2020 MIT Mystery Hunt

Fifth year with ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ (previously: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016; writing with Random in 2015).

We won!

But apparently I’m still really busy, so I’ll probably just focus on a few highlights of things I personally experienced and get this post out the door.

The theme in a few sentences: As suggested by the invitation sent out to teams, there was a wedding. It turned out to actually be a real wedding between two prolific puzzle writers on Left Out, the organizing team. To the surprise of everybody who expected either one, three, or maybe five subversions of this announcement, the wedding actually succeeded (a COIN that would prevent all love in the universe was briefly reported missing, but then immediately found by the bride). Instead, we joined the newlyweds on a trip to an amusement park called Penny Park, which we learned was struggling and closing this weekend. It was up to help its regain its popularity and stay open by solving puzzles. The Mystery Hunt subreddit has lots of other cool links and discussions, including this animated bar chart, so I won’t spend more time here.

I’m pretty sure the best story I personally experienced was how we solved the metameta, the biggest puzzle that stood between us and winning hunt, and the moment at which we went, holy smokes we might have won Mystery Hunt! We got all the pennies required for the final metameta at Sunday 5:48:09am, and it took us until 12:47:30pm, just under seven hours later, to solve it…

That story is hard to follow up, and I feel like maybe I don’t have as many good stories to tell this hunt I spent an unusually large amount of time staring unfruitfully at metas despite having more than enough answers (looking at you, Spaceopolis’s first-stage cluephrase), but a brief run-through of other highlights:

  • Domino Maze (moderate spoilers): Literally a physical copy of ThinkFun’s Domino Maze plus a Mystery Hunt exclusive, professionally printed set of 44 cards. The production value was insane. I spent the wee hours of Saturday morning, something like 4 to 7am, on this puzzle. Somewhere in the middle we discovered the cluephrase for the second stage, and as intimidating as the task was, at that point solving the puzzle was a matter of personal pride for me.

    Alas, it wasn’t personal enough to prevent me from deciding to call it a day at 7am and taking a rideshare home. But as a last-ditch effort, I pulled up our sheet on my phone on the car ride one more time, stared at the four of seven letters we had, and got the Wheel of Fortune at 7:10:23. Although I can easily imagine things going the other way, it was definitely my favorite puzzle of the hunt.
  • King’s Ransom: Also managed to get the final extraction. Incredibly satisfying.
  • Safari Adventure round: This meta structure was nuts.
  • TEAMWORK TIME puzzles: Following in the steps of Twitch Plays Mystery Hunt and Under Control from two years ago, these were fun ways to take a break from other puzzles and scream at the room.
  • Spaghetti Western: Self-parodying puzzles are, of course, one of my favorite genres.
  • Four Dead in Five Seconds: This was a physical mini-interaction puzzle I went to with three other puzzlehunters at 4am. We swore nobody had to know how we did (hint: it was 4am). It was extremely funny though.

So, that’s it, and you can bet I’m going to be personally involved with writing and running the 2021 Mystery Hunt. Until then.

(note: the commenting setup here is experimental and I may not check my comments often; if you want to tell me something instead of the world, email me!)