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Army Of Zero - The Solution

Congratulations to our competition winner, Tim Pickup from Peckham.

Although we didn't tell you, there is a missing character. Your objective is to identify what that missing card is.

The card is GENERAL VOLEDA OF THE CROCODILE CLAN.

Here are the steps needed to get to the answer.

How do we know there's a missing character?

Each character has four statistics: SPEED, COMBAT, WEAPON and ARMOUR. Each statistic is a whole number between -2 and +2, and for every character the four add up to zero. There are 85 unique combinations of whole numbers between -2 and +2 that can add up to zero in this way, but only 84 character cards in the deck. The missing combination, by the way, is 0/0/0/0.

The distribution of ranks is as follows:

This is almost a simple arithmetic progression, starting at 1 and adding 8 each time. In order to make this into an arithmetic progression, there would have to be a ninth General. Again, this hints at a missing character, specifically a missing...

GENERAL

Sequences

Let's examine the shields. There are five shields on each card, and we'll number them from 1 to 5, counting downwards.

Shield 1 has a blue background. Some of the shields have a white horizontal bar, some have a white circle, and some have no symbol at all. These shields are used to spell out messages in Morse code: the horizontal bars are dashes, the white circles are dots, and the blank shields represent gaps. There are six Morse code messages, and to discover them you have to order the cards in six different sequences.

Sequence 1

The first sequence is revealed by simply ordering the cards alphabetically by the character names. This sequence starts with Commander Abarring, and then carries on with Thegn Ancman, Thegn Armnottle, Thegn Bakrum, and so on. If you take the Morse code symbols from the cards in this order, you get:

....- ..... ..--- ..... ----- ----- -. --... ..... ....- .---- ----- ----- .-- .-...

Decoding the sequence gives you:

452500n754100w Wait

These are map coordinates: 45 degrees, 25 minutes and zero seconds north, 75 degrees, 10 minutes and zero seconds west. If you look them up, you'll find that they represent a point in the city of Ottawa.

Sequence 2

The second sequence is revealed by ordering the cards alphabetically by clan. This sequence starts with the five members of the Alligator clan, then the single member of the Antelope clan, then the five members of the Armadillo clan, and then carries on with the Bat clan, the Bear clan, the Beetle clan, and so on. It doesn't matter what order you choose for individual members within a particular clan, because the morse symbol is always the same for any given clan. If you take the Morse code symbols from the cards in this order, you get:

..... ..... ..... --... ...-- ----. -. ----- ...-- .---- ----- ----- ...-- .-- .-...

Decoding the sequence gives you:

555739n031003w Wait

If you look up these coordinates, you'll find that they represent a point in the city of Edinburgh.

Sequence 3

For the third sequence, you need to to use Shield 2. Shield 2 has seven small coloured circles, some of them blue and some of them orange. The circles represent a binary code, with the orange circles representing "1" and the blue circles representing "0". The least significant digit is in the top left, and the significance then increases left-to-right, and top-to-bottom.

So, the first four shields look like this:

shieldshieldshieldshield

And so on, until the last two shields which look like this:

shieldshield

In this sequence, Thegn Bakrum is first, followed by Guardian Etna, Thegn Secdope, Commander Fagar, Guardian Vitanocce, and so on. Taking the Morse code symbols from the cards in this order gives you:

.---- ----. .---- .---- ....- ..... -. ----. -.... ----- --... ...-- ..... .-- .-...

If you decode this sequence, you get:

191145n960735w Wait

These coordinates represent a point in the city of Veracruz.

Sequence 4

For the fourth sequence, you need to order the cards according to the characters' statistics. Sort the cards so that the characters with the lowest SPEED stat are at the beginning. Where characters have the same SPEED stat, put characters with the lowest COMBAT stat first. Where characters have the same SPEED and COMBAT stat, put the characters with the lowest WEAPON stat first.

If you do this, the first character is Guardian Pasmush, followed by Guardian Untberry, Thegn Sicseven, Lord Icclestone, Thegn Haprenstance, and so on. The Morse code symbols from this sequence are:

.---- ....- ....- .---- .---- --... -. .---- --... ..--- -.... ....- .---- .-- .-...

Decoding the sequence gives you:

144117n172641w Wait

These coordinates represent a point in the city of Dakar.

Sequence 5

For the fifth sequence, you need to look at the third and fourth characters of each character's name. These characters can be interpreted as the first 84 two-character chemical symbols. For example, the third and fourth characters of Lord Icclestone's name are "c" and "l", and "Cl" is the chemical symbol for chlorine. The third and fourth characters of Guardian Focular's name are "c" and "u", and "Cu" is the chemical symbol for copper.

