Jan 17, 2015

Cast Quartet

Cast Quartet! I don't know where to begin.
I first noticed this puzzle on the list with Hanayama Cast puzzles (the small one which comes in the package of every Cast puzzle). I was looking for a level 6 puzzle (as per Hanayama's ratings) which to get first of these most difficult in the series. And this one was the most appealing to me. I told myself that I must get it soon. At that time I was having three puzzles in my collection.
So, one day, I went to a book shop, where they sell such puzzles in Bulgaria, and was looking for a level 6 puzzle. There were some, but "Cast Quartet" was missing. And I was not feeling satisfied. So, I did not buy anything. Some time later, I went to another book shop and... bang - there it was, staying alone (they usually have one or two copies of a puzzle), waiting for me. Looking at it through the package, I noticed that the four pieces are a little bent, not straight. That means, each is in the shape of a rhombus and not of a square, as I expected based on the picture of the puzzle in the list. This is the second thing that intrigued me about "Cast Quartet". The third one was on the back of the package - there was a picture how the puzzle is assembled, how the four pieces look like when disassembled and one third picture, which usually is not present for other Cast puzzles. This one represented the second object/shape that could be formed from the fours pieces. With this, I had no more doubts (if I have ever had any for buying this puzzle). The seller in the shop was very easy-going and told me that these puzzles are very clever and tough. She had been playing once with one for several hours. I knew this fact already and was happy to have "Cast Quartet" finally (yeah, only a few weeks of waiting) in my collection.

So, when I got home, I immediately opened the packaged and took the puzzle out. And then it all began. I quickly found out that there are two pairs of equal pieces - and each two that are the same form a thicker rhombus. The two formed rhombi are interlocked, like two pieces of a metal chain are, and there are only small openings on each of the four pieces of the puzzle, which are used to disassemble them. So, I did what was most logical to do - went for a random direction, trying to separate at least one of the pieces from the other three. At that point I expected that all four pieces should be taken apart at the same time, so I was looking for a place where this could happen.
I don't need to come into details how long time and how big struggles it took me in my endeavors for solving this puzzle. I reached some points where I could hardly move any of the pieces (they are so small and the space between then is so little that it is very difficult to move them) or even put three of the pieces as they should look on the second shape of the puzzle, while the fourth stood there in between.
I took the pieces apart when I was at a fast-food above the shop where I bought the puzzle from. I was with my sister there, eating unhealthy food, and was doing the usual - moving some pieces in random direction, when, out of a sudden, one of them fell apart from the rest. Then, it was a matter of several more moves to separate the other three. I was very impressed. Although I did not expect to find the intended solution all alone, I found this puzzle one of the best.

When trying to put it back, one of my goals was correct and I was half the way to assemble it as per the intended solution. But, back then, I did not do what had to be done further, so I failed at finding it completely by myself.

Cast Quartet - second shape

Cast Quartet - second shape (shadowed)

The second shape is very logical to make. I was happy to do this achievement. Then, after solving the puzzle randomly few more times, I looked up the solution. At first I did not believe it, but I was surprised to find out that it really works (although, it is very precise and tight - sometimes it works from the first time for me, at other times it takes a bit more effort to make it go).
So, here are my ratings for the puzzle:
Idea: Here is how this puzzle is presented (from the back of the package):
True bonds has always been hard to form, but once formed such bonds are eternal and hard to break.
My original version was created with this image in mind, but the puzzle was completed into a Cast Puzzle with a bond that is truly difficult to unravel. How would you go about breaking and forming this bond? There are two approaches to this puzzle and I challenge you to both! The key word is “Bond.” 

Personally, I find this idea great! To be honest, without such presentation, this puzzle would be one of the many, but for me it is also important what inspiration a puzzle gives to the players and the creator - be it before or after creating the puzzle.
So, for idea, I give it a rating of 6.
Implementation: The pieces of "Cast Quartet" are very simple. But the shapes they can form are very beautiful and attractive - both of them. I also love the material* - it is one of my most favorite. I think puzzles made of such material are the best. That is why I am giving it a rating of 6 here as well.
Experience: Although it is a very difficult puzzle, and I had to cheat to get the correct solution, I tend to give it a rating of 6 - one of the best puzzles I have got!
Difficulty: 6 and I bet everyone would agree.
Overall: 6
(Everything with overall rating of 5 or more is a diamond in my collection, and with rating 6 is the perfect puzzle for me.)

* It seems to me that different cast puzzles are made of different material, because they look differently on the outside. If that is not the case, then I am referring by "material" to the outside look of the puzzle. I am just not aware of the details how cast puzzles are made.

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