The Summer of Puzz

Hi folks. I notice my last post’s subject included “final thoughts” in the title, so some of you may have assumed I disappeared off of the face of the earth. I did not, but I did two things that are isomorphic to falling off the face of the earth:

  1. I taught two calculus courses online, which is something I also did in the fall, but it was a lot harder than in the fall; I attribute that to more student dishonesty (sigh), more student unrest, and the rather distracting fact that…
  2. My wife and I had a baby! Simon Anderson Katz was born on March 10, pretty much right on time, happy and healthy. He’s our first child, which is something I say to clarify that we haven’t done this before, not to imply there will be a second child. (He’s great, but we’re good with one of him.)

As it turns out, there were a number of good puzzlehunts during my blogging absence, and there are a few on the horizon too. Hopefully you’re getting your puzzlehunt scheduling info from Puzzle Hunt Calendar, which updates more often than I do, but here are some of the things coming up, and then some things you should check out if you missed them:

Upcoming

Most imminently, Huntinality starts tomorrow. This is the latest in a trend of high-level puzzlehunt teams contributing to the hunt community with online hunts, this one coming from Cardinality (who I didn’t previously realize was Stanford-based, explaining the name). They’re using a re-skin of the GPH web code, which is very purple because Waluigi is very annoyed according to the prologue. I’m looking forward to solving with Culms of Munj, with some friends from my former Mystery Hunt team.

Most improbably, there’s a Galactic Puzzle Hunt in July. This is absolutely ridiculous given that Galactic just wrote the most recent Mystery Hunt, and can’t possibly have had the time to create a separate puzzlehunt, especially not one of their usual size; but it’s advertised as having about 40 puzzles, which seems standard for GPH. I’m really looking forward to solving this (with Killer Chicken Bones), as GPH has become one of my favorite non-Mystery-Hunt events on the calendar, and I definitely felt its absence last year.

Most secretly (because it’s not on the PH Calendar), Puzzle Potluck 4 is tentatively scheduled for August, according to the website for Puzzle Potluck 3. PP3 had a really cool structure and serious wow moment (that was maybe a little bit dulled by the same “secret theme” occurring in another event earlier that year) but I’m looking forward to seeing what they create next. Especially because the current trend in online hunts is for the FAQ to frequently say whether the event will be easier or harder than Puzzle Potluck to try to gauge difficulty. Will Puzzle Potluck be easier or harder than Puzzle Potluck?

Downgoing (no longer upcoming)

The twice-a-year Puzzlehunt CMU keeps getting better, and yet I keep forgetting to take it seriously and get a team together. I really liked the multiple interpretations of “pirate” that formed the theme and structure, which reminded me of the triangle BAPHL but felt a bit tighter (and I don’t know how I didn’t see a baseball pirate coming in a puzzlehunt out of Pittsburgh).

If you’re interested in something that’s more of a snack than a full meal, consider the most recent P&A (where my wife and I managed to short-circuit the meta in under an hour), or the Inaudible Hunt, which was written as puzzle-writing practice by a subset of my aforementioned former Hunt team (who were most recently We Can’t Hear You, You’re On Mute in the 2021 Mystery Hunt). They also advertise on that site that they’re actively looking for other new authors to collaborate with, so if you’ve never written a puzzlehunt puzzle and want to learn how, there’s contact info at the link above.

Finally, with the general increase in online puzzlehunt density and my limited free time, I admit to some puzzle snobbery in often deciding whether to set aside time for an event by asking, “Do I know who these people are?” Sometimes that causes me to make bad decisions, like not realizing until a couple days from the end of Paradox Puzzlehunt that it was pretty great (through word of mouth on social media). Sometimes hunts from new constructors have filler or very easy puzzles, but everything here was clever, meaty, and well-constructed, and I enjoyed their take on the theme. It was a shame that a change in a third-party site sort of broke their Hunt structure, but they found a good way to set up a way for teams to still finish (which I did just under the wire). I hope there will be a Paradox 2, and I’ll know to pay attention to this one!

I’m going to shift my attention to the tiny person hiccuping across the room. See you when I see you, get vaccinated if you haven’t already, and may your less-than-half-the-letters wheel-of-fortune guesses be productive!

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