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Mystery Hunt 2014 roundup - Chronicles of Harry

2014 Jan 22

02:45:00 - Mystery Hunt 2014 roundup

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EDIT: Ugh, LJ mangled this due to some bad syntax on my part. Managed to pretty well recreate it though.

So! Solutions are up for Mystery Hunt, and you know what that means!

This year I joined Donner Party of N for the Mystery Hunt. Despite a number of people expressing interest earlier, I didn't really get much of anyone from Truth House to help out unfortunately (though Sam and Beatrix each joined in briefly). Oh well.

The story is -- I thought Strange New Universe still existed, since I still got mail from Mystery Hunt HQ on their mailing list. But a few days before the Hunt I realized -- I'd never gotten any mail from the actual *team* on the mailing list. So I emailed Tim Black, a friend of Youlian's who'd officially put me on the team last year, and asked him what was up. I also sent an email to Kevin Carde asking if I could join his team. Well, I got a reply from Tim; SNU had dissolved he said, but I'd be welcome on Donner Party of N. And so it was. (It later turned out Kevin was also on Donner Party this year.)

Donner Party didn't have a wiki, only Google Docs, which was a bit of a pain; when Sam was trying to help out I was just like "yeah I can't figure out how to let you access the spreadsheets unfortunately". Still, it worked. It had to; most of the team was off-site, based in Chicago. Apparently we had so few people on-site that they had to make special allowances to allow us to do the runaround. (Did we even make it to the runaround? I don't know what the rules were.) Towards the end, for whatever reason, there just didn't seem to be many people around and so I was largely working solo. (Everyone working on the runaround? But there's no way we could have made it there by then.)

We ended up solving about 40 puzzles, which is apparently considered pretty good for a team our size. We hadn't unlocked the Knights round when the coin was found, and still hadn't unlocked much of the Tea Party and Mock Turtle rounds. Oh well. I tried a little bit of solving, mostly solo, after the coin was found, but not very much.

Anyway! What follows is obviously spoiler-filled, so...

Zoinks! -- I'm not sure why it took us so long to solve it; apparently I messed up. I suggested ordering by the first episode, someone else thought to count the number of times Shaggy and Scooby ran past, I tried indexing into the last name of the culprit... except somehow instead of MISCHIEF I got MIRCSOEF. Not sure what went wrong here; possibly used the wrong culprint in multi-culprit episodes? Well, someone else got it right later. Or else backsolved it, but that would have been difficult with this meta.

Feed Your Head -- I provided the final answer here; the final clue puzzled people for a while. People didn't really know what to do with "inosine". Fortunately Wikipedia revealed that this is a WOBBLE base pair.

How Puzzling All These Changes Are! -- Oy oy oy, figuring out the rules here was a pain. People were kind of shocked when they started figuring out that many were really "nth occurence of this" (where n varies) rather than "1st occurence of this". It just seemed so arbitrary.

Ring Around the Music -- We got nowhere on this. I tried submitting BAND as a backsolve -- the meta didn't really provide enough information to, but BAND both fit and was thematically appropriate, so I figured it was worth a try. No dice.

Local Shorts -- Beatrix spent a bunch of time trying to ID the cities here but didn't get very far beyond what we already knew. I have no idea who filled these in later. Then people got stuck figuring out the permutation due to cities occurring multiple times; I was the one who suggested splitting things up by sport. I didn't even notice until after I did this that it already sorted things by sport for us!

BLAST from the Past -- People didn't really know what to do with the non-clue segments of the DNA. Apparently they were mostly irrelevant? That seems a bit off.

I Stumbled Across a Recording -- I didn't work on this one at all, I just wanted to point it out because I thought it was neat.

Stage Select -- This was a fun one. Naturally I noticed the Mega Man theme immediately; due to some missolved clues I initially thought there was a misplaced Mega Man boss in each of the 8 grids. The use of "rock" also confused me at first; Rockman is Mega Man! I didn't realize that this was just cluing the the center square. The team was a little uncertain for a while whether Marvin should be Jarvis.

Down the Rabbit Hole 2 -- Helped out a bit here but nothing substantial.

Across the Hall -- We solved this, but don't ask me how.

Best of Five -- Ugh. Once we finally got the numbers right and noticed the "ROLL THE BONES" clue, we got stuck. What's awful is, I actually thought of interpreting it as Yahtzee, but didn't actually try it, figuring that would yield ridiculously high numbers, so I didn't notice that the last two digits were always numbers from 1 to 26. Instead I just stated this idea and this problem with it in the puzzle chat when nobody else was around. That's the one disadvantage of working with other people -- you feel inclined to seek social approval for ideas before trying them if they seem too ridiculous. Which doesn't work when everyone else has abandoned the puzzle. :P We ultimately ended up backsolving this one.

Operator Test -- Apparently I was the only one working on this who's seen enough Family Guy to get the QUAGMIRE clue. I also note that we were 4th place in terms of time from getting QUAGMIRE to getting the actual answer (excluding those teams who didn't first try calling in QUAGMIRE). :) We were pretty sure it was wrong when we called it in, actually. I also helped out with the Resolutions clue; we had Faramir in place of Legolas. I noted that if we put in Boromir, then the upwards diagonal read "BUSTFUL", which is kind of like a word. Except Boromir isn't a prince, apparently. Fortunately someone else realized it was Legolas.

