Final Clue Phrase

A final clue phrase is a message presented at the end of a puzzle that directly clues the puzzle's final answer. Commonly used with shorter answers or in cases where the answer itself cannot be easily extracted for whatever reason, final clue phrases allow writers to have more leeway with their extraction.

Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]

Sometimes when solving a puzzle, a successful extraction will result in a word, phrase, or entire sentence that doesn't get marked as correct when submitted. While these can be stopping points in hunt puzzles for newer solvers, they tend not to indicate that anything was done incorrectly. In fact, these results are usually just an extra step given to solvers right before getting the actual correct solution.

Unlike intermediate clue phrases, which tend to just spell out a next step, final ones have some variance to their forms. This variance will often be related to the nature of the puzzle itself.

The most common type of final clue phrase is a crossword-like clue. Crossword clues are known to work well with single words, names, and short phrases, and have the benefit of being relatively short themselves. Additionally, they have room to make use of trivia, wordplay, or any other traditional cluing method (as long as it fits the puzzle). However, it's always possible that the only viable clue ends up being a bit vague for solvers to get the correct answer in one shot (which is usually the goal). Therefore, these types clues are often accompanied by an enumeration, providing a form of disambiguation.

Another common type of clue phrase is a recursive one, wherein a word/phrase may be clued or outright given, but it too will not be the correct answer. Instead, solvers need to recognize it as an extension of the puzzle's primary gimmick. If a puzzle involves transformation in some form, transforming the clue or clue's result in the same way may result in a correct answer.

Notably, if a clue phrase requires solvers to solve the puzzle again in a different way or extract again using a different method, it is no longer a final clue phrase, and should instead by classified as intermediate.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

Final clue phrases can be tricky to both novice and experienced solvers for different reasons. As mentioned previously, novice solvers may not recognize them as continuations of the puzzle, and just assume that they have done something wrong in order to achieve a "fake" answer. As a general strategy to avoid this, solvers should adopt the mindset that there is no such thing as a coincidence in hunt puzzling. While that statement may not always be true, encountering something that is at all comprehensible should be treated as a good sign. Additionally, if a possible clue phrase is causing a roadblock, either due to not being able to decipher it or only coming up with answers that aren't correct, two steps should be performed. First, do a web search for the entire clue. Sometimes clues are lifted whole-cloth from other sources, or are cleverly-written trivia. Both cases will at least be helped by further searching. Secondly, review the steps that went into solving the puzzle itself. If you're dealing with a recursive clue phrase, reviewing any possible transformations could be spark needed to light the final fire.

Conversely, experienced solvers, particularly those prone to applying solving strategies like McFly-ing and Wheel of Fortune-ing, may run into trouble with final clue phrases by way of not recognizing them when attempting to solve from a partially-completed puzzle. In these cases, two paths may be taken. Solvers can either push forward and attempt to solve more of the puzzle before returning to their WoF attempts, or they can take stock of what letters are sure things and attempt to work out individual words that make up the phrase. In general, acknowledging that more words than expected may be present is the key to not being tripped up when WoF-ing a final clue phrase.

Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

  • Quagmire (MITMH 2004) (web) - Click to revealTITLE. The puzzle does, in fact, want solvers to submit Click to revealits title, QUAGMIRE as a final answer.
    • Operator Test (MITMH 2014) (web) - Click to revealQUAGMIRE. Since the puzzle involved Click to revealrepeating extraction methods from previous Mystery Hunt puzzles, this just indicated to use the extraction method from this puzzle also had the solution in the title.
  • Physics Test (Teammate 2020) (web) - Click to revealFIVE BILLION IQ. The puzzle revolved around Click to revealusing pokemon with particular measurements associated with them as units in physics equations. In this case, the clue relates to a pokemon with a high IQ, which is Alakazam. However, since Alakazam only has an IQ of five thousand, the clue is actually asking for the name of the unit that would be equal to five billion IQ. Since the "Mega" prefix in SI units multiplies a unit by 10^6, the final answer ends up being MEGA ALAKAZAM.

See Also[edit | edit source]