From beginner to intermediate...

Thread in 'Strategy' started by Rory76, 3 Sep 2019.

  1. I started playing about six months ago, though I guess I must have played Gameboy Tetris when I was a kid. I don't really play video games, other than the odd old skool one that I tend to get heavily into. Ten years ago it was the Retrospec version of Manic Miner (couldn't complete it), and then a few years after that Head Over Heels and Chuckie Egg. I also completed everything on Mario Kart Wii, but that's about the most modern game I've ever played.

    Anyway, I started on Level 5, got about 60k, then was on Level 9 starts for a long time, scoring 200k on a good day. Transitioning to Level 10 seemed kind of crazy and impossible. Then I learned how to start on 10+ and got like 30k on a Level 13 start and thought I was doing seriously well.

    I was also watching CTWC videos and couldn't believe those guys could play on 18, let alone 19 and beyond.

    I put a lot of that down to my playing on a laptop with the keyboard. I read early on that Jonas said that was too much lag, that it wasn't really possible to play on higher levels. But now I've seen players like Galoomba maxing out on keyboard I guess that's not true.

    Anyway, little by little I guess I got better. I probably stuck with 9 for too long, before moving on to Level 15 starts. But I used to freak out on 9 when the stack got to the bottom of the next box, whereas now it seems I can play right to the top, and 15 is going the same way.

    Hard to believe, sometimes, that the brain can change so suddenly, and what seemed to be moving at a hundred miles an hour now seems in slow motion.

    I guess at some point I scored over 300k on a 9 start, and then over 400k on a 15 start. A few months ago I got my personal best to 475k and made 500k my laptop goal - and that's been a complete pain in the arse, since I've been determined to do it on 15 and ignored the advice of all the pros: very early on, I heard things like "practice on the level too high to push down on"; "practice on the level you can't tetris on"; "practice practice practice on Level 19" - but I ignored all that.

    In any case, a few weeks ago I gave it a try and found to my amazement that within not very long I could tetris and stack on 19. Still only got three tetrises in a game, and a best of 42 lines - but after like 15 minutes of doing that I went and played on 18 and quickly bagged two 400k scores when previously I'd only hit 200k+ a handful of times, so I guess it worked.

    I still haven't hit 500k though - and it finally dawned on me that, without being able to play well on 19, that's actually really difficult from a 15 start - needs something like an 80% tetris rate all the way through. So the chances of getting it just on 15 to 18 are pretty slim. Particularly as I can barely make out the colours on 16 and 17 (God, I hate that! And it's always such a relief when 18 comes back around.)

    One problem I think I have is that I haven't really spent enough time learning how to burn properly. I focus on tetrises and if the long bar doesn't come I get too high and just start again. I mean, not that I can't burn somewhat, and now the basics of it, but there are plenty better moves, I'm sure, to get myself out of dodgy situations.

    I'm not really sure the best way to go about that. Though I do notice new moves and solutions creeping in little by little - which is always a cool thing to observe. And one hopes they start sticking and are then when I need them.

    In any case, if I was smart I think I'd probably give up on the 15 start and stick to 18 and 19 and not worry too much about getting a high score, rather learn how to play better. Though I do notice that all my hours on 15 have certainly made my stacking and pattern recognition pretty sweet, and hopefully that'll stick.

    I just wonder what it is that makes 19 so difficult when I see other players breezing through it. I can stack okay to a certain point - but one it goes wrong, it's pretty much over: me on 19 is not dissimilar to somebody like Joseph, Richard, or TylerP on 29. Perhaps that's just the way it goes.

    Anyways, I would love to hit 500k at some point. And love to be able to play on 19. I suppose if I keep at it it'll happen, given that 10, 13, and especially 18 seemed at one point impossible, and now they're very, very doable. Even 18 is starting to feel somewhat slow, after a good blast of 19 - just in the last week I've found myself wanting to press down, and started stacking higher and higher, so I guess there's progress.

    Funny to think of the ups and the downs, and the times I've felt I've reached a plateau, or even got worse - and then something just clicks, and my games gets just that little bit better.

    It would be nice to see it get better faster, when I see the progress that some of the newer players have made but, oh well, I'm like 43, a newbie, and perhaps never destined for more than about the 500k level.

    But I guess the point of all this was to maybe reiterate the things that the main guys are always saying from the novice's perspective, since I ignored them for such a long time, and was probably wrong in doing so: practice on 19, play on a too-high level, and don't get too fixated on a high score, since all a PB really is is that game where RNG was kind, a few mistakes were avoided, the line pieces came at the right moment, and enough darts have been thrown at the target to eventually hit the bullseye. Something like that.

    And, of course, having said that I'll probably go right now to a 15 start and say something like "I just wanna get 500k and then I'll stop playing". ;)

    Well, not sure that's really helpful to anyone else - but if you've got any wise tips to help me hit the next level - buy an NES? get a controller? practice certain moves? instill some kind of disciplined program of play, rather than just score chasing? - then perhaps typing all this will be helpful to me.

