Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Off-Day Grand Slam Puzzle #12: The Cub Revisited

When we last left our beloved ursine protagonist the Cub, he had just suffered through an emotional but enlightening evening. We pick up his story the next morning, when he awakens to find his father gone but a note next to him:

Good morning young Cub! I hope you slept well. I'm sure you were hoping this note was from your father, but alas, this is the Owl speaking. He's not one for emotional words, as you know. But he did want me to tell you that he bids you farewell and sends you his unconditional love.

Now before we get to the task at hand, I also want to say I'm sorry I didn't fess up last night that I speak fluent English. While I admit part of me was just messing with you, I also think my words had more impact when I spoke my native tongue - didn't you? But okay, mostly I was just messing with you.

So anyWHOO...rest up and relax today, for as soon as the sun sets tonight (at 10pm), you must embark on your journey posthaste! While I know your ultimate goal is to find your father again, your immediate task is to unite with your true love (I told you last night who that was). She is somewhere in this forest waiting for you, and you have until sunrise (6am) to get to her.

But be careful. The forest is a dangerous and tricky place to navigate. Here are some ground rules you must abide by:

• You can move north, south, east, or west, but not diagonally.
• Each move in any of these directions takes you half an hour.
• You must keep moving - you cannot occupy the same spot for two consecutive moves.
• The forest is full of enemies and other obstacles you must avoid:
• Trees - Trees are stationary. You cannot move onto a spot with a tree.
• Eagles - Believe it or not, an eagle can kill you in one fell swoop. You must avoid them. Eagles move in a straight line as indicated by the green arrows. They also move one square per half hour (including the diagonal eagle). Unlike yourself, eagles are able to traverse trees.
• Vultures - You must avoid them as well. Vultures move in a circular motion, as follows: Two squares north, two squares west, two squares south, then one square to the east. If by then they haven't found you, they will disappear before reaching their original starting point. Like the Eagles, Vultures are able to traverse trees and move one square per half hour.
• Spurned Female Cubs - Perhaps most dangerous are your three spurned loves. They must be avoided at all costs. In fact, you cannot get within one square north, south, east, or west of any of them (diagonal is okay). They may move in a straight line (at the same speed as yourself), or remain stationary, as indicated by a green arrow or a lack of one, respectively.
• You may pass Eagles, Vultures, and Spurned Loves in transition between squares, but not on a square itself. For example, if you are in a square directly to the west of an Eagle, and the Eagle is traveling west, it is OK if you move east while the Eagle moves west, thereby crossing the Eagle. You cannot however end up in a square that is occupied by an Eagle.

If you survive the perils of the forest and reach your true love in time, the forest will speak to you and tell you where you must go in the next stage of your journey to reunite with your father, as follows:

1. The forest will make 6 utterances during your journey.
2. The first four will come at midnight, 2am, 4am, and 6am, respectively.
3. The 5th will be spoken in code throughout the first 4 hours of your journey.
4. The 6th will be spoken in code throughout the last 4 hours.

If you find the correct path, you will have your answer*. However, if you go astray, the wilderness shows no mercy. You will perish.

Oh and one last thing - I hope you deciphered my reply to your third question last night. For if you don't initially head in the direction I instructed, you will never hear the words of the forest and you'll be lost forever (my instruction applies only to your first move)! Now rest up and prepare for your overnight trek.

Good luck and Godspeed, dear Cub. I am rooting for you.

Yours truly,

The Owl

So puzzlers, back to the real world here (or at least back to SoSG). It's your task to help the Cub carry out the above. Here is the layout of the forest as he embarks on his quest at 10pm (that's him in the center square):

(click image to enlarge)

Hint 1 (9:35am): there are actually two previously used devices needed. A hint for one, which was used last year, can be found "in time."

Hint 2 (11:40am): the first device requires conversion of computer-speak to people-speak. The second device requires finding the correct url.

Hint 3 (2:51pm): the Cub's first move is mandated by the Owl. His next 4 moves are determined by where he has a safe move. The rest is a combo of safety and beating the clock.

Hint 4 (3:48pm): have you ever seen a two-toned, pastel-colored forest before?

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Puzzle Rules: The answer to the puzzle is a place. Comment freely in the thread, but if you have the solution, please don't give it away to everyone in the comments section. Instead, do the following:

• Email us with the place the Cub must go to find his father. And please include your screen name somewhere in the email; and
• As a Grand Slam Puzzle, this one is worth 150 points.

You have until midnight PT tonight to submit your answer. Good luck!

*a device used in several previous puzzles will also be needed to translate the forest's words.

Not familiar with SoSG's off-day puzzle competition? Read up here. And join the fun!

BWrightson said...

