6/8/2014 - THE 2014 POST HUNT REVIEW!
It's been one week since the 2014 Post Hunt. I've been busy pondering this Hunt quite a bit. On one hand, it was very fun, and I believe that most people enjoyed it. On the other hand, there were some rather significant issues which directly impacted the ability for some people to execute the Hunt properly and have a chance at winning. While I've been working on photos and my Hunt wrapup, I've also been doing some 'scientific' research into things to better understand the challenges that some of you had. So let's get this review started...
The 2014 Post Hunt had something few Hunts have had: Perfect weather. With a temperature hovering around 76 degrees and almost no clouds in the sky, there was little to interrupt Hunt fanatics on their quest for glory: to step onto the Hunt stage as a winner.
But before that could happen, you had to dig into the crazy minds of Tom, Gene and Dave and see want insane obstacles they were going to put in your way. Was this year going to be a repeat with Sean Memon winning again in a solo effort? Would this Hunt need extra clues at the end to help people along? Would the Secret Service pay a surprise visit to Hunt HQ and tell them that they needed to hold it elsewhere because it disturbed the President? Would this year's crowd, one of the largest ever, spilling out of Freedom Plaza, figure things out quickly? Let's see...
Few appreciate how much hard work goes into the creating and planning of a Hunt. It's not just the puzzles that the three guys create, it's also finding sponsors to help fund the Hunt, volunteers to help setup, maintain and sometimes be part of puzzles, getting permits from various agencies and more. It's really challenging, time consuming work and hope that all goes right.
Let's take a moment to thank the fine folks at the Washington Post who put their time and hard work into this extremely fun day, as well as all of the EXCELLENT Hunt volunteers. Special thanks to...(in no particular order)
ALL THE HUNT VOLUNTEERS (they know who they are!)
AS WELL AS THE HUNT SPONSORS THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS
Yeah, we're starting to see a dynasty here.
In my continuing tradition, I offer the following review/thoughts on this year's Hunt:
The Post Hunt has found it's home. It's Freedom Plaza. Picturesque, lots of available puzzle locations in the area without requiring anyone to walk miles and miles. You got yourself a keeper, folks.
Overall Hunt difficulty:
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being hardest (2011's Herald Hunt), and 1 being easiest (2004's Herald Hunt), this Hunt seemed to present less of a challenge and ranks an 2 out of 10. The main puzzles were fairly easy (lots of folks got 'em). The end game was tricky but not overly so. After all, the first place team had solved it around 2:15...45 minutes before the final clue! Based on what I heard, lots of folks figured out the endgame, but not in time to place. In my opinion, this is the type of Hunt that inspires people more than ever to come back for the next one...and the next one...
There were problems. In my opinion, some significant problems, which impacted people's ability to win. It's not unexpected that there may be a hiccup or two through the course of any Hunt, but this year's added up to the point that they took out veteran teams and others alike. I'll go into them after my puzzle-by-puzzle analysis.
The puzzle-by-puzzle analysis:
YMCA Puzzle: The most 'fun' puzzle of the Hunt and tied for easiest. How could one not enjoy the silly antics of the guys on stage and even join along with them? I almost could have watched the guys for the entire Hunt and been entertained.
The Remote Control: Probably the second tougest of the Hunt, but even then not overly challenging. I feel for the volunteers who had to stay at this location not just because of hearing the same loop of TV shows for three hours, but also because of the handouts problem.
Follow Me: Probably the toughest puzzle of the Hunt's main puzzles. When you figured out what you had to do, the follow-up items that you had to solve were done in short order.
Jigsaw: The most frustrating puzzle of the Hunt (see below), but tied for easiest. Once you were able to see all the pieces, the answer readily called out to you.
States: Second easiest of the Hunt, nice shady spot. The volunteers had the easiest time at this location.
Endgame: This one was definitely one of the easiest to date. My team was able to determine where to be for this...on Saturday. We had noticed the elements that were involved in reviewing the Hunt magazine the day before the Hunt, so while the initial clues pointed us to someplace else, it was near where we needed to be and we adjusted fairly quickly. As noted, the first place team solved this 45 minutes ahead of the final clue. A lots of others did, too. Congrats, D.C., you got your 'gimme' Hunt. Don't expect it to be so easy next year.
