11/7/2019 - THE 2019 HERALD HUNT REVIEW!
What an AMAZING Herald Hunt we had this past weekend! The 31st Hunt overall...WOW! It had a little bit of everything: sun/rain, walkable but you needed to run as well, fairly easy main puzzles...wish a couple smaller tricks/red herrings...but overall, it worked really well for almost everyone, and there were many smiles all around. And diminished boos...which I'm not sure if a good thing. Like last year,
I lost the Hunt was held in a small, contained area, specifically Bayfront Park. This format has its pros and cons, which I'll go into in a bit, but I think it is a good way to hold the Hunt overall, with some slight adjustments.
All of you...you all are just spectacular. Your enthusiasm for the Hunt continues to run strong and you continue introducing new generations to the Hunt...did you know that this year's winning team had their kid run and turn in the paper before everyone else?
I sincerely love each one of you, by the way. So many of you came up to me saying 'hi', that you knew it was my year, despite Clue 37 in the clue list...
Yeah, Dave. I know that's you. And I bet you'll be updating clue 37 next year and add the word 'STILL' to it. Or make a puzzle with a 0-31 reference in it. Go ahead. Bring it on. I'm getting closer, and I will win the Hunt
in my head next time! Mark my words! (I bet he'll cleverly renumber it to be clue 31...)
My team did an incredible job this year; included in our team were many Hunt veterans, including Ron, one of the first place winners from the 1994 Tropic Hunt (the famous "Void where prohibited" at the Barnacle year!). We even had a remote team, and there were contributions all around. It was a great effort, and we reached the last thing we needed to do a mere five minutes after the final clue had been announced. And we still weren't fast enough...if I had to guess we were 20th, maybe.
With that said, CONGRATS to the ALL SOUTH FLORIDA-BASED team winners!
YOUR 2019 HERALD HUNT WINNERS!
1st place: 35 YEARS OF TRYING
2nd place: It's Pronounced "NGUYEN"
3rd place: The Held Family
Once again, special thanks to:
OTIS and BARBARA!
And, last but in NO WAY least, a great BIG thank you, to the hunt volunteers!
GIVE THANKS TO OUR HERALD HUNT SPONSORS!
The Hunt will NOT go on without amazing sponsors, so PLEASE make sure to thank them by giving them your business...and letting them know that their support of this great event is incredibly appreciated! They're as loyal to the Hunt as we all are!
MIAMI HERALD NEWS STORIES ABOUT THE HUNT!
Here is the coverage from the Miami Herald about this year's Hunt!
- Their wrap up
- Explanations for how the Hunt worked are here.
THE HUNT PUZZLE BREAKDOWN/REVIEW
In my continuing tradition, I offer the following review/thoughts on the 2019 Herald Hunt:
- VENUE: I liked Bayfront Park more than Museum Park just because there were more "nooks and crannies" to it. For purposes of at least hiding/obscuring some of the puzzle elements, I think this worked well. Plus it had more immediate access to Bayside and street parking. No one had to run across city streets so it was very safe. It is a shame the amphitheater was not available; that could have made a great venue for a larger-scale puzzle.
- WEATHER: Well, this could have been better! It was warm, and the sun occasionally did beat down on us. Then the clouds and rain came in about halfway, and while the rain wasn't tropical in nature, it just brought more humidity. As if South Florida doesn't have enough of that already. But I digress...this proved the Hunt does go on rain or shine, and things worked out.
And I want to share with you that, somewhere among you all, there is a real hero. Poor "BRAD" had a job to do in his puzzle, which was to stay put in one position. For three hours. Even while it rained. Brad stayed put...he knew his job, and he was going to do it no matter what. And you know what? One of you beautiful people...yes, a Hunter!...gave him an umbrella to stay dry. THANK YOU, KIND HUNTER! You are a real Hunt hero in my book!
- DIFFICULTY: Way, way, WAY easier than almost all other Hunts...possibly ALL other Hunts. Difficulty level between 1-2 out of 10. Almost everyone solved the five main puzzles (I think I only ever heard from one team who only got four of the five). People who never solved a Hunt before made it to the end. Way to go everyone...just keep in mind they aren't always this easy.
And easy is not apparently what people want. They want more of a challenge from the Hunt. I took a poll after the Hunt, and with 84 of you responding:
Based on this, 44% of the respondents didn't care to even feel the need to solve ONE puzzle! Almost a third said that they would like to at least be able to get into the endgame, but didn't need to actually win.
I did feel that this year was too easy overall, and the poll results were surprising to me. I thought many like the fact they could get to the end...but it really seems you all want more of a challenge. So next time, Dave and Tom, please make it more challenging. The folks will rise to the challenge, and even if they can't get that far...they still love the Hunt!
Also, we had no "offset" puzzles this year, meaning a puzzle where you'd be redirected to another location to finish getting the answer (the endgame doesn't count here). Offset-type puzzles are a Hunt mainstay and there's usually at least one at every Hunt, but not this year. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
- MY PUZZLE-BY-PUZZLE ANALYSIS:
THE FLOATING BILLBOARD PUZZLE: This puzzle was somewhat similar to the 1986 Boat Semaphores puzzle in that there was something out on the water that you needed to see.
This was a fairly easy puzzle that had a couple of smaller puzzle mechanics issues. First, you didn't need to go all the way to the puzzle coordinates on the map to see it, so you could solve it without walking all the way there. Also (spoiler alert!) the sign at the puzzle location really didn't add anything to the puzzle itself. You could argue that "Look out!" meant "Look out below!" but...there was no space to put the word below. The sign didn't really add any confusion as result, and really meant just to "look out" at the floating billboard on the water. Overall, not complicated.
One small note, however, is that I had predicted the night before that that location was going to be a puzzle (because of the submarine on the map) and had even come up with 12 as the answer by adding some extra lines to the map image:
I think that's an entirely valid way they could have had this puzzle work as well. Or maybe have even done that for the endgame perhaps. But it didn't work that way.
THE ROTARY PUZZLE: Tied with most challenging puzzle of the Hunt overall, but still not too bad to solve. I think it could have helped to have the at least one or two additional volunteers standing in specific spot. This would have made the final answer less obvious to get. Nonetheless, it was an ingenious use of contemporary equipment that many of us didn't realize. I can honestly say I came away from the Hunt learning something new!
And thank you again, Mr./Mrs./Ms. Awesome Umbrella Person. I'm sure Brad can not thank you enough. You are truly awesome.
GAME OF THRONES PUZZLE: This particular puzzle was a classic Hunt puzzle in every way. Utilizing both your Hunt section (including a nice reference on the Hunt Map!) and the awesome actors (from New World School of the Arts!) on the main stage you pieced together the puzzle in classic Hunt fashion. Not very challenging. And, based on the clue that this one was attached to, our team had actually identified this puzzle's answer the night before, tying it back to the ad. So we just needed to see the puzzle that was connected to the ad to confirm our answer.
FRISBEE GAME: I want to like this puzzle. I really do. I LOVE Hunt handouts! This one had TWO...well, TEN technically. The paper, and then the nine Frisbees you needed to see (but not take!). That's AWESOME!
Kudos to the Hunt crowd for NOT taking the Frisbees as requested; I was worried when I saw the bins of them before the Hunt that there would not be enough for all Hunt attendees and that they'd rapidly disappear as the Hunt went on.
But the mechanics of this puzzle just didn't work out as I believe they were intended. Based on the instructions, it seemed like folks were supposed to actually play Frisbee with them until they had seen each of the different discs. But it didn't work out that way...no one did that, and I believe I know why. First, all of the Frisbees were sorted by word into each of nine different bins, instead of being already randomized in the bins. If you were lucky and got there just after the Hunt started, you could just look at each bin quickly and see what the words were. Then volunteers took the Frisbees and began to put them on the ground randomly...face up. Then they walked around, realizing that maybe face up was probably not a great idea and started to turn them over. What did people do then? They found the nine different Frisbees and then just lined them up on the ground and worked on solving the puzzle. Very little disc throwing except for a few people who just wanted to do a few fun tosses between each other. Not the way I think they wanted it to work, and not sure how they could have had it work any other way. I think it was destined to just happen this way.
The puzzle itself, not that challenging. And it was thinking of this puzzle that helped me get the endgame clue *instantly* later on.
