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The following is a list of tips on drinking.
0. Starting The Game.
There are two kinds of drinking: Two-person drinking duels, and free-for
all, three-or-more-player drinking games. This tutorial addresses only the
two-person game. The three-or-more-player game is similar, except the
prime strategy is "Hope that the random stuff other players are doing
accidentally gives you a lot of points."
When starting a two-person game you have several configuration options.
"Rated" should be self-explanatory.
"Display Moves" is the thing where, when you have a piece to place, you
can see little ghosts of that piece in all the valid squares to place it. I like
"Rounds": This allows you to do several consecutive drinking games with
the same opponent. Your score carries over from round to round, which
kinda sucks for the person who lost the first round.
"Drinks" and "Containers" increase the number of colors and shapes that
pieces can have. Increasing these values make it harder to place pieces,
which means the game is much more likely to end with everyone passing
out. (See sections 2 and 3 for more information on passing out early.) I
feel that ending a game by passing out is kind of cheap, so I try to avoid
playing with these rules.
1. Piece Placement.
The drinking board maintains the following invariant:
"If two pieces are next to each other, then either they have the same
color, or they have the same shape, or one of them is a Fries."
When you place a piece, it must be next to at least one other piece, plus it
must share either a color or a shape with all its neighbors.
There are four colors and four shapes, so 16 possible pieces in a standard
If a space has one piece next to it, then the probability that you'll get a
matching piece is 7/16. (Plus there's a small chance you'll get a Fries or
Hook. Either would help you in most cases, so the true probability of
being able to do something useful to that space is like 9/18 = 1/2.)
If a space has two pieces next to it, and they're completely different, then
the probability that you'll be able to place there is 2/16 (again, plus Fries
If a space has three pieces next to it, and they're all completely different,
then the only thing you can put there is a Fries.
Whenever you put a piece on the board, you get some points. This is
based on the number differently colored pieces adjacent to the piece you
0 adjacent colors: 0 pts
1 adjacent color : 10 pts
2 adjacent colors: 15 pts
3 adjacent colors: 30 pts
4 adjacent colors: 60 pts
You can get 0 adjacent colors if you place next to a Fries. Getting more
than 1 adjacent color requires that some of your neighbors are matched
on shape (or that you're placing a Fries).
2. Passing Out.
The most important advice to give to a new player is about passing out.
If your drink count reaches three, you pass out, and have to wait three
turns before coming back. If your opponent passes out during that time,
the game is over, and whoever has more points wins.
If your opponent passes out, you can right-click three times and pass out
yourself. This will always end the game. If your opponent passes out,
and you have more points than he does, you can take three drinks right
there and automatically win.
I always apologize to my opponent when I do this, because it's cheap.
But, a win is a win.
3. Opening Strategy For Player 1: Placing The Fries.
Sometimes, during the opening, a player will have to drink a piece,
because there just isn't anywhere to play it. In extreme cases, a player
may have to drink three pieces in his first five or six moves. This will
cause him to pass out. A player who passes out early almost always has
less points than his opponent (who has been scoring by placing pieces).
If you pass out during the opening, you lose the game.
On the first player's first turn, he has a choice of where to place the
fries: in the middle, or in a corner? Placing in the middle means there
are lots of places for pieces: it's very unlikely that anyone will pass
out. Placing in the corner does the opposite.
If the play goes (Fries in corner; take space next to fries; take other
space next to fries), then it's slightly more likely that the second
player will pass out.
If your opponent is equally skilled, or more skilled, than you are, it's a
good idea to place fries in the corner and hope for a cheap win. If you
think your opponent is weaker (or you just want a non-cheap game), place
in the center.
4. Piece parity.
On every move you make, you gain a piece on the board. On every move the
opponent makes, he gains a piece. This is called piece parity.
One of the goals of the drinking game is to have more pieces on the
board than your opponent. This gives you more opportunities to make rows:
just by raw numbers, you're more likely to have the majority in a row than
There are several ways piece parity can change:
A. If you drink a piece, you lose parity, because the piece you drunk is
now not on the board.
B. If you get a Hook, always use it to take one of your opponent's
pieces. If you Hook your own piece, you lose parity twice: once for the
Hook, and once for your missing piece.
