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    FAQ/Strategy Guide by AKwan

    Version: 1.0 | Updated: 09/27/09 | Printable Version | Search This Guide

    Suujin Taisen
    Ultimate Guide (FAQ)
    ====================
    Alan Kwan 27 Sep 2009
    ======================
    version 1.0
    -----------
    
    This document is a detailed guide explaining the play of the game.  It is
    intended to help the player understand the game interface (which is in the
    Japanese language) and the rules of the game.  There is also plenty of
    discussion on general strategy.
    
    - English menu translations
    - game controls
    - detailed game rules
    - items and gimmicks
    - strategy (basic and advanced)
    
    This guide, however, does not include solutions for the puzzle stages.  Please
    figure them out yourself; that is part of the fun of playing the game.  Though,
    some of the general rules or strategies here may be useful for the player who
    finds himself stuck.
    
    The terminology and names in this guide are (liberally) translated from the
    Japanese version, and may differ from official English terminology.  This guide
    is based on "Suujin Taisen", the original NDS release; any differences in the
    DSi-ware version ("Chotto ~" or "~: Number Battles") are not acknowledged
    (though most of the game should be the same).
    
    This document's copyright is owned by me.  Unauthorized use, except for
    strictly non-commercial, personal use, is prohibited.  This document is
    primarily hosted on my personal website:
    http://home.netvigator.com/~tarot/Games/
    Permission may be granted to other gaming sites for hosting this document, but
    I'm not listing the individual sites here.  Unauthorized modifications to this
    document (including this section) are strictly prohibited.
    
    Please e-mail corrections and additions to:
    mailto:tarot@netvigator.com
    
    Version History
    ---------------
    
    27 Sep 2008    v1.0
    
    Table of Contents
    -----------------
    
    * 1.0  Overview
    
    * 2.0  Menus & Game Modes
    ** 2.1  Story Mode
    ** 2.2  Vs. Mode
    ** 2.3  WiFi Mode
    ** 2.4  Puzzle Mode
    ** 2.5  Extras
    
    * 3.0  Playing a Match
    ** 3.1  Item Selection
    ** 3.2  Playing a Tile
    ** 3.3  Using an Item
    ** 3.4  Pause Menu
    ** 3.5  Results Screen
    
    * 4.0  Game Rules
    ** 4.1  Game Play and Objective
    ** 4.2  The Tiles
    ** 4.3  Placement Restrictions
    ** 4.4  Connections
    *** 4.4.1  Sequence
    *** 4.4.2  Same
    *** 4.4.3  Loop
    *** 4.4.4  Complete
    ** 4.5  Development
    
    * 5.0  The Stage 
    ** 5.1  Stage Info
    ** 5.2  Lucky Area
    ** 5.3  Gimmicks
    
    * 6.0  Items
    ** 6.1  Mirror of Swapping
    ** 6.2  Gem of Change
    ** 6.3  Spinning Top
    ** 6.4  Number Pen
    ** 6.5  Charm of Increase
    ** 6.6  Charm of Decrease
    ** 6.7  Bomb Statue
    ** 6.8  Dice of Opportunity
    ** 6.9  Curse Doll 
    ** 6.10  Skull of Absorption
    ** 6.11  Moody cat
    ** 6.12  Prevention Haniwa
    ** 6.13  Feather of Freedom
    
    * 7.0  Strategy
    ** 7.1  Pacing
    ** 7.2  Nested Loops
    ** 7.3  Multiple Sequences
    ** 7.4  Same Fever
    ** 7.5  Invariable Loops Theorem
    ** 7.6  Complete Connection
    ** 7.7  Interactive Play
    ** 7.8  First Turn
    
    * 8.0  Item Analysis
    (This section goes over the items one by one; the list is the same as section
    6.0)
    
    * 9.0  Bugs and Flaws
    
    
    * 1.0  Overview
    ---------------
    
    Suujin Taisen is a board game played on the Nintendo DS.  The players take
    turns to play tiles onto the board in order to score points; the first player
    to reach a target score is the winner.  In this sense, the game is similar to
    Scrabble, but instead of playing letter tiles to make words, the players play
    number tiles (with "legs") to make four kinds of Connections.  The game is also
    similar to mahjong in the sense that, the right tiles can be laid in an
    elegant formation to score very high points.  (I feel that this game has a much
    smaller luck element than mahjong, though.)
    
    One game is very fast, taking 5 to 15 minutes to play.  With simple rules,
    short playing time, and a nice mix of luck and skill, the style of the game is
    close to the German designer board games.  The game can be played by 2 to 4
    players, although I feel that it is best with two (or with four players divided
    into two teams).
    
    * 2.0  Menus & Game Modes
    -------------------------
    
    Most of the game controls are touch-screen-only; the buttons are used only for
    "soft reset" and for sending emotion icons during vs. play.  (See page 4 of
    the instruction booklet.)
    
    When you switch on the game, you first come across the New Game / Load menu.
    The top choice is new game, and the bottom choice (if applicable) is to load a
    previously saved game.  Clicking on either brings you to the data selection
    screen, with three save file slots.  Click the appropriate data file twice to
    open it.  After clicking once on a previous save, buttons appear at the bottom
    for deletion (bottom left) and name change (bottom center).  Be careful that
    you don't delete your save file by mistake!  Click on the file twice to open
    it; don't click on the buttons.
    
    The bottom right button returns you to the previous screen; in many other
    screens too, the bottom right button serves a similar function.
    
    When you start a new game, you have to enter a name.  Avoid using Japanese
    alphabet (kana) if you can't read them.
    
    The main menu looks like a Chinese compass.  The outside rim is the Chinese day
    clock which indicates the time in two-hour intervals.  (For example, during the
    "mouse hour" which is 11 pm to 1 am, the top section will be blinking.)  In the
    center are the five menu choices:
    
    middle : story mode
    top : puzzle mode
    left : vs. mode
    right : WiFi mode
    bottom : extras
    
    The button at the bottom left corner (outside the compass) is "settings", and
    the bottom right button brings you back to the New Game / Load menu.  In the
    settings menu, you can choose between left-handed / right-handed and set sound
    levels.
    
    ** 2.1  Story Mode
    ------------------
    
    It is recommended that you start playing with story mode.  After a story
    sequence (keep clicking to advance), you arrive at the stage selection screen.
    Click on a stage once to see its data (on the top screen), then click it again
    (or click the button at the bottom left corner) to play.  The bottom right
    button opens the menu:
    
    - cancel
    - set title
    - tutorials
    - back to main menu (confirm by clicking top)
    
    The first time you play certain stages, the game asks you if you want to see
    the tutorial.  The tutorials are in Japanese, so click no (bottom choice) if
    you can't read that and learn the rules from this document instead.  Inside the
    tutorial, you can leave by clicking on the bottom right button.
    
    There are five stages on each continent.  After clearing the first five stages,
    you will be able to move between the continent map and the world map with the
    "in" and "out" arrows.  The continent itself (on the world map) is a playable
    stage, a larger field designed for 3-4 players.  (These are 3-player matches in
    the story mode.)  If you clear all 30 stages on all 5 continents, the "out"
    arrow appears on the world map, allowing you to access the final stage.
    
    Occasionally, when you select a stage, the game announces a trial exam for you.
    You'll play against an examiner instead of the normal rival, and there will be
    a time limit for each turn.  Winning the trial exam will get you some extra
    reward, so don't miss the opportunity.
    
