After just 20 days this time, our team, The Sign of the Four, completed Puzzle Boat 3, this time with zero hints! That compares to 31 days and many hints for Puzzle Boat 2, so I’m very happy with how our team worked through this one.
125 puzzles, 11 warehouse metapuzzles, 11 warehouse sub puzzles, and one grand finale puzzle. Wow.
The puzzles had a wide variety of range. Sometimes we just get something that looks like this:
Another time, we had to pull out a Scrabble board and start placing pieces on it, looking for patterns. For one of my favorite puzzles in the contest, we had to make papercraft architecture.
Our group was on fire this time. I honestly don’t know how we would have finished without either of my two teammates. There were more than a few times I was dead in the water, posted the puzzle I was stuck on to Discord, and had one of my teammates respond with a breakthrough in a matter of minutes.
As far as our victory, I’m happier about the fact we used zero hints than I am about us solving faster. I imagine our speed in Puzzle Boat will often depend on what else is happening in each of our lives. We usually worked on puzzles most diligently during the late hours, between 11PM and midnight. If we dedicated even a few hours a day to the challenge, I think we would have been able to complete the contest in a week based on number of hours worked.
Using zero hints seemed easy at first, but as we worked toward the end, we encountered a handful of really sticky puzzles that required a group effort. Usually once something got posted to our Discord group, we solved it quickly, but there were a few exceptions that required us all to step away and come back with more information.
I also found that this kind of puzzle is part inspiration, part learned skill. Many of the puzzles we solved quickly and early this time would have given us fits during Puzzle Boat 2, but because I’m now able to spot things like Akari, Playfair, Bacon, cryptic crosswords, and other very specific puzzles/tools, I can get moving on puzzles without a phase of thinking “what do I even do with this?”
Foggy Brume, sole author of the Puzzle Boat series, has done a fantastic job with both challenges thus far, and I’ve heard they only get more impressive and complex in each subsequent iteration. We’re likely going to take a break before launching Puzzle Boat 4, but I’m sure within a week I’ll be itching to kick it off!
And as a side note- the image I used for this article may seem unrelated, but there is a connection. If you’re interested in finding that connection, you’ll just have to play Puzzle Boat 3. 🙂