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Thread: Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement

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    Ascendant Snap's Avatar
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    Default Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement

    Introduction
    The Tarken Glacier puzzle is a game of Dots and Boxes! Also known as Sticks or Dots-Squares or tons of other names.

    The aim of the game is to makes boxes (squares) out of lines while not letting the other player (Computer in this case) gain boxes.

    This game as a lot of strategy to it but when you know the different patterns and how to play against them, you will win 99.9% of the time. (I leave 0.1% here because we are still humans after all and we make mistakes)

    This guide is in 2 parts.
    The first part will show you the simple strategies that allows you to win the game easily.
    The second part is meant for those who want to get the Thinking Out the Box achievement.

    This achievement is required for the Game Master achievement and is the hardest achievement of all puzzles.
    A lot of RNG is involved into that achievement but this guide will give you tips and strategies to reduce that RNG drastically. (It is not possible to remove the RNG entirely.)

    And here a proof that the achievement is quite possible.
    It took me between 100 and 150 tries (I lost count) before getting it.
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-won.jpg

    Part 1 - The puzzle
    First thing first, you can check the Wikipedia page for the game of Dots and Boxes for the basic strategy to win.

    With the strategy written on Wikipedia, you can easily win against the computer.

    For this guide, I will go a little more in depth and provide you with the perfect strategy to win nearly 100% of the time.

    Please take note that the game has a timer and that the timer is VERY SHORT. Speed is required and you shouldn't be taking too much time to think your next move.

    Nomenclature
    For the purpose of this guide, I will use different terms when talking about certain things.

    Line(s) - They are the line that connect 2 dots on the field.
    Box(es) - When 4 dots are connected into a square, it's a box. A filled square.
    Square(s) - Like a box except it doesn't imply that the square is filled.
    Pattern(s) - A pattern is a series of squares that, when adding a third line to the square of that series, the entire series can be taken by either the player or the computer AI in the same move.
    Loop(s) - A kind of pattern that doesn't have a beginning or an end. A loop pattern.
    Opened pattern(s) - A kind of pattern that has a beginning and an end. Open on both ends.

    The computer AI
    The important thing to know is how the AI react to the game.

    I believe there is 3 steps in which the AI go through.

    Step 1. Is there a 3 lines square that can be filled to score a box?
    Yes? Fill it and go back to 1.
    No? Go to 2.

    Step 2. Is there a line that can be filled without giving a score to the player?
    Yes? Pick one line from all the lines found and fill it then end turn.
    No? Go to 3.

    Step 3. Which lines will give the least amount of boxes to the player?
    When found, choose a line at random from the lines that reward the same amount of boxes as the lowest possible amount, fill it and end turn.

    It is fairly easy to know which step the computer AI will be applying next.

    The double-cross strategy
    As mentioned on the Wikipedia page, the double-cross strategy is the strategy to use in order to control the flow of which patterns are given to the computer AI.

    This strategy is quite simple and will allow you to force the computer into giving you the bigger patterns on the play field.

    Here's a simple example.
    In this game, I am blue and the computer AI is red.
    This computer act differently than the rift AI and actually tries to use the double-cross strategy against me, but as I take control of the fight earlier than him, I have total control on the choice he make and the computer can only pick what I want him to pick.

    We first need to have a pattern of at least 2 squares in order to perform the double-cross strategy.
    This strategy consist in giving away 2 boxes to the other player in order for him to give you the next pattern.
    Here we have a 3 squares pattern we can fill.
    A 4 squares pattern we cannot fill but we can close and give to the computer.
    And a 10 squares pattern that we absolutely want that we can also close and give to the computer.
    We want the computer to give us the 10 squares pattern.
    Against the Rift AI, you could simply fill the 3 squares and give the 4 squares as the Rift AI doesn't apply the double-cross strategy and would simply give you the 10 squares pattern.
    But the AI used for this guide applies the double-cross strategy. So if I give him the 4 squares pattern, he will force me into giving him the 10 squares pattern.
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-doublecross1.png
    This is what you need to do. You fill squares until you have 2 left skip a line and close the 2 boxes so the computer will have to take them and give you the next pattern.
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-doublecross2.png
    After giving him 2 squares, I am the one who can now do what I want with the 4 squares pattern.
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-doublecross3.png
    In this case, I apply the double-cross strategy a second time, forcing the computer in giving me the much wanted 10 squares pattern. Therefore I won the game.
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-doublecross4.png