MARCHING BAND: The other puzzle that was tied with the Rotary puzzle for difficulty. It was rather ingenious...but had a small accidental red herring in that the song was by Deep Purple, and there was an X on the map which was deep blue/black. We were about to walk there ourselves when a teammate stopped us when they realized how to connect the music to something to get the answer. Kudos on this one, but not too challenging.
THE FINAL PUZZLE: The endgame...this endgame...lots of thoughts on it. MANY people solved this. MANY. Many more than usual. My team finished the endgame in five (5!!) minutes total. Many didn't have to work hard to do it. Or even understand the final clue. So let's break it down.
First, before the endgame itself, the clues for this Hunt were a problem. If you solved the five main puzzles, which almost everyone did, it told you EXACTLY what you needed to have ready to win; have the paper with your name, cell phone # and password. Everyone on my team had one ready to go. We didn't know who we'd need to give it to, but we each had one.
So now you get to the final clue. I got it instantly (I was thinking of the Frisbees...and then doughnuts with their holes which look like 0s...so it was a very quick leap to what this referenced). So we knew where to go and started that way. The final clue itself was not the problem.
WHERE you had to go first was part of the problem. You didn't need to go very far to get there as the main object you needed to see had moved location and was much closer to the main stage than it should have been. We only had to go 100 feet from the stage to see it, and then turned and ran to the next location, which was a location that others had already noticed Hunt volunteers with handouts ready to go for 3pm. So if they camped there, they didn't ever have to hear the final clue nor go to the first location. The handout fitted in with the remaining clues rather obviously and off you went to the final location to hand in the paper.
Where you had the person you needed to hand the paper to...with two Hunt volunteers with Hunt shirts on. Again, anyone camped near these people could have just handed in the sheet of paper with their info and won. And never visited the other locations at all.
Another way people could have gotten here was just by following the mass of runners from one spot to the next. I had some people who noticed me running towards the first location("Look at Andy go! You got this!"). After stopping 100 feet into that and turning around to go the other way, they then said ("Wait, he's going the other way now!"). If people weren't noticing me, they were noticing others running in the same direction, and all they had to do was follow everyone else. They may not have won the Hunt this way, but it's a small possibility.
Let's also talk about the running around a bit. Many of you felt that there was too much running around needed in the endgame. I get that. Some of you are like me and have been doing this for 35 years. Folks of various physical capabilities, many of which are not suited towards moving quickly. For this Hunt, I was not in prime condition either. But I will not complain about the running that was needed, and for a good reason: this is what a TEAM is for. When I plan a team for the Hunt I like to make sure I have one or two who CAN run or have a higher degree of mobility. Being fast at the Hunt is a requirement...not just fast in thought but fast in feet as well. If you personally wouldn't offer up the best mobility for your team...make sure you have at least one teammate who does. Everyone on a team brings different skills, and this is one skill you should absolutely plan for.
Another problem that I'm aware of: how the winners were vetted. Well...they weren't. No one made sure they had legitimately done everything they needed to do (i.e. explained how they got there) in order to win the Hunt. Let me say this as I want to be 100% clear: NO ONE CHEATED IN THIS HUNT! I'm certain of that. The teams that won this year's Hunt solved everything and got to the end in the proper fashion before everyone else did. However, knowing that vetting didn't occur, and what could have occurred, I raise a concern that some teams could take advantage of this and win the Hunt without having legitimately solved everything/performed all the activities needed. We need to ensure that all winning teams are vetted in future Hunts!
So I have a couple suggestions for the endgame mechanics: Please don't clearly instruct everyone in the clues they get from the main puzzle answers in what they have to do. This made the endgame WAY too easy. We're used to real brain teasers, looking at first letters of words, or counting letters...classic Hunt-style endgame puzzles. They're never immediately easy, and they bring the real challenge to overall Hunt. With that said, Here's how I think the endgame could have been improved in that regard:
- I think the sign used in the Floating Billboard puzzle should have been used for the endgame. If the sign were angled away from the main stage (so folks couldn't see it on the way to it) and had its contents change, it could have been used to instruct people in the same fashion that the first clue did (basically, turn things upside down). That would have required people to go all the way up to this area to get the info they needed. It could have had the first part of the password as well.