Question: What happens when Eagles or Cubs hit the edge of the map? (Or did I miss that??)

BWrightson said...

Also, just to clarify - Vultures do one round and then they're gone for good? Or do they start over?

Josh S. said...

Well, I know the place isn't St. Louis, since there were no cubs there last night.

*rimshot*

Eric Karros said...

BWrightson - vultures disappear forever after their circle (actually a square) and when anything moves off the map it's gone and no longer a concern

fanerman said...

Does Grace's starting position not have a number/letter?

And do all the hot cub chicks wear a pink earring?

Josh S. said...

fanerman, I'm guessing since Matilda and Grace are stationary, you can't ever occupy their spots, so no letters/numbers.

Eric Karros said...

That's correct Josh S. And the pink thing in the hair is supposed to be a bow, but I couldn't figure out if it should go in front of or behind the ear. I went with behind and thus you can't really tell what it is.

Josh S. said...

Can the cub travel back into squares he previously occupied, or does he have to continue forward?

(Is this too big a hint to ask for?)

Ubragg said...

I believe I have the path worked out, and I've extracted 6 "utterances", but I'm not sure what to make of them. I emailed what I have so far in case I can get any verification.

berkowit28 said...

Same here. I have found *a* path that works, avoids obstacles and enemies, gets there on time. Can I rest assured that i have found *the* path, even though, so far, the utterances make no sense to me? Or might there be a dozen or so paths that work, and somehow the utterances for the correct path only will make some sort of sense immediately?

drewdez said...

Is it correct to assume the eagles/vultures/non-stationary spurned females begin moving at 10:00 (i.e. they can't wait a few hours, then begin to move)?

Eric Karros said...

The cub can move backward as long as it doesn't violate one of the stated rules.

Ubragg, you are close. Will post a hint soon (perhaps here in the comments as I'm having connectivity issues).

Berko, there should be only one path that fits all the rules.

Mr. LA Sports Fan said...

This is a tough one.

Eric Karros said...

And drew - all movement begins at 10pm.

berkowit28 said...

I sent you my path. No idea what to do with the cryptic utterances yet. I'd appreciate verification of the path if that's permitted. (I've checked it over a few times since and can't find any problems - but that doesn't mean I haven't missed something!)

I'm right there with you guys. I have a path, but not sure about what the forrest is telling me.

Eric Karros said...

Berko your path violates one of the rules

berkowit28 said...

Ah - I just found a problem with my path that I'd missed. Back to the drawing board. Wrong path.

berkowit28 said...

Our "paths" crossed - I actually spotted the rule violation before I saw your comment, but thanks for responding.

Josh S. said...

Sent an e-mail with my path.

Eric Karros said...

Hint #1 (9:45am): there are actually two previously used devices needed. A hint for one, which was used last year, can be found "in time."

Ubragg said...

Eric Karros said...

Fuck! I forgot one rule - cub can't traverse his original square. Sorry. Will update post as soon as I get real internet access.

Josh S. said...

Well...shit.

That's ok EK. I don't think the cub would really want to go back there anyways. He looks pretty scared, bet it smells over there.

Josh S. said...

Revised path sent.

Eric Karros said...

Orel or sax if you see this could you update post with the rule I forgot?

Lesson learned: NEVER drop a puzzle on a day when your only internet access is a broken blackberry that doesn't scroll up.

I guess the bigger lesson learned is to not forget to post a rule.

karina said...

i'm about to leave for the Harry Potter movie...maybe i'll get some magic and get specialis revelio on this when i get back, however i printed this to have something to while i wait.

Eric Karros said...

Ubragg is in and clinches victory for the middle third of the season!

1. UBragg

Ubragg said...

The hint helped a lot. I believe I have officially hit my stride. Nowhere to go but down from here.

Steve Sax said...

Just to repeat EK's 10:05am comment (sans cursing): the cub cannot traverse the center square.

Rule has been added to the post.

Eric Karros said...

Thanks Sax. Quad in at number two!:

1. UBragg

berkowit28 said...

Revised path sent. But I'm wondering if perhaps I have contravened another "forgotten" rule. (I won't spell it out here just in case it is legal.)

Josh S. said...

Am I at a disadvantage as a newer puzzler? I've skimmed through older posts trying to find the "devices" needed, but nothing sticks out or jives with the hint for me.

drewdez said...

Eric Karros said...

Josh, perhaps indirectly you are at a disadvantage. I will post a hint to hopefully mitigate that.

Berko, I read your email. Not sure why you think there might be another forgotten rule. Playing mind games with the competition or giving me a hard time about forgetting a rule? I do apologize for that. But in anycase your concern/question was already asked by Josh S in this thread: Cub can go backwards as long as it doesn't violate another rule. He can't go to his original starting point though.

