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World's hardest puzzle cache

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I recently put together my first puzzle, it took a week for someone to solve it. Which after the several traditional cache's I have hid that took one or two days at most, I became easily hooked to hiding puzzle cache's.

 

I like the ones that are next to impossible to solve. What I want to know is, if you had to nominate a single cache to be considered the world's hardest puzzle cache, which one would it be?

 

I need ideas.

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There are probably harder ones, but I humbly nominate my own School for consideration. It took 6 months and several hints before it was finally solved. The logs make pretty funny reading.

 

But of course, I can't tell you how to solve it. :angry:

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It is VERY easy to make 'the world's hardest puzzle cache'. I'm thinking of some coordinates. Find the cache.

Making an impossible cache is not something to be proud of and is not an accomplishment.

 

Some of the WORST puzzle caches are the toughest ones and often those can be very unsatisfying. When solvers have nothing to go on and are just 'stabbing in the dark' - this can be quite unstatisfying even when you finally do solve it. There are a few too many of these around.

 

The BEST puzzle caches are *solvable*, difficult, and satisfying, with a logical flow from the start to the finish. There should be some clue somewhere to tell you which way to proceed in the puzzle.

 

So, toughest is not the same as highest quality. A high quality, difficult puzzle cache requires true skill to create and is a real balancing act.

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It is VERY easy to make 'the world's hardest puzzle cache'. I'm thinking of some coordinates. Find the cache.

Making an impossible cache is not something to be proud of and is not an accomplishment.

 

Some of the WORST puzzle caches are the toughest ones and often those can be very unsatisfying. When solvers have nothing to go on and are just 'stabbing in the dark' - this can be quite unstatisfying even when you finally do solve it. There are a few too many of these around.

 

The BEST puzzle caches are *solvable*, difficult, and satisfying, with a logical flow from the start to the finish. There should be some clue somewhere to tell you which way to proceed in the puzzle.

 

So, toughest is not the same as highest quality. A high quality, difficult puzzle cache requires true skill to create and is a real balancing act.

 

This is very true. It's quite easy to make an impossible puzzle cache. Just like it would be quite easy to toss a nano cache in a boulder field on the side of a mountain. :angry:

 

Editing, sorry, that wasn't meant to be a thread killer or anything. But I also agree with other things benh57 said; very difficult, but solvable, are the best. And you get a real sense of accomplishment if you pull it off without any hints from the owner.

Edited by TheWhiteUrkel

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I also agree with benh57. Most difficult doesn't always equate with greatest puzzle cache.

 

If I had a choice i'd nominate The Dragonfly Scroll as my favorite puzzle find. This cache was hidden back in May of 2002 before the puzzle designation was implimented. Snapplez was way ahead of the game when it came to puzzles.

 

Second cache that I thought was well done was A Mystery Cache by AB4N. I solved the cache before anyone else. I swore an oath of secrecy to the owner, and was quite entertained by the 20 plus emails I received begging for hints. :rolleyes:

 

Here are couple of examples of my puzzle caches that are both challenging and solvable.

 

Fox Trot

 

Hog Wild

 

The Wolf-Bird

 

Dream On Is my most obtuse puzzle. The last three finders needed multiple lifelines to figure it out. This cache is wildly unpopular due to its difficulty.

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Hey Guys, I hope somone can help me with this one. It is called "Patience and Sincerity" and is located in Greenville, SC. You must talk to a Pandorabot to obtain the coordinates to the cache. Everyone is going crazy over it because it is next to impossible. See if you can help me to figure it out. BTW: this is probably the hardest one I've ever seen.

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Hey Guys, I hope somone can help me with this one. It is called "Patience and Sincerity" and is located in Greenville, SC. You must talk to a Pandorabot to obtain the coordinates to the cache. Everyone is going crazy over it because it is next to impossible. See if you can help me to figure it out. BTW: this is probably the hardest one I've ever seen.

