Snakes & Ladders (Solution)
by Mike Yi and Darby Kimball, based on an idea by Amos Eshel
Teams must play a game of Snakes & Ladders on the board such that they travel from the start square containing SNAKE to the final square containing LADDER while constructing a valid word ladder between the two words that contains all of the puzzle answers contributing to the meta. The number of rolls listed below the board indicate the number of die rolls that must be made to go between one keyword to the next (for example, to go from SNAKE to the first puzzle answer PLOT requires six rolls); the number of spaces moved with each roll is a number from 1 to 6.
On each space is inscribed a letter, which determines how the word ladder should proceed. On a space without a ladder (blue arrow upwards) or snake (red arrow downwards), a letter in the word coming into the square must be replaced by the letter contained in the square (e.g. from the start square, a roll of 2 lands on the letter R in square 3, suggesting the change from start word SNAKE to the word SNARE). When landing on the foot of a ladder, the letter at that location should first be inserted into the word, then the letter at the ladder's head should be replaced as if that square was landed on with a regular roll. When landing on the top of a snake, a letter in the word matching the letter at the snake's head must be removed, then the letter at the snake's tail should be replaced as per a normal roll. In the case of a letter addition or subtraction due to a ladder or snake, the intermediate word should also be valid as the player travels up or down.
If the ladder is constructed properly, note the squares in which the puzzle answers are generated in the word ladder. Taking the differences between the square numbers for consecutive keywords (including the endpoints) and converting them into numbers (1=A, 2=B, etc.), you obtain the puzzle answer GREAT WALL.