BANG! 3 took place on May 31, 2003. 20 teams participated; seventeen finished. It turned out to be much harder than we thought; we had playtested it, and it was a bit on the easy side, so we took out the two problematic clues (2 and 10) and replaced them with what turned out to be, much to our surprise, significantly harder clues. In particular, clue 10 was much, much harder than we had envisioned -- it was supposed to be a relatively straightforward and quick-ish nightcap to the evening, but instead engulfed teams for probably an average of about 45 minutes, proving to be the longest puzzle.

The first step to the evening was a rock-paper-scissors tournament (first to 3 wins in each match) to determine starting order. Since we had 20 teams, 12 of them (the first 12 to sign up) received first-round byes. The tournament was won by Shaq and Kobe in a tense battle with Scorched Lemon; David Alyea eked out a 3-2 victory over Shawn Kresal, representing their teams. Consequently, Shaq and Kobe were the first out of the starting gate at 7:45:00. Thirty seconds later, Scorched Lemon took to the air, followed thirty seconds later by the two semifinalists, Clueless and No B. The fourth wave comprised the quarterfinalists: Usual Suspects, Team Blood, CGNU, and Foxtrot Delta Bravo. The remaining teams were sent off in two more packets. (Thanks to Andy Penner for collecting these results.)

In the clue packets were a map of campus; teams were told to mark the locations where they got each clue, and indeed the starting location was pre-marked with a 1. Also there was the lookup table, which was used to negate home-field advantage: instead of having the true names of locations on Berkeley's campus, each location name was replaced by a string. Upon solving the puzzles, these strings could be converted to the actual locations via the lookup table.

Puzzle 1, Difficulty: 1 hint, 1 giveaway (5th easiest out of 10.) Clue designer: Mike Develin.

Puzzle 1, which came in the clue packets, was a Scrabble puzzle. Teams were given the rules of Scrabble, and a layout of a partially-played Scrabble game (on a board with no premium squares.) They were also given the scoresheet, which showed how much each player had gotten for each successive play. The puzzle consisted of figuring out what order the plays were made in, filling them into the scoresheet, and then realizing that the initial letters spelled something out (this was hinted at by the fact that the initial letter of each player's first play, which was provided, was capitalized.) In the case where the play consisted of multiple words, the letter was always the initial letter of the unique word which contained all of the played tiles.

The puzzle could be done by brute force, or could be shortened by noticing that certain numbers had to correspond to certain plays. When completed correctly, the initial letters (reading down the column of Player 1's plays, and then the column of player 2's plays) spelled NORTH ENTRANCE SERCA. Upon consulting the lookup table, the players converted SERCA to Hellman Tennis Center, where they jaunted to receive clue 2.

Puzzle 2, Difficulty: 4 hints, 0 giveaways (5th hardest.) Clue designer: Paul Lujan, with help from Mike Develin.

Upon reaching Hellman Tennis Center, players were given Puzzle 2, a list of seventeen instructions on how to best use the clue they had just gotten. Each of these instructions included a list of three things, such as "Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate the clue." The first letter of the middle element in the list, taken in order, spelled out BRIDGE SW OF CLOTHER. Again consulting the lookup table, teams mapped CLOTHER to Dwinelle Hall, and found the bridge southwest of it. Here, many teams were confused: there appeared to be nothing on the bridge. However, the clue was in fact at this bridge: to be precise, it was under it. Clambering under the bridge, teams found the third puzzle.

Puzzle 2 was not playtested; the original puzzle 2 had been scrapped. We didn't really know how hard it would be; it turned out to be a very good puzzle, but perhaps a bit harder than we had anticipated.

Puzzle 3, Difficulty: 6 hints, 0 giveaways (4th hardest.) Clue designer: Mike Develin.

Under the bridge, on the side of the arch written in sidewalk chalk, was a message in numbers:

2583 84733     2264 84733
8253 2 2679 63 2583 3687
3766 36835673 86335 23624
76884 63 66666884
The spacing may not be quite right, but that was the sequence of number-blocks. Also there was a copy of C.S. Lewis' Narnia, which this author must admit was his fault: when placing the clue there before the game, I noticed the Narnia books (which were not part of the clue), and decided to leave them there as a red herring. This was my first experience in game design, and I didn't realize the extent to which teams would interpret this as useful and conclude that it had to have something to do with the clue.

In fact, the Narnia books were superfluous. The answer lay in the alphanumeric code of translating numbers to letters via the letters on the cell phones teams were instructed to bring: 2=ABC, 3=DEF, and so forth. Some of the words were ambiguous, but most were clear, and the message could be deciphered without too much trouble once it was realized what to do. This was hinted at by the header, which reads CLUE THREE / BANG THREE when translated. (Each of the first two clues had had CLUE [#] / BANG 3 at their top.) The last word was MONMOUTH, in the lookup table and corresponding to Sather Tower. It was our intention that teams would see this suspicious string of 6's and translate it, figuring out the rest of the message on the way to Sather Tower. The message, when translated, read:

Upon proceeding to the bench, teams ideally found two people (plants of ours) casually talking while sitting on the bench under which the copies of Clue 4 were.

