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Print at Oct 28, 2020 12:39:03 AM

Posted by Perenoel1 at Dec 27, 2014 12:14:03 PM
Tzz's Ultimate Puzzle Guide: Version 2.0
Tzz's Puzzle Guide: Version 2.0

Its been a while since I wrote this. I've learned some new things, puzzle competitions got ?fixed?, we got a new puzzle and such. This is still not designed as in introduction to YPP guide, but more to the older player who wants to get better at a puzzle or 3. It may help new people as well, but there are already other good guides for introductory puzzlers( for example). This is a guide for good puzzlers who are looking to become great. Here's a list of acronyms, in case you don't understand some that i'm using:

DISCLAIMER: This is not based on anything more than my findings and opinions over the years.

How Ships Work: A Guide for XOs and More

If you're naving, it's obviously important to know how ships actually work. It's also good to know if you're puzzling on it, assuming you care about the ship's activity, but it might be most important for XO's to know this stuff. They are the people who can threaten and bribe jobbers into getting on stations, and moving to the stations the ship needs.

Tons of pirate have no idea how ship mechanics work, even though people figured it out years ago. This forum post is a good read, but 'll highlight some key points here:

Bilge/Carpentry: at any given time your indicator effects the ship. Duty reports are just the average indicator level since the last duty report. They don't effect the ship, they are just a reflection of its average performance. Carpentry has a maximum repair rate of 10% per turn, that means if stations are full, and everyone has a sparkly indicator, you will repair 10% per turn. Bilge maxes out at 25% per turn at zero carp. Also, with full stations at sparkly bilge and full damage, bilge will neither rise nor fall. The only exception to this is that merchant brigs and merchant galleons have a max carp repair of 20% per turn.

This is a list of the maximum repair rate of each ship assuming all incredibles.

	     Small shot to max	        carp stations	        repair per turn	repair per station
Sloop 10 2 1 0.5
Cutter 12 3 1.2 0.4
Dhow 12 3 1.2 0.4
Fanch 13.13 3 1.31 0.44
Longship 15 3 1.5 0.5
Baghlah 20 4 2 0.5
Merchant Brig 20 9 4 0.44
Junk 25 4 2.5 0.63
War Brig 25 6 2.5 0.42
Merchant Galleon 30 14 6 0.43
Xebec 35 9 3.5 0.39
War Frig 50 18 5 0.28
Grand Frig 60 24 6 0.25

Sails: Sails works similar to carp/bilge with one major difference. At any given time, only the top 40% of indicators effect the sailing speed or token generation. This does not mean you only need 40% of sail stations filled though. It's not the top 40% of the duty report, but the 40% of the current indicator levels. Different people may contribute at different times. Well, to be more accurate, the bottom 60% count as well, but their scores are capped and don't contribute very much.

Duty Navigation/Treasure Haul: Both Duty Navigation and Treasure haul increase the ships overall ?ju-ju?. This basically increases every puzzle's output by some percentage. I'm not sure if this increase allows a stations output to be up over its max. Anyone feel like testing it out?

Special Tokens: The most important special tokens are almost always the turn in place, and double forward. The naver should highlight one of these 2 as the token to make. The flotsam and chain shot are nice to have, but not nearly as useful.

What to do at high damage?

So you have high damage and bilge on your ship, and the naver screams at people to fill sails so he can get tokens right? That's the worst thing you can do in that situation. Bilge caps your sailing output. At full bilge you get one token every 2 turns with full sailors. You also get 1 token every other turn with very few sailors. The best thing you can do is fill carp and bilge 100%, keep a few people on sails(preferably good sailors), and have everyone else TH if its possible. The TH will boost your carp and bilge outputs and help you repair faster. This is assuming you have jobbers who listen to you though...

Where to put your bots?
Since sails is capped, making the bottom end not help much, its best to keep your bots on carp whenever you have damage, and carp or bilge whenever you have bilge. The only time to keep them on sails, is if you have no damage or bilge, and don't need help on guns. It's also good to keep them on sails at first, because their indicators immediately go to fine, while everyone else is building from nothing. They help for the first few turns, then it's usually good to move them to damage control as needed.

How puzzles Work

Puzzle competitions: Every Duty report your score gets sent in to the competition. If it is higher than a previous score, it replaces it, if its lower it just gets ignored. These are scored by your highest single league point. In multi-puzzle competitions the overall is scored by the sum of your highest one duty report for each puzzle. For crafting puzzles this simply means one very high scoring session will win. For duty puzzles, each duty report is the average of your sparkly over the entire report. Your sparkly level is created by a moving average of your last 3 minutes of puzzling. Each league is about a min, so this means it usually takes about 4-5 minutes of continuous flawless puzzling to win a competition for duty puzzles. There is also a cap on the maximum score you can send in. If you more than one person scores at the cap, the winner is determined by the next highest score. This essentially means that whoever scores at the cap the most number of times wins. Bilge, carpentry, sailing, rigging all hit the cap at one point, but was raised shortly after the tie breaker system was put in place. Since it was raised, I?m not sure if any puzzle hits the new cap.

The only things i do different for puzzle competitions is try harder and maybe play faster. I try to focus on just puzzling, not making tokens, or sending tells, or playing poker on another account, or talking on the phone(or vent or Skype), or making tacos, or any of the stuff i usually do when I'm puzzling lazy and relaxed. Try to puzzle your own personal best. As for playing faster, sure there is a greater chance i may misplace a carp or sail piece if i play faster, but if i mess up i get to start over. You can't mess up too much though or you'll never do good, so find your own balance between efficiency and speed.

For duty puzzles, i swabby a sloop so i don't get interrupted by battles or short navy routes or anything. When charting the sloop try to avoid horizontal league points. It takes about 60 seconds for normal diagonal league points, but about 80 seconds for horizontal ones. It's not a big deal, but if you get 2 more duty reports in from it, that?s 2 more chances to win!
Also, for rigging I do double loops, which is different, but more on that later.

