It Could Be Worse

This year's Hunt opens with an exciting ceremony in which all solvers will convert to Scientology. They will then combine their efforts as they travel to the year 3000 to face puzzles devised by an evil alien who looks like that guy from Saturday Night Fever; the alien will make teams smarter so that they can further his cause, but ironically the gesture will help the teams solve the puzzles and defeat him.

Combining all the excitement of a Sports Night hunt, a Lois & Clark Hunt, and a Beverly Hills Ninja Hunt, this year's Hunt is set apart by eerie flavortext which contains clues to why one of the constructors committed suicide before the Hunt started. (And no, it wasn't to get out of writing the Hunt. At least not just that.)

After a three-hour intro sequence, each team in this year's Hunt is divided into seven groups, none of which are allowed to leave their primitive HQ until they solve a metapuzzle. When approaching puzzles, one group will apply their MIT science education, two groups will attempt to buy hints from the constructors, two groups will stand around looking pretty, and one will yell a lot. If anybody comes close to succeeding, the seventh group will screw things up for everyone.

This year's Hunt features a "tour" of 18-puzzle events, which solvers will approach with a brash attitude and unconventional form, potentially provoking a physical confrontation with a 73-year-old game show host. One constructor will act as an advisor to solvers, but when he is scared to death by an alligator, the solvers will be left to fend for themselves.

The Hunt consists of endlessly repetitive rounds of five color-coded puzzles about robots resembling prehistoric creatures; each time, their answers combine to defeat a huge fake-looking monster. Later rounds include a mysterious sixth puzzle, which is green in the initial rounds but eventually white (after an unnecessarily long and dramatic storyline runs its course).

Puzzles in this year's Hunt are divided into groups based on their distinctive posterior tattoos. Sets of puzzles with different tattoos can be combined to form a metapuzzle and used to defeat one of several evil witches threatening Dream Valley; however, to make things difficult, all solvers will have to spend the weekend on all fours and not use their hands.

In a high-tech and generous move, each team in this year's Hunt will receive a brand new automobile (a vintage 1928 model, no less). Turning on the radio reveals a series of audio puzzles read by a woman claiming to be the solver's deceased relative. If the winning team is willing to keep the continuity going, next year's Hunt will be from the perspective of an assistant football coach.

This year's Hunt consists of 151… I mean 251… I mean 386 puzzles, divided into color-coded rounds. (This sounds like a lot of work for the constructors, but admittedly a lot of the puzzles are simply carbon copies of other puzzles with "evolved" clues.) Backsolving is futile here… you've gotta solve 'em all.

Puzzles in this year's Hunt are divided into two tracks, each representing a different useless socialite. Each team will choose a path, and for the first three rounds teams will cooperate as they tackle various puzzles associated with blue-collar work; before the fourth round, teams on opposing tracks will have an ugly public confrontation before tackling the E! round.

At first, this year's Hunt appears to be an innocent simulation of a flight from Hawaii to California… and then after a while all these motherfucking puzzles appear from the cargo hold! As a motherfucking FBI Puzzle Division agent, you have to solve them to save yourself and the other motherfucking passengers.

The Hunt is divided into exactly four rounds, each relating to one of the worlds of which Earth is composed, because four is the supreme number. Three rounds or five rounds is stupid and evil. Puzzles will be deviously hard to solve, especially for students, because you have been educated stupid.

Divided into twelve rounds of puzzles (each representing a "chapter"), many of the metapuzzles in this year's Hunt reveal a character's affair, surprises ranging from a pastor's gay lover to a midget. In addition to puzzle solutions, solvers can use subtle clues in the flavortext (such as one character's allergy to cherry pie) to try to figure out what the hell is going on, although frankly the odds are against them.

In each round of the Hunt, there's really only one puzzle you need to solve… the tricky part is finding it. The key puzzles are easily identified by their red and white striped grids and flavortext about hats, walking sticks, and eyeglasses; but they are camouflaged by hundreds of other puzzles in the immediate vicinity.

Each of the thirty teams in this year's Hunt is assigned a unique puzzle, and they begin the Hunt at staggered intervals in "random" order. Solving another team's puzzle represents throwing them over the top rope; if a team throws every other team out (making sure both of their feet touch the floor), they advance to the endgame, a shot at the world championship.