Derek Bosch had a prototype Rhombic Maze Burr (RMB from here on, 'cos I'm lazy!) on his table at the IPP32 Puzzle Party. He was demonstrating it to anyone who was interested and letting them have a shot at it … and then he had a sign-up sheet for folks who might just be interested – I played around a bit and duly added my name to the list, and earlier this year, Derek got in touch to say he had a couple and asked if I was still interested … and a little while later it arrived. :-)
The RMB is Derek’s development of Kagen Sound’s (Schaefer’s in old money) Maze Burr. Kagen’s Maze Burr has maze plates spread around the faces of cube while Derek’s RMB has maze plates on the faces of a rhombic dodecahedron (the clue’s in the name!) … so there are double the number of maze plates to negotiate. The guts of the RMB and the maze and pin plates are all 3D printed and then treated with some Bosch magic-sauce to make them slide nicely. (I may have lied about the magic-sauce, but the pieces all move really nicely so I suspect he's done something to them!) A set of stainless steel screws keeps the plates in the right places and forces you to navigate the maze.
As with the Maze Burr, the RMB’s maze plates can be rearranged to change the depth of the solution required … and with twice as many plates, you can get some pretty high level configurations … my RMB arrived with a (mercifully low) solution of around 30-odd moves – and the booklet that Derek provides with the RMB includes 50 challenges ranging up to a 379 move monster set up … presumably for people he doesn’t like very much!
One of the maze plates is unique in that it has an exit off the plate, which, when the pins are in the right orientation, will allow that plate to slide out entirely – that is your goal. The exit plate is also the only plate that will be able to move at the start, albeit in the “wrong” direction.
Moving the first plate exposes a gap for the adjacent pin-plate to slide out, which in turn allows the maze plate to slide… and so on… a couple of the maze plates have hook-shaped channels that allow you to move a panel and then immediately retract the pin plate you moved to allow that move … and sometimes that can be very useful – as it effectively allows you to fork down a different branch (if you’re thinking about your path as a tree structure).
The RMB comes in two sizes – I went for the larger of the two and I reckon it’s a nice size to play with in the hand – it’s a nice handful. :-)
Once you’ve solved a particular challenge, a few minutes with a screwdriver and you’re good to go with another challenge – I’ve worked through a couple of the simpler ones so far and they don’t have that many dead-ends or forks in the road, so it’s not easy to get totally lost on them.
Every now and then I’d find myself benefiting from trying to work back from the exit though… although sometimes, if you haven’t noticed a fork in the road, or find yourself down a blind alley, you just end up convincing yourself there is no solution… and several times I’ve ended up with an odd panel or two sticking out with no apparent way to get them back in again…
I reckon it’s a great development on the theme and the extra panels provide a suitable step up in terms of complexity – and it’s fun to sit and fiddle with! Even the “simpler” challenges aren’t trivial … Nice one Derek!