    You can easily win the puzzle in Rift by applying this strategy, but this will not net you 99.9% win rate if you don't understand the double-cross strategy on a loop pattern.
    Furthermore, against AI that applies the double-cross strategy, a 2 squares pattern must be cut in half when there is 3 lines needed to fill those 2 boxes (Like in this picture).
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-2squares.png
    Or it must be closed when only 2 lines are needed to fill the 2 boxes. (I can't manage to reproduce it against an AI that use the double-cross strategy, so no picture)

    Double-cross for loop patterns
    The Double-cross strategy works like a charm when you have an opened pattern, as you can simply take all but 2 boxes. When you are dealing with a closed loop pattern, you cannot give away only 2 boxes and must give 4 boxes.

    In this picture, the computer AI placed a line on the pattern on the top. The pattern was the same as the one on the bottom before the computer played. In order for me to force him into giving me the next pattern I must give him 4 boxes.
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-doublecrossloop1.png
    To do so, if you have a bigger pattern than 4 boxes, you take any extra boxes (in this case we take 2 boxes from the six boxes pattern) and you cut the 4 last boxes in half like in this picture.
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-doublecrossloop2.png
    The computer will received 4 boxes but you will still have total control on the rest of the game so long as you keep applying the double-cross strategy.

    The easy win strategy
    This strategy is purely for the Rift computer AI.
    It is meant to beat the Rift AI algorithm and not meant for use against human players or other algorithms.

    The strategy is simple...
    Try to make as many 4+ squares opened patterns as possible. Then apply the double cross strategy.
    If you manage to get 3 such patterns, you have an assured win.
    Here is an example of what it should look like:
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-easywin.png

    This is all that can be said for this first part of the guide.

    Good luck.

    Part 2 - The achievement
    This part of the guide is meant for those who absolutely want to gain the achievement "Thinking Out the Box".
    The achievement requires you to win with the computer only having 1 square.

    The winning set of patterns
    There is only 1 possible set of patterns that will allow you to win with the computer only having 1 square.

    You need to have 2 patterns.
    A pattern with only 1 square.
    A pattern that cover the 24 other squares.

    Getting such a set of pattern is actually easy.
    For example, it took me about 10 tries against this other computer AI that also works with RNG to actually make one:
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-dotnbox1.png

    The problem here is that... it is my turn to play and the only choice I have is to give the 24 squares pattern to the computer.
    This is caused by being the first player to play. It means that every time you reach a 24 squares pattern with a lonely square, it will always be the computer turn to play...

    Except!
    If the 24 squares pattern is in a loop.
    It require 35 lines to make an opened 24 squares pattern + 1 leftover square.
    It require 36 lines to make a loop 24 squares pattern + 1 leftover square.

    I won't bother trying to get that pattern again against this computer AI as it take a lot of time, luck and patience to get.

    How to reduce RNG and improve chance to win
    It is no secret that this achievement is extremely highly RNG dependant. But there is several tricks to reduce the amount of RNG.

    Leaving lines opened for the computer to take.
    The most important trick to reduce RNG is to reduce the amount of unnecessary move you make and leave those moves to the computer to do.
    Here is an example:
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-leavinglines.png
    The red line here is what you SHOULDN'T take. Not taking this line means you have a move to use elsewhere and it add a line to the stacks of lines the computer can randomly pick from.
    This drastically reduce the chances the computer cut you off when trying to create a 24 squares loop pattern.

    Close the pattern ASAP
    In order to make sure you get a loop pattern, it is of the utmost importance that you close the pattern.

    Here is an example of what I mean:
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-lolwin.png
    While this isn't a loop as the start and the end do not meet, it is very close.
    As you can see, the entire pattern is closed preventing any exit out of the box. Only thing that was missing here was for it to be in a loop.
    Close enough

    Start with the 3 corners
    One of the most dangerous places are the corners.
    You need to at least secure 3 corners or else you will not manage to make a 24 squares loop pattern. So start with securing 3 corners. The fourth corner isn't as important as you still need 1 box out of the pattern.

    Restart the game
    If you are aiming for the achievement, don't bother with finishing the game when you clearly can't make it.
    In order to restart the game, wait until it is your turn to play and run back to the dream console. The game will be reset and you will be able to pick up another ticket to play.

