Setec Astronomy wins 2018 Mystery Hunt

Hunt was unique for allowing teams to choose order of puzzle rounds

MIT’s annual Mystery Hunt, one of the oldest and most complex puzzle hunts in the world, took place over the Martin Luther King Jr. long weekend, from Jan. 12 to Jan. 15.

Teams varying in size from five to up to 200 members raced to solve all the puzzles that ultimately led to a special object hidden somewhere on campus. This year, the team Setec Astronomy found the coin on Sunday, Jan. 14 at 4:21 p.m. thereby winning the competition.

Mystery Hunt is designed and run by the previous year’s winning team so that no team wins two consecutive years. The team Life and Order (formerly known as Death and Mayhem) wrote this year’s hunt.

Setec Astronomy, which also won Mystery Hunt two years ago, will write next year’s hunt.

The structure of the hunt was based on the Islands of Personality in the movie Inside Out. Participants solved puzzles and meta-puzzles across the virtual Pokémon Island, Games Island, Sci-Fi Island, and Hacking Island.

The overall theme, introduced at the kick-off, was “Health and Safety.” Teams were equipped with a “First Aid Kit” containing items to unlock before encountering the “6 Paragons of Safety,” where hunt participants were to learn about “Common Hazards.”

This year’s Mystery Hunt allowed teams to choose the order of the puzzle rounds they unlocked, something that no organising team has done since 2004, according to Dan Katz, a member of Setec Astronomy, in his Jan. 16 blog post.

Life and Order’s headquarters, which answered questions from the teams, were busy from the start until the end. “We were answering phone calls for the puzzle until 10 a.m. today,” James Douberley, representative of Life and Order, said in the wrap-up event Monday.

Mystery Hunt began in 1981, when it was created by Brad Schaefer ’78 while he was earning his PhD at MIT.

The 2018 Mystery Hunt was sponsored by Stripe, Google Cloud Platform, Garment District and the MIT Undergraduate Association.

Puzzles and solutions to this year’s hunt can be found at