Now for my for my critique of the problems. All five main puzzles had problems of some sort, as did the endgame. The endgame problem was the most significant and prevented people from winning. Let's go puzzle by puzzle and examine what the problems were:
YMCA Puzzle: A couple problems here: First, where were the handouts at the beginning of the Hunt? Even for their last performance I had problems finding the Hunt volunteers with the handouts. I'm not sure if it was the crowd size this year, but maybe some signs that they could have held up would have helped. The second problem is that the puzzle location did not match up to the coordinates from the opening glue. The Hunt stage was at L12, but the initial clue put the puzzle location in the other park at I12. THERE WAS NO PUZZLE AT I12. My team did not have this problem, but at least one other veteran Hunt team I know had this throw them off quite a bit. I suspect it was a typo in the opening questions, but it should have been rectified before the opening clue was given to the crowd. (Yes, I'm aware there was a tweet to the effect there was no puzzle at I12, but that was after the Hunt started...)
The Remote Control: They ran out of handouts. Within 30 minutes of the Hunt starting. Not good. Side story about Hunt dedication: Hunt staff went to a nearby office supply store and printed up 2,000 more copies, with Hunt volunteers taking 200 at a time back to the puzzle location.
Follow Me: People retweeted this puzzle. Which kind of defeats the purpose of having people go to the puzzle location. TWEET RESPONSIBLY, FOLKS! This is a contest, remember? You're competing against others who want to beat you...
Jigsaw: Way, way, way too small a location for the puzzle pieces. The crowd wasn't moving, volunteers were trying to use a small black string the size of a shoelace to make a perimeter ("24" fans, DRINK!) so that Hunters would have a chance to see this puzzle. I have a feeling they meant to put the pieces inside the fence by McPherson's statue. That would have worked a lot better. The way the puzzle was oriented when I was there prevented people from viewing the puzzle and even walking around it. Easy puzzle made very frustrating.
States: Was it really necessary to put out the 'EZ' sign? I think this puzzle could have been more challenging, but not impossible, without it.
And now, my biggest gripe...
"With great technology comes great responsibility"
Endgame: DO NOT USE TEXT MESSAGING FOR THE END GAME! I can not emphasize this enough. Not even if it's just to get an automated reply, like what was used in previous Post Hunts. This doomed lots of teams. I have seen evidence from teams that they sent their photos well before 3:20pm, which is when Gene announced the third place team sent theirs. There are too many problems with text messaging. There's differences between cell phones, cell providers/networks, image sizes being sent, etc. I've encountered numerous times outside the Hunt where text messages are sent from my phone but don't show up until 20+ minutes later. How's that fair to all teams who are trying to win?
SUGGESTION FOR FUTURE HUNTS: You required Twitter? You should have had the winning team send a tweet instead. The technology overhead is much smaller and fairer to all teams since Twitter was a requirement this year. It would have made much more sense to have them tweet another, special Twitter account that was used only in the endgame.
Again, credit to all of the winning teams...you did a great job solving everything. I just think that the result would have been different had Twitter been used intead of text messaging.
Small side note: This year, there was no statement made in the Hunt magazine nor from Dave, Tom or Gene at any point that rushing the stage to win wasn't required. They have clearly stated this for years...so my team was prepared to rush the stage if needed. We didn't have to. We lost in our own style.
My recommendations for the next Hunt are:
Other than working on the challenges noted above, none, really. There were Hunt t-shirts, food trucks, free water, great sponsors, a HUGE crowd and beautiful weather. You really can't make it much better than that.
WRAPPING THE REVIEW UP
This year's Post Hunt seemed to be the largest and most successful Hunt (in terms of crowd in the endgame) ever. Having people be able to solve the main puzzles is crucial to keeping their interest (those "I only got one or two puzzles this year" excuses were almost nullified). The end game puzzle had more people participating it in, and I think it was more competitive than it's ever been. All this despite the NSA tapping everyone's cell phones and likely being able to win it all at any point they wanted...
So go review my 2014 Post Hunt wrapup, and let me know what you thought of this year's Hunt.
6/1/2014 - TIME FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF HUNTING!
Good morning, everyone!
What a spectactular day we have ahead of us! A sunny day, high of 76, no chance of rain...oh, and also this silly Post Hunt thing going on.
Right now, you should be in your pre-Hunt ritual, waking up, showering, eating breakfast, etc. and then making your way down to Freedom Plaza like a crazyed pack of non-dead zombies. "Braaaains....we need braaaaains...."*
* Eating brains will not increase your odds of winning. It appears to be illegal, too.
So get your Hunt magazine before you head down there, get on Twitter (following @posthunt, as well as me, you know, just for fun) and be ready to try to redefine insanity at noon. (I've been trying for 30 years...)
Have fun today, folks!
5/31/2014 - YOUR 2014 POST HUNT MEGA UPDATE!
Good morning, everyone!
It's hard to believe that I've been doing this for 30 years. Yes, XXX. You'd think with all of that experience I'd have own by now. That's just how devious the Hunt is. It humbles the smartest of us, the most athletic of us and rewards the craziest of us, all the whole making you enjoy it. That's why you all enjoy it. Even if you only solved one puzzle one year, you could solve the entire Hunt the next year. So you keep trying, and trying, and trying. There's nothing else like it.
