Reordering is a basic solve path element involved in many hunt puzzles, requiring solvers to rearrange information based on a particular system in order to make sense of it.

Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]

Reordering is a quick and simple way to introduce an extra step to a puzzle's solve path. By providing information out of order, solvers are forced to both determine whether what has been presented is the correct order for their information (something that they'll be forced to face once they begin extraction), and figure out what method is expected to be used to get them into the proper order, based on any clues provided.

Common Ordering Mechanisms[edit | edit source]

Alphabetical[edit | edit source]

While alphabetical order is often considered a "default" ordering, it has some benefit to being the final ordering as well. This is particularly true for cases when a series of data points begins with a series of unique, sequential letters.

Reordered Alphabetically: Click to revealALLIGATOR, BEAR, COCKATOO, DOLPHIN, EAGLE, FALCON, GNU

Chronological[edit | edit source]

Chronological ordering is more difficult to apply than alphabetical ordering, as it cannot be used with any set of words. Whereas all words have letters (and therefore a way to sort alphabetically), words and phrases associated with specific times are much fewer and farther between. Chronological sorting is, however, a common choice when a series of answers are all of a particular type of media, or are recipients of a particular award., as they will usually have a year attached to them.

Original Order: Amadeus, Chariots of Fire, Gandhi, Ordinary People, Terms of Endearment
Reordered Chronologically Set Answers Belong To(Best Picture Oscars): Click to revealOrdinary People (1980), Chariots of Fire (1981), Gandhi (1982), Terms of Endearment (1983), Amadeus (1984)

Color[edit | edit source]

Color sorting (particularly by ROYGBIV order) is not actually limited to items that are known to be a particular color. By virtue of having a mnemonic centered around colors' first letters, the rainbow can also be represented by answers starting with or containing those letters. This means that while a set of notably-colored items could be ordered by physical color, a set of notably colorless items may still be ordered by color if they start with the letters R, O, Y, G, B, I, and V.


Numerical[edit | edit source]

Not to be confused with chronological ordering, which may use dates in numerical form, numerical ordering usually requires either counting something that's part of or related to an item, or having items that have numbers associated with them, such as well-known sets of items. Numerical sorting is also one of the more common methods of sorting used in zebra puzzles, as having numbers be one of the assignable qualities (either of things or as labels) opens up a new, math-focused way to present logical deductions.

Reordered Numerically: Click to revealSTOOGE (3), HORSEMAN (4), LOVE LANGUAGE (5), SIMPLE MACHINE (6), DEADLY SIN (7)

Positional[edit | edit source]

Once again, a difficult ordering to accomplish with average sets of information. The easiest (and thus most common) way to do so is to have a set of cities, landmarks, or other locations, which can be ordered based on latitude or longitude. Additionally, position (along a line or within a two- or three-dimensional space) is also a somewhat common ordering mechanism for zebra puzzles.

Reordered by Position Set Answers Belong To(on a Chess Board): Click to revealROOK, KNIGHT, BISHOP, QUEEN, KING

Size/Magnitude[edit | edit source]

The meaning of "size" in this case can vary. In some cases, it will mean size of objects or measurements, particularly if items within a set are in fact measurements or items with distinct dimensions or weights. However, more common than that is a more literal meaning of "size", that being the length of the words or phrases themselves. This is especially common to use when a set of answers has unique lengths, allowing for arrangement in a visually-appealing "staircase" format.

Reordered By Length: Click to revealGNU (3), BEAR (4), EAGLE (5), FALCON (6), DOLPHIN (7), COCKATOO (8), ALLIGATOR (9)

Arbitrary Markings[edit | edit source]

A new order can also be established with arbitrary markings or symbols, with a ordering provided elsewhere in the puzzle, but this method is less common as it removes the "aha" moment from the reordering step.

Strategy[edit | edit source]

With reordering being such a common and necessary aspect of hunt puzzles, one may expect that the task should be treated as a given and no system for determining its presence is needed. This would be incorrect, as there are some key tells within a puzzle that a set of information will need to be reordered. Similarly, identifying exactly how to reorder that data can be a complex affair, particularly if there are multiple possibilities.

Identification - Does It Need Reordering?[edit | edit source]

The biggest clue that a particular data set needs to be reordered is it being presented in a particular order right off the bat. Often, this will be alphabetical, but can also be chronological or numerical if either of those apply to the set. If a puzzle has multiple sets of data (presumably) used in extraction, it's also common for one set to be ordered alphabetically and the other to have an unremarkable ordering. This imbalance is usually a clear sign that the two sets pair up in some way, with the "unordered" set being used for the final ordering.

When this isn't the case, though, there may be some other piece of information present in the puzzle that indicates that reordering is necessary. This could be an instruction explicitly explaining so or a graphic implying a particular ordering. When none of these factors are present, it's still technically possible for reordering to be necessary, but at that point the lack of signposting may just steer solvers towards random anagramming, especially if the letter distribution appears to be reasonable (such as a good mixture of vowels and consonants without too many rare letters).

Identification - How Should It Be Reordered?[edit | edit source]

Given a set of information, first check to see if it falls into one of the categories described in the 'Common Ordering Mechanisms' section above. This includes members of a particular type of media, award-winners, or locations, as well as things with notable colorings, numerical associations, or sizes. If any of these are applicable, attempt reordering based on those factors.

If none of the above categories are present, then it's possible that a completely unique method of ordering is being used. In these cases, it's usually either obvious that it's being used, or explicitly explained. If neither of these are the case, then there's not much for additional strategic steps that can be taken. Consider whether or not the puzzle actually needs reordering, and check to see if the default order results in anything useful.

Notable Examples[edit | edit source]

To do TO DO

See Also[edit | edit source]