Thanks to everyone who came to the 2009 hunt, and congratulations to team Mass Avatar!

Welcome to the 2009 Harvard Puzzle Hunt! This year, our intrepid puzzlers visited the Island of Catan, a land of mysteries and secrets. There they attempted to discover the name of the Robber, who had, in his Robberly way, stolen the Desert puzzle-- whose answer happens to be his name itself.

The Hunt

This year's hunt consists of five mini-rounds of three or four puzzles, each corresponding to one of the Catan resources: Brick, Rock, Sheep, Wheat, and Wood. The answers to the puzzles from each round come together to help you solve that round's "metapuzzle", located at the associated resource's Port. You may not need all the answers in a given round, but the more you have the easier the metapuzzle will be.

The global metapuzzle consists of determining the answer corresponding to the Desert tile. This is accomplished by placing each answer on the Catan board, on a tile of the same resource (though not necessarily the tile whose puzzle yielded that answer!). Each Port, once solved, will give you a Rumor giving a relationship between the answers as correctly placed on the board. With enough Rumors, you should be able to deduce the answer to the missing Desert puzzle.

In standard puzzle hunt fashion, answers will take the form of words or short phrases. So, "DEVELOPMENT CARD" or "CATAN" might be an answer, but "HELP, HELP, YOU GAVE ME A NO ROBBER BUT STOLE FROM ME ANYWAY" would not. Puzzles may also yield instructions, such as "BRING US SOME SHEEP," in which case you should follow the instructions and call HQ to show off your work and receive the answer.

If you're puzzled about the puzzles, we've compiled some solving suggestions in the Advice section.

Notes for Home Solvers

During the hunt, teams initially received access to the six puzzles surrounding the central Desert tile, as well as all the Ports. Once they solved the puzzle on a resource tile, they received access to all of the adjacent tiles.

About two hours after the start of the hunt, teams received access to the Year of Just Barely Enough "puzzle", which, when completed, gave them the answer to the resource tile puzzle of their choice.

The 3-for-1 ports were used during the hunt as a hint mechanism, and have no relevance to home solvers.

Several teams requested clarification on the phrase "further towards the center of Catan". Divide Catan into four concentric rings: the sea tiles and ports, a ring of twelve resource tiles, a ring of six resource tiles, and the desert. Then tiles are considered closer to the center of Catan than members of outer rings, but not members of their own ring.

Other Items of Interest

Our opening skit, which set a new Harvard Hunt record for awful punning.

Some solving statistics, together with an endgame timetable and our full answer log. (Contains spoilers!)

The ever-exciting runaround.