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    | SPOILER WARNING
    | After you clear the game on normal difficulty, hard mode becomes available.
    | In hard mode, half of the stages are different.  If you beat hard mode,
    | you will be able to access extreme mode, which feature different fields for
    | the /remaining/ half of the stages.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    ** 2.2  Vs. Mode
    ----------------
    
    You can play against other players using the NDS wireless (local)
    communication.  The menu reads:
    
    - invite players
    - join
    - free play (if applicable)
    
    First, the host should click on the top choice (invite players).  On the next
    screen, the top menu is for playing against other players who also have the
    game cartridge (who use the second choice on the previous screen to "join" the
    game), and the bottom menu is for "download play" using only one game cartridge.
    Select the appropriate mode and the number of players.
    
    After clearing the first continent in story mode, a third choice ("free play")
    appears which allows you to play against the AI players.  You may freely choose
    the AI opponents (or let the game pick randomly for you with the bottom left
    button) and the stage.  Advance in the story mode to unlock more stages and
    more AI opponents.
    
    On the stage selection screen, you can tweak the target score and the item
    allowance, and also set the time limit per turn.  Note that the stages
    available differ between the two-player mode and the three-player or
    four-player modes, and the default target score also varies with different
    number of players.
    
    ** 2.3  WiFi Mode
    -----------------
    
    This mode allows you to play against remote players through WiFi.  The three
    choices are:
    
    - play on WiFi
    - friend code management
    - WiFi settings
    
    To play a game, select "play on WiFi".  The next menu reads:
    
    - play strangers
    - invite friends
    - join friends
    
    Clicking on "friend code management" brings you to the following menu:
    
    - friend list
      (Lists your friends.  You can delete an entry by clicking on it.)
    - friend code entry
      (Manually enter a friend code.  Alternatively, you can have a friend
      registered automatically by playing a local wireless match.)
    - display my own friend code
      (You get your friend code when you connect to WiFi the first time.)
    
    ** 2.4  Puzzle Mode
    -------------------
    
    You select a chapter, and then select a stage within the chapter.
    
    The objective is to achieve the target score within the specified number of
    tiles played.  In some stages, items are available for use.  Sometimes it is
    possible to exceed the target score; you get nothing more or less than just
    clearing the stage for that.
    
    The first chapter serves as a good alternative to the tutorials (especially for
    non-Japanese readers), while the second chapter illustrates some advanced
    tactics.  I recommend that you play the puzzle mode somewhat.
    
    Initially, 5 stages are available in a chapter.  When you clear 3 of them, 5 
    more puzzles become available, and another 5 when you clear 6 of the stages.
    When you clear 10 out of the 15 stages in a chapter, the chapter exam becomes
    available; you need to clear 3 out of the 5 questions in order to clear the
    exam.  You unlock new chapters by progressing in story mode.
    
    During a stage, the bottom left button opens a menu:
    
    - cancel
    - retry
    - back to stage selection
    - back to main menu
    
    ** 2.5  Extras
    --------------
    
    The menu reads:
    
    - set title
    - records
    - view graphics
    - password
    - send shareware version
    - staff list
    
    When you play the game and achieve certain conditions, you earn titles which
    you can select for display together with your name.  These serve purely
    a cosmetic purpose (and are mostly meaningless if you don't read the
    language).
    
    When viewing your records, you can click on the bottom choices to switch
    between your win rate and the breakdown by Connection type.
    
    You can send a shareware version (via local wireless) to promote the game to
    your peers.  When one plays the shareware version, he can earn a password which
    he can enter through the fourth choice to get some reward.
    
    The staff list is actually a playable sandbox.  It becomes available after you
    beat the game (story mode).
    
    * 3.0  Playing a Match
    ----------------------
    
    This section explains the controls and menus when playing an actual match.
    
    ** 3.1  Item Selection
    ----------------------
    
    In most stages, you may carry a certain number of items into the match.  You
    select the items before play begins.  The items you possess are listed at the
    top, and you move them into the bottom row by clicking on them.  (To remove an
    item from the bottom row, just click on it.)  Click on the bottom left button
    when you are ready.  The bottom right button returns you to the stage selection
    screen.
    
    ** 3.2  Playing a Tile
    ----------------------
    
    After selecting items (if applicable), the play begins and the players take
    turns playing one tile each.  In a game against the AI, the human player always
    goes first; in a vs. human game, the first player is determined randomly.
    
    You have a hand of 5 tiles.  To play a tile, click on it, then click on an
    empty eligible space on the field.  This puts the tile on the field; to rotate
    the tile, click on it repeatedly until you get the desired orientation.  When
    you are satisfied with the placement, click on the "confirm" button (with a
    tick) at the upper right corner.  If you change your mind, you can click the
    "cancel" button (with a back arrow) just below it, or you can just click to
    select another tile from your hand.
    
    At the beginning of your next turn, you will draw a new tile to replace the
    used tile.
    
    The purpose of playing a tile is to make Connections and score points.  You can
    also play tiles to block your opponent's Connections, too.  Please see the
    rules section for more details.
    
    ** 3.3  Using an Item
    ---------------------
    
    You may use an item on your turn, before playing a tile.  You may use only one
    item per turn.  The item's playing cost is deducted from your score; you may
    play an item only if you can pay its cost.  (Keep this in mind at the beginning
    of a match.)
    
    To use an item, click on the item, and then (if applicable) click on the field
    space where you want to use it.  Remember to click on "confirm" at the top
    right corner to confirm your action.  If you forget and just click a hand tile
    to play it, the item is cancelled.
    
    After using an item, you will then play a tile normally.
    
    ** 3.4  Pause Menu
    ------------------
    
    During play, clicking on the bottom right button will open the pause menu:
    
    - cancel
    - back to stage selection
    - back to main menu
    
    ** 3.5  Results Screen
    ----------------------
    
    After finishing the match, the results screen will be displayed.  The top
    screen shows a medal (gold, silver, bronze, or green) based on your overall
    performance.  The bottom screen shows your stats for this match:
    
    left column: 
    - rank
    - number of turns spent
    - total score (your score / target score)
    
    The right column shows the number of times you have made each type of
    Connection, and your sub-total score for each.  (If they add up to more than
    your total score on the left, that's because you have paid some points to use
    items.)
    
    Click on the arrows (bottom center) to see the stats of other players.  Click
    on the bottom right button to move on to the fortune-telling screen.  You can
    get your luck of the day told in one of four categories, but if you can't read
    Japanese (or are not in the mood for it), just click on the bottom right button
    to skip it.  
    
    DISCLAIMER: Take the fortune-telling with a grain of salt.  It tells you to
    wear or carry certain items, but every time I try to follow those instructions,
    I get chastised by my wife.  :b
    
    * 4.0  Game Rules
    -----------------
    
    This important section explains the basic rules of the game.  The rules are
    explained in more detail and formality than the instruction booklet or the
    in-game tutorials.
    
    ** 4.1  Game Play and Objective
    -------------------------------
    
    Each player holds a hand of 5 tiles.  They take turns playing one tile to the
    board, and scoring points according to the Connections created by the played
    tile.  The first player to attain the target score wins the game.  The other
    players are ranked according to their scores.
    
    In the rare case that the board becomes entirely filled up without anyone
    reaching the target score, the game ends and the player with the highest score
    wins.  Hence, ties are very rare.
    
