Snow Day (Solution)

by John Wiesemann, Alex Irpan and Veronica Gross

This is a puzzle about video games produced by Blizzard Entertainment.

The numbers are the number of letters in each word of eighteen clues, with punctuation given. Below the numbers are banks of trigrams; the trigrams must be unscrambled to produce the clues. The first column is for the first box of the product key, the middle column is for the second box, and the last column is for the third box.

The unscrambled trigrams yield the following clues (answers in parentheses):

Clues based on Warcraft franchise Clues based on Diablo franchise Clues based on Starcraft franchise
Orc Necrolyte attack (6)
Human cannon tower sight (9)
Blackrock Depths new player cap (5)
Death Knights per server (1)
Warsong Gulch: have eight, LFM (2)
How many Stormrage brothers? (2)
Kurast Docks non-player characters (7)
Way of the Hundred Fists Spirit Gain (8)
Absent Rune: El Eld Tir Eth Ith Tal Ral Ort (4)
Size of Zunimassa’s Whispers set (5)
Cows in Diablo One (3)
Skills from Stone of Jordan ring (1)
SCV attack damage (5)
Dragoon attack range with Singularity Charge (6)
Kerrigan ghost armor (3)
Wings of Liberty artifact missions (5)
Number of races in Starcraft (3)
Void Ray stage one attack (6)

The product key that must be entered is: 695122 – 784531 – 563536.

Once the product key is entered, a tower defense game is revealed. As clued by the flavortext, solvers must play the game well enough to get to the high score table:

1 NAP 857679
2 PLY 846978
3 ASC 836984
4 IIT 807983
5 EON 797884
6 SCO 796873
7 THE 777968
8 ABL 738473
9 RES 717384
10 USE 656868

The initials are another trigram bank. Unscrambled, the message reads “Use ASCII Table on scores then apply”. The scores are the concatenated decimal ASCII table values for more trigrams: ULO TEN SET POS ONT ODI MOD ITI GIT ADD. Unscrambled [these are in the same order as the initials], the message reads: “add set position to digit modulo ten”.

This instruction is to be applied to the product key: in each set of six digits, add the position of the digit (1 through 6) to the digit, then take mod ten. The result is: 718578 – 807987 – 686982. These are also ASCII table values, and the answer is GUNPOWDER.