For crafting puzzles, try taking more risks. In blacksmithing, go for as many combos as possible, before trying to finish in a masterpiece. For distilling, try sending that extra row down before your first crystal clear, even if you might not make it in time. Lots of people are going to do good. You need to take risks and try to do great. Don't be afraid to fail, and don't worry about your stats.

Gunning is simple. Fill cannons the fastest for one duty report and win. Also, puzzle for over a min that league(like all puzzles). Some leagues are very close to a minute, so make sure to be on station the entire time(you can hop on and off just do it quickly) or gun on a slower ship. (ordering bots off sails will slow it down a bit). You can also get a boost but filling everything but cannon balls one league ten filling those 4 quickly the next and continuing to gun. I usually do this every other league to give me alternating high incredibles and booches. It only takes one good league to win. If you get annoyed not being able to find an open gun on a navy ship, just take the duty nav with the navy mission.

If you are playing on two oceans, sometimes the competition start times are off by 30 seconds or so. Start on the ocean that starts 1st. I've won and lost competitions in the last 30 seconds, so you never know when the little things will make the difference!

Bake-offs: Get a fast start AND puzzle amazing

You need to do both if you want to win. Bake-offs are based off of one duty report(lets say 20 minutes long). This duty report is the average of your puzzling over that entire 20 min span. If you have a raw score of close to 0 for the 1st 20 seconds(when you break your opening combo), you will have to do significantly better than someone who breaks their first combo in 10 seconds, if you want to beat them.

Your Stat/rank is the average score of your last 100 or so puzzles. So, If you disconnect or have one really bad session, it takes a long time(100 sessions or so) to fix the average. If you are a high ultimate, then one DC or so may only bring down to a lower one. Also, i believe that while the last 100 puzzle sessions or so count, the more recent ones are weighted heavier. I can't be sure of that though.

Also, remember that for duty puzzles a session is whenever you leave a station(pillage battle, Atlantis fray, TH, ect.), not every duty report. Usually it is very short sessions, like hopping on station 30-60 seconds before port, that hurts your rank most. The easiest way to improve your rank is to not TH/accept challenges over breaks, and not engage ships at League points when pillaging. The other general rule, is if you're doing good, take a break (TH or something maybe) then start up again before a DR. If you're doing bad, keep on station till it gets better.

Miscellaneous: Here's some random tidbits for different puzzles that some people are surprised to learn, or just weird things I like to do.

Spades: If you have a deadbeat partner who leaves, you lose your wager obviously, but your rank doesn't drop.

Gunning: If you ever want to gun by yourself without being interrupted. Take the navigate with navy mission, order the bots to laze and you can just gun all by yourself with long league points.

Also, Every once in a while, if you hop on station and fill a gun quickly, before the ship actually fires it, the cannon will be fired again, even though it still counts as "full". If you fill it again it won't count as a loaded gun.

Atlantis/Flotilla Bnav: Consider leaving game tables on board during the trip. It saves the cost of replacing them, because they don't dust from moving. Also, it makes it really easy for the XO to see who to plank.

1v1 parlor games: SF, Rumble, Drinking and TD all work the same. You can play one rated game per one opponent per hour. This means if you play someone at 00:59, the next game after the hour will be rated too, then nothing until the next hour. The time might not be perfectly on the hour if there's been random reboots, but the interval is still one hour apart.

Moving Stock: If you abandon the vessel one LP before the island you're moving stock to, it will auto port there in 15 minutes. Saves a little time, if you're feeling lazy or have a lot of ships to move.

Getting Ship-lists: If you go to your ?where are my vessels? tab, you can ctrl A, then ctrl C. to copy your entire crew's ship-list. Then paste it into notepad or Google docs or something or to view it. If you want only your ships, just hop in your own crew, or a crew with no other ships for a minute.

Swabbying ships: If you click on the island immediately after hitting sail, you can get back off the same island you were on, and the ship still sails on its own. There are sometimes problems with none of the swabbies going on bilge for some reason. If you swabby to an island you can't port at because of a war, you need to set it to evade once it gets there and hop off. It'll auto-port in 15 mins.

Duty Puzzles

Good Bilging is all about slow careful planning. Speed is barely a factor as long as you make at least one move every 8-10 seconds or so. This guide assumes you know how to do basic Sea Donkey/Vegas bilging. (Quick note, i tend to refer to any kind of vegas/sea donkey as just a vegas to make things easier.)


This is how I score my bilge combos. Its probably not right, but its a good enough model to base your play style off of.

3 = 3 points
4 = 4 points
5 = 5 points
3x3 = 12 points
3x4 = 14 points
3x5 = 16 points
3x3x3 (Bingo) = 24 points
3x3x4 (Bingo) = 27 points
3x4x4 (Bingo) = 30 points
3x3x5 (Bingo) = 30 points
3x4x5 (Bingo) = 33 points
3x5x5 (Bingo) = 36 points
3x3x3x3 (Sea Donkey) = 80 points
3x3x3x4 (Sea Donkey) = 88 points
3x3x4x4 (Sea Donkey) = 96 points
3x3x3x5 (Vegas) = 144 points
3x3x4x5 (Vegas) = 156 points
3x3x5x5 (Vegas) = 168 points

Try filming yourself and counting the total points per click. The incredible borderline is around 3.5-4 points per click depending on your ocean. Great bilging usually falls between 6-8 points per click.

Here's another table of how many clicks each combo take to average a 4 or low incredible

3 = 0.75
4 = 1
5 = 1.25
3x3 = 3
3x4 = 3.5
3x5 = 4
3x3x3 (Bingo) = 6
3x3x4 (Bingo) = 6.75
3x4x4 (Bingo) = 7.5
3x3x5 (Bingo) = 7.5
3x4x5 (Bingo) = 8.25
3x5x5 (Bingo) = 9
3x3x3x3 (Sea Donkey) = 20
3x3x3x4 (Sea Donkey) = 22
3x3x4x4 (Sea Donkey) = 24
3x3x3x5 (Vegas) = 36
3x3x4x5 (Vegas) = 39
3x3x5x5 (Vegas) = 42

Bilge Techniques

The important thing to remember about Vegas and Sea Donkeys is that only the middle two columns move in relation to the rest. The left 2 and right 2 simply move up one. The only thing to check for in those 4 columns is if a vertical group of 3 or more will form from removing that horizontal row of the vegas. Focus on those middle two rows, and see where you can move pieces so that after you clear your vegas, they can set you up for your next one.
Here's an example of forming a vegas above the one you just cleared.