    ** 4.2  The Tiles
    -----------------
    
    Each player has two types of tiles: color tiles (in his own color), and rainbow
    tiles.  Rainbow tiles are generally a vulnerability, because once played, they
    become "public" and can be used by any player.  Each stage sets a different
    rate (from 20% to 50%) at which the players get rainbow tiles.
    
    Each tile has a number from 1 to 5, and also one to four "legs" in one of five
    possible configurations:
    
       |    |    |    |     |
       N    N    N-   N-   -N-
            |         |     |
    
    In this document, I refer to the shapes as "i", "I", "L", "T", and "+"
    respectively. 
    
    Note that natural "+" tiles come only with number "1" or "5".
    
    ** 4.3  Placement Restrictions
    ------------------------------
    
    On each player's first turn, one may play anywhere on the board.  On subsequent
    turns, one may play only adjacent to one of his own color tiles, or any rainbow
    tile (regardless of who played it).  Thus, rainbow tiles create an opening for
    the opponent's interference.
    
    Rainbow tiles do have a merit.  You may play a rainbow tile to any space on the
    board, even if it is adjacent to nothing.  But you may not play a rainbow tile
    to a space adjacent to an opponent's tile, unless it is also adjacent to your
    own color tile or a rainbow tile.  So you can use a rainbow tile to create
    opportunities to block your opponent's too profitable formation.  However, to
    block effectively you cannot wait until the last minute.
    
    For the purpose of this rule, "adjacent" is independent of connecting legs.
    You may place a tile next to your own tile, even if they do not connect.  But
    such a placement would give you no points!
    
    Note that the player who plays second may, on his very first turn, also play to
    anywhere on the board, including playing (even a color tile) directly adjacent
    to the first player's first tile, and even blocking one of its legs.  This can
    give the first player quite some trouble if he is not careful with his first
    play, especially on stages without starting rainbow tiles.
    
    In rare cases, a player may be unable to play to any space on the board.  (This
    may happen if all his tiles just get blown up by a Bomb and he has no rainbow
    tiles in his hand, or with an almost-full board near the end of a drawn-out
    match.)  In such case, he is penalized 50 points, but then may play to any
    space on the board (as if on his first turn).
    
    ** 4.4  Connections
    ===================
    
    The objective of the game is to score points through making any of the 4 kinds
    of Connections with the tiles.  Thus, this is the most important section of
    this guide.
    
    The four kinds of Connections are: Sequence, Same, Loop, and Complete.
    Sequence and Same are number-based, while Loop and Complete are shape-based.
    The above order of the four kinds is used consistently in all in-game reports.
    
    Basic rules:
    
    1. The tiles are connected by their legs.  Two adjacent tiles are considered to
    be connected only if both tiles extend a leg towards each other.
    
    2. Your Connection can include only your own color tiles and rainbow tiles.
    Opponent's color tiles break your Connection.
    
    3. In one turn, you can score for as many Connections as you can make,
    but you score only for Connections which start at your newly placed tile (the
    active tile).
    
    *** 4.4.1  Sequence
    -------------------
    
    Connected tiles in numeric sequence (such as 2-3-4-5) make a Sequence
    Connection.  The score value is 10 points per tile in the Sequence.
    
    Rules:
    
    1. In one turn, you can score for every Sequence which starts at the active 
    tile, except that you cannot score a Sequence which is merely a shorter
    version (sub-Sequence) of another Sequence you are scoring this turn.
    
    2. If the newly placed tile is in the middle of a Sequence, the play scores as
    two separate sequences.  For example:
    
        1-A-3-4
    
    If you play a "2" tile at "A", you will score a 1-2 Sequence and a 2-3-4
    Sequence, for 20 + 30 = 50 points.
    
    *** 4.4.2  Same
    ---------------
    
    Connected tiles of the same number (such as 4-4-4) make a Same Connection.  The
    score value is 10 points per tile.
    
    Rules:
    
    1.  In one turn, you can score for every Same Connection path which starts at
    the active tile, except that you do not score for a path which is merely a
    shorter path (sub-path) of another path you are scoring this turn.
    
    2.  A path always begins at the active tile.  A path can only pass through each
    tile once, and can never re-visit the active tile.  Two paths are considered
    different, even if they consist of the same tiles, if they visit them in
    different orders. 
    
    *** 4.4.3  Loop
    ---------------
    
    Tiles which form a complete loop with their legs make a Loop Connection; the
    numbers on the tiles are irrelevant.  The score value is 10 points per tile.
    
        |
        A-B-
        | |
        D-C-
    
    Rules:
    
    1.  A Loop always begins and ends at the active tile.  A Loop may not pass
    through the active tile in the middle, nor may it pass through any other tile
    more than once.
    
    2.  A Loop is the same as itself in reverse order (e.g. ABCDA and ADCBA).
    Otherwise, in one turn you may score for every different Loop which starts and
    ends at the active tile.  It is possible for different Loops to consist of the
    same tiles if they visit them in different orders, but that is possible only
    with rather large formations.
    
    Examples:
    
        2-2
        | |
        A-2-
    
    With the play of a "2" tile at A, you score /two/ 40-point Same Connections but
    only /one/ 40-point Loop.  You score 120 total this turn.
    
    If you instead play a "3" tile at A, you will score two 20-point Sequences and
    one 40-point Loop, for a total of 80 points.
    
    
        A-B-C-D-
        | | | |
        E F-G H
        | | | |
        J-K-L-M
    
    If you play a tile at "A", you will score the following Loops:
    
       60 : ABFKJEA
       80 : ABCGFKJEA
       80 : ABFGLKJEA
       80 : ABCGLKJEA
      100 : ABCDHMLKJEA
      120 : ABCDHMLGFKJEA
      120 : ABFGCDHMLKJEA
    
    ... for a total of 640 points in Loops.
    
    *** 4.4.4  Complete
    -------------------
    
    A group of connected tiles make a Complete Connection when they form a closed
    formation with no loose legs: every leg in the formation must connect to a
    matching leg in the formation, not to an empty space, a wall space, a tile of
    an opponent's color, or a legless side of a tile.  The score value is 20 points
    per tile.
    
    It is not possible to score for more than one Complete Connection at once.
    
    ** 4.5  Development
    -------------------
    
    When any player first reaches 25%, 50% and 75% of the target score,
    "Development" occurs.  This changes the lucky area, and also activates certain
    gimmicks.
    
    * 5.0  The Stage 
    ----------------
    
    ** 5.1  Stage Info
    ------------------
    
    When you click on a stage on the stage selection screen, the stage info is
    displayed on the top screen.  The field map is displayed in the middle.
    
    left column:
    - target score
    - (starting) item allowance
    - rainbow tile rate
    - number of players
    
    right column:
    - lucky area
    - gimmicks
    
    ** 5.2  Lucky Area
    ------------------
    
    Most stages (except for the first two stages in story mode) have a lucky area.
    It is determined randomly (by a roulette) among the eight edges and corners of
    the field, and is re-determined during every Development.  It is visible as a
    highlighted area on the field.
    
    When you play your active tile inside the lucky area, you score an additional
    10 points for every Connection you make this turn.  Only the active tile is
    considered for the purpose of this rule.
    
    10 points may not seem like a lot, but it does add up.  A typical good
    formation can often has its score value increased by over 25% if it is played
    inside the lucky area.  (However, in many cases Development occurs, and the
    lucky area is shifted away, before the formation is finished.)
    
    The size of the lucky area varies.  Note that in some cases, when the lucky
    area is too small, it may be completely blocked by walls and be inaccessible
    until the next Development.
    
