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Coal War Tactics: A Neopian Times Guide


by ub3r_g00b3r

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Many know of the once-cursed historic town of Neovia located deep within the Haunted Woods and the catacombs that run deep beneath its surface, offering a chance at treasure to anyone who risks sending their Petpet underground. Few Neopians, however, are aware of the ore-filled coal mines that also exist beneath the surface. Of those, Madam Salt and Baron Goldnose, a hardworking Poogle and a money hungry Mynci, have made it their goal to extract the precious metals found inside. The two Neopets have had a friendly rivalry in the coal mining industry for years, but their unyielding desires to control the valuable Neovian mines have reduced their friendship to an all-out war. Choose a side and join the battle underground! It's time to learn some Coal War Tactics!

Game Setup:

After selecting "Start Game!" from the main menu, you will be asked to choose your difficulty, your team, and whether or not you want to play the game with booby traps involved. The first two will not affect your score in any way. Raising the level of difficulty will only give you more of a challenge if you get bored with the easier options, while choosing between Baron Goldnose and Madam Salt will only affect the color of your mine carts. Booby traps, however, will affect your score while playing the game. If you choose to include them, your opponent will be able to use them against you as well. If you're extremely lucky, your opponent will hit all of your booby traps while you miss all of theirs, giving you a better score than you would have gotten without them, but it doesn't always work out that way. If you end up hitting more of their booby traps than they hit of yours, you'll end up with a lower score than usual. Booby traps can be kind of a gamble, but are absolutely necessary if you want to win a trophy in the game.

When you've finished making your selections, you will be provided with an empty game board, five mine carts, and five booby traps if you chose to include them. For mine carts, you will be given one 5-unit mine cart, one 4-unit mine cart, two 3-unit mine carts, and one 2-unit mine cart. When placing your pieces on the board, you have the option of dragging them onto the board yourself and using the spacebar to rotate them, or pressing the "Random" button in the bottom-right corner until you end up with an arrangement you like. You can also adjust the placement of the mine carts and booby traps after they've been placed randomly if you just want to tweak the layout a little. If you want to start over from the beginning, you can press the "Reset" button in the bottom-right. Otherwise, when you're comfortable with your board arrangement, press "Done" to start the game!

Playing the Game:

Following a brief countdown at the start of the game, you will be quickly shown both your board and your opponent's side-by-side before it moves to the opponent's board to start your turn. Click on one of the black squares to drop a stick of dynamite onto that square. If you hit something, you will either see a booby trap symbol, a chunk of ore, or a fire indicating that you've hit one of their mine carts. If you miss all of those, you'll end up with a stick of dynamite planted firmly in the ground. Once your turn has ended, your opponent gets their chance to attack one of the spaces on your board, and you alternate back and forth until someone wins the game. Each time you blow up an entire mine cart, the opponent's cart will be exposed and the number corresponding to the length of the cart will be highlighted in your check list in the bottom-left corner.

Scoring:

There are several different ways your score is calculated in Coal War Tactics. For starters, there's the Hit Bonus which can be found in the bottom-left corner during your turn. If you hit one of your opponent's mine carts, you will receive the amount of points shown next to the words "Hit Bonus". It counts down from 10 as soon as your turn begins, so you have a chance of receiving up to 10 points if you make your choice quickly, but you could earn nothing at all if you wait too long. When you've blown up an entire mine cart, you will be given 500 point regardless of how long it takes.

Finding ore is another way to score points in the game, but it won't affect whether or not you win against your opponent. When you've found a chunk of ore, it will either be gold, silver, or copper. Gold ore is worth 100 points, silver ore is worth 50 points, and copper ore is worth 25 points. There will only be one of each type on the board when you play the game, but if you find them all, that's 175 points you wouldn't earn otherwise! Now if you chose to include booby traps when you started the game, you'll also have those affecting your score as well. Both you and your opponent receive five booby traps apiece, and when one of you hits a booby trap while searching the other player's board, the person who hit the booby trap will be forced to give up to 50 points to the other player. However, if they don't have 50 points to give away, they will only give away as much as they have on hand. With each player receiving five booby traps, they can improve your score by as much as 250 points, but they can also reduce your score by up to 250 points. It all depends on how lucky you are with them. (Or how unlucky your opponent is!)

