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Sunday November 26, 2006 // By Sandy

How to drive your friends insane, part 4

Because I apparently didn’t think eleven puzzles were enough of a challenge for my dear friends to handle, or maybe because I’m real motherfucker, I added one more layer to the whole game. Actually, two.

First was the XXX theme. Like I said in the beginning, we started with a name for the game and worked backwards. Eventually we settled on a premise — that the crime our teams of sleuths would be solving was a case of a missing birthday cake. Somebody stole it, and it was up to everyone to figure out who.

Throughout the game, teams found coupled with some of their clues seemingly incongruous pictures. These pictures provided (the only) clues toward solving the overarching mystery. Here are the five pictures, assembled in one collage:

Who is XXX?
Who is XXX?

In this case, I really did want it to be difficult. I didn’t want more than one team getting it right. Feel free to try to figure it out. Again, you’ll need an knowledge of local culture and persons of import.

Second, we needed a way for the teams to figure out where to go once the hunt was over. Since the set of clues were cyclical, no single clue could lead to the final spot. Our solution was a cumulative puzzle. Teams were told that seven of the clues they’d find had colored flags on them. Put the numbers in the right order, and you’d know where to go.

The numbers, in rainbow order
The numbers, in rainbow order

Seven colored flags … seven colors of the rainbow. Seven digits … seven digits in a phone number. Seems simple. Yet I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and added one more twist. Instead of having the flags going in rainbow order, I designed it so they had to go in alphabetical order. I’m a bastard, I know. Call the resulting number, and you’d find out where to go. The real order:

The numbers, in alpha order
The numbers, in alpha order

No one got it. In fact, no one got far enough to discover all seven numbers. About 45 minutes before our predetermined end time, when we finally figured out that no one was on pace to finish, we cut our losses, called everyone up and revealed the final spot. We had the place reserved, after all, and pizza was on its way.

By the time Sarah and I walked through the door at Delilah’s, almost all of our friends were there waiting. No one threw tomatoes or punched me in the teeth. In fact, everyone seemed to be really excited about the whole experience, despite not getting to finish it. (I think plying them with pizza was a smart move.) All our worrying was for naught. The party had been a success.

The debriefing
The debriefing

I announced our winners. Moonshine, She Wrote tied for getting the furthest in the hunt and won a trivia tiebreaker for the claim to victory. Grand prize, however — a pair of invisible ink pens — went to Cornelia, who deduced the magic equation: Rod (Flanders) + Blog + “Oy” + Witch = Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Even a missing cake couldn’t put a damper on things. Turns out that our culprit, after selling my cake to help pay for the state education crisis, felt guilty and repaid us with an array of rich Greek pastries. All was forgiven.

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