10
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All aboard the Word Train Express!

Engineering a word train is simple: I'll give you the locomotive (the first word) and the caboose (the last word), and I'll specify the number of boxcars (intermediate words), and then you construct the train.

Like this:

Locomotive:  PORCHES
Number of boxcars:  4
Caboose:  STATIONARY


-------------------------------------------

Solution:

PORCHES
 ORCHESTRA
     ESTRANGE
      STRANGEST
           GESTATION
             STATIONARY


And like this:

Locomotive:  COLONIALIST
Number of boxcars:  5
Caboose:  INGENUITY


-------------------------------------------

Solution:

COLONIALIST
       LISTEN
         STENCH
           ENCHANT
             CHANTING
                 TINGE
                  INGENUITY


Note:
— Each unit must be indented from the previous unit by at least one letter
— Each unit must extend beyond the previous unit by at least one letter
— Each unit must overlap the previous unit by at least four letters
— Each unit must overlap the previous previous unit by at least one letter

As always, I design my puzzles in such a way that they can be solved using only well-known words, so if you find yourself conjuring up increasingly obscure words, you may be overthinking it.

See if you can construct the following four word trains:

The A Train
-----------
Locomotive:  GASLIT
Number of boxcars:  7
Caboose:  GINGER



The B-1 Train
-------------    
Locomotive:  SCRAM
Number of boxcars:  11
Caboose:  ESSENCE



The B-2 Train
-------------    
Locomotive:  SCRAM
Number of boxcars:  12
Caboose:  YESTERDAY



The C Train
-----------    
Locomotive:  CUBIST
Number of boxcars:  14
Caboose:  GINGER




Epilogue:

Nice work, @PiIsNot3 , @cpark , and @hexomino ! People really came up with some amazingly efficient paths from locomotive to caboose!

I realize now that by giving the number of boxcars, the puzzle became over-specified. This didn't allow the puzzle solvers enough room to freely explore their own paths. I'll keep this in mind in future puzzles.

In case you're interested in seeing the trains I had in mind, see below.

@WeatherVane — I would still be curious about the solutions your computer program came up with.


The A Train:
GASLIT, SLITHER, THERE, HERETIC, RETICENT, CENTER, ENTERING, RINGING, GINGER


The B-1 Train:
SCRAM, CRAMP, RAMPANT, PANTHER, THEREFORE, REFOREST, RESTRICT, STRICTEST, TESTABLE, STABLES, BLESS, LESSEN, ESSENCE
—OR—
SCRAM, CRAMP, RAMPANT, PANTHER, THEREFORE, REFOREST, RESTRICT, STRICTEST, TESTABLE, TABLES, BLESS, LESSEN, ESSENCE
—OR—
SCRAM, CRAMP, RAMPANT, PANTHER, THEREFORE, REFOREST, RESTRAIN, STRAINED, INEDIBLE, EDIBLES, BLESS, LESSEN, ESSENCE
—OR—
SCRAM, CRAMP, RAMPANT, PANTHER, THEREFORE, REFOREST, RESTRAIN, TRAINED, INEDIBLE, EDIBLES, BLESS, LESSEN, ESSENCE


The B-2 Train:
SCRAM, CRAMP, RAMPANT, PANTHER, THEREFORE, REFOREST, RESTRICT, STRICTURE, TUREEN, REENLIST, ENLISTING, STINGRAY, GRAYEST, YESTERDAY


The C Train:
CUBIST, BISTRO, STROP, TROPE, ROPER, OPERATIONAL, RATIONALIST, LISTENS, TENSE, ENSEMBLE, EMBLEM, BLEMISH, MISHAP, SHAPING, PINGING, GINGER

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  • $\begingroup$ This reminds me of Bridge Words! :D $\endgroup$ – Feeds Apr 14 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @user477343 — Cool! $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Apr 14 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ Using rot13(pbzcbhaq jbeqf) is definitely a strategy... how many can we use? $\endgroup$ – Feeds Apr 14 at 18:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Definition of SlowMagic: "provider of quality and creative wordplay puzzles, mostly stressing in the transformation of words." ~ Omega Krypton Dictionary. +1ed! $\endgroup$ – Omega Krypton Apr 15 at 13:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you, thank you, @OmegaKrypton ! I do stress the transformation of words, but what gets me stressed is worrying about whether I have presented everything clearly, accurately, and unambiguously. Puzzle solvers always manage to come up with something I didn't foresee! $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Apr 15 at 14:19
6
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Partial

The B-2 Train (10 boxcars)

SCRAM
  CRAMP
     RAMPANT
             PANTHER
                     THEREIN
                            REINSURE
                                 INSURES
                                     SUREST
                                          RESTING
                                               STINGRAY
                                                       GRAYEST
                                                               YESTERDAY

The C Train (7 boxcars)

CUBIST
     BISTRO
         STROLL
              ROLLOVER
                     LOVERS
                       OVERSLEEP
                                 SLEEPING
                                          PINGING
                                                GINGER

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  • $\begingroup$ These are using the wrong number of boxcars though ...? $\endgroup$ – Rubio Apr 15 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ I hope it's OK - the last one I did, I managed to find significantly shorter solutions than the author intended, and they were accepted, so I assumed for this one it'd be the same $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 Apr 15 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Clever and elegant solutions! But now you've made me realize that I put myself into quandary. I should have stated explicitly whether the number of boxcars was meant as a requirement or just a suggestion. (And that also points out the difficulty with creating these types of word chain problems — everyone is working from a different definition of what qualifies as a word. So I have to be pretty permissive.) $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Apr 15 at 14:18
9
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Partial

The A-Train

GASLIT
     SLITHER
           THERE
             HEREIN
                  REINVEST
                        INVESTOR
                                STORING
                                        RINGING
                                               GINGER

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4
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Here's my answer for b1:

SCRAM
   CRAMP
      RAMPANT
              PANTHER
                     THEREFORE
                            REFOREST
                                      RESTART
                                           STARTLE
                                                ARTLESS
                                                       LESSEN
                                                         ESSENCE

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3
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I previously refrained from posting this computer solution because of the "no-computers" tag.

But now an answer has been accepted and @SlowMagic invited me to post. I found a lot of similar variants to the answers, but here are the shortest boxcar solutions I found:

GASLIT (7 5) GINGER

GASLIT
  SLITHER
     THEREFORE
        REFOREST
            RESTING
              STINGING
                  GINGER

SCRAM (11 9) ESSENCE

SCRAM
 CRAMP
  RAMPANT
     PANTHER
        THEREFORE
           REFOREST
               RESTART
                 STARTLE
                   ARTLESS
                      LESSEN
                       ESSENCE

SCRAM (12 7) YESTERDAY

SCRAM
 CRAMP
  RAMPART
     PARTING
        TINGES
         INGESTING
             STINGRAY
                 GRAYEST
                    YESTERDAY

CUBIST (14 6) GINGER

CUBIST
  BISTABLE
     TABLES
       BLESS
        LESSENS
           SENSING
              SINGING
                 GINGER

I didn't find any solutions to the B-2 Train until I added REENLIST and GRAYEST to my dictionary. On the other hand, I didn't want to use a more exhaustive dictionary because it contains too many words I am not familiar with.

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent! Thank you for sharing! You must have written a very fine breadth-first search algorithm to come up with such highly efficient solutions. BTW, I also made special consideration for REENLIST. I seem to remember it being spelled with a hyphen... Or maybe that's just another example of the Mandela effect... $\endgroup$ – SlowMagic Apr 17 at 14:26

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