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Catan Resource Tiles - ADFGX Cipher

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  • Catan Resource Tiles - ADFGX Cipher

    I'm putting this out here because clue #2 that Mr. Clue put out tonight wasn't what I was hoping for, it didn't help me move this idea along. I've been working on this method on and off for over a week. I have a good feeling about it, but just can't get it to click. So I wanted to share with everyone to see if anyone else has any insights.

    After seeing clue #1, I at first thought it wasn't very helpful and that Mr. Clue was just being cheeky. But after awhile of looking at the Catan board and only looking at the resource tiles and trying a lot of non-objective approaches...I decided to look at something a little more objective, like a cipher. When the puzzle came out, I was thinking cipher...was looking at Morse for the roads/settlements or the numbers. Looked at a lot of other ciphers. But Mr. Clue has said to start with the resource tiles, and just the resource I'm ignoring all the numbers, roads, settlements, cities.

    So using clue #1, "Klaus Teuber is German", I started looking at ciphers created by Germans. The ones I found are The Enigma Machine, the ADFGX cipher, and the ADFGVX cipher. I ruled out the Enigma Machine because I don't see how the rotors and positions would be encoded to the resource tiles. However, the ADFGX and ADFGVX ciphers seem to fit really nicely for the resource tiles. Either could work, but I'm focusing more on the ADFGX cipher because we have 5 resources for the 5 letters and I don't think we have to decode to numbers (yet).

    So what is the ADFGX cipher? It is a cipher used by German soldiers in WWI. The coded message only contains the letters A, D, F, G, and X. Then using two encryption keys (or a secret alphabet and encryption key, whichever way you want to look at it), you create a polybius square with one and use the other to do a columnar transposition. So using this method a pair of letters decodes to a single letter. Excluding the desert tile, there are 18 tiles which will decode to 9 letters. I'm working on the assumption that those letters will be a state (could be a city I guess). There are six states that have 9 letters: Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New Mexico. I'm also working on the assumption that the desert tile is a space, so I'm thinking we are looking at New Jersey or New Mexico.

    However, the problem I am having is I can't find the two key words. Also there is the issue of which direction to read the tiles. I personally feel like we have to flip the board upside down (due to the 5's), and just read left to right. But there are so many other ways to do it (snake through, spiral, and different starting points). Another issue is we don't know which tiles map to which letters, so I've just been looking at patterns. There is a way to map the tiles to letters, if you put them both alphabetically (the name of the tile or the resource?), but I still didn't get anything out of that trying multiple keywords. At this point, I feel like I'm going in circles and I think I'm just missing something simple.

    So that's it in a nutshell. If anyone wants to pick this up and run with it or if anyone has anything to add to it just let me know.


  • #2
    Tried a few things with this. I built some squares with the names of the tiles along the top and down the side in alphabetical order (Field, Forest, Hill, Mountain, Pasture OR Brick, Grain, Lumber, Ore, Wool) which follows the ADFGX cipher. I personally think the Desert might be our starting point, so created strings of tiles going either clockwise or counter-clockwise from the desert tile, spiraling inward. I wasn't able to yield anything worth while, however, and tried a few Keys on my square as well (GERMAN, etc.).

    I still think you might be on to something.