Sunday, February 15, 2009

How to Win at Hidato: Hints

I have noticed that some of my hits arise from folks googling "how to play Hidato." So I want to give a few tips on how to win at the game.

1. Never guess. Start out by going through and filling in all the areas of which you are certain. Then look again to see if, after filling those in, there are any more which have come up. Do this continually until you are finished. THERE IS NEVER A REASON TO GUESS. ONLY FILL IN THE SQUARES OF WHICH YOU ARE CERTAIN.

2. Avoid getting blocked in. There are several ways to get blocked in. One way is insisting that numbers go next to each other in order. Remember that they may be staggered. For example, if you have 51 and 53, it may look obvious to put 52 in the center. But 52 may actually go in the square up or down from the other two numbers. This may especially be the case if there is another sequence going in the same area. Let's say there is a 24 that is nearby, and it needs to get to a 27 which is actually below the 51 and 53. In order to insert the 25 and 26, you will need to leave a space. Staggering the numbers up and down is one way to do it.

Another way to get blocked in is to have a row of blanks in a corner. You need three squares next to each other (not in a row) to turn around in a corner. If you have two empty squares in a row and can't get out of that area, you have done something wrong and need to do some thinking and erasing. There has to be another way to complete the sequence so you can turn around in that corner.

3. If it is obvious that you've done something wrong, count through the entire sequence to see if you have added an extra number or omitted a number. If you have omitted a number, you will end up with a blank when you are finished. If you have added an extra number, you will be struggling where to put something that seems to obviously fit in where you are working.

4. Sometimes the sequence isn't at all obvious. If you find that your numbers aren't fitting, go back and see if you can rearrange the numbers you've already inserted near it. Count backwards or forwards and see whether what's there can be reorganized. You may have to back up several squares to get it right, and you may end up erasing a sequence.

5. Don't be afraid to erase! You may have thought you were certain a number was positioned a particular way, but there may have been other alternatives.

The best way to figure out Hidato is to start with the easy puzzles and work your way to the difficult ones. Then you will learn the tricks along the way.

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