- Without giving everything away here, the handout you received at the second location helped you finish something. That something, when you did what you needed to do, could have had the second half of the password on it as well. This would have made it much more difficult for someone in the right place to hand in their piece of paper. The team would have had to visited the first two locations to get the correct, full password.
Please remember...I LOVE THE HUNT! I bring up these observations and suggestions because I want the Hunt to be better! I want it to challenge us in strange but familiar ways, and I want the teams that do win to really use that higher-end brain power (powerful legs are okay as well!) that they have to get to the end. It's doable without making the Hunt overly easy.
* PLEASE BRING BACK TROPIC MAGAZINE! Make a special issue just for the Herald Hunt weekend. Relocate and reformat the Living section content there for the one issue, add a few extra pieces, put the Hunt content all around it...it would be AWESOME! Regular readers and Hunters alike would LOVE it!
* Please sell small posters of Otis Sweat's wonderful work with the Hunt maps! People keep asking me if the Herald will ever do this. Maybe a print on demand service, or allow Otis to sell them through his business...something! All the fun details he puts into the map make each a real treasure
* Keep the Downtown Development Authority as a sponsor! They've been great these past two years, and are more enthusiastic than ever about the Hunt!
* More handouts! I love handouts, especially when they get used again in the endgame. Just look at the button from the 1998 Tropic Hunt...that was ingenious! Be they paper or something small made of plastic...they are always neat Hunt souvenirs!
* Vet the winners after the Hunt. Verify that they did what they needed to do in order to win.
* In the "How the Hunt Works" section, you may want to indicate that when making a team, teams should consider having a variety of skills, including at least one member who have faster mobility than the average person.
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
This Hunt was a fun Hunt. The Hunt itself is an extremely special team-building event for us all. We don't normally work together with our family and friends in this way, and it has made our bonds stronger. And not just between the people on your team, but between fellow Hunters as well. Yes...that includes between me and you, my fellow crazy Hunter who believes in me...
Y'all are something special. Real special.
Keep expressing your passion for the Hunt! There have been five (5!) letters to the editor published about the Hunt from Tuesday through today...I think that's a record! It's that type of energy which keeps this event alive, and all of you have come through strong! While it's still too early to say if/when the next Hunt will be, I have great feelings about its prospects!
So please accept my most sincere THANK YOU to each of you! You encourage me during the Hunt, you (seem to)
enjoy tolerate my humor here as well as on our Facebook group.... Each year it feels like more and more of you come up to me and say hi, thank me for this site, cheer me on...but you know what's really cool? When one of you who has interacted with me before wins the Hunt! This year the couple from the 1st place team reminded me that we had met in the airport during a previous Post Hunt weekend. They knew me from this site, and they thanked me for everything I do. I do it for you all, to have moments just like that...getting you all to the winner's circle. Now if I can just get there...
A couple of housekeeping notes before I go:
- Yes, I will still be getting the details of the 2016 Post Hunt up. Please be patient with me on this, but they will be published!
- The Hunt details for this year's Herald Hunt will be put up this weekend. There's lots to do to get them up, but it's almost complete!
Phew, that was a long review! The longest I've ever written after a Hunt. Let me know what you think about my observations over in our Facebook group or on Twitter.
Now...who will team with me next year?
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR ANOTHER EXTRAORDINARY HUNT!
11/2/2019 - THE 2019 HERALD HUNT MEGA UPDATE!
Are you ready for the 31st Hunt?! Do you have yer pirate gang together, ready to do whatever it takes to find the treasure at the end of the Hunt? Fear not if you aren't ready yet...let's help you get there!
(This is only recommended for out-of-towners. Locals, do not do this!)
Okay, okay, you don't HAVE to be a pirate...but at least keep your mind geared in that direction because it may help you out!
The early/Bulldog edition of the Miami Herald is out now, so go get your copy and begin reviewing it! Lots of great stuff in there, including the official rules, a Hunt recap, the clues and more, as well as Otis Sweat's wonderful map! Which I'm fortunate to be on again!
So now that I've got my bandana, mop and sword ready...I should be good to go!