    ** 5.3  Gimmicks
    ----------------
    
    Gimmicks are special spaces on the field.  Their types are listed below.
    
    > Item Space (Taichi ying-yang mark)
    
    Item spaces are added to the field during set-up, and also during Development.
    When you play your active tile on an item space, you receive a random item.
    However, a player is limited to holding 5 items at once.  If you already have 5
    items, you receive nothing.
    
    > Rainbow Tiles (square rainbow mark)
    
    The match starts with several rainbow tiles already on the field.  This has a
    profound effect: in stages without starting rainbow tiles, the player has to be
    very careful about being squeezed into a corner or edge, but starting rainbow
    tiles eliminate this concern.  Also, they give more options when using the
    Mirror of Swapping.
    
    > Double Score Space ("x2" mark)
    
    Double score spaces are added to the field during set-up and during
    Development.  When you play your active tile on a double score space, your
    scoring for this turn is doubled.  The effect is huge, of course, but it is not
    easy to set up for really big scores against (intelligent) enemy interference.
    
    > Chaos Space ("?" mark)
    
    Chaos spaces are added to the field during set-up and during Development.  When
    you play your active tile on a chaos space, a roulette is spun to determine a
    random effect. 
    
    Some of the effects include changing all hand tiles (of all players) into
    rainbow tiles, changing them all into color tiles, or flushing them all.  Thus
    it is a good deal to try a chaos space when your hand is filled with unwanted
    rainbow tiles.
    
    > Change Space (arrow mark)
    
    The match starts with some number of change spaces on the field (in fixed
    locations).  When you play your active tile on a change space, it is changed
    from a color tile into a rainbow tile, or vice versa. 
    
    Changing a rainbow tile into a color tile is very useful.  For example, when
    you want to start a new formation in another corner of the field, you can just
    drop a rainbow tile on a change space.
    
    > Minus Score Space (spikes)
    
    The match starts with some number of minus score spaces on the field (in fixed
    locations).  When you play your active tile on a minus score space, you lose
    10-30 points before adding your score for this turn.  If you do not have enough
    points to lose, you lose what you have and the excess is ignored.  In other
    words, if you do not yet have any points (at the beginning of the match), you
    lose nothing.
    
    While minus score spaces are mostly obstacles to be avoided, you can try to
    make them work for you by luring your opponent to play there to block you.
    Having 20 points deducted from a 100-point play (if your opponent decides to
    just leave you alone) doesn't feel too bad, but wasting a move and paying 20
    points while scoring 0 feels very demoralizing.  You should try this play
    especially when you're bluffing, i.e. you don't have the tile to actually pull
    off the big score, but you're just luring your opponent to waste time to block
    you.
    
    > Growing Field (a rectangular plate with four Chinese characters)
    
    During each Development, some sections of the walls are removed to reveal more
    playable spaces.  The areas and the order in which they are revealed are fixed
    by the stage, and hence predictable.
    
    The player who initiates the Development suffers a disadvantage, because he
    will be the last to play in the newly revealed area.
    
    * 6.0  Items
    ------------
    
    You may play one item each turn, before you play a tile.  There are two types
    of items: those whose effects are immediate, and those who are placed on the
    field and have a delayed or prolonged effect.  The latter type can be placed on
    any empty space (without a tile or wall) on the field, including a space with a
    gimmick; if a tile is played on it, the gimmick will be resolved first, then
    the item.  A placed item (except for the Prevention Haniwa) is visible only to
    the player who originally played the item; other players receive a notification
    of which item has been played, but they don't know where.  Only one item can be
    placed on a space; if a player attempts to place a second item on a space, both
    items are negated.
    
    Modifying or moving a tile with an item's effect does not make the tile active.
    In other words, you cannot score points just by making a Connection with an
    item.  For example, if you use a Number Pen to change the "5" to a "4" in a
    "2-3-5-" formation, you do not score any points for the Sequence.  But you can
    now add a "5" to the end and score 40 points for your play.
    
    This section explains only the rules (and controls) of the items.  Strategy
    issues are covered in section 8.0 .
    
    ** 6.1  Mirror of Swapping
    --------------------------
    cost : 40
    type : instant
    
    You select two tiles on the field, and their positions are swapped.  Only
    tiles of your own color and/or rainbow tiles can be selected, not opponent's
    color tiles.  The tiles are swapped with their orientations unchanged.
    
    ** 6.2  Gem of Change
    ---------------------
    cost : 30
    type : instant
    
    You select a tile on the field.  The tile is changed into a rainbow tile if it
    is a colored tile, or it is changed into your own colored tile if it is a
    rainbow tile.
    
    ** 6.3  Spinning Top
    --------------------
    cost : 20
    type : instant
    
    You can rotate a tile on the field; click on the tile repeatedly until you get
    the desired rotation.
    
    ** 6.4  Number Pen
    ------------------
    cost : 20
    type : instant
    
    You can change the number on a tile on the field; click on the tile repeatedly
    until you get the desired number.
    
    ** 6.5  Charm of Increase
    -------------------------
    cost : 20
    type : instant
    
    You can add a leg to a tile on the field; click on the tile repeatedly to
    select which side the leg is added to.
    
    ** 6.6  Charm of Decrease
    -------------------------
    cost : 20
    type : instant
    
    You can remove a leg from a tile on the field; click on the tile repeatedly to
    select which leg to remove.
    
    ** 6.7  Bomb Statue
    -------------------
    cost : 40
    type : placed
    
    When a tile is played on the space with a Bomb Statue, the tile and all
    surrounding tiles (in a 3x3 area) are destroyed.  This takes effect before the
    active tile is scored, thus preventing the active tile from being scored.
    
    ** 6.8  Dice of Opportunity
    ---------------------------
    cost : 10
    type : instant
    
    Discard your entire hand and draw five new tiles.  Keep in mind that this
    counts as an item played, so you cannot play another item this turn to
    immediately take advantage of any opportunities presented by your new tiles.
    
    ** 6.9  Curse Doll 
    ------------------
    cost : 30
    type : placed
    
    The player who plays a tile on the space with a Curse Doll loses his next turn.
    
    ** 6.10  Skull of Absorption
    ----------------------------
    cost : 50
    type : placed
    
    When a player plays a tile on the space with a Skull of Absorption, any points
    scored by that tile are added to the player who played the Skull, instead of
    the active player.  (If the active player is the one who used the Skull, he
    scores his play normally.)
    
    ** 6.11  Moody cat
    ------------------
    cost : 10
    type : placed
    
    When a player plays a tile on the space with a Moody Cat, the tile is moved to
    a random empty space on the field.  Although the tile will be scored normally
    at its new location, in practice it ends up scoring nothing most of the time.
    
    ** 6.12  Prevention Haniwa
    --------------------------
    cost : 30
    type : placed
    
    For two cycles, no other players may play a tile in the space with the
    Prevention Haniwa.  The item expires at the start of your second turn after the
    current turn.
    
    ** 6.13  Feather of Freedom
    ---------------------------
    cost : 20
    type : instant
    
    The item frees you of any placement restrictions this turn; you may play a tile
    to any empty space on the field (even a space with a Prevention Haniwa).
    
    
    * 7.0  Strategy
    ---------------
    
    Suujin Taisen is a strategy board game, and it has large enough freedom in its
    strategy that players have room to develop their own play styles.  The
    suggestions in this section are based on my favorite style of play, which is
    subjective; you should feel free to develop your own play style.
    
