Karen's Strategy for Mozak Puzzles

After many hours of practice and cussing, I have developed the following strategy for new “puzzles”. (I work on Windows with a Firefox or Chrome browser so these techniques may not work on an Apple system.)

1 - Be first! Because consensus (3-5 players traced the same dendrite/axon/branch) is now formed pretty quickly, the best way to get the highest score is to be one of the first to start tracing. As soon as I log in to the site for the day, I check to see if there are any new puzzles. If a large amount of consensus is already there, I may choose to work on a puzzle I already have a lead on.

2 - When starting a new puzzle, I use magnification 3 or 4 and go after the main dendrites and branches. I use the virtual finger tool (pencil icon) during this first phase of tracing. I’ll follow the clear paths until the cross over or get twisty/cloudy. Those areas I’ll skip over and just go to the next clear path. Being able to manipulate the 3-D “box” can be handy in this phase. As soon as the volume loads and gives me the 3D view, I minimize the view until I see the outlines of the box. (I use my mouse scroll wheel with the arrow point in the center of the box) After the box is minimizes, I can hold down my right mouse key and turn the box to better see how the traces flow through the space. In many cases, I can use the virtual finger here to trace routes that are moving from the low slice numbers out to much higher numbered slices. NOTE: It took a lot of practice for me to learn how to minimize the view and manipulate the box so manage your expectations!

3 - After I have traced all the big straight “lines”, I go back to connect and refine my traces with the connect-the-dots tool (blue zigzag icon). This is where I use mostly the 5 magnification and I follow the strategy EvilTwin CZ described in the group chat. Starting with one of the edges of the soma (top, bottom, right or left side), I put the Z slider (bottom of screen) on the 0 slice and slowly move up through the numbers to connect my traces. Twists and “clouds” can be tricky so I sometimes skip them even in this step and just carry on with the easier paths. If I’m not sure of a connection, I also leave that for what I think of as the “clean-up” phase. I’ll work my way up and down and side-to-side until I think I’ve traced most of the clear branches.

4 - Working with consensus can lead to extra points if you are the one who connects a branch back to the soma. I believe there is a tutorial on how to do this. (In Settings menu, select Display, the select “Connect” from “View Mode”. Follow magenta branch to a blue branch for connection.) This was one of the tasks that provided me with a lot of practice and skill building when I first started. This is not a one-time deal! I’ve done connections one day and gone back the next to find lots of magenta again. I’m not sure why this happens but it provides a new opportunity to build your points. My guess is that new players have chosen different routes so the “game” looks for new consensus…?

5 - Clean up phase involves patience and is one of the most satisfying steps in the game for me. This is where I follow a twisting and/or cloudy branch to it’s tip or connection point. I have learned to use the contract bar at top to good effect here. I go for the clearest path or brightest point on a path to set my nodes. I will also look for any stray traces I might have done with the virtual finger to eliminate them. Sometimes I will go through the consensus and try to “straighten” the traces so they better follow the actual dendrite/axon.

Disclaimer: This is the strategy I developed over time that I find most fun and effective. Your mileage may vary! Good luck to all!


Your advice is very helpful @Karenallover!
I am looking for the way that the game calculates the points in real time. While I am either in CtD mode or VF mode, I see different scores for consensus and individual traces. At the same time, I see an entirely different slice score attached to my name that shows my points compared to other players.
How are these scores calculated? Are they refreshed only a certain amount of times per day?
I am working on how to accurately trace the neuron’s correct path instead of jockeying for a higher score, so I like to take my time and make sure that I am accurately representing the physical structure of the neuron. However, it is nice to be on the leaderboard. :wink:

Hi Diana - happy to help.

The scoring can be confusing at first. You are correct - the servers calculate the leaderboard scores at intervals.
To the best of my knowledge, the points you see there will be your consensus score plus your connection score.
So they give you credit for the traces you’ve made that agree with 2-3 other players (first row, left hand number). Then they add your connection score (second row, left hand number) to your consensus score for your total on that “puzzle”.
I describe how to increase your connection score in step 4 of my strategy. (lol - I just realized how much I sound like one of those tv infomercials)