Dear Zoltar #1: How To Be A Good Leader

Hello, dear readers and escape enthusiasts. In an effort to spread my great wisdom and wit with the world, I have taken on an advice column. Yes I, the Great and Magnanimous Zoltar, Seer of Secrets and Keeper of Escape Room Secrets, will be lending a (beautifully painted) ear to those in need of some guidance through their escape room journey. Our first letter comes to us via Red Tailed Hawk (much more reliable than owls and also work during the day) from someone who may be just like you.

Dear Zoltar,

My friends and I have played many escape rooms and so far, we haven’t won a single game. I have played with friends, with family, with strangers! Every time it seems that victory is just out of reach. What are we doing wrong?

I know that every great team needs a great leader, so I do my best to push my team and make sure we are all working together to try and escape! I start every game by giving each player on my team something to do. One person will be in charge of looking in drawers on one side of the room, while someone else will be in charge of figuring out which puzzle we need to tackle first! I have each of them explain their answer so that I can try it on the locks. I stay in touch with everyone constantly! I let them know how much time we have and try to motivate everyone by pushing them to work faster.

We are never fast enough!

What can I do to help my team more and get us our first win?

Natural Born Leader


Dearest N. B. Leader,

‘Tis I, Zoltar the Great, the seer of secrets and your guide on how to be a better leader for your escape team! Now, I know that it can be hard to face so many challenges and still come out with no victories, but the most important bit of advice that I can give you is this: If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again!

Solving puzzles and escaping from escape rooms is a skill like any other skill. The more you practice, the better you will get. It is good that you are playing rooms and switching up your team each time. This allows a level of adaptability, that some leaders do not have. This will also give you a chance to work on identifying the strengths and weaknesses of newer players. Supporting your team mates by allowing them to play to their strengths is the truest sign of a good leader.

There has been a previous blog post describing the types of players in an escape room. Perhaps you should take a look at it and see if you can identify which type of player each one of your friends or family is.

Sometimes being a leader means gently guiding your team rather than pushing them. I can tell you from experience that constantly reminding players just how little time is left can be more stressful than helpful. While sometimes a good reminder is needed, save it for good intervals. If you tell your team how much time is left every minute, you will only be adding to the noise already in the room and could create more confusion.

I don’t believe your team really needs to explain every puzzle to you before they try solving it. If they think they have the correct answer but it doesn’t work, they should definitely explain their thought process! But explaining everything before trying a code is a good way to burn through your very limited time. Perhaps you should allow others to try their codes on the locks and offer an ear and another point of view if they get stuck.

I have no doubt that if you keep playing and keep growing as a leader that you will lead a group to victory someday soon. Just remember to let your group play to their strengths and give gentle guidance. It will make for a more enjoyable game for everyone and just might improve your results.

Til next time, dear reader,

Zoltar The Great
Seer of Secrets, Advice Guru,
The Fun House at Cross Roads Escape Games

P.S. Are you in need of some escape room advice? Send me an email at info@crossroadsescapegames.comwith the subject DEAR ZOLTAR and you may see your letter answered in the future.