APP11: Potluck VI

The sixth Auburn Puzzle Party potluck


Thanks to everyone who participated in Auburn Puzzle Party 11: Potluck VI!. These results have been a little late in coming to the community website, but here we are!


Our only Solver Team Tracy Cobbs and Mark Brady (shown left-to-right) took the Solver Trophy by default, but also ended up receiving the overall Potluck Trophy as well!


New potluckers Cathlena Martin and Stephen Bennett (shown left-to-right) impressed the players and won the Design Trophy for most appreciated puzzle.

Thanks to Auburn Escape Zones


Thanks again to Escape Zones for sponsoring our event by providing pizza, soda, and a few shirts/stickers for the players.

More Photos

In addition to the below photos, all the photos taken by the organizer are available at this Google Drive page.

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Event Details

Our last puzzle potluck ran over a year ago. It’s about time.


Auburn Puzzle Party 11: Potluck VI will be run on Saturday, 2016 July 30, from 10am to 4pm at the Auburn University Student Center. Steven Clontz will be the organizer.

We will adopt a potluck format modified from the first four potlucks (rather than the Iron Puzzlers format), but teams can now choose to participate as Designer Teams or Solver Teams. Designer Teams will provide the puzzles, but every team will get to solve every puzzle brought by another team.

New to Auburn Puzzle Party?

Here’s some quick details: we still have room for a few Solver Teams, no experience necessary! The event is free, and pizza will be provided by Escape Zones. If you like escape rooms, you’ll like this. Contact the organizer at @StevenXClontz or to learn more.


  • Teams are composed of one or two people.

  • The organizer will provide two puzzles exclusively for Designer Teams to complete in place of their own puzzle(s). Solver Teams can try these puzzles after the event at their leisure. The organizer will serve as impartial judge if necessary, but these things tend to run themselves. :-)

Designing Puzzles

  • Each Designer Team must design one or two original puzzles. The team designates how many puzzles they will provide at registration. These puzzles MUST be completely designed one week in advance of the event. When a puzzle has been finalized, the team should email the organizer with its solution. The event will have to be canceled unless the Designer Teams pull through!

  • Designer Teams only need to create one copy of each puzzle they contribute, except for any consumable elements which must be reset for each team.

  • Puzzles can be of any type (creativity is encouraged!) but should be designed to be solved within roughly half an hour (28 minutes to be precise). All necessary material to solve a puzzle should be provided by the designing team, aside from the materials all teams are required to bring (listed below).

  • Puzzles must solve to a specific word, phrase, number, or otherwise some sequence of letters and/or numbers. The organizer will provide a solution sheet with blank spaces for each team to write their guesses for all puzzle solutions.

  • Puzzles must not require players to leave the event venue in order to be solved.

Playing the Game

  • All teams should bring paper (loose leaf, but a having a clipboard or notebook is fine) and pens/pencils (black/blue). Any other required supplies must be provided by the Designer Teams for their own puzzle(s) and kept at the puzzle’s station throughout the game (e.g. colored pencils/crayons if coloring is required).

  • The potluck consists of at least one station per puzzle. Teams begin at the station matching their number (which may or may not feature one of their own puzzles). During each round, teams have 30 minutes to solve the puzzle at their station. (If a Designer Team is at a station with their own puzzle, they will solve a puzzle provided by the organizer instead.)

  • Solutions must be written on the provided solution sheet and kept with the team until the end of the game; solutions may not be changed/added after the 30 minutes for that puzzle have expired.

  • The organizer will keep the official time. After each puzzle, teams will have two minutes to reset their puzzle(s) and rotate to the next numbered station (or back to station 1 from the highest numbered station) before the organizer starts the next 30 minutes.

  • Occasional breaks will be held, including a lunch break. Lunch is provided by our sponsor, Auburn Escape Zones, so you just need to show up with your puzzles, paper, and writing utensils!

  • At the end of competition, the organizer will collect solution sheets from all teams to grade.

  • The organizer will distribute surveys asking each team about each puzzle (besides the organizer’s, which are ineligible for awards). Each Designer Team will be given two minutes to describe how they intended their puzzle to be solved, its solution, and any other relevant information. The organizer will grade the solution sheets during this time.

How to Win

  • Designer Teams are eligible for the Designers’ Trophy. Each team will complete a survey on all the other puzzles they completed, simply ranking each on a scale of 1 to 5 stars (with half-stars allowed). The Design Points for a puzzle are given by the average number of stars it receives from this survey multiplied by two and rounded to the nearest integer. The Designer Team which contributed the puzzle with the most Design Points wins the trophy.

  • All Teams are eligible for the Potluck Trophy, although Designer Teams will have an advantage. The team earning the most Potluck Points as described below will win this trophy.
    • 10 Potluck Points are awarded for solving another team’s puzzle
    • A maximum of 20 Potluck Points are awarded to Designer Teams for each puzzle they contribute. This is calculated by the formula \((1-\left|\frac{2}{3}-\frac{Solves}{Teams}\right|)\times Bonus \times 10\), where Teams is the number of opposing teams, Solves is the number of opposing teams who solved the puzzle, and Bonus is 2 if your team solved the organizer’s substitute puzzle and 1 otherwise. (So, teams should aim for a puzzle which 2/3 of opponents will solve.)
  • Solver Teams are eligible for the Solvers’ Trophy based upon their Potluck Points.

  • In the case of a tie for any trophy, the sum of Design Points and Potluck Points will be used to break the tie. (Note this gives an advantage to Designer Teams.) If this does not break the tie, then the remaining tied teams will be asked a toss-up puzzle with a numerical answer, and the team closest to the correct answer wins.

Registered Teams

To register, email the organizer at Specify if you will be a Solver or Designer Team, your teammate (if any), and the number of puzzles you’ll be contributing. We can only support as many Solver Teams as we have Designer Teams who contribute two puzzles, but we will waitlist any interested Solver Teams in the meantime.

Registration is closed to Deisgner Teams. Contact the organizer ASAP if you want to join us as a Solver Team!

  • Designer Teams
    (must design 1 or 2 puzzles before 2016 July 23)
    • Eric Harshbarger and Hope Landrum (2 puzzles)
    • Zachary Sarver and Andrew Owens (2 puzzles)
    • Robert Ford and Tim Hardwick (2 puzzles)
    • Cathlena Martin and Stephen Bennett (2 puzzles)
  • Solver Teams
    • Mark Brady and Tracy Cobbs

Thanks to our Sponsor

Auburn Escape Zones has graciously offered to sponsor APP11 by providing lunch for all players! AEZ opened their doors in May, and have expressed a desire to support the Auburn puzzle community. Please return the favor by visiting them at If you’ve already tried them out, you can also support them by leaving a review of your experience at TripAdvisor and other review sites.

Survey Results

The organizer would like to thank those of you who completed the survey helping him gauge interest in this competition. You can view the results of that survey here.

*On calling it APP11… Potluck VI will be the eleventh major Auburn puzzle community event, not counting Eric’s Puzzle Parties, so I thought I’d go with it. Also, word on the street tells me there’s going to be a full-fledged puzzlehunt called Auburn Puzzle Party 12! (I won’t be organizing, but I bet you’ll be hearing more about that soon.) -Steven