. Getting started (for new players)
. How can I get some help getting started?
. How do I choose a suitable opponent?
. How do I play?
. Starting a game
. How much time for a game?
. Random seating
. Making moves
. What are 'rooms'?
. What is the difference between Rated and Unrated games?
. Why is quitting a game such a big (bad) deal?
. What sounds are made by the game?
. How can I alter the sounds, colors or appearance?
. Can I disable the low time warnings?
. Can a disconnected player continue his game?
. What is Demo Mode? What is Puzzle Mode?
. Are there any rules variations to add variety to the games?
. What is Duplicate Mode?
. What do the little symbols by players' names mean?
. How do I add a flag by my name?
. What are the little icons on the game screen?
. What information is available about the players?
. How do I send a private message?
. How do I invite someone to join my table?
. How do I remove someone from a playing seat?
. Can I suppress the chat of a particular player?
. What controls are there on the chat boxes?
. The chat boxes or the game board disappeared. How do I get them back?
. Can I tell when a line of chat appeared?
. Can I enter the site as a guest without logging in?
. Is there a robot or computer player?
. Do the pieces have names?
. How do I change my password?
. Can I save a game in a file?
. When is the best time to find a game?
. Which countries do players come from?
. Can the site generate random numbers? What for?
. Which devices and browsers are supported?
. Can I use my smartphone or tablet?
. The "old site" had <such-and-such feature>
. What about the game with triangles?
. How long has this site been going?
. Why is it called pentolla.com?
. How do I report a problem?
. Where I can learn about strategy and tactics?
. What about languages other than English?
But it IS rather a lot to take in at once, you should probably look it over quickly to get an idea of what is here, so you can come back to it when you have a question.
Start with the sections which have their heading in blue (like this one), as those are the ones most useful to new players. The others are either about the site in general, or 'extras' which can make playing easier or more convenient, but which don't need to be learned right away.
If you still have questions, you can ask other players for help.
Just be polite and friendly, and most players are willing to have a quick chat, and especially to talk about games. Try something along the lines of, "I'm new here. Can someone help me get started?" You might be surprised how many people are willing to give you a hand.
You can try to play against the computer player, Tollie. Tollie is certainly not an expert, and often a good match for beginner players.
Take note of the little icons by the players' names in the lobby. You might not want to start by playing one of the top players!
You can also try asking any expert players for help. Many players here (though probably not everybody) are more than happy to watch a game with you, and discuss some of the moves that are being made to help you understand. Watching games is a fantastic way to learn, and being able to ask questions while you watch is a great learning experience. Remember, sometimes you might catch someone who is busy at the moment, speaks a different language than you, or just doesn't feel confident enough to help, so don't give up easily. Message a few different people and, making sure to be friendly and polite, ask for help - you might be surprised at how many are willing to help you.
Also, it will be much easier for them and for you if you learn the names of the pieces!
Most importantly, don't get discouraged! The learning curve starts shallow, but then gets steep pretty quickly - in other words, it might take a little bit of time before you start to notice major improvements to your game, but once you do, they will happen very fast, and it won't be long before new players think of YOU as an expert.
You can find a lot of helpful information on the two blogs which players have written about strategy and tactics.
To start a new table, click "Make table" at the upper left.
Then choose the type of game, and the time limit for each PLAYER (or team).
If the match is part of a tournament, check the box "Tournament game", and the table will be so indicated within it and in the lobby.
To join an existing game, click one of them on the left side of the lobby,
in the section labeled "Games".
The boxes are color coded:
Having joined or created a game, you are then at a table.
Choose a seat by clicking the little chair icon for the color of your choice.
Here's a video of a complete 2-colors game posted by player Magicolo.
At that time, also, the appearance of the unplayed pieces changes: they become darker and the dividing lines between squares disappear.
1) Select a piece by pointing to it and pressing the mouse button.
2) Hold The Mouse Button Down while dragging the piece around.
3) Release the button to 'drop it' in a new place.
The piece (whether it was moved or not) becomes the Selected Piece and can be played at the proper turn.
NOTE: Pieces do not re-orient in the supply boxes.
The Challenge room allows for Rated and Unrated C2, Teams, and 2-colors games and is restricted to players logged in with a player name. Designated tournament games are limited to the Challenge room.
The Practice room also allows anonymous Guests to play; games there are all unrated, and do not count toward stats, or, of course, points. Additionally, C4 games (for four individual players) are limited to the Practice Room.