Bonuses:

While playing Coal War Tactics, you can earn special bonuses that may help you beat your opponent. To earn a bonus, you have to hit an opponent's cart in one turn and blow up an opponent's cart in the following turn. The cart you blow up doesn't have to be the same one you hit, nor are you limited by the number of hits you can make before blowing up a cart. You just can't miss between hitting and blowing up a cart. Also, blowing up one cart in one turn and blowing up another cart in the following turn will not earn you a bonus. It has to be one normal hit and one blown up cart. If you succeed, you will be awarded with one random bonus after the cart is blown up. You can hold up to three of them without using any of them, but if you earn a fourth bonus before using your first three, you will have to choose one of the four to throw away. To use a bonus, click on its icon at the start of your turn. Lastly, your opponent can earn the same bonuses as you and use them against you, so be alert!

The bonuses that are available in Coal War Tactics are as follows:

1. Free Bonus — This bonus will let you fire two sticks of dynamite in the same turn. While it may help to be able to search two areas at once, it can also hurt your score. This is because the Hit Bonus will continue to count down until you've chosen your second square. Therefore, if you hit something with your second stick of dynamite, you will receive less points, so be careful!

2. Row Bonus — When chosen, this bonus will fire sticks of dynamite all the way down any row you choose. Since the board is shown at a diagonal, a row is defined as a line of squares starting in the upper-left and ending in the lower-right.

3. Column Bonus — This is the same as the Row Bonus, but works for any line of squares starting in the lower-left and ending in the upper-right.

4. Box Bonus — This bonus will drop nine sticks of dynamite in any area of your choice that consists of 3 squares by 3 squares.

5. Spyglass Bonus — The Spyglass Bonus temporarily reveals what's hidden in any area of 2 squares by 2 squares that you choose to search. It can help you find your opponent's mine carts, see where ore may be hidden, or avoid hidden booby traps. If your opponent uses a Dustcloud Bonus in the area you search, however, you won't be able to see what's hidden there, so be careful!

6. Dustcloud Bonus — As mentioned in the previous bonus, this one can hide any area of 2 squares by 2 squares in case your opponent uses a Spyglass Bonus to try to see your board.

7. Move Bonus — Activating this will allow you to move any of your unharmed carts to a new spot on your board. Any cart that has been hit at least once will not be available to move, nor will you be able to relocate your cart to a square that has already been attacked by your opponent. It may help you if your opponent happens to use a Spyglass Bonus to see where one of your carts is located, however.

Hints and Tips:

A large portion of this game comes down to luck, but there are a few strategies you can use to improve your chances of winning with a higher score. One tip is to not place all your mine carts close together or else your opponent will stumble upon your other carts while trying to blow up the first one they found. Also, placing your carts along the edges of the board is usually a bad idea as well.

While playing the game, avoid the attacking squares along the edges of the opponent's board until later on. You'll find the majority of the opponent's carts located in the interior space. Try staggering your attacks, too. If you create a checkered pattern on the board, you'll find more of the opponent's carts in less time than if you try to attack every single square. In addition, since you only receive up to 10 points for hitting an opponent's cart, you may be able to clear out a few of your opponent's booby traps before you have enough points on hand to give away the full 50 points if you don't blow up any of your opponent's carts beforehand.

You'll need to play Coal War Tactics many times before you get lucky enough to earn a score worthy of a trophy, but the most important thing to remember is that you must make your choices quickly if you want to earn the full 10 points for every hit you make. Since the opponent's mine carts take up a total of 17 squares on the board, those 170 points are crucial to getting a high score! That being said, good luck and may the booby traps treat you kindly!

 
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