Everything is lining up nicely for a spectacular Post Hunt. The weather is fantastic and all the pieces are ready to be put in motion to drive us crazy. Let's prepare for tomorrow together with my annual Mega Update, useful to veterans and newbies alike!
1. GET PREPARED!
GETTING THE HUNT EDITION OF THE SUNDAY MAGAZINE NOW
The Hunt intro is up, which also means that the magazine is available online RIGHT NOW. Go get it. Start reviewing it. But, of course, you'll want a hard copy, so...
BUY YOUR "BULLDOG" EDITION NOW!
Get your "Bulldog" edition (first edition) of Sunday's paper right now! Your financial support of the Post helps keep the Hunt alive!
REMEMBER: THERE WILL BE LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE AT THE HUNT!
Do NOT count on getting to the Hunt and being able to snag a free copy of the Hunt magazine. If you do, you MAY be one of the lucky ones, but you're more likely to be one of the UNLUCKY ones. Don't risk it. Just get your copy now. You can't win without it!
YOUR POST HUNT WEATHER UPDATE!
Sunny and beautiful! BRING YOUR SUNBLOCK!
Your updated (un)Official Post Hunt Weather Hour-by-Hour Forecast for Sunday, June 1st, 2014 is:
12:00pm - 71 degrees - 0% chance of rain
1:00pm - 73 degrees - 0% chance of rain
2:00pm - 74 degrees - 0% chance of rain
3:00pm - 75 degrees - 0% chance of rain
4:00pm - 76 degrees - 0% chance of rain
READ UP ON PRIOR HUNTS HERE AT THE ARCHIVES AND AT THE WAPO SITE, TOO!
There's LOTS of good information here at the Tropic/Herald/Post Hunt Archives, covering each and every Hunt that has ever been held for the last 30 years. See that list over there on the left? Click through the year links and see more details on what Dave, Tom and Gene put us through. NONE OF IT CAN BE USED TO SUE THEM FOR MENTAL ANGUISH.
You can also explore the Washington Post's Post Hunt page to get their overviews of how their Hunts worked in the past, too.
HAVE AT LEAST ONE SMARTPHONE AND GET ON TWITTER
They've announced it, folks. You NEED to have at least one team member who has a smartphone with access to Twitter. You should follow @posthunt. You should also follow me, @tropichunt. You'll get the complete pictures that way (Following me is not required to win). Make sure you have a Twitter account and understand how to use It before you get to the Hunt tomorrow.
WHAT TO BRING
Here's our recommendations on what you should bring:
- You and your Hunt team
- Cell phone (WITH TWITTER ACCESS!)!
- Some minor sense of reality (if you keep things too real you may realize your chances of winning)
- A clear voice to boo Dave, Tom and Gene with (watch a Yankees game for practice).
- Pen and pencils and erasers
- A backpack or some type of bag to carry your stuff around in.
- A hat (sun, folks, sun!)
- SUNSCREEN! (see previous line)
- Money (for getting to/parking/eating/whatever you need to buy during the Hunt...especially Post Hunt t-shirts!)
2. GETTING TO THE HUNT
The Hunt begins at noon at Freedom Plaza, on Pennsylvania Avenue NW near 14th Street NW in downtown Washington. While there IS parking available in the area, your best bet is likely taking the Metro. The Federal Triangle station is less than two blocks from Freedom Plaza and the Metro Center and McPherson Square stations are each nearby as well.
3. DURING THE HUNT
Try to solve all the main puzzles and win the Hunt! And don't forget to stick around to boo Dave, Tom and Gene as they explain how things worked after the Hunt ends (Remember that if a puzzle was especially tough or had problems, it's Tom's fault, so boo louder).
BE A BIRDIE AND TWEET, TWEET, TWEET!
Can't repeat this enough: the Post Hunt folks will be tweeting from @posthunt, so make sure you follow them! Follow me, too, to get other announcements and see how I'm doing. (I will not be giving answers or hints out as I solve puzzles, sorry!) Don't forget to use the #posthunt hashtag for your own tweets!
And please be careful with what you tweet, especially photos. Remember, your pic of a puzzle could save a team the trouble of having to go to a puzzle site...so consider your photos carefully!
BUY YOUR HUNT T-SHIRT!
Get your own piece of Hunt history and keep the Hunt alive at the same time. Wear your shirt proudly. Relish your Hunt nerdiness. Use it to cry into after you learn how 'easy' the puzzles actually were or to clean up your brain matter after it melts upon hearing how the end game worked. Bring $15 (regular t-shirt) or $20 (tank top) and score one easily.
