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Frequently Asked Questions

Okay, what is this deal?  Every year I organize a Treasure hunt for my closest friends.  Players assemble into teams and solve a series of clues (usually 5-8), each of which is a puzzle or a riddle of some sort.  The solution of each clue will tell you the location of the next.  The first team to solve all the clues and get to the end  wins, and all the other teams must buy them beer (or the alternative beverage of their choice) at the shin-dig afterwards.

How many people on a team?  Three or four.  You can form your team ahead of time and register it here, or just show up at the Hunt a little early to form one on the fly.  I prefer the former (as it helps me get an accurate count of the participants), but, really, doing the latter is 107% a-okay.

Can I invite a friend to be on my team?  Yes, please -- I don't have to "okay" them or anything.  But please limit your guests to one or two -- I'm afraid that if we get too many people (a) I might not have enough clues for all the teams, and (b) the small, "friendly competition" spirit of the event might get lost.

How likely am I to win?  Win?  Who cares? Your goal should be to have a good time, finish the hunt, and drink beer afterwards.  Part of the "having fun" aspect  means that you have to act like you care about winning, but if you really care about winning then you're sort of missing the point.

Okay, but  even finishing the hunt sounds tough.  Are these puzzles hard?  Nah.  They are designed to be solvable by your average Joe-on-the-street, and focus more on teamwork instead of puzzle-aptitude.  For reassurance, read the recap from last year's hunt., or take a gander at this puzzle in particular.  As you can tell, I'm a lot more interested in making the clues fun than I am in making them hard.

How long do these usually take?  60 - 90 minutes.

And what happens afterwards?  We gather at a local pub to buy beer for the victors, swap stories, play games and generally make a nuisance of ourselves.

What can I bring to the hunt?  Pens, pencils, paper, a clipboard (or other hard writing surface), maybe a backpack or carryall and nothing else.  No laptops, no cell phones, no palm pilots, no pocket dictionaries -- nothing that would give you an "edge" over another team.  Trust me -- the clues are such that you won't need anything but teamwork and a little creativity.

What if it rains?  Then we will get wet.  As those zany boy scouts are prone to saying:  "Be prepared."

How many of these have there been?  The first one was held in 1995.  I was a senior at The Evergreen State College when I read an article on the annual MIT Treasure Hunt and decided that I wanted to throw one of my own.  The first hunt was attended by about 30 people, and the clues were spread all around downtown Olympia, WA.  Teams were allowed to drive from location to location.  I decided to make future hunts foot-based because the vehicles of two of the teams collided during the hunt.  They were both trying to drive into the sole Public Library driveway from opposite directions, and neither one wanted to let the other one go first, so they ran into each other at a speed of about 1/16 of a mile an hour.  Also, another team didn't realize they were allowed drive and therefore ran all over the town which didn't seem quite fair (although they did manage to come in second!).

The second hunt was held in 1997 in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia.  The third, fourth, fifth and sixth were held after my return:  in 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001.

So .. wait.  You said this was on foot?  Yes.  Oh yes.  Dress casually and wear comfortable shoes.  The level of athleticism involved is mostly dependent on your team -- some haul ass from one clue to the next, others are content to mosey -- but you will be on the move so dress accordingly.

I've somehow never managed to see or read The Wizard of Oz.  Will I be at a disadvantage?  Not having seen the movie (or read the book) won't matter a whit as far as finishing the Hunt goes.  But if you've never seen the movie, you may want to make the effort before the hunt takes place -- it will help make sense of what will otherwise be an bewildering activity.