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#1 Re: Main Forum » You lot still alive? » 2015-05-27 15:35:00

LiteS wrote:

Also, the 2k suicide attackers are a lot smarter too. I've noticed the players actually learn from their past lives, disarming "hidden" traps the step before they activate, even making it to potential vault locations over the course of a few days. It's turned into a fun shell game where I keep moving the vault and upgrading while they keep guessing. The endgame of a completed house seems like it will take a month or so, and with such smart suicide robbers I'm surprised there's a house standing at 50k.

I should probably mention I've been lurking from time to time. I actually cracked the top house on Frosty's server a couple days ago, but I just suicided in front of the vault because I don't have any good ideas for a house.

If I may be so bold, I think I've learned new things about cracking magic dances that I never before imagined possible. At the moment, cat movement traps seem to be giving me the most difficulty at 2k (though the mechanics of these dances are usually not too expensive to break into, with a little more than 2k). Still hoping to come up with a reliable way to crack the two top cat dances.

Also, I suspect Kimenzar is doing a lot of bright 2k scouting.

#2 Re: Main Forum » You sick, sick people.... » 2014-08-10 01:58:35

Really? Hmm… I tried, but I think maybe I mapped a button wrong.

#3 Re: Main Forum » ba-bye Derek Robert Thomas » 2014-08-03 03:34:23

Yeah, it was clear that the leap was the central trap of the house.

Still, the rest of the entrance is just as brilliant. I honestly died several times in a row, literally just from waltzing in tool-less, because I was too busy scouting so many other houses that I totally underestimated yours. It took me over a week of playing to realize: oh... that house isn't going away. huh! time to seriously scout it. And even then, my first scout went north, because my first instinct was that the Leap of Faith was too obvious to be anything but a decoy.

Really devious!

#4 Re: Main Forum » ba-bye Derek Robert Thomas » 2014-08-02 04:28:12

Bravo, sir. That was one of the cleverest variations on a Leap of Faith trap that I've ever seen. Well done.

I can now reveal that I was the one that always annoyingly got past your best trap using only a brick and a water:

#6 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-27 02:37:30

Alas, though I did enter the Jensen house, I was working a lot that week and didn't get a good crack at it before it went down. Sad to say, I did not even make it past the first trap.

#7 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-25 12:37:51

Huh! That clean slate is a really interesting (and extremely careful) way to draft. I never would've thought of that!

Your notes make it really easy to track the robbing process, and I was interested to see we practically took the exact same steps on the Longoria house! And I was really impressed how far you managed on the Pinon house with just a ladder, and by only deducing the dances.

In fact, I think you were much more adept than I am at using a single ladder for a 2K robbery. I think I often neglect to consider that possibility when it can really help scout forward a considerable amount.

Thanks for sharing!

#8 Re: Main Forum » Marcus Justin Longoria and the quest of 155 paintings » 2014-07-21 14:55:15

Also, I'm very impressed someone robbed Mr. Douglas. I've tried several times, and haven't even cracked the second section. Definitely a house I'd only target with brute force.

#9 Re: Main Forum » Marcus Justin Longoria and the quest of 155 paintings » 2014-07-21 13:00:23

ps- so it was YOU who robbed Herbert Scott Powell!! I didn't even share my draft in the other thread, because I got nowhere. Interesting map, and very interesting story on how you bested it! Well done!

#10 Re: Main Forum » Marcus Justin Longoria and the quest of 155 paintings » 2014-07-21 12:55:18

HAH!!! You bastard!!


Oh man, I have a funny story to share:

When I robbed the Case house, I ended up with a crapload of your paintings. I thought it would be a pity to suicide and put them back on the market, so I robbed the Correia house of his paintings, and made a makeshift house of my own (for once), out of little more than concrete and dogs.

I figured I'd go for the record, just for fun, and the only way I'd get it was if I cracked the Longoria house.

Believe it or not, I had gotten pretty damn far with my suicide scouts:

And for some reason I was prettty sure the vault was up there. I didn't _quite_ have enough ladders, etc., to escape if I was wrong, but I got impatient (it's just so much more fun to suicide rob every house than it is to sit around and wait for bounties), and one day I figured "what the hell, let's go for it."

This was behind the cat:

Oops. (in case you were wondering about that large bounty, and explosion of Case's paintings back on the market, well... tee hee)

Anyway, I had to come back and see the vault, just for completeness' sake.

You hadn't changed the entrance yet, and come the following week, that's just what I did:


Wonderful house!

#11 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-21 12:20:27

Awesome! This is exactly the kind of response I was hoping for... I feel like I'm learning about the real faces behind the masks!

Yeah, that's the one!

For some reason, I imagined your master plan would eventually loop all the way around, down the right edge of the map and back to the bottom left... and each phase nothing more than an obnoxiously complicated chihuahua dance.

I can just picture it now: cracking 4 straight rooms of chihuahua dances, only to find... another insane chihuahua dance?!?! And probably leading to more???!!! Hahahah, what a truly diabolical idea.

AWESOME! Thanks for sharing your robs.

eppfel wrote:

But to answer your question, both of these traps are inefficient and take up way to much space.

Hahahah, yes.

Also, I think you may have mistaken me for another robber. Since the Longoria house has finally fallen, I'll clarify in the other thread.

