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Treasure drop guide

From YPPedia

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Contents

Introduction

Treasure Drop is among the least accessible games in Puzzle Pirates. Very few people ever become any good, and much fewer become Ultimate. Compared to, say, sailing, Treasure Drop has about a quarter the number of Ultimates. Although the Treasure Drop article does a fairly good job explaining the basics, such as scoring, it talks very little about strategy.

The first thing that any prospective treasure drop player needs to realize is that it takes months of agonizing practice to become good. On the way, there are several fairly distinct skill levels that will be passed through; each one needs to be identified and treated separately.

Starting out

The first thing to do is read the Treasure Drop article's sections on scoring and rule variations. If that seems confusing, go and play a game or two until you have an idea of what is being talked about.

Next is the behavior of multi-coins. This is the phenomenon where multiple coins get stuck together. They behave very differently depending on the number of coins.

There are four possible cases for any coin drop: it falls on another coin, the flat part of a lever, the not-flat part of a lever, and disappearing at the bottom.

Number of coins Another coin Flat Angled
1 The coin rolls off and flips the lever, but the original one falls, flipping it back. The coin will stay there. The coin will fall through, flipping the lever.
2 The two coins will remain connected and roll off, but the lever will not end flipped, and the original coin will remain on the lever. They will separate, one rolling down and flipping the lever for the other one to fall on the other side and flip the lever back. The coins will remain connected and fall through, not flipping the lever.
3 The coins remain connected and roll off, flipping the lever (but the original single coin will fall, flipping it back). The three coins will separate, with one rolling off and flipping the lever; the second will fall down on the other side, flipping it back; and the third will follow the first one, flipping the lever again. The coins will remain connected and fall through, flipping the lever.

It is also possible to make quadruple coins, however these are so rare they are not worth discussing.

Moving up

Once you have control over where your coins will end up, you can start making more long-term plans. There is little point planning for round 4 at the beginning of the game in any case; before then, your opponent may make an unexpected move, or you may "misclick," or lag out. Planning ahead two or three turns, however, is the only way to get better. There are several objectives to focus on. The main ones are getting points out near the edges while not giving away too much to your opponent.

The turn

On your turn, you must carefully decide which of the eight slots you want to drop your coin into. It sounds rather simple, but the truth is far from it. On each coin rests the fate of the game, even in round 1.

Each turn can have three basic objectives:

  1. Earning points,
  2. Preventing your opponent from earning points, and
  3. Setting up the board to earn more points at some point in the future. This is explained in more depth below.

Point-earning moves end with the player using the move having more points for the turn than their opponent. If this is not the case, it can hardly be considered a point-earning move. It is therefore important to carefully consider which slot will return the most points, while keeping in mind the ways in which that move will change the board, and the amount of points the opponent will be able to gain. It can take a long while to become accustomed to the ways a single drop can change a board - it is important not to give up during the learning process.

Moves made specifically to prevent the opponent from earning points are much less common than the other two, and generally require significant foresight. These are most relevant when trying to prevent the opponent from setting up a trap, and the eloquence with which they are played can easily turn the game a hundred points either way.

Dividing the board

Traps

It is a good idea to come to see the board divided into five sections, as illustrated to the left. Traps can be properly set after the idea of these distinct parts of the board is mastered.

A trap is where one of the players is forced to make a move (or, more commonly, a long series of moves) that will put them at a disadvantage point-wise. When setting traps, however, it is important to think ahead and be absolutely certain that it will not cause the opponent to gain many more points in the end. There is only one way to learn the various variations of traps - experience. There are some very common ones, generally involving the lines marked red in the picture - it should not take many games against a Legendary or Ultimate player to get the hang of how these work. Occasionally it is possible to set up traps along the green lines, but this is less common as most attempts to set such a trap will cause the opponent to gain many points through the red lines.

It is also important to note that there is no point setting up traps in Round 1. Here the focus should be on shifting the levers so that it is possible to set up traps in Round 2. In Round 3, the focus should be similar, but possibly starting to set up traps for Round 4. It is entirely possible to score 0 in Rounds 1 and 3 and still win in the end by a large margin.

The whole concept of lines in Treasure Drop can take a while to get used to, but it is extremely important for setting up complex traps. Although the game appears to work in columns, it actually works in diagonals, as illustrated. Chances are a player will not make it far if this is not visible to them.

Parity

The concept of parity is critical to understand, especially if playing without holes. The player with Even Parity has an even number of levers facing each way with no coins resting on them. The player with Odd Parity has an odd number of levers facing each way with no coins resting on them.

In most games, the drop slots accessing the green diagonals become locked early in the game, with any player dropping onto them revealing a high scoring chain for their opponent. The red diagonals accessed by the middle 4 drops then become the focus of the game, with the Even player forced to repeatedly set up the Odd player for a score along the red diagonal. Most times that a red diagonal is scored on, the length of the chain along that diagonal increases by one.

Eventually, the red diagonal extends far enough to match or exceed the highest scoring slot of the green diagonal above it. At this point, the sides become unlocked again, as dropping on them will score the red diagonal. The responding player then scores along the green diagonal, for fewer points.

The Even Player must generally try to control this specific play, and be the player to score on the red diagonal to counteract the Odd Players constant forced scores. To accomplish this, the Even Player will try to lock (i.e. leave a coin on top of) the switch accessing the over-extended Red Diagonal with the head towards the outside. This play will generally force the Odd Player to complete the top of the over-extended red diagonal, allowing the Even Player to score it by playing on the outside switch above it.

This pattern underlies all non-holes TD games, and the many different playstyles generally differ in the extent to which they seek to force or avoid such a symmetrical situation. Generally, the more the switches are initially arranged in a triangle (head in), the sooner this pattern is reached. When many switches are arranged with their heads out, chains are often reset instead of extended, leading to more varied play.

Becoming Ultimate

There are several distinct play styles at the Ultimate level. It is often difficult to discern and distinguish among them, however a seasoned Treasure Drop player can identify their own play style as well as that of their opponents. This is, however, largely irrelevant. Once all the above concepts are grasped and mastered, there is only one way to improve: practice. Through practice, a general play-style is usually developed that will allow for most situations.

At the Legendary / Ultimate level, it is also important to remember that the point of the game is to end up with more points than your opponent - thus giving your opponent even a fairly significant number of points can prove advantageous in the end.

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