Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hexus Level 43 & 44

I had a reader ask for help with solving a level for Hexus, a single player puzzle from Brainwright.  It took a several hours, but Ginny and I managed to figure it out!  So here is our explanation Steve, and thanks for the challenge!

I have to admit that I had not tried solving the last Hexus levels because they just looked way too hard.  Steve said he could not find anyone who had solved level 43, and Brainwright does not offer any solutions.  This is a little bitty puzzle after all, so maybe they were just trying to keep things compact?!

Anyhow, after fiddling randomly with the pieces, I decided to be more methodical.  I picked a piece that would fit in as few positions as possible for this level, and that ended up being the dark green piece.  (I think the yellow piece would be a good choice too.)

Ginny joined me at this point.  I loved how excited she was at the thought of conquering this challenge.  And she totally stuck with it for several hours (we did take a break in there to finish homeschool and eat lunch!)

I created a template sheet that we could use to record all the possible dark green starting positions.  Here is that sheet, if you'd like to use it too.

Hexus Solution Template

You can click on the picture and download the template from Google Drive.  Before you start, you'll have to color in the position of the "Challenge Block" which changes for each level.  Now you can use markers to match the colors of the pieces and begin recording whatever you like!  We used them to show possible start positions, but you could also use this to record your solutions to the different levels.

So Ginny and I had our dark green piece and we rotated and flipped that sucker until we were POSITIVE we had found all the places that it could fit.  Here's our grid filled in.

We found 14 possible start positions for that dark green piece.  Based on the shapes of the other pieces, you can easily eliminate several of these possibilities.  If you look at row 2 and column 1, you can see that this position creates a spot with only 2 holes.  All the pieces in Hexus are either 4 or 5 bits long.  So you can easily see that several of these dark green positions would never work.

Now, we began trying the positions that were left.  Some of those were fairly easily eliminated too.  One way to do this quickly is to note areas with straight sections.  For example, from row 1 and column 4 above, that start position creates a string of four in a row.  There are no pieces in Hexus with 4 straight bits in a row.  So there are no pieces that can fit along the right side of that green position.  Eliminated!

We thought we were doing pretty well...until we eliminated ALL the start positions for that dark green piece!  We knew that we must have missed a position.  That dark green piece has to fit somewhere!  But we couldn't see it.

It was time to look at it a different way.  Or, at least, focus on a different piece, so we turned our attention to the light blue piece, which seemed like it wouldn't have too many start positions either.  We managed to find 36!  Ugh!  We should have used the yellow piece instead!  We quickly eliminated a bunch of those blue positions, but there were a ton left.  Ginny was still game, so were started working them out.

After just a couple trial positions, we had an AHA moment!  We realized there was a position for the dark green piece that we had missed.  We cleared the board and started again with that position...I thought we had found another failure, but Ginny managed to fit in that last piece and HOLY COW! we got it!

So really it's all thanks to Ginny that this level is solved!

I'm sure you probably didn't need all this big, long explanation Steve, but I thought detailing our approach might help some other Hexus solvers too.

I have created a hint sheet which shows the start position for that dark green piece, if you want to see it.

I also created a solution sheet for this level (43) only.

Ginny and I are thinking that the world might need a solution sheet for all the levels.  We'll let you know if we ever get that done!

Jan 19, 2016 -
We've had another solution question from a reader named Aaron.  He was having some trouble with level 44.  Ginny and I used the same method to find our solution.  First, we created a template sheet and found all the places that the dark green piece could fit.  After preparing that, Ginny found the solution in about 5 minutes!  HOLY COW!  It was totally awesome!

So here is a hint sheet for level 44 with the dark green piece placement.

And here is the solution for level 44.

Happy Solving!

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