TheShooting Gallery

Written by Herman Chau


These are standard cryptic clues with a small twist: the definition part and wordplay part clue two words that differ in that their prefixes are opposites. For example, the definition part of the clue "Leading fans insult X-Men until pairs romantically separate" clues BREAKup and the wordplay part clues FIXup. The prefixes "BREAK" and "FIX" are opposites and their lengths match the number of bullets on the left and right respectively. The number of bullet holes matches the length of the common suffix "UP".

The full list of answers with wordplay annotated is below:

Hover over or click on each segment for a description of the wordplay. The definition is underlined.
Leading fans insult X-Men until pairs romantically separate. BREAKupFIXup
Explosions agitate WWE star K.O. around front of ring. FIREworksWATERworks
Bank clerk Elias Howe remains concealed. TELLerSHOWer
Great walls house core of moony celestial object. COMEtGOt
Result of economic upheaval wiping out Colorado. OUTcomeINcome
A gay view bedazzled vacation GETawayGIVEaway
Swindle six princesses' central four territories. PROvincesCONvinces

Reading the letters corresponding to the red bullets gives EXIT THE GUNGEON and keeping in theme with this puzzle, we replace the prefix EXIT with its opposite ENTER to obtain the answer ENTER THE GUNGEON.

Author's Notes

This puzzle came about from trying to name pairs of words where they differ by a prefix of PRO and CON, such as PROvince and CONvince or PROtest and CONtest. I originally wanted to try writing a puzzle consisting of only such pairs (of which there are plenty), but it felt like the puzzle would need some more substance, leading to the final version.

This was my first time writing cryptic clues for a puzzle and the clues underwent a lot of revisions, and I'm pretty happy with where they landed. Big thanks to Patrick Xia and Ivan Wang for their feedback and help with improving them!

It was a nice coincidence that the answer ENTER THE GUNGEON also could have its first word replaced by its opposite and still be a valid game, EXIT THE GUNGEON.