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puzzle & scoring rules
general play rules & helpful tips
And for the sake of convenience, here's a link to the glossary of terms.
:: team rules
- Teams must be registered in order to compete in the grunt hunt.
- Teams must consist of 4 players, maximum.
- No team will be comprised entirely of newbies. Ever. There must be someone on the team that has completed at least one entire hunt.
- These 4 players must be the same listed when the team was registered to play.
- Should there be substitutions, they must be cleared by the hunt staff.
- If you want to play and can't get enough people to form a team by the time of registration, you will be matched up with spares to form a team.
- If there are not enough spares to form their own team (or if for some reason teams are joined together after registration), team sizes may be increased beyond the maximum of 4. The oversized team then imparts a bonus to all other teams of regulation size or smaller (see scoring rules on bonus points for more information). Teams can not arrive at the hunt with the specific intent of being oversized - oversizing is only the result of circumstance.
- There are no point adjustments made to a team that is undersized.
- All teams must have a team captain.
- The team captain acts as contact person/representative for the team.
- Only the team captain can submit puzzle answers or request hints.
- All other team members can complete or request challenges in addition to accept the bennies-related currency from completing them. Only team captains, however, can use or purchase bennies.
- For the sake of convenience and ease of identification, all teams must have a name.
- Team names are just fun.
- You should have one.
last updated: 12apr07
:: puzzle & scoring rules
Standard puzzles make up the bulk of the hunt and are the kind that feed into metapuzzles (larger puzzles whose clues are formed from the answers of smaller puzzles). As a result, these puzzles are grouped and scored in tiers. Standard puzzles are worth 1000 points, unmodified.
- Wrong answer submissions for standard puzzles will incur a point penalty to the team's total score, scored post-multiplier. (see Wrong Answers below.)
- Hints can be requested for specific puzzles, reducing the total number of points possibly scored from the puzzle in question (pre-multiplier) for each hint requested.
- Challenges are worth 0 points (see Challenges below).
- Opener puzzles are worth 500 points (see Opener Puzzles below).
- By completing Challenges, solutions to Standard Puzzles can be purchased outright with bennies.
Metapuzzles do not have a fixed value but rather apply a multiplier to the total number of points scored from the puzzles that comprise it. Metapuzzles apply a multiplier of 1.5, unmodified.
- If a metapuzzle answer is not submitted or scored, its default value is 1.0 and can never go below that.
- Wrong answer submissions for metapuzzles will incur a point penalty to the team's total score (explained below).
- Hints can be requested for specific metapuzzles, reducing the metapuzzle's multiplier value for each hint requested (see hints).
- Challenge Groupings (if there are any) are worth 0 points and apply no multipliers.
- Metapuzzle solutions can never be purchased using bennies awarded from completing Challenges.
Grand Metapuzzle, Final Puzzle, & WhoDunIt
The Grand Metapuzzle is made up of the answers of all the metapuzzles. Solving that will often yield the Grand Solution for the entire hunt. Other times, its solution opens a final puzzle.
- The Grand Metapuzzle is worth 1000 points, unmodified. Unlike other metapuzzles, its solution imparts no multipliers. It follows the rules for point reduction for hint requests and wrong answer submissions as any other Standard Puzzle.
- Should there be another puzzle that the Grand Metapuzzle opens, this Final Puzzle is worth 1000 points as well and is treated like a Standard Puzzle.
- Should there be a parallel mystery surrounding a WhoDunIt that is not itself a puzzle but is explained by way of the narrative, submitting the correct answer yields possible bonus points. (see Bonus Points below).
- The Grand Metapuzzle, Final Puzzle and WhoDunit solutions can never be purchased using bennies awarded from completing Challenges.
Opener Puzzles unlock certain sections of the hunt.
- Given that they are not part of a Metapuzzle grouping, Openers are worth only 500 points.
- Wrong answer submissions as well as Hint requests on openers incur penalties in the same way that they do for Standard Puzzles (see below).
- Openers can take on the form of Items as used in a particular Hunt's theme.
- Until the puzzle is solved, a team will not find out if what they are working on is a Standard puzzle or an Opener puzzle.
- Because of Rule 4, Opener Puzzle solutions can be purchased with bennies won through Challenges.
Wrong Answer Penalties
Wrong answers impart a penalty to the total team's score.
- Regardless of a puzzle being Standard, Opener or Meta, answer submissions that are revealed to be incorrect subtract 100 points from the team's total score (after multipliers have been applied).
- Each team starts off with only 1 Freebie. That is to say, each team can submit 1 wrong answer (total) at no penalty. Subsequent wrong answer submissions will be at a penalty to their final score. Additional Freebies can be acquired through Challenges.
