Saturday will see the biggest DASH yet

DASH 10 logoOn Saturday, the tenth edition of the DASH puzzle hunt takes place around the world. That’s more literal than usual this year; the event will be played in 23 locations in six countries, smashing previous records of 16 and three respectively, with Australia, Canada and Cyprus are set to join the family and host their first events. Welcome!

Happily for us, London is hosting its sixth edition, and this too is set to be the biggest one yet; all the tickets sold out in under 24 hours – possibly well under 24 hours, for it didn’t seem wise to hang around to find out – and through a piece of heroism from the London Game Control team, there are set to be well over 40 teams in London this year compared to a previous record of two dozen. I very much hope to see you there; please say “Hi!” if you see me.

The current weather forecast for London is for a dry start to the day that is set to get cloudier, with an increased risk of rain, as the day progresses; classic DASH weather. The player’s guide sets the form; there have been repeated suggestions from GC that teams need to brush up on their cryptic crossword clue solving skills, and that scissors and clear tape will prove essential this year. Other than that, it may be worth a browse to see what features have been added to ClueKeeper between last DASH and this one, much as the introduction of Zappar integration between DASH 8 and DASH 9 could have been taken to hint at the mixed-reality nature of the final DASH 9 puzzle. It might also be worth looking out on the morning of the day for tweets from Australian DASH players who will finish their event before the rest of the world starts theirs, though I’m sure nobody will post spoilers.

London GC has suggested that there will be a nine-hour overall time limit for puzzling plus transport. In comparison to previous years, I get the impression that the teamwork icebreaker will see a return this year and that this year will contain more content than last year; perhaps a “fast team” time back to between two-and-a-half and three hours, and a “usual team” time of over five hours. A suggestion that London teams might think about planning lunch between puzzles 5-6 might be interpreted to point to relatively quick puzzles early on and longer ones later in the day. I would expect over 600 teams to play worldwide, perhaps 400 of whom will be on the expert track. The logo with its appropriately ten-pointed star-pair design fits right into the tradition of every DASH logo since DASH 6 having a gold/yellow background, except one!

Misremembered Apple and The Magpie have demonstrated world-class form over the years, rubbing shoulders on the scoreboard with teams who have been extremely close to, or even at, the top in other years. There are other excellent solvers in the UK dotted around a number of other teams. (I am not one of them!) I don’t imagine any teams having members with nearly as much escape room experience as team RecklesS2, if that proves a factor. My favourite London team name is Tactical Yutnori, and I very much hope to find out who is behind a team name that is pure Genius.

As ever, set your expectations for a come-down at the end of the day, once the final meta is over and you have to make your way back from the fictional Old West to the factual West End. Why not stay around for a drink and a chat with your fellow solvers at the end, if you can? Many, many thanks to all the people who have put together the hunt: the global co-ordinators, all those who helped playtest and test-solve and the London volunteers on the day. Really looking forward to what’s very likely to be a fantastic event!

1 Comments

  1. Once again London was blessed with a great GC who put together a really interesting and witty route that was brilliantly tied into the puzzle story itself. And the volunteers kept a smile on their faces despite persistent rain all day, which was my fear after hearing about the disappointing date change to September – a month which, to my mind, is ideal for no country weather-wise. Thank you to all those who put in many hours of effort for our benefit.

    Overall, I feel that the event was something of a mixed bag.

    (Spoilers follow for those planning to do the print-to-play version that’s been promised)

    THE GOOD:
    – The coin mechanic was really neato, especially as it usually gave you the penny-drop moment that either started or ended the puzzle.
    – The Water Works puzzle was almost worth the price of admission alone.

    THE NOT SO GOOD:
    – I felt the puzzle where you got your bag of coins was a bamboozling start. So much to consider and yet none of those diagrams had much to do with the answer – you had to ignore those and use the other side. The misprint was very unfortunate, and I don’t think enough was done to flag ERRATUM, as our team largely took the ‘correction’ to be an actual puzzle hint.
    – The rather random trio of Granny puzzles felt like ones that wouldn’t get accepted for most Puzzled Pint months.
    – The pack of cards prop at the end was similar to the one we had in the James Bond year, but not as useful since you only needed to use 15 of the cards. It would have been nice to use the cards to help solve the puzzle, but there wasn’t time. I don’t understand why you’d give hints to Grid 3 when the team hadn’t even finished Grid 1! Also, couldn’t they have ticked off the used cards on the chart for us..?
    – I think the Cluekeeper clueing took backwards step this year. The hints were not generous enough to keep pace, particularly on the hexagon puzzle which expected you to do a butt ton of work in 3 minutes after 15 minutes of hinting about the faultline which we’d already realised. Also, I felt that puzzle could have hinted at the special thing you needed to do to the paper much earlier, since normally that’s a very unconventional thing to do to your one and only copy of the puzzle.
    – Our team are regularly in the top 10 worldwide on any given month for Puzzled Pint, but we found this hunt gruelling in places. Most notably, the logic puzzles were too hard – as the clocked times on Cluekeeper.com show – which ended the hunt on a sour note. We got guillotined at 9 hours and didn’t quite finish. It’s sad to see that we weren’t alone – I think something like 7 out of 9 Montreal teams also ran out of time, as an example.
    – While it was clever that DASH 10 was tied into 10 main puzzles, clearly that reduced the organisers’ ability to cut down the hunt to size, even when play-testing indicated it was in danger of overrunning.

    It sounds like the whizz kids had fun as usual, but I fear that teams in the lower rankings found this year less satisfying or, at least, something of a rush.

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