I could tell you I didn't want to post on the site owned by
Russians, nor on the site owned by Chinese, nor on the site owned
by a lunatic, but the truth is I wanted to post on the site where
I've made spoiler blocks work. You'll see them in the sections where
I describe puzzles, hiding any blatant spoilers; mild spoilers are
unhidden. After all, to some extent the structure of this Hunt
beyond the museum is a spoiler, and putting everything from
Saturday evening onward in one big spoiler box is rather silly.
Sorry, this is long. Long Hunt was long and so is its recap. Use
the headings to help you keep your place.
The links in this article (except where it is obvious they go to something outside the 2023 Hunt) go to the live Hunt site which is still live as I am writing this. If you are not logged in, you will get a 404 not found, but you can follow links from there to log in as a public access team with access to all the puzzles, and then the links will work.
A couple days before Hunt, I tried to set up this TIM
Ticket thing we learned we would need to get access to
campus, figuring that as one of the people with the best knowledge
of campus on my team, I was likely to go in at some point even if
only to help others find things. Web site, create profile, assert
vaccination status. A teammate had forwarded me the link above,
which let me register an account, but I didn't have a ticket.
Where's the QR code it wants me to scan to get one? Searching
through the Museum of Interesting Things site (pre-Hunt) I found a
link about the TIM Ticket which had a code in the URL which
granted the ticket. Great, I got my ticket. Now I need to install
the app that is going to let me use it when I am out and about.
Got it. Installed it. Logged in through it. And then it tells me
my phone won't work to open doors on campus because it needs NFC.
NFC is a technology I haven't had in a phone in quite a few
years. In fact, I think only the Galaxy Nexus that I won for
solving a Playfair cipher faster than anybody else actually had
it. That was the only phone Samsung made as part of Google's "Pure
Android" program, before they decided they were too good for
Android and decided to try making their own heavily incompatible
version, which landed them on my personal blacklist. When I needed
a replacement, I bought whatever other Nexus was available then,
and I bought other replacement phones since then, but what all these
other phones had in common was the US versions didn't include NFC
because it was deemed a technology that never took off here.
Apparently all iPhones have it, and a few high-end Android phones,
and quite a few if you bought international versions (which might
give you greater ability to use your phone in other countries,
at the expense of being unable to use certain cell phone frequency
bands here), but I didn't have one of those.
The app offered me an option to print a card at a kiosk on campus, and since it was open without the card until Friday at 7, I decided that once I got my stuff set up at Le Méridien, but before Hunt started, I was going to walk down to the student center (W20) and get a card. The timing worked out to have me doing this during the 40 minutes between the end of the opening skit and the first release of puzzles.
During the skit, we learned (no big surprise)
that the museum didn't have enough staff to open to the public,
they were looking to hire some of us to fix that, and they were
going to test our qualifications with puzzles. With that over,
I set out for the
student center. It was a short walk down Mass Ave to campus.
On the way, I passed the famous Ire-Proof Rage Warehouse.
The relevant lettering was covered by scaffolding, but it appeared
they were repainting the letters. The ones on the long side of the
building appear freshly painted. So I guess we are going to have
this landmark for many years to come. It has been this way
for longer than
I realized. But pretty soon I was at the student center, and
I had to ask somebody where the card-printing machine was. I found
it. There was a screen with big words on it: Out of order.
W35, the Z center (as students call it), one of three connected
buildings which make up the indoor athletic facilities at MIT,
also had one, and it was right next door, though with the entrance
on the far side. So I went in there, asked the student manning the
front desk where the machine was, and she pointed to it... "Oh,
it's out of order. There's another one in the student center."
"Yeah, that one's out of order too," I replied, and walked out,
muttering, "Dammit, MIT."
On the list of kiosk locations I'd checked online before coming
to MIT, there were two more locations I thought within reasonable
reach in 16 and 32, so I headed across Mass Ave, down the infinite
corridor, and down the stairs into 16. Building 16 is not a very
big building. It's basically an open space at one end, a hallway
with classrooms, and another open area where it connects to 56. So
when I didn't see it in either open space I asked some student who
was using a card at the vending machines, and he didn't know. (I
found this one only after wrapup; it's literally under the stairs
going into building 8.)
