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Subject: The unofficial Online Micropul Strategy Guide rss

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Mark Mistretta
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micropul (the solo online version) is a tile management and placement game in which you try to achieve the highest possible score. In micropul, you are given 48 tiles to work with, however not all at once. 1 tile (2 black micropul and 2 white micropul) is placed in the middle of the gameboard and is always the starting tile. 6 more tiles are placed in your hand to begin the game. The supply is an area of possible future tile draws and it begins the game empty. The other 41 tiles start in the core. The game ends when either the core has been emptied or if you exhaust your hand and there are no tiles in the supply to draw from.

Tiles:

Tiles in micropul are divided into four corners that consist of a variety of different symbols in different combinations. The following symbols are found on the tiles:

micropul in black and white colors exist in different configurations and are what score you points. There are tiles with all black micropul, tiles with all white micropul, and tiles with a mix.

dot catalysts also can appear on a corner or corners of a tile (in combination with micropul). The purpose of dot catalysts is to pull tiles from the core into the supply (where they are now available for use). Dot catalysts are activated when matching them up with micropul. 1 dot signifies one tile transferring from the core to supply and 2 dots signifies 2 tiles transferred. There is no limit to the number of dot catalysts that can be activated during one tile placement. Tiles that are transferred first enter the supply face-down.

plus catalysts are activated in the same way that dot catalysts are. Once activated, the plus catalyst results in 1 tile in the supply being turned face up. Unlike dot catalysts, only 1 plus catalyst can be activated at a time and it only takes effect if there is a face-down tile in the supply available.

empty corners exist on many tiles and assist a player in closing in groups. Generally tiles with only 1 micropul and 2 or 3 empty corners are best saved to later in the game for use in closing groups.

big puls - There are 4 big pul tiles in micropul (1 black w/dot catalyst, 1 black w/plus catalyst, 1 white w/dot catalyst, and 1 white w/plus catalyst). The big puls take up the entirety of a tile and therefore exist in ALL 4 corners. This must be taken into account when enclosing groups.

Scoring:

You score points in micropul by grouping micropul into black or white groups and enclosing those groups before the core is depleted. You score points for the 3 and only 3 largest groups that you enclose. 1 point is awarded for each micropul enclosed, and 5 points for each big pul enclosed. 2 points are scored for each tile left in your supply and 1 point for each tile left in your hand.

Beginning Strategy:

A beginning player of micropul may take 5-10 games to get acquainted with the rules of placement and get a feel for how quickly the tiles are drawn. There are 3 basic strategies for beginners to grasp in order to achieve a decent micropul score (70-90).

1)Enclose your groups. If the last tile is drawn from the core before your groups are enclosed, the game ends and you will miss out on a lot of points! It is very easy to get overly ambitious and end up placing more tiles then you can possibly close in. In fact, I would advise that your first few games that you make it your top priority to enclose at least 2 groups (no matter how small).

2)Keep those groups together. While it is important to enclose groups, it is also easy to think that you are working on the same group and then realize that they are not connected and you are actually working on a different group! If this happens once during the game, it is not that bad because you can score for 3 groups. However if it happens twice, you are most definitely throwing points away. The main culprit of this is thinking that micropul connect diagonally. They do not and once you visualize that, you won’t make this mistake very often.

3)Keep your supply fed. In order to score points in micropul, you need to place tiles. And to place tiles you need for tiles to transfer from the core to your supply. To get more tiles in your supply – you need to activate as many dot catalysts as you can (especially the 2-dot catalysts) so that you keep your supply stocked. Remember a depleted supply (with no tiles in hand) will prematurely end your game! Also if you keep a low supply, you will have fewer tiles to choose from and will more often than not be forced to place a tile in a place you don’t want it.

Intermediate Strategy:

Once you got the basic concepts down, it is time to start employing some deeper strategies and start scoring in the 90’s! After you get a strong grasp of these techniques which may take 30+ games, you might even start to score in the low 100’s.

1)A good beginning. This strategy has to do with getting the higher scoring tiles out at the beginning of the game. You aren’t forced to start the game with the tiles in your hand. How is that you say? All you have to do is hit the reset button in the upper left part of the screen and it will give you a new set of tiles! And you can do this as many times as you want! So what is a good starting configuration? Well it is nice to get at least 2 big pul to start and maybe 1 or 2 tiles that have 2-dot catalysts. Stay away from starting hands that have mostly closers (1 micropul tiles), mixed tiles (black and white micropul), or very few catalysts. These hands never really give you a chance to get going. Starting hands with big puls are great for a few reasons, they activate 4 different tiles when surrounded, and you are not left waiting for them to come out towards the end of the game. I have started the game with 3 big puls a number of times, but I have never been fortunate enough to draw all 4 at the beginning.

2)Bring out the big guns! Besides big puls, which tiles do you want to bring out early? The ones with 3 or 4 micropul of the same color of course. Because they will score you 3 or 4 points for enclosure, they are ALWAYS worth placement. On the other hand tiles that will score you 2 points will only allow you to break even, while tiles that score you 1 point actually cost you a point. This is because you score 2 points for every tile left in your supply and 1 for every tile in your hand. The 1 and 2 pointers are ONLY good for closing in groups and should not be drawn early on if they are face-up in the supply.

