((No, this site is not really back yet, and there isn’t any April Fool’s Day whimsy this year. Despite the attribution line above, this piece was very kindly written by Iain who ran DASH 7 in London and has written one of the DASH 8 puzzles.))
The eighth DASH puzzle hunt will happen in London from 10am on Saturday 30th April. DASH stands for “Different Areas, Same Hunt”; part of the attraction is that the same event will also be run in 16 cities across the United States on the same day, so competition is global. Registration is open, but is limited to 25 slots. While booking in the US has closed, it is nominally available in the UK until April 16th – though, in practice, with only 11 of the 25 slots remaining, you probably only really have a few days left.
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 (or take the tube) 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. Thanks to the pound buying fewer dollars (thanks, Brexit referendum) the cost in London has gone up to £29.99 per team, plus a 7% booking fee.
Each team is required to bring a smartphone running iOS or a recent version of Android; much of the administration will be performed by an app called ClueKeeper. Bring your own pencils, scissors, tape, clipboards, lemonade, magic wands, and so on. (Tape and scissors are 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. The DASH style is to have an overarching story running through the event, and we know this year’s has something to do with spies, espionage, and secret agents. Take a look at past years’ puzzles from DASHes 7, 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 the more difficult Expert Puzzles at the very start of the hunt, though clear guidance is given as to which level of difficulty will suit you best;
- 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.
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 April date doesn’t work for you, this might be your chance.)
If you’re looking to find teammates, you might enjoy turning up at Puzzled Pint on Tuesday 12th and looking for teammates in person. (Assuming there are spaces still left by then, which is a considerable assumption.) If you have teammates, then consider this thread a roll call. Looking forward to seeing lots of you there!