Solution to Disorder

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Answer: HERB

by Alan Huang, Ben Yang, Colin Lu, Curtis Chou, Jakob Weisblat, Linus Strese

We're presented with a lot of trigrams. The first step is to rearrange each row of trigrams into a clue:

ClueAnswerNotes
ABS DEA DUR EMA FIF HIS ING ISM KON MAR NOF RSH RSO SPA TYO URD YEADUR ING HIS SPA NOF FIF TYO RSO YEA RSH EMA DEA MAR KON ABS URD ISMDuring his span of fifty or so years, he made a mark on absurdism.CAMUS
ADI BRE DEW DIS EAN EDW ITH ITH ITI JAM LDE MAL NAS PAR PRE SMA VICITI SMA DEW ITH BRE ADI NAS MAL LDE VIC EAN DIS PRE PAR EDW ITH JAMIt is made with bread in a small device and is prepared with jam.TOAST
AFT AIN ANN ANO ASO DID EHE EIN ERA ERH EWR GAC LMO NEU ONA OTE RES RUM SAD SEV SIN TUR UCH UKR VERAFT ERH EWR OTE ANO VER TUR EIN UKR AIN EHE DID SEV ERA LMO RES UCH ASO NEU SIN GAC ANN ONA SAD RUMAfter he wrote an overture in Ukraine he did several more such as one using a cannon as a drum.TCHAIKOVSKYThe Storm 1812 Overture
AFT ALI ARG ATH CAT DER EDR EFI EPA ERT GOI HEL HIS HOL ICC IRS NGR RET SUNAFT ERT HEL ARG EFI RET HIS CAT HOL ICC ATH EDR ALI SUN DER GOI NGR EPA IRSAfter the large fire, this catholic cathedral is undergoing repairs.NOTRE DAME
AGE CAL DIN EDO ENG EOP ESP FAL FRE GHT ING LEO LSO MFI PIC RKM RTS SDA THI TUR USITHI SDA RKM USI CAL PIC TUR ESP EOP LEO FAL LSO RTS ENG AGE DIN FRE EDO MFI GHT INGThis dark musical pictures people of all sorts engaged in freedom fighting.LES MISERABLES
AIN ANG ANK BET BLA BUL CKA EDP ELA ERC ETB EWR HGA HIS HON LIS MBL NDR ONG ONT RUP TED TED WHE WITONT HIS BLA CKA NDR EDP AIN TED WHE ELA BUL LIS HGA MBL ERC ANG ETB ANK RUP TED WIT HON EWR ONG BETOn this black and red painted wheel, a bullish gambler can get bankrupted with one wrong bet.ROULETTE
ALA CEI COU DET ERE ESI HIS ION LAT LLP NAP NSI NTR OPU POP SID SMA THA THE YWITHE POP ERE SID ESI NAP ALA CEI NSI DET HIS COU NTR YWI THA SMA LLP OPU LAT IONThe pope resides in a palace inside this country with a small population.VATICAN CITY
ALI AME ANI BER ECO FES GHC HEA HEC HIC HTH IMF IST NOM OMM OUG SHI SIL STM TET THI TOW UNI WRO YBRTHI SHI GHC ALI BER ECO NOM IST WRO TET HEC OMM UNI STM ANI FES TOW HIC HEA SIL YBR OUG HTH IMF AMEThis high caliber economist wrote the Communist Manifesto which easily brought him fame.KARL MARX
ALL ANO DST FOU GIN GTO HAT ISF ITS NAP ONG ORI ORS PIN RLA THE TYS UNF VEL YBYITS ANO VEL TYS ONG ORI GIN ALL YBY THE FOU RLA DST HAT ISF UNF ORS NAP PIN GTOIt's a novelty song originally by the Four Lads that is fun for snapping to.ISTANBUL NOT CONSTANTINOPLE