Also also, that Case dance is indeed extremely devious. I had to make a mock up filled with windows in place of walls just to work out the steps (whoa: I just found a pic!)


... and then I think you may have changed the dance. still, the solution I came up with was quite complicated, so hats off to you for making it through that self-test.

Also x3: My favorite part of the Case robbery was in the latter stages of the house where you left some laddered pits in, and they may have been part of a tool-less solution. Quite unexpectedly disorienting (do these still lead to the vault? or is this a legitimate, but fake possibility?).

Killer Mosquito:

Oh. Ohhhhh.

Man, I really need to watch those Aavak tapes some day. That's brilliant, thank you SO much for sharing the map (mystery solved!).

Now I'm really curious though... how did Blip crack it?

Again, really brilliant. Kudos!

... And also, a slight update: I just rediscovered my mapshot folder, and with it, comes one of the most unorthodox combo locks I ever saw. For your curiosity:

#12 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 14:14:11

Concluding Thoughts:

I've had an amazing experience playing this game, and for such a short time investment, I've gotten a HUGE return on enjoyment. I've written this article in hopes of giving something back, partly because I realize that robbing a house can sometimes also rob others the pleasure of solving it. Also, writing about it was fun.

The most amazing part about TCD was seeing what people could do with the game mechanics, and I'm glad I got to see many great and innovative designs. I'm really excited about cullman's proposed reboot, and I hope it brings the joy I've experienced here to many more players across the world.

Many thanks to Jason and all the house designers, whose collective works I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring over these past few weeks.

That's it!

Peace and Theft,

#13 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 14:12:56

Section Three: WIFE HUNT!™

Ever see a house with over a thousand visits? Abandoned and utterly trashed by tools, these houses are far removed from the once-mighty puzzles they might've been.

And the only thing that keeps them alive, is a poor spouse behind an expensive, expansive defense.

…but just how impenetrable are those defenses? It turns out that the TCD mini-game Wife Hunt!™ has several advantages over the original game.

First, if the vault can be found again, and the house accrues bounties regularly, then each time you tag the vault, the house damage is saved. Essentially, a line of a hundred well-spaced dogs can be gunned down by a 2K robber one-by-one.

Second, there are twelve possible tools for robbing a house, but the main tools for Wife Hunt!™ are only guns and clubs. (Also important, on occasion: ladders, explosives, bricks, meat, and saws) In other words, there's no complicated electronics that you need to puzzle out.

Third, while TCD leaves you with a dirty feeling every time you bust someone's vault, Wife Hunt!™ makes you feel like you've done a good deed. By taking out the last remnant of this abandoned house, you can make sure the dead house is finally laid to rest… undisturbed by the never-ending torrent of ill-wishers.

Anyway, I've seen players call for the retirement of abandoned houses before, but I think few realized how it could be done. And now that all the major abandoned houses have been retired, I can finally reveal… THAT I AM THE GREATEST WIFE HUNT™ PLAYER ALIVE!!!!

ahem. On to the houses:

Derek Ralph Mcmahan

Ah, my favorite doghouse! I saw this one, and immediately loved the concept, even though I knew it probably wouldn't last too long.

As it happened, I took about a week off, and when I came back, the house was completely broken. However, the concept was somewhat intact, and it was just as effective (if not more) as before, thus the house regularly accrued bounty.

This house quickly became the model for wife hunting on a 2K suicide budget: pry, pry, smash, smash, then rob $100 to save the damage. Repeating this tactic (along with choosing a clever place to blow through the concrete) allowed me to locate, access, and retire the keeper of house Mcmahan.


Glenn Christopher Grant

Hey, this was Pohaku's kill! This was happened right during my quest to retire these houses, and I'm also curious: how much progress did he make on the other houses? Did he have a go at Semple or Callahan?

If you read this, dude, let me know!

Anyway, R.I.P.

David Stuart Sparrow

Where'd my draft go? I probably didn't do one, since the vault had been moved so close to the entrance it could be found from memory.

It's worth noting, however, that this was one of those houses that reliably collected bounties, enough that I could shoot my way to the wife one dog at a time.


Clinton Brian Callahan

I could write a page-long essay on this episode. First I had to FIND the actual vault, which was not easy given the well-constructed well-protected magic dance to the south. Turns out the vault had been moved, and at some point the magic dance had been effectively disabled. Even then, the house entrance was constantly being mauled, and the way to reach the vault kept changing.

Finally, I got some good maps in of the top, and discovered that the wife was likely located in a very specific area. After a few attempts, I finally found a weak spot to the right of the family den, and then the day came I could tunnel through with a pistol on hand.

Interesting note: when I finally killed the wife, I was locked out of the vault (I didn't even have enough $$ left for one water), so I got to finally explore the back end of this wonderful house. I'm always amazed at how much better the initial traps of a house can be, as compared to the ones that follow. I wonder how many even got to see them?

Oh well, who knows.


Alton James Malone

It was me! I killed this awesome house!

Never before has a dead house collected so much bounty. Getting to the wife was not easy, and required MULTIPLE daisy-chain robberies. And because the house was often broken in so many different ways, I had a hard time even saving the damage.

In the end, I had mapped pretty far in before I finally broke a front-page house, and used all that cash on clubs, explosives, and guns.


Jeffrey Todd Semple
(ed note: Good LORD!!)

As you can see from the drafts, I started in on this one dog-dog-by-dog, wall-by-wall, until some bigger robberies contributed to the carnage.

This house was made much easier by the fact that getting to the vault could be done without tools, and there was almost always bounty to collect. Saving the damage wasn't too hard here.

Side note: this house was a relic from when TCD had far more players, and thus far more money to be blown on houses. I actually got the first map from the forums, but I hate to think what it would've taken to navigate this house during its prime.


Michael Lance Gillard

By far the hardest.

There was no getting around it: it was too easy to rob this house, and there were never any bounties left. No bounties = no damage saved.

I scouted around, but there was no shortcut to the family anywhere. Only a full-force attack would do.

Finally, as soon as I broke another front-page house, that's exactly what I did. Nothing fancy, just guns, guns, guns.

Such a great house, such a worthy end.


Wife Hunt!™

#14 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 14:08:17

All-too Common Theft: No Quarter Given

Well, despite my 2K successes, some houses were just more amenable to a good-old-fashioned ransacking. A few of these houses just happened to be rich at the same time I had a cash to burn… although one or two of these houses were perplexing enough that I just decided to tunnel straight to the solution.

Anyway, in case you were wondering about the jerk that brought way too many tools, check some of the houses below.

Mark William Gillette

A pretty typical brute-force operation if there ever was one. I was curious about this house, and I had some extra cash, and so, noticing the thick wooden walls, I bought some saws and waltzed through to the mechanics.

If anything, these houses always surprise me with their simplicity. From the robbing side, this exact kind of house can leave me baffled for days, dreaming up some complex series of buttons that must be hidden from sight. This suspicion increases exponentially when the house somehow makes it into 5 figures. Well… who knew.

I came back for the wife on this one.

William James Bolton

This was one of my first major brute-force attempts. Honestly, I wasn't even looking for the vault so much as I wanted to see the house mechanics.

What's funny is, after I got a comprehensive map of the solution (I ran out of tools just before the end), I never actually finished robbing the house. I died, probably to cops or getting trapped, and then the owner did a complete house overhaul before I came back. Haha, oh well.

Incidentally, I would've eventually needed to brute force this house, because even though I had made progress, I just stumbled upon a genuine combo lock. And this brings me to...


These are just a few of many combo-lock houses that I've brute forced. Though they vary a little in style, they all go down the exact same way. Seriously, just bring a few saws, it's like you brought vault-sniffing termites.

Nestor Wilson Siegel

As typical a combo-lock house if there ever was one. About a bazillion buttons, defeated with about 10 saws. It's not uncommon for combo-lock houses to be backed up by one or two really lame traps, and I guess I'm probably expecting too much from combo-locks in general.

Like, seriously? A double-dog guessing game that can be broken for the cost of one steel cutter and a meat. (I didn't even break into the left side. The right side told me all I needed to know). As if someone who had gotten past your combo lock (by brute-forcing, DUH), would have been defeated by something so mundane. Ugh.

Thomas Richard Stone

As you might be able to tell from the incomplete first draft, this was one of my earlier robbing experiences. I was actually kind of impressed by the expensive-looking cat combo lock at the time,  until I realized how cheap it was to simply cut straight through to where the buttons should be (from looking at the draft). After that, the house was a pushover.

Aside: This was also one of the first houses where I learned how to hunt the wife. Quite fun! I literally went down to my last club.

Dale Dustin Schiller

Hoo… I spent WAY too much money robbing this house. Second-most inefficient use of tools, ever. But, whatever, not like I was using that money to build anything.

Actually, I rather liked the way this defense was set up, but I was shocked to find the vault in the bottom-left corner. I was thinking maybe that the real house hadn't even begun yet, and here I was with the complete relevant draft that's only… 1/4 of a full house?! Crazy.

Gene Russell Applewhite

A slightly more recent house. Easy rob, and I went back for the wife because why not.

I brought a ladder and didn't even bother with the buttons on this one… also you can see from the draft that I used the extra saws on the north buttons to see what that was all about. False trails are an interesting touch!

Aubrey Allen Correia

One thing that puzzles me about this house: after I robbed it, it had a broken vault and about $11000 left in value. Explain that?!

(this had to be a player's second account/money dump house. no way this was a real account)

Harold David Palmer

I think this guy has since rebuilt this house, and changed the lock. Still… there was no wife.. where did that money come from?

Robert John Hall

Again, how do these houses keep coming back?

Combo locks are dumb.

moving on...

Luther Norman Hanner

This was a rather sad story.

I was casing this house for days, steadily making progress by deducing each cat-dance on suicide runs. I'd gotten right as far as the last two cats… and then he changed the house!! Argh, how cruel!!!

As it happened, I had drafted pretty far enough into the house, so on my next big score I just said 'screw it' and ladder/water-ed my way on in. I even took an educated guess at where the wife was, and how many tools it would take to get her.

Well, I got both on the same run. So ends a wonderfully unique house.

John Darrel Kane

I could NOT deduce this dance for the LIFE of me. Give me twenty more tries, and I still might not have figured out a reliable method for guessing what was going on. This was a very hard dance to crack, and a very expensive house to scout, so for a long time I never saw much more than the entrance.

… then one day, I made a score and decided to take a look at the rest of the house. With luck, I happened upon the vault.

Clinton Brian Callahan

I have drafted this SOB about 3 more times than any other house out there. By the time I finally made it to the vault, it had already been moved out of the original (?) location, and into a place quite accessible by brute force.

The entryway trap is still one of my all-time favorites, and it was probably no accident that this house stuck around as long as it did (the owner may have even come back and changed things around a couple times?)

In any case, it was an honor to be the one who finally put this house to rest.


Earl Michael Case

Oh my god, has any house changed as much as this one has?

I finally joined the club of 'people who have successfully robbed Case not named Blip', and of course, thanks to the magic of multiple accounts, the house still stands (and updates, like, regularly. How eppfel hasn't managed to kill himself yet on a self-test is beyond me).

I guess the impenetrability says something, but robbing a house like this takes something different than reason and deduction. There's just no reasoning out a magic dance that changes after each attempt.

At some point, you just have to load up on bombs, and go straight to the hole.

Robert Donald Conley

This is an older house, and the last one of this series. I didn't even get finished mapping it, because I was still a little slow, and I was worried about the cops getting me before I reached the vault (and with good reason, as it turned out).

I hope the owner recognizes this house, because I have a funny story about robbing it.

It was one of my first brute-force attempts, and I was doing rather well. In fact, I had smashed, bashed, and trashed my way all the way to the end, alllll the way through the final door, where I saw: one dog, through one window, and one door to my left.

For some COMPLETELY INEXPLICABLE reason, I decided to brick the window and drug the dog.

Of course, the second I walk through the door, there's the vault… right across from a simple leap of faith. Guess where the dog came from.

After racing my way all the way back through and outside the house, I had a good laugh at that.

… and then I came back with explosives, because the vault was located right near the entrance.

c'est les brutes!

#15 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 14:02:31

Uncomon Theft: A House Solved

These houses are my personal favorites.

Robbing is fun, but there's nothing like the sheer joy you get from cracking a complicated house, and doing so with no tools! If I were a homebuilder, I would imagine this would be the most satisfying way to see my house go down, because it meant that someone put as much thought and care into cracking the design as it did for me to make it.

I don't think the tape of someone solving a house really does justice to the process of finding a solution, so hopefully this article will help explain how it got to that point.

My hat (scarf?) goes off to each and every one of these designers. Hope I did you proud.

Ryan Arnold Lloyd

My first major success, and the first indication that sometimes big, expensive, scary houses can be solved for much less than the effort put into building them.

Basically, I realized that everything necessary to solve the puzzle was visible, so I mapped it, sat down and thought a bit. Eventually, I came up with an idea that worked. Afterwards, it was a choice between up or down, I assumed the clock mechanics were up, so I went down thinking the window was a decoy (which turned out to be right), and then it was just a 3-door guessing game. My second guess proved correct.

And here's a story about how that went.

Christopher Joseph Bowers

Okay, I'm taking credit for this one. Even though Blip brute-forced it mere hours before I was going to crack it, I had the solution down for this house, so I'm including it.

A fire floor house courtesy of Wrexit, this featured a magic dance which I positively could not figure out, even after I'd drafted it. It finally took a mock-up made of windows and a chihuahua before I figured out how to do it, and by the time I did that, Blip had already destroyed the house. Ah well.

This house was also particularly fun, because I got to explore it as he was building it up! By the third scout, or so, Wrexit had already filled in all that empty space up with wooden walls.

One of my favorite parts is that little cat alarm system at the right edge of the map. Why build it? Nobody will ever find it!

Well, I did, and I marveled.

Alton James Malone

I had this house undrafted FOR EV ER. I mean, c'mon! It was that Malone house. Everybody knew their way to the end, and the only thing that kept changing was that somebody would break something new, and more bounties would collect. I still don't know who was maintaining this house (if anyone).

Anyway, here, at last, is a definitive draft of the Malone house. All the elements for the tool-less solution are visible.

Robert James Coker

What an absolute thrill!

This house uses the same trap three times, and the first one is so devious, I died UMPTEEN times on it alone. However, I learned (from many deaths) that:

• the cat lights up the doors for 4 counts after x amount of steps
• the chihuahua (probably) is what kills the floors.

So it was either a magic dance that miraculously killed the chihuahua on a wired floor or trapdoor or something… or else I had to get it stuck behind a powered door or wall or something.

And I also realized that the 'x' amount of steps were much larger than the amount of steps it took to reach the edge of the trapdoors from the door, so I reasoned that maybe those extra steps were necessary to take the chihuahua far down enough to get stuck.

You can imagine my surprise and delight when I found out this was the case. The rest of the map fell shortly thereafter to the same principle, however I would've loved to have seen the whole map, just out of curiosity to see what, if any, precautions had been taken against brute-forcing.

Marcus Longoria

Hey Eppfel! That person that walked right up to your vault, then wandered off around the end, playing with random dogs and bricking doors… that was meeee!!

The entrance has changed at least four times since I first figured it out. I'm really quite impressed with your ability to keep those dances straight, because even when I figure out the steps, I have to write out the solution just to move on.