THE ANNUAL HUNT MEET'N'GREET!
Want to find me at the Hunt? Please do! I will be wearing a brown 2007 Herald Hunt t-shirt (the shirt Dave and Tom are wearing). My red hair also makes me visible from two miles away (even at night)...so feel free and say 'hi' if you see me!
4. CHECK BACK HERE DURING THE WEEK NEXT WEEK
I'm flying home a few hours after the Hunt ends, and updates will be posted early next week, so keep checking back for photos, explanations and more! Including my annual review!
I WANT YOUR PHOTOS! I WANT YOUR VIDEOS! I WANT YOUR HUNT STORIES!
Got pictures? Got video? Got stories about your Hunt experience? PLEASE email me if you'd like to contribute them to the Archives! I'd be eternally grateful, as well as the other visitors to the site! Because of your help, the archives now has over 1600 items, including pictures, stories, audio AND video! Let's keep it growing!
On a related now, how else can you help the Archives? IF you are inclined, you can click the donation button on this page. Choose your own amount...it would be much appreciated!
(Doing so will not increase your chances of winning the Hunt, but may make you feel are warm and fuzzy inside like it does me!)
5. MISCELLANEOUS TIPS
ANNUAL FROM-TOWNER TIPS
Look, I get it. You D.C. Folks got it all figured out. You're shutting out the Miami teams (except for Seam Memon that ONE GUY who won last year!). Yeah yeah yeah, congrats and all. You STILL could use some tips, because only a FEW of you actually one, knowwhatimsayin'?
- It's going to be 58 degrees at 5 am So YOU NEED TO DRESS WARM! I recommend at least five layers and a goretex coat.
- In Miami, it can rain at a moment's notice...no warning given. 10% chance of rain? Ha! That means nothing to us, may as well tell us it'll rain all day! So make sure you wear your poncho all day, too. Don't want those layers getting wet and have you getting all sick.
- I have a special Hunt video which shows you exactly how everything works at the Hunt, from the initial puzzles to the end game. Go here to see it.
- Alcohol consumption is a no-no. If you're not at the Hunt, that is. So please stop by a nearby watering hole during the Hunt and get that mental lubricant in you. How else will you loosen up and be able to solve those weird puzzles? (Please drink responsibly!)
- The Post Hunt map has a mistake. It neglected to extend to the Capitol Visitors Center. Honest mistake. You can get a leg up on everyone if you get there before the Hunt and wait for the first puzzle to be unveiled at noon!
- Remember how Hunt history was made last year by Sean, that ONE GUY won the Hunt all by himself? Yeah, well, he's likely going to be back. Why bother showing up when you have to compete against him?
(As usual, my teammates are forbidden from following these tips.)
That's all for now...keep checking back for more updates. And I'll see you tomorrow at the Hunt!
5/30/2014 - II DAYS UNTIL THE HUNT! TWITTER! MORE!
Good evening, everyone!
HELLOOOOOOO D.C.! It's great to be back! There's nothing you can do to stop me from
losing winning this year!
With less than II days to the 2014 Post Hunt, information is coming out faster than we can keep up with! Tomorrow is the super mega update for this year's Hunt, but there's some stuff that you NEED to know RIGHT NOW. Let the dissemination begin!
At least one member of your team must have an internet connected smartphone AND have access to Twitter. If you're not on Twiiter, get on it NOW. Follow @posthunt. Follow me, @tropichunt, as well. And tweet throughout the Hunt, using the #posthunt hashtag.
I'll be posting more current Hunt updates (which are UNOFFICIAL, unless you're from the local DC area, in which case my tweets are to be treated as GOSPEL) from @tropichunt through the course of the weekend and next week, so please make sure to follow me. I promise not to steer you wrong, unless you're in my way of
There will be III food trucks this year along the south side of Freedom Plaza. Feelin' hungry? Grab a bite, and thank them for coming!
It will be possible to score a Hunt T-shirt this year! and you have a couple ways to go about it. First, there will be a survey option to get a free one, but supply will be limited. Your next option is that you can buy one. Regular tees are $15 and tanks will be $20. I recommend buying one early to make sure you get one. I got one of the last ones from the survey last year, which was the only way to get one.
ÜBER IMPORTANT: GET YOUR SUNDAY PAPER BEFORE YOU ARRIVE!
I've been asked to remind everyone to get your copy of the Post BEFORE you arrive at Freedom Plaza. They will have very limited copies available at the Plaza, and while they've warned the nearby CVS to have extra copies for sale, there's no guarantee they will. So just be safe and buy your copy before you arrive. You DO want to do the Hunt right?
That's all for now. Check back tomorrow for my mega update!