Why the Ghost Cube is the Hardest to Solve

Throughout the Rubik’s Cube’s lifetime, there have been countless variations of the original 3X3 puzzle. One of the most iconic and hardest Rubik’s Cubes you’ll ever encounter is the Ghost Cube.

It was invented in 2008 by Adam. G. Cowan, a puzzle designer who had only one goal in mind – to create a 3X3 shape modification that only allows one solution and is as challenging as possible.

The famous Golden Cube inspired the Ghost Cube, but unlike the inspiration, which incorporates a Skewb mechanism, the Ghost Cube uses a standard 3X3 mechanism.

Here’s why the Ghost Cube is the hardest to solve and how you can meet the challenge:

It’s a Shape-Shifting Puzzle

The Ghost Cube is a shape-shifting puzzle that you can turn in abnormal ways depending on how the layers are aligned. It’s a unique puzzle with properties that amplify the difficulty of the standard Rubik’s cube.

A scrambled Ghost Cube can scare even the most seasoned puzzler. The shape will confuse you even when solved because instead of an evenly shaped cube, it’s a cube with slightly shifted layers.

You must familiarize yourself with the shape before you scramble it because the shapes will shift entirely and make solving it a daunting task.

You Must Solve It By Shape And Not Colors

Unlike the standard Rubik’s Cube that has pieces with different colors you can match, the Ghost Cube comes in one color. There are no colors to match to achieve a solved state. Instead, you have to solve it based on the description and shape of a cube.

There are no colors to guide you, so you have to solve it based on shape alone, making it harder to know where each piece goes.

The Center Piece Is Less Obvious

With several differently shaped pieces, the centerpiece on a Ghost Cube is less obvious. The centers are also not square-shaped, so any rotation affects your ability to solve the puzzle.

A turn only becomes possible when all the cube’s layers are aligned in a particular way, usually straight through the middle of the aligned layers. You’ll find it impossible to make some moves even with the correct alignment until you perform a setup move.

Since you can’t quickly tell where the center is, finding the setup alignment that doesn’t ruin your progress can prove extremely difficult.

How To Solve the Ghost Cube

You can solve a Ghost Cube using the layer-by-layer method of the standard 3X3 Rubik’s Cube. Because the pieces are not color-coded, a lot of trial and error is expected as you try to figure out what you’re looking at.

Follow these steps to get an idea of where to start and how you can progress:

  • The first step involves getting the right mindset. You need to remember that the Ghost Cube has a similar internal functioning to the standard Rubik’s Cube. It may not be evident at first glance, but it’s the regular Rubik’s cube with a twisted outer shell. Internally, they have the same number of pieces, exact mechanism, and function.
  • Familiarize yourself with the shape before you scramble it completely. You may find taking pictures or using colored stickers helpful, although some will consider this cheating. To scramble it correctly, you must misalign the top and bottom layers to avoid blocking any turns. Keep in mind that some of the line patterns may lead nowhere.
  • After you’ve made a beautiful mess, start by finding a base from which you’ll get a general idea of where the pieces go. Edges that match up with only one center go to the bottom or top layers, while those that match with two centers should be in the middle. With this knowledge, you can build the center first and work your way to the top or bottom layers. Solving the center helps rotate the edges and corners accordingly.
  • After you’ve figured out the center, go for the edges. Workaround them like you would with a Rubik’s cube. You can use algorithms at this point with clockwise and anticlockwise rotations. Flipping edges using the FRURUF algorithm should help you orient the pieces. It should be familiar if you’ve solved the standard Rubik’s Cube. Here’s a quick key:

F: front, R: right, U: up, L: left, D: down.

  • If an edge doesn’t match up to the center on any four sides, it’s not oriented correctly, and you must flip it. With correct orientations, you can match the edges to the center, piece by piece. If the edges are placed right but still not matching up to the center, try a 180 degrees spin without moving the center.
  • The top and bottom layers both have four edges and four corners. Once you’ve worked the edges on the top layer, work the corners on the top layer. Simply twist them around t0 ensure they line up and are in the right spot. Orientation doesn’t matter because the corners are attached to the center of the rotation mechanism.
  • Once the edges and corners of the top layer are lined up, move to the bottom layer. You should gradually start noticing the pattern line up as the edges and corners align.

Try, Fail, Repeat

Essentially, it involves a lot of trial and error as you slot in edges and corners that don’t align or look like the correct shape with substitutes until the patterns line up and the layer solidifies.

Once you’ve identified the centerpieces, working out the top and bottom layers will be a little more straightforward. The center should be your base or pivot point on which all other prices rotate as you try out different combinations until the full shape of a layer is formed.

It’s vital to ensure the center is positioned correctly. If you’re having trouble making turns or flipping edges, the center may be misaligned, which may mean require you to start over. Don’t expect to solve the Ghost Cube on the first few tries.

Final Thoughts

The good news is the more you try, the more you figure out what goes where and in what combination, so keep at it! You know the age-old saying, “Practice makes perfect”? – There’s a great deal of truth in that!