Magical Treasure Hunts and Swimming Pools

This weekend was pretty fun, albeit not as filled with magic as I had hoped. A record heat wave swept through my area, and wouldn't you know it, my A/C decided this year would be a great time to stop working. It's been in the mid-80's indoors all weekend and not a fan in sight. Fan-tastic. Though, I did get a chance to take the kids to the swimming pool, but let's be honest -- that doesn't make it any less hot.

I'm still working on the David Blaine course, it's going pretty well though I'm still going day-by-day. I was ahead by a few days earlier in the week, but time caught up with me and now I keep getting the "oh hey, the thing's due tonight" reminders, so unless I catch a break, I'll likely fall behind by a day or two eventually. It really is a great course still, though the last few lessons weren't as experienced-friendly as the first few. We're coming to the end of the card magic portion of it right now so the next batch of lessons might be completely new to me!

Oh, yeah, by the way -- I completed two magic treasure hunts on Saturday!

One treasure hunt was for False Anchors by Ryan Schlutz, the other was put on by @magic_alon... I'm not sure if it was sponsored by Ellusionist or not (Alon's an ambassador for them, so he gets sweet deals and coupon codes to give out).

False Anchors V3 Treasure Hunt

This treasure hunt is still technically live, so I'm not going to spoil too much for it here. However, it all starts with the False Anchors V3 deck.

The deck itself was funded via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2021 and it's full of a lot of great secrets, as far as decks go. One of them, if you have a keen enough eye, is the location of the beginning of a treasure hunt! My oh my!

I didn't know about the campaign -- whatever Kickstarter uses for their algorithm decided not to show me this one. I also didn't know about "False Anchors" until August of 2021, which was after this campaign had ended. It would've been nice to be in the loop a little earlier, but that's life I guess. Anyways, I received the deck later via the aftermarket, I think earlier this year (2022) if I recall correctly. I've checked my order history and can't find a record of the purchase... and yet, I have the deck so who knows.

I had opened the deck when I received it but didn't pay attention to it much. I just noted the awesome gaff cards and knew I'd come back to it in the near future. However, last week I received a giveaway reward from him, and it included that deck and 5 others! But yeah, back to the treasure hunt =P

I grabbed my already-opened V3 (instead of the new one) and started going through it to see how it would do with pictures for a good thank-you post. And then I noticed something special about one of the court cards. It looked... different. So, I looked at another court and it also had something different on it. I found they were almost all different (later, after looking better, they all were different)!

That was a clue to the next, or first, location of the hunt which pointed to another location, and then another. There were many puzzles and tricks one after another until finally I crossed the finish line!

I do want to be fully transparent in that I had asked Ryan on IG on two of the questions if I was on the right path because I was getting nowhere fast and he gave me helpful yes and no answers. Never a direct "here's how you solve it," but a confirmation that I was right or wrong and it was more than helpful.

Given my engineering background and participation in a lot of security-oriented "treasure hunts" (typically called "capture the flags"), I approach these with a much different and more security-trained eye. Ironically, after I had gotten into the hang of the non-security puzzles, I got stumped for a while on one that was 100% in my wheelhouse. This was one of the "hey, am I on the right path?" questions I asked and when I got the "yes", I immediately knew I needed to bring out my normal toolkit and a minute later, I had the answer!

This hunt was a blast, I can't lie. It covered so much and was quite long. Some of the puzzles were easy, some were hard. The way that you "enter" into it with the cards though, I absolutely love that idea and will always remember it. Amazing job with it Ryan!

@magic_alon Treasure Hunt

A few weeks ago, @magic_alon started posting some whacky posts. Not his normal whacky magic videos, but rather static images that had a map... or a pin... or numbers? Long-story-short, he's been hinting at a treasure hunt for about a month, hoping to drum up interest throughout the community.

I'd like to think it worked, there were a decent number of people participating in it when it launched on Friday, May 20th!

I was still in the middle of the False Anchors treasure hunt, so I didn't think I'd be able to participate in Alon's. His was more of a "first to finish" that everyone knew about and I didn't want to interrupt my current puzzle flow. However, I was stumped on one of the FA puzzles, so I decided to give it a go.

A few minutes later, a clue on Alon's hunt brought me to a private IG account where the next clue was waiting... except, the owner was asleep (and the account was supposed to be public). Yay!

Jumping forward to Saturday, I had cracked the False Anchors final puzzle already and decided to hop back over to Alon's and that private account was open! I grabbed clue after clue and... got stuck.

I came to a website that required a password and had no idea what the next step was. There wasn't a clue as to what the password was. I tried a handful of guesses (more like 50) but nothing worked. I stared and stared at all I had, and then it hit me. The image so cleverly named as "random image that you don't need" wasn't only needed, it was the answer. Rather, it pointed to the answer.

I don't want to give away info about the puzzles themselves as it's still open to participate in, but they were fun and though I did get stuck on one, they weren't overly difficult. A minute or two of thought was all that was required =]

I wasn't the first to finish the race, however, I was the first from the Instagram audience to finish and was told that I won a prize! $150 in downloads, no less! At the time of this writing, I haven't received any additional information about this yet, but I had fun during the hunt and met a few new folks along the way.


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