AMM APR BLI CLY DED EDI ERM FUN ING MIL NMA OGR OTH OWM SPU STA THI TIO YFA YOR YSHTHI SPU BLI CLY FUN DED STA TIO NMA YSH OWM YFA MIL YOR OTH ERM EDI APR OGR AMM INGThis publicly funded station may show My Family or other media programming.BBC
AMO EDI ENT ICK INV LAY NHI SMO SSK STF ULL USP WAS YORYOR ICK SSK ULL WAS INV ENT EDI NHI SMO STF AMO USP LAYYorick's skull was invented in his most famous play.SHAKESPEAREAlas, poor Yorick!
ANA AND COH DEW ERA FBO INC ING ITH LAL LUD NDO OLS ONA OZE RUM SEV SKI SMA STR THI UTIANA STR ONA UTI SMA DEW ITH SEV ERA LAL COH OLS INC LUD ING THI SKI NDO FBO OZE AND RUMAn astronaut is made with several alcohols, including this kind of booze and rum.VODKA
ANA ASA BEL DER DOF EDT ELL ENA EXP HEL HEW HIP HOL IDE INS INT LEA LIC OSA OSE THE VYSHEW ASA BEL LIC OSE LEA DER EXP ELL EDT OSA INT HEL ENA INS IDE THE HOL DOF ANA VYS HIPHe was a bellicose leader expelled to Saint Helena inside the hold of a navy ship.NAPOLEON
AND AST BUL CON DSO FIT ICS INB MEO NGM NNI NTI OCL OSA OUS OYE SDE SFA STR STU UMI YZAINB YZA NTI UMI CON OCL AST SDE STR OYE DSO MEO FIT SFA BUL OUS AND STU NNI NGM OSA ICSIn Byzantium, iconoclasts destroyed some of its fabulous and stunning mosaics.HAGIA SOPHIA
AND COM DER EBE EDA EDI FOR GUY HER ING KBE LEA LIV NEW NPA OFT RIS RMY WHO YORGUY WHO LIV EDI NPA RIS AND NEW YOR KBE FOR EBE COM ING LEA DER OFT HER EDA RMYGuy who lived in Paris and New York before becoming leader of the Red ArmyTROTSKY
ANK ANY ARM ERA FOF GEN HAL HEO IES INM LET LFI LRE LSR MBO OON PRE RHA SAM SEN SSY THE THI TSA WHIHAL FOF THI SSY MBO LRE PRE SEN TSA GEN ERA LSR ANK INM ANY ARM IES WHI LET HEO THE RHA LFI SAM OONHalf of this symbol represents a general's rank in many armies, while the other half is a moon.STAR AND CRESCENT
ANK ARI ARM BUL CHI CRA EIN FRE GHT ING KOF NCH NDN OTT OUT SAB SFI SNO STO THE THE THI TSA VAD VEL WHI YINTHE FRE NCH ARM YIN VAD EIN THI SNO VEL THE BUL KOF WHI CHI SAB OUT ARI STO CRA TSA NDN OTT ANK SFI GHT INGThe French army invade in this novel, the bulk of which is about aristocrats, and not tanks fighting.WAR AND PEACE
ANK ASE ATE BUL CAL DWI ETI HER HEW HIS LEO LFR MMU NIC OMP OPE SES STO THA THE XCO XTHHEW ASE XCO MMU NIC ATE DWI THA BUL LFR OMP OPE LEO XTH ANK STO HIS HER ETI CAL THE SESHe was excommunicated with a bull from Pope Leo X thanks to his heretical theses.MARTIN LUTHERPapal bull
ARE CIR CLE DUP ERS ETH HBO HEL HIC HOL INA INW IRD LEN MBC MIL NIU NTH TEI ULD YSIHOL YSI TEI NTH ETH IRD MIL LEN NIU MBC INW HIC HBO ULD ERS ARE HEL DUP INA CIR CLEHoly site in the third millennium BC in which boulders are held up in a circleSTONEHENGE
