Deep in the dungeons under Darigan Citadel (which are, admittedly, quite high compared to most dungeons), the less-than-gallant prison warden Master Vex has long since grown bored with his task of watching over the prisoners. To pass the time, he has devised a simple game of competitively placing tokens, which he forces all of his prisoners to play in tournaments for a chance at freedom. Are you ready to take on Master Vex's Cellblock?
How to Play
Cellblock is played with a mouse, which you use to select a square on the game board, then to click the "Make Move" button below the board. This will place your piece in the selected spot, and automatically cause your opponent to make their move as well. The last move you made is highlighted with a red square, while your opponent's is outlined in yellow. In each match, your goal is to line up five of your pieces in a row before your opponent can do the same; these lines can be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal.
Each tournament consists of eight rounds, and you must win a majority of the matches against each opponent to proceed. While you only have to win two of the three matches in the first round, the number of matches you must play will gradually increase, and by the eighth you will need to win six out of eleven. If you fill all the squares on the board with neither player getting five in a row, it will result in a draw, which is counted as a loss. If you lose a majority of the matches in a round, you'll restart it from the first match.
Pretty sneaky, sis...
For the first tournament, the game will start with four pieces already placed in the center of the board (two of yours, two of your opponent's), and you will only be able to place pieces on squares directly adjacent to existing pieces. Starting from the second tournament, you're able to place your pieces anywhere on the game board, and from tournament eleven on the four starting pieces will no longer be placed on the board. Tournament eleven also introduces rocks randomly scattered on the board, which change position each match and prevent you from placing pieces. After receiving the gold trophy for beating Master Vex at the end of the eleventh tournament, tournaments will continue with these rules indefinitely.
While Cellblock does have a traditional scoring system, with one point awarded for every round you win, it has no high score table. Neopoints are given out after each round won, and trophies are awarded for reaching certain milestones in the game. For each round of play, you will need to pay an entry fee of 1/4 of the prize that round offers (i.e. 1000 NP if the prize is 4000), which will be deducted when you make your first move. The game also has a daily prize limit, and will no longer pay out once you've been awarded 5000 NP. This limit only applies to whether the game will award new prizes; if you've already won 4000 NP and win another 6000 in a single round, your total will be 10,000 rather than being cut off at 5000.
The amount of NP awarded varies from round to round and tournament to tournament, increasing as you advance as detailed in the table below.
|Tournament 1||100 NP||200 NP||300 NP||400 NP||500 NP||600 NP||700 NP||800 NP|
|Tournaments 2-10||200 NP||300 NP||400 NP||600 NP||1000 NP||1500 NP||2000 NP||3000 NP|
|Tournaments 11+||400 NP||600 NP||800 NP||1200 NP||2000 NP||3000 NP||4000 NP||6000 NP|
Cellblock's trophies are awarded based on how many rounds you've won, with each trophy given out at specific points in the game. The runner-up medal is awarded after tournament 1, round 4, the bronze trophy at tournament 1, round 8, silver at tournament 11, round 4, and gold at tournament 11, round 8.
The key to winning a match in Cellblock is to place three pieces in a row, with at least two empty squares on either side, without being blocked by your opponent. This will allow you to place a fourth piece, and regardless of how they try to block you at this point, you'll be able to place the fifth and win. There are a handful of ways to achieve this, but the most consistently effective is to spiral around the starting pieces, forcing your opponent to block off your three-long lines as you make them. Using this method, you will shortly reach a point at which you have two such lines on the board at the same time, and can place a fourth piece on the one that your opponent doesn't block.
You will occasionally see opponents react in different ways than seen here, either because they're one of the worse players and sometimes place pieces at random, or because they're one of the better players and will find a way to break free of the spiral. In either case, stick to the steps as shown, and you should be able to win most matches.
The exception to this is when either you or your opponent manage to get three in a row early. If you place your third piece without being blocked, you can end the game there. If your opponent does it, block off their line on both ends, then pick up the spiral where you left off; the pieces they placed will rarely be in the squares you're using. In the rare instance that they successfully cut off the spiral, you'll have to devise a new way to create your lines based on how the pieces are currently laid out on the board. If it happens early enough, you should be able to salvage it by spiraling in the opposite direction.
Hrmph. You got lucky.
The eleventh tournament does away with the four starting pieces and introduces a new challenge in rocks randomly strewn about the board. These prevent you from placing pieces and forming lines, but have the unexpected benefit of confusing your opponents: when a rock is in the way of a line they're trying to form, they'll often try to continue the line on the other side, wasting turns and placing pieces in unhelpful areas.
While the spiraling strategy can still work, you'll need to choose where to build it carefully to avoid the rocks causing issues, and your opponents can cut you off much more quickly without the two starter pieces to build on. Your main strategy should be to form two lines that intersect near a rock, tricking your opponent into thinking that they already have a piece in the area, which can cause them to behave in unexpected ways.
- Force your opponent to repeatedly block 3-long lines until you can create two on the board at once
- If your opponent gets 4-in-a-row without you noticing, rather than giving up, try forming one of your own. This will sometimes confuse them into trying to block you or making another bad move
- If your opponent breaks your strategy, keep the pressure on and get it going again however you can
- Don't focus so much on placing your own pieces that you fail to notice what your opponent is doing
This game guide was written by: Chesu