Vegas above a Vegas

You can also create a vegas below the one you're clearing using the same idea. Here's an example(ignore the missed bingo 7 seconds in).

Vegas below a Vegas

The last technique is to simply build a vegas at the top of your screen, then check to see if you can clear one below it before setting off the top vegas which would mess up the lower one. Just be careful to keep your eye on the star meter on the left, for all of these multiple vegas techniques. Its pretty annoying to finish a board wit ha 1 click vegas left on it. The hard part to explain is when to use all these techniques. The best i can say is try to use what the board gives you and keep practicing.

Here's a video of some bilging:

Got Crabs?
Here are a few random videos i tried out for competitions. They all failed horribly, but I think that trying random things like this gave me a better feel for how the pieces move. Maybe not, either way the 1st is just trying to fill the screen with as many crabs as possible. The second shows that if you pause a puzzle while the water level drops, the crabs wont leave immediately when you reenter. The third is using crabs to make a 3x3x3x3x3 Sea Donkey. Even Larger vegas/Sea donkey combos are possible this way as well.

lots of Crabs

22 Crab Combo

3x3x3x3x3 Sea Donkey

Token Bilging

Forget everything you know about high end bilging. This is all about speed, and making extra moves(lowing your score) to get tokens. The main technique for tokening in bilge is to get the top piece one spot above the bottom(duh). Here are some techniques to help.
1. simply clear a 3 horizontal to move a token up 1.
2. Clear a 3 horizontal as part of a combo to move a token up 1.
3. If there aren?t 3 in a row horizontal, break a vertical group to make the 3 horizontal clear.
4. if you can put the top above a crab and the bottom below it makes for an easy clear.
5. Break a vertical group of 3 to line up the tokens.
6. Use a blow-fish instead to line up the tokens.
7. Break a 4 or 5 vertical group to line up the tokens
8. combine vertical and horizontal breaks for more complicated clears if you can see them
9. break an uneven Bingo/Sea Donkey/Vegas to move one token up an additional space or 2.
10. Line the lower token token with the vertical part of a bingo/Sea donkey/Vegas, and the upper token with the horizontal part, to move the token up 2-4 spots depending on the height(3-5) of the vertical clear.

Bilge token techniques video

Token Bilging


If you don't know anything about how to play read this 1st.

Good rigging is all about managing the colors on your board, mostly by using tars. You don't get tars when you first start, so Here's some advice.

For the first few boards, just find what color there is the most of, and clear 95% or more of it. Repeat this for whichever color there is the most of on the board.

Once you can get hooks, you can start going for those to increase the size of your clears. The simplest way to to make a ring of 6 pieces with one in the middle.

Here's a video of rigging before tars.
Intro Rigging Video

Okay now you can start rigging for real.

Here is an example of some pretty good rigging.

Rigging Video

Notice how almost every clear makes a tar. If you can make a tar and a hook with the same clear, even better. The other important thing to notice is not only how tars are made, but how they are used. Each tar can get up to 7 pieces of the same color. Try getting 5+ pieces with most tars as a basic rule.

Sometimes random pieces get cleared between the big clears. This is good, if they are unimportant colors. Clear 4 of a color if there are only 7 on the screen, but if there are 15 of a color on a screen, make sure you don't clear just a couple by mistake. This is extremely important to keeping your board looking nice and pretty.

But, keep an eye on the stars on the left side. It doesn't matter how nice your board is set up if you clear them too early. When you have 1-2 stars left on the board hooks, and large clears become more important. You want to try and make full use of all the hard work you spent setting up your board before it goes away.

Rigging Loops can be useful in competitions. Here's a video of a modified double rigging loop that places well in Puzzle Competitions.

Rigging Competition loop

Token Rigging
Token rigging is similar to token bilging. The main difference is whenever possible make 2 large consecutive clears to get you multiple types of tokens. Besides that, booch your score to get tokens, and alternate large clears to keep your score high.

Here's a video of some decent token rigging. Its probably my least favorite station to make tokens on, so I'm a bit out of practice.

Token Rigging Video


Speed matters more in sailing than it does in bilge, but not nearly as much as a lot of people think. The important keys to high level sailing is to clear large combos(usually Vegas 4 to Vegas 8) at least once every 3 minutes( lets say 2 minutes 30 sec just to be safe). Platforms are worth 4-5 times regular pieces, so make sure you clear them near the end of the combo. You should be measuring your combo by how late platforms break, and almost ignoring other pieces.

Scoring looks something like this:
1 point for a regular piece.
2 points for a block.
5 points for a platform piece.
-1 point for every piece played.

Here is a sailing technique i use whenever the bottom of the board is fairly open. Its goal is to clear the platforms as late as possible. I also have an image of a finished board as an even better example of this.

Sailing technique video

short video of another similar combo

Here's a big combo from a Sailing Competition

It's also possible to consistently get incredibles and to reach #1 by ?small? but efficient bingo, donkey and small vegas combos. It won't beat large efficient vegas combo's though.

Token Sailing
This is the only video here that?s not mine. I'm still learning how to
token sail, and my basic plan is to copy this video from Geologist as much as I can.

Geologist Token Sailing


There are two main styles of Carpentry. One is to play as fast as possible, the other is to grain bonus as much as possible. Both take practice and work roughly the same, so try them both out and see what works for you. The other important things to remember are to work on adjacent holes, so you don't get stuck with 2 diagonal holes finished and only 2 left to work on. It can also be helpful to memorize all the good 2 pieces combinations for the holes.

Speed Carpentry:

Carping for speed

Grain Bonus Carpentry:

The main disadvantage to grain bonus carping is it becomes extremely difficult to make tokens. But in token free environments it can score very well despite a slower approach.

The first step to learning how to Carp with grain bonuses is to learn the way the pieces spawn. There are three type of pieces.