    And thanks all for being out there, and playing, and for the way everyone's pushing each other to greater and greater heights, creating these communities, and providing so many hours of good clean geek-based fun. :)
    Last edited: 3 Sep 2019
    jack13berry and botitas like this.
  2. PS
    • I haven't learned how to DAS, and though I think I finally understand how it works, it seems beyond me how players can "hold down and let go" with such precision and forethought, over and over again. So I just mash the keys as quick as I can. Seems like it's probably about 9-10 hits per second. Though I do notice there's an inconsistency in response which I'm hoping wouldn't be there on an actual NES
    • Though I'm getting 300k+ fairly regularly now, I'm probably way more like to get 30k and then top out/give up - or even 30! ;)
    • Sometimes I feel I get something like "the yips": a weird involuntary extra tap at the end that throws everything off. Anybody else had this? Or this other thing where I temporarily start seeing the pieces the wrong way round (e.g., sticking an L or S where I would normally put a J or Z). Those are quite disturbing - but thankfully don't last beyond a session
    • I wonder what playing some competitive games would do for me? Maybe make me focus more on consistency and survivability, plus introduce the element of adrenaline and nerves. That'd be fun. I'd really like to see some "amateur level" competition :)
    • I think the best tips I've learned from watching and listening to other players are: tetris on the right (obviously); avoid too much centre well stuff (obvs.); try and keep a double-wide well on the right; stack high on the left; avoid getting 'piece dependent'; look at the line count rather than the score; practice funky spins and tucks; practice on higher levels than I'm comfortable with; and...keep playing.
    Last edited: 3 Sep 2019
  3. As I was writing the above, and about my inability to hit a half-mill, I had a notion that it would probably happen almost immediately after; and it did:


    Not just beat my previous PB of 475k, but smashed it; that seems to be the way it goes with me.

    The game was most interesting in that it was probably the first time I truly got into the mindset of not looking at my score. I mean, I checked it out a couple of times at like 60 and 90 lines, but once I transitioned to 16, all I did was play. No point wondering whether I was gonna make it. Such a pleasant surprise when I realised I had.

    Now it's finally time to get an actual NES and set about tackling 18/19 properly. :)
  4. Boom! I just increased my Level 19 PB from 72,000 to 102,000; I guess that means that, for the first time, I got four Tetrises. Very pleased with that.

    One thing I've noticed is: contrary to what common sense might perhaps predict, my 19 game seems to improve more when I'm building for Tetrises - ie, playing normal - than when I just try to clear single lines. Not sure why.

    I still don't think my keyboard/computer is fast enough for that level though. And the first sign of a misdrop and it's over.
  5. It seems a truism in many things that progress comes in fits and starts: improvement then stagnation; plateauing and seeming stuck; even feeling like we're getting worse; then getting rapidly better out of nowhere.

    I guess I'm in a bit of a plateau right now. It's pretty cool that I can play on 18, stack high, get out of jams - but 19 still completely eludes me, and there are massive holes in my game, I'm sure.

    The main one, I think, is that I still don't know when to burn. I build too high and when I realise I need to get out of it, it's too late. I've always been doing this.

    Anybody got any tips on how to make burning and playing safe a mental habit?
  6. So I signed up for some competitive play and, boy, was that an interesting experience. My first match was against someone I thought not quite as good as me, so I was hopeful of a winning start - but, alas, lost 3-1 and then 3-2, and was far from not just my best, but also my average level of play. But, oh well.

    Interesting thing was how nervous I got: I was literally shaking and feeling unwell, all over a nothing game with about five people watching sitting in my living room. The moment we said we'd play I started physically shaking, and it didn't stop until I came way. Reminded me of doing other things - first time performing at an open mic; playing competitive sports - and they got better, so hopefully the same with this.

    It was kind of comical how bad I was though. Even though mostly playing on 15 starts, which I haven't done for a while, since they now seem so slow, I could barely function. Misdropping loads, making bad decisions, building really poorly. One fun moment when I glanced up and saw the match on a second laptop, and realised the play screen in front of me seemed like it was going about twice the speed. It was like I had tunnel vision too, only seeing a small part of the board. Fifteen seemed suddenly crazy fast and tough. Just so fascinating what the mind does.

    Still, I had a feeling it had done me good, immediately more than doubled my 19 PB for both lines and scores, and felt for the first time I was cracking it, and on the road to a whole new level of play.

    Perhaps non-wisely, then, I went on a mammoth session of about four hours of awful play where nothing worked and I felt worse than ever, but couldn't stop. A good game had to be in there somewhere! But it was pure garbage, and so, so disheartening. How could I have improved so much on 19, and put myself on show in the public eye, and then play like this? Totally overdid it and just got worse and worse and worse.

    Tetris is a weird game. All this talk of plateauing and even backsliding. It makes so little sense.

    Anyway, I had a few days off and this morning had a little session in which I got my first 500k from a Level 18 start, so maybe it's not all bad. Though that could of course just have been some rather splendid and generous RNG. ;)
    botitas likes this.
  7. Playing some more 'competitive' and still massively struggling. First I played the guy I lost to in my first matches, in a series of friendlies, and won them pretty easy (3-1, 3-1, 2-3, 3-1) and thought I was feeling much better about the whole head-to-head thing. But then I played a better player, and completely went to pieces, and then one probably a bit weaker than me, and though I won the first set 3-0 it was pretty uncomfortable - and on the second set I lost it again, and could barely function. It's like being mentally crippled: my brain can no longer see the whole board, or play naturally, it zooms in and focuses on one specific area at a time, and really has to think about where the pieces go, even at 15 speed. Once I misdrop and have to dig, I feel in panic mode, and though I'm seeing the blocks drop incredibly slowly, it feels like such an effort to move them.

    Well, hopefully it'll get easier the more I do it. I'm not so much complaining or worried as I am curious and interested in 'journalling it out'. Psychologically, it's fascinating. And if it never gets better, oh well, I'm sure not being able to play competitive Tetris won't have too much of a detrimental effect on my life. ;)

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