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Letters In Boxes #18

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You Are Games

Letters in Boxes #18

ArtbegottiEach week we feature a series of puzzles called Letters In Boxes, but sometimes the letters in the boxes get a bit too much attention. Every once in a while, it's nice to think outside the box, get a bit of fresh air, and find a new perspective on the problems you're facing. This week, we celebrate the box-troverts with a challenge where everything you need to know to solve each puzzle is out of the grid.

Take a look at your starter puzzle below. Some of the puzzles in this series might look a bit familiar! Click on the puzzle to open it up in a new window. When you've discovered an answer (and a little hint, all of the answers this week are five-letter words), check out your browser's address bar. Change the image's filename (in this case, "outsideeighteen") to your answer, making sure you stay in the same directory and keeping the same file extension. If you're right, the next answer is just a short walk away! If you're wrong, you'll have to backtrack a bit, but you can always try another path.

Letters in Boxes #18 - Puzzle 1This batch of puzzles contains four puzzles to solve. On the fourth puzzle, you'll find the email address for sending your final answer. We'll hand out a prize to the first correct entry we receive, plus one additional randomly-selected correct entry. Please include your Casual Gameplay account display name with your entry. You must be at least 13 years of age to enter. Only one submission per participant, please. Offer void where prohibited. Your deadline for submitting your answers is Monday, October 17th at 11:59 PM (GMT-5:00). And don't forget to get out and enjoy the day! Good luck!

Update: Congratulations to the following winners! :D

  • kdausman ...First!
  • Nigma
Both winners were given a choice of prizes. Congratulations and thanks for playing with us! Look for another Letters in Boxes again soon!


1 was easy. Have solved the puzzle for #2, but don't see a word.


Oops... power of posting.


hopefully the power of posting will help me with #2 too!


Done. Easiest one yet. But fun puzzles.

Here are some hints for those that are stuck (hopefully subtle ones):

Overall hint

Every one of these puzzles is based on a standard (ok, sometimes obscure) grid-based puzzle type.


Did you remember to spell it out?


I wasn't familiar with this type of puzzle. But there's a giant clue scattered all over the grid. Figure out what that clue means before wasting time trying to look for patterns.


Start by figuring out what the numbers along the bottom are for.


Hmmm... I wonder why the letters are white-on-black instead of the more usual black-on-white...


Yeah, I'm not seeing the word on #2 either. :(

sunney444 October 13, 2011 1:00 PM

i just seem to be missing the pattern on #2. I get the clue but i seem to be lost.


I've trolled here for years but hadn't created an account before now. Great site. In any case, for the folks stuck on #2...

Anagrams aren't an answer. But it might help to think of faces and vases...


I have no clue what the puzzle for 2 even means, help?

I tried guessing the word based on the "clue", but clearly I didnt understand the clue as much as others...

Littleghost October 13, 2011 2:26 PM

I must be going about it wrong: On #2 I have no idea what the zeros mean.

BeagleBag October 13, 2011 2:39 PM

I'm guessing the numbers mean

How many of those letters in that row or column are in the clue word

But I don't know how to fill in the blank boxes or see any sort of a theme.


Wow, first one and I'm already screwed. I was never any good at these pictograms, even though I know exactly how they work. :[

Alix Bowman October 13, 2011 2:47 PM

What happened to the winners from last week?


Uhhh...never mind. POP goes the weasel once more, it seems.

That and a quick Google search for some assistance.


An Onyx Mouse:

If it helps, start with two features: 1) Rows/columns where the sum of shaded segments lengths plus the number of spaces equals 10, because these are completely determined, and
2) Rows/columns with a big long segment of shaded boxes - you may not know where these start and end, but some boxes in between MUST be shaded regardless.


Figure out what the puzzle is first, then the zeroes will make a lot of sense. kdausman's hint will help. If you need more than that, try this website:

I'm busy working on #4, which I haven't figured out a trick to as of yet... #3 was interesting, and not too hard, but I didn't recognize the puzzle as a known type - after Monday, can someone ID it for me?


I get the puzzle for number two but it's not working out.

ThemePark October 13, 2011 3:12 PM

So I get what iq8w7ht is referring to. But I don't see how that helps getting a word out of #2.

