Sunday 12 November 2023

Crazy Pyraminx Crystal

Crazily Logical Solve

Crazy Pyraminx Crystal
OMG! What have I done?

Having spent a good 10 days desperately working on the wooden puzzles from Pelikan, I decided to take a completely different puzzling track after that and play with something that scared the living daylights out of me but weirdly, enticed me as well. The Crazy Pyraminx Crystal looks absolutely horrific but the reality of it is that it is an entirely logical puzzle that can be solved by anyone who can use either the beginner's solution to Rubik cube or the Ultimate solution. Yes, it literally requires nothing more than a standard approach to a simple puzzle and a bit of thought.

I had absolutely adored the original Pyraminx crystal and even bought a shape modifications of it from Traiphum - the Hexaminx crystal. 

The most important thing I learned from the Pyraminx crystal solution was that, despite having so many pieces, it actually solved as 2 completely different puzzles which were solved one after another. Neither of those puzzles, individually, were terribly hard to solve. 

Hexaminx crystal 

My initial worry with this enhancement of that original puzzle was that the crazy centres which split all the pieces in half would completely confuse me and make it impossible to solve. Before I embarked on the odyssey, I did quickly have a look at the Twisty puzzles forum posts on it to see the general approach that others had taken. Everyone seemed to have worked out a fancy commutator to cycle 3 of the inner circle pieces around and I found one myself which was not hard to do in reality. As is usual for me, during my exploration, I inadvertently scrambled the bloody thing and in the end went all the way. As you can see from the picture above, it is really quite attractive when scrambled so would not be the end of the world if it stayed that way.

My memory of the non crazy version was that all the corners were solved as a Kilominx (i.e. a 2x2 version of the Megaminx) which can be done by anyone who can solve a standard Rubik cube. Then the  edges of the non-crazy version were solved independently of the corners using just the usual up, up, down, down algorithm to cycle them around. Maybe the approach with the crazy version would be similar?

Aha! YES!

There are a couple of wonderful Aha! moments with this puzzle. The first was that the 2 separate puzzle approach would work and the second, even bigger Aha! moment was that the crazy version is not based on the Kilominx - it is actually based on a Megaminx. If you can solve a Rubik cube then the first part of the solution to this is definitely possible for you. It will require you to alter your orientation when looking at it but certainly no worse than any other shape modification.

So what am I talking about? The corners are still the corners of a Megaminx. The edges that look like they should be part of the Megaminx are NOT! Just like the original Pyraminx crystal, you need to ignore the obvious edges just now. The true edges of the Megaminx are actually the inner circle corners.  When turning the faces, it quickly became apparent that the inner circle corners moved with the corners and the ones on opposite ends are effectively bound together. The edges of the Megaminx are effectively internal with only the very ends visible. Having realised this, I refreshed my Megaminx solve and started on it.

Top and middle faces solved all edges and corners
Final face to be solved
As you can see in the pictures above, the corners are solved everywhere apart from the grey face and the apparent edges (which are not edges) have been ignored. The real Megaminx edges are the inner circle corners. To help you visualise - in the left pic, the frontmost edge with the blue and red corner pieces on it has a red/pink edge which we are ignoring just now but the inner circle corners with a white at the top and the pink at the bottom is the real edge that I am visualising. It is hard to get your head around thinking this way but once you can do it then it is literally JUST a Megaminx. Just like a standard Rubik cube, the top face takes a bit of work but it is just standard cube algorithms (slightly altered for the pentagonal faces. The end result is solving the Megaminx:

Megaminx solve completed
Having solved your Megaminx and completely ignoring the crazy circle part of the puzzle you can see that quite a lot has been done. Time to focus on the true edges of the puzzle. I was not sure how best to go about it. I had a commutator worked out so I could just solve the outer edges like the original pyramids crystal and then move the inner edges later using that but it would require a lot of setup moves and could be fraught with the danger of inadvertent scrambling. Just for giggles, I thought I would try to reduce my edges one at a time and then place them. As long as I always just do my up, up, down, down algorithm and undo the setup moves then the Megaminx solve should NEVER be disrupted.
Focus on R/W edge
Twist to pair it with W inner
Move edge over and reset twist
Working systematically, pairing up inner and outer edges, flipping it over and then doing the other side
Move it to face with R inner
Pair them up
Place completed edge
Here I have reduced and placed one single Pyraminx edge. All that is required is to use my up, up, down, down sequence to move the edges around and then twist in place and move them back out and into place. Simple! Do this repeatedly over and over again being careful not to ruin what you have done before - luckily with a dodecahedral shape there is plenty of space for most of it.

The final few require a bit of thought and planning and will usually require you to break up some of your nice careful placement but nothing too catastrophic:
Final face of edges to reduce
Last one will need some extra moves
All reduced but placed ones moved
Once the triple edges have all been recreated and most of them placed then the end game is just like the original Pyraminx crystal:
In the end just have a 3-cycle
Re-solving the equatorial edges that had been dislodged will eventually leave you with just 3 pieces to be cycled. Yet again, it's just an up, up, down, down move to have it completed. Yesssss!

I have carried out multiple solves using this technique and there is nothing extra to it. The end-game occasionally needs a bit of fiddling to get to the last 3-cycle but if you can solve a Rubik cube and by extension the Megaminx then you can solve this puzzle without learning anything new. A truly wonderful puzzle design and puzzling challenge!
A puzzle progression
Can you solve the 3x3 Rubik cube using Beginner's approach? Then a simple progression through Kilominx, Megaminx and Pyraminx crystal is just a matter of thought and no new techniques.


  1. Wow, that is an awesome approach Kevin! I completely missed that in my solve, and made it way harder than it needed to be. I really want to go back and try this approach. BUT, I've now gone and changed all my centres to be a jupiter config (2 zeros and 10 one faces), and it took me an hour to do! So I don't know if I can be bothered to change it all back. Oh well, it's good for the humility to feel like a fool every so often (more often than not these days)... I wonder how this approach would transfer to jupiter and whether it would change a little, or a lot.

    1. I’m amazed that I found something that you didn’t! It’s definitely worth playing with my approach eventually just to see how easy it is.
      I’ve not actually converted any of my circle type puzzles to other face types. I’ve got to many others waiting for me. 😱