- Teams will not be penalized for submitting answers that are one step in a multi-step solution (ie; undersolved).
Hints & Nudges
Beyond the assistance bennies can provide, help in solving the puzzles is available in the form of Hints and Nudges. A Hint provides a team outright assistance, often by revealing something. A Nudge pushes a team in the right direction (or indicating that they are wasting their efforts in another direction) but at the same time revealing little or nothing at all.
- Each puzzle can have a maximum of 3 Hints requested.
- Each team can request a Hint for a particular Standard or Opener Puzzle, thus reducing its total point value for each Hint asked for. The first hint asked for reduces its score by 50 points. The second Hint reduces it by another 100 points. The third Hint reduces its score by yet another 100 points. To sum up, requesting three hints for one particular puzzle reduces the total number of points it is worth by 250.
- Hint penalties affect the total number of points a Standard or Opener Puzzle awards. If no answer is submitted for one of these puzzles, it awards 0 points regardless of the number of hints were requested for it. At no point will a puzzle award a negative value.
- Each team can request Hints for metapuzzles as well, thus reducing its total multiplier value. The first Hint reduces the multiplier by 0.05. The second Hint reduces it further by 0.10, as does a third Hint. Three Hints applied to a metapuzzle brings its total possible multiplier down by 0.25.
- In the case of metapuzzles without correct submissions, their multiplier value defaults to 1.0 regardless of the number of hints requested for them. Multipliers can not be reduced below their default value of 1.0.
- Nudges are free and come at no penalty to the team. They are offered by hunt staff not participating in the competition and can not be requested.
To offset penalties, Bonus Points can be awarded to teams for a variety of reasons. These points are applied to team scores post-multiplier:
- Newbie Bonus: 25 Points are awarded for each Team Member that has never before participated in the grunt hunt.
- Veteran Bonus: This bonus awards individuals for their prior participation. As such, the bonus is variable - for every hunt that particular person competed in, their team is awarded a bonus of 5 points (not exceeding 25 points per person).
- Swag Bonus: For each hunter wearing or garishly displaying grunt hunt or gruntwerk merchandise purchased from the online store, the team will be awarded 25 points. A team can gain no more than 100 points in this fashion. Do note that prizes won from previous hunts or gifts do not count as swag as they were not purchased from the store.
- Team member bonuses (such as the Newbie, Veteran, and Swag bonuses) are limited to no more than 4 individuals. In the event of an oversized team, the same 4 members must be selected for any and all team member bonuses to be applied (ie; a different set of 4 can not be selected per bonus requirement).
- Regulation Size Bonus: In the event there are oversized teams participating as a result of there not being enough spares to form a team, all 4-member (or less) teams receive the Regulation Size Bonus of 500 points. This is cumulative should there be more than one oversized team.
- WhoDunIt Bonus: Should there be a parallel mystery surrounding a WhoDunIt that is not itself a puzzle but is explained by way of the narrative, submitting the correct answer yields 500 bonus points. Although there are no penalties for wrong answers made in this way, each team is only allowed one submission. Should the WhoDunIt be represented as a puzzle, this bonus does not apply.
- Certain Challenges often grant bonus points by way of bennies purchased. Challenges can only impart bonus points and can not figure into a metapuzzle multiplier. Please see the rules governing Challenges for details.
- Any unused Freebies at the end of the game (including the one given at the inception of the event) incur a bonus of 100 points. In figuring final scores, leftover Challenge currency will be used to purchase as many Freebies as possible.
Challenges are certain "puzzles" which are less brain teasers and are more board games. They are activities and mechanisms designed specifically to make the puzzles easier to solve as well as provide the team a break from the intense intellectual and cognitive activity and allow them some mindless fun.
- The nature or mechanism used to bring about the challenges (the opener or trigger) is never revealed early on or without instigation or puzzle solving.
- Challenges can often award the team with such benefits ("bennies") as Freebies (negating one wrong answer submission), a free solution, or a free hint. Though they are not meant as another means for teams to gain a significant number of points, there are a few bennies that do affect scores (both positively and negatively).
- Certain bennies awarded from Challenges can be used against another team. Examples include inflicting penalties, forcing an answer submission, and using up one of their allowed Hints.
- Challenges are meant to be fun and not too terribly difficult to get through but they are always advantageous. Teams have the option to run through them quickly to attain the solution with no care for the atmosphere it was meant to create but where's the fun in that?
- All Challenges are optional. However, they sometimes provide insight normally unavailable in the puzzle portion of the hunt.
