In the puzzle, we are asked to suggest “phrases” that satisfy the constraints of 16 teammates. If they satisfy a strict majority of the teammates, those who are satisfied “write their meta” and report back whether the phrase satisfies a second, exact constraint that’s a subset of the first constraint. For example, the first teammate initially wants the Scrabble score of all the letters to sum to under 30, but in reality they want the value to be exactly 18. The initial rejection messages should help us hone in on a constraint, while the second failure messages help us search within the restricted space.
Here are each of the teammates, their initial constraint, the exact requirement, and how it can be deduced. An appendix for determining the exact constraint is in the Appendix. A good start is the word RELAXATION, which satisfies a majority immediately and can be tweaked to tradeoff constraints.
teammate | Initial constraint | Final constraint | Explanation |
---|---|---|---|
1 | Its scrabble score is less than 30. | Its score is exactly 18. | A common way to assign points to words is to use Scrabble scores. |
2 | Its Morse code representation has more dashes than dots. | It contains exactly 15 more dashes than dots. | “Dashing” and 50% clue that dashes in the Morse representation are important. |
3 | Its final letters form a word. | The longest word formable has length 8 (using SOWPODS). | The rejection messages state that we’re interested in the longest word that can be formed. |
4 | Its length is 1 more than a square number. | Its length is 17. | The initial clue hints that the length needs to be n^2 + 1. |
5 | It contains, as a substring, a United airport hub. | It contains “ORD”. | There are 8 United hubs, we can try all of them. |
6 | It starts with one of ROYGBIV. | It starts with O. | “Palette” hints at color, and the input satisfies this one frequently, which should help narrow down to ROYGBIV. |
7 | It contains the letters of a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. | It contains the letters REARWINDOW. | Hitchcock was the “Master of Suspense” who directed many films. If the second constraint is hit (e.g. by Rope, Mary, or Marnie), there is another hint about a release date, which can also narrow down to films. |
8 | It contains, as a substring, exactly one US state abbreviation appears. | It contains “OR”. | The initial rejection message mentions “abbreviations” while the secondary message more strongly hints things that have been “admitted,” which typically describes US states. |
9 | Following the cardinal direction letters (NSEW) in the string would end directly east of the starting point. | There are 13 cardinal directions. | “Cardinal” hints directions, and the secondary rejection message is clear that we need to count the number of them. |
10 | It contains, as a substring, a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character with an extra letter. | That character is NESS. | “Ultimately” and “bros” clue the franchise, and the rejection message suggests looking at characters in a layout, which clues us towards the character select screen. |
11 | It contains, as a substring, the name of a Finding Nemo character with one letter changes. | That character is SQUIRT. | The “animated reef movie” is Finding Nemo, and can be confirmed by trying “NIMO.” The secondary rejection message describes a “canonical ordering,” which refers to the character list in the credits. |
12 | The first two letters are ROT13 apart. | The word starts with AN. | This intentionally vague clue only states that the first two letters have a certain relation. With enough queries, one can find that some words will occasionally satisfy the initial constraint. The secondary constraint suggests that the first letter is flexible, which suggests we care about relative distance. |
13 | It contains, as a substring, a spelled out number (ONE...TEN). | It contains ONE. | An “index” refers to needing a number up to length 10 (since “EXTRACTION” has length 10), but we can only submit strings. Searching all 10 numbers gets us ONE. |
14 | When typed, top-row keys (of a qwerty keyboard) are the plurality. | It contains exactly 12 top-row keys. | “Top-row” hints to look at a keyboard. |
15 | It contains as a substring, an anagram of a Greek letter. | The Greek letter is MU. | The rejection messages of using a different language, “mixed up”, and “alphabet,” suggest looking at other alphabets, e.g. Greek letters. The exact letter can be found by binary search. |
16 | It contains all the vowels (AEIOU) except one. | The missing vowel is E. | The first message hints that there are five things, which is referring to vowels. |
After finding even some of these, we notice that it is impossible to satisfy them all. teammate 16 wants to exclude E while teammate 13 expects the number ONE.