So I went to Stata, having decided that if I didn't get it here I
was going to abandon the effort and just go solve puzzles. And
after finding a vendor who had no customers at the moment and
asking my question, he told me it was "down there" by the
elevator, with the kind of bent arm gesture needed to indicate
that it was way around the bend in this infamously nonrectangular
building. But I followed the main corridor until I found it.
Scanned my code. Some error came up about accessing the network.
Was this why the other ones were out of order, or were those just
empty from all the other hunters who did this before me? Anyway, I
gave it a second try and this time it worked and I got a card
printed up with my own face on it, which was clearly marked to
show I was a VISITOR. I put the card in the nametag/card
holder/pencil holder thing I've been using for all sorts of events
since I got it at Gathering for Gardner 11, 9 years ago.
I headed back to HQ, where I
arrived only a couple minutes after the first puzzles came out.
We only had this round at first, so I dog-piled with the rest of my team into the few puzzles open.
Museum Rules was a good puzzle for the many eager solvers present at the start to dog-pile onto, as it consisted of a storybook with about 20 pages worth of pictures and a little text which we wrote down every detail about while trying to understand what the idea was. There are a lot of animals... but not all the pages have animals. Somebody latched onto the text matching the descriptions of state quarters, or state seals, but some of them didn't work, and then ...
... which helped us confirm the states we were
supposed to be using instead of just guessing or scanning for the
relevant seal bits to match the puzzle text.
Inscription was a big mess of cross-references, with some visible, non-referenced bits that correctly led us to assume they were cryptic crossword clues. (This is a good puzzle for people who enjoy cryptics.)
It was sometime around this point, while helping print a puzzle for someone, that I noticed I was staring at the loading screen for longer and longer times with each puzzle looked at, and commented on it to a teammate near me. "I don't know what sort of technology they ran this web site on. How can a puzzle which is just one screen of text (I forget which one it was) take so much longer to load than the loading screen itself? This turned out to be a key observation, as soon thereafter my teammates figured out ...
Several of us worked on Showcase, which was one of way too many puzzles in this hunt that consisted of a bunch of minipuzzles. I solved two of the minis while my teammates did the others, with a few proving stubborn and requiring teaming up to solve. We noticed that many of the puzzles had odd wording in the instructions or unnecessary comments, often but not always at the end, but it took longer than it should have ...
But at this point I was alerted to us having the meta, The Cafe, available and all but two answers in the round, and I shifted to work on this. It was clear it was a kind of path puzzle, and one of my teammates identified the specific puzzle type as Anglers. In The Cafe (and in Anglers), you're filling the grid with paths, each path connecting one of the people (fish in Anglers) to one of the seats (anglers in Anglers, but normally represented as numbers outside the grid rather than seats on the edge). And one key difference is that in Anglers, the length numbers are at the edge of the grid (the seats), while in The Cafe they are at the people. That turned out not to make a big deal in practice, though.
I printed out three copies of the grid for those working on it, keeping one for myself. Others were working through our spreadsheet to identify and correlate all the things referenced in the puzzle and feeder answers. So pretty soon we had turned this into an Anglers puzzle with two lengths missing due to two missing answers, which corresponded to the people in the third row and third-from-bottom row in the grid.
By this point we had also solved many of the puzzles in Science,
and I never actually worked on the round, apart from looking at
the meta Nuclear
Words briefly and making some observations other people had
We were starting to get into both Natural History, Art, and the
Factory Floor, and the next puzzle I worked on, Collage
from the Art round, was another good dog-pile puzzle, a
Funny-Farm-style word association puzzle with a big web of words.
The next puzzle I worked on was the first I did on the Factory Floor, Baking Bread.
After this, I worked on the Cute Cats puzzle from the Art round a bit, though I had many teammates helping to figure out the three distinct types of answers in this puzzle and what to do with each one. It fell quickly, and I moved on to Catenaverbozoa from Natural History, which, despite the name, had nothing to do with cats.
