DASH 7 predictions

Crystal ballProfessor Trelawney has been divining again and this is what she has come up with regarding DASH 7 in London (and 15 cities across the US!) this Saturday:

  1. As the event gets closer, weather forecasts theoretically become more accurate. The BBC’s current prediction is for a dry day sandwiched between two showery ones, Metcheck’s latest prediction all but rules out rain with the morning being sunny and forecast.co.uk have revised their chance of rain down to 4%. In conclusion: double umbrellas.
  2. Apparently the ClueKeeper codes for the hunt have been released by e-mail, so make sure you have the latest version installed and practice with the tutorial and the demo hunt if you haven’t done so already. It’s not clear whether or not you’ll be able to see the live scores on the day as teams solve.
  3. Last year’s prediction that London will be overrepresented in the top third of the results table proved accurate, but just barely. Given that there are so many people with Puzzled Pint practice now, let’s make the same prediction again!
  4. The team from The Magpie crossword magazine have won both previous London events, so must surely be the favourites to do so again. Mark Goodliffe has won the Times Crossword Championship for seven years running, won the Times’ sudoku championship last year as well and has been in teams ripping up Puzzled Pint in London. On their day, if the puzzle styles suit, they’re a global threat as well.
  5. The event is being run by a team to whom much gratitude is due; one of them was among the most vocal critics of the standard of American-British cultural translation in last year’s hunt, so it stands to reason that this year particular attention will have been paid and we can all really look forward to the results.
  6. Given the theme, there’s one very logical location for the hunt to go, and the geographical information we’ve been given does point in that direction – but how close will the logistics permit the hunt to get?
  7. The tea-leaves point to a prediction that this event will be slightly shorter than that of last year, but again relatively construction-heavy. The overall time limit of eight hours will not be too onerous, though from experience it is possible to dawdle so much that despite solving the puzzles in under four hours it was a real struggle to fit puzzles, travel between locations, eating, drinking, taking selfies and wayyy too many overexcited loo breaks into the eight. Ahem.
  8. There will be a code sheet, it will contain two unusual codes (where the usual suspects are morse, semaphore, braille, binary, hexadecimal and the phonetic alphabet) with exactly one of the two proving relevant.
  9. At least one of the puzzles will have an answer that makes you think “Hmm, you could probably just guess that to be the answer from the flavourtext and the way the puzzle is written without actually going through the process of solving it” and that’s no bad thing at all. Taking guesses at puzzle answers in this way is to be considered an example of the Dark Arts, though not actually an Unforgiveable Curse.
  10. Don’t be a stranger and please do say “Hi”! My wife and I are the right-hand half of the picture in this post so you know what to look for, but I have a beard this year. It would be fun to catch up, either before the hunt, afterwards or both.
  11. Don’t forget to look out for this image along the way in the exclusive competition!

See you there!

Win DASH memorabilia!

DASH London telephone boxesThe DASH puzzle hunt is going to happen this Saturday. It’s going to happen in London, and it’s going to happen come rain or shine.

From the organising panel, we promise some cracking puzzles, and one or two diversions into bits of London you might not usually visit.

We also have a side contest, exclusive to Exit Games UK. It’s not scored, it’s strictly for fun. While on the playtest last month, our Media Magician took a picture.

Where is this?

A detailed sceneClick to expand

It’s to be found somewhere on the route between the start and the finish.

When you’ve found this distinctive artwork, note down where it is. The first four teams to report the location at the finish will win something entirely memorable.

To all teams, good luck. You’ll need it.

Looking forward to DASH in London on Saturday

DASH 7 logoDASH, standing for “Different Areas, Same Hunt”, is a live puzzle hunt where the same puzzles are played in different cities around the world. This time, there will be 15 locations in the US and one in London. DASH happens but once a year, so this blog gets very excited and goes into all-DASH-all-the-time mode when the event is in vogue; today is Tuesday, Saturday is DASH day this week.

