When I first started my collection, my idea was getting as many different types of puzzles as I could without venturing into variations. I wanted to see and experience new concepts. However, as my collection rapidly grew to 1000+ puzzles my priorities changed, because it became increasingly harder to stick to that philosophy, and I began eyeing some nice variations to already known concepts. A good example of this is Siebenstein-Spiele‘s Astrolabrium, designed by Jürgen Reiche.
So far, I have four variations of this concept: the Marguerite, , Keep Smiling, and of course the Astrolabrium. There’s at least another one that I don’t own, which is the Sonnenblume. Curiously enough, all five puzzles above are either from Jean Claude Constantin or Jürgen Reiche – both are great German puzzle designers. Yes, the puzzles are basically the same, expect for the different presentation, but I’m a sucker for this type of puzzles. They seem pretty easy to understand, but are actually quite difficult to solve.
The Astrolabrium is made from two tones of laser-cut wood. Four discs, two light and two dark, are joined together by a central pin that allows them to rotate freely in 360º. Each disc has either five or six circles in the middle, and the goal is to find the correct orientation for each disc so that the black circles cover all white circles. I don’t think it works the other way around, though – I tested it… The movement of the puzzle is smooth, but you have to rotate each disc carefully as to not accidentally move any of the other discs, since the pin is screwed rather tight.
Rated as a difficulty level 9/10, this puzzle promises some frustrating moments as you attempt to solve it…or not. Surprisingly, it only took me a couple of minutes to cover all white circles. Suspecting I was doing something wrong, I made a second attempt at solving it and even found a second solution not long after. However, at close inspection, you can see smaller circles at the edges of every disc. After seeing this detail, I started asking myself if I was expected to also cover these small white circles in addition to the bigger ones. The instructions that came with the puzzle certainly don’t answer this question and I can’t find any solution online that proves this suspicion. Further attempts accomplished nothing, so I’m not entirely sure if that’s a part of the puzzle or just decoration. Whatever their function is, one thing that I can be sure of is that the puzzle looks stunning.
In the end, at least for me, it doesn’t matter if you already know the concept of the puzzle or not, but if the puzzle is well built and looks nice. From the four variations I currently own, the Astrolabrium is my favorite, so it was totally worth getting it.
Availability: You can purchase a copy of the Astrolabrium at PuzzleMaster for $24 CAD. There are also many other interesting designs by Siebenstein-Spiele, so check them out.