Solution - Seasoned Traveler

By Alex Irpan

Puzzle Answers


This puzzle is made of 24 large images, as well as one small image at the bottom. First, identify the episodes each large image comes from, tracking both the season (see the puzzle title, Seasoned Traveler) and the episode number. To help verify IDing, the seasons of the episodes go "1111 2222 4444 5555 6666 7777".

The final image is of a pony named "Count Caeser". Notably, the puzzle skips Season 3 of My Little Pony, the only season with 13 episodes. Every other season has 26 episodes, suggesting conversion to letters A to Z.

Solvers who have watched My Little Pony will likely recognize that every puzzle answer appears in the title of exactly one My Little Pony episode - when possible, we picked episodes that were popular in the fandom. Solvers unfamiliar with My Little Pony were expected to discover this during the image IDing process.

Puzzle Answer Episode Title Season Episode Number
SONIC Sonic Rainboom 1 16
HURRICANE Hurricane Fluttershy 2 22
INSPIRATION Inspiration Manifestation 4 23
ATTRACTION The Mane Attraction 5 24
GAUNTLET Gauntlet of Fire 6 5
PERFECT The Perfect Pear 7 13

Take the four images for each season, convert them to letters, shift them by the episode number corresponding to the puzzle answer for that season, and read in order to get the answer THE RETURN OF NIGHTMARE MOON.

Image Episode Title Season Episode Number After Shift Letter
Applebuck Season 1 4 20 T
The Show Stoppers 1 18 8 H
Feeling Pinkie Keen 1 15 5 E
Friendship is Magic, Part 2 1 2 18 R
Sweet and Elite 2 9 5 E
MMMystery on the Friendship Express 2 24 20 T
A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1 2 25 21 U
Hurricane Fluttershy 2 22 18 R
Somepony to Watch Over Me 4 17 14 N
Maud Pie 4 18 15 O
Pinkie Apple Pie 4 9 6 F
Somepony to Watch Over Me 4 17 14 N
Party Pooped 5 11 9 I
Slice of Life 5 9 7 G
Princess Spike 5 10 8 H
What About Discord? 5 22 20 T
A Hearth's Warming Tail 6 8 13 M
P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View) 6 22 1 A
Stranger Than Fan Fiction 6 13 18 R
To Where and Back Again, Part 2 6 26 5 E
Shadow Play, Part 2 7 26 13 M
All Bottled Up 7 2 15 O
All Bottled Up 7 2 15 O
Celestial Advice 7 1 14 N

Authors Notes

The story of this hunt is that the Mane 6 are first trying to find where a friendship problem is, and then when a friendship problem is. Accordingly, I wanted the first metapuzzle to be about space, and the second metapuzzle to be about time.

For the second meta, the initial plan was to use events from the My Little Pony calendar, but then I learned that didn't exist. There are fan timelines, some of which are eerily specific, like this one by @DrewFlashy1 and @TheBronyCritic, which cross-references lunar cycles in the show to estimate the exact date and chronological order of every episode in the series. However, there are no canonical dates to work with.

In their place, I made this metapuzzle based on specific episodes, which was close enough to a puzzle about time. The first version of this meta gave images in "124567 124567 124567 124567" order, but the partial cluephrases were very bad if you had mistakes in identified episodes. Each image is taken directly from the MLP wiki's episode gallery, which makes it easy to confirm, but reverse image searches turned up many false positives, even when I tried to use unambiguous images. Grouping by season made it easier for solvers to catch their own mistakes.

This puzzle used to have the answer THE NIGHT THAT LASTS FOREVER, but on a whim I changed it to THE RETURN OF NIGHTMARE MOON. This turned out that was a good idea, because a few solvers guessed THE NIGHT THAT LASTS FOREVER from just the flavor.

This metapuzzle is incredibly easy to backsolve, and in fact it's solvable with 0 puzzles, by trying different shifts until the blocks of letters give valid English. At design time, I felt this was okay. It was the last meta of the hunt, backsolving didn't give any hunt progression, and it also didn't make the meta any easier, since the work in this puzzle comes from grinding through episode IDing. After the meta was finalized, we ended up reusing the answers one last time in Elements War, and at that point the easy backsolving was more problematic, but it was too late to change things.

Several teams figured out the episode connection before unlocking the metapuzzle, and theoretically, a team could have decided to brute-force all the unique episode words to unlock the meta, instead of solving the puzzles. No team actually did this, but the fact it was possible wasn't great, and in hindsight I would have added more layers to the puzzle to make the answers more important to extraction and less backsolvable. A bunch of teams brute-forced backsolves after unlocking the meta, but I had no problem with that. My argument is that in practice, backsolves are directed towards puzzles that the team doesn't want to do, so if you make the backsolve harder, it doesn't make the forward solve any more likely. They'll just abandon the puzzle instead, and this is especially true for metas near the end of hunt.