Cute Mage's Tower

Spring 2023 Hunt Recap

A lot of puzzle hunts happened in the spring, and I keep trying to write full recaps for them. Then I remembered how much time I don’t have, so let’s do some shorter recaps instead and get this out.

Brown Puzzle Hunt

Before, during, and after this hunt, I kept trying to compare it to other puzzle hunts. It’s like a mini-MIT Mystery Hunt, except not really. It’s like a BAPHL-level hunt, except the puzzles are much harder and you’re not moving around. It’s like some harder online hunts, except this heavily uses Brown’s campus and there are definite advantages to being on campus.1 In the end, I stopped trying to compare it to other hunts. This puzzle hunt is its own niche, and I’m glad that they found it.

Yeah there were some difficulty issues, but honestly much less than I expected for an organization’s first hunt. The first meta was kinda tricky, but it was very much cleared up once we actually physically went to the statues in question. That final runaround, on the other hand, was an absolute bit of genius and made me even more glad that I had spent the time and money traveling to do it in person. I love it because it was a runaround that made you think about what was happening, and you had to figure out how to use the document that you had provided in a different way than it was saying. Was it the best puzzle for us to try to solve outside at 11PM? Maybe not.2 But it still was amazing.

CMU Spring Puzzle Hunt

This was a very cute5 puzzle hunt. Like honestly, I’m tired of every puzzle hunt being a huge catastrophe that is saved in the nick of time by the clever work of the puzzlers. Sometimes you need a nice, cozy, talking stuffed prehistoric animal isekai as a treat. I’m very glad that CMU went this way. If you’re going to have the story be an excuse plot anyway, then might as well make people happy reading it.

The puzzles were a nice way to spend the afternoon with cool people from The MIT Mystery Hunt ✅. They weren’t super hard for us, but I wasn’t expecting anything too difficult. I’m pretty happy with our 5th place finish.

That being said, one thing that did stand out to me was the final meta. I love the way the hunt built up the connection from the past to the present with the puzzle titles, which I hadn’t noticed until this puzzle was unlocked. I was kinda meh about both the previous metapuzzles before this, but this one? Amazing.6

Microsoft Puzzle Hunt

I love hearing stories from the Microsoft Puzzle Hunt, but since I’m not in the Pacific Northwest, I rarely get to do it. It sucks, but not every puzzle hunt has to cater to me, so that’s okay. I was very surprised when I found out that this year’s was open to everyone because it was completely virtual, so I cleared that weekend like a person comically sweeping a ton of mess off their desk to start planning.

Boy am I glad I did. This puzzle hunt was absolutely amazing. I’m sorry that it wasn’t in person and therefore the hunt runners didn’t get to do some of the plot interactions they wanted, but I’m glad that this puzzle hunt was available to the public at large. They were doing all sorts of weird things with the rounds that other puzzle hunts don’t get to do because of their scale, and it is very high up there compared to other non-MIT Mystery Hunt puzzle hunts.

I hyperfocused really hard on this hunt. Part of the reason is the best round ever - Sociology. This is one of the most amazing rounds I have ever seen. Matching up the halves of the puzzles was so much fun, and it was something that I could bash away on while most of the people in the voice chat were solving the Classics Round. The meta was also a really cool and fitting capstone to the round.

Wrapping it Up

Well, that’s it. I think that’s everything.

 (๑✪ᆺ✪๑) - aren’t u forgetting some1? i think that there’s 1 more hunt u need to say

NO. You’re a summer hunt, and you’ve already messed up one of my posts and are going to need another one to follow it up. You don’t get a third post.

 (ꏿ ᆺ ꏿ) :tear:

Sorry for yelling. Look, I’m still solving you, and I really don’t want to write that post until I finish the third round meta + whatever comes next. You’re really cool and I’m glad that there are further galaxies, but this post is long enough and I need to stop stalling it coming out. You’ll get another post later.

(=♡ ᆺ ♡=) yay!

– Cute Mage

  1. Had we not been on campus, it would’ve taken us much longer to figure out how many legs were on Three-Piece Reclining Figure No. 2: Bridge Prop or that the one “hole” in 1 1/2 was actually a mirror. 

  2. Was it the best puzzle to solve while wearing a cultist cape12? Absolutely. 

  3. I know there are some friends who are pointing out that a private event that I’ve been to frequently has some, but I’m trying to use public events. Also that’s really the domain of one person at that event. 

  4. I was really hoping that I wasn’t looking like a total creep as this weirdo woman with a bright yellow shirt was looking down at her phone and then at everyone in the public spaces of Brown. 

  5. You can trust me on this - I am, after all, the Cute Mage. 

  6. It also led to my favorite quote from the voice chat all hunt - “You can’t just keep calling everything birb! We need to decide which of the stuffed animals is the birb!” 

  7. “Hey, Jen. That’s funny. This puzzle (Cave Paintings) just solved to TWIRL. Shouldn’t that be the answer to your puzzle?”
    “Give me a second and I can get you TWIRL as an answer. I have a bunch of data and I can extract anything I want from it.”

    “Remember before when I was joking about TWIRL being the answer to this puzzle?” 

  8. Okay, funny story about this. When I was doing this hunt, my wife was on a different team and her team was in the house while I solved from somewhere else. We finished in four hours - her team needed most of the time on Sunday to finish. Therefore, I was in the kitchen minding my own business when my wife yells at me “It’s that stupid IKEA shark you like. I blame you!” I don’t even own a Blahaj.13 

  9. This links to the whole Classics round instead of the puzzle for… reasons. Fun reasons. 

  10. Okay, you knew that was a lie. I would like to point out that Have you tried…? • Get help with solving the puzzle • Just solve the puzzle without help ◻️ Don’t show me this tip again was the team with the second most hydra heads opened, with 10,030 heads. We were second to 17th Consecutive All-Nighter, but all of ours were opened by hand, so I claim the moral victory. Hydra heads are better when they’re opened by hand (and I’m definitely not jealous of their ability to program a way to get heads quickly). 

  11. I cannot describe how much I was hurt from jkr’s heel turn. So much. Just so much. I recognize that I may be hurt more by this than others, but… well… all I can do is state how I feel. 

  12. By “cultist cape” I mean “black garbage bag that had written on it ‘DO NOT WEAR’”. 

  13. To be fair, this is less “I don’t want a Blahaj” and more “the last time we went to IKEA, they were out of them”.