Welcome to My Domain (Huntinality 2022)

Welcome to My Domain
Huntinality 2022
CTO (Brick Zander)
Brick Zander Homepage.jpg
The background image from Brick's homepage during the hunt.
Author(s)Bryce Cai, Benji Nguyen, Max Chang
AnswerClick to revealLIFEHAX
No. solves136
No. total guesses647

Welcome to My Domain is the metapuzzle for the CTO round of Huntinality 2022. It's notably the only metapuzzle from this hunt aside from the opening round that does not involve the puzzle content of the puzzles that feed into it.

Answer List[edit | edit source]

As this puzzle is a metapuzzle, it uses the answers from the other puzzles in the round.

Solve Path[edit | edit source]

Following the story of the hunt, the goal of this metapuzzle is to discover Brick Zander's username so that solvers can contact him using the system's messenger. To do so, they need to use all of the clues (AKA answers) they've collected from his webpage (AKA the current round).

To assist with this, solvers are presented with a series of words and phrases (listed under the headings 'CURRENT INPUTS' and 'MY DESIRED OUTPUTS') that could be parsed as full or partial crossword clues. They're also presented with the following flavortext:

Welcome to my domain! I've been writing an algorithm that incorporates original top-level information. It also looks at everything under the domain system to organically fix the ranking.

Before even looking at their answers, solvers should notice some suspicious phrases, like "original top-level information" and "organically fix the ranking". These don't have a lot of purpose in further explaining the story or the setting, so it's probably a good idea to consider them useful hints for the rest of the puzzle.

Returning to the feeder answers, solvers may notice that the words following ellipses in the 'INPUTS' column seem like the ends of longer phrases or clues. Not only this, but the feeder answers seem to pair very well with them to form valid crossword clues. Particularly good starting cases are FORCE and '...wielding villains' to make SITH, and KRIS KRINGLE with '...disposition' to make JOLLY.

  • KRIS KRINGLE...disposition - JOLLY
  • SOUL...film studio - PIXAR
  • GORDITA...ingredient - MASA
  • CROZIER...plant - FERN
  • POWER...repairperson - ELECTRICIAN
  • FORCE...wielding villains - SITH

Looking at the 'OUTPUTS' column is likely to result in fewer conclusive answers. None of the inputs seem to directly answer the output clues, and most of the outputs have a large number of possible answers. A few might be solved correctly by coincidence (like JOINTLY as the answer to 'How you might own property, perhaps), but it's extremely unlikely that all of them will be solved without identifying something to narrow down the possibilities. At this point, solvers should return to the notes they made about the flavortext. The title, combined with the first suspicious phrase should direct solvers to top-level domains, or TLDs. The word 'original' further narrows these down to the original seven TLDs created around the birth of the internet. This fits with the groups of seven presented in the puzzle, implying that each of the seven can be associated with either one of the INPUT clues/answers or one of the OUTPUT clues/answers.

With some experimentation, solvers may discover that each of their INPUT answers can have a single letter replaced with one of the seven TLDs to form a new word, such as JOLLY becoming JO(INT)LY, which just so happens to fit one of the OUTPUT clues.

  • JO[L]LY --> JO[INT]LY - How you might own property, perhaps.
  • PI[X]AR --> PI[NE T]AR - A sticky substance.
  • M[A]SA --> M[EDU]SA - A monster.
  • [F]ERN --> [GOV]ERN - What a leader might do.
  • ELECTRIC[I]AN --> ELECTRIC [ORG]AN - An instrument.
  • [E]KMAN --> [MIL]KMAN - A person who delivers certain goods.
  • SIT[H] --> SIT[COM] - A type of show.

Whether sorted in the order of the inputs (LXAFIEH) or the outputs (AEXHILF), these letters don't provide anything recognizable, but the fact that exactly one letter is replaced each time does point at this as a correct step in the solve path. At this point, solvers could possibly anagram these replaced letters to find their final answer (as was the case for many solvers during the hunt). However, there is an intended way to sort these answers.

Looking back at the flavortext, there's one more phrase that was deemed suspicious earlier in the solve: 'organically fix the ranking'. This could just refer to the fact that the results will be out of order, but it may also explain how to reorder them. A common link between "ranking", "organic", and "domain" (from the title) is taxonomic ranking, a hierarchy of 8 major ranks used to describe relationships between different animals, of which "Domain" is the top level. Identifying the others (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species) should make solvers realize that the original feeder answers share a first letter with the non-domain ranks, providing a way to order the whole system.

  • Kingdom --> KRIS KRINGLE --> JOLLY --> JO[INT]LY --> L
  • Phylum --> POWER --> ELECTRICIAN --> ELECTRIC [ORG]AN --> I
  • Class --> CROZIER --> FERN --> [GOV]ERN --> F
  • Order --> OCEANOGRAPHY --> EKMAN --> [MIL]KMAN --> E
  • Family --> FORCE --> SITH --> SIT[COM] --> H
  • Genus --> GORDITA --> MASA --> M[EDU]SA --> A
  • Species --> SOUL --> PIXAR --> PI[NE T]AR --> X

Track Differences[edit | edit source]

As with the other puzzles in this hunt, there are differences between the casual and expert tracks' versions of this puzzle.

The first difference is that, in the casual version, the flavortext includes a note about metapuzzles as a whole:

Note: This is a metapuzzle. To solve it, you'll need the puzzles from this round.

The other primary difference found in the casual version is two phrases in the flavortext being bolded for the sake of providing an additional hint. These phrases are 'original top-level information' and 'under the domain system', hinting at original lop-level domains as a starting point for the puzzle.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

  • Metapuzzle - Shelled. In this case, the shell is two columns of words and phrases, some clearly being clues and some contains ellipses.
  • Hint in Title/Hint in Flavortext - Both the title and the flavortext mention domains, and the flavortext further enforces this by cluing...
  • ...Computer Science (Top-level domains) - Clued via the phrase 'original top-level information', and used after solving the Input clues. The flavortext also clues...
  • ...Biology (Taxonomy) - Clued via the phrase 'organically fix the ranking', and used to reorder the extracted letters..
  • Crossword Clues - The aforementioned clues are in fact crossword clues. In fact, even the ones with ellipses are clues, albeit missing some information.
  • Intentional Ambiguity - As the Output clues are not meant to be solved right away, they're written to have multiple possible answers, with disambiguation coming through the Inputs.
  • Fill In The Blanks - The Input clues are all missing something at their starts. Those things are the feeder answers from the rest of the round, and can be placed uniquely to get 7 fairly specific clues.
  • Substring Replacement - Once the TLDs have been identified as useful and the Input clues have been solved, the two can be combined, with the TLDs replacing a single letter substring in each of the clue answers. In each case, the result is a valid answer for one of the Output clues, and the replaced letter can be extracted for use in the final answer.
  • Reordering - As mentioned before, taxonomic ranking is used to reorder the final information. Specifically, each of the original answers shares a first letter with one of the non-domain ranks, allowing for a perfect ordering from Kingdom to Species.
  • Non-Dictionary Answer - As is the case with the other metas in this round, the goal is to discover the username for someone. Unfortunately, this does mean that the answer can't be found in any dictionaries, as it's an intentional misspelling of an otherwise common phrase.