by Amanda O’Connor, with assistance from Jeffrey Atkinson, Chad Brown, and Brian Cripe
Problem:

Solvers are playing out a game of Guillotine using real people attending a Halloween party who are dressed as nobles.

[Scene: The hot new club Deathmarch, hosting its first ever three-day Halloween party bonanza. Inside the club, preparations for party activities are underway, although the setup is not going as smoothly as one might like . . . ]

The Scene tells people that the party is three days, as per a standard game of Guillotine, and the club's name is thematic. Notes at the start of the second and third day inform the solvers that, as we transition from one day to the next, play continues with the next person (this is slightly different than the standard Guillotine rules).

As nobles are collected the solver will put them into one of four piles, as clued by the puzzle text. Indexing into the beheaded celebrity’s first name using the number on their corresponding noble card will yield a letter. Since the nobles go to one of four different stations in the club, these letters will spell out four different words, depending on which station each noble went to. Some solvers will solve the game and figure out which action cards were played from the beginning; other solvers may simply realize they are getting letters from the nobles that are collected and not take note of the action cards that were played. The letters gained from each noble, when sorted by station, will spell out a clue phrase that tells the solver they need to know the action cards that were played during the game. Once solvers have found the letters from all of the celebrity names/nobles, taking the letters per Halloween party station spells out the following words:

• Player 1: Bobbing for Apples: SIXTH
• Player 2: Donut on a String: LETTER
• Player 3: Costume Contest: ACTION
• Player 4: Pumpkin Carving: CARDS

At this point solvers realize they need to know which action cards were played when and take the sixth letter of the title of each card. If solvers have solved for the actions already, they are all set and can just check the cards they’ve collected; if not, they have to go back and solve for which action cards were played at which time. Each player starts with a hand of action cards. The chart below details the names of these cards per station/player. These cards are clued in the puzzle by the text that follows—note that station names are not mentioned in the text; which hand is held by which station is something that solvers have to figure out as part of the logic puzzle.

 Player 1: Bobbing for Apples Player 2: Donut on a String Player 3: Costume Contest Player 4: Pumpkin Carving Trip Scarlet Pimpernel Military Support Trip Foreign Support Double Feature Pushed Let Them Eat Cake Bribed Guards Political Influence Political Influence ’Tis a Far Better Thing After You... Forward March Fled to England Indifferent Public Pushed Rush Job Stumble Civic Pride

A staffer dressed as the Scarlet Pimpernel is setting up at one of the stations. It’s a bit of a rush job, but that’s because the queue outside is trying to march forward before the club is even officially open. Featured at double its normal size is a large Halloween decoration. One of the staff members wonders idly if someone is going to try to use their political influence to get that one.

At another station they have decided to let the partygoers eat cake (in addition to their regular activities), which is a far better thing! They hope that the public won’t be indifferent to all the effort they have put in, but since civic pride is involved they assume it won’t be a problem. Tripping to the music, someone brings over party supplies.

A few feet away, a neighboring station is shaping up to be a disaster. One of the staffers stumbled over her assistant and is now threatening to flee to England. The club owner is using his political influence to push her to stay. If it gets any worse, they might require military support for backup!

Over at another nearby station the guards were bribed not to notice when a prankster staff member decided to push their coworker into the decorations. Yet another person tripped on their way to the station. And then a polite party planner was overheard saying “no, no, I’ll go after you” to some foreigners who had come to support the club that evening.

To figure out which hand of cards is associated with which station, players can take text clues from the play of the game, as follows. Since there are several logical steps needed to solve the puzzle, the differentiation of the hands is described here first, and the solution text describing the entrance of each person refers to the hands by the number of the player (the first hand belongs to Player 1, etc.).

