Tag: Brainwright

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Brainwright is a company known for its colorful, innovative puzzles, and “By the Book” is not an exception. The puzzle comes in a sturdy box, in which you will find small replicas of 2 shelves, 12 books, a cat, and a vase. You will also get 40 cards with various challenges, ordered in terms of difficulty. Each challenge requires that you arrange some subset of the books (and possibly the cat) on the lower shelf, so that the upper shelf can be placed flatly on top. This task is just as fun to do as it sounds, and the cute design of the miniatures makes the toy hard to put down.

Unfortunately, despite the interesting idea and masterful execution of the puzzle, the challenges themselves are rather poorly designed. Most of them have multiple solutions, and even the hardest ones occasionally can be solved by using very simple logic (find two books with the same height and place the others in-between). Also, the constraints which are included in some of the challenges, e.g. book A and book B must not touch each other, are often unnecessary and frustrating. Considering the low number of problems to solve and their overall easy difficulty, one can go through all of them within probably an hour.

Ultimately, it is very hard to rate “By the Book”. It scores high in terms of originality, design, and sheer fun, but scores pretty low in terms of logic, which is crucial for puzzles. Overall, I think it will be a good addition to your collection, especially if you have younger children around. However, do not expect any considerable amount of challenge from it.

  • great aesthetics and built
  • interesting idea; fun to solve
  • few and poorly designed challenges

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In an age of video games and noisy high-tech toys, Brainwright’s Manifold is a very rare find. I got truly delighted by the idea of folding little papers into origami, trying to achieve some easy to understand task. The goal is simple – you start with an 8×8 paper which has 16 black, 16 white, and 32 empty squares printed on its front. You must make several folds, so that it ends up as a 4×4 paper with all black squares on one side and all white squares on the other.

For under $10 I was able to get a set of 100 puzzles, many of them quite challenging, which translates into several hours of gameplay. The difficulty of the puzzles gradually increases, which makes Manifold appropriate for all ages. Despite my highly positive impressions, I have to point out several (minor) flaws. First – the paper, despite being high quality and glossy, may not be the best choice for making origami. Second – there is too much empty space left at the edges of the papers, which may get in the way when one needs to make many folds in one puzzle. Finally – since the creases on the paper may reveal the solution, each manifold can be generally solved once. Despite these few gripes, Manifold receives my highest recommendations.

If you want to try some sample puzzles from the set before buying it, you can print them from this PAGE.

  • fun and simple
  • origami based
  • various difficulty levels