    Patience
    It is the only other trick I can give you. RNG is a ... and one must be patient or extremely lucky in order to get this achievement.

    Conclusion
    I wish everyone who wants to get this achievement good luck and hope this guide could help people to complete this puzzle or improve their chance at the achievement.
    Cheesecakesandwich - Mage 70 | Wrecking - Warrior 70
    Italiansausage - Cleric 70 | Snaplemouton - Rogue 67
    Primalsandwich - Primalist 70
    I'm a grand connoisseur of the most delicate dish known as the poutine.

  2. #2
    Ascendant Snap's Avatar
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    Forgot to mention 2 things.

    First thing
    The puzzle entrance is found here:
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-mappuzzle.jpg

    And the lever to enter is located there:
    Guide to Tarken Glacier puzzle and Thinking Out the Box achievement-thelever.jpg

    Second thing
    When trying to go for the achievement, you need to be VERY FAST. You have 24 boxes to get, so the number of clicks needed is quite high.
    Cheesecakesandwich - Mage 70 | Wrecking - Warrior 70
    Italiansausage - Cleric 70 | Snaplemouton - Rogue 67
    Primalsandwich - Primalist 70
    I'm a grand connoisseur of the most delicate dish known as the poutine.

  3. #3
    Plane Touched Meliannia's Avatar
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    the time limit is WAY too short u don't have any chance to think at all, it's like seriously way too short for a game of strategy, needs another 30 secs min.

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    Champion of Telara TheDoomgiver's Avatar
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    Any nice loot reward?

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    The time given is simply to short for me. If I take a few seconds to think anywhere at all I will loose simply by running out of time to even click the lines. Even if I already won.
    That makes it not a game of strategy but pure luck for me as you have no time to think at all, especially if there is also a second or more of lag anywhere (which well... is pretty standard in rift these days) you are basically loosing for sure. Heck the game gets more time then us to think and make his moves and it's programmed.

    I think we need atleast 30 seconds more to actually play the game instead of clicking blindly in hope to beat the timer just clicking and getting lucky.
    Proud builder of the following dimensions on Zaviel: On Serathe: O-RP Family park and tree hotel , Grotto mansion , Little Ravenshire , Vila Plankcraft, The Raven - Edgar Allen Poe, Fairytale fountain and menagerie, O-RP Beach resort Knock knock On Orticia: Villa Gothica , Orticia's lair

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    And it gets even harder, as many times clicking the spheres simply don't select, utterly unresponsive. Perhaps through lag? This looses me a lot of time (auto loss) and prevents me setting lines I want to set.
    Proud builder of the following dimensions on Zaviel: On Serathe: O-RP Family park and tree hotel , Grotto mansion , Little Ravenshire , Vila Plankcraft, The Raven - Edgar Allen Poe, Fairytale fountain and menagerie, O-RP Beach resort Knock knock On Orticia: Villa Gothica , Orticia's lair

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    Ascendant Snap's Avatar
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    While I agree the timer is short, it is more than enough for anyone to complete the puzzle.
    I managed to get the Thinking Out the Box achievement with 4 orbs left on my timer.

    A trick to saving time is to give the computer the rest of the boxes as soon as you have 13 boxes for yourself. That will reduce the amount of moves you have to do drastically.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDoomgiver View Post
    Any nice loot reward?
    First completion, I don't remember exactly what it was.
    I believe it give you the flying animated rubic cube dimension item, unless that is from the Draumheim puzzle.

    Completion after first give one of the following (not both):
    - A random minion card
    - An artifact for the Puzzle Master Noshei set