Puzzle 4, Difficulty: 0 hints, 0 giveaways (easiest.) Clue designer: Mike Develin.

Puzzle 4 was a set of eighteen strips of paper. When put together correctly in three sets of six, these strips of paper fit together to form three words. This puzzle had been playtested with only nine strips of paper, fitting in three sets of three, but the playtesters found this too easy so we made it harder. It was still one of the easier puzzles in the hunt, though.

These three words were EAST DOOR FLYX. FLYX, in the lookup table, corresponded to Evans Hall. Upon reaching the east door of Evans, teams saw a sign on the door: BANG ME. When banged, an associate of ours opened the door, and instructed the teams to take the elevator up to the tenth floor.

Puzzle 5, Difficulty: 2 hints, 0 giveaways (4th easiest.) Clue designer: Mike Develin.

When teams exited the elevator of Evans on the tenth floor, they saw the first of six signs, a piece of paper with a large arrow pointing right, the word "you" under the arrow, the usual "Clue 5" in the upper left and "BANG! 3" in the upper right, and the designer's initials and date of execution, "MLD, 5/29/03," in the lower right. Following the arrow, teams were led to another arrow with the word "are" under it, otherwise essentially identical. Following the arrows around, however, led the teams back to their original starting point, with the words spelling out "you are going around in circles."

The key here was noticing the slight differences in the signs. In particular, three of the signs had one of the numerals in them printed darker than the rest of the lettering. Taken in order, these numbers were "9," "3," and "5", telling teams to go to room 935, where they found another "BANG ME" sign. Upon banging, the door was opened by Paul Lujan, who gave the teams copies of clue number six and instructed them to take the north elevator back down to get out of Evans. Paul also recorded the team's splits at this point.

The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys were the first team to reach this point of the hunt, at 8:34, 49 minutes in. Since this was supposed to be the halfway point (and was reasonably so during playtesting), I started to worry that the hunt, which we had aimed for a winning time of about 2:15 on, was too easy. The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys were followed to the split point by the Usual Suspects, three minutes back at 8:37, Team Blood at 8:43, and Bad Hair Day at 8:54; none of these teams had taken hints, along with Fistic Mess (6th, at 9:13) the only teams not to have taken any hints on the first half of the hunts. These four teams were 15 minutes (of adjusted time) ahead of the pack at this point. Could the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys hold their lead? The second half of the hunt began with Puzzle 6.

Puzzle 6, Difficulty: 4 hints, 1 giveaway (3rd hardest.) Clue Designer: Paul Lujan.

Puzzle 6 was a single sheet of paper, with Three Letters heading the left column of seventeen definitions, and Four Letters heading the right column of seventeen definitions. When the definitions were solved correctly, the three-letter words on the left-hand side corresponded to the four-letter words on the right-hand side, where the correspondence consisted of inserting an extra letter somewhere in the word. Teams now had seventeen letters, but what to do with them? The answer lay in seventeen numbered squares in the middle of the paper, and dots next to each word.

When the dots for a pair of words were connected, the line segment went through one of the numbered squares. Filling the letter which was inserted into the position corresponding to the number in a seventeen-letter phrase yielded GRATE EAST OF RESTIN. Again using the lookup table, RESTIN was determined to be Pimentel Hall, and indeed east of Pimentel, there was a grate with the envelope containing the Clue 7's (and a plant watching it). Since this was an intake grate, the air actually held the envelope flush to the grate, a nice touch.

Puzzle 7, Difficulty: 0 hints, 0 giveaways (2nd easiest.) Clue Designer: Paul Lujan.

Puzzle 7 was the most clever of the hunt. It consisted of a piece of paper with a grid of letters on each side, and the letters on the back mirror-reversed. These reversed letters contained the string NOTAWORDSEARCH at the end of the first line, telling teams that this was, in fact, not a word search. (This did, however, screw up one team, which saw the WORDSEARCH part and not the NOTA part.) This wasn't really the second-easiest puzzle, I don't think; I'm surprised that no one took hints on it, leading me to believe that maybe my records are screwed up.

The actual solution to the puzzle was simple: hold the paper up to the light! When this was done, most of the superimposed letters produced gibberish, but some of them matched: reading the matching ones off in order line-by-line yielded GO TO GRASSY AREA BETWEEN FLYX AND MYRFIL LOOK SOUTH UPTO NINTH FLOOR FOR FALLING OBJECTS. Paul, in his 935 aerie, had a dual purpose: when teams looked up, he threw down a tennis ball, which when opened was revealed to contain a copy of Puzzle 8.

Puzzle 8, Difficulty: 1 hint, 0 giveaways (3rd easiest.) Clue Designer: Mike Develin.

