jumped on the order for Scramb L as soon as possible. Juno made it available to IPP members who had bought multiple of his puzzles before and I just couldn't resist. The Strugg L puzzle had been a wonderful new development in the packing puzzle genre having relatively simple shapes to be packed into a box but with no limits to the opening of the box. The limits had been created by the use of pins and tracks between the pieces and also in the walls of the box. With this new one, Juno had removed the externally visible grooves and it looked like a very simple packing puzzle. Only when you make the second of the possible moves do you realise that there is something special in this puzzle:

There are rails and tracks!
I had been expecting more pins and grooves and was quite taken aback to see the rails here. This made the blurb on the product page make sense:
"The design of this puzzle involved battling against shortcut solutions caused by unintended piece rotations. To prevent the pieces from rotating, Juno added protuberances and grooves. Still, unexpected movements occurred, and the pieces came off with fewer moves. Such unforeseen rotations were discovered even when the puzzle's manufacturing was nearly 70% complete, and leaving it unresolved would significantly compromise the puzzle's enjoyment. As the boxes for the puzzle were already glued together, it was impossible to add grooves internally. Juno addressed the issue by further modifying the shape of the pieces to deter rotations."

There are pins and grooves inside this puzzle but they allowed movements that Juno did not want and thus he had to be more radical in the design of move limiting pieces. The rails and tracks are a very interesting design and once you have dismantled it, then you will also see that there is an extra feature of the rail to prevent a piece sliding off the end. I don't think I have ever seen this sort of thing before.

The disassembly did not take me very long (about a ½ hour) but was a delight to explore what was and wasn't possible. At several points, it looked like there might be a rotational move but the careful design of the various pins and rails worked to prevent any unwanted moves. I had a nice pile of pieces for my obligatory photo and then stuffed them all into the box and left it for a week to see how tough it might be as an assembly/packing puzzle.

Only 5 simple pieces
This will help me forget the assembly
After a week I had mostly forgotten the moves to reassemble the puzzle and set to trying to rediscover it. The presence of the rails and tracks made it considerably easier to assemble my cuboid shape outside the box and then aligning the shape with the grooves in the walls of the box was easy. At this point, I had to dismantle the cuboid and then reassemble it in the box. I had successfully forgotten a critical move and did Strugg L to reassemble the Scramb L'd pieces but only for about an hour. This was a good bit easier than its' predecessor but nevertheless, quite fun to do.

Who knows what Juno is cooking up for us next? I can't wait to see it. He and Yukari are taking a well-earned break for a few weeks before getting back to the hard business of providing us addicts with new toys.

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