 

I'll be the first to say it's sort of considered bad ettiquette (which I see I've spelled wrong, but don't know how to fix) to ask for help for specific puzzles in these forums. Besides, this is the only pandora I know anything about Good stuff though, if you're into internet radio stations. :rolleyes:

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I don't know about world's hardest - it always seems like the hardest one is the one you haven't quite solved... yet.

 

There's always The Key to the Cryptonomicon - seems to make most finders work for weeks on it. And you can do it from the comfort of your home - if any of you want to try it, I'll be glad to check your finished coordinates...

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Probably my favorite puzzle of all time is Spiderfish. You can stare at it for months with no breakthroughs, and suddenly the solution hits you.

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One Shy of enigmatic

One shy of enigmatic is very evil. As far as I know there are 6 red herrings. I've only found 2. B) B) B) I haven't finished it yet but I've found the start of the puzzle. If you want to try it here's a hint. A QR code is the start of the puzzle.

Edited by akkatracker

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Treasure Hunt by ePeterso2, out since August 2010; still unfound, remarkably enough in that Puzzle-Headed Weenie community. Being an eP puzzle, it's not of the "read my mind" variety. Edited by Isonzo Karst

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I find almost all puzzle caches very hard :( , but there are some that just seem to reveal themselves. I admire those who have the brains and patience to get them done.

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how can anyone say what the hardest puzzle in the world is when they did not get to solve them all?

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Probably my favorite puzzle of all time is Spiderfish. You can stare at it for months with no breakthroughs, and suddenly the solution hits you.

 

I haven't looked at Spiderfish but that's exactly the kind of puzzle that I really don't care for. I prefer something that has an obvious first step (or steps) that draw you in so that you feel that you're starting to make progress. Compare a "guess what I'm thinking" puzzle that one might stare at for hours, days, or weeks before any progress whatsover to the one mentioned in the previous post (Key to the Cryptonomicon) and you'll see several obvious things to look at. There's are a couple of images that might used steganography (one of which consists of ones and zeros on a black background), an obvious cipher (not not necessarily obvious how to solve it), a link to the owners web site, and that's just the beginning. There are many pieces to puzzle all tied to a common theme. It took me over a month to complete it.

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Our Swine Flu puzzle cache has won the title of "most difficult puzzle of the area" at some local puzzle solving event once (we got a geocoin as prize for that too). Lots of finds on it because it's a "rare" D/T combination and people have been sharing solutions. Only a handful of people/teams (maybe 3 or 4 at most?) have actually solved it start to end without hints. To my knowledge, anyway.

Edited by dfx

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I think its quite clearly this one, at least ones I know of in my area and state. Coords are in the Pacific Ocean but most likely its in Washington State. Out since 2007, and not found. Owner is still active (most likely sock puppet) so its still there. Go find it. You probably need to know how to solve his other puzzles in order to figure this one out.

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=671c7cb1-a682-4ba1-aa1c-16592580cd81

Edited by lamoracke

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Hardest puzzle cache? Have a gander at GC6B94X. The hint refers to a famous novel/film. You'd think it would be helpful but it isn't. CO wont give a hint. The ONE person who has found it has given a couple of vague hints like "it's a unique cipher" "its more cryptographic than a visual puzzle" and "it can be solved with a computer or pen and paper"

 

A good puzzle requires skill and logic... This is just somebody wanting to show off.

 

Seriously, check it out because I'm out of ideas..... Remember; A cache that can't be found is just litter.

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10 hours ago, Clongo_Rongo said:

i have these two - if anyone can help me that would be helpful

 

https://coord.info/GC4ZHV6  - 2014 still no FTF

https://coord.info/GC5F625  - 2014 still no FTF

 


Those two puzzles are intentionally unsolvable.  The CO has never shown the slightest interest in having them solved.  In addition, having searched for several of his puzzles a couple of years ago, the CO is also singularly uninterested in cache maintenance.

