General Strategy – Rules of Thumb

This section is more applicable for time trials where speed is paramount, and the levels are generally a bit less tricky, but these are good rules of thumb anyway. Unlike the “do not create 2 ends” rule, these are not always correct.

Work Outside -> In

The general idea here is that when you have a big blob of tiles, the easiest way to avoid getting stuck is by doing circles around the edges first, then working towards the centre.

A related idea is to keep things as round (or square) as possible, and have just one blob of tiles. This is an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-follow way to reduce the chance of creating extra ends, and otherwise identify problem areas where you may be forced to create an end.

Clear Red Tiles First

When I see big blotches of red, I like to go only red first, unless it conflicts with the general idea above to work outside -> in. The idea is that by removing red tiles, you simplify the situation, making it easier to see what you should do next.

Be careful with this general idea, and try to keep it localized. Always prioritize the first rule of thumb, working from the outside in and keeping round/square shapes. Personally, I like to combine the two, where I clear all the red tiles along the outside first, work outside -> in, then clear the next set of outer red tiles, rinse and repeat.

Below is an example putting these rules of thumb into work, on a random level:

Hypothetical starting position

Red tiles first, and only on the outside first

Clearing more red tiles and on the outside (L shape of yellow tiles and the 6 red tiles box cleared)

Note: this move is a bit tricky. I had to move down (shown here) in order to avoid creating extra ends

More working around the outside – I make sure to clear the red tile at the bottom first, as it can be problematic later. At this point, I have kept things tidy and won’t really be liable to being tricked and getting stuck anymore

Continuing on the outside and clearing red tiles…

And in a relatively clean and simple way, we can finish the level!

Back to Strategy and Hints

General Strategy – Ends

This page introduces a simple concept of “ends”, intended to provide a framework to improve your general speed and ease of gameplay.

Ends

An “end” is what I call any tile that must be stepped on last, because there is only one path that leads to that tile and no paths back once you have gone to that tile. The simplest example can be found in Easy – 3:

The circled square is an “end”; it must be completed last, as there is only one tile leading to it (and you cannot go back on that one tile). If you decide to step on that tile before the end, you get stuck (as below).

How is this useful for gameplay? A rule: never create 2 (or more) ends. Any time you have 2 or more ends, you know that you cannot complete the level. With this knowledge, you can use the process of elimination to get rid of certain potential moves, making it easier to find the right move. For example, in the below situation, you have two ends, and are already stuck, so you can rule out this path:

The one block sticking out, as above, is the easiest type of end to recognize. There are some other formations that are a bit harder to recognize as ends. One example below:

In the above, the entire 6-block section is an end – there’s no way to clear this level from the position shown above.

One formation I want to point out in particular is the below, where you have one orphan yellow tile sticking out, but attached to a red tile; this pops up very frequently. This is not an end (by itself), because you can step to the yellow tile and step back. Recognizing this, you can make it a rule of thumb to leave these formations around, treating it as if the two-tile formation is a single yellow tile where the red tile is.

By the way, guess which level this is from. It’s a puzzle game, so I have to give you some puzzles on this website too 🙂

The circled, as above, will not become an end when you take the path starting from the left, while the left tile will become an end if you move right first. The solution? Move left.

There are a few levels that can be solved entirely by identifying ends and using a process of elimination. The below is one example: it’s a lot easier once you figure out where the end is:

I was nice enough to circle the end for you

When you get really good at identifying ends, you can make observations as follows: in the below screenshot, after only two moves, I already know the player is stuck. One end has to be created as the player moves from the left through the top circle (or you create the end on the left) and the other end is created at the bottom. By the way, since there’s no way to clear all the tiles at the bottom in one go, that has to be the end – a pretty big key to solving this level.

Dead Ends

This is sort of a subset of the above. In brief, there are certain formations that simply cannot be cleared. Avoid these at all times (and undo or reset if you ever see one). One of the most common ones is the orphaned red tile with only one yellow tile leading to it:

By the way, there’s another unclearable formation where the other red block is… And yes, it might be more challenging to replicate this screenshot than to properly clear this level.

Next: Rules of Thumb