    The minion card is random between 8 different cards. 4 rares and 4 uncommon. The 3 puzzles in NT share the same minion cards.
    The artifacts will be 1 of the 3 artifact for that puzzle. Every puzzle in NT got 3 artifacts of their own.
    Last edited by Snap; 11-02-2014 at 11:27 AM.
    Cheesecakesandwich - Mage 70 | Wrecking - Warrior 70
    Italiansausage - Cleric 70 | Snaplemouton - Rogue 67
    Primalsandwich - Primalist 70
    I'm a grand connoisseur of the most delicate dish known as the poutine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snap View Post
    While I agree the timer is short, it is more than enough for anyone to complete the puzzle.
    Unfortunately it isn't as there is more at play then simply the timer. As the game does take some time to respond for me at times/often and I can imagine people on low end computers have this even more. My computer is actually pretty good (way above minimum requirement and my internet connection is good and fast as well) and it should go smoothly and fast but the game lags like mad and dc's me a lot lately. So I get a delay at times (well actually more often then not and usually many times during a single puzzle play) like you get a spell delay, taking a second to actually fire off. The puzzle clock however does not delay and keeps on merrily ticking along. So in effect making the timer a hell of a lot shorter then the already short time it has. That makes me loose precious seconds and more then the 4 orbs you spoke off making finishing impossible.
    So a bit more time on the timer to counter that problem would be needed, as many losses (most, i'd say up to 80% for me) have nothing to do with my own thinking speed, tactics (as your tactics work like a charm, thanks for that) and clicking speed. And that makes it very frustrating.
    Last edited by Serathe; 11-03-2014 at 01:52 AM.
    Proud builder of the following dimensions on Zaviel: On Serathe: O-RP Family park and tree hotel , Grotto mansion , Little Ravenshire , Vila Plankcraft, The Raven - Edgar Allen Poe, Fairytale fountain and menagerie, O-RP Beach resort Knock knock On Orticia: Villa Gothica , Orticia's lair

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    Oh and the draumheim puzzle gave me the floaty cube dim item. This puzzle gave me the two headed turtle pet (so cute). That made up for a lot of the frustration I had build up when I saw it appear in my bag
    Proud builder of the following dimensions on Zaviel: On Serathe: O-RP Family park and tree hotel , Grotto mansion , Little Ravenshire , Vila Plankcraft, The Raven - Edgar Allen Poe, Fairytale fountain and menagerie, O-RP Beach resort Knock knock On Orticia: Villa Gothica , Orticia's lair

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    While I understand server lag can be a problem, the puzzle is in a remote location and unless there is a major zone event going on, server lag shouldn't affect it much.

    I'd recommend trying on less populated servers like Wolfsbane to reduce latency.

    Quote Originally Posted by Serathe View Post
    Oh and the draumheim puzzle gave me the floaty cube dim item. This puzzle gave me the two headed turtle pet (so cute). That made up for a lot of the frustration I had build up when I saw it appear in my bag
    Thank you for the confirmation on the reward.
    Cheesecakesandwich - Mage 70 | Wrecking - Warrior 70
    Italiansausage - Cleric 70 | Snaplemouton - Rogue 67
    Primalsandwich - Primalist 70
    I'm a grand connoisseur of the most delicate dish known as the poutine.

  11. #11
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    Good idea and worth testing. I'll try it again on a quiet time of day on a less populated server with graphical settings turned low. See if that all together helps response time. Hey can't hurt to try at least ^^
    Proud builder of the following dimensions on Zaviel: On Serathe: O-RP Family park and tree hotel , Grotto mansion , Little Ravenshire , Vila Plankcraft, The Raven - Edgar Allen Poe, Fairytale fountain and menagerie, O-RP Beach resort Knock knock On Orticia: Villa Gothica , Orticia's lair

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    RIFT Guide Writer Noshei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snap View Post
    An artifact for the Puzzle Master Noshei set
    Puzzle Master Noshei in the house!

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    Ascendant Snap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noshei View Post
    Puzzle Master Noshei in the house!

    Sorry I didn't realized at first it was your artifact set.
    And sorry for getting that shard first too.
    Cheesecakesandwich - Mage 70 | Wrecking - Warrior 70
    Italiansausage - Cleric 70 | Snaplemouton - Rogue 67
    Primalsandwich - Primalist 70
    I'm a grand connoisseur of the most delicate dish known as the poutine.

  14. #14
    Plane Walker
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    So annoying I have won this game so many times but run out of time to fill it in

    Needs about another 5 secs added to timer

    Total bull

  15. #15
    Rift Disciple Ninnisina's Avatar
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    WTF, the Timeout for this Puzzle gives you 0 Time to think.

    I acctually won the puzzle a few times but could not complete it cuz of the Timeout!

    Seriously this is a Grieving game Not a puzzle.


    Yes I know that there is this ONE Magical Way of solving this puzzle that will keep you in Time, but srly!?! do we need to solve the puzzle on Paper 1st than memorize it so we can type it in?

    Is this supposed to be Fun?!

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