Can You Be a Grand Master?
by: Docktor

This week: Destruct-O-Match

Ah, yes. Blowing up buildings. What more could you look for in a game?

At its most basic, Destruct-O-Match is a game that allows you to pick a group of blocks that are touching on at least one side (no diagonals) and destroy them. The rest of the blocks above those then drop straight down, and you repeat this until they're all gone.

Of course, Grand Master discussions invariably circle around scoring, so let's talk about that first. The rankings go like this:

0 Beginner
100 Amateur
200 Novice
300 Expert
500 Master
750 Grand Master

There are two main goals to get a good score in this game. First of all, try to get as large a mass of a single colour as you can before you blow them up. You can get a lot of points if you can get most of one colour together at once. But you must advance to the next level or the game is over.

You can get to the second level by getting a score of at least 125 on the first, but that's not nearly enough to make Grand Master.

If you actually clear the whole board, you get an extra 500 points, and can even make enough to advance through the next level without playing it (not that you would). Clearing the board is the strategy we'll discuss here, because if you can clear the first board, you'll find it hard not to make a Grand Master score.

Playing through once while writing this article, I had 163 and completely cleared the first board. With the 500 bonus, that gave me 663, and I was only 87 away from a Grand Master score and just starting board 2. In fact, the "next level" button was already showing, indicating that I could advance to level 3 immediately.

Advancement comes:

Level 1 to 2 at 125 points
Level 2 to 3 at 375 points
Level 3 to 4 at 700 points (and Grand Master at 750)
There are only 4 levels.

There are a couple of things that are fatal to any attempt to clear the whole board. One of these is ending up with a single block of any colour. You have to have at least a pair to get rid of them, so be especially careful not only to keep 2 or more to the end, but keep them in the same area of the board.

It's usually good to work from the top down, clearing blocks that are connected in a single horizontal line first. If there's a stack of blocks vertically, there's nothing you can do to disrupt them by blowing up blocks below them. However, if you blow up an uneven batch of blocks and have a horizontal row above them, it can break those up to where you can no longer destroy them.

At the very end, the last few blocks of a colour may well end up separated from each other, and they might just as well never have been saved. Pay close attention to how the stacks slide together as they are emptied, and try to get them matched up horizontally as well as you can.

It can be very important to determine the order in which to remove the blocks, as you can inadvertently connect ones you didn't mean to, and that's about as bad as not getting some to touch that you do want together.

One thing you want to try to do is to clear level one, where you only have orange, gold, green and purple blocks. As you progress through the levels, you get more different colours on the board at the same time, and that makes it much harder.

So, clear level one. If you don't clear it, just restart. It's hardly worth the attempt if you don't get that big 500 bonus. You'll be a Grand Master on the next board.

Yes, you can try to beat the high score too (4861 at this writing) but that's a really impressive score and I'm happy just chalking up another "Grand Master" in my scores list. I know my limitations...
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