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11 hours ago, fizzymagic said:

Those two puzzles are intentionally unsolvable. 

It is very easy to create a puzzle, which is to all intents and purposes unsolvable. It is also much easier than I thought to get such an unsolvable puzzle through the review.

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Posted (edited)

Fizzy might remember one from around 2005 or so in the San Jose, CA area. The puzzle was hard and when that  was solved it led to another puzzle. It looked like he just kept adding more puzzles. So the people in the area stated  a battleship strategy to locate it (before Groundspeak outlawed that. It was narrowed down to the middle on one of the fairways on a local private golf course.  They showed the data to TPTB and it was archived and the cacher banned.

Edited by Wacka
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On 6/28/2020 at 4:32 AM, fizzymagic said:


Those two puzzles are intentionally unsolvable.  The CO has never shown the slightest interest in having them solved.  In addition, having searched for several of his puzzles a couple of years ago, the CO is also singularly uninterested in cache maintenance.

 

I have to wonder, if the root goal of geocaching is to find a cache, why would someone want to make theirs impossible to find?  For me, that seems like someone more interested in bragging rights than actually being a part of the geocaching community.  I am all for a good puzzle, but a puzzle that is intentionally "unsolvable" is, in my opinion, not a good puzzle.  And an owner who places a cache that they do not intend for people to find and do not intend to maintain has chosen the wrong game to play.  Just my opinion, though.

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Posted (edited)

Of course caches are meant to be found. That doesn't mean it has to be easy (enough of these already). At least it must be solvable and if I'm not mistaken a CO must prove to the reviewer a puzzle is solvable (and how?)

 

With 10's of thousands of caches available within a reasonable distance I'm not going to worry about 10's or 100's that I can't solve or won't go for (like >T4).

 

Edited by on4bam

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2 hours ago, RobinsonClan56 said:

I have to wonder, if the root goal of geocaching is to find a cache, why would someone want to make theirs impossible to find?  For me, that seems like someone more interested in bragging rights than actually being a part of the geocaching community.  I am all for a good puzzle, but a puzzle that is intentionally "unsolvable" is, in my opinion, not a good puzzle.  And an owner who places a cache that they do not intend for people to find and do not intend to maintain has chosen the wrong game to play.  Just my opinion, though.

I'm sure everyone agrees with you. Everyone except those that get a kick out of abusing people.

 

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3 hours ago, on4bam said:

if I'm not mistaken a CO must prove to the reviewer a puzzle is solvable (and how?)

 

Never heard about this kind of requirement. Many puzzles have been unsolvable at the publishing time due to design flaws. If the CO should prove that the puzzle is solvable, there should be no room for error.

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5 hours ago, on4bam said:

Of course caches are meant to be found. That doesn't mean it has to be easy (enough of these already). At least it must be solvable and if I'm not mistaken a CO must prove to the reviewer a puzzle is solvable (and how?

 

That's fairly recent.  About the same time as the requirement for the Puzzle Checker.

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5 hours ago, on4bam said:

At least it must be solvable and if I'm not mistaken a CO must prove to the reviewer a puzzle is solvable (and how?)

Here (in Germany) the CO must provide a sort of "solution sketch" to the reviewer, i.e. a rough explanation of what the solution to the puzzle is. However, there's no need for a step-by-step guide, and therefore the reviewer definitely doesn't verify the suggested solution is any way. The primary purpose of this is to avoid puzzles which violate guidelines like "no contact to the CO is needed", or "no access to websites, for which you need a user account".

That said, a puzzle can be "unsolvable" for several reasons, including

- The CO made a mistake, and his suggested solution doesn't actually work. This is usually cleared up sooner or later, unless the puzzle is broken beyond repair.

- There is no need to explain how the cachers are supposed to find the described solution. I.e., if you describe a solution path, which is not against the guidelines, and can be followed once you know it, the reviewer will most likely publish it. This is what results in the typical "unsolvable" mystery. They have a solution, but there is no realistic way to find it without reading the CO's mind. I know several examples in my home area. They are either never found at all, or only after the CO has given more and more hints (sometimes publicly in the listing, sometimes privately to those who beg for hints even before FTF).