Either it's about making it symmetric along the vertical axis, in which case I only get one letter more. Or it's about looking at the letters that don't belong to trees. If I include the tree tiles in that, I get what looks like a puzzle piece from one of those cubes you have to assemble. But that doesn't do anything either.

nerdypants October 13, 2011 3:12 PM

I've solved the puzzle in #2 (did it twice, 99% certain I got it right), but I am just not seeing a word.

Maybe I'm supposed to be looking for a shape instead? Argh, it doesn't look like anything!


Also having problems with #2 here.

It's a Tents puzzle, by the way, but I can't make any sense out of the results - the "tents" don't anagram to anything sensible.


For #2, one big point is that

You're not looking for just five letters here.

Relatedly, what I was getting at before was:

Rubin's vase, and the whole reason for that isn't so much symmetry as... (big spoiler)

...the notion that sometimes you think you're looking at the point, but it's actually the background, or vice versa.

Any thoughts on #4, for those that are there?

Anonymous October 13, 2011 3:58 PM

On #2

Some people can't see the forest for the trees... and the tents.


Another hint for #2:

Take a step back once you've solved the puzzle.

Look at what is left



One of your interpretations is correct. Make sure that you're starting...

in the top left.

ThemePark October 13, 2011 4:09 PM

Thanks, I got it now. I'm glad that I was on the right track. But one thing that's important to point out.

Direction matters.

I hope that's a good enough hint.

Anonymous October 13, 2011 4:11 PM

man, stuck on 3. Shame, seems everyone who can get past 2 gets all the way to 4, but I have no idea how to proceed.


Seems I'm stuck on puzzle 3 this time around. Shame, it seems most people who finish 2 get straight to 4. I must be missing something obvious. Any pointers?

sarcastodon October 13, 2011 4:14 PM

@ThemePark: I had the exact same problem. Had the puzzle solved for a while, but couldn't figure it out.

Stuck on 3, now.

nerdypants October 13, 2011 4:26 PM

Finally got #2 (feel kind of silly for not noticing that), and now completely stumped on #3.

I dislike being given a puzzle I've never seen before, with no way to find out what the puzzle is (unless someone here knows how to Google that grid). I lucked out by knowing what the first puzzle was, and for the second one I just Googled

"tree grid puzzle"

but I'm completely at a loss for what to do in #3.


For #3 -

As mentioned above, I really have no idea what the official puzzle type is. However, what can help a lot is:

This puzzle looks a lot like #1, and there actually are a lot of similarities.

X marks the spot(s). But it doesn't stand for another number....

...if anything, it stands for a space.

Consider what the numbers to the left of each row, or the top of each column, add up to in each case.

What do the numbers at the bottom add to?

nerdypants October 13, 2011 4:43 PM

Yeah, #3 is still not making sense.

I see that all the numbers (the sets of numbers at the top and left, and the 1234 at the bottom) add up to ten, but I'm not seeing what that has to do with anything. Especially since the grid is only 5x5.

sarcastodon October 13, 2011 4:45 PM

I'm with nerdypants


thanks iq8w7ht, but I'm still stuck. The fact that they

all add up to 10

was something I noticed right away, but means nothing to me. I feel somewhat dense, but I've probably gotten stuck in a loop where my previous ideas (that didn't produce anything) are inhibiting new ones. Maybe I should just leave this and try again tonight, after not thinking about it for a while.



I got it, but I really have no idea how. I just sort of threw a few different grid puzzle rules together (Nonograms and Kakuro, mostly), and the right answer just sort of fell out of it.

sarcastodon October 13, 2011 4:59 PM

@OtherBill: Perfect hint, I got it immediately! Thanks!

nerdypants October 13, 2011 4:59 PM

Interesting. I reverse Google image searched the gif from #3 and got:

- blueprints for a bath house
- a map of Saudi Arabia
- a picture of one of the 101 Dalmatians

Any hopes that this would lead me to a similar puzzle have been thoroughly destroyed.


oh wow. Ok, I got it now. I don't feel as dense anymore though, that was tricky. I'm not sure how to hint at it though, without a complete spoiler...it's a tough one, I think.


Thanks OtherBill, that helped.

#3, kinda big spoiler

Each row/column contains the digits 1-4 and a blank space. The blank is like the white spaces in nonograms, which separate the groups of black spaces. The numbers around the edge are the sums of the digits before and after the black spaces.


@sarcastodon: No problem. :-)

It would not surprise me if #3 is

not an established kind of puzzle, but was a hybrid mish-mash created specifically for this LiB...


