Sailing is the most important of the skills o' piracy. Accessed via the ship's rigging, many pirates may sail simultaneously, combining their efforts and further increasing your speed. Other skills you'll need on a vessel are bilging, rigging, carpentry, patching, gunnery and navigation.
A sailor's task is to align falling blocks into target spaces of the same color, filling and clearing platforms to give the ship a boost of speed. Warmed up on that, a skillful sailor creates cascading chains of breaking blocks, filling the platforms on the last drop and multiplying his efforts greatly! It is in these chain clears that a master sailor revels!
When Sailing, two joined pieces fall from the top of the screen. They may be moved left and right with the arrow keys, and rotated using the up or down arrows. The different color pieces represent water, wind, and rope.
The objective in sailing is to place the correct pieces into the open targets on the platforms, clearing any fixed square pieces that may get in your way. Placing four or more pieces of the same color in a column or row clears them from the board. This will score you points, but make sure you aren't clearing pieces you are using to clear platforms!
Each time you clear a platform, row or column of pieces, the ship accelerates until it has reached its maximum speed. Finishing platforms will provide more acceleration than simply clearing pieces. Sailing is scored based on your efficiency at using pieces to create acceleration; that is, score per piece, rather than score per second. As in all duty puzzles, however, prolonged stretches of inactivity in the puzzle will lower your score, so keep an eye on the performance indicator if you slow down! To achieve excellent duty reports, you'll want to use each new pair of pieces quickly and wisely.
The sailing performance indicator shows you how well you are Sailing at any particular moment:
The sad blue sail to the left is not really adding to the speed of the vessel, whereas the golden glowing sail to the right is full-speed ahead! The font size of scoring feedback is also a good indicator of just how good a particular clear was.
To clear platforms, you will need to match the outlined targets with pieces of the targets' colors. Blank spots between targets can be filled with any piece, or none at all. Because pieces remain joined until one of them is cleared, filling the right spots can be tricky. Hey, nobody ever said that a sailor's life was easy!
To achieve great sailing performance, you should seek to form chained moves. For example, clearing a column of four pieces to let an attached piece fall into the last spot on a platform, clearing the platform with a "Double!" combo. It is possible to get "Triple!" and higher combos as well.
The diligent use of chains is the secret to great sailing performance. What is the largest chain you can achieve?
Clearing the Board
Should you eliminate all the platforms on the screen, you clear the board and are given a new one. There is no special bonus for clearing the screen, so concentrate on making those chains! If the board fills and there's no room for the next piece, then you will be deemed to have "Booched" it: the ship will suffer a small penalty in speed, and you'll be given a fresh board. Be careful!
Blockades & Maneuvers
In blockades where maneuvers are enabled, sailing takes on an additional level of complexity. Target platforms and four like-colored pieces in a row are still cleared as usual. If you are sailing well, however, some of the pieces you receive will have a maneuver shape on them in addition to their normal color. If two of these are adjacent and within a platform or four-in-a-row that is cleared, your ship will gain progress towards the associated maneuver. Additionally, if the cleared platform or four-in-a-row is at least the third in a chain of clears, additional progress will be earned.
Although progress may be earned towards any maneuver, the navigator may request a specific maneuver from the pirates plying the ship's stations. This requested maneuver is shown in the maneuver indicator along with the current progress of the bilgers, carpenters, and sailors on the ship towards that maneuver. The progress bar for Sailing is shown in yellow and is displayed wider than the others while you are in the Sailing puzzle. Once each bar is filled to the top, that maneuver will be added to the navigator's tokens and the ship will perform its maneuver: moving with great speed or agility, firing powerful cannon shots, dropping flotsam behind the ship to slow and possibly damage opposing ships, or other amazing feats.
The key to successful Sailing is in chains. When one first starts Sailing, it is usually best to clear the platforms at the top of the board first, as they are easier to get at and can obstruct activity in the lower part of the board. However, to create successful chains, an experienced sailor will want to start at the bottom. Regardless of where you start, however, always try to clear in chains. This maximizes your score for even the smallest clears. Indeed, even when you are simply cleaning up junk pieces, try to chain from one four-in-a-row to another.
When filling platforms at the bottom of the puzzle, try leaving one target unfilled. This way, you leave those lower platforms open to chaining pieces dropping from the platforms above. Be sure to keep the way clear for your chaining pieces to drop to these lower platforms! Try taking advantage of the joined nature of the pieces to set one side of a pair to fall and complete a lower platform when its conjoined piece is cleared from an upper platform. This creates an easy chain and will multiply your points accordingly!