C. Whenever you complete a row, you lose parity.
i. If you complete a row with seven of your pieces in it, then you have
traded seven pieces of parity for 100-200 points.
ii. If you complete a row with four of your pieces and three of your
opponent's pieces, then you have traded essentially one piece of parity
for 100-200 points. This is a major advantage.
iii. But, if your opponent completes a row with four of his pieces and
three of yours... well, you get the idea.
5. Opening Strategy For Player 2: The First Row.
In about 95% of games I see, the first three moves all wind up in the
same row of the board. That row then has two of Player 1's pieces
and one of Player 2's.
At this point, as Player 2, you have a decision. Should you keep playing
in that same row? If you do, the row will grow until it has three pieces of
each player's, and then the first player who can complete the row will
take it. This is a huge win: taking this row gains you 200 points and
captures three of your opponent's pieces to boot. But, it can be a huge
loss if your opponent takes it.
Statistically, competing for that row is a bad decision. There's about a
50-50 chance that any given piece will fit in that seventh slot. But
Player 1 gets the first shot at playing there. If you work out the math,
as Player 2 you only only have a 1/3 chance of stealing that first row.
Unless you think your opponent is much better than you are, this is not
Instead, start building a row of your own. If you complete your row
before Player 1 completes his, you'll put a hole in his row, which will
at least annoy him; if you don't, it's no major disaster.
6. Unstained Rows.
Unstained rows are important: whenever you complete a row with an
unstained space (ie, by placing a piece in an unstained space), you get
Stained rows are much less important: if you complete a row by placing a
piece in a stained space, you get only 100 points. During most of the
game, you should concentrate on the unstained rows.
Sometimes it may occur that a row has five pieces, one stained space, and
one unstained space. If your opponent controls such a row, it is usually
a good idea to place a piece in the unstained space. You lose a piece
(and thus a point of parity) but you cost him 100 points.
7. Starting Rows.
Your first priority in the drinking game should be to make unstained rows.
There are three things to consider when deciding where to build a row.
A. The row should be one where you have at least as many pieces as your
opponent; otherwise, he can fight you for the row and probably win.
B. But, it's nice if the row has one or two of your opponent's pieces there.
When your row completes, it'll steal his pieces off the board, which is good
C. The row you choose should be one with no obstacles to completion:
there shouldn't be a bunch of random stuff near it that you'll need
special pieces to get past.
D. The row you choose should have an unstained space that you can save
Keep playing in your row until you have four or five pieces there. Four
is the minimum; five is safer if your opponent steals one for some reason.
8. Midgame Strategy.
When placing a piece, look at the two rows containing it.
A. If your opponent has more pieces there than you, don't play there.
It just advances his row.
* There's an exception if the opponent has only one piece in the row,
or if he has two pieces and you think he's not watching that area. In
this case, playing a piece there counts as starting a row; see above.
B. If you and your opponent have the same number of pieces there,
the row is in contention. Playing there should be a high priority.
C. If you have more pieces there than your opponent, the row is yours.
Advancing the row should be a low priority; do it if you can't find any
rows in contention.
The above applies only to rows which have some hope of being relevant.
If a row looks unlikely to ever be completed, or if it's stained and a bunch
of other rows are unstained, then putting a piece there doesn't mean
much in either direction.
9. Fries and Hooks.
How to place a Fries is pretty obvious: find a row you would like to
complete, find the space in that row that is hardest to place a piece in,
put the Fries there.
How to place a Hook is more interesting, and many players haven't mastered
it. When you get a Hook, your goal is to mess up your opponent's rows.
Look for an unstained row that's obviously his: one that he's put five or
six pieces into building. Remove the piece from that row that will be
hardest to replace. You want to remove a piece that's next to two or more
colors, and two or more different kinds of pieces. While he's trying to
replace the piece, you can drop one of your pieces in the unstained space
of that row. (Thus, even if your opponent does complete the row, it's
only worth half as much.)
If your opponent has a Fries in his near-complete row, your best move is
almost always to take that.
If your opponent has two near-complete rows that cross somewhere, take
the piece where they cross.
Suppose your opponent has near-complete control over a row. He's about
to place one more piece in the row, and when that happens he scores 200
points. You want to stop this.