If you’re going to be playing, this site recommends this DASH 5 preparation tips document by the Clavis Cryptica blog, where the advice is as good today as it was two years ago. Unless you know different, the state-of-the-art app is the free download Puzzle Sidekick for iOS – or, maybe, Puzzle Pal for Android.

If you want to get practice, the best starting-point would be Order of the Octothorpe, a completely accessible introduction to puzzle hunt conventions. After that, you might well want to look at previous year’s DASH puzzles – or, perhaps, the Training Day hunt recently posted by gemini6ice.

Look out for the weather forecasts; we’re now within medium-range weather forecast territory. The BBC’s current prediction is for a dry day except for possible showers around 4pm, Metcheck predict cloud in the afternoon and never higher than 30% chance of precipitation and forecast.co.uk go as high as a 39% chance of rain. So you might get wet; I’d be upset if it rained all day, but last year’s forecast was very similar to this and there turned out to be barely a few spots very briefly. (Just enough to make you worry about preparing for rain, though.)

The world is playing DASH on 30th May – no “wait another three weeks for the last city to finish” – so hopefully there will be discussion of the event shortly afterwards. (Not immediately, as London is eight time zones ahead of California and thus it may still be possible to spoil for a few hours – but perhaps one day would be a reasonable amount of time in which to catch your thoughts.) The lack of flexibility in this regard is perhaps not the most convenient for London, as the FA Cup final takes place that day, World Triathlon London weekend will be bunging up Hyde Park as well and there’s a big rehearsal for Trooping the Colour on Horse Guards’ Parade. Perhaps the best tip might be to allow more time than usual for travel – and more time than you think, taking this advice in mind. Worst case scenario, you’ll get there early and can meet up with your fellow puzzlers!

I’d like to say that I’ll announce my arrival on the day with a rebel yell and then go around giving high-fives like the introductions at the start of a basketball match, but the truth will very probably be far better behaved and very sedate. Who’ll be there this year?

‘What a lucky feller you are!’

Detail of lamppost on Holborn viaduct
DASH in London has sold out.

The worldwide puzzle hunt has no more spaces left in this city. You cannot buy a ticket for love nor money.

We do have a waiting list, just in case any team has to drop out before the end of the month.

It’s just possible that some teams might find themselves a player short. I would love to point teams at a pool of potential replacements. So if you want to play, don’t have a team, and want to make new friends while solving puzzles on Saturday 30 May, leave a comment here. You never know what might happen. We’ll do some sort of puzzle dating if teams want it.

The only certain way to be part of DASH is from the other side. We welcome additional game controllers: the vital people who give out the puzzles, nudge teams to keep them on track, and keep the day flowing. Drop us an email: dashinlondon@gmail.com and we’ll love you forever.

And keep reading for a bonus challenge, exclusive to Exit Games UK.

Looking forward to DASH 7 in London – and DASH 7 roll call!

DASH 7 logo
The seventh DASH puzzle hunt will happen in London from 10 a.m. on Saturday 30th May. DASH stands for “Different Areas, Same Hunt”; part of the attraction is that the same event will also be run in 14 cities across the United States on the same day, so competition is global. (Sadly Toronto won’t be happening this year… but surely is a shoo-in for next time.) Registration is open, but is limited to 25 slots – and ten of them have gone in the first 36 hours already. Last year, this site predicted all 25 slots would go; in truth, 21 went. This year, with the likes of Puzzled Pint spreading the word much more widely, this site reckons they’re all going to go within the next two weeks.

In DASH, teams of 3-5 players solve 8-10 puzzles as quickly as possible over the course of, probably, 5-8 hours. You walk from puzzle location to location, enjoying the journey and hopefully the weather. The travel is not timed, so you can take whatever comfort breaks, meals and other pauses you like between puzzles. The cost in London is, as for the last two years, £25 per team – but this year the booking system imposes an 8½% booking fee surcharge.

