anderson's Puzzle Blog

DASH 9 recap

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I participated in DASH 9 today in Fremont. First off, thanks to all of the organizers for a very smoothly-run event and for the great puzzles, as well as to Albert, Ben, Nathan, and Patrick for being great teammates.

Our team name was “)(()” (the joke is that it’s a palindrome, although no one believes it at first). We ended up getting 2nd place, which was certainly a pleasant surprise. Other teams with Galactic Trendsetters members got 3rd, 13th, 14th, and 16th, and our sister team “())(” got 55th, so it was a pretty good showing overall. Congratulations to everyone!

I’ll briefly discuss some puzzles now, so spoiler warning. Also, I’ll edit this post to include a link to the puzzles whenever they get posted (edit: here are the puzzles)

The puzzles were very clean, and I especially enjoyed the reuse of the wooden pentagons over the various puzzles. In particular, the puzzle where it all came together and you had to build the 9-piece alien artifact (What Did We Miss?) was my highlight of the hunt; unfortunately, the free hints we got for solving part 1 did lessen the experience a bit by revealing a lot, but it was still a great puzzle nevertheless. It was super elegant how all of the translations you already performed had to be retranslated to new messages, and needing to build the artifact in 3D when all of the other puzzles were on a plane was a great aha (Ben: “It really added a whole new dimension to the puzzle!”)

I also enjoyed the word-search puzzle, Wide Field Array, which was quick but very clever, as well as the cryptic, Find the Landing Location, which had a neat twist. I have one minor complaint with Peacekeeping, in that it was probably faster to brute-force all of the possible positions of the 5 pentagons to find one that spells out a word, rather than the intended method of solving the logic puzzle with the transparencies. We did solve it as intended and it is a nice puzzle, but the shortcut is a little unfortunate. The only puzzle I had any real complaints about was the final one, Prevent Hostilities, because the AR was kind of finicky and the final step of pressing the porthole was unclued and not very interesting: why not just have the message display once you enter the correct 12 colors? We only got it because Ben decided to swipe on the screen and see what happened; if not for him, we likely wouldn’t have solved it until the second hint release.

Our puzzle timings were really unfortunate throughout the day. To calculate bonus, Cluekeeper rounds your time down to the nearest minute, so that solving a puzzle in 6 minutes and 1 second is worth one less point than 5 minutes and 59 seconds. Imagine our dismay when the seconds of our first 5 solve times were 8, 12, 1, 2, and 10 (I think I audibly cursed after the 1 second one, because we actually had the answer WEARECOMING but couldn’t parse it correctly for half a minute). When we then solved What Did We Miss? with a time of 16:01, I could only laugh at the absurdity of it all. At some point, we were sure that we would finish behind a team while having a lower total solve time, though that luckily ended up not happening. It was pretty close though, as evidenced by the fact that we lost by 2 points, but only by 11 seconds in terms of total solve time.

Our solve times

Another thing you might notice if you check the results page is that we took more than 6 hours to finish the hunt, more than many other teams. I can explain this: a few years ago, some of us participated in the Palantir Puzzle Hunt, which has the same format as DASH. We solved the puzzles themselves fairly quickly, but we ended up taking bathroom breaks between almost all puzzles because someone always had to go. In the end, I think we may not have been the first to finish, but we won by a comfortable margin because of all of the time we spent not doing puzzles, and so the “bathroom break strategy” was born.

We also employed the “bathroom break strategy” this DASH to an extent, though we were also slowed down by lunch taking forever and by getting lost on the walk to the last puzzle (oops).

Ben’s 1 lb burger (holy moly it’s so big)

Finally, Ben made 3 puns today which are too good not to share, so here we go:

  • During lunch, we were talking about the number 4 because of the answer WITNESS THIS PRIMAL FORCE. This caused Ben to make the observation “if you take a fork and remove one of the tines, would you call it a threek?” Ok fine this isn’t really a pun but it’s a truly profound observation.
  • Later, when we were hanging out at Albert’s house, we noticed that the Fremont site did pretty well, which led Ben to remark that for these teams, the hunt was “literally a walk in the park.” (note: the hunt mostly took place in the Fremont Central Park)
  • Finally, when Nathan was giving Ben and me a ride back, the streets near where I live are like October Drive, November Avenue, September Drive etc. Since this is the 3rd time Nathan has given me a ride, he commented that he could now navigate to my house without thinking, so I made some joke about how he would sleep-drive to my place. Then Ben interjects with “so you’re saying that you should wake him up when September ends” (!!!!!!!!!) Maybe I subconsciously set up the punchline, because I still can’t believe this happened.

Once again, thanks to all of the people who made DASH happen! It was a super fun experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Written by qzqxq

May 7, 2017 at 3:52 am

One Response

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  1. Wisdom we gained to add to the bathroom break strategy: if it’s raining when the hunt starts, the best strategy is to immediately go home and sleep and come back at 2 when it’s beautiful outside


    May 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm

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