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A transformation chain is a type of instructional puzzle in which a string goes through multiple transformations in sequence, usually converting it into something drastically different than how it started.
Background[edit | edit source]
Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]
Transformation chains function differently from other instructional puzzles in that they rarely involve the implication that someone must physically do something. Thematically, they stay in the world of puzzles, and deal directly with the strings that they are transforming.
While the general context of transformation chains is relatively consistent, the exact structure can vary. While the most straightforward method of presenting a transformation chain is by simply listing a series of steps and giving an initial string, many puzzles instead choose to obscure what the transformations are meant to be. One way to do this is by presenting multiple strings to work with, and have each transformation affect a particular set of them rather than affecting all of them at once or one at a time. Alternatively, one may choose to add elements of a black box puzzle by providing examples of how certain transformations work, rather than explicitly spelling them out, before sending the target string through a particular series of them.
A common twist used with transformation chains is re-using the chain. For example, a chain may result in a a new string that needs to be put in at the beginning and re-transformed.
Strategy[edit | edit source]
Notable Examples[edit | edit source]
- Water Works (DASH 10) (web) - In this puzzle, solvers are given a series of transformation beginnings, paired up so that each transformation results in the same thing. Each transformation is indicated by a particular color, and each color represents two different transformations. After figuring out what each color represents, solvers can employ the chain properly by plotting a path through colored regions, using each transformation exactly once.
- Time is Out of Joint (MITMH 2015) (web) - What appears to be a normal transformation chain with steps out of order and marked with dates and times has a secret. While the steps can be ordered chronologically and followed starting with the string ABCDEFG, doing so will only result in a result of NO WRONG. Solvers have to realize Click to revealthat, due to calendar changes and timezone shenanigans, some of the dates/times never occurred, and a couple even occurred twice, and should be ignored/doubled respectively.
- Coral Reef Meta (MITMH 2015) (web) - A rare transformation chain meta, this puzzle takes in all of the answers from the round, and puts them through a massive, 45-step chain, starting with a step that alphabetizes the list of answers. Click to revealHowever, once they get to the end, they get told to do it all over again...but with blue equivalents of all of the answers, making this actually a 90-step puzzle!