1. Pieces that always spawn the same direction(Y,L,I,N)
2. Pieces that spawn in either direction(P,F,T,U,Z)
3. Pieces that are symmetrical and can always be rotated to horizontal.(X,V,W)
4. Putty always follows grain bonus

Basically carp like normal while only placing the pieces horizontal whenever possible. Remember that once a hole as one vertical piece direction no longer matters. Try working 1 in 4 holes grain bonus to start and work your way up to 2 out of 4 then 3 out of 4. Its not necessary to grain bonus every single hole for this to be an effective bonus. Another thing to pay attention to is to not leave a hole that can only be filled by turning a "1. Pieces that always spawn the same direction(Y,L,I,N)" vertical. Putty can fix this to give you the grain bonus anyways, but you probably have better uses for your putty,.

there's a nice table here

Token Carpentry
There are two types of Token Carpentry. You can either go all out to make as many tokens as possible, knowing that you'll probably be getting somewhere around a low excellent, or you can try to puzzle at an incredible level while making as many tokens as possible without dropping your performance.

Pure tokens:

Pure token Carping

slightly worse pure token carping

Incredible tokens:
Incredible Token Carping


There are two main styles of patching, speed patching and Flawless Masterpiece patching. You can also mix and match some combination of the two as well I guess.

Speed Patching: Speed patching is simply connecting the two ends as fast as possible, and maybe tossing in a few grommets along the way. This style scores very high, for minimal effort, and simply fast clicking.

Flawless Masterpiece Patching: This is simple to understand, but the most difficult to execute. The goal is to fill the entire board every time. I'd estimate that about 90-95% of boards are possible to fully complete, and maybe 70-80% are reasonably easy. For this style, start with filling in the corners with grommets, and putting straight line pieces in between 2 unmovable square... basically do all the things that have to be done to complete the board. The middle section will have multiple solutions, making it easier to figure out or guess right. If you there is an odd number of connections and one left over at the end, you need to put one grommet straight at the start and you get a straight piece in its place when you reset the winds..

In-between styles: There is also some in-between styles that alternate between the two, and also getting quick master patchers. A master patcher comes from leaving the board with 6 or fewer spots.

Token Patching

Token patching is basically speed patching, with some attention paid to including exactly one token each board.


Many top gunners gun freestyle, while others use 1 and 2 gun loops. Freestyle gunning is hard to explain, so I made a video of freestyle gunning at a very slow speed to try and make it easier to follow. One form of high level gunning looks a lot like this video only twice as fast.

Slow Freestyle gunning

Full speed gunning

Duty Navigation

Duty navigation is all about making constellations. Combos are possible, but don't try for them, its difficult and basically not worth it. The key points are organizing your board to avoid accidental breaks, while leaving extra pieces available to break if you don?t get the star pieces you need soon enough. Breaking random groups of 3 while not messing up your constellation is useful in giving you more room to get that last color you need. Duty navigation is probably the hardest puzzle to rank up. It's very difficult to score well at lower ranks. Try for longer sessions, and have some patience.

9 star Duty Navigation Video

Treasure Haul

One trick is to start clicking randomly while the puzzle is loading the pieces and a bunch of stuff usually breaks.

Treasure haul With Chests
The goal here is to get out as many chests as possible, the main idea is to leave one or 2 red gems at the top of your screen to get out a chest quickly once it comes.

Treasure haul Without Chests
Click fast. Also, try to make clears at the top of the screen so more things cascade, and alternate between left and right side seems to speed things up a bit too.

TH Video

Quick Puzzling from Dead Starts

The key to getting a quick start is to do something fast. Obvious huh? You can't build or puzzle like you normally do and expect a good 1st DR or a sparkle in the 1st 15-20 seconds. for bilge, rigging break the 1st decent combo you see in your 1st 1-3 clicks. For sails, you want to go for a fast triple-bingo in the 1st 10-15 seconds and maybe break a fast single or double sooner if you can. For carpentry, just concentrate to fill the smallest easiest hole as fast as you can. if you can grain bonus or nice set it, even better. Here's some examples:

Fast sailing bingo

fast start bilging


Fast carp holes

This one is a little bit forced, and just filling the holes fast usually works better, but if you see a good opportunity to get an early bonus, it can really help boost that first duty report up. Here's a video that used the bonuses.

Carp video with fast bonus


There are 3 key points to notice in the ?fast start? rigging video. The 1st is the quick clears of 4 and 6 on the 1st 3 pulls. Getting a non-zero score as fast as possible is important. The 2nd is the 10 with a loop to get an initial sparkle. The 3rd is the big 20+clear. This gives a strong sparkle which allows you to start playing normally. It also, gives a tar and hook to get your started.

fast start rigging video


Puzzling on 2 Accounts
One key here is to position the puzzles so you can see them without having to tab through screens if possible(Depends on monitor size). For rigging, bilge and carp i have a 10 seconds rule. I must make one move on each screen every 10 seconds, so I?ll usually make 2-3 clicks on one bilge screen then hop over to carp for 2-3 pieces then hop back. You can use the same strategies you normally puzzle with, just at half speed or so.

Puzzling on 3+ accounts
This starts to get tricky. If you can manage to get them all on your monitor maybe you'll have better luck, but i just tab through all the puzzle screens. I basically make one big combo that will last me 3 minutes, pause the puzzle, then hop to the next one. Each combo will slowly decay over the 3 minutes. At best it will be good enough to be sparkly the entire time, At worst it will still give you some value of ?good? or fine? for the 3 minutes. The key part here is to see how many different accounts you can handle in under 3 minutes, because once that passes, your puzzle goes back to giving you a booched score.

Paused Puzzles
This is similar to puzzling on multiple accounts at once, except you don?t break the combo's once you're done building them. Build the combo, then pause your puzzle and move on to your next account. This is great for point sitting in blockades. You have all of your puzzles(especially sails) ready to go, and if someone comes to contest you're points, you can break your combos, and have 3 minutes to fight or run. You can save you're bilge combo's until you start seeing bilge rise, and save carpentry(doesn?t work too well on carpentry though) until you get damage. You will booch every DR before you break the combo, and it will kill your stats in the process. So, make sure people on your ship know what you're doing, and want you to do it.