ARF CIO CIR CUL DOV ENT ERE ESA HIS KET MAN OMA OOD OOD OOD POW RAN RES SPA TAU TUS USW YAGMAN YAG OOD RES TAU RAN TUS ESA SPA CIO USW OOD POW ERE DOV ENT OMA KET HIS CIR CUL ARF OODMany a good restaurant uses a spacious wood-powered oven to make this circular food.PIZZA
ARL ART AYE DAY EEK ETO HEW ICU ION LAR LEB NAP OFB OFT OUN RAT TYS YCEAYE ARL YCE LEB RAT ION OFB OUN TYS ETO NAP ART ICU LAR DAY OFT HEW EEKA yearly celebration of bounty set on a particular day of the weekTHANKSGIVING
ARL ATH BUL DAT EFO EHE FIV HAD ISE KSB MAN MPO ORS OUS REH RTE RUM SAY SCO SER STA THI WOR YDE YFARUM ORS SAY THI SCO MPO SER STA RTE DAT FIV EHE HAD MAN YFA BUL OUS WOR KSB EFO REH ISE ARL YDE ATHRumors say this composer started at five; he had many fabulous works before his early death.MOZART
ASA BEG BER BUT ENL ENT ERB ESA HAT HEH INC INS ITS LUD NUM NYT OFS OUD PHO SIL SYM UDDHEH ASA SYM PHO NYT HAT BEG INS SIL ENT BUT INC LUD ESA NUM BER OFS UDD ENL OUD ERB ITSHe has a symphony that begins silent but includes a number of sudden louder bits.HAYDN“Surprise” Symphony
ASA CHA DAH DIU HES HEW HHI IGH INE ING INT INT IST MAN MAR OEA PEL RNE SPA STA TIS TUS TWH WIT YMEHEW ASA MAN YME DIU MAR TIS TWH OEA RNE DAH IGH STA TUS WIT HHI SPA INT ING INT HES IST INE CHA PELHe was a many-medium artist who earned a high status with his painting in the Sistine Chapel.MICHAELANGELO
ASE BUN DAR DEN DIN EDB EDC ESE EST FAS HEL JOY ODS OVE RED SAM TAN TFOFAS TFO ODS TAN DAR DEN JOY EDB EST HEL DIN ASE SAM ESE EDC OVE RED BUNFast food standard enjoyed best held in a sesame seed covered bunHAMBURGER
ASG ATO BUL DFI LET LMS MAN MIN OVE RAN RED RFI RNO SER SIN TER THE THE VED WHOTHE MAN WHO SER VED ASG OVE RNO RAN DFI RED BUL LET SIN THE TER MIN ATO RFI LMSThe man who served as governor and fired bullets in the Terminator filmsARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
ATT DEA DIA DZO EAT EDT EIN ENB END IAN ISC LEF NBE NIN OBE REA ROA SCA STR TER TUN TUR WES YTHDEA DZO ROA STR IAN SCA NBE LEF TUN ATT END EDT OBE EAT ENB YTH ISC REA TUR EIN WES TER NIN DIADead Zoroastrians can be left unattended to be eaten by this creature in western IndiaVULTURE
AYO DTH ELA FWO HIS MAN NTA ORK PRU RIE RLD RNE RTW SBU STD TWO WAR YOFMAN YOF HIS PRU RIE NTA RTW ORK SBU RNE DTH ELA STD AYO FWO RLD WAR TWOMany of his prurient artworks burned the last day of World War Two.KLIMT
BER CAN CHA ESA HAT HON ILO KED MUN NDF NDM NGA NUM OFA PPL RTT SDE SEA SIL SSE THI UNC USI YBA YOUYOU CAN MUN CHA NDM UNC HON THI SDE SSE RTT HAT SEA SIL YBA KED USI NGA NUM BER OFA PPL ESA NDF ILOYou can munch and munch on this dessert that's easily baked using a number of apples and filo.STRUDEL
