The Cryptex Hunt is an annual online game where players find and solve hidden puzzles. This year’s theme is “Puzzles hidden in Puzzles.” You can find out more and register to play at cryptexhunt.com/2022/.
Starting Monday, February 28, 2022, at 8:00pm ET, one puzzle will be released each day until Saturday, March 5 at 1:00pm ET, when the finale puzzles will be released.
Editor’s Note: REA writer Sarah Willson tells us about the new event she’s organizing for puzzle creators… and those curious about creating puzzles.
Next month, we’ll celebrate the inauguration of EnigMarch, a 31-day puzzle design challenge that will hopefully become an annual tradition in the puzzling community.
It all began on January 1, when I decided that one of my goals for 2022 would be to improve my puzzle design skills. And what better way to do that than a month-long gauntlet of daily challenges? After I started asking around about the existence of such an event, a group of enthusiastic puzzlers got together and decided to create one ourselves. EnigMarch was born.
How It Works
Every day in March (technically, the night before at 8pm ET), we’ll release a new prompt on social media and enigmarch.com, to be used as inspiration for any type of puzzle you like. Once you’ve created a puzzle, you can post it with the hashtag #enigmarch to share it with the world.
The purpose of the daily prompts is to provide the structure and motivation to create a puzzle every day and emerge stronger and wiser on March 31. Some people may prefer to choose only certain prompts or take more than one day to create their puzzles, and that’s fine too. Whether or not you want to participate as a designer, you can check out the #enigmarch hashtag and see all the different interpretations of each day’s prompt. Some of the fun of EnigMarch will undoubtedly be seeing people’s experimental ideas and the seeds of future puzzle masterpieces.
How to Get Involved
In preparation for the main event, we’ve assembled some resources, inspiration, and secret bonus content on enigmarch.com. Whether you’re already a seasoned constructor or you’ve never tried to write a puzzle in your life, we’re hoping EnigMarch will help you build your design skills and confidence in your creations.
My favorite thing about EnigMarch is that it’s really just intended to help people increase their puzzle-writing prowess and have fun doing it. There’s no agenda except to celebrate a love of puzzles and share them with the community.
If you decide to participate, we’d love to see what you come up with!
I love words. During this year at home, I’ve really embraced collaboratively crosswording with friends, family, and especially my coworkers (Crossword Meeting is the best meeting).
Inside the Box was the show for me. In so many ways.
Cruciverbalist and magician David Kwong strung words together over Zoom… in, around, and through puzzles, both for and with his audience.
Kwong told a story of the history of puzzles, and presented puzzles along the way, in both obvious and more obscured ways.
The show is intimate and genuine. While it’s scripted and performed, it’s also interactive, and in this way, more human.
We solved along the entire time. Like a gameshow, we could play from our side of the Zoom. Not only did I get to try to solve faster than others, I got to meet them.
We had tickets for a (West Coast) matinee, packed with families… and impressive kids eager to solve! It happened to be Oscar’s 11th birthday and we were all thrilled to be celebrating something together – whether we were his old friends, or, as was the case for me, meeting him for the first (and likely only) time over Zoom.
The puzzle types in Kwong’s show weren’t novel, but the Zoom adaptation enabled new tricks that we truly enjoyed.
The show’s biggest miss was leaving out a piece of the narrative, one that seemed to have lent the most inspiration to the puzzles we solved in the show.
Additionally, the pre-show onboarding emails were aggressive and confusing. Emails told me to download and print my puzzle packet at least 24 hours before the show, but not why… until I scrolled significantly further. Don’t bury the lede! And somehow the theater made a mistake and the multiple emails had different show times on them.
That said, the in-Zoom onboarding was stellar. The representative from the Geffen Playhouse took the time to make sure each participant was prepared to have the optimal Zoom experience, and wouldn’t detract from the experiences of others. This introduction went a long way towards making the audience feel comfortable and ready to participate.
If you enjoy puzzles – especially word puzzles – and magic, Inside the Box is a wonderful way to spend an evening.
We invited David Kwong to speak at RECON because of his deep knowledge of puzzles and magic. If you enjoyed Inside the Box, or are eagerly awaiting an upcoming performance, I recommend you check out David Kwong’s RECON ’20 talk. All RECON ’20 talks are free to watch!
In fact, one person who learned about David Kwong at RECON was at the same performance of Inside the Box as we were.
This year’s MIT Mystery Hunt featured an escape room-themed puzzle that was as brilliant as it was hilarious.
The Wizard’s Escape
The Wizard’s Escape was a 30-minute audio recording of 4 people playing an escape room horribly. You can hear them roughly describing the puzzles… and then you hear how they break, guess, and luck their way through the game.
It was up to the puzzler to use their audio cues to figure out how they were supposed to solve the game. I loved this puzzle on so many levels and it is freely available:
If you aren’t familiar with puzzle hunts, they are their own beast… and the MIT Mystery Hunt is the annual final boss of puzzle hunts.
A couple of years ago I wrote a puzzle hunt primer specifically for the first Cryptex Hunt. That primer will help you get a handle on the concept. (You can disregard all of the Cryptex Hunt-specific information.)
A Personal Note on this Puzzle
The Wizard’s Escape is kind of special for me because after a few years of supporting other people in solving Mystery Hunt puzzles, this was the first puzzle that I was able to finish for my team.
I’ve been working hard to level up my puzzle hunting abilities and at this year’s Mystery Hunt, it really felt like my efforts had finally yielded tangible results.