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Clue 2 Solution: Braille Spiral Stone

How the Clue Works

The orange stones on the bottom of the fountain were actually Braille dots. Before translating, all of the data, though, teams needed to notice the group of 6 on the top, separate from the rest of the grid. This group formed the numeric indicator, signalling that the data in the grid was actual a set of numbers instead of a set of letters. The translation of the data thus looked as follows:

        110 10

Next, teams had to notice that the tiles in the fountain were broken into groups of 6x6. Using this to separate out the numbers, teams ended up with a series of (up to) three-digit numbers:


These numbers referred to words on the spiral stone, which could easily be indexed into by noticing the transcript was written with twenty words per line. The number of blanks on each line in the sheet of blanks provided an extra means for verification that the indexing was done correctly. Properly filled out, this left the following list:

            U N|T O
              I|M A G I N A T I O N
            O N|E
          S T A|I N S
            T I|M E
            O N|
        S T A R|S
            B U|T
              C|A N T
              K|I S S
              S|A N I T Y

The Solution

The arrows on the sheet suggest that teams should fold the page in such a way that only the letters to the left of the line above are visible. Doing this reveals the answer, Union Station Starbucks. While there is no official Starbucks associated with Union Station, there is only one that is close to that location, and it sits directly across the street from the station.

Design Notes

This clue went through went through a number of iterations as we performed playtests, both remotely and then eventually on location. The original version version was substantially harder, with only the stones in the fountain and no data sheet. In this version, there was a single column of three-digit numbers and the varying number of letters taken from each word were not represented by blanks and folding, but instead with a separate column of single-digit numbers to the right of each of the three-digit numbers, representing the number of letters that should be taken from the beginning of each word.

This version proved to be quite difficult in practice; without an obvious hook as to what the extra digits were, most playtesters assumed that it meant an index rather than a count, which resulted in gibberish and no clear path forward.

The final incarnation, with the staggered blanks and folding, was decided on shortly after this, and the only thing to be tweaked after this was the primer, until testing proceeded on site, during which a double-check of the transcription of the spiral stone was done and various errors were found. This required a complete rewrite of the Braille layout and subsequent rechecks, which fortunately all worked out as intended.

GC Notes

Coincidentally, the letters that read straight down the first column where there were no blanks (due to the stagger) actually read as semi-intelligible data. "Nina in Rucks" was mentioned by a great number of teams as they worked their way to the final solution, and for her sake, it is good that there was no "Nina" and no place named "Rucks".

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