Mystery Hunt 2016

Spoilers below. Supposedly we came in 9th, which appears to be roughly in the ballpark of where Galactic Trendsetters normally gets (so around the second tier of teams who probably won’t win the hunt but might get reasonably “close” for some definition of close). I actually do want to win the hunt at some point though (preferably with this team). Being involved in the creation of a hunt sounds fun, if a ton of work. (However, unless we magically become significantly better, such a win is pretty much contingent on the at least 5-6 teams a tier above to not want to win the hunt (which apparently is very much a thing for winning teams a year or two after they host).)

Round 1 (Dog Show):

Woke up too late to see the start of the round so quite a few puzzles were already solved by the time I got to the site. The static nature of the website was pretty intriguing actually, although I much prefer the old system of team logins, with progress shown on the website. (After the hunt, it was revealed that this was a quick fix for a sudden systems problem.) Anyway… I don’t think I was able to find much to solve in this round so I went on meta duty, ultimately finding the aha of the Ribbons Meta. (but not the final extraction – eventually after backsolving this through the meta-meta, I saw how to extract, and therefore backsolved two of the feeder puzzles.) While the Whistle meta was being concurrently solved, I went and backsolved Spot the Dog as well.

Also made some observations to help solve the Dog Show meta-meta, and then later on went back to this round to backsolve the remaining puzzles (Ribbons Meta as mentioned earlier, as well as Travelogue and The Dogged Pursuit…) for a near full clear (missing only the Obstacle Training meta, which someone else backsolved after my attempts failed) late in the night. The full clear did indeed help us unlock a new round (I think Ysera?) so that was cool. (Less cool – we were still very stuck on the newly unlocked round)

Round 2 (Rip Van Winkle):

Immediately I jumped on ASCII Characters, noting that the word “factor” appeared in the flavortext, so why not factor the numbers. Our team extracts the pictures fairly quickly (I didn’t have a program (one was apparently written by Br.Ch.), but I manually did one pic by hand :P), although actually getting the answer happened a bit later when I looked at our pieces and guessed something which happened to be right. In the meantime I then looked at Indecipherable and Meet the Loremipsumstanis for a bit, which I helped fill out some stuff.

Round 3 (Sleeping Beauty):

Started out working on part of The Fire Swamp, stuck on extraction. Then worked on Mind Your Peas to the finish. (the initial step is clear enough, although tedious – I picked it up when only one or two of the 15 quilts were built, and later other people joined) Once the meta had been found, I backsolved Blocks and Blocks given a format string. I think we all mutually agreed that it was a Masyu of some sort. Extraction came later, which I was not involved in.

Round 4 (Opus):

Noticed the Wheel of Fortune bad calls fairly quickly on It’s So Obvious! but didn’t get the first part (the Weird Al Yankovic part). Amusingly, I provided a very relevant TVTropes page on our solving spreadsheet; hopefully nobody got lost there. Worked on Is that Even Music? for a bit but I think due to somewhat poor data collection of the pitch we didn’t figure out the extraction at the end. Also worked on Everything You Read, identifying some Wikipedia hoaxes, but we didn’t come up with the extraction on that either. Overall our team was pretty bad at the Opus round.

Sidenote – Everything You Read was apparently solved by exactly one team.

Round 5 (King Arthur):

I solved the Slitherlink in To Serve and Protect. That led to another Slitherlink (which I also solved), but I thought I had misinterpreted the rules, so I spent quite awhile trying to solve yet another Slitherlink, which I believe was impossible. Someone else extracted the final answer.

I am very bad at extraction.

Round 6 (Ysera):

I don’t think I managed to do anything productive on this round. I looked at various puzzles cursorily (Replication, Fun-Sized, Life Braid, Luminance Shift) without getting much. (The most I did on this round was probably completely unintentionally finding the interleaving mechanism of Life Braid, which someone else took over) I think I slept shortly after the round.

Round 7 (Dreamtime):

I think I helped Britishize (ok, Australianize) Vocabulary quiz and looked at A Quick Sudoku for a bit (failing extraction). Then I attempted to backsolve various puzzles to no avail.

Round 8 (Pam Ewing):

Looked at Quantum Minesweeper for a bit but couldn’t solve it. (That extraction mechanism is pretty crazy) I did spot quite a bit of stuff, and finished the bottom half of the diagramless on The World’s Largest Diagramless… but predictably couldn’t extract, missing the L’s in the middle of the L’s and not the beginning.

Round 9 (Randolph Carter):

I contributed exactly one correct pie chart, and one wrong pie chart, in Pie Charts. Did most of the initial work on Web of Links, but wasn’t able to find the aha step that led to the answer.

Round 10 (Sleeping Gypsy):

Iv.Ko. and I spent several hours tackling Cubism. That was probably the most ridiculous Slitherlink I have attempted (and solved); some other people came in to help extract afterwards since I can’t extract (again). I also found something interesting in Jackson Pollock, but eventually I backsolved it from the meta constraints.

Round 11 (Endymion):

I suppose I worked on The Pernicious Revenge of Juno without getting the proverb aha. Not too long after the coin was found.

Round 12 (Limbo):

As I understand, this required the solving of all of the metas. We got 6 of the 11 metas (missing Opus, King Arthur, Ysera, Pam Ewing, and Endymion) so we didn’t unlock this.

Total:

Personally called in about 6 correct backsolves. Worked on about 3 logic puzzles (Nikoli-types) (Two slitherlinks and the KenKens), finished 3 total puzzles, and started 4 others.

(I don’t count puzzles that I only cursorily looked at.)

This is notably worse than my personal last year’s performance, which I counted affecting a larger proportion of puzzles (about 30/162 compared to 16/115 this year). Part of it was probably due to the makeshift tech, part of it was due to having significantly harder puzzles (last year, my momentum started dwindling by the Atlantis meta-meta puzzles which were quite a bit harder; the School of Fish puzzles in general were easy solo/duo solving fodder), maybe some part of it was due to the fact that I prefer Random’s “flavor” of puzzles over Luck’s.

As a team we solved 115 puzzles (including 4 events). We fully cleared 5 of the 6 metas that we solved (the only partial clear was Dreamtime). We didn’t get any of the (three) puzzles that only one team got, but we did get two of the three puzzles that three teams got (the next lowest solvecount) – Cubism (the ridiculous Slitherlink) and Jackson Pollock (via backsolve). So that was something I guess.

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