I looked at Quality
Assurance from the Factory Floor round. My teammates had
already done the first step, solving the logic puzzle normally,
ignoring the provided but erroneous solution, and I started on the
process of verifying the assumptions in the erroneous solution.
But I was getting too tired to keep working on it, and at
11-something I took a look at the big board to see our progress.
We have a "big board" with origins back in the Beginners' Luck
team, which consists of a bunch of laminated cards we can write
puzzle names and answers on and stick on the wall with masking
tape, for tracking open puzzles, solutions, meta solving, etc. We
have an electronic version of this as well, which was invaluable
the last two years, but we still maintain the physical board.
On the big board I saw we had two metas solved and several
answers in a few other rounds. It wasn't the level of progress I
expect from my team on the first day, but I felt it was the
puzzles that were difficult, and not our own performance, and so I
felt like this was going to be a long Hunt.
I did one last thing before bed, which was to go into campus with
a teammate to pick up two physical puzzles. I tried my new snazzy
VISITOR card at the door to Lobby 7. The strip on the card reader
turned green, but the door did not unlock on the first try. Then
somebody came out, so just went in. Weaver
was a bunch of strips with letters and numbers on them that
clearly needed to be woven, and Tissues was indeed a box of slips
of thin paper, but they had drawings of bodily tissues on them. I
was too tired to help with either, though.
We solved, as it turned out, 8 puzzles between midnight and 5:30 when I returned to hunting. And during the first couple hours I didn't solve any more, mostly jumping around to look at puzzles opened overnight and not getting ideas. We had figured out that G|R|E|A|T|W|H|A|L|E|S|O|N|G was a loosely connected Morse crossword ...
We ended up not solving this one before its meta was solved, though,
and it became a lesser priority.
And then I worked on the cross-number puzzle Hall in Lost To Time.
I stopped work on this puzzle to begin a shift as Wrangler (a
role responsible for adding puzzles into our tracking system,
which makes spreadsheets available for them, etc.) I made sure the
previous Wrangler was caught up, and then I was free to do some
After those false starts, I finally contributed to a solution after I found Vraal working on This Puzzle is Just Another Regular Cryptic. His group had just finished the first stage of this puzzle, which gave the clue
Once that one was through, I looked at several other puzzles,
sometimes making minor contributions, such as in Art
of the game.such.fame! in Art, in which I reviewed the
regular expression puzzles and corrected an error in one. At this
point we had not yet figured out what the answers to these meant,
but when we did, it didn't take long to finish the puzzle.
We did unlock a few puzzles during my shift for me to wrangle.
After one of them, I gave Charles a thumbs up, explaining that I
successfully wrangled a puzzle called ♊
into our solving system. At one time, this system was not
Unicode-clean, but the usage of emoji characters in recent hunts
made it clear we needed to fix that. (Aside: My Hunt Index had a
small issue with that, too. After the 2021 Hunt, I discovered that
my tools for maintaining the Hunt Index site were almost
Unicode-clean. I use a tkinter front end to Python to enter and
edit stuff. Any character I type or paste into the GUI works and
makes it into Python. But when I try to edit a puzzle which has
Unicode characters in it beyond the Basic Multilingual Plane
(specifically, emojis in U+1XXXX), when my Python code tries to
load those characters through the tk part of tkinter to display
them, it breaks. It's a known limitation of tk's Unicode support,
which only supports characters up to U+FFFF, and
not something that's easy to fix. I worked around it by having
Python check the entered data and replace any such characters with
their HTML entity equivalents, which my code has always supported.
Back in the aughts when I was developing the initial version of the
index and I had no expectation that my software had proper Unicode
support throughout, I was using é to write Pokémon and
I looked at Broken
Wheel for a bit, filling in a few answers.
By the time I looked at Kubernetes, my teammates had gotten all the data into the spreadsheet, but there was a lot of solving left to do, to which I contributed a bunch. This one was based on the convention of abbreviating long tech words by writing their first and last letters and the number of intervening letters as digits, which I am most familiar with from I18N (internationalization) and L10N (localization), but which is also apparently used for Kubernetes as K8S. But they had done this for ALL the words in a bunch of clues.
