This puzzle consists of two similarly themed, but independent subpuzzles. Both subpuzzles combine an often overlooked word game with a logic component. As hinted by the flavor text, the two word games are Boggle and Upwords.
In the first subpuzzle, Ashe and Hilda are playing Boggle. Each clue has two answers, both of which must be present in the Boggle grid. To help with the clue fill and to disambiguate in cases where Ashe's and Hilda's enumerations were the same, Ashe's answers are presented in alphabetical order and Hilda's answers always follow Ashe's alphabetically. The answers to the clues are below.
|Clue||Ashe Answer||Hilda Answer|
|Structure type of a famous Parisian monument||ARCH||TOWER|
|What you wear on your head||CAP||HAT|
|Jaguar, for example||CAR||CAT|
|An LA-based NFL player||CHARGER||RAM|
|Type of quark||CHARM||TOP|
|Part of a tennis competition||GAME||MATCH|
|Common food that comes from a pig||HAM||PORK|
|Quantity of alcohol||KEG||TOT|
|Prefix of "man" found in 80s video games||MEGA||PAC|
|Winged household pest/insect||MOTH||ROACH|
|An agreement made by blood||OATH||PACT|
|What Christoph Waltz might call one of Johannes's parents||OMA||OPA|
|Physical quantity that makes a word when prefixed with fire||POWER||WORK|
|Modern US Military fighter plane name||RAPTOR||TOMCAT|
The logic part of the puzzle is filling in the Boggle board. The key is looking at letter adjacencies. If you have most of the clues answers, you can figure out that letter 'O' must be adjacent to 8 other letters ('A', 'I', 'M', 'P', 'R', 'T', 'T', and 'W'). This means that the 'O' must go above the 'W'.
Next, the 'E' is not adjacent to 'O' but must be adjacent to 'W' (from POWER and TOWER) so it must go in the bottom row. Looking at its adjacencies ('G', 'K', 'M', 'R', and 'W'), you can figure out that the 'E' goes below the 'W'.
Next, you can use the word KEG and the adjacencies of 'K' and 'G' to fill in the rest of the bottom row. The word PORK and the 'E' adjacencies from before let you place one of the two 'R's and the 'M'.
You can use the word ARCH to fill in the rest of the right column with 'R', 'C', and 'H'. The remaining four letters ('I', 'P', and both 'T's) can be placed using the answers IRE, OATH, and PAC, among many choices. The final grid is filled out below.
In the second subpuzzle, Byleth and Hilda are playing Upwords. Each clue comes with the additional letters that are played to make the clue answer. Other words are often formed in addition to the clued word. The answers to all of the clues are below.
|Battle||WAR||1||Tool for fishing||ROD|
|Pouch||SAC||3||Type of milk||SKIM|
|Alternative to coffee||TEA||4||Equipment for snooker||CUE|
|It's worn around the neck||TIE||5||Bathroom feature||TUB|
|Opposite of in||OUT||6||Noah built one||ARK|
|Pirate's preferred spirit||RUM||7||A type of trial||MOCK|
|Sable relative||MINK||8||What a zoomer might call a millennial||OLD|
|Limerick, e.g.||POEM||10||Not smart||DIM|
|A place for which you might need a membership||GYM||11||Opposite of fiction||FACT|
|It might be found under a desk||GUM||12||Slinky, e.g.||TOY|
|Sharp||KEEN||13||It is often yellow||BUS|
|Trails||LAGS||14||Hindu title of respect||SRI|
|What you might see on a street sign||STOP||15||Ruckus||FUSS|
|Gesture of the head||NOD||16||Destinies||FATES|
|Zoomed||SPED||18||Having multiple colors||PIED|
The solution to the Skyscraper puzzle lines up with the final state of the Upwords game. The black cells line up with where there are no letters played and the remaining cells match the heights of the letter stacks, except in five cells in the fourth column. This is where Waluigi spots a final move for Hilda. The only legal play that uses all five cells and is the name of a weapon is to form HAMMER in the fourth column.
Early on in the puzzle writing process, I claimed this puzzle answer and planned to write a duck conundrum in which the same set of instructions could be ordered in two different ways and each ordering led to one of the two weapons. After many, many failed attempts at getting that idea to work out nicely, I scrapped it and decided to write something else.
We have seen many Scrabble puzzles in the past, but other letter tile/block games don't get as much play in puzzle hunts. I wanted to try to incorporate two well-known, but lesser used games (Boggle and Upwords) into a puzzle with logic-y components. I ended up keeping the idea of clueing the two words separately and reworking the "same instructions, but two options" concept from the original idea into the Boggle puzzle.
Both of these puzzles required a lot of tinkering and tweaking to get a unique and solveable grid fill. For the first playtest of the Boggle puzzle, I didn't provide any pre-filled letters. While I had verified using some code that the fill was unique given the clue answers, I didn't verify that it was actually solveable by hand (Sorry Ryan and Alison). Although my excellent teammates were able to reason their way through it, we decided that it was much too hard, especially in relation to the other puzzles in the hunt. Fortunately, the solution had some thematic letters that we could give as a starting point.
For the Upwords puzzle, I started with the idea that extraction was going to use the diagonals, just like the Boggle part. After I tried making a few grids, I realized this idea was terrible and went back to the figurative drawing board to come up with another extraction method. When I settled on the final extraction, I started with the Skyscraper part and a rough idea of where I wanted the words to be. When I got a Skyscraper puzzle that seemed reasonable, I had to check if I could force the word HAMMER to be the last word played. In the final puzzle, the word HEMMER is also a legal last move, but I hope the weapon flavor text does enough to rule that out as a possible answer.
After finding a way to (almost) force HAMMER as the last move, reverse-engineering the rest of the game wasn't too bad. Trying to keep all of the tile counts within the limits of Upwords was a bit challenging, but in the end, the grid fill worked out much better than I had expected.
When I was doing my research for this puzzle, I used what turned out to be an older version of the Upwords rules which has 100 letter tiles. During the hunt, a few teams' hint requests led me to discover that the newer version of Upwords has only 64 letter tiles and a notably different letter distribution. Hopefully this didn't cause problems for too many teams.