When Mr. Rushdie enters with Mr. Kavanaugh, both go to the same station. Since neither of these two nobles directs the player to collect an additional noble on their turn, the fact that both of them go together must be the result of an action card. The only action card in the four hands that allows one player to take two nobles at one time is Double Feature. This indicates that the first paragraph represents the donut on a string station. An additional confirmation regarding this hand is when the day ends after Mr. Rigell goes to the donut on a string group, because the only card that would end the day is the Scarlet Pimpernel, which is also mentioned in the first paragraph.

When Ms. Bombeek enters the club, Mr. Robertson sneaks in ahead of her and goes to a different station. The only card that allows two nobles to go to two separate stations on one turn is After You... (in the fourth paragraph) which allows the current player to put the noble at the front of the line into another player's score pile. Since Mr. Robertson sneaks in ahead of Ms. Bombeek, the card was played by the player who collects Ms. Bombeek, which means that the fourth paragraph represents the action cards held by the bobbing for apples station.

Once two hands of cards have been assigned to stations, as described above, solvers can figure out the game play of the first two turns (described later in this solution file) and thus ascertain the line order at the beginning of Turn 3: namely, that the Martyr has moved to the back of the line, and the Cardinal and the Fast Noble are at the front of the line in that order. While the third turn does not disambiguate the remaining two hands, the fourth turn presents a situation where the noble collected is fourth in line, and only one card in the two remaining hands allows a noble to move forward three places in line—’Tis a Far Better Thing, mentioned in the second paragraph. Since the Mayor goes to carve pumpkins, this indicates that the second paragraph represents the action cards held by the pumpkin carving station, and consequently that the third paragraph represents the action cards held by the costume contest station.

Please note that since playing an action card is optional, action cards are only played for part of the game. After that no more cards are played, and cards are not mentioned in the puzzle text. As is discussed in further detail below, the remaining cards that each player has available to play will not actually help them get a better score.

Looking at the sixth letter of the action card titles will give the letters—and puzzle answer—DELAYED_DROP_, where the _ indicates a space or end of a word. (In those cases an action card whose title only had four letters was played, so there is no sixth letter on that card’s title.)

One specific thing that goes against Guillotine rules is that an action card is not drawn at the end of every turn in the game play. The solvers are clued about this change by the closing paragraph of the intro text:

It looks like this club has all the action it needs already, even before the guests start to arrive! And then it’s time to open the doors . . .

### Day 1:

The first day of the party commences with the following line of people outside the door, all dressed in thematically appropriate costumes, waiting impatiently to get in:

This sentence clues solvers that each person is dressed as someone that is immediately inferable—and unambiguous—based on who they are (e.g., Chris Christie is a Governor).

This line of nobles represents the line of people outside the party on the first day. The guillotine with the executioner indicates which end of the line is the door. Since Guillotine is not specifically mentioned, the card and guillotine images will enable people to find the game if they search online. Guests that enter hand the host a card—this indicates that an action card was played on that turn. If the nobles above are not collected in order it is because an action card was played to affect the line order—figuring out which cards were played is part of the puzzle.

As each guest enters the club, a partygoer dressed as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland yells “Off with their head!”

The comment about the Queen of Hearts alerts solvers that each guest will be “decapitated” upon entering the party. (This is further clued later with the enumerations of the individual greetings.)

Mr. Christie enters the party, handing his card to the host, and walks over to bob for apples. He is greeted with shouts of “Hey _ _ _ _!”

Solvers need to figure out that Mr. Christie is Chris Christie, who is a Governor. His first name is further clued by the “Hey _ _ _ _!” as he enters—this is his first name that has been “beheaded” as mentioned above. Since the Governor is technically second in line then one of the cards from the hand belonging to Player 1/Bobbing For Apples was played to affect the line order. In this case it could be one of three action cards in Player 1's hand—Trip, Bribed Guards, or After You... Since there is no mention of someone who could be the Martyr entering the club, the card played is not After You... (This will become clearer in subsequent entrances, when solvers realize that each noble entering the club is specifically mentioned.) Between Trip and Bribed Guards it is a toss up, until you see what happens in the following turn.
The Governor is a 4, so you take the fourth letter of “HRIS” to get S.

