Duels & D.Sci March 2022: It’s time for D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-data!

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)

You may have experienced a meteoric rise to be the billionaire CEO of DataCorp, but you can still enjoy the finer things in life. Like children’s card games.

The world-famous gaming company ‘Sorcerers of the Shore’ is about to release a new card game, supposedly based upon the ‘Ancient Sumerian Game of Shadows’. They’re holding an opening tournament next week, and you mean to attend.

Rumors that the game absorbs the souls of its players, and can destroy them if they lose, are obvious nonsense. That strange lady who appeared in your DataCorp office out of a cloud of mist and warned you that ‘you unleash a power beyond your comprehension’ was a transparent con artist. You’re not sure how she got in past your security unnoticed, or how she got back out afterwards, but you don’t have time to worry about that! You need to submit your deck list for the opening tournament!

Unfortunately, the Sorcerers of the Shore have been very tight-lipped about the whole thing. They haven’t actually published the ruleset of the game, only the names of cards available for you to select from. (They said something about how you should select ‘the cards that call out to your soul.’ This is also clearly nonsense. You don’t want cards your soul is somehow compatible with. You want cards that will win.)

Fortunately, the ruleset is apparently ‘unchanged from the ancient Sumerian game’, and so you have funded a series of archeological expeditions to look for records of past plays of this game. (Is this a good use of your DataCorp billions? Of course! This is Serious Business!)

Your expeditions have come back with...quite impressive results, actually. Apparently they’ve uncovered a wider Ancient Sumerian civilization than anyone anticipated, with more advanced technology than anyone expected. The archeological community is fascinated, but more importantly for you, you’ve uncovered a very large dataset of games. Apparently this game was used by the Sumerians for a wide variety of things—there are records of it being used for gambling, divination, as a justice system in trials, and apparently ‘holding back the Great Devourer lest it bring an end to this earth’. You’re not quite sure what this last one means—you think your archaeologists have probably messed up the translation.

Even more fortunately, it appears the Sumerians had some strange ritual around selecting cards for this game—they have done so entirely randomly, giving you a very clean sample. This is fortunate, because you’ve just heard that your long-time rival will be attending the tournament as well. (Some would call it undignified for a billionaire CEO to have an ongoing rivalry with a middle schooler who is 3 feet tall, or 4 if you count his hair. Some would call it more undignified that you keep losing.)

Your rival has declared his intention to bring a deck with one of every card available. This pathetic deck should be easy for you to beat—is he just hoping that he can get lucky and draw exactly the right card whenever he needs it? He does get lucky annoyingly often though—you want to make sure your odds of winning are as high as possible, to make sure you beat him this time even if he gets lucky again.


  • You need to build a deck of 12 cards from the following available cards:

    • Alessin, Adamant Angel

    • Bold Battalion

    • Dreadwing, Darkfire Dragon

    • Evil Emperor Eschatonus, Empyreal Envoy of Entropic End

    • Gentle Guard

    • Horrible Hooligan

    • Kindly Knight

    • Lilac Lotus

    • Murderous Minotaur

    • Patchy Pirate

    • Sword of Shadows

    • Virtuous Vigilante

  • You can include any number of copies of any card. So ’12 copies of Alessin, Adamant Angel’ is a valid deck, as is ‘10 copies of Alessin, Adamant Angel plus 1 of Bold Battalion plus 1 of Dreadwing, Darkfire Dragon’.

  • Your objective is to maximize your win rate against a deck that consists of 1 copy of each card.

  • THIS DATASET lists past games (what cards were played on each side, and who won).

  • The decks used in that dataset were randomly generated—each deck is a random set.*

*Note for nerds: specifically, each possible deck is equally likely. This is not quite the same as ‘pick 12 random cards each time’, as that would make ’12 copies of Virtuous Vigilante’ much less likely than ‘1 copy each of 12 cards’ due to the number of different orderings available for the second. The takeaway for you is the same either way though—there isn’t any hidden structure in the decks you’ll see in the dataset, don’t waste time looking for it.


As in a past scenario, you may also submit a PVP deck. I recommend sending it as a PM to me, but if you don’t mind other people seeing it you can just put it in your answer. The PVP deck with the best overall record (sum of performances against all other submitted teams) will win the right to specify the theme of an upcoming D&D.Sci scenario. I can’t guarantee success, but at some point in the next few months (possibly after other scenarios in the pipeline have been produced) I will try to write a scenario around whatever theme (either a general genre or a specific work) you want. Our previous winner, simon, selected the SCP Foundation canon as a theme for his scenario.

I don’t want the existence of a PVP objective to incentivize people too strongly against posting findings in the chat, so as an effort to reduce the risk of your findings being used against you: if multiple people submit identical PVP decks, I will break the tie in favor of whoever submits it earlier.

I’ll aim to post the ruleset and results on April 4th (giving one week and both weekends for players). PVP decks should be submitted by April 3rd to give me time to test them. You may edit a submitted solution at any time before the deadline. If you find yourself wanting extra time, comment below and I can push these deadlines 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.

Thank you to abstractapplic and RavenclawPrefect, who reviewed drafts of this scenario. (For the avoidance of doubt, they do not have inside information on the scenario, and are free to play it).