Just for the record though Berko, no need to justify or explain why you asked the question again - no harm in doing so.

Eric Karros said...

Second hint posted.

Regarding my previous comment though - no harm in asking or even repeating questions, but please no purposely trying to mislead other puzzlers via comments (not that you were doing this Berko, but I thought it a good rule to implement).

Thanks - EK.

Josh S. said...

Hint #2 tells me I was thinking along the right lines. Now to decipher it.

berkowit28 said...

Thanks, EK. I did not want to give away hints without your permission by describing what I did in the new path. So does that mean that my path in the new email is correct? I was hoping that at least one utterance would be clearer to me, but if you confirm my new path is correct, I'll bend my mind to deciphering utterances.

BWrightson said...

Answer in. Awesome puzzle, as usual!

Eric Karros said...

Actually all my guilt about forgetting the rule is relieved! I am now back with real internet access and see that extra rule about avoiding the original square is unnecessary.

In my first draft the puzzle it was a rule but I forgot I had made it unnecessary by adding a vulture.

So I don´t feel so bad anymore. Phew.

Josh S. said...

Going to think on this at lunch.

Mr. Customer said...

I'm pretty sure I have the path figured out, but I'm not making much of the utterances, even with the hints.

Neeebs said...

Again, another busy day. No time to tinker around with this game, though it looks like a fun one. I'll send in my standard guess.

Eric Karros said...

BWrightson continues his progress from "Next" to "Now":

1. UBragg
3. BWrightson

Where is Mr Customer? I hope he didn´t lose his job over the previous puzzle. Man, that´d make me feel bad. But if he did lose his job, there´s no reason he wouldn´t be working on this one. So I´m hopeful he´s still employed.

Eric Karros said...

Oh never mind, I see you´re accounted for Mr Customer.

Josh S. said...

Nevermind the lunch thing.

fanerman said...

Probably not good for puzzle solving, but I'm trying to focus more on work at work =/. I'll have to spend all of my lunch on this.

Mr. Customer said...

EK,

I'm in the same boat as Fanerman. I'm either able solve it quickly, or I wait until I can give it my undivided.

The job is definitely intact and high maintenance.

Eric Karros said...

Josh S making his own bid to be "Next"!

1. UBragg
3. BWrightson
4. Josh S

Eric Karros said...

Good to hear you´re still employed, Mr C. I was at the Renaissance Fair last week and your understudy sucked.

drewdez said...

Answer in! Time to get some work done.

Mr. Customer said...

EK,

It's so hard to find a good minstrel these days.

Erin said...

Hey EK, just sent an email with my path. Can you see if it's correct?

Erin said...

Nevermind. Ignore it. It's wrong.

Eric Karros said...

Drewdez is in (his 3rd consecutive correct solution, I might add)!

1. UBragg
3. BWrightson
4. Josh S
5. Drewdez

Eric Karros said...

FYI folks I updated and corrected the previous rankings (not including this puzzle), for which I had shortchanged Jose. I also added the others receiving votes.

Eric Karros said...

I sense some stagnation. Is anyone still working on it? If so, are you stuck on finding the path or on what to do afterwards?

Erin said...

Stuck on the path. And I have an idea of what to do (specifically, I know what two "devices" I'll be using), but I'm not quite sure yet how to use them.

Mr. Customer said...

EK,

I'm working on it sporadically. I have the path (I think), but I'm at a still at a loss about the utterances.

berkowit28 said...

Stuck. I've got the path, but don't know what the utterances are, nor what my attempts at them indicate.

berkowit28 said...

I think I even understand what the first hint is pointing to, but not what to do about it.

Josh S. said...

For those still stuck, EK's 2nd hint is a darn near massive giveaway.

Erin said...

I knew the two devices before he posted hint two. But if you don't know the path, that doesn't do you any good.

berkowit28 said...

Josh, I think I even know what that's all about, but I'm missing a step.

Josh S. said...

Erin, working backwards on the path was a huge help to me.

Eric Karros said...

Hmm, well the 2 posted hints are about what to do after the path is found, but I'm not sure how to post one about finding the actual path.

I'll post something shortly.

berkowit28 said...

I have the path. I know what the last device is, but not what the first one is. I'm also not sure that I have the "utterances" in the first place, even though I have the path. if I do, I don't know what to do with them. Heading straight from there to the second device is not correct. I'm missing a step.

Josh S. said...

Berko, just so you know, there is nothing tricky at all about the way EK described the first device.

Josh S. said...

I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds by helping out here, EK.

In the interest of full disclosure though, I really would like at least three more people to solve this.

Eric Karros said...

Josh - Innocent comments or guidance meant primarily as encouragement is ok.