You probably can't steal the row from him, and it's not really worth
trying in most cases. What you can do is delay. Look for the unstained
space, the place where your opponent wants to play. Put a piece of your
own next to it. The piece should be a different color and shape than the
other pieces next to that space. This makes it hard for your opponent to
finish the row.
In the meantime, try to put a hole in his row somewhere. Use a Hook on
the row, if possible; otherwise, finish some other row that removes one of
his pieces. Once you've done that, try to put a piece in the unstained
space to reduce the value of the row.
11. Finishing Rows.
Once you've got four pieces in a row, the row is essentially yours: as
long as none of your pieces vanish, when the row is completed you will get
points. You might be tempted to ignore that row and concentrate on
getting four pieces in other areas. This is good to an extent, but if you
leave the row too long, the board will start to get cluttered and it will
become hard to complete. In the worst case, your opponent might swipe one
of your pieces and then play in all the unstained spaces in that row.
Once you have four pieces in a row, playing more pieces there might not be
your top priority. But keep it at some priority. If you can't use a
piece to build a row to four, use it to advance one of the rows you
12. The 200-Point Bonus.
If the game ends because all spaces are filled, then the game counts how
many spaces are stained in each color. This counts both spaces with
pieces on them and spaces without, so there are 49 total spaces. The
player with more stained pieces of their color gets a 200-point bonus.
If the game ends because everyone passes out, the 200-point bonus
The Bonus is very important, and it's the key factor in a lot of games.
When you notice the board is filling up, start making it a priority to stain
spaces your color. Play on spaces of your opponent's color whenever
possible; try to avoid playing on spaces of your color. If you start
building a stained row, try to build it somewhere that was previously your
13. Endgame: If You're Winning.
The game ends when all the spaces on the board are stained. If you're
ahead by 600 points or more, stop worrying about points and concentrate on
the unstained spots. If you can fill in all the unstained spaces before
your opponent gets within 200 points, you win.
14. Endgame: If You're Losing.
If you're behind entering the endgame, all is not lost. The key is the
unstained spaces. Your opponent will want to play in these spaces to
finish the game. You have to stop him.
Each unstained space has two rows that include it. Try very hard to
control those rows. This says to your opponent, "If you play in that
unstained space, I gain 400 points." You want to put the game in a state
where, if someone fills in the unstained spaces, you'll suddenly gain
enough points to make you win. Then you have to keep the game in that
state until you can fill in those spaces and win.
Your opponent will try to stop you by creating stained rows. This does two
things: (A) it puts him further in the lead, and (B) it puts holes in your
control rows. You should try to create stained rows as well, but your first
priority has to be maintaining those control rows (and the 200-point
Joined: Aug 20, 2003
Very nice work!
The way I see it, what you've explained here makes up the basic playing elements of drinking. In some respects it is a 'spoiler', since part of the fun of the game (for me at least) is working these out.
The real strategy comes, of course, with how you string these points together, balancing the pros and cons of each against the probabilities of the pieces and your opponent's tendencies.
That said, here's a couple of other things that occur to me:
1) Drinking hooks!
Hooks don't seem to be a terribly strong play, and many a drinker has removed an opponent's vital drink only to see it immediately replaced, and the opponent gain 30 points for doing so. If you drink a hook, however, it says to your opponent "I'm such a great drinker, I don't even need to use this, and I can drink it too!" - clearly gaining you a psychological advantage!
The multiplayer drink is indeed somewhat random, but you can perhaps swing the odds a little by offering bribes - "250 poe to the player that completes the second row down!". This can work even better in a tournament in which poe is on the line, and broadens the strategic possiblities very pleasingly. (The sooner we can have 3-way drinks in the automated tournaments the better, I say).
3) Taking the 3/3 risk
I believe the esteemed TomRackham put it best back in February:
Also don't forget the odds get more favourable for doing this as the number of colours/pieces increases.
Rubyspoon: [Midnight] BSP, Looterati; [Viridian] OD, Morrowind.
isnt the bonus for most color on board at end 500?
Man I should of thought of making myself passout before.. Probally would of moved me up in the best pirate compition... also if only place to palce yoru drink gives yoru opponet 200 points or completes the board with his color in majority and the bonus woudl give him the win. drink it yourself..
Joined: Jul 28, 2003
Well damn....that post pretty much covers all my strategies at drinking.
The most important thing i've found is 14. Endgame: If You're Losing. You MUST control those rows! I won a drinking game once because of a 600 point swing on the last piece.
