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Solution to Watership Down

The Ministry

by Aaron Fuegi and Susan Glass

The rabbits of Watership Down are playing the cooperative word game Just One where there is a rotating guesser who must figure out a clue word based on the single word submissions of each of the other players. The rabbits sometimes use a word in the Lapine language of the book as their clue word. Just One won the German Spiel des Jahres award in 2019, as clued ("liebste") by the flavor text.

Here, the rabbits have also made the game harder by each applying a transformation to the clue word so, for example, Hazel 'Drops a Letter' from each clue word so instead of cluing the word 'cheat' he clues the word 'chat' by submitting the word 'talk'. Solvers should eventually figure out the transformation each rabbit is doing. This is not required to solve the puzzle but makes things much easier, especially for the rounds involving cancellations (see below). All 10 rabbits have a different transformation, shown below. We used the National Puzzlers League (NPL) Base Finding Tools for many of these. We below also generally use the NPL names for the transformations but we believe they are all straightforward enough that experienced solvers should be able to figure out the rules, even if they do not have any knowledge of the NPL transformations.

As in Just One, if two (or more) players write the same word, the guesser does not get to see them. This happens in three cases with two players in Game 1. Once you know the different players' transformations, it should still be possible to figure out both the clue word and have a good idea of what the cancellations were; the cancellations are not needed to solve the puzzle.

All words, on the card, transformed, and clued are real 'words' although only the words that in the game would have been written on the card are required to be in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. Proper nouns and changing of case during transformations is allowed in all cases.

The extraction is simply indexing into the original word ("Clue Word" columns below) that would have been on the card in the game by the given number ("#" columns below) for each round. The first game spells out "TWELFTH VOLUME" and the second game spells out "IN LUCKY HARBOR". In combination, this should readily lead solvers to Jill Shalvis's series of that name and the twelfth volume is "ONE IN A MILLION".

Details on the transformations used, intermediate words, and extractions for both games are given below.

Game 1 Rules

Rabbit Name Transformation Name Transformation Described
Hazel Drop a Letter Remove a letter from the word.
Hyzenthlay Anagram Reorder the letters in the word.
Fiver Antonym Choose a word that is in some way an ‘opposite’ of the clue word.
Vilthuril Transaddition Add a letter and then reorder the letters.
Bigwig Letter Change Change a single letter.

Game 1 Results

For each player, the word the player misread the clue as is shown followed by a ">" and then the word the player wrote. Words in the Lapine language are highlighted in light blue and cancelled words are highlighted in yellow and the actual cancellation words bolded.

Rd Clue Word # Letter Hazel Hyzenthlay Fiver Vilthuril Bigwig
1 created 5 T Guesser reacted > responded consumed > ate decanter > carafe crested > climbed
2 bellow 6 W below > under Guesser whimper > whisper cowbell > Frenkle yellow > lemon
3 rage 4 E rag > tatter gear > equipment Guesser graze > silflay sage > wise
4 blather 2 L bather > showerer halbert > polearm enunciate > articulate Guesser slather > spread
5 friend 1 F fiend > villain finder > discoverer fiend > villain refined > urbane Guesser
6 present 7 T Guesser serpent > snake absent > away pretends > dissembles prevent > avert
7 shun 2 H sun > Frith Guesser welcome > embrace hunts > stalks stun > amaze
8 reversing 3 V revering > venerating reserving > withholding Guesser preserving > safeguarding reverting > regressing
9 covert 2 O overt > open vector > arrow public > open Guesser covers > blankets
10 aliens 2 L liens > claims saline > brine earthlings > Terrans salient > pertinent Guesser
11 united 1 U Guesser untied > disbanded separated > disbanded intrude > trespass uniped > Dufflepud
12 Pampers 3 M papers -> documents Guesser Luvs > Huggies prestamp -> prepay campers -> vans
13 cheat 3 E chat > talk teach->Instruct Guesser detach > remove chest > treasure

Game 2 Rules

Rabbit Name Transformation Name Transformation Described
Dandelion Letter Bank Make a longer word but only using the same letters. At least one letter will therefore be repeated. All of the clue words in this round have no duplicate letters.
Holly Transdeletion Remove a letter and then reorder the remaining letters.
Clover Consonantcy Keep all the consonants and keep their order. Arbitrarily change, remove, and add as many vowels as you wish. Y is a vowel.
Blackberry Changeover Change one letter and then move it to a different position in the word.
Bluebell Terminal Deletion Drop the first and last letters of the word.

Game 2 Results

Rd Clue Word # Letter Dandelion Holly Clover Blackberry Bluebell
1 Isolde 1 I Guesser slide > slip slayed > killed solder > meld sold > retailed
2 asking 5 N Kisangani > Stanleyville Guesser soaking > drenching skiing > schussing skin > integument
3 dangler 5 L Greenland > Nuuk garden > botanical Guesser dangers > hazards angle > corner
4 carousel 5 U calcareous > limestone secular > worldly curiously > peculiarly Guesser arouse > awaken
5 culet 1 C lettuce > flayrah clue > inkling ciliate > paramecium cleft > fissure Guesser
6 flakey 4 K Guesser leafy -> verdant Foulke -> closer lackey -> flunky lake -> pond
7 tragedy 7 Y gadgetry > gizmos Guesser triaged > prioritized raggedy > tattered raged > fumed
8 trashy 5 H ashtrays > cigarettes Syrah > Shiraz Guesser thrash > trounce rash > hives
9 abuse 1 A subsea > underwater beau > boyfriend bayous > marshes Guesser bus > hrududu
10 bright 2 R birthright > primogeniture girth > circumference brought > carried righty > northpaw Guesser
11 scribe 5 B Guesser cries > wails scarab > beetle scried > foretold crib > cradle
12 modest 2 O demotes > relegates Guesser amidst > amongst modems > dial-up odes > poems
13 wariest 3 R waitresses > hostesses writes > scribbles Guesser wearies > tires Aries > ram

Author's Notes

This puzzle was inspired by our playing a game of Just One with our family where one person misread the word 'blond' as 'blood' and a puzzle idea was born.

If anyone is interested in actually playing Just One using the ideas of this puzzle, I have written up suggested rules for playing Just One Flat. This link will not work until the conclusion of the 2022 Mystery Hunt.