Hedgehogs and Flamingos -- I didn't really help with this, I just thought it was neat and wanted to point it out.

Monster Potatoes -- There is a puzzle called "Monster Potatoes". That is all.

Oyster Card -- I did not get that this was supposed to be Masyu and was totally confused (because I've seen a Masyu puzzle all of once before). Then other people started working it and I decided to leave it to them.

Safer Sephiroth -- We actually didn't get anywhere with this beyond identifying the Final Fantasy games, and I seem to be the only one who even tried it. I just thought people would find it (the puzzle and the solution) funny. Especially Josh, if he's reading this. :)

Please Remain Seated -- I don't think we unlocked this one before the coin was found. I just another I wanted to point it out because I thought it was neat.

WILLIAMS -- I did this together with other person whose name I no longer remember. We actually did it the easy the way the solution guide says most people probably won't figure out. :) Except we almost didn't; I came up with the true-but-ridiculous condition that if both 1/2/3 and 1/2/4 or both 2/3/4 and 1/3/4 are black, then 1/2/3/4 is black. This actually gets you a lot of it by itself. Then the other guy pointed out that just 1/2/3 or 2/3/4 alone sufficed. There was a bit of confusion here because neither I nor the other person was sure how polarizers worked (he thought that two perpendicular anywhere would result in 0) and nobody who did showed up. My half-remembered rule thankfully turned out to be right, although I thought the factor was 1/√2 rather than 1/2, which is irrelevant here. I did start figuring out orientations at first but then started just filling in black squares as that was easier. And it turned out to be enough. WILLIAMS is notable as being the puzzle to truly embrace the "backwards puzzle" idea. But writing a truly backwards puzzle seems hard so that's not too surprising.

LYNN -- I came in here and announced the final clue after everyone else had figured it out; I just didn't notice it because it was off to the side of the spreadsheet. Oops.

CLEMENS -- This one was a problem. I don't think we ever got that the words had been anagrammed.

NORWEGIAN WOOD -- My refusal to sign in to Quora hampered me since or two of the answers had gotten cut off. :P Meanwhile nobody else was working it at this time (whoever had earlier had apparently abruptly left off) so one of the questions had its answer missing, so I never saw the whole structure and noticed it was a tree.

YOUKILIS -- I trid this early and was immediately confused by the distances not matching up. Later other people (including Yiwei, hi Yiwei!) came in and figured out why; unsure whether they actually finally solved it.

LOVE ME DO -- You had to figure out the song from a video of it being played? Holy crap.

CRONIN -- I showed this to some of my housemates; they were amused, but of course the real puzzle is kind of hidden. Someone on the team did notice data.txt, but I don't know if we got any further than that.

A HARD DAYS NIGHT -- A bit hard to do this if you don't know anything about curling. I did notice that the sweep calls could be interpreted as Morse code, but I pasted together the second and third letters together, so instead of "SEMAPHORE ALL ODDS", I got "SWAP HORE ALL ODDS". And that still left the bulk of the puzzle.

GARCIAPARRA -- We took a long time between the stages of this, never actually fully solved it... (I didn't work on this one at all.)

AND I LOVE HER -- This is just another one I wanted to point out because I thought it was neat.

RICE -- ahahahahahahahahahaha

The Red Queen Meta is pretty neat as well.

Kroskuro -- This was one of the ones we solved post-coin. I didn't work on it.

Walk Across Some Dungeons -- Attempted this solo post-coin; I got as far as level 9. I might want to try this again at some point; I still haven't looked at the actual solution for that stage. :)

Wandering Stars -- I didn't work on this, and I don't know that anyone on the team did; I just thought it was neat and wanted to point it out.

Marking Territory -- Attempted this solo post-coin; it turned out to be pretty hard! Especially because I made an incorrect deduction on the second and got a contradiction, and I couldn't figure out my error at the time. The second was really the only one I made substantial progress on; I got a little ways into the first and basically nothing on the third.

SAT III -- I just think the title to this is funny; I didn't look at it too hard before the solution was up so I missed what it was referring to.

You've Got Some Nerve -- This was another one we solved post-coin. I didn't work on it.

SKI Trees -- I tried this solo post-coin. Of course, once you put the labels the leaves it's straightforward, but I quickly decided I didn't want to bother because the maps were hard to read.

Family Ties -- Just another neat one.

The Circle of Life -- The final extraction step here seems pretty difficult to come up with.

...and I should probably go get some actual work done now.



[User Picture]
Date:2014 Jan 25 04:44:20 (UTC)
> I also note that we were 4th place in terms of time from getting QUAGMIRE to getting the actual answer (excluding those teams who didn't first try calling in QUAGMIRE).

Actually, the amusing thing about the graph at wrap-up is that every team who solved that puzzle called in QUAGMIRE first. (And, fortunately, everybody who called in QUAGMIRE later called in the correct answer... some of them up to 45 minutes later.)

If you're curious, checking the server logs, it looks like Donner Party did start one branch of the MIT runaround but didn't finish it.
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[User Picture]
Date:2014 Jan 25 05:10:01 (UTC)
Huh, I had no idea, thanks! Like I said, when we called it in, we were pretty sure it wasn't the right answer, so I assumed there had to be at least one team who skipped that step.
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