Ars D&D.sci: Mysteries of Mana

This is an entry in the ‘Dungeons & Data Science’ series, a set of puzzles where players are given a dataset to analyze and an objective to pursue using information from that dataset.

STORY (skippable)

For thousands of years the Order of Athena has preserved magical knowledge, passing it down from masters to apprentices, in a lineage of knowledge unmarred by countless centuries.

Those hidebound old fools! Your thesis, ‘Calculating Levels of Ambient Mana,’ could have revolutionized all magic! You found a way to determine how powerful various types of mana used to power spells were at various times, via bold modern Data Science techniques these antediluvian wizards would never have dreamed of.

Sadly, these senile old mages failed to appreciate your contribution, and have assigned you to a standard apprenticeship under a training mage, intending to have you spend the next fifteen years studying primeval books under his tutelage before they let you call yourself a mage. Ridiculous! Modern techniques are far more applicable, and only by looking forward can we hope to become more powerful than the past! These mages are doomed to only ever pass on the knowledge of the past, but you can learn more and grow stronger than they could ever be!

Of course, first you’ll need to convince your new ‘master’ to let you pass early. He has at least agreed to give you a chance to demonstrate the use of your new techniques. Among these mages’ traditions is to hold frequent non-lethal duels between one another, and he has one such duel coming up. He’s offered to allow you to use your new techniques to choose which spells he should prepare for that duel.

With your new knowledge of mana levels, and an extensive history of duels, you expect you can choose excellent spells and maximize his odds of winning. Then, perhaps, you’ll be able to spend the next fifteen years pursuing your own research instead of learning Latin so that you can read cobwebbed old books!


  • The dataset contains a list of past duels between mages. Each row contains:

    • The mana levels at the time of the duel.

    • The spells each mage brought to that duel.

    • Which mage won that duel.

  • Using that dataset, you need to select which spells your master should prepare for this imminent duel to maximize his odds of winning. He can prepare three of the following spells:

    • Alatar’s Abyssal Armor

    • Balefire Blast of Bonisagus

    • Crystalline Citadel of Criamon

    • Flambeau’s Flying Fireball

    • Hylenion’s Hammer of the Heavens

    • Logain’s Lava Levee

    • Merinita’s Mud Missiles

    • Olorin’s Obsidian Onslaught

    • Rainbow Rays of Rahl

    • Solomon’s Solar Shield

    • Vaporous Vambrace of Verditius

    • Wicked Wiskeria’s Wall of Wailing Winds

  • Current mana levels are:

    • Fire 24

    • Water 39

    • Earth 26

    • Air 26

    • Light 18

  • His opponent will be preparing the following spells:

    • Flambeau’s Flying Fireball

    • Merinita’s Mud Missiles

    • Solomon’s Solar Shield

  • Based on how stuck-in-the-past all these wizards are, and how stable the Laws of Magic seem to be, you don’t expect that wizard strategies/​spell selection/​how a duel works/​what each spell does should change over time—the only differences you expect between duels are what spells each wizard brought and what the mana levels were.

I’ll aim to post the ruleset and results on July 18th (giving one week and both weekends for players). If you find yourself wanting extra time, comment below and I can push this deadline back.

As usual, working together is allowed, but for the sake of anyone who wants to work alone, please spoiler parts of your answers (type a ‘>’ followed by a ‘!’ at the start of a line to open a spoiler block) that contain information or questions about the dataset.