in reply to Trudging along the learning perl path.
You like puzzles. Programming in general is about solving puzzles. Perl is full of puzzles. The code you posted is puzzling. Puzzles are supposed to be fun. If you're having fun, keep at it. If you're not, go find another puzzle.
In any case, here is my stab at your hash-less puzzle:
perl -lwe '@a=(29,24,0,24,24,12,0,10,10,19,17,15,13,1,12,12,24);@x[@a] +=();print $#x and delete $x[-1] while @x' 29 24 19 17 15 13 12 10 1 0