Puzzle 8 was a pretty simple interlude. The first half of it consisted of a Pig Latin poem, which when decoded unscrambled to DISCOVER GOLD SATURN EASTBOUND LEXITOF NEAR PIUMUST. There were two place names in this enigmatic phrase: LEXITOF, which decoded to Hearst Avenue, and PIUMUST, which decoded to University House. The indicated location revealed the predicted Gold Saturn, which had "CLUE 9" taped to its rear license plate.

Puzzle 9, Difficulty: 8 hints, 4 giveaways (hardest.) Clue Designer: Mike Develin.

Puzzle 9 proved, unsurprisingly, to be the hardest puzzle, with only five of the remaining 17 teams solving it without taking a hint: Usual Suspects, Oberhasli, Team Blood, Fistic Mess, and Shaq and Kobe. With Clue 8 had come a picture of a license plate, with most of its numbers missing. This license plate, 4AXT674, belonged to the gold Saturn. Inserting these into the picture and following the arrows connecting these spaces, some of which had numeric modifiers attached to them, yielded 1, 6 X 9, 2. At this point, almost everyone got stuck: 16 times 92 is 1472, but this number seemed to have no relevance.

The hint given was "use what you've got on your map," and it allowed eight of the twelve stuck teams to solve the puzzle. At the beginning, teams had been told to mark the locations of the clues as they got them, ostensibly so that Game Control could check to make sure they'd been everywhere when they got back. However, this marking was critical to solving puzzle 9: connecting clue locations 1 and 6 on the map with a line and doing the same with 9 and 2 revealed an intersection point in the Eucalpytus Grove, which was the location of Clue 10.

Puzzle 10, Difficulty: 1 hint, 3 giveaways (2nd hardest.) Clue Designer: Mike Develin.

Puzzle 10 was way harder and, more to the point, more time-consuming than we thought. In the Eucalyptus Grove were 26 pieces of paper tacked to trees, each with one letter of the alphabet. Most pages simply consisted of that letter (with the obligatory CLUE 10 / BANG 3) at the top, but some of them had numbers below them and to the right (as subscripts): E had 68, G had 15, O had 24, R had 7, and T had 39. These numbers mystified many people, especially since the Eucalyptus Grove trees were (unrelatedly, though teams did not know this) tagged with numbers themselves, and some numbers corresponded to the numbers on the subscripts. Again, this was a red herring -- we thought the puzzle might be too easy otherwise.

But nothing could have been further from the truth. Teams spent a lot of time tracking down all of the letters, and once they had the information many were baffled. The answer consisted of substituting the letters into the positions given by the digits, yielding the phrase GOTOGERET. GERET in the lookup table was seen to correspond to the start location, sending the teams back to the beginning, where they were congratulated.

The first team to arrive was Team Blood, at around 9:48. However, after a couple of minutes, it was determined that in fact Team Blood had not gone to Clue Location 10, having crossed the lines and ended up at a location close enough to start that they were walking near the start location, when they were motioned over by a by-this-time very lonely Game Control, who thought they were going back to Start. Game Control compounded the error by not asking to see their map immediately, and so it took a couple of minutes to discover the error. Undeterred, Team Blood gamely trotted off to the Grove.

The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys, who had been the first to every clue location since 6, arrived back at the start location at 9:59:53, for a time of 2:14:53. However, they had taken a giveaway on the difficult Clue 9, giving them a 15-minute time penalty, so someone could beat them by arriving in the next 15 minutes. Indeed, Bad Hair Day arrived five minutes later, at 10:05:36, and they had only taken one hint: again, they were declared the provisional winner, but because of the five-minute time penalty for the hint, if another team with no hint arrived in the next five minutes, Bad Hair Day could be unseated, and Team Blood, the Usual Suspects, and Fistic Mess were all at this point still out on the course. With Team Blood known to have completed nine clues 17 minutes ago, and the Usual Suspects having been very close behind the Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys at the split point, the next five minutes were tingling with anticipation.

However, when the five minutes were up, no one had arrived, and Bad Hair Day was declared the winner -- congratulations to Victoria Reichenberg, Autumn Wiosh, Charlie Graham, and Justin Graham for completing our course in the svelte adjusted time of 2:25:36! The third team to arrive was Team Blood, but they did not arrive for another 35 minutes, having eventually taken a giveaway. They were shortly followed 25 seconds later by the Bulletproof Monks, and twelve minutes later Fistic Mess trooped in, also having eventually taken a giveaway on Clue 10. The Usual Suspects were the next to arrive just past 11, gaining the honor of being the first (and, it turned out, only) team to finish without taking a hint.

Complete results can be found here. We had a great time running BANG! 3, and congratulations again to everyone who participated -- it turned out to be a pretty hard hunt, and just finishing was definitely an accomplishment.

-- Team 13th Avenue