This is the sixth in a series of caches that we hope will help cachers learn some of the tricks to solving puzzle caches. Although experienced puzzle solvers can jump in at any point in the series, each successive lesson is meant to build on concepts that were demonstrated in the previous caches. The first cache in the series contains some background information on puzzle caches as well as a link to the tools we use when solving puzzle caches.
This series is not meant to be an "end all" on how to solve every puzzle cache that exists. It is only a starting point on what to look for when you see a puzzle cache. If you go through this series, you should be able to solve most puzzle caches that have a difficult of 3 stars or less. If we gave away all our secrets, then we wouldn't have anything to do but put out lamp post caches.
This series of caches contains the following caches
Alert: There are downloadable files in our toolbox and printable copies (PDF) of the puzzles for the caches in this series. These files are not required to solve the puzzles, although they may be useful to you for both this cache series and other puzzle caches you solve. As the cache owner, I represent that these files are safe to download although they have not been checked by Groundspeak or by the reviewer for possible malicious content. Download these files at your own risk.
Word puzzles are very popular. There's usually at least one every day in your newspaper (the crossword puzzle), television has been filled with them since the 1950s (Wheel of Fortune, Lingo, The $25,000 Pyramid), and there are plenty of web sites dedicated to them (All-Star Puzzles). There is at least one puzzle cache here in Las Vegas (Nevada's Top 100 Crossword Puzzle Cache) that is a word puzzle.
One problem with word puzzles is that they are language specific. Although English is the most international language (but third behind Mandarin Chinese and Spanish in native speakers), it's peculiarites can make it hard to create a puzzle that can be understood by everyone. If you're old enough to remember I Love Lucy, there was an episode where Ricky is having issues with pronouncing words that end in -ough.
- Bough (pronounced bow)
- Cough (pronounced coff)
- Dough (pronounced doe)
- Hiccough (pronounced hiccup)
- Rough (pronounced ruff)
- Through (pronounced thru)
Another issue is there are idioms and phrases that don't translate well to other languages or even across generations. However, because of this, English is a fun language to work with when creating word games because we have words that sound the same but are spelled differently or are spelled the same and have different meanings.
Types of Wordplay
An acronymn is an abbreviation created using the initial components of a phrase or word. It could be the individual letters (NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or parts of the word (ComSubLant - Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic).
An anagram rearrages the letters of a word or phrase to form a new word or phrase (Mystery Cache = A Secrecy Myth).
A homophone is two words that sound the same but have different spellings (too/two, for/four).
A homograph is two words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings. They may or may not be pronounced the same (bear-the animal/bear-to carry or sow-to plant/sow-female pig).
A pun is a (usually) humorous use of a phrase that uses different types of wordplay to suggest more than one meaning. I ate the bear stew. It was grizzly could mean I ate grizzly bear stew or that the meat was gristly.
A set of words or phrases that end in the same sound (cache and rash).
A spoonerism is a play on words in which the corresponding portions of a word are switched (a blushing crow/a crushing blow)
Types of Word Puzzles
A puzzle that consists of two parts. The first is similar to a crossword puzzle where you are given a set of clues and the number of letters in the answer. Each letter in the answer is numbered. The second part is a series of numbered spaces where the letters of the first part of the puzzle are placed. A good example can be found here.
A puzzle that uses a form of a rectangle or grid. The goal is to fill in the squares with the letters to the answers of clues.
Similar to a crossword puzzle, but the clues are puzzles themselves and can use different types of wordplay like those shown above. Sometimes you have to think outside the box for these answers. Some examples: He barely makes an appearance (NUDIST) - the main clue is barely. A non-stop flight (ESCALATOR) - a flight of stairs. The clues themselves have rules and idiosyncracies that make this type of puzzle both hard to create and hard to solve. Here are a couple of websites that can help you decipher the clues: How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords and Cryptic Crossword Primer.
Although word puzzles, these were covered in lesson 3 - Codes and Ciphers (Basic).
A list of words is provided along with a grid of letters. Your job is to find all the words in the list. The leftover letters after all the words are found may form a phrase.
Similar to regular Sodoku puzzles except that the grid uses letters instead of numbers. When complete selected squares may provide a clue to the cache location.
Solving Word Puzzles
Some word puzzles such as Sodoku are easy to solve since there are plenty of on-line tools that will solve the puzzle for you. Others are just a matter of reading the clues and arriving at the answer. With the exception of some online solvers, there really aren't any shortcuts. You will have to figure out the type(s) of clues being provided and then fill in the blanks. The good thing is that you know you're for an answer that will form coordinates of some type, so you at least have a head start on knowing what the final result should be.
Click here for a downloadable .pdf file of the Word Find.
Click here for a downloadable .pdf file of the Crossword Puzzle
Once you're done with the crossword, it's time for some Battleship!
K9 C14 J4 F15 F9
L5 N15 N12 I7 C12
O3 I11 L7 A15 L12
E5 L12 C7 G10 M10
O2 I14 O4 C2 H14
D6 A9 M11 L12 N2
L12 E9 M15 L7 B3
B11 H7 G2 K12 K4
H15 C12 G4 F15 G15
B6 M4 I4 D11 A9
Because of muggle issues, the container has been relocated. When you arrive at ground zero, look for five poles together. Look in the horizontal section of the center pole.