Mystery Hunt 2014

The Mystery Hunt is an event held every year at MIT in which many teams, some with hundreds of members, binge-solve puzzles without instructions for around 3 days to find a coin hidden somewhere on campus.

The hunt is always organized by the previous year's winning team. Last year, the team in charge forgot to sanitize their database inputs, and the name of the winning team was actually the entire text of Atlas Shrugged. This year, the theme for the hunt was Alice in Wonderland.

I asked my good friend and long-time-ago roommate Ani, now a sophomore at MIT, if he could pair me up with any teams doing the hunt. And so I became one of about 30 members of ADPhi Mystery.

Our headquarters were in ADPhi's library. We collaborated on puzzles using Google Drive, submitted answers via a website, then our team would receive a phone call informing us that we had the solution or that unfortunately, we were wrong.

Physical puzzle

We split up into groups. I helped put together a bunch of physical puzzle pieces, and the final image showed paths of hexadecimal numbers with a white "+" symbol in the background. So... addition? But reading along the paths yielded hexadecimal values (colors?), and we looked up their names:

Hex Color Name
FFE4B5
Moccasin
7FFFD4
Aquamarine
E6E6FA
Lavender
CD853F
Peru
FF0000
Red
F0FFFF
Azure
7FFF00
Chartreuse
D8BFD8
Thistle
4B0088
Indigo
FF7F50
Coral
50C872
Emerald

The initial letters of the names form a word: "MALPRACTICE." So the "+" was just a white cross hinting at something medical. All the puzzles involved a lot of guesswork—there were absolutely no instructions, but sometimes the title of the puzzle was a little hint.

A lot of puzzles involved anagrams with extra letters (making it difficult to use the internet anagram server), hidden numbers that were indices of the alphabet, maybe with a cipher, and some things we just never figured out. Piecing it all together seemed impossible at first, but after you see a few get done, you learn to think in a different way. You scrutinize every little bit of information hoping it'll lead to more.

Text board

After finishing a meta I went with a friend to pick up another physical puzzle. It was a giant square board with text from two different passages of Alice in Wonderland. We figured out that if we colored each one differently, the result was an enormous QR code. Someone snapped a photo with their phone, and our solution was accepted.

Snoopy

Origami

Crowfacts

Aftermath


Page created in January 2014.