Calling Time & Extensions
Because victory is defined by points, being the first team to complete the hunt does not automatically make that team the winner. Speed is important insomuch that there are only a set number of hours to play but the competition is not a race to see who finishes first.
Typically, each hunt is over and done with at 5pm. Historically, this has not been enforced all that much as the first rule described below does not commonly happen.
- If it is 5pm and there is at least one team that has completed the hunt (submitted a correct answer for the Final Puzzle), time is called immediately.
- Should 5pm roll around and no team has completed the hunt puzzles in their entirety, the hunt may continue running for as long as all teams agree to keep on going. However, after three hours of this extension, time is called and the hunt will automatically end.
- When time is called, teams must wrap up what they are working on. Nothing new can be started (no new Challenges, no new sections unlocked, etc.) and all answers to be submitted are done all at once (no going back and forth). Teams have 15 minutes to wrap up. After that time has transpired, scoresheets will be collected and any answer submissions made afterwards will not be accepted.
- After time is called, bennies can still be spent. However, they are spent all at once and without any knowledge of what other teams are using their bennies for. They can not be used as reactions to what other teams are doing.
Teams that manage to complete the hunt in its entirety (ie; doing all of the puzzles and all of the Challenges) get a Perfect rating. Though this awards no points, the team in question does get bragging rights and special recognition. Do note that a Perfect rating does not require the team to have gotten a perfect score (that is to say, the most points possible) nor the highest score.
In the event of a tie, the team that first completed the last puzzle wins. If neither of the tied teams completed the hunt, the team that has completed the most puzzles and challenges wins. If there remains a tie still, the two team captains each select a team member (they can choose themselves) to arm wrestle for the win.
last updated: 25apr08
:: general play rules
- Put simply: don't cheat.
- If you think what you're doing can be construed as cheating, it probably is.
- If you are in doubt, always ask first.
- Don't be an asshole.
- It's just a game.
- Sure, winning is fun but no one likes a poor winner than they do a poor loser.
- Access to the Internet or use of a computer is not allowed. All the puzzles are solvable without the use of such aids, anyway.
- If the event is happening in a public place, be careful not to disturb the locals.
- Have fun.
last updated: 22sept05
:: helpful tips
- Make good use of your time.
If possible, split your team up to cover multiple tasks/problems simultaneously.
Or, even better, assign people roles like secretary or runner.
Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes inspect something will yield an interesting/different perspective or solution.
This could come in the form of a fellow teammate or coming back to the problem at hand after a brief walk.
Some solutions really are that simple.
No, seriously. There is no penalty for undersolving but oversolving can lead to frustration and confusion.
If possible, reduce the answer to its simplest form. Sometimes the solution is hidden or clued at in the first answer obtained.
Read the flavor text.
Don't be afraid to submit answers you're not 100% sure about. Besides getting Freebies, wrong answer penalties are not as painful as Hint requests.
Read the flavor text again.
Realize that when asking for a Hint, you will be asked to explain what your method is thus far. This is done to determine if you even need to expend a Hint in the first place. Points aren't going to be taken from you if anyone can help it.
All answers resolve to words or phrases. In some instances, the answer is a letter or a bigram. Very rarely will it resolve to a phrase as the final answer.
Books are handy. Namely dictionaries and thesauruses.
Draw insight (or even parallels) from previous hunts. What, you weren't around for the others? Then find someone who was!
No Hunter should be without pens, pencils, and paper (some elect to bring graph paper, even). A straightedge is a good idea, too. As are tape, highlighters and scissors.
- Do the Challenges. No, really. Do them. They're fun and helpful as hell.
Though technically you don't need to do all the puzzles that make up a metapuzzle to solve it (it is possible), you should always go back and complete as many as you can for points. Back-solving also works.
Feel free to ask any questions you need to in order to understand what's going on systemically. You will be informed whether or not it requires a Hint penalty to answer..
- Use your scoresheet to not only track your points but to be a central place to store all your answers.
Also, keep tabs as to what bonuses you've managed to land as well as what penalties you've been stung with.
Mark the puzzles you've already completed. Sometimes things get so harried that you don't realize that you're wasting time trying to solve something someone else on your team has already finished.
- If the puzzles physically come together as part of a set, it's usually a good idea to keep them together that way.
- Though it's 100% awesome to get newbies to the hunt, teams comprised of just newbies are no longer allowed. Having at least one person familiar with the ways of the hunt is invaluable and not having that in a team will no doubt lead to the team failing or, worse yet, having a horrific time. So don't do that.
- Go over all the puzzles with the whole team - don't have everyone immediately go off by themselves to tackle puzzles using just their brainpower alone. Maximize group intelligence.
last updated: 12apr07