19 December 2018

New year... new elements

Posted by Elspeth De Montes
If you have been following @PrinceGalidor aka LEGO® designer Nick Vas on Twitter recently, you will have noticed a series of cryptic tweets that included images of some beautifully organised LEGO parts and some code-like strings of letters. We have been trying to decrypt his tweets and need your help!

Nick Vas' series of tweets all began in a rather innocuous fashion on 25th November. He tweeted a trippy image with three lines of text:

How curious, whatever could it mean?
The next tweet, on 26th November, used Dark Azure Brick 1x4 (Element ID 6213272|Design ID 3010) to create a star. This element has actually appeared in two Friends sets in 2018 but it is not a common brick by that count.

The tweets continued at a rate of roughly one a day, on 2nd and 11th December we were teased with two. The final cryptic tweet was on 13th December. Almost all of the images were elements in colours not released before. All images were accompanied by a title (comprised of a name and number) and then a single line (comprised of four strings of letters and underscores).

Three Four of the 20 tweets also included another longer line of coded letters and underscores which also included the letter e.

Spoiler alert: stop reading now if you want to crack it yourself! Instead, head over to @PrinceGalidor's account for all the clues.

Decrypting the cipher (partly)

Every tweet contained the sequence aDcA, which didn't help solve anything, but as time went on some more recurring letter sequences appeared. For example these two images contain RnR, and both show elements in the colour Flame Yellowish Orange [TLG]/Bright Light Orange [BL]...

... which has the LEGO colour ID of 191. Could RnR equal 191? Was this a cryptogram, but with letters that replace numbers?

By assuming the second of the four strings always highlights the colour ID of the element, we were able to crack part of the cipher. By matching the other letters to their known LEGO colour IDs, it was then an easy guess that the first of the four strings referred to the Design ID of the elements... although c and e were a little tricky as they represent two digits! Soon we had the key: the letters and underscore represent numbers from zero to 11. And by arranging those numbers in order...


Could all the elements be from 80102 Dragon Dance, the Asia-exclusive set coming in early 2019?

As each of the tweets was deciphered, all became clear: the four sequences in the line must correspond to the Design ID of the element, LEGO Colour ID, quantity in set, set number.

So now we know that Dragon Dance has 16 of Vibrant Coral Flat Tile 2x2, Round. Yay!

Using the key to unlock the cryptogram gives an amazing 17 new elements within set 80102 Dragon Dance plus three rare ones.

Firstly, the three rare elements: as mentioned Dark Azure Brick 1x4 (6213272|3010) has only recently appeared in two 2018 sets, Spring Yellowish Green Arch 1X4X2 (6172772|6182) made a single appearance in 41185 Magic Rescue from the Goblin Village and finally, Black Brick 1X2 W. Groove (Design ID 4216) appeared in four sets between 1981 and 1985 - now that's resurrecting an old element!

The complete list of new elements and their quantity in the set includes such delicious elements such as 14 Bright Light Orange Sausage (25994), 34 Olive Green Round Plate 1x1 (6141), one Bright Red [TLG]/Red [BL] Motor 1X2X2/3 (4595), 14 Reddish Brown T-Piece (4697), two Brick Yellow Scorpion (28839) and more...

Calling all Code Breakers

All that remains to crack are the longer strings. Or do the titles also hold further clues? Are there any clever folk out there who can decipher them? You will find the three oops! FOUR tweets with the longer strings below; click/tap them to visit the original tweet.

Let us know how you get on by commenting below!

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  1. Run it through a left handed Swahili inversion filter and it reads I HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS

  2. All I know is that I badly want those 2x3 shields in LBG

  3. I think I deciphered it.

    The first line in every tweet is a word, a dot and a number.
    Take the first character of each line, and pair it with the number at the end: you get the cipher already found (0=D, 1=R, 2=A, ...), plus a few other hints:
    17=I, 21=M, 22=P, 24=S, 25=T, 27=V, 28=W, 48=v.
    Those suggest that the original cipher was the alphabet written uppercase, then lowercase, then the underscore, and numbered from 0 to 52. Then the letters forming the phrase "DRAGON_dance" were shifted at the beginning, making the other symbols shift down. It's legit to assume that the order of the other letters wasn't changed.
    So, you now have the complete key.

    Let's take the first unsolved sequence:
    ARanNR GNaOae O_OOaOaeGnGned GGaOO
    that becomes
    2,1,8,9,5,1 3,5,8,4,8,11 4,6,4,4,8,4,8,11,3,9,3,9,11,7 3,3,8,4,4

    Let's begin. We have a 2, but if we changed it with the A to which it corresponds, we would be back at the beginning. So, let's proceed reading two numbers at once: 21. It's the M. Going ahead, we find an 89. But our cipher stops at 52, so this time we will read the single digits: a,n. And finally, 51: y. We obtain "Many", it's an existing word. We could be on the right path... :)

    So, using this method, we finally obtain:

    Many have travelled far
    to pass tHiS final test
    call the hiDden key to claim your prize

    1. Even the final sentence "call the hiDden key to claim your prize" is a bit cryptic. Could it be symbolic?


    2. Call the hidden key? Could be there's a phone number somewhere in that mess.

    3. Yes, those uppercase letters are bothering me. (M)HSD, depending on if you count the first one. They correspond to (21,)16,24,0

      "to call" the key sounds strange, but I'm not a native English speaker so I thought it could be a local expression.

    4. Um so it turns out there are FOUR! Sorry but you get a chance to decipher MOAR ;-)

    5. I assumed "call the hidden key" was simply referring to someone discovering the 'DRAGON_dance' key, but perhaps it refers to the full upper/lowercase alphabet... or maybe something else entirely! I'm sure Nick will let us know when we figure it out!

    6. Could it be an IP number?

  4. The key is also in the title of the pictures: first character corresponds to the number(s) at the end of the title.

    Maybe the uppercase characters in the riddle are a clue?

  5. Er, is that a dark turquoise brick separator?

  6. maybe if you work out the last riddle you call a number and get a free set??

  7. Got an 11 digit number, but can't work out how to make it a dialable phone number...

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