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7 hours ago, RobinsonClan56 said:

I have to wonder, if the root goal of geocaching is to find a cache, why would someone want to make theirs impossible to find?

My experience with owners of "unsolvable" puzzles is this: None of them made the puzzle intentionally unsolvable. They all thought, that it "wasn't so difficult after all". But many puzzle creators apparently have great problems to put themselves mentally in the place of a puzzle solver, and see how they would arrive at their own puzzle's solution without knowing anything more than what is given in the listing.

 

I give you a real.-life example (without the GC code):

A mystery cache was originally listed as Difficulty 2, and the listing contained only

- A long verbatim copy of text from the German Wikipedia entry on ice cream; by means of section headlines, the text could be seen as consisting of 3 parts.

- 3 clip-art images of ice cream cones (in 3 different color combinations)

- A complex formula for final coordinates, with variables A, B and C.

- The cache title was the name of a local ice cream parlor.

So you had "only" to find the values for A, B and C. Of course, many ideas came to mind. In the end (after lots of additional hints), the solution turned out to be this:

A (B, C) = number of "dots" in first (second, third) part of text. Everything "dot-like" counted - periods at the end of sentences, two dots per colon, dots on i's and j's, double-dots on umlauts.

 

After the dust had settled a bit ;) , I contacted the CO and asked, why he thought his puzzle was only D2, and how he had expected the cachers to find out that it's about dots. His first reply was like "It's only counting, and you need to concentrate, but it's not difficult." I asked again, how one was supposed to find out about the dots. I never got another reply.

 

It was essentially the same with at least two other puzzles which I have in mind. The solution trickles out after getting lots of hints from the CO, and when I ask afterwards how I should have found this myself - no answer, nada, nothing.

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I've learned to enjoy puzzles caches. I get a lot of satisfaction from that moment when it all comes together. I'm usually disappointed by the cache itself however. After making someone solve a mind bending puzzle and perhaps even take a hike it would be nice to find more than a pill bottle in a pile of rocks. I do appreciate COs that recognize the effort by hiding a slightly better-than-average cache.

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20 hours ago, baer2006 said:

My experience with owners of "unsolvable" puzzles is this: None of them made the puzzle intentionally unsolvable. They all thought, that it "wasn't so difficult after all". But many puzzle creators apparently have great problems to put themselves mentally in the place of a puzzle solver, and see how they would arrive at their own puzzle's solution without knowing anything more than what is given in the listing.

 

I give you a real.-life example (without the GC code):

A mystery cache was originally listed as Difficulty 2, and the listing contained only

- A long verbatim copy of text from the German Wikipedia entry on ice cream; by means of section headlines, the text could be seen as consisting of 3 parts.

- 3 clip-art images of ice cream cones (in 3 different color combinations)

- A complex formula for final coordinates, with variables A, B and C.

- The cache title was the name of a local ice cream parlor.

So you had "only" to find the values for A, B and C. Of course, many ideas came to mind. In the end (after lots of additional hints), the solution turned out to be this:

A (B, C) = number of "dots" in first (second, third) part of text. Everything "dot-like" counted - periods at the end of sentences, two dots per colon, dots on i's and j's, double-dots on umlauts.

 

After the dust had settled a bit ;) , I contacted the CO and asked, why he thought his puzzle was only D2, and how he had expected the cachers to find out that it's about dots. His first reply was like "It's only counting, and you need to concentrate, but it's not difficult." I asked again, how one was supposed to find out about the dots. I never got another reply.

 

It was essentially the same with at least two other puzzles which I have in mind. The solution trickles out after getting lots of hints from the CO, and when I ask afterwards how I should have found this myself - no answer, nada, nothing.

