Multiplayer and Sprint FAQ

After downloading and cataloging three years worth of questions from Harddrop's Discord Channel, here are the most frequently asked questions.

What are some general tips to improve?

How do you downstack?

This is such an important part of the game, yet newcomers often overlook it. In so many words, try not to stack over upcoming holes.

What do these abbreviations mean?

  • DAS: Delayed auto shift, the time elapsed from first pressing "left" to when the piece first begins to autorepeat.
  • ARR: Auto-repeat rate, the speed at which the piece automatically moves to the wall.
  • PPS: Pieces per second
  • KPP: Keys per piece
  • APM: attack per minute
  • More definitions

How do you T-Spin?

Check out this T-Spin Double guide

How do Z/S spins work? What about other spins?

Check out Chopin's Twist Guide

What openers do you recommend? How do you start with S and Z?

The best openers send loads of garbage, and they don't use up T-pieces when building up.

How can I play faster?

File this one under "tacit knowledge":

  • Tacit knowledge can be defined as skills, ideas and experiences that people have but are not codified and may not necessarily be easily expressed.

Just like when you learn to ride a bike, learn it by doing. Still, many will practice sprint for years without coming anywhere close to the fastest players. An aura of mystery surrounds it, but don't let that stop you! The fastest players started out just like you.

Commonly given speed/sprint advice:

  • Awkward and challenging surfaces cause you to slow down, so learn to stack cleanly.
  • Watch the previews, so you can make better decisions and prepare for what's coming.
  • Learn to play well without the hold piece.
  • Sprint guide
  • Video series by Microblizz

What's a good 40 lines time?

New players might need a few minutes. The fastest players can do it in under 20 seconds. The average player might do it in anywhere from 40 to 70 seconds. Aim for a slightly better record than your current best. For games with line clear delay such as Puyo Puyo Tetris, add 10 or 20 seconds to the figures quoted above.

What is finesse?

Finesse refers to using as few keys as possible when you place a piece. Some games show a statistic called "finesse," which counts how many times you needed wasteful key presses. Learning finesse will reduce these wasteful motions, but it's no magic bullet. One of the fastest players in the world, Microblizz, was already playing over 4 pieces per second before he even learned finesse. And many top players never formally learn it.

What should I set my DAS to?

First turn your auto-repeat rate (ARR) all the way down. With DAS (Delayed Auto Shift), it depends. If you need more than a minute to clear 40 lines, then start out with around 130 ms (~8 frames). Much faster players might set their DAS as low as the 60s (~4 frames). If you find yourself misdropping because movement feels slippery, then increase your DAS. Former 40-lines world record holder, Lapsilap, was playing at speeds of 4.8 pieces per second with a DAS of 100 ms (~6 frames).

What key bindings do people use?

Use something that you personally find comfortable. Don't make a few fingers or one hand do all the work. Spread out the keys amongst many fingers so that you can move and rotate at the same time.

Do pro players actually look at all the previews? Where do they look?

Pro players look all over the place: their stack, the next queue, and occasionally at the opponent's field. Before locking yourself into a decision, quickly scan the queue to see if you'll get the piece that you'll soon need. For example, building a T-slot might cause problems if you don't see a T-piece coming. Players keep the next pieces in their peripheral vision to passively benefit from that info, or their eyes might dart back and forth from the queue.

The three stages of mastering the preview queue:

  • Stage 1: find a good spot for the current piece.
  • Stage 2: find a good spot that will also make room for all seven tetrominoes.
  • Stage 3: find the best combination of placements for the current and next piece(s).

How do you set up a 4-wide? How do you counter it?

This opening comes with controversy. Critics say that it's cheap. They warn new players that while it's effective, it may stymie skill growth because you won't make it to the midgame as much. Many pros avoid it, but they may still use it when their opponents do. It has no "hard counter," although you may find limited success with T-Spin heavy openers or just side/center 4-widing back.

Is 6-3 stacking a thing I need to learn?

The 6-3 stack refers to building a 6-wide stack on the left, one empty column in between, and a 3-wide stack on the right. It can come up organically in multiplayer games and works well with T-Spinning. But most players know it as a 40-lines playstyle. It nudges you toward placements that require less key presses, but it's not easy to do. There are sub-20 players who use it, as well as those who use 9-0 (Tetris) stacking, as well as those who use "freestyle" (mostly clearing singles and doubles all over).

When do I cancel or take damage? What is timing?

If you're at risk of topping out, then cancel garbage opposed to trading it. This helps you survive. If your opponent is about to top out and you're not, then accept and trade garbage with them. Depending on the game's garbage rules, you may also want to cancel incoming messy garbage and let the clean garbage come through.

Where is everyone playing?

Tetris Effect and Puyo Puyo Tetris are popular, but click here for a bigger list.

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