Mr. Rushdie, accompanied by his friend Mr. Kavanaugh, hands his card to the host and makes a beeline for the donut on a string. “Hey _ _ _ _ _! Hey _ _ _ _!” yell the other partygoers.

Mr. Rushdie is Salman Rushdie the author, who based on The Satanic Verses many believe to be a Heretic. Mr. Kavanaugh is Brett Kavanaugh, a Supreme Court Justice, who for many people is an Unpopular Judge. Again, the length of their beheaded names is given in the greetings. Since they walk in together and go to the same place, with only one card having been played, Player 2/Donut on a String had to have played an action card that allows two nobles to be taken—in this case, Double Feature, which lets you collect an additional noble from the front of the line. Knowing this allows solvers to logic backwards; if the Heretic and the Unpopular Judge are at the front of the line together, the card played in the first round must have been Bribed Guards, which moved the card at the front of the line to the back of the line.
The Unpopular Judge is a 2, so you take the second letter of “RETT” to get E.

Mr. Bolt walks in, deep in conversation with Mr. Peterson. He hands his card to the host and both men head for the costume contest to calls of “Hey _ _ _ _!” and “Hey _ _ _ _ _ _!”

Mr. Bolt is Usain Bolt, the Olympic sprinter, who is represented by the Fast Noble. Mr. Peterson is Patrick Peterson, an Arizona Cardinal. In order for both of these nobles to be taken together, the Fast Noble—who allows the player to collect an additional noble from the front of the line that turn—has to be moved to the front of the line, ahead of the Cardinal. The only card in hand for Player 3/Costume Contest that makes that happen is Stumble, which moves a card (in this case, the Fast Noble) forward exactly one place.
The Fast Noble is a 2, so you take the second letter of “SAIN” to get A.
The Cardinal is a 5, so you take the fifth letter of “ATRICK” to get C.

Mr. Garcetti strides in, hands his card to the host, and walks purposefully over to pumpkin carving. “Hey _ _ _!” yell some clubbers holding sharp knives.

Eric Garcetti is the mayor of Los Angeles. He is a few places back, so the only card in the hand for Player 4/Pumpkin Carving that allows you to get him is ’Tis a Far Better Thing, which moves a noble forward exactly three places in line.
The Mayor is a 3, so you take the third letter of “RIC” to get C.

Mr. Robertson sneaks in as Ms. Bombeek is handing her card to the host. He heads straight for the pumpkin carvers, who greet him with “Hey _ _!”; she goes bobbing for apples, where people with their mouths full of fruit call out “Hey _ _ _ _ _!”

Cecile Bombeek, a nun who murdered her patients because they were too difficult, is the Bad Nun. Pat Robertson, the Southern Baptist Minister and media mogul, is the Wealthy Priest. The only action card that allows someone to “sneak in” is After You…, which allows Player 1 to put the noble at the front of the line into another player’s score pile, in this case, that of Player 4/Pumpkin Carving.
The Wealthy Priest is a 1, so you take the first letter of “AT” to get A.
The Bad Nun is a 3, so you take the third letter of “ECILE” to get I.

Mr. Rigell enters next and hands his card to the host. He decides to try eating donuts off a string, to a chorus of “Hey _ _ _ _!”

Scott Rigell is an American businessman and politician who is a graduate of Regent University. The fact that we are suddenly at the end of the first day indicates that Player 2 must have played Scarlet Pimpernel, which ends the day after that turn.
The Regent is a 4, so you take the fourth letter of “COTT” to get T.

### Day 2:

The second day of the party once again starts with an impatient line of partygoers, all dressed as one would expect, waiting to be let in:

The intro is basically the same as for Day 1, and the line of nobles represents the line of people outside the party on the second day, with the guillotine/executioner indicating the “door.” Again, they are the exact images of the Guillotine cards.