Okay, let's get on with the 2019 HERALD HUNT MEGA UPDATE!
1. PREPARE YOURSELVES!
REGISTER FOR FREE FOR THE HUNT!
Please register both you and your teammates here! It's face, easy and free, but not required. However, this helps the Herald gauge the ongoing participation and interest in the Herald Hunt, so let's help out and help them out!
GET THE HERALD HUNT SPECIAL SECTION NOW
The Bulldog edition of the Herald is available NOW, so get out there and get your copy before they're all purchased! You WILL want the extra time to go through the section as there's a lot of interesting things you'll want to go over...Do check your copy of the paper before you pay for it to make sure it's in there, and DO NOT JUST TAKE IT OUT OF THE PAPER WITHOUT BUYING IT! BUY the paper. It helps the Hunt. Stealing does not.
THERE WILL BE COPIES AVAILABLE AT THE HUNT!
There will be a LIMITED amount of copies of the Hunt section available tomorrow. They will limit the copies to two (2) per team. If you are local, do NOT trust that you can get to the Hunt and be able to snag a free copy...buy your paper now. If you're from out-of-town, we get it. You'll be fine. Just wait until 2pm to get your copy tomorrow.
WILL THERE BE AN ONLINE COPY AVAILABLE?
The Miami Herald is working on this, and there SHOULD be one, but it likely won't be available until tomorrow morning. I will post a link to both Twitter and Facebook once it's out there. You will still likely need a physical copy to win, so don't count on the electronic copy.
WHAT ARE THE PRIZES YOU ASK?
The prizes have different themes this year...
GRAND PRIZE - The Wandering Pirates
100,000 miles on American Airlines to be shared by the Winning Team (4 separate 25,000 mile vouchers)
Four (4) Massages at MassageLuxe Downtown Miami
2nd Place Prize - The Cultured Pirates
Miami Book Fair Package: Eight (8) tickets to "Evening WithÖ" ; Four (4) Weekend Family 4-packs
Four (4) Tickets to Art Basel
3rd Place Prize - The Hungry Pirates
Four (4) $50 Gift Cards to Meat Market, Miami Beach
Eight (8) tickets to CroquetaPalooza (Friday, December 6 at Magic City Casino)
Eight (8) meals at the Burger Beast Burger Joint, Bird Rd.
YOUR HERALD HUNT WEATHER UPDATE!
Partly Cloudy! A light wind from the ENE! A great day to go sail a ship! And BRING SUNSCREEN!
Your updated (un)Official Herald Hunt Weather Hour-by-Hour Forecast for Sunday, November 3rd, 2019 is practically perfect (if a bit on the warmer side)!
12:00pm - 84 degrees - 30% chance of rain
1:00pm - 84 degrees - 20% chance of rain
2:00pm - 84 degrees - 20% chance of rain
3:00pm - 83 degrees - 20% chance of rain
4:00pm - 83 degrees - 10% chance of rain
READ UP ON PRIOR HUNTS HERE AT THE ARCHIVES!
There's LOTS of GREAT information here at the Tropic/Herald/Post Hunt Archives, covering each and the Tropic, Herald and Post Hunts held for the last 35 years. Click through the year links on the left and see the torture that Dave, Tom and Gene inflicted on us previously.
YOU MUST HAVE AT LEAST ONE SMARTPHONE! IT MUST BE ABLE TO GET ON THE INTERNET! YOU MUST HAVE TWITTER!
They clearly talk about this in the Hunt section: You MUST have a smartphone with smartphone capabilities. And make sure you have a Twitter account and understand how to use it BEFORE the Hunt. It's also good to verify you can send email from your phone. Follow @HeraldHunt for official Hunt announcements during the Hunt, and it's a good idea to follow me as well
WHAT TO BRING
Here's our recommendations on what you should bring:
- You and your Hunt team
- Cell phone (WITH TWITTER ACCESS!)!
- In this day and age...consider a backup battery for your phone as well.
- Play pirate sword. It can't hurt to help scare off people, while staying safe and not poking your own eye out.
- Practice your "BOOOOO"s for Dave & Tom. I recommend all octaves for warm-up. Make sure to boo loud and proud!