In Pin the Tail, we killed people. Specifically, we killed teammates in this puzzle. By killing teammates, the requirement to hit a majority drops, which relaxes the constraints and helps us discover everyone’s constraints. We can ignore the dead teammates for extraction (in fact, they are negative constraints although observing that is not necessary for solving this puzzle). After killing everyone, the remaining (alive) teammates are the following:
teammate | Final constraint |
---|---|
3 | The longest word formable has length 8. |
4 | Its length is 17. |
5 | It contains “ORD”. |
7 | It contains the letters REARWINDOW. |
8 | It contains “OR” and no other US state abbreviations. |
11 | That character is SQUIRT. |
12 | The word starts with AN. |
14 | It contains exactly 12 top-row keys. |
We know that the answer must have 17 characters. See the Appendix for an example of reaching a solution. Note that if we satisfy all the constraints and don’t get the answer phrase, we get told that the phrase starts with ANSWER, applying yet another constraint. With this constraint, we can find that the phrase we are searching for is ANSWERWORDISQUIET, and entering this confirms that this is indeed the correct answer. Reading this again, we find that the ANSWER WORD IS QUIET.
Sora isn't in the game yet.
Here, we list all the text in the puzzle and how they get triggered. If a strict majority is satisfied, we are told that: “That's a good start! The satisfied teammates leap back to their rooms to type up some prototypes... Here's their report:”. Otherwise, we are told: “Your teammates mill around impatiently, waiting for a better phrase”.
Note that length 1 would form a length 0 square (not a square), and length 2 would form 2 squares and the hypothetical meta would be ambiguous.
Here, we follow one path that gets close to a valid solution. Once we get a valid solution (and if it isn't the intended one), we get told it starts with ANSWER, which heavily constrains the search space. In this solve path, we do not make the assumption of parseable English words. In some cases, we link to Nutrimatic, although there are other websites that should eliminate cases in a similar way. The parentheses means that at most one of those letters can change (for SQUIRT's constraint), [#] marks a number of letters, * marks any number of letters, and < > mark anagramming.
Current phrase options | Explanation |
AN*ORD* | Starts with AN, contains ORD |
AN*(QUIR)*ORD* AN*ORD*(QUIRT)* | SQUIRT needs to go somewhere either before or after ORD, although one of the letters could overlap with AN or ORD |
AN*(QUIR)*ORD* AN*ORD*(QUIRT)* 4-5 top-row keys [QWERTYUIOP] | AN, D, and S are not top-row keys (ORQUIRT or). Assuming we change the S from SQUIRT to a top-row key, we still need 4 more. From the REARWINDOW constraint, 3 of those 4-5 need to be EWW. From here, we need to do casework. |
Case 1: ORD comes after SQUIRT. Case 1a: ORD is not fully in the 8 letter word, so we get ANQUIRTORD[7] or ANSQUIRORD[7] and the 8-letter word still needs 5 top-row keys. We can try to find 8-letter words starting with D, RD (none) | We don't find words for this query. |
Case 1b: The 8 letter word contains ORD, ANQUIRT[2]<”ORD”[5]> containing 3,4, or 5 top-row keys (and at least 1 W or E) | Querying again, this also does not yield results. A couple possible words end up containing DE or CO (both states). |
Case 2a: ORD comes before SQUIRT. Then: AN*ORD*SQUIRT*, with one letter changed and it would be missing. Possible options are i) ANORDQUIR T<ewwTTVV> ii) ANORD(SQUI RT)<ewwTTV> iii) <ANORD?>(SQU IRT)<[ew]wTTV> iv) <ANORD??>(SQ UIRT)[4] v) <ANORD???>(S QUIRT)[3] | i) Nothing here ii) Can’t change T, can’t change R iii) Can’t change I. N can get INTERWAR which has WA as a state, T has no solution; e.g. see this query iv) Must change a letter (U), and if we do, we need to either stay top-row (no solution) or remove the V wildcard into T again (no solution). v) Can’t change U, but we can change I, R, or T, or Q. These are all top-row characters and so even if ??? are free, we still need 2-3 top-row characters at the end. Can’t change I to A because of AR. Can’t change R (no solution; IN, IL), can change T to get ANORDWWESQUIRKIER as one solution. |
More cases... <ANORD????>(SQUIRT)[2] <ANORD?????>(SQUIRT)[1] | At this point, we can continue trying to changing letters and possibly end in SQUIRREL, which might get a solution. But we are already told it begins with ANSWER. Now (or if we guessed this earlier), we can skip any further casework. |
ANSWER*ORD*(SQUIRT)[0,1,2] | The only 8-letter word that could use SQUIRT is DISQUIET. |
ANSWER?ORDISQUIET ANSWERORDDISQUIET | It must be the first choice, and with REARWINDOW, we know the answer must be ANSWERWORDISQUIET. |