This is the post that I’ve been waiting for so long to write: the one where I reveal to my friends and family the puzzles that I have been crafting for a year.
There is no correct way to engage with these. Some of you will want to solve the puzzles; for you folks, I am so grateful for your deep engagement with my creations. Other folks would prefer to look at the puzzle just long enough to understand what’s going on, and then read through the solution. That’s OK too.
I should set a few expectations for readers who might not be experienced with Hunt puzzles:
- Google is very, very permitted.
- You may solve alone or with a team. In my experience, friends make it more fun.
- I expect each puzzle to last you a couple hours.
- Your final answer should be a single word or short phrase.
- If you tell me that you tried to solve my puzzles, it will make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Finally, I could not created any of this beautiful art alone. I am deeply indebted to the co-authors, discussion editors, copy editors, layout editors, fact checkers, and artists who helped me turn a few sketchy ideas into what they are.
Without further ado, here are my puzzles! Blurbs are spoiler-free. Links to the solutions are in the top-right corner of each puzzle page.
Hunt puzzles that I wrote or co-wrote
Send Yourself Swanlumps: Teams were handed a real-life, physical book. I wish I could send each of my friends a copy. Click on the cover on the puzzle page in order to read the PDF.
Polyphony: Co-authored with my dear friend Kevin O’Toole, who is the real madman behind this.
Riding the Tube: This was one of the least-solved puzzles in Hunt, which brought me a strange joy.
Hunt puzzles to which I otherwise contributed
Delightful: Not a puzzle of my own authoring; full credit goes to the inimitable Ben Monreal. My official credit is “Willing Yoga Mannequin.” I think you’ll find the puzzle to be self-descriptive.
7 Little Dropquotes: This is Jesse Gelles’ puzzle, and John McLaren deserves to be recognized for his substantial work on the gorgeous and printer-friendly web layout. My contribution was writing a program which can combine a list of n-grams into words, à la 7 Little Words. Hit me up if, for some reason, you want to cheat at that game.
Puzzles of mine which didn’t make the final cut
Note: As of yet, these puzzles are not available online. At least one of them never will be.
Listomania involves a lot of pattern-completion, which (in my opinion) is a classic way to tickle a brain.
Anima Oratorio was the ludicrous Jesse Gelles’ brain-child, and may be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever attached my name to. It was a “flex puzzle”: if any Hunt puzzle was broken and had to be removed, this puzzle would be swapped in. Luckily, we had more flex puzzles than we needed.
Orientreeing (née How to Recognize Different Types of Trees from Quite a Long Way Away) was my “get the nerds outside” puzzle, co-authored with Kevin O’Toole. The premise was that teams would have to visit the idyllic Arnold Arboretum in order to solve the puzzle. We killed the puzzle due to logistical concerns, and because modern technology meant that we couldn’t actually force anyone to go outside.
My favorite puzzles written by other folks
This list comes with a disclaimer, which is that the 159 puzzles (plus metapuzzles) contained SO much brilliant content. So much more than would fit on this list. These baker’s-dozen puzzles just happened to jump out to me at the time of writing, but all 159 are uniquely laudable.
- Clued Connections plays on the greatest quiz show on TV, and features a very special guest appearance.
- Common Flavors is such a brilliant concept for a puzzle. I can’t wait to solve it when I get home.
- Divine the Rule of Kings provided my favorite test-solving experience of the year.
- Deeply Confused is one of those puzzles at whose existence I marvel.
- DK8: The Turducken Konundrum is as funny and satisfying as all of the other Duck Konundrums. I recommend solving this one, but do it with some friends.
- Hexed Adventure II: Hexed Again is literally an entire video game embedded in our Hunt, and is a fitting sequel to 2017’s Hexed Adventure.
- I AM GROOT proves that you can embed meaning into anything.
- I Knew Weird Al Yankovic, and You, Sir, Are No Weird Al Yankovic is exactly as worthwhile as you might think.
- The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is an extremely impressive puzzle. I envy the people who solved that one.
- Mountains and Valleys will appeal deeply to a certain subset of people (you know who you are).
- Radio Play exposed me to a certain form of notation, which is my favorite thing I learned about from this year’s Hunt. And it’s also a fascinating puzzle.
- Would Not Make Again is sure to make you smile, especially if you have a taste for reindeer.
- Your Wish Is My Command appeals to all my nerdy sensibilities.
I am incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to write Hunt puzzles this year, and to call such brilliant people my teammates and collaborators. It has been a whirlwind of an experience, filled with both consumption and creation of beautiful art. The individual work and teamwork involved have both been hallmarks of my growth over the past year. Puzzles may not save lives, but they sure do make the world a little more beautiful.
I am so looking forward to being done. Other hobbies, here I come! And I have a feeling I’ll be making more puzzles soon, too. But this time, it’ll be on my schedule.
Much love and gratitude to my teammates on Setec Astronomy for all of their passionate work and for endlessly supporting one another, every single day of the year. And much gratitude to the rest of the Hunt community, too, for loving each other’s art year after year. The occasion would not be what it is without the community’s dedication.
And most importantly, much love and gratitude to my loved ones, who showed bottomless patience and understanding when I was a grumpy ball of stress from spending too many hours scrutinizing maps of the London Underground. Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.