With the sun coming up, and a new challenge awaiting us we rejoin the puzzle chase as we head toward the Whiz Gamestore.
At just after 6am we arrive and heading inside we’re handed a Chess gamebox and find ourselves a table to setup and work over this puzzle. At least the last hint about playing chess was accurate. Question is whether there are any chess masters in our team. I know it’s been a long time since I played seriously.
Inside the box we find the expected chess board with a few modifications, and a set of chess pieces. There’s also a clue card giving us various directions about how to play, and what rules we should use. It reads a little like this:
Instantly we went off on the wrong track here, and tried to over complicate matters by attempting to find a well known five move checkmate game where black wins, and apply that to the board. I’m pretty sure we lost some time there, and I have to confess that’s where I thought we had to go. Instead, we should have setup the chess board, and solved the clues in the puzzle. Each of the clues allows you to figure out which piece should move, and where, based on the words printed on the board.
So for example, the first move for white is Pawn to shop; that being the place you’d buy a used camera. The image here isn’t great, but you’ll see the shop sticker on the right of the board, and of course given that it’s a pawn there’s only one possible piece which can move. Continuing in this vein, you’ll make the moves necessary, and get the confirmation that Black does indeed win.
Of course with this done, the puzzle is only half way to solved as you need to resolve the second part of the puzzle. We got a chuckle when we suggested that what “A Dieter Sees” is “His Feet”. Sadly not the right answer, but a good one at 6am, with no sleep!
With a set of letters created based on the hints that we had to remember where we had moved on the board, and by removing a piece (interesting mechanic here as you had to remove the letter from each piece from one of the words) we finally had a subset of letters and the keyword.
Entering ‘SACRIFICE’ into BugMe, we got the next clue. And yes, it took us far too long to solve this!
Well it looks like it’s time for breakfast, and another new puzzle. I’ll say up front, that this was the least favorite puzzle that we tackled all weekend. It’s obscure, we were tired, and the hints we were given when we were stuck were particularly poor! It was also particularly unhelpful that the Denny’s in question hadn’t been warned that their regular breakfast crowd was going to be replaced by 60+ hungry puzzlers. That said, let’s have a look at what we were up against at the Denny’s.
We have the six coasters pictured above, and nothing much more to go on. Ordering breakfast, and starting to think about what we have, we note that we have a Sheep, Fans, Siri, A Dad and baby, Iris, and Suns; along with a cryptic code at the bottom of each coaster. Also note the wording around the coaster. That’s going to be a clue, however it really didn’t strike us as to how to use it.
After a little work, we realise that we can rework some of the objects depicted, and be left with all four letter words. Converting these into Morse Code, we attempted to use the codes to index into the words, to remove the noted number of dots and dashes from the words, and all sorts of interesting combinations, none of which were helpful.
Brett decided that having eaten, and not much enjoying this puzzle he was going to go grab some shut eye, as had Clayton, so with Myself, Brian and Ben left, we scratched our heads and being perfectly honest, got nowhere.
Frustration, lack of sleep, and stupidity setting in, we asked for some clues. Having gleaned nothing useful from the clues and wasted another 20 minutes, we asked for some more clues. And then yet more clues before we finally made some progress. The idea here was to use a Sparse Code and create the word represented by the picture in Morse code, using only the number of dots and dashes in the code at the bottom of the card. From here, you entered the dots and dashes onto the coaster, using the corner squares where you had merged the letters and the long spaces where you hadn’t. From that, you then took the dots and dashes left in the light grey, and created a letter for each coaster, finally getting you to the keyword ‘BRAINS’. Something which we realised were not functioning very well for us at this point.
Grateful to have this puzzle behind us we hit the trail again.
Arriving at Bancroft towers, which looked a little like a castle in the middle of nowhere, we had our next puzzle. Before we could solve it however, we had to complete a quick challenge.
As you can see from the grin on Professor Goto’s face, and the fact that I’m picking something up from the floor, I found an unintended solution to this one. Turns out what we were supposed to do was spot that there were a number of flying disks positioned in front of that box, and throw them at a sensor in the box, disabling the guardian programs (person with a pugil stick and a fencing mask) and allowing us to pass. None of us spotted these disks though, and instead Brett distracted the guardian by going right, while I ran like a maniac straight for the switch and hit it. Now the end result was the same, and my method worked, however not really what was intended. Having seen what we were supposed to do, it was a nice Tron themed scene, and should have been good fun.
That out of the way it was on to the real puzzle.
We were presented with two message towers which would give us a message. We had a handshake first which established a protocol, and gave us a numbering system which we could use to decode the message we’d be given. The video below shows the message, although it may not help without the handshake to give you a reference point. The reference is this from memory. 4 and 5 may be wrong!
One hand – 1
Two Hands – 2
Three first bumps – 3
Clasped hands slap – 4
Fist Bump – 5
Hands crossed on chest – End word.