Station hoping
If your station hopping to help out the ship wherever it needs it, it doesn't have to ruin your stats and make you mediocre at all the stations your doing. For pillages, your indicator only resets at a league point, not during or even at the end of a battle. So if you can get a sparkle one puzzle(lets say bilge) then hop off and go sail. Now if the bilge starts to rise, you can hop back on and instantly be sparkling before your 1st move. This can be applied to any number of the 5 stations(and i guess duty nav too so 6). You can also do it for SMHs and flotillas to a lesser extent, because every duty report at the 10 min breaks your indicators for the puzzles your not on will reset. It works best for long PvP battles(sinking or regular).

Battle Navigation

The harder the brigands you defeat, the more PoE you get. If you win a battle, every pirate who stays on board increases the difficulty of the next spawn. Also, pirates who stay alive in the frays increase the difficulty of the next spawn as well. Basically, keeping the same pirates on a pillage, and have large margins of victory in SF/Rumbles makes you the most money. Oh, and don't lose of course.

Depending on the Brigand king and the type of ship, Enemy flotilla ships repair at about 1.5-3.5 large shot per turn. If your having trouble getting sinks, try targeting one ship at a time, not just firing at whatever is close.

My other main tip for Flotillas(and BK blockades, and to some extent Atlantis) naving is to manipulate your move tokens whenever you can. Unlike pillaging, the AI puts its tokens in early in the turn and doesn?t change it. It makes its moves based on what moves you have at the start of the turn, so if you spawn 2 forward tokens during the turn when you had none at the start, the bots moves are still assuming you have zero forward tokens. Try turning auto-token off and using this to your advantage.

This can also be used defensively. If you are injured and running low on tokens, never use your last token. If you cant move, the bots know you cant move and will shoot you every time. Your best chance is to make them think your moving and sit still if you have to. And remember, if your bilge is full, 2-3 sailors get you the same tokens as 10-15, because bilge caps off the top end, it doesn't take a percentage of sailing ju-ju away. The point is, if you aren?t getting tokens due to bilge, move everyone off sails to carp and bilge. Honestly, even TH helps the ship move/repair more than sails at that point. Of course, this is all dependent on having puzzlers willing to move, a convincing XO, or very large bribes.

Ships in flotillas can sometimes be bumped into messing up their move, and end up facing the back wall. They are not allowed to intentionally leave the board, so you are sometimes free to go behind them for a free sink. However, if they moved there on purpose they will always have a turn in place ready. Even if they get bumped there, they might still have one ready, so be careful if they put in moves.

If a ship randomly puts in no tokens in the middle of the board, be careful before you make an obvious move to go shoot it. It might just be bait for the other ships on the board to go shoot you. Think about making a safer move, even if you put in 2-4 fewer shots in the non-moving ship.

Cursed Isles
I'm not sure how useful this will be, but i had a request a while back to help someone learn how to "wall hump" to enter and leave CI. So i might as well post it here if anyone else wants help with it

Entering CI without thralls

Leaving CI by wall humping

Here's the formula for how many cultists you face each fray. The number is rounded down, and has a minimum of 4. The first fray counts as fray 0.
(# of pirates)*(1+ (fray # /5))
example for 7 pirates in 8th fray(3rd Vargas): 7*(1+9/5)=18.2 rounds down to 18

Crafting Puzzles


Distilling is the 2nd most luck based puzzle after Shipwright. There are tons of good distilling tutorials already out there already( has lots of good step by step techniques), so the only thing I'll add is the gold standard for distilling is usually 9+ rows of white before you send up the 1st row. Distilling, more so than most puzzles requires lots of practice to perform at top speed.

Distilling Video

If you don't know anything about the puzzle, try reading the wiki 1st.

This guide is more for people who are around respected/master+ and trying to get better. Alchemy starts off with 10 bottles and drops down to 8 around distinguished i think, then down to 6 around master/renowned. Your score is the average score of each bottle.

Basic Concept:

You want to fill as many different color bottles as possible. Filling multiple bottles of the same color in a fill is a nice bonus, but the number of different colors is what really controls your score.


The bottles that are filled up at the bottom of your screen are what determines your score. Any partially filled bottles at the end of your session will not count at all toward your score. Also, if you fill more than the 6(or more at early levels) bottles at the bottom in your last fill, only the highest bottles count.


Crossover pieces that can have two separate colors flow through them are good. You usually want to try to have as many of these on your board. Also, pieces that only have one color, but multiple pipes are usually better than the smaller pipe pieces. 

There are two ways to control what pieces you get on your board:

1. Once you have your fill set up, add the leftover "bad" pieces you don't want, and leave the good ones behind for later.

2. Remember that only bottles that you fill completely count towards your score. You can use a "waste" fill of only one color in one bottle to get rid of bad pieces you don't like. just make sure you remember which bottle you use for this, and don't fill it up completely, unless it's the last fill and you have extra bottles.

How to use Quicksilver:

There are two ways to use quicksilver.

The first is to use it to fill every bottle in a voodoo. This is the easiest way to use it, and scores fairly well, especially if you have a bonus or two as well. One big advantage of this, is that if you use it to finish off more bottles than you have room for, only the highest bottles count for your score. Example video of ending with a voodoo:

Voodoo Quicksilver Alchemy

It fills 9 bottles and the highest 6 count toward my score. I use up some one bottle fills to try and get an extra bonus at the end.

The second way to use quicksilver, is more difficult, but can score much higher. You can use it to add an extra color to your fills. I've got a good example video here:

Alchemy with extra Quicksilver fills

Notice how even if i use a couple of one bottle fills in these videos, none of those bottles end up actually counting to my score. Also, sometimes it's better to only fill one of a color instead of two, if filling the two means you wont be able to use that color in your next fill. Good Alchemy is about planning ahead, keeping a good board, and a little luck!