    ** 7.1  Pacing
    --------------
    
    Suujin Taisen is a game in which the players race to outscore their opponents.
    It is usually trivial to score 20 points per turn (just make a 2-tile Sequence
    or Same), so that should be considered the (minimum) inherent cost of making a
    blocking move which scores no points.  For example, don't play a Gem of Change
    plus a no-score tile just to block a 50-point move.  Some players always drop
    rainbow tiles to grab items at every available opportunity, but I'll do that
    only if my hand tiles are very poor, since the item is costing me 20 points for
    the move plus the item cost, and that's often pretty expensive for a random
    item.
    
    In my experience, an average rate of 30 points per turn should be considered
    mediocre, while 40 per turn is okay.  If you are averaging 50 or more per turn,
    you're doing great and are probably winning.  For example, a Single Sequence is
    140 points for 5 tiles, an average of 28 per turn which is not good enough.  A
    Double Sequence is 280 points for 6 tiles, averaging to 46 points per tile
    which is a very good rate, often enough for winning the game if you can keep it
    up.
    
    ** 7.2  Nested Loops
    --------------------
    
    When you have made a Loop and you extend it with more Loops, you will naturally
    score for multiple Loops.
    
        X-X-
        | |
        X-X-
    
    When you complete the samllest 4-tile Loop, you score 40 points.
    
        X-X-Y-
        | | |
        X-X-Y-
    
    By extending the Loop with two more tiles (at "Y"), you score one more 40-point
    Loop plus one 60-point Loop for another 100 points.
    
        X-X-Y-Z-
        | | | |
        X-X-Y-Z
    
    Yet another extension ("Z" tiles), and you score another 40+60+80=180 points.
    So for these 8 tiles, you have scored 320 points in Loops.  And we have not
    counted other Connection types.
    
    The Nested Loops are often the first high-scoring formation a novice will
    discover, because it can be formed naturally when building Loops.  And it is
    very powerful.  However, the player must not fall into the trap of letting this
    become his /only/ big weapon.  There are other formations which are equally or
    even more powerful, and the player who doesn't learn those will be playing a
    handicapped game.  Since Loops require many-legged tiles, the player who
    relies on Loops alone is playing a very luck-reliant style.
    
    ** 7.3  Multiple Sequences
    ==========================
    
    A novice may think that, Sequences are very limited because you play "12345",
    score 140 points for 5 tiles and that's it.  In contrast, Loops are great
    because with Nested Loops, the same tiles are scored many times in one turn.
    But wait: can we do the same thing with Sequences, scoring the same tiles
    multiple times in one turn?  The answer is a definite yes.  But unlike Nested
    Loops which tend to get formed naturally, Multiple Sequences need to be
    consciously played.
    
    According to the scoring rules, when you play a tile, you score for every 
    Sequence you are forming.  What happens if you play a "5" at point "A" below?
    
          1
          |
        1-2-3-4-A
    
    You will score for two 50-point Sequences, for 100 points total.  There are
    only 6 tiles, but you score 100 points, not 60.  Just because you have two
    different "1" tiles, the entire Sequence gets counted twice.
    
    Now let's look at the entire process.  A novice may first play out the
    "1-2-3-4-5" for 140 points, and then add another "1" for 50 more points and
    consider himself lucky.  But this "stem -> branch" order is not the best way to
    play this formation.  The expert plays the forked root first: "1-2-1".  And
    then he adds the "-3-4-5".  This way, he will be scoring two Sequences every
    step along the way, for 280 points total compared to the 190 by the novice 
    with the same 6 tiles.  The novice averages 31 points per tile, not too bad but
    not quite enough to gain a good lead.  The expert's average is 46 per tile, and
    that's a very competitive ratio.  Of course, if the "3" or "4" tile is a "T",
    you can play more tiles in the formation and score even more points.
    
    The above is the Double Sequence formation.  There are higher-scoring
    variations, often combined with Loops.  The Triple Sequence formation below is
    an example, scoring 420 + 40 points total with 7 tiles:
    
        1-2-3-4-5
          | |
          1-2
      
    You don't necessarily need a "T" on a "2" or "4"; you can work with a 
    T-shaped "3" too.
    
        2-3-4-5
        | |
        1-2
    
        1-2-3-4-5
            |
          1-2
    
    With Multiple Sequence (or Same) formations, what is important is to lay out
    the branch part first.  For the last formation, as long as you have played the
    "2-3-2", you can go ahead and play the "-4-5"; you don't have to wait for the
    "1"s first, since the overall total score will be the same.
    
    With the ability to play Multiple Sequences, the Sequence Connection should be
    a staple source of points (if not /the/ staple source).  While Sequences lack
    the unlimited extendability of Loops or the explosive power of Same Fever
    formations, they have the advantage that it is relatively easy to get the
    needed tiles.  Sequence formations can make good use of i-shaped ("1" and
    "5") tiles and I-shaped tiles which are not useful for Loop formations; hence,
    by mastering both, the player greatly improves his chance of being able to
    build /some/ high-scoring formation with any hand.  Also, Sequence formations
    are more free in the spots where the tiles can be played, and are thus more
    able to circumvent blocking methods (such as the Bomb Statue) which are highly
    effective against Loops.
    
    On several occasions, I have won a game with strictly Sequence Connections
    /alone/, even in vs. human play.
    
    ** 7.4  Same Fever
    ------------------
    
    With same-numbered tiles, you can lay them in the same patterns as the Multiple
    Sequence formations, and score the same amount of points, if not more.  But the
    problem is, it is much more difficult to gather many same-numbered tiles than
    to gather the tiles for a Sequence.  Mathematically, if you draw five random
    tiles, it is 24 times more likely to get five different tiles (12345) than it
    is to get five same-numbered tiles.  Thus, with same-numbered tiles, we hope to
    find more efficient high-scoring formations than just branching Sequences.
    Fortunately, there is such a formation, and it is practically quite feasible.
    
           2-A-
           | |
        -2-2-2
    
    Playing a "2" at A scores four 40-points Same Connections, plus a Loop for 200
    points total.  Adding the points for the previous plays, this five-tile
    formation scores 310 points.  This is really outstanding - most other
    formations don't get really big scores until the sixth tile.
    
    And the fever doesn't end there:
    
           2-2-B-
           | |
        -2-2-2
    
    The sixth tile at "B" scores four 50-point Same Connections, for another 200
    points!  After this, more "2" tiles can be added to either end, and every tile
    will score at least four Same Connections for over 200 points!
    
    The smart reader may raise a question here: isn't a double loop worth more
    points than a single loop?  What if the sixth tile is placed at "C" below,
    instead of at "B"?
    
         C-2-2-B-
         | | |
        -2-2-2
    
    The sixth tile at "C" scores 270 points in Same Connections, plus 100 points
    for Loops.  So yes, that is worth a lot more than the 200 at "B".  However, the
    double loop formation requires, besides the two "T", four "L" or better tiles,
    while the single Fever can use a couple of "I" or even "i" tiles, and is by
    that much easier.  It is difficult to draw naturally even the first five tiles
    for the Same Fever, and often an item or two (Number Pen, Charm of Increase, or
    Dice of Opportunity) are used; to build the formation while excluding "I" and
    "i" tiles is even more difficult.  In practice, it is likely that one gets a
    spare "i" or "I" tile to play at "B" (or start the formation with a rainbow
    tile at "B") before he gets the "L" tile to play at "C", and with one extra
    tile at "B" already in place, the tile at "C" will score even more points.  I
    have presented this case as a quiz on my website:
    
    http://home.netvigator.com/~tarot/Games/Suujin_q1.html
    
    While a Same Double Loop is ultra rewarding, it is a very rare accomplishment
    in practice, especially against interference by an intelligent opponent.  In
    contrast, the single-loop Same Fever can be accomplished occasionally, even in
    vs. human play.  One must watch out and block any potential Same Fever
    formation, since the fifth tile is already worth 200 points, and a sixth or
    seventh tile will probably seal your defeat.  (Which is another reason why the
    Same Double Loop isn't too important: it is mostly overkill.)  Don't let
    layouts which are one Charm of Increase or one Number Pen (or one Mirror of
    Swapping - but that one is quite harder to spot) away slip under your radar!
    
