Honey I Shrunk
Teams enter the conference room to see a 7' cube cage.
The cage is constructed with a white PVC frame and black deer netting on all sides, save a lower quarter of one panel to be used as a doorway. Each side of the cage has a number of plastic placards zip tied to it.
On the floor in the center of the cube is a black top hat. Inside the top hat is a bundle made of colored string and 2" foam carrots wound around a piece of a foam pool noodle.
The plastic placards have two sides. For the 4 sides, the placard facing the inside of the cage has a laser cutout of a carrot on it. These are each one of 5 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The side facing out from the cage has a letter on it. These are white. For the top of the cage, the placard has the carrot and letter next to each other (because they won't have a vantage point above the cage). In the center of the top of the cage there is a black circular placard with a picture of a top hat on it.
The bundle of colored string has a small black felt hat at the end. There is a single color of string tied to the hat, then a foam carrot covers the knot between the first colored string and the next color. There are 27 lengths of string. The colors go in rainbow order starting with orange. (orange, yellow, green, blue, red, orange, yellow, etc.) The final color is yellow and the string ends with a carrot.
The color of the pool noodle is not important. This is just to have something to wind the string around to prevent tangling.
Teams notice that the colors of the string match the colors of the placards.
Carrots and a hat on the placards == carrots and a hat on the strings.
The team holds the black hat up to the black top hat placard at the top of the cage. The first string is orange and is the right length to reach to exactly one other placard that is an orange color. (The letter on the back is 'V'). The next string is the right length to reach to exactly one yellow placard ('I'), etc.
The message spelled out by continuing this method of data extraction:
The first part of the message "VIGENERE CIPHER" should be searched for (or recognized). The inclusion of the word "Cipher" should prompt teams to look that up. The rest of the message is intentionally gibberish for now.
Once teams have discovered what Vigenere cipher is, they will need 2 pieces of data. Ciphertext, and a Key.
The Ciphertext is the remaining part of the data extracted from the cage "KUWAWICGMXDXK".
The Key has not been provided in this room, but has been with them ALL ALONG. (Dun dun dun!)
At the info session on Wednesday, the teams were given a rabbit familiar. It is their team color and intended to be their mascot. They have been given clothes for him over the course of the weekend. He has a collar around his neck with a wooden key attached to it. Engraved on the key is his name. "CHESTER".
They are in a cage and the puzzle is called "Honey, I shrunk" which should imply there is a size change. There is a hat (rabbit pulled out of a hat trope) and carrots (rabbits eat carrots trope). These are supposed to point in the direction of Chester. This puzzle was the last one before the meta, so they hadn't actually used Chester for a puzzle yet, which may also encourage them to jump to that conclusion.
Chester is the key.
There are multiple decryption tools available online to decode the cipher, but it is possible to do this manually.
Once decoded using the key "CHESTER" the text reads "INSIDELEFTLEG".
Inside Chester's left leg there is a scrap of fabric with a printed series of letters: "YVRVXVCCUH"
This is used as ciphertext again with the key "CHESTER" and they get the answer: "WONDERLAND"
NOTE: After the puzzle was over, teams received a repair kit for their Chester. The repair kit contained of instructions along with a leg of the same color as their Chester with a plastic yarn needle attached to the yarn tail. (I'm not a TOTAL monster.)
See the Chester page for a whole bunch more information about how Chester fit into the event.
Visualization of Cage
3D Visualization of Chester's Cage: https://msigame.blob.core.windows.net/public/2019/honey/Visualizer/index.htm