Exotic Tactics

by Mike Sylvia



Except for the middle words, all of the words in a given position throughout the puzzle are alphabetized. Rearranging all of the upper-left words, all of the upper-center words, and so on, leaving the center words where they are, reveals thirteen nine-word clues:

theory crediting edward de vere with authorship over shakespeareOXFORDIAN
notes on a scandal producer along with scott rudinROBERT FOX
those who gather in enclosed spaces to smoke marijuanaHOTBOXERS
ceramic device used to detect gas in combustion enginesNOX SENSOR
nasa mission during which alan shepard played low-gravity golfAPOLLO XIV
crab-eating macaque disease that infected america's midwest in 2003MONKEY POX
belgian author and first curator of antwerp's plantin-moretus museumMAX ROOSES
coupling, alliance, or association synonym's chiefly british variant spellingCONNEXION
charles sibley, jon edward ahlquist, or carolus linnaeus, e.g.TAXONOMER
relatively recently evolved six-layered structure unique to mammalian brainsNEOCORTEX
type of chemical compound, possibly hematite, lodestone, or rustIRON OXIDE
curved body of water australians might call a billabongOXBOW LAKE
latin phrase referring to interviews for everyday people's opinionsVOX POPULI

All of the answers are nine letters long, with one X and two Os. These answers can be treated as tic-tac-toe games in progress, where it's X's turn and he must play in a specific place to block O from winning on the next turn. Using OXFORDIAN as an example:

IAN ---

Reading off all of the places where X must play spells the answer, IRREVERENTIAL.

Upon completing this puzzle, the following set of cards is revealed on the round page: