Solving Strategies

While not really elements one decides to put into a puzzle, solving strategies can play a big role in how people approach a puzzle, and are something that can be both planned for, and references within puzzles if done correctly. Often, these kinds of puzzles have a general feeling of being meta (not to be confused with actual metapuzzles), due to referencing or drawing attention to aspects of puzzling outside of the puzzle itself.

Observed Strategies[edit | edit source]

Wheel of Fortune[edit | edit source]

The process of solving a puzzle without all of the letters being revealed. This can occur with as little as an enumeration, although it is relatively rare and truly a miracle. Conversely, it's also possible to attempt a WoF with almost all of the letters and still get it wrong, as seen below. This strategy can sometimes be confused with Puzzler's Intuition.

Example:

The extracted letters FI??WATER may be Wheel of Fortune'd into the possible answers FIJI WATER or FIREWATER (but either one may be incorrect).

Puzzler's Intuition[edit | edit source]

The process of solving a puzzle (particularly a meta) using only the flavourtext or general theme of a puzzle to take an educated (and often punny) guess without touching the puzzle itself. This is not recommended for repeated use, as hunts with strict limits on guessing may end up locking solvers out before they actually solve the puzzle, which can be particularly embarrassing if other team members solve it properly soon after.

Example:

A Flintstones-themed metapuzzle asking for a way to teach Bam-Bam new words might be solved via Puzzler's Intuition with DINO'S THESAURUS.

Taking Shortcuts[edit | edit source]

The process of skipping parts of a puzzle when solving it, often due to a recognition of an aspect that would normally be locked behind a cluephrase mid-puzzle. This is most often applicable during puzzles with multiple small extraction steps, although depending on the number of steps, it may become unclear how far one has skipped ahead. Trickier still are the puzzles that require that solvers know the order in which they extracted their instructions for each step, thereby making skipping ahead detrimental to the solve as a whole.

Example:

Astute solvers may read a flavortext that's been split across multiple lines and notice that each line's second letter spells the words READ DIAGONAL, allowing them to skip the step telling them to look at the second letters.

Backsolving[edit | edit source]

The process of solving a metapuzzle, returning to the feeder puzzles for it and using information from the meta and its constraints to guess the answers to any unsolved puzzles. This is an extremely common strategy, and one that is highly recommended in hunts where either feeder puzzles are only used in one metapuzzle (but still contribute to new unlocks), or hunts with relatively relaxed guess limits. The benefits of unlocking new puzzles will usually outweigh the risk of getting locked out of solving the puzzle properly for a while, particularly if the puzzle itself is notably difficult to solve properly.

Example:

Knowing that their one remaining answer for a meta has to be associated with the number 21, start with a color, and have a second letter of R, solvers may be able to backsolve the missing puzzle with the answer GREEN DAY (as one of their hit songs is 21 Guns).

McFly[edit | edit source]

A post-backsolve strategy, most helpful for hunts in which the method of solving is important for metametas or other puzzles/events. It involves using a known, backsolved answer to assist in a forward-solve, using the expected result to determine the solve path. Named as such due to its nature as a Backsolve-to-the-Futuresolve. This term was coined by Unicode Equivalence member ManyPinkHats.

Example:

Knowing that a puzzle's answer is DIRIGIBLE can help solvers identify that it probably extracts one letter from each of the 9 grids that make up the puzzle, and by working backwards could help to figure out how to extract those letters from their respective grids.