EPP16: DeCAThlon III

26 March 2016
10:00am - 10:00pm
Auburn, AL

Congratulation: Team "Bill The Cat"!

If you are interested in trying your hand at the puzzles the 100+ EPP16 participants were challenged with, you may find links to them at this survey results page. A few of the puzzles require physical props which an internet visitor will not have, but most are just paper and pencil affairs.


Anyone who knows me at all well knows which side of the "Cat vs. Dog" rivalry I am on. I am most definitely on Team Cat. With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to do party themed after my favorite animal. This led me to the oh-so-clever idea of doing a De-CAT-hlon.

Now, I've done a couple of decathlons at past party events (back in the day when these things were much smaller shindigs, and I still hosted all of the teams at my house; see EPP4 and EPP6), but this third decathlon will not really be the same format as the earlier ones. My Puzzle Parties have grown greatly in terms of scope, duration, and participation; so, DeCAThlon III will be more akin to my recent, large Parties.

That said, it will be a "decathlon" in the sense of there being 10 basic puzzles... at least to start. I'm going to run with the number "10" as a theme here (if you object to that since this is EPP number "16", then I would suggest two things: 1) calm down, 2) think in hexadecimal). More information about the puzzles may be found below.

Where you should be at 10:00am, Saturday, 26 March 2016...
DeCAThlon III will be held on Saturday, 26 March 2016. Yes, that is the day before Easter; I hope that does not conflict with people's plans -- it is the best weekend I could use this year. If it helps, know that the event won't go on quite as long as the past few years. DeCAThlon III will begin at 10:00am, Saturday and end twelve hours later at 10:00pm. There will be a short wrap-up party (somewhere) at which I will announce the winners. The event will not run late into the night this year, nor will there be a wrap-up party the next morning. I hope this will allow Easter-goers enough flexibility in their Eastery schedules.

The dice-themed image to the right is a clue as to where party will start at 10:00am. If you cannot figure it out, ask your teammates or team captain. If you still cannot figure it out, email me and I'll tell you (I don't want anyone not knowing where to be that Saturday morning).

I have been hosting Puzzle Parties for over ten years now, and over 350 people have participated. As always, I hope that past participants will return and that plenty of newbies join in the fun. If you know anyone who might enjoy this geekery, encourage them to visit this webpage, find a team, and contact me.


When you are ready to establish a team, email me with your team members (including Team Captain info, if known at that point) and your chosen team name (I would encourage a cat-theme). Team names will be approved by me and confirmed by listing them on this webpage.

Team formation rules will follow my fairly standard system. Each player has a "value" based on participation in, and trophies/wins from, past Auburn puzzle events. There is a point-cap for a team which the total of players' values may not exceed. If a team member has never particpated in an Auburn puzzle event, he or she is worth 8 Team Points, otherwise his or her value is equal to 9 + [number of trophies/wins] from past puzzle events.

If the player is visiting from out of town, his or her value is reduced by 1 (to encourage out-of-towners to attend). If a player wants to participate remotely (i.e. they will officially be on a team but not in town -- corresponding via internet or phone with their team), the player's Point Value is reduced by 2.

Here is a PDF of all past-players and their Trophy/Win counts (the final yellow column). Visiting and remote Player Point deductions are not included in that value. If a person's name is not listed in that PDF, he or she must be a newbie (and thus worth 8 Team Points). If there are errors in that PDF, please let me know.

The total value of an EPP16 Team may not exceed 70 Points.

You are welcome to adjust your team rosters anytime before Party-Day (adding teammates, removing them), just send me an update-email when you want to make changes.

