MSIG 2011: Future Energy Institute MSIG 2011: Federal Espionage and Intelligence

Supplies Solution

How It Works

  • First, the first chunk of the product code is straightforward alphabetic indexing. It says "index into supply name by amount" (next two columns on spreadsheet)
  • If they count the number of each supply and index into the supply name, you get the next two columns. Notice that this looks like nonsense. (next two columns!)
  • The last chunk of the product code contains zeroes to pad them to the same length, and then a number (1-26). Reordering the index letters by this ordering, you get "find nato letters" and then a bunch of garbage (the garbage is in alpha order though. It says CCEEHKPSSUW.) (columns 7-8)
  • NATO letters in the Supply Name can be found by applying the mask which is the middle chunk of the product code (note, there are indeed 26 supplies!)
    • The masks are a series of 0s and 1s.
    • The mask is the same length as the supply name
    • Taking the letters from the supply name that are 1s in the mask yields a three or four character string. For instance, WOOLFAT / 0011100 = OLF.
    • The 3 or 4 letters you get uniquely matches one of the NATO letters (in this case gOLF)
    • You can see this in columns 9-11

If you reorder all the index letters originally obtained from each Supply Name by the NATO letter associated with their supply name instead of the given order from the product ID, they now say THEANSWERSDEFUNCTSTOCKPILE


Supply Product Code First Chunk of PC Initial Phrase Amts Index Letter Last Chunk of PC Ordered Index Letters Middle Chunk of PC 1s Mask NATO Match Letters Ordered by NATO
Anchor 09-001110-00003 09 i 2 n 00003 f 001110 CHO echo t
Asphalt 14-0011100-0011 14 n 7 t 0011 i 0011100 PHA alpha h
Barley 04-011100-00010 04 d 5 e 00010 n 011100 ARL charlie e
Blanket 05-0011100-0009 05 e 2 l 0009 d 0011100 ANK yankee a
Boomerang 24-000000111-08 24 x 2 o 08 n 000000111 ANG tango n
Branch 01-111000-00020 01 a 6 h 00020 a 111000 BRA bravo s
Briquette 13-000111000-07 13 m 7 t 07 t 000111000 QUE quebec w
Capacitor 15-011100000-16 15 o 1 c 16 o 011100000 APA papa e
Crayfish 21-01110000-002 21 u 6 i 002 l 01110000 RAY xray r
Dextrose 14-00111100-023 14 n 7 s 023 e 00111100 XTRO foxtrot s
Diaper 20-111000-00014 20 t 6 r 00014 t 111000 DIA india d
Endoscope 19-000111000-05 19 s 2 n 05 t 000111000 OSC oscar e
Insulin 09-0001110-0024 09 i 3 s 0024 e 0001110 ULI juliet f
Isomer 14-001110-00015 14 n 2 s 00015 r 001110 OME romeo u
Jackknife 20-000001110-17 20 t 3 c 17 s 000001110 NIF uniform n
Lumber 15-001111-00025 15 o 2 u 00025 c 001111 MBER november c
Passkey 19-0001111-0022 19 s 1 p 0022 c 0001111 SKEY whiskey t
Pendulum 21-00001110-018 21 u 2 e 018 e 00001110 ULU zulu s
Pikestaff 16-011100000-01 16 p 8 f 01 e 011100000 IKE mike t
Primate 16-0011100-0013 16 p 7 e 0013 h 0011100 IMA lima o
Roadkill 12-00001110-004 12 l 4 d 004 k 00001110 KIL kilo c
Scooter 25-0001110-0019 25 y 6 e 0019 p 0001110 OTE hotel k
Seatbelt 14-00000111-006 14 n 3 a 006 s 00000111 ELT delta p
Storybook 01-011100000-21 01 a 9 k 21 s 011100000 TOR victor i
Warranty 13-00111000-012 13 m 7 t 012 u 00111000 RRA sierra l
Woolfat 05-0011100-0026 05 e 1 w 0026 w 0011100 OLF golf e



Design Notes

Some of the inspiration for this puzzle was a puzzle in the 2009 Zoobotics Game that I played as an intern. NATO Puppets introduced me to concept of camouflaging NATO letters inside other words or phrases. The "ah-ha" moment when I understood the puzzle mechanism stuck with me, and I wanted to do something similar eventually.

You may have noticed that some of the "supplies" were perhaps not standard items found in a fallout shelter. It turns out that there were actually some pretty harsh constraints necessary to cram in all the data I wanted for this puzzle. It was a lot easier the first time I wrote this puzzle, when I utterly ignored the NATO letters I had chosen for the final solve. It wasn't until someone tested the puzzle for me that I realized that I'd left out a step. Protip: When you decide to write a puzzle about NATO letters, it helps to actually use NATO letters.

Construction Notes

Another Protip: the cheapest kind of cans we coudl find on relatively short notice were generic brand salted and unsalted tomato sauce. Redmond QFC is also 15 cents cheaper than Bellevue QFC. 35 cents versus 40 cents for cat food.

GC Notes