Harbor Master is one of the classic mobile games and has been high in the download charts almost since the dawn of the App Store back in 2008. It may be old, but if you haven’t played it then we highly recommend it.
The concept is wonderfully simple. You are the harbour master, the nautical equivalent of an air traffic controller, and have to pilot the boats safely into the docks to unload their cargo without crashing into each other and then send them safely on their way.
To control them you swipe a course for them with your finger.
The game starts off slowly to help you get the hang of it with only a small number of boats all of the same length and speed. As the game progresses, more boats appear and of various sizes. The larger the boat, the slower it moves and the more cargo it carries which takes longer to unload. The variety of speed and size of boat is the key to the game as it becomes increasingly difficult to predict the relative paths of the boats and whether they will crash into each other.
So, what strategy should you adopt to rack up a triple figure score?
1. Watch the arrows: it’s very frustrating if you’ve successfully unloaded a boat amid heavy traffic and sent it on its way only to see it crash into a boat that was off screen at the time. Watch for the yellow arrows and make sure you don’t send a boat in their direction. Equally important is to remain alert to those boats already on course and to adjust their course if necessary.
2. Use the coastline: once the number of boats starts stacking up, you need a system in place to help pilot them safely. If you keep incoming boats in the centre of the screen and outgoing boats tucked in by the coastline, then the odds of a crash are reduced. As per 1. just watch out for those arrows indicating incoming boats. It’s also shorter to exit via the coast, which gives you time to concentrate on incoming boats. In particular, use the shortest exit middle bottom of the screen as the default route where you can.
3. Use the pause button: if you’re getting overwhelmed by boats and are losing control of your harbor, then a good strategy is to hit the pause button, work out where there are potential crashes and then reset the course of those boats.
4. Queue in order of size: when you start getting multiple size boats on the screen, line up your boats to get the single cargo boats in first, followed by the double and then quadruple cargo boats. This allows you to keep the dock clear while each boat arrives.
5. Keep a dock free: it’s vital to have enough flexibility to deal with multiple boats. A very effective strategy is to keep one of the docks for the largest boats and another for the smaller ones. The larger boats can be placed in a queue to one side while you nip the smaller boats in and out of the other slot. Avoid at all costs having two four cargo boats blocking up both docks.
6. Timing is everything: key is to learn the relative timing it takes to both pilot and then unload each of the three sizes of boat. That way you can perfect your timing to get a single, double and quadruple boat out in time.
7. Re-route when necessary: if you are in danger of blocking up your docks with a two and four cargo boat and there are numerous single cargo boats incoming, then re-route the larger boats to allow the single boats to get in and out
8. Route one for larger ships: use the shortest route possible for the four cargo ships which due to their slow speed and size are the most likely to cause you to crash. Try and nip in single cargo boats before they dock to help clear the harbour.
9. Listen to the beeps: keep an ear out for the ship horns as they will indicate an imminent crash. As with 3. use the pause button if you’re not already sure what’s causing it
10. Queue boats in size order: try to keep the same size boats in the same dock queue, allowing for unloading time. This way you avoid issues over relative speed. This also helps with strategy 5. keeping a dock free.
11. Keep it consistent: key to the higher scores are consistency of strategy. Have a plan for how you want to order your docking and your regular exit routes for each style of ship making sure you can adjust it in case of yellow arrows on your key route
Good luck and let us know your best scores below! Anything over a hundred is a decent score.