We used some of the free answer tokens from events to unstick
some metas, so we solved the Natural History meta while I was
working on Kubernetes, and the Art one shortly after noon.
My first afternoon puzzle was Second-Rate Tiles, which nobody had started, so I worked on tediously extracting which letters were reused from one word to the next in the video, which was sometimes difficult due to the speed with which they were moved. When that was done I had some people helping to actually solve what the weird words were.
When that was through I moved on to The
Typesetting Machine, where they had solved most of the words
and were working on a couple remaining ones.
I was interrupted about 3:00 when we made the discovery that the gizmos on the factory floor, which we had noticed earlier but not understood, ...
When I got back from this, they had solved The Typesetting
Machine. I next spent some time assembling a chunk of the Quilting
Squares grid. It was clear we wanted a criss-cross grid,
with most entries having one or two colors making up most of the
entry, a few being a variety of colors, and occasional off-color
squares (perhaps at crossings?)
I stopped the quilting assembly when we solved the World History
meta, which unlocked our first capstone (meta-meta) puzzle, MATE's
META. And this is where one of the flaws of the web site
really stuck out. You couldn't print any pages with the Factory
Floor theme from the web site. Something in their page styling (I
did not dig in to try to debug it) makes everything on the
page disappear in print media, so you print a blank page.
And even though this puzzle was a meta-meta for the metas in the
Museum which did not have this theme, this puzzle had the factory
theme. We'd worked around this on some other puzzles by opening up
images we wanted and printing those, but the only way to print
this one was to copy and paste the whole puzzle from the web page
into another kind of document and print that. To have had one
puzzle that didn't print properly could have been excused; to have
a major part of the Hunt unable to print properly is a problem
that surely should have been detected.
In MATE'S META, it didn't really take us too long to discover ...
So now we could focus on more of the Factory Floor, Basement, and
Office puzzles (and another group was working on the Hall of
Innovation which all needed to be worked on together).
I looked at Gears,
a Rows Garden variant, with the blooms being replaced by gears
that could rotate into 6 different positions. But the fact that
there was additional weirdness going on made this too difficult to
figure out. We did get it without using one of the free answer
tokens, but more than 24 hours later.
At dinnertime, after printing the grids in Reflective
Screen from the Office the hard way (by opening each
image in a new tab and printing it separately)
I joined the group solving it.
Over a couple hours, we painfully solved the first logic
puzzle which normally doesn't have mirrors, but here it does. About
this time, teammates solved the meta for this round and we gave up
before trying the other 5 of these and a mini-meta.
I worked on X Marks the 🍎. Somebody had started this one, identifying four of the six names from their family trees in the Peach minipuzzle, and they'd written in a few of the states seen in the Sugar Maple minipuzzle and all the characters and their species in Red Maple. I quickly identified the grid for European Beech as a ...
I looked at Sliced
Up several times, especially since a couple of our teammates
chose to write all the words on mini Post-Its and put it in the
middle of a table. It was clear we wanted to make clues out of the
words, but how? We were misled by things like "atmosphere sailors
dislike" formed reading around a corner in the top left.
There were simply too many wrong ways to read sensible clues in these
words. We never got it.
A little after 9 PM we finished the meta for the Basement round,
which opened another capstone. Didn't we still have the Factory
Floor and the Hall of Innovation? It seems Teammate made those
optional to unlock this capstone, which was really important, as solving
it unlocked the 4 remaining rounds in the Hunt. Weirdly, this one was
not a meta-meta, but a self-contained puzzle. Maybe we were
meant to unlock one drive mini for each meta solved? Whatever. We
and dog-piled on the mini-puzzles it contained.
This puzzle was like the Reverse
Dimension round from the Zyzzlvaria Hunt, which had us
matching up Doctor Who doctors and companions to piece together
puzzles that had been split into two parts. Here, part
of each puzzle was on one of the AI drives, and part on one of the
files given independently at the bottom.