- An eye patch. You'll likely take the eye out with that fake sword above.
- Pen and pencils and erasers
- A backpack or some type of bag to carry your stuff around in.
- A hat to help with the sun beating down on your head
- Money (for transportation/parking/eating/whatever you need to buy during the Hunt...!)
2. GETTING TO THE HUNT
The Hunt begins at noon SHARP at the Hunt Stage at coordinates J-13 on the map, located in Bayfront Park.
3. DURING THE HUNT
Try to solve all the main puzzles as quickly as you can. This will increase your chances of solving the endgame!
If you solve one of the main puzzles, CELEBRATE ACCORDINGLY!
But don't be too loud about it, shouting out answers, etc. KEEP IT TO YOU AND YOUR TEAM! And if you can't save a puzzle, come back to it later. Move onto the next one.
Don't forget to stick around until the end of the Hunt to boo Tom and Dave as they explain how things worked after the Hunt ends.
When asked about what advice he had for Hunters, Dave had this to say:
"My last-minute tip is this: If anything seems really confusing or unfair, it is Tomís fault."
Tom has this to say:
"Donít believe anything Dave says."
However, no matter how you do, in the end, everyone just loves this wacky, crazy Hunt! Whether they only solved one puzzle or everything...it's just fun, and it leaves you wanting more!
FOOD! WATER! HOW TO SURVIVE THE HUNT ON 3,000 CALORIES OR LESS...
For those wondering, you WILL have food options in and around Bayfront Park during the Hunt, including:
Ricky's Arepas! They will have around seven (7) locations available!
Gelato-Go will be in a tent near the main stage!
Daddy's Grill Food Truck will also be there!
Los Chamos is also bringing their game!
TWEET, TWEET, TWEET!
You read it above, now read it again: you should be following both me and @heraldhunt! The Miami Herald will put updates as needed on their Twitter account. I will not give answers or hints out as I solve puzzles, but I will tweet progress and pics along the way! Remember to use the #HeraldHunt hashtag for your tweets!
Please be careful with WHAT you tweet, especially photos or clue answers. We had folks tweeting answers to puzzles in prior years, and that just makes it harder for you to win the Hunt. Your pic of a puzzle could save a team the trouble of having to go to a puzzle site...so consider your tweets carefully!
THE ANNUAL HUNT MEET'N'GREET!
Please come and find me at the Hunt! I'm happy to say hi, take a picture, etc. But I won't give you answers or clues... Just look for my red hair. You will see me floating around the main stage area during the opening clue as well as the final clue, as well as during the explanation of the Hunt. REMEMBER: EACH ONE OF YOU ARE AWESOME!
4. CHECK BACK HERE LATER IN THE WEEK NEXT WEEK
Many busy days are ahead after the Herald Hunt ends. I will get the updates up, including puzzles, solutions, photos and more, so check here, Twitter and Facebook!
5. SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS!!!
Please, everyone...take time to thank our WONDERFUL sponsors tomorrow and after the Hunt! If not for them, the Hunt can't live on. Please let them know how much you appreciate their contribution to this great event!
ANNUAL OUT-OF-TOWNER TIPS
- Like Halloween, the Hunt is canceled!
- Wearing one of these will help you win the Hunt! Really! Canadians are really nice people, and we'll gladly help you out!
- Puzzles, clues and alcohol mix well. Everything makes sense and becomes clearer. Tomorrow is a great time to follow this strategy. (Please drink responsibly.)
- Remember, I came in 10th place in 2016. I will be competing tomorrow. Despite the clue about my losing streak, and my "0 and 30" tattoo (I will not show it to you)...you will not beat me tomorrow. So just stay home, I guess? Maybe go see a good movie?
- Miami is a special place. Miami is located in Florida, home to Florida Man. We do things differently here. We set our clocks backward 3 hours tomorrow. You should do the same.
- This year's Hunt is a multi-day event. The final clue will be NEXT Sunday at 3:00pm. Done with the main puzzles? Good. Go home and come back next week for part 2 of the Hunt!
- You must share your prize with me, should you win something. Really.
That's it. Go get ready. HAVE FUN TOMORROW! And keep checking back here, on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.
I'll see you tomorrow at the Hunt!