That is the only word I can use to describe this year's Post Hunt.
I've participated in every Post Hunt since the first one in 2008. (I realize I didn't post a recap of last year's. My bad.) I've had a blast every year. The Endgame has always been exceedingly difficult to decipher. And the first five puzzles were very challenging but not impossible to figure out. My team always succeeded in solving at least four of the five puzzles (but never the whole shebang.)
But this year. This year.
As I have said before, the puzzles in past years were very challenging. But this year, IMHO, the Creators seemed to make it a point to force us puzzlers to think much farther outside any imaginable box to reach the answers. I seriously caution you, Creators, that this will dissuade the casual puzzler from participating in the future.
My team didn't stick around for the final clue. (Because, really, what was the point when we could see the answers in today's publication?) It's a shame, really. Apparently, one didn't really even need to solve the five puzzles to solve this year's Endgame, according to the comments. That, my faithful readers, is no bueno. (Though it definitely explains the overly large crowd of people sprinting past The Corner Bakery, where we were finishing up our lunch. That never happened in years past ... you'd see maybe three or six groups making a beeline like that.)
And what about those five clues in the magazine? What exactly did they have to do with the Hunt? From what I could see, they had absolutely nothing to do with it. I understand, and appreciate, red herrings with my puzzle events. I think they are a vital part of making puzzle events like The Post Hunt work. I just happen to think that there was a major imbalance in the "red herring to actual clue" ratio this year. And it all started with the magazine.
Hey, I'm not complaining ... much. I enjoy The Post Hunt. I enjoyed it again this year. But only because I got to spend the afternoon with some people I enjoy. I honestly think that the Creators dropped the ball and phoned it in this year. I certainly hope that they do a better job next year.