The /who and /find commands are useful in locating players across the entire server, and you can also send private messages to players in another room.
Even if you are losing a game badly, or have no more moves possible, you should stay to the end. (You can put your attention elsewhere, but do stay in your seat so the other player can play on.)
The reason for this is that games cannot be recorded properly unless they finish. The actual final score is important. If a player has a game 'won', he deserves the credit for his effort, so it is important that he get it.
A counter of unfinished games is maintained for each player. When a player does leave a game early, the remaining player has the option of having that count updated. (This applies only to Rated 2-person games, not Teams, C4,or Unrated games.)
Players should use judgment about the opponent and the situation before doing so, especially with new players who might not realize they are violating the policy - or that there is a policy!
Some players have less-than-robust internet connections, which cause them to disconnect frequently. They should not be penalized for that.
Also, you must wait 5 minutes before you can register the quit, in order to give players who are disconnected a chance to return and resume the game, as described in the preceding section.
You can determine a player's 'track record' as follows:
- on the list of players (in the lobby or the "send private chat" list) click the 'red bars' icon next to their name, and then choose "View Points". Along with their current ratings, the number of 'unfinished games' is displayed. This gives you an idea if this is a rare or frequent occurrence.
If the sounds are not heard when they should be, perhaps you have disabled them or have the sound level down.
To check if sounds are turned on, click the icon, once or twice. Stop when you hear the click sound - it indicates that sounds are enabled.
Check the sound level: open the Display Options, and click the slider bar where it says "Sound Level" in several places until the sound is set to where you want it.
To facilitate such discussions, the /copytodemo command can be used to create a Puzzle demo table (see below for details) starting with the current state of another game. Those tables will have the usual START and RESUME buttons, along with a RESTART button, which will revert the table to that copied state, rather than the start of the game (empty board), as is usual.
With Puzzle mode, any colors which are not of interest can be skipped/ignored, which is often the case with copytodemo tables.
There is also one extra feature available in Demo Mode: undoing a move. By clicking the icon (which only appears in Demo Mode), the most recently made move is taken off the board, and the game reverts to its previous state. It can be used as many times in succession as desired, but there is no automatic replay going forward, you simply repeat the same, or make new, moves manually until the end of the game.
A variation on Demo mode is Puzzle mode.
The difference from 'regular' Demo mode is a partial relaxation of the placement rules. The corner-touch and no-side-touch rules for each color still apply, but a piece of any color can be played at any time (no turns), and colors can start anywhere on the board, rather than on specific squares, as in a regular game.
Puzzle mode is used for copytodemo tables, as mentioned earlier.
There are two variants, "Daily" and "Random". In each case, the first 3 moves for each color are chosen from among a large set of pre-set starts.
With "Daily Duplicate", the chosen start changes just twice a day, at 6h and 18h GMT.
With "Random Duplicate", a start is chosen each time a table is created. By default, the start remains fixed for that table during its current lifetime, regardless of whether or not the same players remain. A new start is chosen at random when a table is created.
For "Random Dup" tables, the owner (who created the table) has the option of changing to a new start between games, after at least one game has been played, and no game is currently active. A button labelled "New Dupl. Start" appears beneath the playing board, or a command /newdup can be issued from the chat.
This symbol indicates a new player, who is still in the first month of being here (starting with the playing of their first game). The idea here is that "old hands" can notice new players and offer them a warm welcome and some extra help finding their way around.
The Ranking System gives an idea of the relative strength of players, by keeping track of their games. There are 5 levels of playing strength, each indicated by a small icon . All the details of the ranking system are explained in the ranking guide page.
You will also see national flags for players who have chosen to display them. You can set your own using the Update Profile link on the Player Info menu.
Players may not display flags from countries other than their own. To do so defeats the purpose of having them, and other players should be able to trust that a flag represents a player's home.
If you wish not to disclose your country, leave the flag as "No country", which it is by default.
You can send private messages to a player in another room, but since they do not appear in 'your' lobby or players' list, you may need to type the @playername yourself in your first message.
You must be at a table, and the other player must be either
in the lobby, or watching a game. The invitation is not issued
if the other player is in a playing seat, playing or not.
You can also issue a general or 'anyone' invitation which appears in the Lobby Chat box and everyone can see it. To facilitate doing that, when a table is freshly created, a button appears beneath the playing board to issue the command.