To unravel this sequence, you need to get each character's chemical symbol, and then order the cards based on the atomic number of that element.

This means that the first character in this sequence is Commander Yaheller ("He" is helium, atomic number 2). The sequence continues with Guardian Ruliton ("Li" is lithium, atomic number 3), Guardian Rebecca ("Be" is helium, atomic number 4), Commander Hines ("Ne" is neon, atomic number 10), Guardian Etna ("Na" is sodium, atomic number 11), and so on.

The Morse code symbols in this sequence are:

...-- ---.. ....- ..--- ..... --... -. ----- ----. .---- .---- ..--- ..... .-- .-...

If you decode this sequence, you get:

384257n091125w Wait

These coordinates represent a point in the city of Lisbon.

Sequence 6

For the final sequence, you need to combine Shield 3, Shield 4 and Shield 5. Here's how you get the sort order for a particular card.

Firstly, note what Shield 4 looks like. As an example, if you look at Thegn Zebitone's card, his Shield 4 has a green top half and a black bottom half:

card

Now you need to find the card that has this green and black shield as its Shield 3. As it happens, it's on Commander Mudybloo's card:

card

Thegn Zebitone's position in this sequence is determined by the number in Shield 5 of Commander Mudybloo's card, which is 46. So Thegn Zebitone should be at the 46th position.

Using this method, you should find that the first character in sequence 6 is Guardian Neiro. His Shield 4 matches Commander Fagar's Shield 3, and Commander Fagar's Shield 5 bears the number "1". Next comes Thegn Fracture, whose Shield 4 matches Shield 3 of Guardian Vittanocce; Vittanoce's own Shield 5 bears the number "2". Third would be Guardian Docrumble, whose Shield 4 matches Shield 3 of Commander Ryce; Ryce's own Shield 5 bears the number "3". And so on.

The Morse code symbols in this sequence are:

...-- ...-- ....- ..... ----- .---- -. ---.. ....- ..--- ...-- ----- ...-- .-- .-.-.

Decoding the sequence gives you:

334501n842303w End of message

If you look up these coordinates, you'll find that they represent a point in the city of Atlanta.

So, we have six cities: Ottawa, Edinburgh, Veracruz, Dakar, Lisbon and Atlanta.

Note that each of the Generals in the deck has a six-character name. Also, each of those names has its letters arranged in reverse alphabetical order. We take the six initial letters of these cities - O, E, A, D, L and V - and arrange them in reverse alphabetical order to give us...

VOLEDA

Notches

The cards have notches along their edges. There are three different types of notch, so let's call them the thin notch, the wide notch and the triangular notch.

For the first stage, ignore the wide notch and the thin notch, and just focus on the triangular notch.

You should arrange the 84 character cards into a rectangle, by lining up the triangular notches so that they align with triangular notches on adjacent cards. For instance, if you have a card that has a triangular notch somewhere on the left-hand side, you should find a card with a triangular notch at the same position on the right-hand side, so that when placed next to each other, the triangular notches line up. In the same way, if a card has a triangular notch somewhere on its top edge, you need to place it directly below a card with a triangular notch in the same position on its top edge.

Notches

Think of it as like a jigsaw.

You may notice that 12 cards don't have a triangular notch on the top edge. These cards go along the top of the rectangle of cards. In the same way, there are 12 cards without a triangular notch on the bottom edge, and these go along the bottom row. 7 cards have no triangular notch on their left edge, and these go down the left-hand column, and the 7 cards with no triangular notch on their right side go down the right-hand column. If you're thinking as this part of the puzzle as a jigsaw, these cards without the triangular notch on a particular size are the edge pieces. Cards without a triangular notch on two different sides are the corner pieces.

Gradually, you should be able to arrange the cards into a 12 by 7 rectangle. Once you've done this, you should notice that the cards with orange backgrounds form some letters.

IPL

If you repeat the exercise with the thin notch instead of the triangular notch, the cards with orange backgrounds should form some different letters.

ET

And if you repeat the exercise one more time, this time with the wide notch, the cards with orange backgrounds should form some yet another set of letters.

TR

So we have the letters "IPL", "ET" and "TR". If you reorder these, you get the word "TRIPLET". This suggests three identical members of the same family.

You may have noticed that the two members of the Crocodile clan are identical.

CrocodileCrocodile

Also, the Crocodile clan is the only clan with exactly two members. The missing triplet is therefore a member...

OF THE CROCODILE CLAN

Scoring

In choosing the best solution, we award a point for each of the following:


© 2014 Point Zero Games Ltd.
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