 

That sounds somewhat similar to a puzzle which involved 15 paragraphs of text.  The text was randomly generated but how they were formatted could be represented as a series of binary states, or represented as ones and zeros.  If those ones and zeros were seen as dots and dashes the morse code value of a number was derived.    

 

It was difficult, but certainly not impossible, and I thought rather elegant in it's construction.  In your example,  ice creme was a red herring.  It should have been rated higher than a 2 but it was also solveable.

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1 hour ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

It should have been rated higher than a 2 but it was also solveable.

I tend to disagree ;). The text totally lacked _any_ "anomalies" whatsoever. I agree that you can encode information in many ways in a seemingly random piece of text, and I have solved several puzzles of this type. But all of those had something, which didn't seem "right" at second (or third, forth, ...) glance. Subtle typos, superfluous whitespace, whatever... . All that wasn't the case with the "dot counting" puzzle.

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9 hours ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

That sounds somewhat similar to a puzzle which involved 15 paragraphs of text.  The text was randomly generated but how they were formatted could be represented as a series of binary states, or represented as ones and zeros.  If those ones and zeros were seen as dots and dashes the morse code value of a number was derived. 

 

Bacon code is prime for that style of cipher.

And yeah, that dot-counting puzzle doesn't seem anything like that uniform style encoding method.

 

Now, if there was some kind of hint pointing to 'dots' in some manner, that would be different; but it doesn't sound like there was...

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4 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Now, if there was some kind of hint pointing to 'dots' in some manner, that would be different; but it doesn't sound like there was.


Having never seen the puzzle this is pure speculation, but ice creams are often topped with ‘hundreds & thousands’ (or sprinkles) which I guess are dot-like.

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7 hours ago, thebruce0 said:

Now, if there was some kind of hint pointing to 'dots' in some manner, that would be different; but it doesn't sound like there was...

Nobody could find any such "hints", not even in hind-sight. And as I wrote, I explicitly asked the CO (twice), and didn't get any answer. Maybe I expected too much ;) , but if the CO had any idea how the cachers should arrive at "dot counting", I think they had told me.

 

2 hours ago, IceColdUK said:

ice creams are often topped with ‘hundreds & thousands’ (or sprinkles) which I guess are dot-like.

Nice point :) . And while I don't want to link the cache (I'm not sure if this would count as personally blaming the CO), here is the image from the listing: https://s3.amazonaws.com/gs-geo-images/61356a2c-ca4d-4966-870f-be5b7cad84ce.png

There are indeed "sprinkles", but more like dashes than dots ;) . Anyway, with a bit of a stretch, one might see this as a (very) subtle hint towards the solution. If so, the CO is either very shy about it, or didn't think about that either.

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4 hours ago, IceColdUK said:


Having never seen the puzzle this is pure speculation, but ice creams are often topped with ‘hundreds & thousands’ (or sprinkles) which I guess are dot-like.

 

There is also a type of ice cream that are small frozen pellets, called "Dipping Dots".  That would have been a good clue. 

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Yeah, I think the sprinkles are about as close to a hint as possible. Still wouldn't rate than a 2. 

Then again, is difficulty about determining the method of solution, or brainpower or effort needed to arrive at the solution?  Does busywork factor into a difficulty rating? :)

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10 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Yeah, I think the sprinkles are about as close to a hint as possible. Still wouldn't rate than a 2. 

Then again, is difficulty about determining the method of solution, or brainpower or effort needed to arrive at the solution?  Does busywork factor into a difficulty rating? :)

Agreed.  Some puzzle creators have the same lack of vision as some who place traditional caches ... not seeing the context of the hide (or puzzle) from the perspective of someone who doesn't already have the answer.  It's one thing to hide a micro where there's not that many places to hide something, and quite another to bury a bison in the middle of a dense forest.  Puzzles can be equally a needle-in-haystack problem.  This 'dots' example certainly qualifies.  Not a 2.0D.

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