EPP18: An A-Maze-ing Puzzle Party

[I have received many emails about the cancellation notice below. I want to emphasize that everything is fine with me and my life. Thank you for the concern. This was not a decision I made lightly, but I do feel it was the correct one. -- ECH]


[21 Jan 2018]

I have decided to indefinitely postpone future "Eric's Puzzle Parties"; this includes the previously planned "EPP18: An A-Maze-ing Puzzle Party". I hope my decision will not cause too much inconvenience for any of the people who were expecting to attend.

I know better than to say there will "never" be another EPP, but for now I cannot say when, or if, there will be any in the future.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in these events over the years; it was a pleasure meeting all of you.


Eric Harshbarger

[This message is genuine. This is not a puzzle.]


From the legend of the Minotaur in King Minos's labyrinth to modern recreations like Dungeons & Dragons and the Pac-Man arcade game, mazes have challenged and perplexed players through the ages. I have included some type of "maze" puzzle in nearly everyone of my past Puzzle Parties, but this year I may have gone a bit overboard. Teams at EPP18 will be faced with a daunting number of puzzles (some easy, some hard, some meta-, and some hidden), and nearly all of them will have something to do with mazes, labyrinths, and the like...

Hope to see you in Spring 2018!

-- Eric


The general ideas behind team formation for EPP18 are similar to past Puzzle Parties, however, there are a couple of significant changes. As is usual, a team can have a maximum total "value" of players assigned to it, and players' individual values are determined by whether or not they are new to Auburn-area Puzzle Parties, or veterans of the events.

Newbies are worth 8 team points while veterans are worth 9 points plus the number of wins/trophies they have accumulated from past Auburn-area Puzzle Parties. For EPP18, a team's total value may not exceed 65 points.

The first change in rules is that there is no longer a point deduction for players coming from out of town or playing remotely. In the past, such deductions were used to encourage players from areas outside of Auburn to attend. Given that the past couple of Puzzle Parties have had a majority of participants coming from distant places, I feel that those deductions have now served their purpose but is no longer necessary (in fact, it may have started to penalize local players). So, such deductions are no longer considered. A player's value is simply based on the simple formula above.

The second big change in team formation is that I have finally gotten around to writing some basic forms and scripts to help automate the process. No longer will teams have to email me with information about every change they make to their roster, and the database should automatically tally player and team values as people are added and removed.

If you are planning to field a team for EPP18, you should email me with your proposed Team Name and Team Password. I will then establish that team information into the EPP database, and then roster and information changes may be made through webpage forms to which I will direct you. If I have already created your team, you may login at this link to manage your team.

I hope to allow up to twenty teams for this Puzzle Party.

Teams will be listed here as they are being formed. I will also list "un-teamed" players below this chart if anyone emails me saying they are eager to play but do not have a team of their own.

Un-teamed Players

The following players have expressed an interest in playing in EPP18 but have not yet found a team to player on. If you are interested in having them join your team, contact them at the emails provided.


As is typical for my Parties, the day will start with an Opening Puzzle (at a location To Be Announced). This will involve all of the teams in the same area, scurrying around, and trying to accomplish some not-too-terribly-difficult task.

As teams complete this Opening Puzzle they will then be eligible to pick up their main puzzle booklet for the day. This puzzle booklet will contain the majority of the puzzles that will occupy teams for the rest of the day. There will, of course, be a wide variety of puzzle types and difficulties. There may be meta- and hidden puzzles as well.

Answers to puzzles will be entered into an online "dashboard" which will also tally a team's score as the day progresses. Most puzzles will be worth 100 points to the first team to solve it. Once a particular puzzle has been solved by one team, its value will decrease by 1 point every 10 minutes.

The team with the highest final score at the end of the day wins (final End Time is still TBD).


You may, for any of the basic puzzles, request a hint if your team feels it is completely stuck. To receive a hint for a puzzle a team member must come to my headquarters. Upon arrival tell me what puzzle you need help on, and I will ask how far you've gotten on it. I will try to get as good a feel as possible as to where you are in the solving process of that puzzle so that I can give you a valuable hint (without just giving you the answer). Once I have the necessary information, and if I feel I have a worthy hint to give, I will ask if you want to receive it. When you definitely state that yes, you want the hint, I will tell it to you.

Hints will cost your team Points. The number of Points subtracted from your team's score will be randomly determined by rolling a number of dice equal to which number hint this is for your team (i.e. the first hint will demand one 6-sided die be rolled, the second hint -- regardless of whether for the same or a different puzzle -- will require two dice to be rolled, etc). The player receiving the hint will roll the dice as I watch, and I will deduct the Points (you will soon see it on your team's dashboard).

You may request multiple hints for the same puzzle (which will necessitate multiple dice rolls, of course). I do not guarantee that my hints will be crystal clear, but they will be relevant.

Important: When you come to my headquarters for a hint, be ready to concisely tell me what puzzle you are asking about, and what the problems are. In the past I've had many people come in on their cellphone with other teammates trying to erratically figure out, in a complete state of confusion, what is supposed to be asked. I am very busy administrating the Puzzle Party, please do not come for a hint until you are ready to clearly talk about the puzzle! Wasting too much of my time might incur a (small) point penalty for your team (beyond any points lost from the hint itself).

You may also find free hints throughout your adventures of the day.


Here are some recommendations:

The Trophies

To be announced.