# Solve the ladder, but you have to get there first

First things first, your ever so helpful nonogram. It's got what you need.

4687043851356807498045680642604256148950054205817162311154811546033200909410247081150107615124153210302114565151011511915121049921611212105021541458901239145711501201032145101500106615015471701306380183210654818015011750561105530178981323103228041451215011520011241655001064012501156504526132621017716115151620518408406021680543214581104680585608495158410214415607062151054818766054160051912866052510

Text Version:
_ _ _ _ _ - Your first word
_ _ _ _ _ - Slow down
_ _ _ _ _ - Courage
_ _ _ _ _ - Serious
_ _ _ _ _ - Marks or Incline/Decline
_ _ _ _ _ - Open forest space
_ _ _ _ _ - Pleasure
_ _ _ _ _ - Drive with a stick
_ _ _ _ _ - Positive qualities
_ _ _ _ _ - Forests
_ _ _ _ _ - Communicate
_ _ _ _ _ - Invertebrates
_ _ _ _ _ - Paperwork to fill
_ _ _ _ _ - Unyielding to pressure
_ _ _ _ _ - Project from a gun
_ _ _ _ _ - Loss of job
_ _ _ _ _ - Your last word

With help from @Meta45, I managed to work out the entire word ladder save for the first and last words:

????? - Your first word
BRAKE - Slow down
BRAVE - Courage
GRAVE - Serious
GRADE - Marks or Incline/Decline
GLADE - Open forest space
GLADS - Pleasure
GOADS - Drive with a stick
GOODS - Positive qualities
WOODS - Forest
WORDS - Communicate
WORMS - Invertebrates
FORMS - Paperwork to fill (found by @Meta45)
FIRMS - Unyielding to pressure (found by @Meta45)
FIRES - Project from a gun
FIRED - Loss of job (found by @Meta45)
????? - Your last word

@Sp3000 then found the first and last words:

BROKE and FIXED

All that remained was to figure out how to obtain those words from the number sequence. Thanks to the hints, and @Beastly Gerbil's existing answer, I realized that

You have to take every fifth number of the sequence. This gives you 01000010011100100110111101101011011001010100011001101001011110000110010101100100, which is clearly binary.

Split into sections of eight (i.e. bytes) and you get 01000010 01110010 01101111 01101011 01100101 01000110 01101001 01111000 01100101 01100100. I can't check yet, but I assume that when converted into a string this spells out "BROKEFIXED".

I need to stop doing puzzles in reverse.

• probably "loss of job" is "fired", "paperwork to fill" is "forms" and "unyielding to pressure" is "firm_". However, I cannot fully get the steps. – Meta45 Mar 7 '17 at 10:41
• Based on that ladder I'm going to take a guess that first/last is BROKE / FIXED :P (probably wrong, but I felt like saying it) – Sp3000 Mar 7 '17 at 11:52
• @F1Krazy It's okay, I figured it may have happened, but I didn't want to make the hints impossible so it was bound to happen with all you smart people... And my hint for the numbers is -th – n_plum Mar 7 '17 at 13:40
• Yup, every 5th should give you the binary sequence, hence the 8 as a hint, and brokefixed should be what you get. Nice work – n_plum Mar 7 '17 at 14:43
• @n_palum As a bit of puzzling feedback, in general the word ladder clues should match the tense/plurality/word form of the answer. For example, "courage" would ordinarily clue BRAVERY, whereas for BRAVE you'd want to clue with "courageous". – Sp3000 Mar 8 '17 at 2:42

Nonogram solution:

So

5 - and (thanks @Roger) - 8

Step by step (along the same lines as this step by step)

Grey represents an empty square, and black indicates a filled square.

STEP 1: The Defo Nos

The first step is to fill in all the squares grey which definitely aren't filled in (Note I missed one, the first column which is fixed in step 3. This does effect Step 2 but not much):

STEP 2: Mid Grid

Now fill in the squares which are included in all possible solutions for a row/column. There are several in each and the block in the middloe helps a lot in the rows. We can already see the shape:

STEP 3: I Rowed down the Columns

After this there are a lot nearly complete. We can fill in a lot of greys and squares

STEP 4: Number of squares left diminish as we come to a finish

From here it is plain sailing. We get the final answer:

Now I'm not sure, but maybe we need to look through the 5s and 8s?

4687043851356807498045680642604256148950054205817162311154811546033200909410247081150107615124153210302114565151011511915121049921611212105021541458901239145711501201032145101500106615015471701306380183210654818015011750561105530178981323103228041451215011520011241655001064012501156504526132621017716115151620518408406021680543214581104680585608495158410214415607062151054818766054160051912866052510

The rest was solved by F1Krazy:

Taking every fifth number gives binary for BrokeFixed. This gives the completed wordladder:

BROKE - Your first word
BRAKE - Slow down
BRAVE - Courage
GRAVE - Serious
GRADE - Marks or Incline/Decline
GLADE - Open forest space
GLADS - Pleasure
GOADS - Drive with a stick
GOODS - Positive qualities
WOODS - Forest
WORDS - Communicate
WORMS - Invertebrates
FORMS - Paperwork to fill (found by @Meta45)
FIRMS - Unyielding to pressure (found by @Meta45)
FIRES - Project from a gun
FIRED - Loss of job (found by @Meta45)
FIXED - Your last word

• I think the middle symbol is meant to be "and". I've seen people do ampersands that way before. – Roger Mar 6 '17 at 21:50
• Or may be we need to divide those numbers in groups of 8*5/5*8 as the total number of digits are 400 – Techidiot Mar 7 '17 at 9:45
• It's worth noting that there are 85 5s and 8s, which is the same number of letters in the word ladder (5*17 = 85) – Sp3000 Mar 7 '17 at 11:52
• @Sp3000 My hint for the numbers is to maybe think less of the literal numbers, maybe more like spacing ;) it was totally a bizarre by chance thing that the numbers added up to the letters – n_plum Mar 7 '17 at 13:27
• @n_palum added step by step. Same as previous one basically :) – Beastly Gerbil Mar 7 '17 at 20:11