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This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #1: Restricted Title: xkcd 1xxx


enter image description here

... but what? Good luck on this !

Hint 1:

Although it’s not strictly part of the puzzle, the first sentence of this post may help you figure out where to start.

Hint 2:

This puzzle was released on 07-28-2022.

Hint 3:

The shape of the grid is rather arbitrary; it could just have easily been laid out like this:

Hint 4:
As Ed Murphy has noted in his answer,

the emojis fall on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Sound familiar?

Hint 5:

For the first step, you're looking for an emoji that is out of place. But for the next step, keep an eye out for any unusual details you might notice...

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    $\begingroup$ The unusual things I notice are rot13(fbzr yrggref va gur gvgyr nobir gur tevq ner obyqrq, naq gung cuenfr vf fvzvyne gb n qngr sbezng. Nyfb gurer ner guvegl-bar qnlf va gur puneg.) $\endgroup$
    – Jarvis
    Aug 5 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Jarvis rot13(Trggvat pybfre -- jnag gb gnxr n penpx?) $\endgroup$
    – Cloudy7
    Aug 5 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I think rot13(gurer vf n pbaarpgvba gb guvf kxpq pbzvp). I am still trying to find what I am looking for. $\endgroup$
    – Jarvis
    Aug 6 at 10:26

2 Answers 2

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This appears to be related to

xkcd comics 2041-2054 which are specifically:

- Frontiers

- Rolle’s Theorem

- Boathouses and Houseboats

- Sandboxing Cycle

- Social Media Announcement

- Trum-

- Beverages

- Curve-Fitting

- Unfulfilling Toys

- 6/6 Time

- Bad Opinions

- Stanislov Petrograd Day

All of which

Are thematically linked to the emoji occurring on the date in September 2018 when they were published. The bold digits are readable as 1/9-1/10 /2018 (or other DMY formats). Following an observation from hexomino, there may be a link to Fatal Crash Rate published on 14/5/18 and is comic 1993 so just fitting into the theme.

The anomaly would seem to be

The final square labelled 18 which corresponds to the comic Incoming Calls on the 1st October rather than a date in September. Thematically, wrong numbers are part of this strip. (Also possibly relevant is the comic 2018).

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  • $\begingroup$ I feel like there's a bit more to it. 14-5-18 seems to be important and the leftover bold digits, in particular. $\endgroup$
    – hexomino
    Aug 1 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ You're on the right track, but there's still a bit left to this puzzle! rot13(Gur bayl ceboyrz jvgu lbhe nafjre fb sne vf gur fgngrzrag "nyy bs juvpu"...) $\endgroup$
    – Cloudy7
    Aug 1 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ Do you see rot13(gur eryngvba orgjrra gur svsgu pbzvp naq gur rzbwv? V qba'g frr.) $\endgroup$
    – Jarvis
    Aug 5 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ Might be a reference to rot13(gur Fynpx ybtb) $\endgroup$
    – Ed Murphy
    Aug 7 at 3:03
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I'm unclear on the pattern, but the smaller images are (in order)

Eight-pointed star, Ophiuchus, motor boat, clockwise horizontal arrows (this one is possibly non-standard)

Rainbow, trumpet, glass of milk, chart with upward trend

Yoyo, 6, anger, bell

Edit:

Hint 3 indicates that the final "18" is out of place, as every other Monday/Wednesday/Friday has a different emoji. I still haven't worked out any more specific rules for which number or emoji (if any) should appear for each day, though.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, yes — but how are the different images connected? I’ll add a hint. $\endgroup$
    – Cloudy7
    Jul 29 at 17:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, this might be better suited as a comment; it might be confused by other puzzlers as a partial or full solution. $\endgroup$
    – Cloudy7
    Jul 30 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ I was hoping that the one difference I found would count as at least a partial solution. Now I'm looking at hint 3 and wondering rot13(ubj bayl bar guvat vf bhg bs cynpr). $\endgroup$
    – Ed Murphy
    Jul 30 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(V jvyy fnl gung guvf chmmyr unf zhygvcyr fgrcf gb vg. Lbh'ir nyernql cvpxrq hc n xrl qrgnvy va lbhe yngrfg rqvg, ohg abg gur xrl qrgnvy lbh zvtug guvax...) $\endgroup$
    – Cloudy7
    Jul 30 at 22:04

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