Shipwright is one of the simplest and easiest puzzle in the game. Make sure you can clear both 5 pieces, then try to set up the four and 3 pieces so you can clear a combo of at least 3,3,4,5,5. I sometimes prefer this to 3,4,4,5,5 because there?s more of a chance to get extra 3 pieces in before the 5 pieces. Good shipwrighting is all about knowing what the shapes each piece look like so you can set up for possible pieces you don't have and hope to get lucky. Most of SW is hoping to get lucky.

Tricks and techniques:

1. Find a good starting board. Scores don't register until you place the 5th piece of your opening combo, so you can leave before that if you decide to take a stupid risk early and it doesn't pay off. You can be really dumb here, and overlap pieces hoping you get the right spawn. If you don't... leave and try again!

2. Maximize your overtime pieces by stopping 1 before you hit the end. This might mean planning ahead and not adding in additional 3 pieces at the end of a combo.

3. Even if you can place both 5 pieces, consider only using 1, if it can make your combo longer to get rid of some annoying color distributions.

4. If you get really stuck on pieces distribution, consider letting the water take a way a 5-piece to get a new one.


First of all if you don't know how the puzzle is played read the wiki first, this is a more advanced guide.

There are 4 steps main steps to blacksmithing

Step 1: find alternating sets or combos. I usually board search a little bit to at least make sure there is 1-2 of each piece type on the board. You cant combo unless you have them all. Then look for a path that connects a 1-4 number combo and a path that connects a knight, bishop, rook, queen combo. Once you get comfortable with this you can try doing larger alternating sets(3 to 5 alternating sets is a good opening combo) or starting a 2nd alternating set.

Step 2: Strike the rest of the board until it is all silver, except the rum jug Also if possible put the rum jug in a corner, it makes step 3 much easier. My only advise here is look for almost "dead" pieces that only have 1-2 squares they can go to and use those first.

Step 3: Find trouble pieces, dead pieces, and end pieces
Trouble pieces, are ones that cannot be reached by any other piece, but can reach others. These are ones you will have to use your rum jug to get to.

Dead pieces or dead paths are ones that do not go to any other square. Only one dead path can be used and you have to end with it obviously.

End pieces are all the pieces that can reach the rum jug

Step 4: Once you've found all those, you need to look for paths. You can use 3 paths. The first two must end at the rum jug and the third can be a dead end. Be careful to only use each piece in one path(that?s where i mess up sometimes)! Once my board is silver, I usually don't strike until i know the rest of my moves.

Blacksmithing video example


Weaving scores similar to Sailing pieces with one major difference. The scores for breaking multiple colors at the same time are multiplied together, not added.

Assume that weaving is scored by 1 point for each piece cleared, times a multiplier for the level and number of colors cleared at that level.
For example if 5 reds are cleared for a single, then 4 blue and 5 green and 6 yellow for the double, then 7 blue for the triple, the score would be.
5 + (5)
(4+5+6)*2*3 + (90)
7*3 (21)

For 116 total for the combo. Also, I assumed no time penalty at all and a moderately small efficiency penalty. To be honest, it doesn't seem to really matter if I'm right about this being the exact scoring, because it works when you assume its true and score high with it. You can see how the majority of the score comes from clearing multiple colors at once.

The basic strategy to use this is build the board up as high as you can, and clear large combos of multiple colors on each level. Clearing 3-4 colors late in a combo scores very high. Clearing 4 colors at any time scores high as well.

Note: The game becomes rated when you place the 4th piece.

The first thing i need to explain about foraging is the Foraging Bug. If no pieces cascade/break after you clear your combo of crates, the combo scores as a 0. Its annoying, but simple to avoid if you know about it.

In the video the 1st one puzzle shows the forage bug where nothing breaks, the 2nd combo shows setting up a horizontal clear of 3 to avoid it. Note that other groups break at the top in the second video. This usually happens which is why the bug isn't noticed all the time even if you don?t deliberately set up clear to avoid it.

Forage Bug Video

Besides the bug the other key points to foraging are clear in groups of 3 whenever possible. Also, clearing crates at the same time(3 crates cleared) scores slightly higher than 3 in a row(single,double,triple) although there?s not always much you can do to control which happens.

There is another bug, where if you're first forage session is bad(lets say its a ?fine?), and if you keep clicking the play again, every other session will show ?fine? on the duty report at the end. Your score and stats are actually unaffected, only the duty report text is wrong. This can lead to confusing situations where you can get a ?fine? and have your rank go up to legendary or something, but doesn?t cause any real harm. You can avoid it by leaving and reentering after every forage session.

CI Foraging

Cursed Isles foraging is different than regular foraging, so i decided to make a guide on how to regularly score Frenetics.

General advice: Start foraging as soon is possible. As long as your not lagging, dismiss the fray as soon as you win and click on the plunder the horde to start foraging. this gives you 3-4 more seconds than just waiting for it to start on its own.

Clearing crates: The goal here is to clear as many as possible as fast as possible, combos and such don?t matter.

Small crates:The foraging screen is 10 spaces high, which means there are 9 spaces below the small crates. The fastest way to clear these is just to do 3 sets of vertical-3 rows underneath them. If you do a 4 and a 3 then you will have to do 2 horizontal rows, this takes 4 clears instead of 3 so try to avoid this. You can get frenetic rating doing all 3 clears of only small crates, it really speeds things up.

Medium crates: These have 8 spaces below them so 4 clears are very good here. it would take 2 vertical-3 clears and then 2 horizontal clears to get a row done as opposed to just 2 vertical-4 rows or a vertical 4, vertical 3 and one horizontal Also, a 5 and a 3 clear works just as well. The most important thing however is not getting these stuck on the sides. If they are on the sides or one space away from it make sure you clear the row closest to the side before clearing the inner one. If there are 2 of these crates on the board near each other, clear the one closest to the middle 1st, starting with the vertical row furthest away form the other crate.

Large crates: The most important thing is do not get these stuck! If they are on the side or one away from the side, you have to clear the outermost row and then the middle row before finishing the row closest to the middle. If they are in the middle however, its much easier to clear them safely. Clear the middle row 1st, then clear each of the side rows. There are 8 pieces below these crates as well so 2 sets of 4 or a set of 5 and 3 work well for clearing the vertical rows. But its more important to just worry about not getting them stuck! If they do get stuck, especially early on you can always dismiss the forage session and start a new one. It will cost you a little bit of time, but its much better than getting nothing.