With the message recorded, we decoded each character, then had to encode the message into 5 bit binary. That gave us some letters, and a new keyword. Time to enter ‘EMBODY’ into BugMe to see a new video, the next location, and then connect our B.I.T.E to the terminal to get out of the computer!
Knowing that we’re off to Greenhill park as our next location, we approached the exit program (who looked a lot like Ross) which was waiting for us to connect the B.I.T.E., hack the computer and transfer ourselves back to the real world. Given the fun we’d had with the Bite earlier, we were hoping things would work as expected, and fortunately they did.
Passing under the archway we were met on the other side by Ross, glad to see us back in the real world. With our new location identified, and the sun well and truly up, and it now being mid morning on another beautiful day in the Boston area, we’re headed to another park and another fun puzzle. By now we’ve forgotten about the coasters, and have had a lot of fun with this last puzzle.
What we get is the sheet of paper above with a lot of hexagons and letters. Well time to put the thinking caps on. We quickly spot that some of the hexagons contain colours. The top left for example has BLUE written clockwise, starting at 3 o’clock. This leaves two letters unused, which in a puzzle, can’t be coincidence. We quickly work through trying to identify colours in the squares and realise that not all of these are in English. Points for identifying which languages are used.
Anyways, cutting a long story short, we notice that there’s a coded message in there which reads along the lines of “Prune Hexes Save Red. Taped Edges First One *” Let me know when you spot it!
So doing that we finally have a puzzle that requires scissors, so carefully cutting out saving the reds, we tape up the edges, and we’re left with a soccer ball!
Following the instructions we had from decoding the puzzle, we read along the taped edges of the ball, starting from the ‘*’ and get our next keyword ‘GOALTENDER’. Entering it into BugMe, we get the next clue.
So one more park, and as it turns out what would be our last puzzle before the endgame. This final puzzle has us trying to fix BigMac’s targeting system, and with several pages of puzzles like the one below, we first have to figure out what we’re doing before we split up the work and try to solve the puzzle.
The goal here is to find the names of major cities encoded in the spaghetti, and using the crossword style numbers to help we could tell how many letters each city had in its name, and that each section had four cities hidden in it. There was also a blank circle, which we’d need to figure out the letter contained within it, and from that deduce how to decode the puzzle into a final keyword. I’ll let you try to find the cities in these yourself, but if you want a hint, you’ll find Hong Kong coded in the bottom grid.
With a bit of a struggle, and some good guessing from Brett, we finally managed to decode all the puzzles and get the keyword ‘PYONGYANG’ mere minutes before we received a text from Game Control telling us to head to the final location for lunch, and the endgame to play out.
Heading to the final location, and felling good that we’d solved the last puzzle before our time ran out, we were in good spirits. Arriving at the restaurant, we get our final puzzle. Throughout the weekend, we’ve had on the back of our badges the code ‘G=’, and during the night our identity disk told us that ‘=4’. So we had a way to translate but no real use for that info until now.
We get handed a card which has a logo similar to that on the back of our name badges and the equation (C-D)*(F+A). Also on the card one of the balls on the circuit board is coloured in. So this last puzzle needed us all to cooperate. We had to gather each others letters, numbers and codes, figure out the equations, and then create a pass phrase by joining them all together in the order of the dots. Turns out our code was ‘K’ and that fits into the phrase ‘USUCKATSIMON’ quite nicely. So we now know that we’ll be playing Simon Says at some point.
There was a fair bit of waiting around at this stage, as it turns out there were a few technical problems upstairs, but since we were all getting along just fine, and enjoying the company, and talking to some of the other teams it really wasn’t a problem. Once we’re finally let upstairs, we are told to connect our B.I.T.E. to the ‘terminal’ and not to disconnect it. This is what we see…
Once everyone is ready we have to hack into Bigmac using the terminals, and in some way enter the USUCKATSIMON code into the system. As it turns out, directions here from the Game Control were particularly poor, and after some heated exchanges from a few teams, we eventually managed to enter our codes correctly, and start a game of Simon Says … where we ended up with a few technical issues. There were a few of the systems which weren’t inputting correctly, including ours, which meant we never got to play the final game. All in all not a huge loss as it didn’t work very well, however it was a fun idea, and got all the teams working together.
With BicMac finally defeated, we reached the end of the endgame.
With that done, food was served, and the weekend was officially over.
I’d like to extend a huge thanks to the entire team, from Game Control to all the people who helped them out over the weekend. I had a lot of fun, and want to say thanks for all the effort which went into producing this, plus all the helpers who were on site at each puzzle to keep us sane, encourage us, and really make the event what it was. You guys Rock!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the writeup, and if you’d like to know more about any of the puzzles, or try them yourself, let me know. The team have allowed me to distribute the puzzles, so just get in touch.