BANG 18, the Iron Puzzler BANG was last weekend and it was awesome. The excellent organizers--the Burninators, Coed Astronomy, BootyVicious, Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow, Platonic Solids, and Wrong Ideas--say that other folks might want to re-use the puzzles in other puzzle hunts, and thus I have an excuse to skip writing a puzzle-by-puzzle recap. But there were some notes that I wanted to jot down.
For this hunt's team, I mixed together peer groups: Instead of playing with just friends-who-I-would-hang-out-with-anyhow; there was also one of of the Mystic Fish serious-puzzlers contingent. It was Peter Tang, Steven Pitsenbarger, and Alexandra Dixon. People seemed to get along pretty well, whew! But there was one puzzle, which had a crosswordish section... in hindsight, I noticed that Alexandra and I hogged that puzzle, old instincts kicking in, crowding out the less-pushy folks. But there wasn't much of that--and a good thing, too. This BANG called for insights, not just word puzzling skillz, and Peter and Steven delivered.
There was an interesting system of figuring out where to go for the next puzzle. If you'd figured out that the solution to the puzzle was LEMON, you'd look at a sheet of paper with ~50 definitions on it. You'd find a definition that fit LEMON, like maybe "Citrus fruit". That definition was associated with a spot on the map. If you'd asked me ahead of time, I would have guessed that this system wouldn't work well. I would have whined something like What if more than one definition fits the answer? But in practice, that didn't happen. And if it did GC had a good backup plan--there was a GC volunteer at each puzzle station. So if you had to ask "We think that the answer is 'LEMON' but is that the 'citrus fruit' or the 'automobile type'?" you could get an answer right away. "This is not supposed to be part of the puzzle." It's a good system--if you've got enough volunteers to staff every location.
Afterwards, Peter, Alexandra and I had dinner in the Marina district to work on the puzzles we didn't solve during the event itself. I walked home via the Lyon Street Steps. It was dark, which made them pretty scary. Rather, they weren't scary, but I bet that skunk wouldn't have been ambling around during the daytime. This skunk slunk out of a hedge beside the stairs. I was walking towards it--but decided to stop walking. The skunk saw me and eased back into the hedge. I wasn't really sure if it was heading far away, though. If I kept walking, was I going to end up walking threateningly-close to a hedge-concealed skunk? I kept walking, no skunk sprayed me, and all was right with the universe.
I also thought, of course, about how to figure out which team should run the next BANG. I kinda liked the rule in recent BANGs that if your team had hosted a BANG, you were immune from having to host another. In BANG 18, that rule wasn't in place. I don't ?think? it made a difference--I don't think those guys have hosted a BANG yet (unless maybe Nick Baxter worked on a Burninators BANG?). But... I worried about the effects of that lack-of-rule. Team Blood and Bones, who've run many BANGs, were drinking shots after each puzzle. By the end of the game they were staggering. This ensured that they wouldn't win, wouldn't be obliged to run the next BANG. But I wonder if there's some other way, some healthier way. Like, maybe if your team is one of the top three in the Hall of Fame of teams who have run the most BANGs, then you're immune. Something like that.
Labels: interspecies diplomacy, puzzlehunts