Terminology suggestion: Could we use the term "lines" instead of "rows", since rows usually means horizontal-only.
And yep, that pretty much sums up my strategies. Now, if I could only execute them well... :p I guess my biggest weakness is that I "waste" pieces sometimes, when I can't find a "whiz-bang" optimal move, and I'll just put it somewhere that doesn't gain me much advantage at all. Ye gotta make every piece count, if ye can.
Michelob, Senior Officer of Pirates of the Damned
Just some random drunkard in yon Crimson Tide
The original guide is pretty good. My only real disagreement is that you should ignore the 200 point bonus until the game is nearly over, and even then, only try for it if the game is close. Very often trying for the 200 point bonus at other times will lead you to make bad moves whose only real merit is the number of stained squares, and which allow your opponent to pick up a lot of extra points from completing rows.
I'd also like to add that 200 point unstained rows are very, very important, to the degree that whichever player gets more of them will probably win the game. Winning such rows even by large margins such as 6-1 is often beneficial. If you get four pieces in such a row and then stop, you're likely to not get the 200 point bonus, and may not even win the row at all due to your pieces being removed by crossing rows.
As to the reply, drinking hooks is almost invariably a very bad idea, about on par with drinking fries. The only exception that comes to mind is if your opponent has passed out and you're ahead in points. It's far more likely to demonstrate incompetence to your opponent than to intimidate him.
Also, if you're down 3-2 in a row that doesn't have other pieces blocking it, it's usually best to stop playing in that row. Making the row 3-3 is far more likely to just waste a piece in barely losing a row than to actually win the row. It's sometimes best to just concede the row, but often better to try to complete a crossing row to remove a piece from it and make it a lot harder for your opponent to finish--and possibly even then without getting 200 points for it.
There is no "i" in "complex numbers".
Joined: Jul 28, 2003
My barometer of drinking ability is to see how my opponent uses their hooks. Noobs almost always waste them, while experts take away your fries and totally destroy your gameboard.
I don't like this word.
Joined: Jul 15, 2003
Joined: Nov 16, 2003
Platypus, I have been trying to understand this game forever.
Only now have I been getting some of it.
This is so wonderful.
I shall scrape the earth should I ever see your great presence.
Fujiko on Cerulean.
WTB: Mako ships, penguins, Neerie's prize-winning egg (a card suits one,) more of Greylady's sixth prize-winning eggs (the penguin one.)
Joined: Jul 28, 2003
In terms of behind the scene stuff how are pieces chosen? Is it (in the case of 4 and 4 game) a randomly chosen color of the 4 and a randomly chosen container of the 4, plus a random chance at hooks or fries? Is there any chance that there is in fact a large pot of pieces that is generated at game start that is then chosen from? The latter is unlikely but I don't know if anyone has heard anything officially.
Joined: Mar 22, 2004
Hoooooboy. I now must prepare for a whole new generation of corner fry placers...
I will try to phrase the rest of this post in as neutral a way as I can. The heated discussion about the appropriateness of this move has taken place elsewhere.
I must point out that many, many, many people who enjoy drinking despise the opening corner fries with an incredible passion. If you do this regularly, people will hate this and people will tart about it afterwards. It is not universally liked.
There is nothing more frustrating for a frequent drinker than to lose to such a cheap win after playing for over an hour in a big tournament.
I do not intend to start the argument about the legitimacy of this move anew. I just want to give readers something to consider. The point of any game is to have fun, but while some people have fun playing a good game against a skilled opponent, others can only have fun if they win, and don't care if others consider it a cheap win.
Consider the fun not just of yourself, but of the people you play with -- and have fun!
Greetings from VUX! The last word in life form destruction!
To gain an intimate knowledge of our engines of war,
simply place both hands over your eyes and count to three.
(I post as Blackguard now.)
Joined: Oct 15, 2003
Harr! This is the one puzzle I have been unable to master at any level before, but this is good information here. I'd developed some strategies of my own, even ones not really mentioned here which seem to work well, but still how the game worked felt mostly random, and I didn't understand it.
Very nice. It's time we had a good set of drinking tips.
Silvermoon, First Mate, Silver Dragon Trading Company
Silverstar, Instructor, Puzzle Pirates Academy (retired)
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