By Alex Irpan
Upon opening the puzzle, solvers are given a word search, and a list of 36 blanks,
grouped into six groups of 6. Each group is labeled with an
Element of Harmony, after their shapes change to match the
Mane 6's cutie marks.
However, their colors are different. For example, the Element of Loyalty
is the lightning bolt, but should be red, not yellow.
It turns out this puzzle is about a different set of six magical
artifacts that are stronger when wielded together: the Infinity Stones!
In the note given, T is Thanos, who was
drawn to Equestria in his search for the Infinity Stones.
Each word in the word search can have one of the Infinity Stone names added to
the start or end, to form a new phrase that fits into the given blanks.
As an additional hint to the Marvel connection and puzzle mechanic, when
all 36 words are found, the leftover letters in the word search
spell out "YOU HAVE FOUND EVERY WORD MARVELOUS JOB NOW ADD A WORD TO EACH".
Each Infinity Stone can be added to 6 of the 36 words. For each Stone,
find the 6 words that Stone can be added to, write the phrases
into the blanks for the Element of Harmony of matching color,
then read the indicated letters to get the answer
BRING BACK ELEMENTS BY PULLING A TIME HEIST.
During hunt design, I knew I wanted the story to revisit
the series premiere, and the endgame puzzle should be tied to the Elements
of Harmony, but for a while, I didn't know what puzzle would fit.
After a lot of time, I had this idle thought.
"Hey, isn't it funny how there are six Elements of Harmony, and six Infinity
Stones, and these are both magical artifacts that are stronger together?
Wait a second...OH MY GOD I HAVE TO MAKE THIS PUZZLE."
I considered using more Marvel references, as well as other ways of giving the words,
but eventually decided a word search was the easiest way to give the
base words without directly giving away the Infinity Stone mechanic. Besides, the hunt
already had a crossword puzzle and cryptics puzzle. I also liked that it
made the puzzle itself pretty easy. My least favorite puzzlehunt experiences
are when my team gets stuck on an endgame puzzle, so I wanted to keep them
Sorry about some of the weirder phrases (SoulPancake, Reality Bites).
To reduce noise in the word search, I used longer words when possible, and
those were the best options I found in my wordlist.
One of the reality clues used to be the Reality Gauntlet from Danny Phantom,
which was inspired by the Infinity Gauntlet. I thought this was
yet another cute Marvel
connection, but when
a testsolver found the NSA leaker Reality Winner, I switched the clue to that.
Reality Winner is the best name. I had to use it.