Bilging tutorial

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Not everyone puzzles the same way.
Developing a unique approach to a puzzle or challenge that works for the individual is the most important aspect of mastering the craft.
These pictures and/or suggestions derive from personal opinions and are meant as guidelines only.
They are in no way hard and fast rules as to the "correct" way to do this puzzle or game action.

Bilging requires a different philosophy than the other duty puzzles. If you develop the proper mindset, it is an easy and relaxing puzzle.


The key point to good bilging is efficiency, not speed. This is crucial to good bilging. If you use too many moves to make a Bingo or Sea Donkey, you could still get Poor on the duty report. Here are some tips to use to consistently score Good or higher on Bilging.


when one clear triggers another clear, which may trigger a third, etc.
three in a row or larger, or combo.
two or more clears with a single move.
cannot be moved, but scuttle off when they get above the water
clears all of a single color from the board
Puffer fish 
clears a 3x3 square off the board, with the puffer fish in the center

General Tips

  1. When possible, get into the puzzle at the start of a league instead of in the middle. Of course when you are jobbing, you don't laze until the league point - but if you take a navy mission to work on your stats, wait.
  2. Stay in the puzzle as long as possible. Getting out and back in again hurts your score.
  3. Don't pause to talk unless your bilge pump is yellow.
  4. You have ten seconds to make a clear, so take your time.
  5. Save your jellyfish and puffer fish until you don't see even a one-move 3-in-a-row. When you use a jellyfish, match it with a color that is plentiful on the board.
  6. When water is low, freeing a crab is worth very little. When water is high, freeing a crab is worth a lot, and freeing two at once is a huge bonus. See Crab Soup section below.
  7. Keep an eye on the color of your bilge pump. If it stays aqua the full league, you will get Good on the duty report. If it stays yellow the full league, you will get Incredible. If it drops to brown, you get Poor or even Booched. To increase the color, use fewer moves to make your combos, or make more complicated combos with the same number of moves.

Mellow Bilging

Tutorial-bilging-aquapump.png Most of the time Mellow Bilging is enough to keep the bilge dry, even if you are the only bilger. This is what you use when you are tired and just want to relax, and don't care about improving your stats. If you follow these guidelines, you will get Good on the duty report without having to think.

Start scanning the puzzle from the top looking for a one-move clear or combo. As soon as you spot one, use it. Take several seconds if you need them. Work from the top as much as you can, so that you get chains. Constant one-move 3-in-a-rows with no chaining is not good enough to keep your bilge pump aqua, but if you make them near the top then you will get the chains.

If you can't find a one-move clear or combo, then use a jellyfish as your first choice or a puffer fish. If there aren't any of those, then look for a 2 move clear near the top - but make something before your ten seconds is up.

Zen Bilging

Tutorial-bilging-goldpump.png Zen Bilging isn't as laid back as Mellow Bilging, but it is still relaxing. What you do is scan the entire puzzle looking for the largest one-move combo you can find, and take it. If you find more than one nice one-move combo, take the one nearer the bottom first, so that it doesn't mess up the other one. If there are no one-move combos, and ye don't spot an obvious two-move combo, then take any one-move clear you can find (near the top if possible). If you have learned to spot the one-move combos, then Zen Bilging will usually get you Excellent on the duty report, and your bilge pump should bounce between aqua and yellow.

Power Bilging

Tutorial-bilging-sparklepump.png If you are serious about bilging and don't mind a bit of brain sweat from time to time, then you can do Power Bilging. First, it is important to make your first clear a combo (3x3 or larger) so that your pump goes yellow fast. This video shows starting from a brown pump and making sparkly yellow with water gushing using three moves: first, a two-move 3x4 combo with one chained clear, followed immediately by a one-move 4-in-a-row.

Look over the full board, looking for the largest one or two move combo you can make. Two-move combos are a bit harder to spot (which is where the brain sweat comes in). If your pump is sparkly and you don't see any one or two move combo, then you can either do a clear with chain or start setting up a Bingo. If you will need more than two moves, then make a clear below your setup after the first move or two, so that your pump stays yellow.

Crab Soup Bilging

When the bilge is low and there's no carp damage, then any of the above types of bilging will keep it dry. When carp damage is 50%, then unless you are doing Incredible bilging the water will rise. Here's what to do when you have to bilge underwater.

You still want to look for one or two move combos over the full board - but they will be pretty scarce when the crabs start accumulating. When there's a crab near the waterline, then make a clear (even if ye have to take two or three moves just for a 3-in-a-row) that opens a spot right above the crab. Releasing a crab when the water is high is worth quite a bit, and if you can manage two (or more!) at once, that's even better. Getting rid of crabs also makes it easier to make combos again.

If you get a jellyfish, then use it on a color that will release at least one crab.

One-move Clears

It is important to learn to spot the one-move clears. After you are familiar with them, you will find that you can spot the two-move clears more easily. They are listed here in decreasing order of score.

Name of combo Image of combo
Sea Donkey:
4xN, 5xN:
Tutorial-bilging-4xN.png Tutorial-bilging-5xN.png

Example Setups

To set up a multi-move Bingo, first find a row that has 3 of the same color on it (we'll call it Color A). Now look on the rows above and below to see if it's possible to make a vertical 3-in-a-row with the same color as your row's horizontal 3-in-a-row. Lastly, you need a second color (Color B) that can also make a vertical 3-in-a-row or another horizontal 3-in-a-row in the same row as your first group.

When you have your groups, you will need to make two columns right next to each other of two pieces each in Color A and Color B; as well as a horizontal row of two pieces in Color A, one piece in Color B, then another piece in Color A: Tutorial-bilging-bingosetup.png
Tutorial-bilging-seadonkeysetup.png To set up a Sea Donkey or Vegas, you need to have one row with three pieces each in two different colors, so that you can get it to match this pattern, plus a way to make vertical clears with the same colors.

Bad Boards

What do you do when there isn't any clear you can spot, and you are out of jellyfish and puffer fish? Well, one solution is to ask somebody on carp or sails to swap stations with you,getting out of puzzle to do a different duty isn't penalized, while getting out and back in the same puzzle is. Another solution is to use one of the following, preferably near the top of your puzzle. The general idea is to mix up the pieces on the board as much as possible, so that you will have a combo after this multi-move clear.

Horizontal Clear

Tutorial-bilging-horizontal.png Look for a row that has three of the same color on it somewhere. If you are trying to clear crabs (or want to move a certain color piece up one row), then move two of the pieces so that at least one is over a crab, then move the third piece in. If there are no crabs to clear, then it is best to leave the center piece in place and move the other two to meet it.

Vertical Clear

Look for three rows together that each have at least one piece of the same color. Again, if you are trying to free crabs, you will want to move all three pieces to the crab's column. Otherwise, it is best to leave the piece in the middle column alone, and move the other two pieces to meet it. Tutorial-bilging-vertical.png


In-game images and videos used above were taken from Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, copyright Grey Havens. This tutorial was created as an entry in the Ultimate Guru event.

Icon duty puzzles.png Duty Puzzles
Icon bilge.pngBilging | Icon carpentry.pngCarpentry | Icon navigation.pngDuty Navigation | Icon gunnery.pngGunnery |
Icon patching.pngPatching | Icon rigging.pngRigging | Icon sailing.pngSailing | Icon treasurehaul.pngTreasure Haul
See also: Sea Battle