giganTIC – Andrew Crowell

Today, I visit giganTIC designed by Andrew Crowell and wonderfully crafted by Brian Manold over at Wood Wonders Online. I have bought a number of puzzles from Brian recently, but most of them remain unsolved including Perfect 11, I&i, Jitter Soma and Inelegant Cube. Hopefully, I’ll have time in the next few weeks to get to those. But, in the meantime, I have spent the last couple of nights getting to know giganTIC.

This is a fantastic puzzle. Despite it’s name, its a little smaller than a typical 4×4 cube. But perhaps it’s the number of moves required that encouraged its name. At 10.10, this is a moderately difficult puzzle that is extremely fun to explore and understand.

The puzzle itself is incredibly beautiful. The selection of exotic woods really makes this one special. I have spent a lot of time holding the individual pieces are marveling at the wood grains. Two pieces in particular are especially nice – the lacewood section with its very conspicuous flecking and the dark brown wood that contains streaks of light brown (sorry don’t know the name of this wood!).

Solving this puzzle is a joy. As with most of these Crowell design TICs, the first move is fairly well hidden and requires pushing and pulling pieces as you spin the cube around. Eventually, the first move is found and soon thereafter is the first rotation. There are a couple of dead ends possibilities, but the path to the solution is mostly straightforward.

I spent bit of time wandering in circles somewhere around the 7-8th move. I couldn’t quite figure out what was next. It was then that I re-read the description and saw that this was a 10.10 solution puzzle. This narrowed down my options as I knew that the 10th move had to remove a piece.

On a side note – I wonder if puzzles descriptions should include the number of moves required to solve it. Isn’t it a bit of a spoiler to know ahead of time how many moves are required? I often use this information as another clue to help me solve the puzzle, but I wonder if I am robing myself of some of experience by utilizing this knowledge? If I didn’t know that this was a 10.10 puzzle, how would that have changed the experience?

Anyway, back to the puzzle – After the first pieces is removed, I was again stuck. I continued to cycle through all the known moves – I would return the puzzle back to the start – minus the one piece, and then would work forward again to the spot where I removed the piece and would hit the dead end. There didn’t seem to be any other options. But then, like any decent puzzler, I forced myself to try other options and soon enough found a new path forward.

The new path quickly revealed the answer and with a final rotation, the puzzle separated into two halves. Wow, this thing is really cool!

Overall, The puzzle is kind of split into two separate sets of movement. The first 10 moves remove a cornerstone piece and then the next 10 moves separates the puzzle into two halves and the rest is trivial from there. The moves are really quite unique though, with a number or rotations mixed in as well as other hidden moves that are exciting to find.

It’s hard to imagine that so many mysteries could be hidden in 64 voxel cube. It seems like there should be a finite amount of interesting puzzling options – and I’m sure there are, but to my mind, there are many more options than would seem possible. Andrew seems to have a knack for designing these really creative puzzles that are full of unique and interesting moves. Each step along the way is delightful and satisfying and I can’t wait for more.

6 Replies to “giganTIC – Andrew Crowell”

1. Thelonious_Cube says:

I love this one, too. I still haven’t gotten to the last stage, but I totally love the hidden and surprising moves throughout Crowell’s TICs. His mix of large, convoluted pieces with small, simple ones (usually embedded deep inside) is different that most of the burrs I’m familiar with, too.

Apparently, he uses a program he wrote himself to design them. And for techies out there you might be surprised to find he wrote it in Fortran!

On move counts – on the one hand, maybe they’re a clue, but on the other hand, I try to avoid anything where a piece takes more than about 30 moves as I just don’t think I’ll be able to reassemble – so I want to know.

1. mallen says:

hmm. interesting. I’m not familiar with Fortran.. though a quick google search reveals that its from the 50’s?? which is crazy old.

I agree on the move counts as far as an indication that a puzzle may not be fun to solve or may be just plain tedious if there are too many moves. But often I find myself using that information to help solve the puzzle and sometimes it feels a little like cheating. I suppose it just comes down to an individual preference and what each persons wants to achieve when solving a puzzle – no one is forcing me to use the move count information, so I could choose to ignore it..

2. Thelonious_Cube says:

Yes, Fortran is crazy old – I learned it in High School on punch cards – I’m crazy old, too (or getting there). A really odd choice for writing a BurrTools replacement.

I guess I tend not to look at the move counts while solving – maybe that means I consider it cheating, too. I don’t really count moves, either, though. I think once or twice I’ve looked to see whether the next piece is a low or high count (like “am I on the wrong track?”) or with some puzzles by Benedetti or Hu, I’ll look to see how many 1-move pieces there are before things get involved.

I say the primary thing is “have fun” and if you think a hint will make it more fun, well go ahead.

3. Thelonious_Cube says:

You know, even though I enter my email, it doesn’t let me know when you reply….that’s inconvenient to say the least

1. mallen says:

Apparently there is no default functionality within wordpress to make this happen – but I found a plugin and have installed it, so hopefully it works and you will be notified whenever there is a reply to your comments.

4. Thelonious_Cube says:

Yes, I got an email! Thanks!