Pontifex Tips & Strategies

This section is for sharing knowledge and wisdom between fellow Pontifex players. Feel free to Submit any bridge building hints you may have. All the strategies from the Bridge Builder tips section apply to Pontifex as well!

 Beginners' Tips

- Read the FAQ / Readme / Manual / Forum!

- Use the complex editing mode! it gives you much more control over your bridge. Switch planes with the R and F keys, make use of the center plane!

- Having trouble building a certain bridge with the given budget? Let's take a look at the different material prices and strengths. For a 8 HD grid unit piece, they are as follows:

Cable: $800
Light steel: $1000
Heavy steel: $3200
Deck: $1250 (normally, symmetry doubles this to $2500)
The material strength doubles on each step: light steel -> deck -> cable -> heavy steel.
So what do we learn from this?

1. Use heavy steel cautiously. Obviuosly, since heavy steel is extremely expensive, always try to replace it with light steel (even if you need up to 3x as much light steel for the replacement structure!), you'll save lots of money. On the other hand, sometimes you can replace a huge heap of light steel with just one heavy steel beam - because of it's tremendous stability. Learn to use the advantages of the different steel types.

2. Always use cable if you can - it's the cheapest material and its unlimited length make it incredibly versatile. The only problem with cables is that they can only withstand tension (or 'pull'), not compression ('push'). The stress display color for tension is blue by default. Check whether your bridge has any beams that turn blue as the train passes, without any shades of red (red is compression). Try replacing them with cables. You'll notice that a bridge doesn't necessarily have to be built completely of steel. In fact, most good Pontifex bridges have some cables in them.

- A hint for building cable-stayed bridges: This type of bridges mostly has to sustain tension (blue stress display color). To optimize your bridge, try using a pair of cables running alongside of the deck to reinforce it against tension. You can't attach a cable to the side of a single deck piece, but you can do it with two adjacent ones - like this:

If you're desperate, try also using the following method (or any combination of the two):

This way, however, the train has to go through the cable links, so it might be considered 'unrealistic'/'dirty', so I wouldn't generally recommend this to everyone.

- As you've probably noticed, Pontifex calculates each beam's cost according to material type and length - so, unlike Bridge Builder, longer beams cost more. To reduce the cost of your bridge, try shortening some of the beams - especially the ones that don't get under much stress during the test runs. Shortening a couple of heavy steel beams just a little bit can save quite a lot of money that you can use to improve some other parts of your bridge. Be warned though - shorter beams are weaker, so don't make them too short!

- Another way to make your bridge cheaper is to remove the crossbeams connecting the front and back planes of your bridge. To do this, switch to complex mode and go to the center plane (if you don't know how to do this, just press 'R' in complex mode). Now just remove the crossbeams and return to the front plane (press 'F'). Test your bridge - most of the time, it will work as well as before.

 Advanced Tips

- An advanced player will try to make his bridges as strong as possible, so that not a single link breaks under the load. Sometimes, you're just a bit away from having a 100% stable bridge, but some of those tiny links a 'joint' cube consists of break every time. Here's a hint on how you can improve this situation: build a short vertical light steel beam on that joint! Somehow, the stress gets spread to the additional links, and overall, the bridge gets stronger, so you get a nice working bridge without having to rearrange the whole structure. Here's a simple example:

- To further reduce the cost of a truss bridge, the following technique can be very useful: Basically, if you have a bridge consisting of a row of triangles running over the deck (or under the deck), try 'pinching' the whole row - move the upper pairs of joints (or the lower ones) to the middle plane. Here's an example of what it should look like:

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