        2-1-2        5-5-5
          | |          |
          2-           5-
    
    There are alternative layouts for the Same-Number formation.  If the two
    branches off the Loop are from adjacent rather than opposite corners, you'll
    have a triple-count formation instead of the quadruple-count fever.  Or you can
    lay the fourth tile to score the Loop first; this gives you a higher score for
    the fourth tile (and hence more security against enemy interference) but a
    lower score total together with the fifth tile:
    
                        4th      5th     total
        --------------------------------------
        Fever order      60      200      260
        Loop-first      120      100      220
    
    
    ** 7.5  Invariable Loops Theorem
    --------------------------------
    
    As explained in the previous sections, the order in which you play the tiles
    can greatly affect your score for a Sequence or Same formation.  But what about
    Loops?  The answer is stated as the following theorem:
    
    * Invariable Loops Theorem *
    Given a formation with Loops, the total score you get for Loops over playing
    out the formation is constant regardless of the order in which you play the
    tiles, barring items, gimmicks, enemy interference and such.
    
    In other words, no matter what order you play the tiles in, as long as the
    final formation looks the same, you will receive the same total score for Loops
    over the course of playing the formation (assuming that there are no item or
    gimmick effects, and your opponent doesn't play some of the tiles in your
    stead).  This theorem can be mathematically proven; the proof is left as an
    exercise for the reader.
    
    This characteristic of Loops is very different from the number-based
    Connections.  Thus, when playing out a Loops formation, you can focus your
    attention on optimizing your score for the number-based Connections or on
    fending off enemy interference.
    
    ** 7.6  Complete Connection
    ----------------------------
    
    Although a Complete Connection gives a higher face value per tile than other
    Connection types, it has the major drawback that your formation normally scores
    for Complete only once, unlike other types which can score many times as you
    play the tiles.  Therefore, it is generally inefficient to purely go for
    Complete without scoring some other Connections.  For example, the Double
    Sequence formation is 280 points for 6 tiles, but a 6-tile Complete Connection
    scores only 120 points.
    
    A Complete Connection brings in a large chunk of score in one turn, and then
    your formation is closed for further scoring.  Thus, it is ideal to actually
    finish the game on the move which scores the Complete, or you'll have to start
    a new formation from scratch, which is slow especially if you can't leech off a
    rainbow tile.  On the other hand, if you have the appropriate item, namely a
    Charm of Increase, a Spinning Top, or a Mirror of Swapping, you can easily
    score the Complete again, which is very lucrative for a big Complete.  Also,
    the one-lump-sum nature of Complete scoring means that it can benefit greatly
    from a double score space.
    
    The three sizes of Complete Connections are functionally quite different:
    
    - Small Complete
    An effortless two-tile Complete which scores 60 points (or 40 if the numbers
    don't connect).  This is highly efficient if you leech off a rainbow "i" tile,
    though it's only 60 points and you still have to build some other formation
    after this in order to win the game.  If you have to play both tiles or if you
    score only 40, the efficiency becomes only average, though in the latter case
    it is probably a good move to block your opponent from scoring 60.
    
    - Medium Complete
    Sometimes one doesn't get the color "T" or "+" tiles which are needed to build 
    a good Sequence, Loop or Same formation.  In such case, one may want to use the
    "i", "I", and "L" tiles to build a Complete Connection with 3 to 6 tiles. If
    the numbers connect, the formation can average to around 40 points per tile,
    thus allowing one to keep pace without falling behind too much.  If one is
    not scoring big scores in other Connection types, one should not make the
    Complete Connection too big, lest the opponent may block.  If one has an item
    to score the formation repeatedly, or if one manages to complete on a Double
    Score space, it can score very well.
    
    - Big Complete
    When you are building a high-scoring formation, such as a Multiple Sequence or
    Nested Loop formation, and your tiles can just fit with few loose legs, you can
    try to close off the loose legs and score Complete.  In this case, the Complete
    should be viewed as a by-product: the main objective is the Sequence or Loop,
    and you expect the Complete to be thwarted, and try to force your opponent to
    waste items and tiles to block you.  If you do score the Complete atop the
    Sequence or Loop, you'll win, of course.
    
    ** 7.7  Interactive Play
    ------------------------
    
    Blocking your opponent from high-scoring plays is an important part of the
    strategy, especially in the two-player game (and the 2-vs-2 team game).
    Equally important is to avoid letting your own high-scoring formations be
    blocked.  With a key item or tile, one can greatly undermine the opponent's
    efficiency.
    
    However, I do not believe that it is advantageous to try to block your opponent
    at every opportunity.  If one feels that one has a better formation than the
    opponent, it is probably better to play out one's threat than to interfere with
    the opponent when he isn't really posing a big threat.  It costs points to play
    items, and defensive plays tend to score few or no points, so one is unlikely
    to win by playing totally defensively; no matter how focused one plays defense,
    it is difficult to prevent the opponent from scoring at least 20 points per
    tile, so in the end one has to play for his own score in order to win.  Playing
    defensively when one doesn't need to would just give the opponent more time to
    block and to draw good tiles to play.  I usually won't play an item to block a
    single Loop, because that's only 40 points, and the defensive move may be
    costing me almost as much.  Rather, I'd rather save my blocking efforts for
    bigger threats, such as the Double Loop or the Same Fever.  But if one's hand
    tiles are poor (mostly rainbow tiles), one would need to play defensively so as
    to buy time for oneself to get better tiles.
    
    When building one's own formation, it is important to avoid letting your
    formation be blocked easily.  Obviously, in most cases this just means avoiding
    using rainbow tiles.  However, it is equally useful to know when you /can/ use
    rainbow tiles in your formation without being easily blocked; Sequence
    formations are particularly adept at this, since it can use any rainbow
    terminal ("1" and "5") tiles.  You can also use a rainbow "T" tile in the stem
    part, forcing your opponent to block one leg while continuing down the other.
    While admittedly it is a matter of luck whether one gets color tiles or
    rainbow tiles, in practice one has to work with what he gets.  If the opponent
    can play in the connecting spaces anyway because they are adjacent to
    other opponent-colored or rainbow tiles, the benefit of using your own colored
    tile becomes less, and it may be better to play a rainbow tile and save the
    colored tile for use elsewhere, provided that you do not risk giving a big
    scoring opportunity to the opponent.
    
    Interactive play is really a deep topic, and I cannot cover it all in here.
    Explore and enjoy the game.  :)
    
    ** 7.8  First Turn
    -------------------
    
    On his first turn, the first player has to beware that the second player can
    play directly adjacent to him.  The AI doesn't really exploit this, but a good
    player will always consider the option.  If you play an "i", your opponent can
    block its only leg; if you play a "T", your opponent can block your Loop by
    blocking its middle leg.  If you have to play those tiles, it may be best to
    play it with the relevant leg close to a wall or corner, so that the blocking
    move becomes awkward for the opponent.  If you are going for a Double Sequence
    formation, you should start with a terminal tile (not an "i"-shape) and not
    your root "T" tile; this way, your opponent cannot block you easily.
    
