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I don't understand puzzel caches

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What I've found is that many aren't simple, straightforward "here's the question" type of things. Generally, most resolve to GPS coordinates, so your puzzle is in figuring out how what the CO has presented relates to the numbers. This may be seemingly unrelated text, it may be images, or any number of other things. I've brought up a couple that I was left scratching my head and saying "I don't even see where the heck the puzzle is", but there's always a solution. Keep trying!

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There are on questions, just a line of letters and a pic.

Sometimes the whole point is to figure out what the puzzle is. That's good, because some people like familiar puzzles (crosswords or whatever), others want a mystery they've never seen before. I usually place those at the bottom of the pile, and try again later. Look at the "difficulty" rating -- it may be actually rather easy. Or at least the Cache Owner thought it would be. And read the cache logs. If people hardly mention the puzzle, or say they loved it, or how easy it was, you know it's probably not too tough. If there are lots of notes like "six months later, I'm halfway through decrypting it", maybe that one's a little more challenging. :blink:


The best plan (unless you just enjoy pondering it til that "Eureka!" moment), is to write to the Cache Owner for a hint. Or as you work a lot of the easier puzzles, you may begin to see how to solve the toughies. Good luck!

Edited by kunarion
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The cool think about puzzle caches is the mental hunt before the physical hunt. A majority of the caches I find are regular as I like to hit a trail and enjoy the physical but there is something about warping your mind about a logic problem the night before (or week before) that just adds a layer of fun complexity. The good thing about this site is there is a mix of everything.


There are several puzzle primer caches - http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=561c98bf-6dec-4e90-9eb7-b07e38a2a3f1 That are also good to solve whether they are in your area or not.

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A while back, The Rat offered a puzzle-solving class as an event cache. His slides are available here:



Among the tips he offered:


Identify the theme. Check the cache title, the hint, the HTML source, the graphics (including names/URLs), any links (including URLs), whatever is at the posted coordinates, etc. If you can figure out the theme, then you should look for numbering systems that are associated with that theme (zip codes, athletes’ jersey numbers, episode numbers, product codes, etc.).


Around here, coordinates will have 15 digits, and will look like "N 37° xx.xxx W 122° xx.xxx". So when I'm solving a nearby puzzle, I look for a group of 15 things, and then I look for ways to get the digits 37xxxxx122xxxxx from them. In general, I look for ways to get the number 37 (or the digits 3 and 7) from something near the beginning of the puzzle, and the number 122 (or the digits 1, 2, and 2) from something near the middle of the puzzle. (Of course, you'll need to adjust this for the coordinates near you.)


Other useful resources include:

Puzzle Solving 101 Series (bookmark list)

Puzzle Shortcuts Series (bookmark list)

Solving Puzzle Caches (online article)

How Do I Solve All These $@! Puzzle Caches? (tutorial-style puzzle cache)

Puzzle FUNdamentals (archived event cache) and the Puzzle FUNdamentals resources on the GeocacheAlaska! education page

The GBA's Puzzle Cache FAQ (for puzzle designers, but useful for understanding how puzzle caches work)

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I usually just skip those but I'm due to get an oregon (yay!) and will be doing more geocaching. I'm giving these a second look and I don't understand what the point is with some of them. There are on questions, just a line of letters and a pic.


What is being solved here?

You're not alone. I skip right over them in favor of traditionals. Although I've read about puzzle solving and visited the websites suggested by others on this forum, I still feel as if I'm up against a brick wall with them. There are many in my neighbourhood that have been solved and found by fellow geocachers that I know would willingly help with an additional clue. But why can't I solve them on my own, or at least feel interested in them? Don't know. For my sake, I hope they don't become more popular.

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The clue is in the name... Rather than just a basic 'here are the co-ordinates, go find it' cache, you have some form of puzzle beforehand you have to figure out.


The puzzle can be whatever the owner wants it to be, from the incredibly simple to the fiendishly difficult, location based or solvable in advance. Every puzzle cache will be different, so have a look at a few cache pages and see if you can figure out where you think they will be.


They can vary wildly from 'go to this area, answer these questions to fill in the blanks in the co-ordinates', to having riddles or word questions that can be solved at home, or by visiting the area, having the co-ordinates hidden in code of some form on the cache page or whatever else the owner can think up.

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Wow! Thanks for all the tips and links! I might start with some easy ones. If I can find them. :laughing:

I always look at the D rating of a puzzle cache. Usually, the higher the D rating the harder I'm going to have to think about the puzzle.


Some puzzles are designed to be easy, other are designed to test your sluething skills to find what is needed to solve the puzzle.


The satisfaction comes when you tell a long time cacher how to solve a puzzle because they haven't figured out how to solve it. I had that happen last summer. I actually was able to nudge two long time cachers so they could solve some puzzles that I had solved.

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