Multi-use Answers

Multi-use Answers are answers that end up being used multiple times within a hunt, either across multiple metapuzzles or through other miscellaneous uses. Traditionally, this does include hunts where answers are used in non-meta ways multiple times (such as transformations to other answers), but does not include cases where answers are reused in endgame progress-checks in addition to their original metas.

Background[edit | edit source]

The first known case of answer reuse in a modern puzzle hunt came in the 2002 MIT Mystery Hunt, themed after the board game Monopoly. In it, answers served several purposes. First of all, each one could be semantically associated with one of the squares on a Monopoly board. Since solvers were required to 'collect' all of the answers of a particular color in order to unlock that color's House Puzzles (and Hotel Metapuzzle), this was of special note. Once the metapuzzle of a color was unlocked, answers could be used again as part of the meta, alongside the answers to the House Puzzles. However, this still left several answers unused, particular those that represented non-property spaces; to rectify this, an extra puzzle occurred near the end of the hunt that required solvers to input those answers on a 'Tax Form' and answer questions about them.

However, depending on one's interpretation of 'multi-use', 2002's answers may not fit the bill. If that's the case, then the first case is only a single year later, when MITMH 2003's Training puzzles had the opportunity to be used anywhere from 1-3 times, making it a more indisputable version to call the first.

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Hunt Application[edit | edit source]

Multiple Metapuzzles[edit | edit source]

The cascading structure of the Cascade Bay round (MITMH 2020), where answers carried over to the next level down's meta.

The most common use of Multi-use Answers is using answers as feeders in multiple metapuzzles. In these cases, the hunt may disclose that answers go to multiple metapuzzles (often a set number, like 2 each), or it may leave this revelation up to the solvers to discover. This method in general pairs very well with Meta-matching, as doing so allows for more metas to be written, and therefore a more expansive meta-matching experience, even with a smaller collection of feeder puzzles.

Non-Metapuzzle Use[edit | edit source]

In certain cases, answers may be used outside of metas in some form, as well as within metas, giving them their 'multi-use' status. Others still have purposes that find them being used multiple times in different scenarios. These uses can include transforming other answers, acting as entries in a conlang dictionary, or any other puzzle-y non-meta purpose within the hunt. Some hunts (particularly Puzzle Trails) may lean heavily on treating their feeder answers as elements within the overarching story, providing a non-puzzle use in addition to whatever meta use they have. These cases are not an example of this element.

Exception - Endgame Answer Checks[edit | edit source]

While while the 2000s' editions of the MIT Mystery Hunt often contained segments in their endgames in which feeder answers from the rest of the hunt are double-checked to ensure teams have completed enough of them (usually by answering questions that can be answered with them), these cases are not usually accepted cases of this element's use. This is because individual rounds or puzzles usually aren't usually used multiple times consistently: one team participating in the endgame may be asked one question as a check, whereas another team may be asked an entirely separate question at the same stage. There is an exception to this: hunts in which endgame solve-checking is done in a structured and consistent way (such as the Forgot Your Password page in MITMH 2003) or that has a strict set of questions that will be asked in a consistent order (such as MITMH 2006's Endgame).

Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

  • Training (MITMH 2003) (web) - The puzzles from this round resulted in instructions to transform other answers from the 'Section' rounds. While all were used at least once to change one answer into another, some were used two or three times.
  • MIT Mystery Hunt 2005 (web) - Every colored meta in this round could be solved with two sets of answers. The first time solvers approached them, they'd use the answers of their respective colors marked on the Puzzle Map as circles. Once solved, they'd unlock new puzzles marked with stars. These star puzzles' answers, combined with those from the circle puzzles, formed the set needed to solve the meta a second time. This gimmick was later used in the Cascade Bay round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt, where there was only one growing set of answers, but three layers of metapuzzle.
  • Galactic Puzzle Hunt 2019 (web) - This hunt's second round combined Multi-use Answers with Meta-matching, with many answers going to two of the hunt's four main metapuzzles, but forcing solvers to figure out which.
  • The Ministry (MITMH 2022) (web) - While each of this round's feeder puzzles does get assigned to one of the five metapuzzles, they all end up being reused as part of the metameta, in which the meta answers are used as cryptic descriptions of qualities the feeders may or may not have.

See Also[edit | edit source]