Otherwise, click the invitation icon and choose "Invite 'Anyone'" link at the top of the list.
There is also a "click-to-block" facility: on the list of player names in the lobby, click the red bars by a player's name to open the player menu, and choose "Block all chat" or "Block invitations only" from the list. These are replaced by 'Unblock' if the player is on your block list.
You have the option of blocking all chat, or just invitations to play. A pound sign(#) at the end of a player's name indicates that only invitations are blocked. This is only available through the 'click-to-block' facility; the commands described above only do the 'block all chat' variation. Unblocking clears all blocks for that name.
To switch between blocking just invitations and blocking all chat, or vice versa, first do an unblock, then choose the other option.
The list is saved across browser sessions in a browser cookie. However, it is available only within the same browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc) on the same computer. If you login somewhere else, you'll need to issue the command again. Similarly if you change browsers or erase the cookie.
Note that there is only one such list per browser-computer combination. If more than one player uses the same combination, they share a saved block list.
To reverse the action, click "Unlock" in the grayed-out box.
The purpose of that is for games where it may be desirable for spectators to chat about the game and its moves without influencing or disturbing the players.
Spectators should note that ALL players have done so before entering into such conversation.
There are two ways to view them:
The main purpose of allowing Guest pseudo-logins is to provide a quick way for new players to "check out" the site without the bother of creating an account name.
Therefore, guests enter the site on a limited basis.
To include Tollie in your game, first someone has to take one of the seats. Then click the small Computer Icon for the desired seat.
Tollie can only play at UN-rated tables.
Tollie is fairly rudimentary, so don't expect anywhere near expert level play, especially at C2 - it only takes one color at a time into consideration. At 2-colors or C4 it does somewhat better, as it plays the best moves it can, quickly, and with limited resources, which are often not the best moves possible.
The main purpose of it is to offer new players a way of getting started - to get a feel for the site, and the game, before taking on other players - and to fill in extra slots in C4 games.
For more of a challenge, try Pentobi. A standalone (downloaded) program, it has 8 levels of play, and the higher levels give even our best players a good game.
A link appears which, when clicked, downloads the .blksgf file to your computer, where it can opened with Pentobi in the usual fashion.
The file is downloaded with the name "gameMMDD.blksgf", where MMDD = today's month and day of the month. If you save more than one game in a day, take care that the later ones do not overwrite earlier ones. Windows, at least, appends a numeric suffix to prevent that.
Let us know if your own country is not listed and we can add it!
It has three forms:
This is useful in a number of situations, like flipping a coin or rolling a die might be:
Use /random 2 to get a number either 1 or 2.
This might be of particular use in tournament 2-game matches, but could be done any time as well.
The winner of the coin toss chooses to be Player A or Player B.
However, using the reseat button instead is simpler and faster.
On all devices, the online game is accessed via a web browser.
Read the next section if you want to play using a small-screen or touchscreen device. Seriously - you need to read that.
Pentolla is primarily a large(r) screen application, designed for desktop or laptop monitors with a keyboard+mouse interface.
In recent years, tablets and smartphones have gained in popularity, and, with some changes, Pentolla accommodates them.
If a small-screen, no-mouse device is 'your thing',
by all means, have a go ... we have made some modifications to help make that
a better experience. You'll need sharp eyes and precise fingers.
Be sure to read through the Getting the Most out of your Mobile Device page. It has information which is important to having a good experience using your device.
(HINT: unfortunately, things don't "just work" without a little help from you, and that page tells you just what that is - just a few simple, one-time steps you have to take.)
Since then, frequent updates have added new features and smoothed out kinks in existing ones. Bugs occur only very rarely.
The Pent- part is related to pentominoes (the 5-square pieces), and -olla is just a suffix. The single-L version, pentola.com was already taken, so we added another L. (In Italian, 'pentola' means 'cooking pot', but we only learned that later.)
If there is a problem involving other players, report that by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting a member of the Pentolla Team.
We have a tutorial about some common mistakes that new players often make.
Its focus is on C2 play, but some of the pointers apply equally well to 2-colors or C4.
It will probably make more sense to you AFTER you have played at least a few games. You might spot some things you have done yourself there! (Don't sweat it - everyone makes mistakes playing this sometimes surprisingly complex game - even the experts.)
Also, a few players have written blogs with more in-depth strategy: