A couple of years ago Kagen Sound (nee Schaefer) announced an ambitious series of puzzle boxes starting with the Lotus Box. Each would be based on the geometry of his fabulous Lotus Tables and puzzlers would find clues to subsequent boxes along the way… it sounded like fun and the prototypes looked smashing so I signed up. As did, I suspect, another 99 other folks.
Over the course of the next two years Kagen would send out the occasional update and post some teasing pics showing bits and pieces of progress (generally piles and piles of gorgeous looking bits!) – until about a month ago when he announced that he was ready to start shipping his Lotus Boxes… I sent him some Paypal and pretty soon a rather large box arrived at Puzzling Times HQ – after the obligatory ransom demand had been paid, of course.
Opening that box was an absolute treat… inside there was a custom-made shipping box made out of MDF and some heavy cardboard tube… opening the lid of the shipping box revealed a very well wrapped Lotus Box… every bit as beautiful as Kagen’s pics had suggested.
As with all of Kagen’s boxes, the finish is thoroughly wonderful! This thing glistens in the light and feels gorgeous – and the eight(!) concentric rings all move smoothly between their individual end stops. It’s worth just playing around with those rings for a while before you start any serious puzzling – the patterns they create are stupendous – switching radically between patterns with a few small movements on some of the disks. This thing’s trippy!
So what’s it like as a puzzle then?
Short answer: terrific!
The slightly longer version: there are four drawers to be unlocked sequentially – each drawer’s locking mechanism relies on the puzzlist lining up those eight rings to form a pre-determined pattern… there’s a clue to the first pattern on the outside of the box and once that’s been properly created, the first drawer is unlocked… which gives a clue to the second pattern and so on…
I was able to create patterns one and two reasonably easily, but the third one eluded me for ages… and judging by the comments on my favourite puzzling forum, it’s caused similar levels of puzzlement in others too… it’s easy to get it almost right, then find that you can’t move one of the critical rings far enough to complete the pattern, so you shift things around a bit only to find another one blocked somewhere else – except, when you now unblock that one, the first one blocks up again… repeat.
I spent a while chasing my tail on that one before I finally found a way around it…
…and then there’s the small matter of finding the pattern for the final drawer… that’s a lovely little twist that might just keep you confused for a little while longer – it’s a lovely little touch… suckers you into a pattern and then break it when you need it the most!
I really enjoyed working my way through opening all four drawers after a particularly heavy day in the office, as a result I can confidently recommend the Lotus Box as a great antidote to the daily grind!