“We’re just picking up where we left off last night,” the host reminds the bouncer, as the Queen of Hearts yells “Off with their heads!”

This lets solvers know to continue play with the next player (a slight change from strict Guillotine rules). The Queen’s callout is intended to reinforce the idea that the beheading is just a thing that always happens.

Mr. Scalia enters first, handing his card to the host, and decides to try his luck at the costume contest. He is greeted with cries of “Hey _ _ _ _ _ _!”

Antonin Scalia was a Supreme Court Judge until his death in 2016. He was unpopular with many for his views on topics such as affirmative action and gay marriage. Since the Unpopular Judge is two back in line, the card played from Player 3/Costume Contest must be Pushed, which moves a noble forward exactly two places in line.
The Unpopular Judge is a 2, so you take the second letter of “NTONIN” to get T.

Mr. Calvert is next into the party. He gives his card to the host and goes to carve some pumpkins to calls of “Hey _ _ _ _ _!”

George Calvert was the first Baron Baltimore in England. Since the Baron is second in line, the card played by Player 4/Pumpkin Carving must be Trip, which moves The Clown back one place in line.
The Baron is a 3, so you take the third letter of “EORGE” to get R.

Mr. Butterfield clears the door and hands a card to the host. He walks purposefully towards the apple-bobbing station. “Hey _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!” comes from some waterlogged partygoers.

Alexander Butterfield is a retired Colonel. The easiest way to get to him is to play Pushed, which moves a noble forward exactly two places in line. (Player 1 could play Trip, which moves a noble back one place and allows you to play a second card, and then Pushed, but Trip will be needed later, as the solver will see as the game plays out. Additionally, the text of the puzzle only specifies that one card is handed to the host.)
The Colonel is a 3, so you take the third letter of “LEXANDER” to get X.

Mr. Curry comes in and hands his card to the host. He jogs over to the donut on a string group and hears “Hey _ _ _ _!”

Steph Curry is an NBA Point Guard, so in this puzzle he is dressed up as a Palace Guard. To get him to the front of the line, Player 2 needs to play Forward March, which brings a Palace Guard to the front of the line. (There are two Palace Guards, but they are right next to each other, so it does not matter which one is brought forward.)
The Palace Guard’s number is based on how many Palace Guards a player has at the end of the game. Since this player will only collect one, its number will be 1, so you take the first letter of “TEPH” to get T.

Mr. Sassoon is next in and hands his card to the host. He thinks he’s a shoo-in for the costume contest, so he heads that direction to cries of “Hey _ _ _ _!”

Vidal Sassoon was one of the most famous hairdressers in the world, with a line of self-titled hair care products and salons. He is clearly the Coiffeur. The only card in Player 3’s hand that allows the Coiffeur to be collected is Fled to England, which discards The Clown from the line.
The Coiffeur is a 1, so you take the first letter of “IDAL” to get I.

Ms. Bass enters next. After handing her card to the host, she turns and strolls over to the pumpkin carvers, who greet her with “Hey _ _ _ _!”

Cindy Bass is a member of the Philadelphia City Council (a.k.a. a Councilman). The only card in Player 4’s hand which will get her from the lineup is Civic Pride, which moves a green noble forward up to two places in line.
The Councilman is a 3, so you take the third letter of “INDY” to get D.

Mr. Nash joins the party and hands his card to the host, walking over to bob for apples. “Hey _ _ _ _!” splutter the clubbers.

Steve Nash is another famous NBA point guard, so he is also a Palace Guard. To get him from the second place in line, Player 1 has to play Trip.
The Palace Guard’s number is based on how many Palace Guards a player has at the end of the game. Since this player will only collect one, its number will be 1, so you take the first letter of “TEVE” to get T.