TEAM ROSTERS (70 Team Points maximum)
Team Captains are in boldface. The Captain needs to be sure that I have his/her cell phone number and email address and needs to tell me a password for his/her team.
† Visiting participant (-1 Team Point)
‡ Remote participant (-2 Team Points)
(States represented: AL, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, LA, NC, NY, SC, TN, TX)
Calico (67)
Patrick Buckingham (9) †
Charles McPillan (12) †
Erin McPillan (11) †
Sanny Omar (8) †
Andrew Owens (10)
Zachary Sarver (9)
Megan Thomas (8)
Savannah (62)
Brad Eldredge (7) †
Bryan Leclair (8) †
Paige Leitman (7) †
M. Sean Molley (8) †
Megan Orr (8) †
John Richardson (8) †
Brian Schoner (8) †
Greg Watson (8) †
Thundercats (69)
Tanner Bain (9)
Trina Crowdus (9)
Kelly Hollingsworth (11)
Michael Hollingsworth (12)
David Jarrell (10) †
Paul Rundle (7) ‡
Andrew Thomas (11) †
Sphinx (68)
Laura Abell (8) †
Alexander Calvert (9)
Orie Cecil (9)
Ashley Collier (8)
Leah Donahue (8) †
Jeff Overbey (8)
Makenzie Reynolds (9)
Connor Watkins (9)
Coolest Ocelots (67)
Michael Boboian (8)
Chris Daniel (9)
Lee Daniel (8) †
Paul Daniel (10) †
Jarret Franklin (7) †
Joseph Hall (9)
Simon Lee (9)
Chip Self (7) ‡
Taco Cat (70)
Erin Beaver (9)
Drew Engleman (8)
Nicole Engleman (8)
Melanie Folds (8)
Rebecca Godwin (8)
Shauna Henry (9)
Jennifer Kidder (6) ‡
Brandon Nelson (8)
Mallory Nelson (8)
Bill The Cat (68)
Steven Clontz (13) †
James Dabbs (10) ‡
Steve Gaddy (9) ‡
Chad Gregerson (7) †
Brent Harrison (7) †
Rex Miller (10) †
Amy Steinkampf (12) †
The Missing Lynx (66)
Tom Beard (9)
Eric Chanin (8) †
Edward Boudreaux (9) †
Sharon Boudreaux (9) †
Robert Ford (12) †
Tim Hardwick (12)
Mary Trigg (7) †
EduCATors (63)
Gavin Bethea (8) †
Stephen Bennett (8) †
Kristen Bomer (7) †
Chloe Hope (7) †
Kevin Hope (7) †
Cathlena Martin (8) †
Benton Tyler (8) †
Scott Varagona (10) †
McGonagall (67)
Bryan Beckingham (8)
Lauren Beckingham (8)
Amy Croushorn (8)
Jonathan Davis (9)
Kate Fuller (9)
Jeff LaMondia (9)
Cassie Montgomery (8)
Jack Montgomery (8)
Tardar Sauce (69)
Kyle Booth (9)
Elizabeth Hardeman (8) †
Steven Imle (8)
Stew Jackson (8)
Taylor Pruitt (9)
Ian Schaefer (10)
Neil Schaefer (9)
Ben Willis (8)
< bra | cats > (64)
Taylor Hall (8)
Curtis Johnson (8)
James Kring (8)
Omar Lopez (8)
Michael McKinlay (8)
Paul Sanders (8)
Ben Schoenek (8)
Yi Zeng (8)
Tail of Two Kitties (52)
David Bock (6) ‡
Frank Bock (8)
Jennifer Bock (6) ‡
Davis Judd (8)
Robert Judd (8)
Hope Landrum (8) †
Sarah McMurray (8)
President Garfield (55)
Kaitlyn Childers (8)
Timothy Guice (8)
Doyon Kim (8)
Hudson LaFayette (8)
Carter Mills (7) †
Victor Sui (8)
Ken Yang (8)
"Un-teamed" players. These are players who have said they will likely show up on Puzzle Day, but for one reason or another have not yet settled on a team. If you are looking to bolster your team's roster, you may want to try to recruit these folks. If you want me to add your name to the Un-teamed list, email me and let me know an email by which prospective teams can contact you.

  • No un-teamed players at this time.

Of course, you are also encouraged to invite other friends as well.


As is typical for my Parties, the day will start with some type of Opening Puzzle. This will involve all of the teams in the same area (see the Introduction above for information about the starting location), some scurrying around, and trying to accomplish some not-too-terribly-difficult task. As teams complete this Opening Puzzle they will then be eligible to pick up their main puzzle booklet for the day.

This puzzle booklet will contain ten puzzles. There will, of course, be a wide variety of puzzle types and difficulties. Each of these ten puzzles will solve to an answer-message that will lead to a location in Auburn. At that location teams will find another puzzle to solve (answers to second-stage puzzles will not be directions to anywhere, just a codeword to prove that the puzzle was correctly solved). So, in fact, there will be twenty puzzles that a team could solve during the day (an "icosathlon"?). There could be meta-, hidden-, and other types of unlisted puzzles as well (there will be no "kitten juggling" competitions, however).

Answers to puzzles will be entered into an online "dashboard" which will also tally a team's score as the day progresses. Most puzzles will be worth 100 points to the first team to solve it. Once a particular puzzle has been solved by one team, its value will decrease by 1 point every 10 minutes. There will be no penalty for incorrect answer submissions (whether through mistakes or carelessness).

All answer submissions will be halted at 10:00pm (twelve hours after the start of DeCAThlon III).

The team will the highest final score wins.


You may, for any of the ten basic puzzles (or the ten puzzles led to by the first ten), request a hint if your team feels it is completely stuck. To receive a hint for a puzzle a team member must come to my house. Upon arrival tell me what puzzle you need help on, and I will ask how far you've gotten on it. I will try to get as good a feel as possible as to where you are in the solving process of that puzzle so that I can give you a valuable hint (without just giving you the answer). Once I have the necessary information, and if I feel I have a worthy hint to give, I will ask if you want to receive it. When you definitely state that yes, you want the hint, I will tell it to you.

Hints will cost your team Points. The number of Points subtracted from your team's score will be randomly determined by rolling a number of dice equal to which number hint this is for your team (i.e. the first hint will demand one 6-sided die be rolled, the second hint -- regardless of whether for the same or a different puzzle -- will require two dice to be rolled, etc). The player receiving the hint will roll the dice as I watch, and I will deduct the Points (you will soon see it on your team's dashboard).

You may request multiple hints for the same puzzle (which will necessitate multiple dice rolls, of course). I do not guarantee that my hints will be crystal clear, but they will be relevant.

Important: When you come to my house for a hint, be ready to concisely tell me what puzzle you are asking about, and what the problems are. In the past I've had many people come in on their cellphone with other teammates trying to erratically figure out, in a complete state of confusion, what is supposed to be asked. I am very busy administrating the Puzzle Party, please do not come for a hint until you are ready to clearly talk about the puzzle! Wasting too much of my time might incur a (small) point penalty for your team (beyond any points lost from the hint itself).


Here are some recommendations:

The Trophies