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When Is A Multi-cache A Mystery Cache?

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Something that has puzzled me for a while - the distinction between a multi-cache and a mystery cache. The definitions on geocaching.com seem OK. An offset cache should be classed as a multi-cache etc.


But should a multi-cache always have several different waypoints, i.e. lat long coordinates? Even if there is not necessarily a physical cache at each location. The common type being find the number here, do a calculation and then go here - like a several step offset cache.


Some Mystery caches seem to fit OK, e.g. ones that require you to do some prior work before going out.


What about a cache that asks you to follow directions and find numbers as you go along, the only coordinates given being the starting point? You deduce the final cache location using numbers picked up along the route using clues as to what to look out for. Multi-cache or Mystery Cache?!





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ah.. but can a mystery/puzzle cache be one that is very easy to find with the given co-ordinates, and requires no research or work to find the location of the actual cache?


for example, I recently set this cache, Devils Flute, which I class as a puzzle cache, yet, there is no reason why anyone would have a difficult time finding it, in fact from reading the description alone, it would be concievably findable without the use of a GPS.


Personally, I had no trouble classifying this as a puzzle cache.

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IMO if you can't find the stages without the printout it is a mystery cache. A multi cache should have the coordinates for the next stage hidden at each stage.

Hmm, interesting definition. Just thinking about it further, these are the descriptions on geocaching.com (http://www.geocaching.com/about/cache_types.aspx)


multi-cache = "A multi-cache ("multiple") involves two or more locations, the final location being a physical container."


i.e. there doesn't need to be a physical cache at every location, only the last one. That implies that you will need to know coords/directions as you go along, so you will almost certainly need the cache printout. I think multi-offset caches belong in here.


mystery cache = "The only commonality of this cache type is that the coordinates listed are not of the actual cache location but a general reference point, such as a nearby parking location." But it can involve "complicated puzzles you will first need to solve to determine the coordinates".


Is this before you go out or whilst you are out? To me this implies an initial location (e.g. parking - and is the published location on the cache page) plus a final location you need to calculate using some sort of puzzle. It's a bit like an offset cache but you're not using the first location to discover the physical cache location (if you see what I mean).

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I would say: If the coordinates for the next waypoint can be found at the current waypoint (even if you have to do simple math, watch a movie, etc.) then it's a multi. If you have to do research or math that is not possible at the current waypoint, it's a puzzle.


See this cache. There are questions to answer, but they can all be found at the first waypoint - it's correctly labeled as a multi.


Compare to this where the first coordinates are the parking lot, and there is no information here that can help you find the second waypoint. The cache is improperly labeled as a traditional - it should be a puzzle.

Edited by AJK
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Finding it would be easy, but as your description says, the puzzle element is in getting to and signing the log.


A multi takes you from place to place, finding micros or gathering info to give you figures - either for the next stage, or the final cache. An offset is simply a single-stage multi.


A puzzle needs additional information/research or much more creative thought to find or open the cache. Anything involving getting a TB to help you find the cache, or dumb luck, is likely to be a puzzle.


If an idiot could do a puzzle with no more information than what's on the page, it's probably a multi. If a multi involves more than walking point-to-point and gathering info, it's probably a puzzle. There's a grey area in between, but that's where the gestalt entity that is Ekto comes in. :)



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So if you came to the first stage of a multi cache that had a gravestone that said


Mitch Hedburg



What would the coords of part 2 be?


If you don't know the answer it would be a puzzle to you wouldn't it?


Therefor unless the first location had a tag or container that contained the coords it should be a puzzle.

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Well, if the cache page said:


Mitch Hedburg



The final cache is at N51* DF.GEC / W001* BA.CEF


Then I'd say it was a multi, just one using a 'vitual' stage. I've set most my multis like this because it's less at risk from muggles. If the cache page just said come here, and then left me to look at the gravestone and scratch my head, that really would be a puzzle!



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In Germany and Belgium, at least, it seems to pan out like this:


- A multi is reasonably straightforward; you might have to read the last digits of a phone number or count the number of letters in a name, but "anyone" can do each stage.


- A mystery either involved "hard" puzzles on the trail (eg, one of mine: Who wants to be a millionaire), or a substantial amount of work at home (for example, puzzles involving questions like "if the engineer owns the red car, what kind of cigarettes does the Norwegian smoke?").


Using the formal definition of a mystery as used in the US (in which almost any minor offset becomes a mystery), would cause substantial confusion with this continental "tradition".


Now, my favourite dilemma: how do you rate the "difficulty" of a puzzle cache ? The guidelines are all about the trouble you have to go to, to find the cache on the final site. But quite often a 5-star mystery is more or less a drive-in at the end, such as this one (which didn't stop me spending over two hours looking for the drive-in part!).

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For a long time I was under the impression that a mystery cache was where the owner did not want to divulge what sort of conatiner you were looking for...


..in other words, the cache type was more to do with what container you were looking for..


- A traditional cache had a standard sized box (tupperware/ammo box etc

- A multi cache had more than one container to find, often micro caches followed by a normal cache.

- A Micro cache was a small container

- A Large cache was a container bigger than "standard" size

- An Event cache had no container because of it's very nature, so again, you knew what you were looking for.

- A locationless cache also had no container due to it's very nature.

- A Virtual cache similarly had no conatiner to find.


Then there was the mystery cache. It seemed logical to me to assume that this simply meant that you were not to be clued up as to what kind of thing you were looking for.


There was no such type as "puzzle cache".

There was no such type as "offset cache"


Only now do I discover they have changed the furniture round a bit. I like the modified multi cache being simply one with different stages, not necessarily with containers at each stage, and I like the idea of tagging puzzle cache onto mystery, except that now it doesn't relate any more to the type of container. Pity that.


But you have to realise that, just like me, the owner of that Amadeus cache probably hasn't realised the cache categories have been altered. If you notice, he placed it about a year ago, when I bet the old categories were still in place. Under those old labels, he has got the cache type right because there was no "puzzle cache" tag for him to use, and it certainly wasn;t any of the other categories then available; Watch the movie, get the coordinates, go out and find the box...What could be more traditional than that!? You can't expect everyone to go back and re-categorise their caches just because someone changes the rules halfway down the road.


Maybe if the chap was alerted to the fact that a better category for his cache now existed, he would gladly edit the page, but personally I think its a case of accusing someone of sinning in ignorance.

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