For example, here's an old sequence that doesn't work anymore, from my notes:

update: Do to the house's run finally meeting an untimely end, here are a few notes on my progress:
(Old First Part: DUDULRR to open door  Then go L L R R R R R R)

(Old Second Part: Okay, so the goal is to chase cats into the corners before the doors open.
FIRST: activate button via south dogs, and make sure all buttons are pressed to complete circuit
SECOND: enter door, then immediately step down onto binary switch. Then, I think it doesn't matter. Pick up or down.

Okay, try the same thing (brick both cats), but go up. Bring doorstops just in case. If N trapdoors are powered again, try cruising straight through to the right. Wired floors turn on at first step around the corner.)

Revised again:

Michael Lance Gillard

Forget everything I said before, this was the defining moment of my robbing days. Solving this house really gave me the confidence I needed to rob any house out there. Not to mention, it was an exquisite thrill to do it sans tools.

The first thing I did was figure out what that north dog was for (water + saw + meat). After that, I could get into the south portion, and I just scouted, and drafted (meats + waters), scouted and drafted, noting that the two segments of wired floor lit up like there was a hidden magic dance which was the whole point of the first dog.

Eventually, I realized that there was only one power source, and that the solution likely involved the completion of a rather long circuit (one which required hitting buttons in a specific order to make it possible). Breaking the circuit at any point would probably break the ending, so all I had to do was stare at the draft until I puzzled out the correct sequence of buttons.

Even when I completed the circuit, I still couldn't believe I had solved it until I made it to the vault. That feeling of exultation, of accomplishment, is exactly what I imagine Jason was trying to achieve when he made this game. Kudos!

… sometime after I robbed it, I think everyone knows what happened next. Someone drilled a path straight to the vault, and it became one of the longest standing ghost houses for some time… (more on that later)

Floyd Gary Pinon (same designer as Albert John Justice)

Amazing house. Amazing solution. Sight-shifting combined with fire-floors, magic dances, cat-chase-buttons for a house-spanning circuit, followed by an across-the-map leap of faith dog. Have a look at the last draft, and see if you can figure it out!

There are a number of wonderfully simple reasons why this house rode to #2 (and possibly to #1 at times), but the most amazing thing is that it did so despite being relatively vulnerable to an out-and-out brute force attack.

Several walls here are thin enough to scout (indeed, the top magic dog dance was one I reached with a cutter, 2 saws, a water or two, some meat & a club), and neither magic dance is particularly daunting (the bottom magic dance was found  by using a ladder, and a brick to disable the top death dog).

Still, this was a non-trivial challenge, and it was a pleasure to learn about each and every part of the house (my particular favorite moment was when I finally realized how I was meant to sight-shift, to avoid the insta-kill dog).

As with all big scores, I was a little sad to see the house go after its extended run. To whoever built it, please know that I thoroughly enjoyed figuring it out.

Michael Julian Prendergast (currently alive? please clarify)

As much fun as I had robbing the Pinon house, solving this particular house was the most fun I've ever had in Castle Doctrine.

Aside from the many aspects right up my alley (crazy weird electronics! stylish design! a WIFE RACE… only AFTER completing a crazy house-spanning circuit!!!) of this house, I most enjoyed the scouting runs while it was under construction. This allowed me to walk around cool areas that weren't meant to ever be seen (namely: the south area looking out across a long pit of despair).

I seriously LOVE houses like this, and they make my heart swell with joy, quite in the opposite way that walking into yet-another-magic-dance-house shrivels up my soul.

Kudos to the designer, whoever, and if your current house is dead, please do speak up. I'd love to share my solution to this house.

#16 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 14:00:09


Finally, these are the houses I've successfully robbed. Hopefully you can tell enough from the map to figure out how they are solved, but if not I've tried to fill in the blanks wherever applicable.

Common Theft: Success With A Few Good Tools

These are all houses with a trap or two that I never figured out, but instead bypassed entirely with a few tools well afforded by the starting $2K.

So… in case you might be wondering who didn't even bother to solve one of your most clever traps, the answer is: yes, 'that asshole' was me.

Albert John Justice

Honestly, I feel like I have a kind of kinship with the person who built this. I've seen three houses now featuring that trademark toggle button trap, and I was responsible for robbing the first two (the third is currently active).

Both houses ran for quite some time, and the final robberies were genuinely exciting. Despite the fact that these aren't exactly the cleverest traps I've seen, they were not easily overcome.

The day I discovered the true location of the vault (surprise! it's not bottom right!!), and won it with just a few bricks, waters, and meat, was the day that this house took a truly special place in my heart.

Carl Patrick Miller

I don't actually have a draft for this one, so maybe somebody remembers it. This house was made of three materials: concrete, doors, and dogs. A guessing game house of the highest order of magnitude, it took about 3-4 tries with 20 meat to find the winning path.

I like to think that whoever made this house, and the Derek Ralph Mcmahan house (seen later) were the same person.

In any event, here were my notes:

go down then up left to start.
Series of doors:
4th door
4th door from starting pos.(3rd left from right wall)
ALL the way to the left
second door to last
Fourth door to the right of pit. From start = 0, count 4 left
go left.
Windows behind first 4 doors. Just go up the last door.
Vault is the 3rd from bottom.

Such is the strength of guessing-game traps.

