Combinations in Deal a Story

January 23, 2015 at 11:48 am Leave a comment

Deal a StoryRobert D. Reed Publishers — the publishing geniuses behind Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks — recently published Deal a Story by Sue Viders, a card game in which writers deal themselves a “hand” to use as the basis for fiction writing. Think Richard Simmons’ Deal-A-Meal, but for fiction writers instead of fatties (for those of you old enough to remember).

The cover of the box boasts that there are “101 cards and 1,000,001 story ideas” contained within Deal a Story. But the math in that statement is typical marketing math — in the words of Cleone L. Reed, the promotional materials designer at RDR Publishers, “it sounds good, but I wonder how many combinations are really possible.”

So she asked if I could help her figure it out.

Here’s how Deal a Story works:

There are 101 cards:

  • 16 hero cards
  • 16 heroine cards
  • 16 villain cards
  • 16 character flaw cards
  • 16 plot cards
  • 16 genre cards
  • 5 “wild” cards

Play happens as follows:

  • A “player” (writer) chooses three character cards: 1 hero, 1 heroine, and 1 villain.
  • For each character, a player chooses 1 character flaw card (so there is a flaw associated with each character).
  • A player then chooses 1 plot and 1 genre card.
  • And then finally, a player can choose 0‑5 wild cards, just to spice things up.

I think it’s a nice combinatorics problem, figuring out the number of different scenarios that result from dealing the cards. You’re probably not surprised to hear that there are more than 1,000,001 combinations — but how many more? I’ll leave that to you.

And a combinatorial joke for you:

A mathematician walks into McDonald’s and declares, “I’m so hungry, I could eat 5 burgers!”

His physicist friend says, “Oh, yeah, well I’m so hungry, I bet I could eat 10!”

The mathematician responds, “That’s absurd. There’s no way you could eat 3,628,800.”

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Making Heads or Tails of Randomness Popularizing Mathematics: ICME-13

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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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