BER DAM DOC EFI EPR ESE EVE FMI GHT GUR HES HKI IDT INE NAD NDE NED NTE SIG SIL SVA WAR YOZ YZVEVE NAD WAR FMI GHT BER EPR ESE NTE DAM IDT HES EFI GUR INE SVA SIL YZV YOZ DOC HKI NDE SIG NEDEven a dwarf might be represented amid these figurines Vasily Zvyozdochkin designed.MATRYOSHKA DOLLS
BIG BUI EWA EWH ICH LTH MOV NEL NEM PIR STO TER TER TUN UGE WESBIG WES TER NEM PIR EWH ICH BUI LTH UGE TUN NEL STO MOV EWA TERBig western empire which built huge tunnels to move waterROMAN EMPIRE
CAT CEN CUM DIN ENT HED HEL HET HIR ISB NTH OFT RAL SAL SDO TEE THI TUR URY YISTHI SDO CUM ENT OFT HET HIR TEE NTH CEN TUR YIS HEL DIN SAL ISB URY CAT HED RALThis document of the thirteenth century is held in Salisbury Cathedral.MAGNA CARTA
COO ESA HOL IKE ISS KHA KIE NAC NDI NOT REE SAK STH STH UNLUNL IKE COO KIE STH ISS NAC KHA STH REE HOL ESA NDI SAK NOTUnlike cookies, this snack has three holes and is a knot.PRETZELS
CTI GHT HEM LYI LYO MIL OMT ONB OTE RTL SEL SEL SFA SPA THI TUS UAL UPR UTI VES YFR YMITHI SFA MIL YMI GHT SEL LYO UPR OTE CTI ONB UTI TUS UAL LYI SPA RTL YFR OMT HEM SEL VESThis family might sell you “protection” but it usually is partly from themselves.MAFIA
Once we've solved enough of the clues, we may notice that many of them are related to countries. In fact, each answer can be associated with one of seven European countries: Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Turkey.
AnswerCountryExplanation
ASA BEG...HAYDNAustria
ASG ATO...ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGERAustria
ARL ATH...MOZARTAustria
AYO DTH...KLIMTAustria
BER CAN...STRUDELAustria
CAT CEN...MAGNA CARTAEngland
AMM APR...BBCEngland
ARE CIR...STONEHENGEEngland
AMO EDI...SHAKESPEAREEngland
AFT ALI...NOTRE DAMEFrance
AGE CAL...LES MISERABLESFrance
ADI BRE...TOASTFranceFrench toast
ANA ASA...NAPOLEONFrance
ABS DEA...CAMUSFrance
COO ESA...PRETZELSGermany
ASE BUN...HAMBURGERGermany
ANK ASE...MARTIN LUTHERGermany
ALI AME...KARL MARXGermany
BIG BUI...ROMAN EMPIREItaly
ASA CHA...MICHAELANGELOItaly
CTI GHT...MAFIAItaly
ARF CIO...PIZZAItaly
ALA CEI...VATICAN CITYItaly
BER DAM...MATRYOSHKA DOLLSRussia
AFT AIN...TCHAIKOVSKYRussia
ANA AND...VODKARussia
AIN ANG...ROULETTERussiaRussian roulette
ANK ARI...WAR AND PEACERussia
AND COM...TROTSKYRussia
AND AST...HAGIA SOPHIATurkey
ALL ANO...ISTANBUL NOT CONSTANTINOPLETurkey
ARL ART...THANKSGIVINGTurkeyThanksgiving turkey
ATT DEA...VULTURETurkeyTurkey vulture
ANK ANY...STAR AND CRESCENTTurkey