Curt Timorthy Woodward

Ugh. One look inside told me to bring doorstops. One scouting run led me all the way to the leap of faith. One brick allowed me to trick the first dog I saw close enough for the leap, and somehow I lucked into the vault on, like, the second or third scouting run. And this was a high-value target.

Really, there are powered doors that effectively block your path, then there are powered doors that can be nullified with water. This was the latter.

Note: I only just now realized I was supposed to draw the top dog with me through the maze. Oops.

George Peter Sherwood

This was a wonderfully cool house that required numerous little clever workarounds (a doorstop and two saws let me figure out which sticky buttons did what; waters told me how the room of cat death works; a brick and a club scouted the final magic dance) to crack.

And then, the day I finally got all the way to the end, I discovered - lol! - that the homeowner had moved the vault, probably down one of those wired-floor paths. I came back a week or two later, learned the new dance, and found the vault in its proper place, but still… the thing that gets me the most to this day… :


Never got past that part without a brick.

Kenneth James Jauregui / Chester John Bowser

A very cool house, the original version of which (before the owner presumably died) was a bit stronger. I was really looking forward to solving this house, and was a bit disappointed when I cracked it with a single saw. Oh well.

Matthew Noah Ramos

Ah! One of my favorite examples of how NOT to use powered doors. The first part of this house was actually a little daunting, and I never even solved the second (I used doorstops). Sadly, the final maze was atrociously forgiving, and despite taking up almost 2/3rds of the entire house, it was defeated by about 5 waters. Just look at how far I scouted ON THE FIRST TRY, and with only the leftover waters I randomly brought in!

Whoever lived here actually changed the vault location after my first successful robbery. Sadly, the powered door setup remained, and I robbed it a second time… this time coming back for the wife.


Derek Robert Thomas

Is this you? Are you still alive? If not, can I share your house?

Until then, I'll just share my first scout. This house was/is --> INGENIOUS <-- in a thousand small ways. The first section (depicted) is so well constructed, I was thoroughly disoriented before I got in a serious scout.

Unfortunately, the devilish ingenuity does not stretch far beyond the first trap… which, it turned out, could be bypassed simply with a brick and another common tool.

With respect to the (still possibly active?) homeowner, that's all I have to say about this house.

James Anthony Baker

I just brought some meat, noticed a door I wanted to explore, and got lucky. Sometimes I wonder what the other 2/3rds of the house looked like.

John Lee Travis

Easily one of my proudest robberies to date.

God knows where this guy got the money to build this house. Hundreds of dogs, a long walk of powered trapdoors, and a very clever magic dance which I would've enjoyed trying to deduce… until I realized the walls leading to a crucial dog were just a bit too thin.

Once I broke through to the magic-dance-dog and put it to sleep, I merely waltzed all the way around the map to the vault.

A very unexpected solution, and one that was done with 2K tools. How exciting!!!

#17 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 13:56:43

Famous Houses

So these are some houses you might recognize.

In case you were wondering how far I'd gotten in so-and-so's house, the answer is almost always going to be: not far. This is simply because the more popular (and publicized) a house is, the faster it tends to fall, and usually I don't even get more than a couple of scouting runs in before they're gone.

But, what the heck, here they are...

Gary Jeremy Coney

To Amatiel (the creator of this house): For your added amusement, here are my original notes on the Coney house:

Leap of Faith
Depower Floors
Go up & try a kitty combo.
Hit left sticky button
Chase cat west to trigger floor
Go south, chase cat south across leap of faith
Cross leap of faith with chihuahua, get cat to power doors by dancing
Go to the end, and check powered door.

Calvin Eugene Smith (Coney v2.0)

And here's my progress on the reboot that resurfaced. As you can see, I didn't get very far. (I never even got to the cat-chase, I just re-used my old draft).

David Michael Scott

AKA the House of a Million Cat Dances.

For this house, I reasoned that because there were so many cats, there probably weren't too many solutions. Thus I presumed that each step I took and lived would be a 'correct' step, and that all I had to do was guess when the cats (or maybe it was only one or two cats that were relevant?) flipped the switch.

As it turned out, the house fell before I had more than three guesses.

In fact, here are the entirety of my notes on this house:
Right down down right up up down left… ?

Arthur N. Santiago

Remember this house?

This was one of the first houses that I remember staying around FOR-EV-ER.

The entrance clock trap alone probably killed a hundred idiots (and I was 3 or 4 of them). I think the rest of the house was a couple combo locks, but I don't remember much else about this house.

Stephen Thomas Geyer

Hey, it's Cylence's old house! This one was quite fun, but I never got far enough in to really appreciate it.

Christopher Alvin Harris

One of Blip's old houses. Like most (all?) of his houses, they lasted about as long as Blip, but I did manage to sneak a ways in before he changed the entrance on me. I would've liked to have finished puzzling out the second part.

Keith Anthony Weaver

One of Iceman's later houses. I never got past the cats.

The toggle circuit of death at the beginning was characteristically clever. Though I did take some small pride in disabling it with only one water instead of two.

Thomas P Sunderland

This was the beginning of AMWhy's chihuahua-dancestravaganza house, and I only have this much of it drafted because he posted the entrance on the forums.

I could tell it was a work in progress, and I actually suicided in front of the vault after using a ladder and a brick to scout the dance. I would've liked to see the complete(ly insane) house.

#18 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 13:53:49

I'm Still Stumped.

Here are a couple of houses that I'd definitely had a fair crack at… and yet I still have no idea how they were supposed to be solved (well, a couple ideas but none that worked). If I had drafted that random two-toggle Randalph Karr house from a couple weeks ago, it would be in here, too.

Anthony Hugh Miller

This one I really liked for its simplicity. There's practically nowhere to go from the start except for that one toggle button (which does… what?), and then a few guard dogs will helpfully guide you into the jaws of death.

Boy I would've loved to know how to get past that cat (sans tools).

I made it pretty far, anyway, with just a few tools, and I'm not too surprised this house didn't last very long. Still, I'm perplexed.

update: Mystery solved!

Philip Wicks
John Ronald Eley

I'm pretty sure these two houses were built by the same person.

Anyway, let's talk about that tetris-block cat trap.

I *think* it's a dual-cat timing trap, and the way to solve it might be to use wire cutters and trigger the death-cat, then trigger the first cat and count the steps. Not sure if I ever tried that, actually (and, if I remember correctly, the death-cat is operating on a paradox circuit, which complicates matters somewhat)

… but if I'm wrong, then I'm filing this under traps I've never gotten past. I wish I had though, because from the glimpses I've seen, the rest of the house looks like it would be fun to crack.

#19 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 13:52:31

Houses That Died Far Too Soon

These are houses that just plain disappeared, for various reasons, before I could finish robbing them.

Steven Russell Stewart

This was one of the first times I solved a simple magic dance.

Take a look at the opening dog. On the seventh step up, (counting from the trapdoor) the floor would turn on, and I'd die. This means that there had to be a button there.

Now the simplest magic dances all use a single toggle that secretly powers the button (they don't use two toggles, because that would make it easier to 'accidentally' get past the dance), so the trick is simply to find out which step holds the toggle. This can be done easily by cutting the floor on the 'death' step, turning on the floor, and then simply backtracking until you turn the floor back off.

Or, if you're worried about paradox circuits, simply trial and error will do (ie. from the trap door, try six steps up, one step down, then go back up. If you die, then on the next run, try six steps up, two steps down, then back up, etc.).

So, I solved the first dance, then correctly guessed (and cut) the next death step, but I only got to see the guessing-game part once before the house disappeared.

By the way, note how much house space that guessing game takes up, vs. the magic dance. Which one do you think is more effective?

Andrew Grover Edwards

A fairly cheap house, and it wasn't surprising that it didn't last long. Still, it was fun to draft the absurdly-large magic cat dance.. you really don't see too many of these anymore (probably for good reason).

Michael Jessie Laplante

A pretty standard progression vs. a combo lock house: Draft to the max with 2K tools, then bring a few saws.

Note the steel walls that change to concrete in-between drafts. This happened right after I cut through the steel and saw the first button with only 2K tools.

Kevin George Velez

Hah! I love this house, because even though I got practically nowhere…

matthias wrote:

wel, every day i change the magic dance, and the rest, but this time it was too much, dead..... thx self Test !

This cracks me up. Changing one's house regularly is the perfect counter to 2K suicide robbers, and it's also an ever-increasing risk each time you have to run through your own traps.

I guess the self-test death rule isn't all that bad.

Christopher Neal Cantrell/Joaquin Donald Sealy

This was Kimenzar's lovely house, and though he was a very prolific robber (ie. the house is bound to die sooner rather than later), I would've loved to have a few more cracks at that magic dance.

Figuring out the first section was a joy. (Just look at it! Everything you need to figure it out is in plain view). And the multi-pet dance at the end is delightfully unorthodox.

Adam Lester Mitchell

A somewhat more recent combo lock house, this one expired before I really got too far in.

I think this was an early-stage house, because just look at all the progress I made with only a couple saws!

Troy James Matheson

I just wanted to show this one because it was one of the most bizarre combo locks I've ever seen. Too bad it disappeared before I could even try out the winning combo.

Toby Martin Benjamin

Oh, I had this one!! The opening combo was: top middle, bottom left, bottom right, I had to remember to trap a dog behind a door to the left before entering the puzzle room of death, and then… combo lock (but one easily within my scouting budget!)

The puzzle room of death is still quite possibly one of my favorite puzzles ever. I even drafted my solution:

Anyway, I had JUST finished scouting all the buttons when the house disappeared… sigh. Oh well. Very fun and memorable house.

(ps- note all the weirdly irrelevant parts of the house included in the draft. Is it obvious I like exploring houses almost as much (if not more) than I like cracking them?)

Robert Troy Hebert

This was a truly crazy house. A clock, magic dance, leaps of faith, AND a combo lock all in one house? Sir, you must be insane!

Admittedly, it was fun traipsing through this ever-changing design (and dying a number of times by forgetting the clock at the beginning), and I was sad to see the house in tatters before I finished my map.

Side note: This house brings up a very useful facet of castledraft, and an interesting point about scouting in general. Take a look at the magic dance that I mapped on my second draft. Notice, from the far right side of the map it seems very inaccessible (pits, steel, dogs), but when I drafted it, I noticed that it was exactly adjacent to… the harmless cat room!

