Solution: Play On Words

Written by kt3, betaveros, Idontknow and Deusovi

Solvers are presented with two columns of crossword clues. A good first step is to answer them to hopefully see what's going on.

Note that the answers appear in alphabetical order, which is a common occurrence in puzzlehunts. This is typically done to telegraph that the order of the answers as given isn't what's important, and that they need to be reordered. It also provides a way for solvers to check their answers!

The aha here, as hinted by the title and flavor text, is that these words can be connected to form phrases of the form “X on Y.” The given blanks give a distinct way to arrange these and provide the extraction step.

The left and the right sides extract to COBALT and INDIGO, respectively. However, these don't fit into the provided blanks. The last thing to recognize is that both of these are shades of, and clues for, BLUE. Doing the mechanic once more leads us to Dippy's least favorite color combination, BLUE ON BLUE.

Author’s Notes

kt3: This is my first ever puzzle constructed (and puzzle #1 in our puzzlord too), and it honestly was pretty controversial in testsolving (particularly the final cluephrase) and had to be discussed and revised multiple times. The earliest version of this puzzle had four clues in each column, which gave CYAN / NAVY upon extraction. Cluephrases such as PRUSSIAN / CERULEAN and ANSWERBL / UEONBLUE were also considered.

Then again, everyone on the team gave great inputs, which ultimately led to this version of the puzzle. I'm very happy with how this turned out.