Chicken (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
Safari Adventure
Author(s)Martin Reinfried
AnswerClick to revealFLAMEWAKER, RE
No. solves1010 with both answers, 21 total correct submissions
No. total guesses60

Chicken is a puzzle from the Safari Adventure round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]


Keyboard Layouts - The puzzle contains a number of nonsensical strings of letters. Each string is produced exclusively using letters from one row of the standard QWERTY keyboard.

Crossword Clues - There is one prominent clue at the top of the puzzle, and helpfully enumerated at that. However, a further process will create more clues to solve:

Indirect Indexing - Noting that the top row of a keyboard has exactly ten letters, one can use the jumble of letters below the first chick on either side as indices into the ten-letter answer to that clue, based on the position of each letter in that row; for instance, ERQUIO would result in PETITE when indexed into the first answer of TYPEWRITER. This is roughly equivalent to writing the word out on that row of the keyboard and then typing out that string of letters (as if it were QWERTY).

The Waterfall Effect - This process—solve a crossword clue into a word with the same length as a row of the keyboard, then use the following string of letters to index into it—creates a new word to feed into the same process. This repeats around six times for each side.

Final Clue Phrase - At the end of the chain are the cluephrases FIRE ROUSER / MAGE MINION. Finding a Hearthstone minion card from the mage class with a meaning similar to "FIRE ROUSER" reveals the answer...

Multiple Answers (Sequential) - ...or one of them, at least. Like most puzzles in Safari Adventure, this puzzle has multiple answers; however, the bulk of the work is used to find the first answer, and the second one waterfalls out of the resulting layout.

Marked Spaces - Some of the letters are underlined. Taking them in order allows filling in the blanks at the bottom to form one last operation; this provides the second answer.