Rules


The hunt will take place Saturday, April 13, 2019. The schedule of the day is


11:00 am - 11:30 am

Puzzle Hunt Kickoff (Frist 302)

11:30 am - 4:30 pm

Puzzle Hunt

5 pm - 6 pm

Awards and Closing Ceremony (Frist 302)


Teams will get five hours to complete the hunt. A classroom on campus has been booked for your convenience (if requested), but feel free to work wherever suits you.


Format

Our puzzles range in style from picture and word puzzles, to logic and cryptic puzzles, and everything in between.


There are a total of 15 puzzles, divided into 3 stages. Each stage is made up of a number of regular puzzles and one metapuzzle, the answer of which depends on the rest of the puzzles in the stage. The first stage is made up of three puzzles, plus the first metapuzzle. The second stage contains five puzzles plus its metapuzzle, and the third stage contains four more puzzles plus the final metapuzzle. To solve each puzzle, you should aim to find a hidden English word or phrase, proper nouns included (more details below on answer format).


Only the first stage will be available at the start of the competition. Every stage can be unlocked by solving the previous stage’s metapuzzle, but if you’re stuck, the next stages will be unlocked to everyone partway into the competition: the second stage at 12:30pm, and the third at 2:30pm.


Hints

For each stage, there are two sets of hints. Hints can be requested by clicking on the "Request" button next to each hint set. While the first hint is a slight nudge in the right direction, the second hint is more substantial. Accessing these hints, however, will cost you: unlocking that hint set will reduce the amount of points that the puzzles in that stage are worth. (The exact amount of points deducted is shown on the Request button). It is recommended that you attempt all the puzzles in a given stage before requesting hints for that stage. For more information, see below.


Points

Each puzzle, including the Meta Puzzles, is initially worth 10 points. Requesting a set of hints for each stage causes the value of all the remaining unsolved puzzles in that stage (except the Meta puzzle) to decrease in value. For example, suppose a team has solves Puzzle 1 and requests the first set of hints, which they use to solve the other puzzles. The sequence will then look like this:

Competition start

Puzzle 1 solve (earn 10 points)

Request hints 1 (reduces stage 1 point values by 2)

Puzzle 2 solve (earn 8 points)

Puzzle 3 solve (earn 8 points)

Metapuzzle solve (earn 10 points)


For this reason, participants are encouraged to try solving as many puzzles in each stage as they can before requesting a hint.


Teams on the leaderboard will be ranked according to the sum of their total points. If two or more teams have an equal number of points, ties will be broken in favor of teams who were the earliest to have reached their point total.


Attempts per puzzle will be limited. This is to prevent teams from brute-forcing the answers. You will see the number of attempts your team has remaining for a given puzzle on the “Puzzles” page.


Solving the Puzzles

All answers must be submitted on the "Puzzles" page. Answers to all puzzles consist only of one or more of the 26 alphabetical characters a-z. All answers are case-insensitive. If the answer to a puzzle has more than one word, please enter it with no spaces between the words. For example, if the answer is "THE TEAM," please enter “THETEAM” into the answer box before submission. Teams may submit answers to a puzzle at any time after they unlock puzzle is released until the close of the Puzzle Hunt.


Teams may use any sources of information, such as the internet. Laptops, pencils, paper, scissors, etc. will be especially useful. However, teams must work independently from other teams.


Puzzle Solving Tips

What is a puzzle and what am I supposed to do? Each puzzle has a title and may or may not have "flavor text." The title and flavor text will often hint at the theme of the puzzle or how to solve it, hopefully giving some insight into what may seem like an incoherent collection of words and/or pictures. Also, you can expect that the puzzles are roughly in increasing order of difficulty.


As mentioned before, the answer to each puzzle is either an English word or phrase, or a proper noun. In particular, if the answer to a puzzle is a person’s name, say John Fitzgerald Kennedy, then, depending on the puzzle, what you will have to enter into the system is either KENNEDY, or JOHNKENNEDY, or JOHNFITZGERALDKENNEDY. If you cannot logically figure out which one of these to input, you may want to use some of your available attempts to try out all of these possibilities.


If you have never done a puzzle hunt before (or even if you have!), here are some common elements that often appear in puzzles (we make no warranty that any, or all, of those elements will show up this year, nor that none of these elements will come up twice):

  • Ciphers/encodings (e.g. A=1, B=2, …; Caesar shift cipher; Morse code; Semaphore; Braille; Periodic table; ASCII; Pig pen; etc.)
  • Crossword clues
  • Anagrams
  • Indexing (given a word/phrase and a number x, find the xth letter/word)
  • Acrostics (take the first letter of a list of words/phrases)
  • Nikoli puzzles, Sudoku, crosswords, Ken-ken, etc.

Here are some potentially helpful sites: