As we’ve touched on in our other Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes article, solving puzzles under a time limit is a great way to get closer to friends, and the puzzles in KTANE are a great testament to complexity and details. A predominant problem puzzle in the game is On the Subject of Complicated Wires, and many new players are thrown by the Venn diagram which greets them when flipping to that page of the manual. So let’s break it down and see what we can do to make our lives easier when bombs (and achievements) are on the line.
Found on page 13 of the Bomb Defusal Manual, ‘On the Subject of Complicated Wires’ is one of what the game considers to be the ‘time consuming’ modules to solve, tied with passwords and morse code in complexity. First-time players will be greeted by a complex-looking Venn Diagram complete with instructions and different types of lines to determine all the variations of wire, lights, and star combos the bomb could contain. And you have to go through this diagram for every single wire until the module is solved.
So, what are some ways we can make this easier on ourselves in the heat of the moment? First, let’s compare a step-by-step breakdown with an example module.
Our Defuser has a panel of vertical wires, 5 in total. After flipping to page 13 of the manual, we’ll need to ask our Defuser to describe the wires individually, including whether the wire has a lit LED light or a star as well as the wire’s color(s).
Defuser: “The first wire is white, with a star.”
Because the wire is white, it needs to not include either the Red nor the Blue circles. It also does not have an LED light, so we exclude that circle as well, leaving only the one option, [C: Cut the wire.] Simple enough. Next wire!
Defuser: “The next wire is red, with an LED and a star.”
This time, instead of excluding 3 of the circles, we need to find the point which includes just those 3. Following the diagram, this lands us on [B: Cut the wire if the bomb has two or more batteries.] To find the number of batteries on the bomb, you may need to zoom out of the individual module and rotate the bomb around a couple times. Typically, the bomb can have both D batteries and AA batteries, but each battery counts the same. The batteries can be scattered along multiple of the four narrow sides of the bomb, so make sure to check all sides. Your bomb can also have no batteries at all, so if you can’t find any, you may just have none.
To continue our example, our bomb only has a single battery, so we Do Not Cut that wire. Next wire.
Defuser: “The next wire is both red and blue striped, with an LED light.”
Wires can be more than one color, and in this case, we’ll need to mark it as both red and blue, including both circles. This time, we just have to exclude the Star circle, leading to this.
[S: Cut the wire if the last digit of the serial number is even.] Luckily for us, we saw the serial number while looking for the batteries early, and we can see that it is indeed even. Therefore, we cut the wire. Next wire!
Defuser: “The next wire is blue, with a star.”
Simple enough, we just need two circles, so lets not mess around.
[D: Do not cute the wire.] Time for the final wire!
Defuser: “The last wire is white. Nothing else.”
Now, there’s actually two ways to solve the module from here. We can continue with the diagram, leading to the only option outside of all the circles, which is [C: Cut the Wire.]
The second will actually work no matter the makeup of the last wire. Assuming you’ve done all the other wires correctly, and the module is still not finished, (you can tell it’s complete by whether the green light in the upper right corner is lit or not) you can assume you need to cut the last wire. Remember, each wire either needs to be cut or not cut, so you may finish the module before you actually go through all the wires (if those last wires are meant to remain uncut, anyway.) They all start uncut, so depending on the layout, half your wires may be correct to begin with. This also doesn’t account for duplicate wires, which may have the same setups as each other, and therefore the same solutions. Keep an eye out for these, especially when you have more than one module of Complicated Wires, as it can save a lot of time in the future if you’ve already solved for that wire set-up.
In terms of making the venn diagram itself easier to read, there have been a couple different methods explored. Either coloring in or personalizing the diagram, as I have done above, can really help visual learners to distinguish the different circles at a glance. Other diagrams have been made by the Steam Community such as this chart, or even full on flow chart diagrams of conditional trees.
As always, there will be mistakes made, and practice had to streamline the disarming process. Maybe you only need the color, light, and star, and the filler words are just that, filler. Either way, best of luck with your next bomb, and don’t try this at home. Unless it’s in the game, then you’re probably fine.