As previously mentioned, playing action cards in Guillotine is optional. Note that from now on no further cards are played (and enough action cards have been played to spell out the answer phrase). Additionally, playing the remaining action cards in each hand does not actually help the player, and in some cases it will give them a worse play (e.g., if they would be unable to collect the Master Spy on the third day).

Mr. Pelham walks in and decides he wants donuts. “Hey _ _ _ _!” he hears on his way over.

Henry Pelham was a famous Boston cartographer from the 18th century, so he is the Royal Cartographer.
The Royal Cartographer is a 1, so you take the first letter of “ENRY” to get E.

Mr. Arpaio moseys in and thinks he has the best chance of winning the costume contest. As he is walking over, people in the club cry out “Hey _ _!”

Joe Arpaio was the Sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona for many years. He was recently in the news for being pardoned by Trump for contempt of court when he continued conducting “immigrant roundups” after a federal court banned him from doing this.
The Sheriff is a 1, so you take the first letter of “OE” to get O.

Mr. Vlk strolls in next and decides to pumpkin carve. “Hey _ _ _ _ _ _ _!” echoes through the club.

Miloslav Vlk was the Archbishop of Prague for almost 20 years.
The Archbishop is a 4, so you take the fourth letter of “ILOSLAV” to get S.

Mr. Bassett strides in and realizes he has a hankering for apples. “Hey _ _ _ _ _ _!” call the apple-bobbers.

Charlie Bassett was an American Old West law enforcement office and saloon owner who was the first sheriff of Ford County, Kansas.
The Sheriff is a 1, so you take the first letter of “HARLIE” to get H.

### Day 3:

The third day of the party is just like the first two. Another line of partygoers, still dressed as expected, are waiting to be let in:

“Off with their heads!” comes the cry once again. The bouncer sees the host coming over, and calls out “I know, house rules, start where we left off.”

The above all reiterates the same info as before, and presents the line of nobles for the third day.

Mr. Hanssen starts off the day and decides that the donut on a string is the place for him. He joins the crowd there to shouts of “Hey _ _ _ _ _!”

Robert Hanssen is a former FBI agent who was a Soviet spy, so he is the Master Spy.
The Master Spy is a 4, so you take the fourth letter of “OBERT” to get R.

Mr. Franco is next in to the party. He enjoys dress-up, and so goes to the costume contest, nearby partygoers calling out “Hey _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _!”

Francisco Franco was a 20th century military dictator in Spain. Like Robespierre, he had a reign of terror. Taking Robespierre ends the day, which ends the game.
Robespierre is a 3, so you take the third letter of “RANCISCO” to get N.

The following table sums up all the days played out in order, showing nobles who are collected, their corresponding people, the action cards played to acquire these nobles, and the sixth letters of the action card titles that spell out the final answer.

CollectedValueNameLetterActionLetter
Governor4cHRIS ChristieSBribed GuardsD
Heretic2sALMAN RushdieLDouble FeatureE
Unpopular Judge 2bRETT KavanaughE
Fast Noble 2uSAIN BoltAStumbleL
Cardinal 5pATRICK PetersonC
Mayor 3eRIC GarcettiC’Tis a Far Better ThingA
Wealthy Priest 1pAT RobertsonAAfter You...Y
Regent 4sCOTT RigellTScarlet PimpernelE
Unpopular Judge 2aNTONIN ScaliaTPushedD
Baron 3gEORGE CalvertRTrip
Colonel 3aLEXANDER ButterfieldXPushedD
Palace Guard 1sTEPH CurryTForward MarchR
Coiffeur 1vIDAL SassoonIFled to EnglandO
Councilman 3cINDY BassDCivic PrideP
Palace Guard 1sTEVE NashTTrip
Royal Cartographer 1hENRY PelhamE
Sheriff 1jOE ArpaioO
Archbishop 4mILOSLAV VlkS
Sheriff 1cHARLIE BassettH
Master Spy 4rOBERT HanssenR
Robespierre 3fRANCISCO FrancoN