    Especially on a stage with neither starting rainbow tiles nor change spaces,
    one has to beware of getting cornered.  Avoid starting on an edge or corner
    space, even if it is an item space; by starting one line away from the edge,
    your opponent will be unwilling to play on the item space, and you'll still get
    the item.  (If he does play on the item space, you corner him and win.)
    
    * 8.0  Item Analysis
    --------------------
    
    While section 6 deals with the rules, this section deals with the strategy.
    
    An amusing observation is that, the way the items are arranged in three rows
    seems to suggest each item's versatility.  The items in the top row are
    generally useful and easy to use; those in the middle row are more tricky to
    use or useful in more limited situations; those in the bottom row are very
    specialized, though they can still be quite useful in specific situations.
    
    The "attack" rating refers to the item's effectiveness at increasing one's
    own score; the "defense" rating refers to that at preventing the opponent from
    scoring big.  Each rating is from 0 to 5 stars.  (Feel free to disagree and
    develop your own strategy.)
    
    ** 8.1  Mirror of Swapping
    --------------------------
    cost : 40
    attack   *****
    defense  **
    
    The Mirror of Swapping is a strong offensive weapon, for it can switch in a
    tile at any space unexpectedly.  You can catch the AI or even a human opponent
    off guard and make a big play.  However, the efficiency and ease of use varies,
    for it cannot create a tile you have not had access to (especially a "+"
    middle-number tile).  If you have to spend a turn to play the tile you want to
    switch in, the efficiency becomes lower, although it is still strong if
    you are making a really big play.  In stages with starting rainbow tiles or
    with higher rainbow percentage, the Mirror tends to get more options.  You'll
    also get more options in the late game in a long match (with a high target
    score).
    
    On the defense, the Mirror can block by swapping a rainbow tile your opponent
    is using for a colored tile.  However, that is somewhat unreliable because it
    does not work on colored tiles at all, which is expectedly the primary
    constituent of most formations.
    
    ** 8.2  Gem of Change
    ---------------------
    cost : 30
    attack   ***
    defense  ****
    
    The Gem of Change is a strong defensive item.  Its main uses are to change an
    opponent-colored tile into a rainbow tile so that you can play a blocking tile
    adjacent to it, or to change a rainbow tile your opponent is using into your
    color.  A colored tile makes a strong blocker, but playing the blocking tile
    costs you a turn, and some formations (most noticeably Multiple Sequence
    formations) are able to go around it.
    
    The Gem can sometimes be used offensively, by changing an opponent-colored tile
    into a rainbow and involve it in your formation.  In the extreme case, if the
    opponent's formation includes many rainbow tiles, you can even seize the
    formation and score it yourself.  Because of the existence of the Gem, one needs
    to be cautious when playing a colored tile in the opponent's formation, lest
    the opponent steals the tile with a Gem.  Another use is to change a rainbow
    tile to a colored tile to prevent easy intervention, but such usage is limited
    since you cannot change a rainbow tile on the turn you play it.
    
    The AI player has a flaw: it cannot play a blocking tile on the turn it changes
    a colored tile.  This takes out the most crucial use of the Gem for the AI
    players.  Human players are not affected.
    
    ** 8.3  Spinning Top
    --------------------
    cost : 20
    attack   ***
    defense  ****
    
    The Spinning Top is an item with balanced offensive and defensive functions.
    Offensively, it can be used to avoid a blocked space or to expand an exhausted
    formation, but for these purposes the Charm of Increase is better.
    Defensively, it can be used to cut a leg, though for that purpose the Charm of
    Decrease works better.  The advantage of the Top is that it can do both, but
    defensively it doesn't work on "+" tiles, and offensively it doesn't work on
    "I" tiles.  When used defensively against an "I" tile, it cuts both legs, which
    cannot be repaired with a single Charm of Increase.
    
    The best offensive use of the Top is probably with a Complete Connection.  It
    can help build the formation, or can be used to score the Complete again after
    scoring it once.
    
    ** 8.4  Number Pen
    ------------------
    cost : 20
    attack   ****
    defense  ***
    
    The Number Pen is an excellent item, for both attack and defense, as far as
    number-based Connections are involved.  But it is powerless when it comes to
    shape-based ones.
    
    Some players severely under-value the Number Pen because they do not understand
    how to build strong number-based formations, yet understanding them is a
    pre-requisite to effective use of the Pen.  On the defense, the Pen can easily
    wreck any number-based formation, so the Pen is as useful as the opponent's
    efficiency at such.  On the attack, the Pen is best used to help create the
    root part (the first three tiles) of the formation when the player lacks the
    necessary tiles.  (Since one does not score for Connections created by items,
    using the Pen late in the formation, where the correct tile would have scored
    lots of points, is not profitable.)  For example, if the player wants to build
    a "5-4-5 + -3-2-1" Double Sequence, but lacks a second 5 or a "T" 4, the Pen
    can be used to conjure a tile needed for the root.  Used this way, the Pen
    would have a value of around 100 points when used for a Multiple Sequences
    formation, or around 150 points when used for a Same Fever formation.  (By
    using the Pen to make an extra same-numbered tile for the root, the player
    saves one more same-numbered tile to play later which would score 200 points,
    minus the item cost and any points lost when laying the root.)  However, the
    drawback is that the Pen has to be used early while (some of) the points are
    harvested late, so there are plenty of chances for the opponent to interfere.
    
    ** 8.5  Charm of Increase
    -------------------------
    cost : 20
    attack   *****
    defense  *
    
    The Charm of Increase is hands down the best offensive item.  Adding a leg can
    bring new opportunities or add many more points, and it works on all four
    Connection types.  Also, it can repair the damage done by certain items, as
    well as go around a blocked space.
    
    However, the defensive abilities are close to nil.  The only Connection which
    the Charm of Increase can ever block is the Complete Connection, which plays
    only a minor role in the game anyway.  And even against that, many other items
    do the job better.
    
    ** 8.6  Charm of Decrease
    -------------------------
    cost : 20
    attack   *
    defense  *****
    
    The Charm of Decrease is hands down the best defensive item.  Removing a leg
    serves as an effective blockade, and it works against all four Connection
    types.  The drawback is that the damage can always be repaired with a Charm of
    Increase, which is a commonly taken item.  Yet, forcing the opponent to expend
    his Charm of Increase is a worthy cause in itself, since if you let him use it
    freely, he can score even more points.
    
    However, the offensive abilities are very weak.  The only Connection which the
    Charm of Decrease can ever assist is the Complete Connection, which plays only
    a minor role in the game anyway.  And even for that purpose, it can only help
    build the Connection initially, but unlike the Spinning Top cannot re-open the
    formation for further scoring.  When I bring the Charm of Decrease into a
    stage, I expect to use it for defense; using it offensively for a Complete
    Connection is only situational.
    
    By the way, the parallel with the previous sub-section is intentional.  :)
    
    ** 8.7  Bomb Statue
    -------------------
    cost : 40
    attack   *
    defense  ****
    
    The Bomb Statue is a strong defensive item.  It not only prevents the target
    space from being scored, but it also blows up the surrounding tiles should the
    opponent carelessly plays onto it.  The player may also set off the bomb
    himself, but that uses up a turn (without scoring any points), and gets quite
    expensive when we also consider the item cost.
    