Googling these seven countries yields various results on strategy websites, forums and wikis for the board game Diplomacy. Reading a little bit about Diplomacy, we might learn that there are 34 supply centers, corresponding to our 34 clues, and that each territory in a Diplomacy game is represented by a three-letter code; both of these help us be sure that Diplomacy is the next step.

Knowing that each territory in Diplomacy is represented by a three-letter code, we now look for those three-letter codes among the trigrams we were given. We find that each clue has two or three of them.

At this point it behooves us to learn more about the rules of Diplomacy. In Diplomacy, each turn culminates with all of the seven players writing down their orders, usually abbreviated using the three-letter codes, for each of their units. Another explanation of orders can be found here; in short, each order either moves a unit from one territory to another, keeps a unit in the same place, or it interacts with another order that is one of the first two types. The title, combined with the two to three relevant trigrams in each clue, suggests that orders are relevant. Using the proper order of the clue, we can make a consistent set of orders from the trigrams in each clue. The country associated with the answer from the clue is assumed to have given the order.

CountryDiplomacy territoriesOrder
ASA BEG...AustriaSIL BER A sil → ber
ASG ATO...AustriaSER BUL A ser → bul
ARL ATH...AustriaRUM SER BUL A rum Supports A ser → bul
AYO DTH...AustriaPRU WAR A pru → war
BER CAN...AustriaMUN SIL BER A mun Supports A sil → ber
CAT CEN...EnglandNTH HEL F nth → hel
AMM APR...EnglandCLY YOR EDI F cly Supports yor → edi
ARE CIR...EnglandHOL NTH HEL F hol Supports F nth → hel
AMO EDI...EnglandYOR EDI A yor → edi
AFT ALI...FranceHEL HOL F hel → hol
AGE CAL...FrancePIC ENG F pic → eng
ADI BRE...FranceBRE PARA bre → par
ANA ASA...FranceBEL HEL HOL A bel Supports F hel → hol
ABS DEA...FranceSPA MAR A spa → mar
COO ESA...GermanyKIL HOL F kie → hol
ASE BUN...GermanyDEN HEL F den → hel
ANK ASE...GermanyBUL ANK A bul → ank
ALI AME...GermanyBER SIL A ber → sil
BIG BUI...ItalyWES TUN F wes → tun
ASA CHA...ItalyMAR TUS SPA A mar Supports A tus → spa
CTI GHT...ItalyLYO TUS SPA F lyo Convoys A tus → spa
ARF CIO...ItalyTUS SPA A tus → spa
ALA CEI...ItalyNAP ION F nap → ion
BER DAM...RussiaWAR BER SIL A war Supports A ber → sil
AFT AIN...RussiaUKR SEV RUM A ukr Supports A sev → rum
ANA AND...RussiaSEV RUM A sev → rum
AIN ANG...RussiaBLA BUL ANK F bla Convoys A bul → ank
ANK ARI...RussiaARM BUL ANK A arm Supports A bul → ank
AND COM...RussiaEDI YOR F edi → yor
AND AST...TurkeyCON BUL A con → bul
ALL ANO...TurkeyTYS NAP F tys → nap
ARL ART...TurkeyION TYS NAP F ion Supports F tys → nap
ATT DEA...TurkeyTUN WES F tun → wes
ANK ANY...TurkeyANK ARM A ank → arm

These orders are enough to reconstruct most of the state of the game; there are 34 orders, so we know exactly how many units each country has because there can never be more units than supply centers on the board. We can construct the outcome of the turn represented by these orders, either by manually arranging units on a Diplomacy board, or by using one of several tools (Backstabbr, use Sandbox Mode, jDip).

Diplomacy board showing the orders listed above

Playing out these orders, we can see which ones succeeded and which ones failed.

Diplomacy board showing the orders, including which ones failed

Of particular interest to us are the seven places where one country has taken a territory from another. All of them are different, and all of them are supply centers.

Diplomacy board showing the displacements in Edinburgh, Rumania, Spain, Naples, Berlin, Holland, and Ankara

Noticing that there are seven displacements, we look closer and notice that each country has displaced one other, and they make a cycle:

Destination countrySuccessful orderTerritory taken
GermanyTurkeyA bul → ankAnkara
TurkeyItalyF tys → napNaples
ItalyFranceA tus → spaSpain
FranceEnglandF hel → holHolland
EnglandRussiaF yor → ediEdinburgh
RussiaAustriaA sev → rumRumania
AustriaGermanyA sil → berBerlin

Reading the blanks at the bottom of the puzzle in combination with the first letters of the territories used in this cycle, we get:

ANS. : HERB

And, indeed, the answer to the puzzle is HERB.

Authors’ Notes

This puzzle ended up being several times larger than we intended it to be; we put a lot of effort into reducing the size of the various trigram sets. We hope the last minute addition of enumerations for the clues made this puzzle easier for hunters than it was for testsolvers.

Despite being a common move in Diplomacy, we elected not to include any support hold orders (e.g., army X supports army Y hold) because of the possibility of confusing solvers new to the game by making them disambiguate between these and move orders.

This puzzle came out of one of our group brainstorming sessions.