But as a corollary to the previous rule I commented at 11:46am, I'm gonna have to say please no overtly giving away answers to push yourself into the top half of answerers thereby boosting your own score.

berkowit28 said...

Sure. If I detected any computer-speak, I would convert it to people-speak right away. ;-)

Eric Karros said...

Third hint posted.

Mr. Customer said...

Josh,

Rest assured, at least 1 more person is going to solve.

J. Steve said...

It looks like it's you and me again, Berko! I know the path and second device, but can't figure out the first device or all the utterances.

J. Steve said...

And of course Mr. C, which would make three correct answers for Josh.

Eric Karros said...

Josh, your comment brings up an interesting point though. Is it better to wish for many to answer, thereby possibly pushing up your score (and closing the gap ahead of you i.e., between yourself and those who answered that particular puzzle before you), or fewer to answer, thereby preventing others from closing the gap behind you (i.e., those who otherwise wouldn't have gotten anything that puzzle)?

It's like pulling your goalie - is the increased chance of catching those ahead of you worth the increased risk of being caught from behind?

Erin said...

If I could just quit being a moron and see this path, I would be golden.

Josh S. said...

My comments were definitely meant as encouragement. It's just that I realized I was doing A LOT of encouragement and I didn't want it to seem like I was manipulating things, even though yes, I do want more points.

berkowit28 said...

J Steve: fancy that. We're both forgetting whatever the first device was last year. And assuming the utterances are just the obvious things, which I have a feeling they're not.

Eric Karros said...

J Steve, Berko, have you guys figured out what Hint 1 refers to?

berkowit28 said...

Nope.

berkowit28 said...

Well, I had two ideas for it, but neither has worked. (I refer to one of them in my last email. The second was similar.)

Eric Karros said...

Another hint posted.

Erin said...

EK, just ignore my last two emails. I'm rambling and thought I found the path but actually didn't.

J. Steve said...

I'm still stumped...

Eric Karros said...

Erin I was about to reply but see now it's not necessary. You have exactly what J Steve/Berko lack, and vice versa.

Erin said...

Well, I've got the path figured out now. So I just have to figure out how to use the devices in conjunction with the path.

J. Steve said...

I guess Erin is going to make it before Berko and me!

berkowit28 said...

I have asked myself that very question (hint 4) already, since I know you wouldn't use the two colors arbitrarily - they must mean something. I've already tried doing things based on this, but so far no cigar.

Erin said...

Turns out knowing the path and the two devices is not really as helpful to my slow brain as you might think. The answer must be right in front of me, but I'm overlooking it somehow.

Eric Karros said...

Erin based on your last email you must be minutes away from solving. I guess then all you guys are stuck at more or less the same point.

fanerman said...

Can't recall pink and green anywhere....

Mr. Customer said...

OK, I've got method, I just need to finish up here in the office and sit down to work it out.

fanerman said...

I still haven't made sense of the colors pink and green. Or the four bi-hourly utterances...

fanerman said...

Eric Karros said...

After a 5-hour drought, another correct answer comes in, from Fanerman!

1. UBragg
3. BWrightson
4. Josh S
5. Drewdez
6. Fanerman

Erin said...

I have a feeling that I'm going to win the award for coming closest to the solution without getting any credit.

Josh S. said...

100.

Mr. Customer said...

OK, I'm back on the case, but I don't think my original premise was correct (despite promising results).

I'm not understanding the color clue.

J. Steve said...

Alleluia! I'm the first of the Erin-Berko-Steve triumvirate in!

Eric Karros said...

J Steve is off the schneid!

1. UBragg
3. BWrightson
4. Josh S
5. Drewdez
6. Fanerman
7. J Steve

Mr. Customer said...

Um, I'm understanding the color clue now.

My performance notwithstanding, that was probably one of my favorites this season once I figured it out.

J. Steve said...

I have to agree. While I was frustrated most of the day, it is a very well thought out puzzle. Well done!

Erin said...

J Steve, you may be the only one. I seem to have every piece of info I need, but I'm at a loss as to how to use it. It's maddening, since the first time I looked at the puzzle this morning, I knew the devices I would need to solve the puzzle.

Eric Karros said...

Yes Mr C!

1. UBragg
3. BWrightson
4. Josh S
5. Drewdez
6. Fanerman
7. J Steve
8. Mr Customer

Mr. Customer said...

Bitchin'.

berkowit28 said...

Not happy. I thought I'd figured out the colors hours ago, but it still doesn't work, so I must have it wrong. I've tried a few variations, and checked details over and over. No longer fun. I don't know whether I'll feel worse to find out I've missed the meaning or still have a detail wrong. Two in a row now.

Erin said...

I'm suffering.

Erin said...