I should start by saying: guides to solving the Shroud part 3 puzzle and the 5x5 in particular are nothing new. If you are new to the quest and landed here frantically looking for a way to solve the abomination in front of you while the rest of the raid screams about ‘walls’ and ‘chests’ and ‘noobs’ in your ear, I can only apologise. There have been many algorithms, diagrams and charts posted in this forum (with fine pictures or diagrams, unlike this post) showing people how to solve the dreaded puzzle without a solver, and many fine solvers are available for those that don’t mind admitting that a little help goes a long way.
For those seeking to take their first steps toward learning to free themselves of the need for a solver I recommend MindCake’s Shroud Puzzles, no more patterns. technique, which I think is the most elegant and user-friendly method to date. As a bonus a number of other techniques are described in that thread which may come to suit you better as you become more practised – certainly after running the puzzle and memorizing patterns for a few years I've become more accustomed to that sort of technique.
Which brings us here. Why do we need another solution to the 5x5? Well, as I’ve hopefully established, we don’t really. I don’t even think I’m the first person to realise this solution exists, though I didn’t turn anything up on the forums. It’s a novelty, but I think it’s different enough that it will interest people who enjoy this puzzle and have perhaps grown a little bored with it. Even more importantly, you might just blow someone’s mind.
Pre-work: I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the Shroud, the mechanics of the part 3 puzzle tiles, the concept of ‘solving up/down’ and the meaning of the word ‘symmetrical’. Please read one of the other guides if any of that’s a mystery, there’s enough laborious detail here without getting into those things.
- 1. UN-solve down.
- 2. Examine the lit row to see if it is symmetrical.
- 3a. If your lit row is non-symmetrical step on tiles in that row to make them all lit (OOOOO).
- 3b. If your lit row is symmetrical step on tiles in that row so that only the first and last tiles are lit (OXXXO).
- 4. Solve up.
- 5. Take a bow.
- 1. Un-solving is the reverse of the normal first step in solving nxn puzzles. Instead of stepping on tiles to progressively make the rows in the puzzle lit, you step on tiles to make the puzzle progressively more dark. That’s right, turn them all out. Ignore the (increasingly agitated) voices in your head, that’s just the other raid members who think they’re watching their hopes and dreams vanish before their eyes. Tell them that you just drank a whole lot of cough syrup and the colors look kind of funny right now, that’s bound to throw them off the scent. Eventually you will end up with just one (and perhaps none, how exciting!) row with any tiles lit.
- 2. Look at your lit row and decide whether it is symmetrical. As far as I can tell there are only two non-symmetrical states, namely:
and their mirror images.Code:OOOXX OXOOX
The symmetrical states are:
Code:XXXXX OXXXO OOXOO XOXOX
- 3a. If your pattern is unsymmetrical step on tiles in that row to make it all lit:
OOOXX step on the last tile only: OOOXS
OXOOX step on the 3rd and 4th tiles: OXSSX
There’s actually an easy way to do this without memorizing which tiles to step on: just step on the tile that’s to the right of an unlit tile, then repeat if necessary. This works in either state and for their mirror images.
- 3b. If your pattern is symmetrical you need to step on tiles in that row so that you get just the end tiles lit:
XXXXX step the 1st, 3rd and 4th tiles: SXSSX
OXXXO don’t step on any, it’s already done!
OOXOO step on the 3rd, 4th and 5th tiles: OOSSS
XOXOX step on the 1st and 5th tiles: SOXOS
There’s not a single simple mnemonic that works for all these patterns, though with a bit of examination they become fairly obvious. I recommend practice!
- 4. This is where you start behaving like a normal person and light the puzzle up using the tiles above the bottom row: solving up. Take care not to step on the bottom row where you’ve been working, that’ll muck it up. You can act like you’ve suddenly regained your senses, except when you get to the top, the puzzle is complete.
So how does it rate against some of the other methods for solving? Well you tell me. But here's a couple of starters:
- This method will never solve in one pass.
- You may forget what pattern you’re aiming for on the last row or how to get there.
- This is embarrassing. Hypothetically, I mean. Keep a solver on hand or just revert to a more regular method if you get stuck. Remembering stuff is hard, so practice lots.
- People may get excited. They may say harsh things. Telling them that Nothing is Everything may not help.
- Always solves in 2 passes.
- Provides some variety from the same-old same-old.
- Makes for some funny moments, I've actually yet to encounter any aggro and people seem generally impressed when it all works out.
- This only applies to 5x5, so far as I can tell.
- On average it seems to be about as fast and efficient as other 2 pass methods. Some states give you long runs (a whole row) of contiguous tiles to step on during the solution pass, but I usually find that lag causes me to skip a tile or two as I run over them.
Have some fun with it! If anyone has a build on the method, a handy mnemonic or a cool story please post!
EXTRA CREDIT: in the course of writing this guide I realised that the symmetrical states (step 3b) are also solved if you make only the centre tile lit: XXOXX. It’s easier for some states, harder for others. Let’s just stick with the basic system for now, shall we?