Still can't get #2.

I've got the "tents" marked in blue in Photoshop and the "trees" and "empty" squares marked in red; I'm getting this nice castle-looking shape, but I've tried "castle," "rook," and "crown," and none of them work. Am I supposed to treat the trees as part of the "background" as well?


@Ryusui re: #2

You are given trees and you put up tents. The answer can be found

in the grass. Just be careful

in what direction you read.

sarcastodon October 13, 2011 5:13 PM

Is puzzle 4 a standard type of grid-based puzzle?

nerdypants October 13, 2011 5:16 PM

Ryusui, you're making the same mistake I did:

You're not looking for a shape.

sarcastodon October 13, 2011 5:19 PM

Ah, think I found the puzzle "type" for #4

It looks like a "black box" puzzle

ThemePark October 13, 2011 5:19 PM

After a little thinking I got #3 thanks to OtherBill. And fortunately I am very familar with #4, so here's a hint for those stuck on it.

It's about lasers and mirrors.

ThemePark October 13, 2011 5:24 PM

And as for #3, besides what OtherBill has said.

It also bears some resemblance to an ABC puzzle.

nerdypants October 13, 2011 5:24 PM

zxo, about #3:

Your method doesn't seem to work. I see that the top row would be 23X14 (or some variation on that). But the second-to-last row would be 42X13. That gives the middle column two X's.

Am I missing something obvious?

ThemePark October 13, 2011 5:27 PM


There is more than one way to get the sums for the second to last row.


Ok, with #2, I've managed to solve the puzzle, but all that I can seem to read off of it is

"Anotherpickleatflood", when reading from top to bottom starting at the top left

And that doesn't mean anything, and doesn't give any noticeable results on Google...



There is more than one way to split 1234 into 6 and 4.

nerdypants October 13, 2011 5:31 PM

Gah, thanks, ThemePark. All my 1st grade math skills seem to have left me today.


@lukex115 that's exactly right. I guess if you don't understand, you're really in a pickle.



Lukex115 --

You're fine. Now...

make that into four words, with a metaphorical meaning for the green vinegary one....



This might be an American thing. "Pickle" can mean problem, puzzle, etc. My guess is that people have been getting good at spotting words like puzzle, clue, next, etc., and using them to help them figure out the puzzle, and Steve is getting creative in the way he words the phrases to help avoid this.



Replace "pickle" with "puzzle" and it'll make perfect sense. Thanks, man, and apologies in advance for when the mods kill your post.


Sarcastodon, thanks for the help on #4, got it now. I remember thinking that laser puzzles were ever so nifty when I was young, but hadn't made the connection here yet.

Apologies if my previous hints were too obtuse, by the way - like I said, I've trolled for a long time but haven't posted before, so I didn't want to give too much away w/ hints in my inexperience.

nerdypants October 13, 2011 5:40 PM


That post should probably be deleted...


AHHHH I get it now, thanks, didn't realise I was that close! I'd thought I'd gone down the complete wrong track and was about to start over :P


Eureka! #3

Cogito quadratus proprius est.



Hints for all!



Enter the answer you see in words.



Start from the top-left and read down the columns.


Unknown, but simple. The numbers 1-4 and an X go in each row and column. The hints indicate what comes before and after each X; for instance, "5,5" means that there are two groups separated by an X in that row/column, and that the two groups each add up to 5. "10" means that the numbers 1-4 appear all in one group, with an "X" to one side or the other.

All you really need to do, however, is place the X's.


Black Box

The Wikipedia article is a big help, but don't let it psych you out: Occam's Razor is in play here. This puzzle pulls no crazy tricks.

nerdypants October 13, 2011 6:11 PM

Wow, the puzzle in #4 seems really complicated. This will not be fun.


@nerdypants, #4 is really not that complicated. Just go to Wikipedia's entry for

Black Box (game)

and fire away!
(That is, assuming I've got the right answer ;)
Along those lines, would it be possible to have some sort of confirmation of our final puzzle answer? Like the "yep" we got a few LIB's ago?


OK, here are my spoilers for all four puzzles. If they don't make sense to you, wipe them from your memory! I got into a bit of a jam with #2 by paying too much attention to spoilers and misinterpreting them.
Btw, with the exception of #3, all these spoilers identify the type of puzzle to be solved, so don't look if you want to figure that out on your own.


this is a straightforward Picross. The image you generate is not exact, but it's close enough to interpret.


