Mystery Hunt Team Name Origins

This is a post about the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt. You can see the hunt website with all the puzzles and solutions here.

I’m still working on a blogpost about some of my favorite puzzles from the 2020 hunt, but in the meantime I thought I’d throw together a quick post about the origins of the team names of various Mystery Hunt teams. Most of this data is collected from these two reddit threads. If I got anything wrong do let me know and I’ll be sure to correct it. Teams after Left Out are sorted by their ranking in this year’s hunt.

Left Out: The name comes from the fact that Left Out has an abnormally large contingent that hunts from the west coast (and so are generally “left out” of hunting on site).

✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈: The name comes from a powerful card in the game Race for the Galaxy. (The airplanes were added because people thought they looked cool). The tradition of actually pronouncing the airplanes (Whoooosh and Nyeoooow respectively) started in 2015, I believe.

Palindrome: Their team name is a different palindrome every year (my personal favorite: TOO LONG, NO LOOT, a reference to the fact that they haven’t won hunt in a while).

teammate: The conceit here is that the word TEAM has a lot of valid anagrams, several of which are related to puzzlehunts (TEAM, MATE, META) and several which aren’t really (MEAT, TAME).

The Team Formerly Known as the Team Formerly Known as the Team to Be Named Later: Presumably in 2018 they couldn’t decide on a name and decided to call themselves Team to Be Named Later, and in 2019 they thought it would be funny to call themselves The Team Formerly Known as the Team to Be Named Later, and I assume their team name will get five words longer every year in the future.

Death and Mayhem: A team with the name Death from Above merged with a team called Project Electric Mayhem (which itself is a portmanteau-ish reference to Project Mayhem (from the movie Fight Club) and Electric Mayhem (from The Muppets)).

Test Solution Bees Ignore: A reddit mystery hunt team called Test Solution Please Ignore (a reference to this legendary reddit post) merged with a team called Aviation Laws (a reference to The Bee Movie (“According to all known laws of aviation…”))

Setec Astronomy: A reference to the movie Sneakers, in which a secret corporation called Setec Astronomy is found to anagram to Too Many Secrets.

Codex Argenteus: This team names themselves after a different codex every year. (My personal favorite was when they split into two teams in 2018, Codex Ogg and Codex Vorbis)

This Rage Intentionally Left Blank: This one is complicated. This team split off from the Manic Sages, whose team was a combination of people from the ESG program and MAthcamp. So that’s where the AGE part comes from. Their original name was the Metropolitan Rage Warehouse, because from a certain angle the lettering on the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse on campus looks like the Metropolian Rage Warehouse. And so every year they have the word Rage in a different part of their name.

United States Census: This team is super annoying since they change their name to something completely different every year. Dan Katz referred to them as ATTORNEY (a team that obstinately replaces names every year) which I think is cute. Their most famous name was the one they chose in 2013, namely the full text of the novel Atlas Shrugged.

Super Team Awesome: STA is affiliated with the MIT Association of Taiwanese Students (ATS). In their words: “We called ourselves Super Team Awesome because a few of us had participated (and actually won) a Simmons Hall orientation mystery hunt under the name “team awesome”, and because it fit well that a team from ATS would be called STA.”

Hunches in Bunches: Oh boy another complicated one. So there’s a dorm at MIT called Random Hall (some of our dorms have funny names, like Next House, New House). Random Hall has a bunch of people interested in puzzles, so they field at least three different Mystery Hunt teams every year because everytime they win hunt they split into a winning team and a writing team, and they’ve won hunt twice. One of those teams, from the first split, is Metaphysical Plant (see below). The other team, from the second split, used to set a team name that parodied the current hunt writing team’s name. In 2014, the writing team’s name was the full text of Atlas Shrugged (see above), so this team decided to name themselves the full text of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, except they never actually did this, and instead set their name to One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish. Then, fittingly enough, they won the hunt in 2014 and wrote the 2015 “exploration of the ocean” hunt. In years after that their name has always been a different Dr. Seuss book.

Up Late: This name is refreshingly simple: it’s funny to pick up the phone for an answer callback at 3:00am and say “Hi, we’re Up Late”.

The Providence Transplantations: Providence Plantation was the first permanent European American settlement in Rhode Island. Fittingly enough, the Providence Transplantations are hunters from Brown University.

Metaphysical Plant: A long time ago, MIT’s Department of Facilities was called the Department of Physical Plant. The original Random Hall team thought it would be funny to call their team Physical Plant so that if they won, the running team would have to announce “Physical Plant found the coin” as if a custodian just stumbled across it. In later years they changed their name to Metaphysical Plant.

Central Services: This is apparently a reference to the movie Brazil. I haven’t watched this movie, so I can’t provide much further commentary.

Wafflehaüs: This team is composed of alumni from Simmons Hall, an MIT dorm that quite famously looks like a giant waffle. Wafflehouse –> Wafflehaus, you get it.