    The Bomb is highly effective against Nested Loops and often effective against
    Same Fever formations, but one should be careful when using it against Sequence
    formations.  Not only are they often able to go around the Bomb, but also, when
    the Bomb is placed in the wrong place, it can actually rejuvenate the
    formation and help the opponent score more points!  Loop or Same formations use
    the same type of tiles throughout, so if you blow some tiles up, the formation
    is reduced.  But since a Sequence formation uses many different tiles,
    mathematically there is a good chance that the opponent has duplicate tiles in
    his hand to replace the destroyed ones, and when he plays those tiles again,
    he'll score them again too.  Against a Sequence formation, the Bomb is best
    used early to blow up the root part.  But don't naively lay it in front of an
    "I" tile in the stem: the opponent may sidestep it with a Charm of Increase,
    and then set off the Bomb and score the formation again!
    
    The Bomb may also be used offensively to rejuvenate a formation (especially a
    Sequence or Complete formation) or to remove a blocking tile, but since you
    have to pay the item cost and also play a tile to set off the Bomb, it gets
    quite costly.  For example, if you use a Bomb to re-play a 100-point tile (in a
    Double Sequence or Double Loop, for example), you're earning only 60 points net
    in two turns, which is not a ratio good enough to warrant using an item for.
    
    ** 8.8  Dice of Opportunity
    ---------------------------
    cost : 10
    attack   ****
    defense  X
    
    The Dice of Opportunity can be used to flush a poor hand, such as one with
    too many rainbow tiles.  It can also bring new opportunities when your tiles
    don't fit together into a good formation.  Also, it is the only item which can
    help you find a certain type of tile (such as a certain number or an "L") to
    play late in a formation; other items can change a played tile, but they can't
    recover any points you missed because that tile was not ideal.  The Dice
    becomes most valuable when you have a Loop or Same formation, even though
    getting the desired tile is not guaranteed.
    
    The Dice is a useful offensive item; although sometimes it sits unused, on the
    other hand sometimes one misses it when he doesn't have it.  In a long stage,
    the chance of it becoming useful increases.  When used in the right situation,
    it is quite effective.  It's a good choice for a third offensive item, after
    taking the Charm of Increase plus either the Mirror or the Pen.  The Dice has
    no defensive capabilities to speak of, though.
    
    ** 8.9  Curse Doll 
    ------------------
    cost : 30
    attack   **
    defense  **
    
    Many consider the Curse Doll a weak item which is hard to use.  It allows the
    player to take two turns in a row, if and when the opponent steps on it.  It
    isn't very useful in a three or four player free-for-all game, since the player
    doesn't even take two turns in a row.
    
    In the two-player game, the Curse Doll can be useful in some limited
    situations.  Since it doesn't even prevent the opponent from scoring his tile,
    there is no need to be picky about its placement.  In fact, the item is
    probably more effective when dropped casually against an infant formation, so
    that it is difficult for the opponent to deduce its location.
    
    In the endgame, one can use the Curse Doll in his own formation: the curse
    incurs no penalty if it is the winning play.  The Doll can shut out any
    placed items (cancellation effect), and should the opponent plays in the
    cursed space, one gets two turns in a row to grow the formation in another
    direction.  It doesn't outright prevent the opponent from playing in the space
    unlike the Prevention Haniwa, but the Doll is stealthy (and is effective
    against the Feather of Freedom, too).
    
    In the end, the Doll's uses are probably too situational to justify selecting
    the item during set-up, though it is often worth playing if one gets it from an
    item space.
    
    ** 8.10  Skull of Absorption
    ----------------------------
    cost : 50
    attack   **
    defense  ****
    
    The Skull of Absorption is a strong defensive item.  It is superior to the Bomb
    Statue in that, it makes it very risky for the opponent to "guess and play"
    even when there are multiple spaces he can score his formation at.  However,
    the Skull is ineffective against the early stages of a formation.
    
    The Skull can also be used to safely cancel a placed blocking item, since there
    is no penalty for the player to play on the Skull himself should he guess
    wrong.  But the item cost is high.
    
    ** 8.11  Moody Cat
    ------------------
    cost : 10
    attack   *
    defense  **
    
    As a blocking item, the Moody Cat is weak, because the penalty is too small:
    the opponent can just play in the target space on his next turn.  The Cat can
    be a cheap way to nullify a double score space or a change space.  It is also
    an okay tool for canceling another placed item: even if you guess wrong, a Cat
    which is visible to yourself causes no more mischief than just a wasted turn.
    
    Should you get cornered, you can intentionally play on a Cat to open a new
    area, but unlike the Feather of Freedom, the destination is random.
    
    ** 8.12  Prevention Haniwa
    --------------------------
    cost : 30
    attack   ***
    defense  ***
    
    The Prevention Haniwa can be used to "reserve" a space which your opponent can
    otherwise play in, such as a space adjacent to a rainbow tile or an opponent's
    tile.  This can be used to prevent easy interference when you play a rainbow
    tile, but the Haniwa is visible and can be easily cancelled (or the rainbow
    tile can be ruined by the Mirror or the Gem).  The Haniwa is quite useful when
    you are playing at close quarters against your opponent and are struggling for
    space to expand.  Another use is to pre-emptively guard against the Gem of
    Change, but this fails if the opponent has the Feather of Freedom instead.
    Against a placed enemy item, the Haniwa provides a clean method of
    cancellation.
    
    There is an option of using the Moody Cat instead of the Haniwa.  The Cat
    would block your own tile as well, but it has the advantage of stealth and the
    opponent has to guess where you placed it.
    
    When the players are at close quarters, the Haniwa can serve both offensive and
    defensive purposes at one stroke.  But if the players are remote, using the
    Haniwa as a purely blocking item requires that the player first drops a rainbow
    tile in an adjacent space, and then plays in the Haniwa space.  This is quite
    unwieldy and should be used only as a last resort; the Gem or the Feather
    serves this purpose much better.
    
    ** 8.13  Feather of Freedom
    ---------------------------
    cost : 20
    attack   ***
    defense  ***
    
    The Feather of Freedom can be used defensively to place a blocking tile like a 
    Gem of Change; for this purpose, the Feather is a cheaper and inferior version
    of the Gem, except that it can trump the Prevention Haniwa.
    
    Offensively, the Feather can be used to place a colored tile in a new area.
    You can play right on an item space, or adjacent to a double score space, so
    these kinds of gimmicks make the Feather more useful.  On the contrary,
    starting rainbow tiles and change spaces provide alternative ways of achieving
    the same purpose, so the Feather is less needed when those gimmicks are
    present.
    
    * 9.0  Bugs and Flaws
    ---------------------
    
    There are some minor bugs and flaws in the DS version:
    
    - Reportedly, the scoring has a bug which leaves out some Connections when the
    player makes an absurdly large Connection, or absurdly large number of
    Connections in one move.  Practically, this is highly unlikely to occur
    unless the players collaborate.
    
    - The orientations of starting rainbow tiles are not randomized; the legs
    always face the same directions.
    
    - If you switch on the game, choose "Free Play" and ask for random opponents,
    the same AI players are always picked.  (Technically, the "randomizer" for
    the random number generator doesn't work before a game's set-up.)
    
    - The AI player can't use the Gem of Change effectively.  (See section 8.2)
    
    
    END OF DOCUMENT