If a crate does get stuck, I usually clear the rest of the crates on the screen, if i still don?t have a special piece to get it unstuck just abandon the puzzle and start a new one. It'll only cost you a small amount of time and you can still get a good number of chests.

Here an example of how leaving immediately when you get stuck can still work out fine.

Stuck in CI Forage

Special pieces: These are mostly annoying. After I clear a chest, if there are too many special pieces on the screen, sometimes I?ll just leave and get a new board.

And the vertical clear ones are nice when they are above a crate.
i always save the vertical clear ones until they become useful or get near the bottom.

I use the Horizontal Machetes on the medium and large crates which turns their size to only 7 from the bottom (which makes a 3 and 4 combo easy) but usually only slow you down with small crates.

Besides that i just get rid of them as soon as possible because they get in the way.
Ants are the WORST because they can mess things up and they slow the game down by clearing a block every turn. I try to get them off the screen or destroyed as soon as possible. Monkeys slow you down too. If possible use the horizontal or vertical swords to kill special pieces you don?t want. Sometimes if a monkey is surrounded by other special pieces i don?t want, I?ll click it to get rid of them and plan out my next few moves while it does its animation.

Remember that clicking fast is great but don't go faster than you can handle. Its still much better to just click smart and go a tiny bit slower, especially when you get a CC.

Short Video Example

Long Video Example

Carousing Puzzles

Card games:
Poker, Hearts, and Spades are all read card games. You can look up any guide online for strategies.

Sword Fighting

Team Sword fight
Bots tend to play like a #1 SFer with a broken space bar. When they get breakers, they seem to use them very efficiently, but they also play really slow compared to most players. The only thing you need to know based off this, is that the more stuff on their screen when they clear, the more its gonna hurt. To stop this, its much more important to kill the bots that are near dead, than to stay teaming in 2s and 3s. And remember just because your combo will might kill a bot with no damage, that bot is no threat to attack right now, its often better to hit one with a half screen or so. Hit a bot that you are 100% sure will die, rather than risk getting your combo returned right back to you, in addition to the bot with a half screen that can now clear, that you should have killed instead. Oh, and there are very very few situations where stalling helps, so to make it simpler, don't stall unless you are 100% dead.

Also, team in 2's and 3's.

1v1 Sword fight

Read this:

There are 4 Swords to choose from(Saber, Falchion, Skull Dagger, Scimitar).

Saber: Sabers are probably the best sword if you play fast enough to layer the colors on top of each other. It's also the best sword if you're playing people better that you and want to try and get a lucky win. If you're playing people worse than you, it also gives them better chances for lucky wins though. It's a very luck based sword.

Their pattern is either: RRRBBR or RBBRRR

Either way, all sprinkles from sabers in both layers are only 2 colors. What makes them strong is their 3rd color that is on columns 1,2,5,6 for strikes. The 4th color only appears in columns 3,4 on strikes, and isn?t much to worry about. Side swords from sabers are also very strong.

Falchion: Falchion is the Best strike sword, good for large combo's and has a strong 2x8 strike as well. The most important thing when using a falchion is to make sure it is reversed. Anything with a green or purple handle is reversed. This means that the multilayer sprinkles in column 4 will alternate between to colors, instead of all being the same. While you hear that the falchion is a ?striking? sword, the reversed falchion's sprinkling pattern makes adding 2-4 rows of sprinkles on top of a strike a very very strong attack.

When fighting a falchion remember 3 colors for the pattern. It will look something like this:


You can simplify this to remembering 3 colors. In this example it would be GRB(green,red,blue). When building your combos, put your green to the left, your red in the middle, and blue on the right. This makes the enemies attacks build into your combos, instead of destroying them. Here's a video of building into the pattern vs. a Falchion.

Skull Dagger: Skull Dagger is the sprinkling sword. It had a great multilayer sprinkle pattern, Which makes it good vs. Scimitar and Weak Vs. Falchion.

When fighting a skull dagger remember 4 colors for the pattern. It will look something like this:

If you cant remember all 4 colors, at least remember the middle color the the outside color.

Scimitar: This is a good defensive Sword. It's pattern isn't as deadly as the saber or falchion, but it forces your opponent to send more sprinkles, and less large strike combos. This makes it Strong vs. falchions(especially non-reversed falcions), but weak vs. skull daggers.

When fighting a scimitar remember 3 colors for the pattern. It will look something like this:


If you only want to get good using one sword, that?s perfectly fine. The important part of being a good sword fighter is being good fighting against all 4 of these swords. It's also important to know your own sword pattern, especially if you sword fight slower than your opponent. Most all of my opponents are faster than me, so if I see them clear a certain part of their screen, I count on getting the breaker that matches up with my pattern for that area pretty soon.

Breaking a 1x4 before a 2 sword combo can force a column 4 sword. I feel like this is one combo that not enough high-end sword fighters try to use.

1x4 2x15 2x12 opening combo

Also, if your playing someone you know is a good deal better than you, try to send side swords whenever you can. It's really annoying to have a horizontal sword mess up your combo, and annoying your opponents is good!

Other Swords: Some tournaments force you to use other swords, so here is a quick summary of the rest. I put each sword into one of the 4 categories above. Katana plays similar to falch, but weaker. Short sword plays similar to katana but weaker, and so on for the rest.

Falch > Katana > Short Sword > rapier > cutlass > backsword > foil > stick
Scimitar > cleaver > poniard
Saber > Dadao > dirk
Skull Dagger > stiletto > long sword


Team Rumble
If you want to "insta" a bot in team rumble, a charge group of 14-16 should do the trick. To play it safe, you should also added 10-15 quick pieces to the drop-off for bruises.

