Danny Ocean Round


Of course the easiest way to get Danny Ocean’s help is to simply ask for it. We’ll need him first to recruit the rest of the team. But, Alyssa asked him, and he turned us down! It seems he is too busy heisting from six casino’s at once.

In the Danny Ocean round there are 11 puzzles, one for each thief from Oceans’ Eleven. Each thief puzzle is connected to 2 or 3 casinos, and the casinos are the six which Danny’s team plans to heist. Each casino is also a puzzle, but casino puzzles are unlocked in stages, one stage for each associated thief puzzle that you solve. In the unlocked form, all of the stages that exist are available and they have been combined together for easy use. We did prove that some of these puzzles could be solved without all the their stages. Spoiler The meta for the round involves which thiefs go which which casinos. I test solved on a number of puzzles in this round, and I participated in writing one of them.


stratosphere-nightStratosphere is the puzzle that I helped write. It is the easiest of the casino puzzles. In fact I suggest that you give Stratosphere a try.

This puzzle is the 3rd attempt at a puzzle for this slot. The first puzzle in this slot was reworked and moved to a different round. It is now called I Can See for Miles, and it is one of my favorite puzzles in the hunt. I’ll cover I Can See for Miles in more detail when I cover the first puzzle I wrote for the hunt, Terrier Parking, which is in the Richard Feynman Round. I’m not sure exactly why I Can See for Miles was kicked out of this slot, but my assumption is that it could not be solved without all of the parts.

The second puzzle in this slot was also really cool. This puzzle seems to involve GPS, this is the actual puzzle. Before you try to solve it, know that we removed it because our Manic Sages test solvers were not able to solve it. However, I intend to still try, as I think this is the kind of thing some people at work would expect for me to be able to do since I am in charge the GPS receivers on all the planes and I do a lot of work with coordinate transforms, which seems like the things needed to solve this puzzle. I didn’t work on this one during test solving because I was busy, other people had already written programs to work on it, and I was worried that even if I did solve it, it would be because of my extensive domain specific knowledge, which doesn’t prove it is solvable.

By the time the team decided that the GPS puzzle had failed, there was about a week left before hunt. Catherine, our team lead, asked if anyone had any ideas for something Stratosphere themed. I wanted to try do something themed around the roller coaster or the other rides on top of the Stratosphere, so I was drafted. On Skype and in person Reuben, Sean, Halimeda and I brainstormed for about 2 hours. We covered a large number of topics, from the roller coaster, to trying to introduce the concept of Mountain Peak Prominence to buildings and skylines, to movies about space travel, to something about the Red Bull space jump, to something else with GPS. We picked two ideas and worked on them in groups of 2 for about 4 hours. Our first goal was to combine these our two best ideas, but we decided they were incompatible in a rather important way. In the end the idea I was working on didn’t make it into the puzzle, but I did help construct the other idea.

My favorite clues that appear in the puzzle are:

  • Gulf Shores becomes the fifth jurisdiction in Canada to legalize same-sex marriage
  • Pedestal of the historic Outer Banks Statue of Liberty monument reopens to visitors after three years
  • Dodgers win World Series after 9-3 win over White Sox in Pensacola
  • The Who plays at the Woodstock Music Festival in New Orleans

I really feel like my parents should be able to figure out what is going on with these clues, especially that last one.

Spoiler Each clue in this puzzle involves an event which happened on a specific date and a place where that event did not occur. However, there was an event that occurred in that place on that date, and that event was a hurricane making landfall. The clues I gave resolve to Ivan, Alex, Irene (1959), and Camille. When you resolve the clues for each of the 4 pieces of this puzzle and read down the first letter of the hurricane names you get STEPHEN, WILLIAM, DANIEL, and ALEC. These are the first names of the four BALDWIN brothers, which is the answer.


Break out your audio tools for Megamix. I hope to eventually have a post which does a deep dive into the many, many music puzzles in this year’s hunt, and this one is certainly a doozy. This puzzle remained more than 90% done but unsolved for months on end. First they changed the presentation to clue better, but that didn’t help much. No one cracked the code until they added the reference to “DJ Roy” to the flavor text. Spolier The answer to this one is pretty satisfying for star trek fans.

Turnary Reasoning

I will always refer to Turnary Reasoning as “the other magic puzzle.” I test solved a version of this one. I’m no good a chess, but I found the magic part of this to pretty interesting. Although that opinion was not shared by at least one solver, who tweeted I didn’t like the first #MTG puzzle. I’m liking the second better so far… #mysteryhunt. In that tweet, this is the first puzzle, because the second one, Magic: The Tappening) occurs in the final round of the hunt.

You Should Be Listening

I had nothing to do with writing or solving You Should Be Listening. However, to make sure that nothing in this puzzle could be found via reverse image search, each image in the puzzle was hand colored with colored pencils. I colored frame seven, reproduced on the left below. Spoiler It is supposed to resemble the image on the right, but with specific different characters pictured.


I worked with Adam to prove that Aria is solvable with all of the parts. It wasn’t too hard, but I was pretty bad at it compared to Adam. He could solve them about twice as fast as me, but I feel like I got a little better. Spoiler I was disappointed when all the meta-data I looked up for each Aria turned out to be useless. The answer to this puzzle is TALLADEGA. When I found that out I was pretty disappointed that NASCAR didn’t feature in this puzzle.

Caesar’s Palace

I worked on the extraction part of this puzzle and was wholly unsuccessful. Unsurprisingly the Caesar’s Palace puzzle is all about Caesar Ciphers. So in the extraction step I wrote a macro for the google doc we were solving in that made it easy for us to Caesar Cipher every text we had by every amount we had. That would have worked too if the actual extraction were not slightly more clever than that.

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