$2000 may not seem like much, but it will buy you a brick, a cutting torch, and some meat.

#20 Re: Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 13:51:24


This section is filled with incomplete maps. The houses shown were all targets that disappeared before I could reach the vault, either because they were robbed, or the home-owner simply died before I could break through. This isn't uncommon, especially as my robbing process involves multiple runs over several days.

Most of these drafts show at least some significant progress, and I decided to share these because, for one, a house's entrance often presents the most interesting trap, and, two, these drafts reveal a couple insights about the robbing process (in particular, what stops a robber that breaks through the initial defense).

I excluded a few unremarkable houses that likely didn't hold up very long, anyway.

First Mapping Experiences

In the beginning, my house list was a couple pages of notes on each house, and each one read like this: "take the 4th door on the left, then do the magic dance. Bring wire cutters and water."

At the time, I didn't use castledraft, and I really wasn't learning as much as I could have from my attempts.

Not coincidentally, my earliest mapping attempts were done at the same time my robbing skills really started to develop.

Here are some of my earliest maps:

Aaron L Lail

This was it. This was the one.

This house was definitely going to be my first five-figure score.

I'd made real progress. On previous runs, I had found the correct hall, brought the starting dog to the leap of faith, deduced the two magic dances, and I remember the day I was set to make it past the next section of the house. I was excited, tense, and nervous.

I could feel I was close.

Of course, for some reason, I decided I'd be EXTRA careful, and to map the entire robbery using castledraft. From scratch.

This was my first time using castledraft.

And I was slowwww

This was also the first time I learned that robberies had a 10-minute timer. I didn't even notice the 'Sirens…?' until there was 30 seconds left, and I had to choose between a leap of faith down a hallway of steel, or a leap of faith down one of concrete...

Well, I died before I could guess, and the next day the house disappeared. I guess I'll never know whether or not the concrete was a bluff...

Dennis Harold Murphy

Here was another house which I just could NOT draft fast enough! These were the early days, where my notes were far more comprehensive than my maps. (The vault, by the way, was probably in the top-right corner. It was protected by concrete walls, and some instant-powered-door-shutting trap that I didn't even manage to draft).

Lewis John Noonan

My first brute-force attempt!

I think I'd actually broken through a few combo-lock houses that day, and I just had way too much money. I rarely build my own houses, so on this day I just swung for the fences.

Alas, once again, my mapping skills were far too slow. I barely made it through 1/3rd of the house before the cops got me.

I was not close.

(Incidentally, I love this design, mostly because it's so simple to move the vault. However… a clever robber can see far too much with just bricks, making this a deceptively cheaper rob than the builder intended)

Gordon George Becker

Around this time, I had finally caught on to the wisdom of drafting upon previous drafts. I'd map a phase of the house, run out of tools and die, then on the next run I'd be more informed & efficient, enabling me to map further.

I somehow lost the subsequent map of this house, and it's a real pity. I rather liked the traps, and I wish I could've deduced the secret of those trapdoors…

#21 Main Forum » A Robber's Diary: Some Maps, Some Thoughts, and A Few Good Scores » 2014-07-18 13:49:55

Replies: 18

There are few thrills in video games that match the moment you stumble upon a vault. That feeling of success, of breakthrough, of striking gold after a truly difficult struggle, is only amplified because you have solved a truly unique puzzle -- made by one, solved by one. This is not your typical video game.

That moment of triumph is also a sad one, because most houses disappear when you rob them… and their puzzles along with, long before most players can solve them.

I realize that's quite the point of TCD - to make something special, something valuable, something that validates the very real effort on the part of the builder, and the thief. Nonetheless, it's still a shame that these lost designs are so widely under-appreciated.

Thus, in a modest attempt to celebrate the artist and the work, I wanted to share a gallery of all the houses I've robbed (and remembered to document). It's derived from my personal list of castledrafts, with added notes on context. Though I wish I could post everything, one or two of these houses are still active, and thus censored somewhat.

Anyway, enjoy, and please share comments, especially if you see your house listed. I would love to know what you think.


A Robber's Diary

Section One: Partial Robberies
Early Experiences
Incomplete Robberies
I'm Still Stumped
Famous Houses

Section Two: Complete Robberies
Robbed Houses
Solved Houses

Section Three: Wife Hunt!™

#22 Re: Main Forum » Can you even design an interesting trap anymore? » 2014-07-12 14:16:08

Check out this post: … hp?id=2417

Cylence was a master of building pet traps in full plain view that were very difficult to solve.

#23 Re: Main Forum » Straight path building challenge » 2014-07-10 13:43:02

AMWhy: I just built your house, and I have to say, that's one of the most satisfying self-tests I've ever done. kudos!

Edit: well that didn't last long.

#24 Re: Main Forum » Straight path building challenge » 2014-07-07 18:27:00

Can someone guide me through how to make a castledraft into a mapshot?

Until then here's my entry:

I'm no home-builder by any means, but for whatever reason today, inspiration struck, and I had loads of fun making this house. Parts of it still make me grin.

edit: meh, updated to fix some bugs.

#25 Re: Main Forum » The Fate of TCD and a Robbery of $93198 » 2014-07-02 11:30:44

Never cracked? Can you draft your entrance please?

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