The sixth DASH puzzle hunt will happen in London from 10 a.m. on Saturday 26th April. DASH stands for “Different Areas, Same Hunt”; part of the attraction is that the same event will also be run in 12 cities across the United States on the same day, so competition is global. Registration is open, but will close soon to permit one big printing run. There are a limited number of slots left and no guarantee that registration won’t close before they’re all filled, so don’t delay.
Teams of 3-5 players solve 8-10 puzzles as quickly as possible over the course of, probably, 5-7 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 last year, £25 per team.
One new feature this year is that each team is required to bring a smartphone running either iOS 7 or recent Android; much of the administration will be performed by a new app called ClueKeeper. Bring your own pencils, scissors, tape, Enigma machines and so on, too.
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. I bet there’ll be a metapuzzle to tie everything together at the end; last year had a simple but flavoursome story that ran through the event very effectively, too. Take a look at past years’ puzzles from DASHes 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;
- Very funkily, it’s even possible to register for “DASH Junior” puzzles, intended to be solved by a team of (probably 10-16-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, 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.
Last year’s event was superb; I wrote about it at length at the time. One of my teammates also wrote an account, with gorgeous pictures, in two parts. More information at the London Twitter feed, or send questions to the London organisers. Fingers crossed that I get to see many of you there in less than four weeks!