Digits is a cleverly designed slide puzzle from Siebenstein-Spiele that actually doesn’t resemble anything they usually produce. Siebenstein puzzles generally have a predominance of wood in their appearance, even though some wood boards are used in the Digits puzzle. Does this make it less appealing? No way, on the contrary, as it’s one of my favorite puzzles from them. The Digits, like 99% of Siebenstein’s puzzles, was designed by the prolific puzzle designer Jürgen Reiche.
The design is made to look like an electronic panel of some sort. There are two colors that I know of used for the frame’s edges, yellow and red. I went for the yellow, but you should confirm which colors are available when you place your order. The tiles and frame’s cover are made from transparent acrylic and two wooden boards are placed between the acrylic panels for extra width. Moving the tiles is not so easy due to the acrylic grid on the top, especially if you have sausage fingers. The puzzle is not too big, measuring 12.6 x 8.6cm (about 5″ x 3.4″).
The concept, to be honest, is a little too similar to Grabarchuk’s Puzzle Impossible, but since that’s another one of my favorites, I don’t mind… Much. Okay, on the surface the Digits puzzle looks like any other ordinary 3×3 slide puzzle, but when you start to move the tiles you’re in for a surprise. The digits will begin to change every time you move them. The shape you see for each number is a combination between the segments on the tiles and the surface of the puzzle. When a combination doesn’t match you’ll see a different number that doesn’t belong there.
One of the differences between Grabarchuk’s and Reiche’s puzzles is that on the Digits you’ll see a random number most of the times no matter what moves you make, give or take the occasional oddness (see picture below), but nothing like the Puzzle Impossible. This can be either good or bad, since you could lose track of your progress if you lose your focus for a moment, but at the same time you don’t see those wacky shapes that can be quite confusing. In my opinion, Digits is way easier than the Puzzle Impossible.
The challenge on the Digits puzzle is also much more straightforward than its cousin. It comes with the numbers in sequential order from 9 to 1, starting on the top, and your task is to shift the numbers in the opposite pattern, starting from 1 until 9 from the top. I didn’t check all the numbers, but I got the impression that the exact same tiles can be used for the same numbers in both patterns. For example, the tile that forms the number 1 on the bottom right is the same for the 1 on the top left, and so on. You could mark the tiles with post-it notes to make it easier, but to make it more interesting try to solve it “blind” using only your concentration as a tool. This is rated as a difficulty level 9/10 (6/7 on the manufacturer’s scale), but after solving it within five minutes I reckon it’s more like a 7/10 at best (or 4/7). The mechanism is the same as a common slide puzzle, it’s just the appearance that makes it harder.
Digits may be a little different from what you’re used to see by Siebenstein-Spiele, but knowing their style it’s actually a great departure from their wooden haven and a bold design approach by Jürgen. I’ll be eager to see more creations like these from them. In the meantime, if you’re a slide puzzle fan, this one shouldn’t be missed.
Availability: You can find the Digits puzzle at PuzzleMaster for $25 CAD. You can also browse dozens of other designs by Siebenstein-Spiele.