A few team rumble punches

1v1 Rumble
Bludgeon choice.
Top tier: Blackjack
2nd tier: Chain, Hammer, Skull Rings, Rope coils, Skeleton Bone
3rd tier: Fish, Gauntlets, Leather Gloves,
4th tier: Fists, Hook, Gaff, Belaying Pin, Cane, Brass Knuckles

Oh and use fish for Boxing.

Strikes and Bruises.
This is the core of rumbling. There are 3 basic attacks you can do.
3 charge groups: add up to 9 drop-off balls
4 charge groups: add up to 13 drop-off balls
6 charge groups: add up to 18 drop-off balls

Adding less is fine. It just sends a few less bruises. Adding more does nothing so its just a waste of time. Anything larger than a 6 attack generally becomes weaker and easier to clear no matter how many bruises you added. The only time you want to use larger attacks is when you know its going to finish your opponent. Remember that not every strike needs to have full bruises. Sometimes you need to send faster attacks to disrupt your opponent more. The key to striking is finding a good balance of faster strikes and bruised strikes.

Natural bruising
This is the best thing you can do in rumble. Its easiest to try in no bludgeon, and then in time work it into your other matches as well. The idea is to create an initial charge group that does not get covered up, then create other charge groups that can be covered by your opponents sprinkles. This way you can unleash a full bruised strike, without taking the time to add the drop-off balls yourself.

A more complicated way of doing this, is to make your charge groups in a way that they drop off other pieces that are already on your screen. This can be dangerous, as one strike can mess this up entirely, but when done correctly, its very effective.


While Striking and bruising are the keys to rumbling, if you want to take your game to the next level, try to improve your sprinkle clearing as well. Here's a video where i focus on sprinkle clearing by getting rid of bruises whenever possible.

Rumble Sprinkling video

If you don't know the rules for scoring, read the wiki , then come back.

Mug choice
1000 4 or 5 piece: Stein, chalice
1000 6 piece: Stein, chalice
1500 4 piece: Stein, horn
1500 5 piece: Stein, chalice
1500 6 piece: Stein
2000 4 piece: Horn, Stein
2000 5 piece: Stein
2000 6 piece: Goblet, pitcher
2500 4 piece: Horn
2500 5 piece: Goblet, Stein/Horn
2500 6 piece: Tankard, Goblet
3000 4 piece: Horn, tankard
3000 5 piece: pitcher, goblet, horn
3000 6 piece: pitcher

General rules for most settings
Drinking is all about board control. Here are a few simple rules to help you control the board. They aren't things that work 100% of the time, but are great general guidelines.

1. Don't chase a row your opponent has control over. Let them win it, and focus on taking complete control over every other row, once its gone
2. Play the highest piece whenever possible, on an opponents stain whenever possible.
3. Don't finish a row worth 100, unless its split 3 pieces each, or you need it cleared to mess up their other rows.
4. Let your opponents finish rows of 6-7 of their color in the early game.
5. Don't finish a 6-7 color row in the early game, unless its with a barrel.
6. If your opponent ever has 4 out of 6 colors in a row, try to block the 7th spot, with a piece of a different shape and color next to the 7th spot. Blocking is also useful for most of your opponents rows in the late game as well.

You can throw out a lot of these rules end game if you're winning and see a path to victory. Don't draw the game out if you see a way to end it fast.

4 color drinking with horns
1. If You're using a horn, Clear every row you can.
2. If your not using a horn but your opponent is, clear every unblocked row, even if it has a barrel in it.

5 color drinking with steins

This is pretty similar to classic drinking strategy in the sense that you don't want your rows cleared all that often. If your row has a barrel in it or 2-3 of your opponents pieces, you can clear it whenever. If your row has 1 or 0 of your opponents pieces, don't clear it until the game is almost over. This prevents them from taking back all the stains, which can create big point swings.

Classic Drinking
Read the rules and keep a count of how many stains you have compared to your opponent. Whoever gets the end bonus usually wins. Also, remember that every stain you have is 20 points for you AND 20 points you opponent cant get. So don't be afraid to win the ending bonus by a lot. many times its actually helpful to avoid clearing 100 points rows with your pieces or intentionally clearing an opponents 100 point row. The bonuses you get from staining their row after you clear it, balance out the 100 points they got, and you get the 200 point endgame bonus as well as board control. If you are losing at the end of the game, sometimes you have to clear opponents rows to prolong the game, or to try and take back board control.

Treasure Drop


I'm not going to pretend to be a great TD player. The fact that they never added a turbo option to make the pieces fall faster in non-turbo games has kept me from taking an interest in the puzzle. If this were chess, I?m basically just going to tell you how the pieces move, and you can go figure out strategies from there. The thing it, most people at GM or below don't know? how the pieces move?.

The first thing you need to learn about is call board parity. Its also sometimes called ?having the board? or ?not having the board?. It's much easier to play if you have the board for beginners, but after a certain level it stops giving an advantage, though the strategies remain very different.

Step 1. How to tell if you have the board parity: Look at the top 4 levers at the start of the game. If they all face the same way, or if 2 face left and 2 face right, then the person who goes second has the board. If 3 face one way and 1 faces the other, then the person who goes first has the board.

Step 2. How to play when you have the board: Generally speaking, you want the middle two levers touching each.

Step 3. How to play when you don't have the board: This is more difficult to play for beginner players. You want to try to keep one or both of the middle 2 levers facing out. Sometimes having the middle lever facing out can set up a trap, but some times it doesn?t. This gets complicated with many different situations. Try to recognize traps as they are used on you, and then try to copy them.

Step 4.When to set traps: If you don?t have the board, be careful not to let traps get set on both sides. That will give the board back to your opponent. It's okay to have 2 traps though, if you set off one in round 3, and leave the other trap for your opponent in round 4, when the points are much higher.

New holes spawn randomly in between rounds, so it helps to finish rounds 1 and 3 1st, giving you first pick on any new developments on rounds 2 and 4.

My only other tip for now is to get good at regular TD, then take another look at the more random style of holes.

Happy puzzling!

I'll be fixing mistakes and editing this over the next few weeks, so some feedback would be cool.

Edit: Here's the last guide thread in case you want to see:
Tzz Made of Fail on Midnight
Tzz's Ultimate puzzle Guide

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