Distilling starts with a board of bubbles arranged in vertically-staggered colums. As time elapses, the far right column will either rise into the rum, or fall into the furnace. Which direction it goes is determined by whether there are more light or dark pieces in the column. Dark pieces are heavy, brown pieces are neutral, and white or burnt white pieces are light. If the column has at least one more dark piece than light pieces, it will go down. If a column has an equal number of light and dark pieces, it will go up. This includes having no light or dark pieces at all in the column. (Watching a purely brown column go up can be quite a rude surprise and it isn't good for your score, either.)
The way you play is by grabbing a piece, and shuffling it between columns in diagonal directions. he different colors all swap differently with each other. Starting from lower to upper, putting the pieces in order from dark to light illustrates how they'll swap.
Brown pieces will swap up with white, and down with black. White will swap down with brown, and (wrapping around) up with black. Black pieces will swap up with brown, and down with white.
Also scattered throughout the board, you'll find orange spice pieces. These spices pieces cannot be moved at all and are treated as neutral-weighted-pieces (like brown pieces) when determining if a column should go up or down. Sending these up into the rum will yield a bonus. Though it is a waste, sending them down incurs no penalty. Many people mostly ignore the spice bonus as is far better to get several Crystal Clear columns in a row than to use every available spice.
A decent way to start a round of distilling is to move white pieces towards the left, concentrating them a bit so that you're more able to make solid white Crystal Clear columns. And likewise, moving dark pieces to the right into non-clear columns helps. As you begin the separate the colors a bit, it will become easier to move single pieces in a long line. You might have an almost white column with a couple of brown colums next to it. You'd want to move white pieces into the top of that column first, then use the brown columns next to it to shuffle further white bubbles downward before adding them in.
The ultimate target of a distiller is to get 12 Crystal Clear columns in a row. This is also referred to as a CC^12. Such a score could only be beaten by another CC^12 that happened to have more spices in it. (Since spices are generated randomly and are completely immobile, the number of spices that can be placed in a CC^12 is almost entirely out of the hands of the player.)
If you do manage to burn more than one white piece, watch out. You will get burnt piece(s) on the left side of your board. (If you never burn any white pieces or if you only burn only one white piece during the entire game, you will never have burnt pieces on the board.) The result moves and floats up like a white piece, but has a bad effect on the quality of your brew if it gets sent up. If you send a burnt piece down, it wil leave the board and you won't have to worry about it again.
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