I got too tired to stay awake to see the end of this, but
finishing it allowed us to start opening the AI rounds, and it
really wasn't possible for them to have opened the rounds without
having us solve this puzzle first because the answer to this puzzle
was the names of the four AIs, which were all over the other rounds,
so it explains why they sped up
access to the puzzle.
By the time I got up, we had just solved the second level of The Wyrmhole... But this round is complicated, so it needs a recap.
The Devil's in the Details from this round had been identified as printer's devilry, but the answers were weird, and I noped it.
I moved on to 5D
Barred Diagramless with Multiverse Time Travel over in the
Admiral Boötes round, because it sounded interesting and because
my teammates had only barely started on it
and those who did that little bit were probably
now asleep. I watched the video about the chess game, which
looked over-complicated, but I hoped I could figure it out. It
seems like I needed to do the crossword first, anyway.
Crosswords, plural, that is. It was a Siamese triplets barred diagramless, and of course the bars were not in the same places. The "little bit" somebody had done already was only about the first three rows of one grid. I got all three grids started, and others joined in when they woke up and helped finish. (There are four more paragraphs of this discussion inside the spoiler block.)
We found some clues that contained what we
at first thought were extra words. Later, we figured out they were
alternate clues for words which were different by one letter. The
different letters all fell into crossing words where they made
plausible alternate answers to the clues at a time in the past
and/or in some parallel universe. We came to understand that the
three grids lived in different years, thus providing the timeline
order, and each grid had two solutions which represented different
There were also crossword answers related to the chess itself.
One of these confirmed there were two boards with movable pieces
(indicating that there was only one live side-branch and the main
timeline) and another clue
spoke about "the" branch and its answer confirmed black made the
branch. This was relevant so that we knew the position of the
boards. The versions of the crossword solutions that correspond to
our reality, past or present, are the main timeline, and the other
version of each
crossword solution lies on the branch, which was made by black, so
it goes above the main timeline. Meanwhile, if we make a move
through time, it will create a branch below the main timeline.
Ultimately, we solved all the crossword grids and started solving
the chess. We understood the green squares in the last example
represented checkmates. Another crossword answer told us we needed
to make one move - a mate-in-one problem, which is great because
trying to analyze this crazy game any deeper than that would
pretty much be impossible. Between the crossword clue about boards
with movable pieces and the 5D chess game rules, we understood
that pieces on boards in the past cannot be moved, but kings in
the past can be checked and checkmated. Such a check can only be
avoided by capturing the attacking piece or, if the checked king
is two or more boards in the past of the attacking piece and the
attacking piece is not a knight, moving a piece onto an
intervening past board in the path of the move. Except another
crossword told us the only pieces black had were kings, so he
couldn't do that either; he'd put that king into check doing so.
So to escape a check of a past king, black could only capture the
attacking piece on the board it was attacking from. (A third
possibility was also eliminated by black only having kings. When
you move into the past, the "present" moves back to the newly
created board on the new time branch, one time step after the
board the piece moved to, which would buy him move time to avoid
being mated or maybe even allow him to move the past king. But
kings can only move one step into the past, and their branch would
be at the current present. It takes a longer move into the past to
do this, which black is incapable of.)
We ultimately did not solve this puzzle, knowing from the puzzle
we needed 22 mate-in-one moves and only having 4 of those. Most of
the missing ones relied on a trick we didn't consider: When we
make a branch by moving to a board in the past, all the other
pieces which were on that past board come with it, and it's
possible one of those white pieces will check a black king in the
past of the branch. So any move to the board will create a
checkmate. If we had figured that out, we probably would have
finished the puzzle.
In summary, I think the crossword part of this puzzle is good fun puzzle you should try if you didn't do it (though it will take you some time), and I won't look down on you for skipping the chess part.
And I had another wrangler shift, so there were some moments I was pulled away to do that duty, but this was really the only puzzle I worked on in the morning, only to give it up.
I looked at Dispel the Bees. My teammates had gotten most of the words, and we knew what we were doing with them, but actually doing it was a challenge we were failing at.
Early this afternoon they
started giving us "strong" answer tokens that could give answers
to AI puzzles (the tokens we got from the events earlier could
not) and told us we would get more hourly, and we ultimately
decided to spend one of our free answer tokens on rather than
continue to struggle with this.
Update: I went back to look at this one on 1/28/23. At the time we killed it, somebody had (maybe 10 minutes earlier) started a program to solve it. I wanted to see how long this would take.
Assuming the programmer was of comparable skill to me, and that we could solve the remaining words as quick as my analysis suggests, it would have been a bit over an hour. Did we waste our answer token? There were other puzzles we forward-solved after this point that took more time, and we didn't solve this meta for another 11 hours. So maybe, but it wasn't clearly a waste with the info we then had. It would have taken most of the hour to determine if the problem was tractable.
The next spoiler block contains the first line of my program, which defines wds as a list of all the clue answers in order, in all caps. Feel free to skip this unless you actually want to run my program yourself.
And this block contains the rest of the code.
import copy import itertools ltrs= for j in range(21): ltrs.append() for k in range(11): ltrs[-1].append(" ") #directions that we can move to from a center dirs=[(-2,0),(2,0),(-1,-1),(-1,1),(1,-1),(1,1)] #forced cells to break reflections and rotations ltrs="H" ltrs="A" #center cells to fill at each stage rings= rings.append([(10,5)]) for j in range(5): rings.append() for c in rings[-2]: for d in dirs: nc=(c+d,c+d) if (nc not in rings[-1] and nc not in rings[-2] and (j==0 or nc not in rings[-3])): rings[-1].append(nc) #functions for letter banking and permuting words def uniq(wd): return "".join(sorted(set(wd))) #Place a word in the grid def plac(grid,word,pos): res= #Collect the letters already placed usd=set() remain=set(word) avail= r,c=pos if grid[r][c]==" ": avail.append((r,c)) elif grid[r][c] not in remain: return res else: remain.remove(grid[r][c]) usd.add(grid[r][c]) for j in range(6): rr=r+dirs[j] cc=c+dirs[j] if grid[rr][cc]==" ": avail.append((rr,cc)) elif grid[rr][cc] not in remain: return res else: remain.remove(grid[rr][cc]) usd.add(grid[rr][cc]) #Get permutations of remain rps=itertools.permutations("".join(sorted(remain))) for rp in rps: ngrid=copy.deepcopy(grid) for j in range(len(avail)): ngrid[avail[j]][avail[j]]=rp[j] res.append(ngrid) return res #Place first word todo=plac(ltrs,uniq(wds),rings) nxt=0 #Place words in other rings for rn in range(1,5): for wd in range(6*rn): print(len(todo),rn,wd) newdo= nxt+=1 u=uniq(wds[nxt]) for ltrs in todo: #Place word anywhere in ring not used for pos in rings[rn]: newdo+=plac(ltrs,u,pos) todo=newdo for ltrs in todo: print("===========================") for r in range(21): print("".join(ltrs[r]))
I looked at Crack
the Crypts at this point and again a bit later on. We had
all but three of the cryptic clue solutions by the first time I
looked at the puzzle and I added one more. My second look did not
yield any further understanding; by that point we understood the
common feature for each type of lock, but actually understanding
how we were supposed to extract an answer from this puzzle took
until just after midnight.
I looked at Space
Modules, the meta for the Admiral Boötes round. It was
pretty quickly clear we were overlapping the filters with some of
the given letters in each constellation to make something, but
others were getting them done faster than me so I moved on.
Vraal and I looked at Pluck the Petals, which some teammates had already started. They just needed some data cleaning, fixing up wrong answers, in order to bring the extracted phrase into something recognizable.
I looked at Investigate
Relics and I had absolutely no idea what was going on here.
Some of my teammates thought it was some sort of video game, but
at no point did anybody guess anything remotely correct.
It was easy to be attracted to the Eat
Desserts on Main puzzle. While there might be many places on
Main to get dessert, veterans on the team knew a popular one we
thought would work. I remembered the menu board having fewer
columns and more rows than the puzzle, but the shortest away-team
mission of the Hunt confirmed they had updated it since I was last
there and it did match the puzzle now. This was a pretty quick
solve after that, followed by a longer away-team mission because
it was the "Bring us food" puzzle of this Hunt. Of course it was.
I finally got back to the Wyrmhole round, looking at the third-level meta Lost at Sea. My contribution was ...
When we got that solved, it opened a round where the puzzles were all blank. But the meta was a copy of that fun puzzle Collage from earlier, and teammates quickly figured out what was needed for these puzzles. And that opened Period of Wyrm, the final meta for this crazy multi-level round. We figured out pretty quickly we wanted to ...
I think the
Indexer was the last one we got (or at least getting that one let
all the possibilities we had for some of the others collapse to
The Tower of Eye fell soon after that (I never worked on it), and
that left just Conjuri's
Request, which took place inside the video game Conjuri's
Quest. Also, we had a team meeting. Despite the fact that it
was almost Monday, we were apparently close to winning the Mystery
Hunt. We knew we were capable of writing a hunt; more or less this
team wrote the pretty successful 2018 Caltech Puzzle
Hunt, and certain members of this team had been on several
teams that wrote hunts in the decade prior to that. We affirmed we
were ready to write another Mystery Hunt and went back to solving.
The round structure was ... less complicated than some of the other AI rounds in some ways, but different.
Remember back on Friday when I said this was going to be a long
hunt? They gave us 22 extra free answers (beyond the ones worked
into the hunt structure as event rewards) and we are still here on
Monday trying to finish it. The intuition from solving a lot of
Mystery Hunts doesn't tell you how long or short it's
going to be, but you definitely figure out early on whether the
Hunt is more likely to end on Saturday or Monday.
We had three feeder puzzles left on Conjuri's round after using all those strong answer tokens, and we figured we didn't really need them. We had a clue that strongly suggested that ...
Shortly after midnight, Tyler finally figured out Crack Some Crypts, and we were down to two. And then somebody (think it was Chris King) just outright guessed ...
Shortly after 1 AM Teammate sent out email saying meta hints were
coming "before 2:30 AM." So we had three teams mapping instances
of the game, using the feature that let you join a teammate's
session, trying to collect as many fully mapped instances as we
could. Some of the first mappings we did didn't include everything,
but now we were collecting the location of every chest, every monster,
the keys required to open every door, the order we visited the rooms,
the details from the boss fight, everything.
On each team, one person was controlling the game, the other mapping,
communicating over a voice channel, so that the mapper could help the
controller, for instance, not waste time going into previously
explored areas. In some cases a third person
was video recording the whole game to give us a way to go back and
confirm data. And I was looking at the data
collected, which continued to look completely inconsistent. Every
theory we proposed was invalidated multiple times, showing it was
not just a mapping mistake but a wrong theory.
It turned out the hints came out right at 2:30, hinting for Tower
of Eye, Period of Wyrm, and Conjuri's Request. I guess none of the
leading teams was stuck on Boötes. The hint for Conjuri's Request
was exactly what we needed. It eliminated a bunch of possibilities
for what we were supposed to be looking at. So it was less than an
hour after the hint before we solved it.
This unlocked MATE'S
Team, a third capstone puzzle. This was a sort of scavenger
hunt through the entire Hunt, giving us a bunch of snippets of
puzzles modified or presented in one of several ways, and each
with a word or phrase redacted. We had to go back to and click on
the relevant section of the original puzzle to "find" a jigsaw
puzzle piece that went back into the capstone. So everybody awake
was trying to recognize the bits from the puzzles they had worked
on. The jigsaw solution suggested how to extract a letter from
each redaction based on the way that puzzle snipped was modified.
This puzzle took us less than an hour, and we got a call from Teammate telling us we had a 6:30 AM appointment for the runaround in Lobby 7. First or second, surely, with the campus opening at 6 and Teammate surely needing a little time to set up. I took the time to pack up the stuff I brought to hunt, keeping just one bag I could carry with me on the runaround.
The runaround was thankfully short, just a bunch of fun little activities. Each activity was based on a meta answer from one of the AIs, for instance ...
Update: Wait, is that a puzzle? The lines at the bottom of the coin... (identified by David Latham 1/29/23 and solved by oneplusone an hour later)