As last year is that each team is required to bring a smartphone running either iOS 7 or a recent version of Android; much of the administration will be performed by an app called ClueKeeper. Bring your own pencils, scissors, tape, Enigma machines and so on, too. (Tape is listed as essential this year.)

DASH has historically tended to concentrate on word and picture puzzles, rather than logic puzzles, with a focus on pattern recognition and some codebreaking here and there along the way. There’ll be a riot if there isn’t a metapuzzle to tie everything together at the end and the DASH style is to have an overarching story running through the event. Take a look at past years’ puzzles from DASHes 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 to get a feel for the form and difficulty level.

DASH tries very hard to be accessible and family-friendly:

  • It’s possible to register for Easier Puzzles at the very start of the hunt, though clear guidance is given as to which level of difficulty will suit you best;
  • This year, it’s possible (in practice, as well as in theory, in London) to register for “DASH Junior” puzzles, intended to be solved by a team of (probably 10-17-year-old) kids accompanied around the course by a non-solving chaperone;
  • It’s made clear that it’s always possible to take hints on each puzzle if they’re required (indeed, the software keeps rolling hints along on a timed schedule even if you don’t ask for them) and there’s never a worse punishment than a missed scoring opportunity for not solving a puzzle;
  • The puzzles are often designed so that everybody in the team should be able to contribute to each puzzle, because feeling “we solved this together between us” is fun;
  • In practice, there really is an ethos of offering as many hints as are required in order to get people through as many puzzles as possible and making sure people are having fun at all times.

Both of the two previous London events were outstanding; I wrote about DASH 5 at length at the time. One of my teammates, Iain, also wrote an account of that event, with gorgeous pictures, in two parts; he also produced a fantastic 80-minute podcast (from 1:54 onwards) about the DASH 6 event. Iain has always been very measured in his praise and thoughtful about the event’s marginal shortcomings, so it’s to the event’s strength that he will be leading the event this year.

More information will be posted at the London Twitter feed, or send questions to the London organisers. (If you’re less interested in playing and more interested in helping out, or if all the teams’ places have been filled, you can also volunteer to help, and maybe even playtest the puzzles if you’re really quick – so if the 30th May date doesn’t work for you, this might be your chance.) The DASH 7 logo hints at a possible theme, if you recognise the logotype, and if this supposition proves correct then the opportunity to play this hunt in London might be especially thematic.

If you’re looking to find teammates, there’s a post on Facebook to which you are invited to reply – or, perhaps, you might enjoy turning up at Puzzled Pint on Tuesday 14th and looking for teammates in person. If you have teammates, then consider this thread a roll call. Looking forward to seeing lots of you there!

Looking forward to DASH and more from north to south

DASH logoWhat are you doing on May 30th? If you don’t have FA Cup final tickets and you’re not competing in the London Triathlon, and if you’re not getting married, then you may well want to participate in the seventh iteration of the DASH puzzle hunt, set to take place in London, Montreal and over a dozen cities in the US. The official account has tweeted that “We’ll be opening up registration at the end of March” so time to finalise your team in preparation – or to work out if you want to help run the event instead.

Next scheduled opening is The Room of Glasgow, set to open on Friday and still offering attractive-looking discounts on the regular prices for another week. This site enjoyed reading this preview from playtesters and also a report from STV Glasgow. Very interesting to see mention of a future design intended to be played by couples, as well as the known-about Mansion Room, set to be playable by parties as large as 16. Thinking big and thinking small? There may well be a lot to look forward to from this site yet!

Salisbury Escape officially opened yesterday; the site has already earned glowing early reviews, presumably from playtesters, not that there’s anything unusual in that, and a revealing article courtesy of Spire FM. This site looks forward to more and more reviews for their first game, Magna Carta Challenge, coming in as well as seeing more times on their leaderboard. This site doesn’t often promote things without puzzles, but it looks extremely tempting to double up a trip to Salisbury for an escape with a visit to hugely exciting-looking Friday night pinball club Special When Lit which may well live up to its name.