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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 19th day of Swimming, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 10 > Articles > Can You Be a Grand Master?

Can You Be a Grand Master?

by Docktor

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This week: Chute
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The game of Chute has many similarities to an earlier game, Tetris. There have been many clones of that game over the years, each with its own twist, but it's doubtful anyone has had parachuting Kacheek named Sylvester before.

The goal is the same as all the other games. Each row you fill all the way across disappears, and you get points for this. However, in Chute, if you can delete 4 rows at once, you get a Kacheek in your arsenal. Those little critters are a lifesaver later when you have some holes in your architecture.

Since this is about making Grand Master, let's see what the ranking scores are:

0 Beginner
100 Amateur
250 Novice
400 Expert
800 Master
1200 Grand Master

It's a bit odd at the Novice break point (I might have expected 200) but anyway, we need 1200 for our Grand Master ranking. That's quite a lot in this game, though after a bit of initial discussion, I'll toss out some ideas for a strategy.

There are ten columns to fill. Remember, though, that you want to be able to clear four rows at a time, which requires a red shape to be dropped vertically down a "channel." That really leaves you with nine columns to work with, and as you'll see, most of the pieces work best with other identical ones.

All blocks are made of 4 squares, and generally have a one-block overlap where they connect. Later shapes include 1-3 and 2-2 that have non-adjacent joints (they sort of hang onto each other as if superglued at a corner). These latter ones stack nicely on each other, but are often very difficult to work into a pattern with the "normal" pieces.

Often, the best thing to do in the early game is to dedicate a couple of columns each to a specific colour block. The dark blue squares are fairly obvious, and the green and yellow angled pieces stack nicely with their own colour as well. Pairs of light blue and purple L-shaped pieces will fit into each other to create a solid rectangle 2x3, so if you see that a pair of those is coming, you can stack them anywhere there's a 2-wide flat surface.

The T-shaped piece can be put into a slot on edge to reverse the direction of a stack of yellow or green ones, and can be stacked on top of each other (reversing direction each time) as needed. It can also be used to break up a wide flat area by dropping it on its "back", thereby providing some steps on which to drop green and yellow ones.

The red piece is the real key though. It is four squares in a row, and when dropped down a one-column channel in an otherwise filled board, it will destroy four rows, give you 100 points and some level increases, and you get a Kacheek. You can have up to four Kacheeks in reserve, and it's always best to keep them filled.

So, what to do? Well, you have to leave that channel and fill in the rest, really. If you can manage to be organized about stacking the blocks, great. Unfortunately, you invariably won't get the piece you need and will have to leave a few holes.

That's the key. The Kacheeks will drop down and fill in some part of the area below them. It doesn't seem to be especially predictable as to how much it will fill and where, or at least I haven't been able to discern a pattern. But the key is, if you've got it all fairly well filled up, and drop a Kacheek, you're as likely as not to fill at least four more rows that way and earn a replacement Kacheek.

And that's really the key to it all. If you can drop more than four rows, you get lots more points for that one turn (I noted 360 recently as a Kacheek landed), and if you can keep the Kacheeks stocked up and use them to get more, you can continue for quite a while and get that Grand Master score.

One other point to be made is about the speed at which the blocks drop. It speeds up as you go, and that's going to be more obvious on faster PC's. I've seen it going so fast that if I hadn't had Kacheeks in reserve, I couldn't possibly have dealt with the onslaught. But it really racks up the score once that happens.

I see people with scores over 100,000 in the high score table. There must be a point at which the game gets into a pattern and you can establish a rhythm to your playing. I haven't hit it yet, but maybe one of those folks can clue me in. Meanwhile, I'm happy just making the Grand Master rank.

Next: Destruct-O-Match

Articles so far in the series: Nimmo's Pond, Pyramids, Swarm!, Scarab 21, Pterattack and Sakhmet Solitaire

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Docktor is Grand Master of Chute and several other games. He holds the Grand Master position in the new "Game Strategies Guild" where strategies such as presented in this article are discussed among the members.

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