3)Utilize plus catalysts wisely. The plus catalysts, while not as important as the dot catalysts, can come in extremely handy (especially early on). A lucky flip may reveal that big pul you were desperately looking for! On the other hand, the flip may reveal a closer or a mixed tile. In this case, it helps because it advises you as to what tile NOT to draw and increases your chances of getting one you do want. One thing that is essential is to NEVER waste a plus catalyst by activating it when it will have no effect.

4)Optimize your rotation. As you get 10-20 micropul games under your belt, you will start to realize that just by rotating a tile a different way can lead to drastically different results! Most tiles yield 4 different options when rotating and it would be wise to explore the different fits before placing the tiles. The optimal rotation will change throughout the game as your needs will change. Rotating to take advantage of connecting micropul, activating catalysts, or enclosing a group are all legitimate uses but must constantly be weighed as to which is the most beneficial for each tile placement.

5)Know your tiles! After many games you will start to develop love-hate relationships with different tiles. Tiles with similar colors, 2-dot catalysts, and plus catalysts will be your friends. Big Puls will be your best buddy when showing up early, but you will curse them if they don’t show up until the end. Closers are no good to start, but you can stash a few in your hand. They are great towards the end when you are trying to close your groups. There are also a few tiles which never seem to help and you will curse them every time they are drawn. The one that comes to mind (of which there is 2 of), is the tile that has 4 micropul (2 white and 2 black in a diagonal pattern). This tile will never help you and the best that you can hope for is to use 1 of the white micropul in a white group and 1 of the black micropul in a black group.

Advanced Strategy

Once you have a strong grasp on intermediate strategies, you can start experimenting with some advanced techniques. These are very difficult to implement because you still need to make use of all of the basic and intermediate strategies before you can even consider these. We are taking about EVERY point being crucial at this point and these strategies may help to squeeze out an additional 8-10 pts or so if circumstances are favorable.

1)2 groups or 3? This is a question that I don’t have a definite answer to, however I have always thought that it is better to go for 2 large groups (1 black and 1 white), and let the 3rd fall where it may. The problem with trying for 3 groups is that it gives you more area that you must enclose and therefore more tiles that you have to draw. Another option is to focus on 2 large groups and at the same time make sure to maximize a smaller 3rd group. This can be extremely tricky and is a brain burner, but may be needed to score higher. This strategy might squeeze out another 1-3 pts.

2)Drain the core. Often times I wonder if I could squeeze a few more points by draining the core faster and by not drawing so many tiles. The problem with this, is that you absolutely have to have all 4 big puls and the 3 and 4 micropul tiles are essential as well. If you don’t get ALL Of them early on, you have no choice but to continue pulling. It is also possible to drain the core too fast and then it becomes impossible to enclose all areas. Another idea I had is that the most compact design is a perfect square and to attempt to place the tiles in this manner to minimize the number of closers I have to draw at the end. This strategy might squeeze out another 1-3 pts.

3)White vs Black (The borders). If you go for 2 large groups, at the beginning there will be areas where placing the mixed tiles will benefit both the white and black sides. It is important to take advantage of these opportunities when they present themselves as they often get closed up by empty corners. I always look for ways to extend the borders, but I think it will take some lucky tile draws to get the right tiles to do it. This strategy could squeeze out another 1-3 pts.

4)Closing with empty borders? This is a strategy that I most recently discovered that may be of use. I have had some situations where it was better that I close the group with an empty corner in my hand then by being forced to draw 2 more tiles to close it up. While I don’t score for the 2 micropul, I only get docked for 1 tile drawn from the hand instead of drawing 2 from the supply and therefore save 1 pt. However, this may be a sub-optimal position anyways and may not lead to any true gains.

5)Unforseen strategy? I am not discounting that there may be some unforeseen strategy to micropul, but I am betting that it is an optimal combination of ALL of my basic and intermediate strategies and some of the advanced strategies I’ve mentioned which is EXTREMELY difficult to acheive all in one game. Just getting ALL of the basic and intermediate strategies down and catching some lucky tile draws can lead to a 100-103 score which you will feel is very near a perfect score.

The current All-time high score is 111 and my personal best is 107.

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Peter Rabinowitz
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The rules given above do not correspond to the rules currently in production. Maybe they refer to an earlier iteration?
 
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Jean-François Lassonde
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Hi Peter,

He is talking about the solo version with the commonly used variants known as "Take a peek + catalyst" and "5 points Big puls".

Quote:

Take a peek + catalyst

In the 2-player game, activating a + catalyst has the effect of giving you an extra turn. In the solitaire variant, this is useless. Instead, the + catalyst give you the right to flip a tile face up in your supply without taking it out of the supply. In other words, you can take a peek at one tile in your supply. This was suggested by Ro Sato in an email conversation.

5 points Big puls

In the 2-player game, the big micropul are worth 1 points when scoring groups. In the solitaire variant, it has been suggested by Seth Jaffee that it should be worth 5 points instead. This has the effect of giving an advantage to having all 4 big puls in closed groups. If you use this variant your score should be a bit higher than the typical score if you dig for the big puls..


Source: http://neutralbox.com/micropul/rules.html
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