Trees and Tents. Once you've solved for that type of puzzle, look at what's left. You should get four words.


As far as I can tell, Steve created this puzzle type (and a fine one it is!). zxo's comment at 5:04PM Oct 13 is a major spoiler for how to solve it.


Not hard at all if you know it's a Black Box puzzle. The answer I got is something tasty. Assuming I'm right :o}


Today I learned how to do puzzle type #4. If I can do it, you can do it!


#4 is pretty intimidating. I got an answer based on zoz's hint and my very rudimentary understanding of this type of puzzle... But I have no idea if it's the right answer.


Holy cow...I actually finished. O_O;;

Have to admit, given my luck with the types of puzzles in #1, I didn't expect to ever even SEE #4, much less solve it.

Jamilworm October 14, 2011 1:12 AM

For number 4 I solved the puzzle, but...

the answer could be a tasty treat or some authors. I guess I'll just read it top to bottom left to right.


Wow, three puzzle types I'd never seen before. All of them which I had to figure out messily on paper.

I messed up #2 due to my unfamiliarity with the rules and didn't feel like redrawing the grid and trying again, but thankfully Lukex had the right answer spelled out.

My brain feels like it's been sufficiently exercised, or perhaps just excised.



As I said before, the puzzle pulls no dirty tricks. All the numbers are connected through the least complicated path possible.

nerdypants October 14, 2011 1:36 AM

I think I have the answer to #4, but I'm not really confident of it.

zoz said he got something tasty, and what I got is certainly edible, though I never really liked it...

I too wish there were a confirmation image on this one.


After changing puzzle number 3

into a nonogram in my mind

I was able to solve it quite easily.


Steve, thank you so much for adding the test gif for the final answer. Does this mean my ego seeks validation? Who cares, I just like knowing whether I was on the right track or not.
As for solving by entering random words, I can't imagine doing that. I mean, how many five letter words are there in the English language, anyway?


I enjoy the test gifs. Three cheers for the warm happy feeling of mild accomplishment!

(P.S. The Easter Eggs in past LIBs have been fun as well!)


LOVED this batch! The 1st and 4th especially are 2 of my favorite kinds of puzzles. And I also thank you for the validation gif at the end. I almost always throw my answers into an anagrammer, just to make sure I haven't missed something, especially after LiB #15.

At first I wasn't sure if I wasn't just hungry while I was playing ;)

To answer the poll: I think the way it's been going is good, with the gif added in later if confusion starts surfacing over the final answer. I don't think it needs to be the default, but certain puzzles have definitely benefited from it.

Of course if nothing changes, that does mean Steve has to continue keeping an eye on the comments section. I hope you enjoy watching us solve your puzzles as much as we enjoy solving them :).


I prefer to have immediate definitive knowledge that I'm right/wrong about the answer.

Anonymous October 15, 2011 2:38 AM

Didn't really enjoy this one, because most of the puzzles have complex rules where there's no way you can figure it out just by looking and thinking about it, there's simply not enough clues--you have to already be familiar with the puzzle type and its rules to have any chance at solving them, or read spoilers by others, which really diminishes the joy of solving. I guess the requirement of external information fits the theme of thinking outside the box, but for those of us who haven't seen these puzzle types before it's not very fun. Following directions isn't puzzle solving.

nerdypants October 15, 2011 3:07 AM

I agree with tigrita. Unless a lot of people are saying they're not sure about their final answer, there shouldn't be a confirmation gif.


I still don't get #2. I have solved the puzzle and replaced the second word, but I still can't get to the next puzzle. English isn't my first language so I don't get all these plays with words.


Maser: Check your spelling on the filename. I've found myself goofing up a few times on these by not noticing that I accidentally erased the dot, trying to get to ANSWERgif rather than ANSWER.gif by mistake.


I am frustratingly stuck on #2. I know I have completed the puzzle correctly, I have a clue but I don't understand what it means... it doesn't make any sense.

I thought it had something to do with Pink Floyd, but I don't think so... I just don't get it, can anyone give me a hint?


Squiddly, did you

solve for a Trees and Tents puzzle?

If you're sure you've solved it correctly, you'll

get a sentence of four words.

If you're English is not good and you want a fairly major spoiler, I can tell you that

"pickle" can be used for "puzzle".


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