• Leveling Up - Tilt: Recognizing it, Avoiding it

    This article is part of a series of topics intended to focus on high-level technical play and, in general, improving your playing skills. "Level up" topics go deep on a timeless aspect of the game, concepts that are unlikely to change even as cards do. Sometimes external, sometimes internal, but always about Dice Masters.

    Tilt. Along with results-oriented thinking, it is one of the most dangerous things that we can submit ourselves to.

    For those not familiar, I'll reference the definition from Wikipedia: "Tilt is a poker term for a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in the player becoming over-aggressive. This term is closely associated with steam and some consider the terms equivalent, but 'steam' typically carries more anger and intensity."

    Tilt has long been associated with luck-based games.

    It's easy to see, by it's very definition, how this might mess up your play. There's plenty of variance in Dice Masters that can throw one for a loop - five dice in bag, you draw four, and they're all sidekicks, leaving that crucial basic action behind. You need a mask and all you can roll (and re-roll) are fists and shields. This can be frustrating, especially over time, and how you react can badly impact your game if you let it. You can start to force things that aren't there, or force a strategy that is no longer optimal.

    Recognizing Tilt in Yourself

    This happens in all sorts of games. MTG Pro Tour Eric Froelich says he experiences it: "It comes from general frustration, things are just not going your way."

    There are so many ways that this could trigger:

    1) Your rolls are not ideal.
    2) Your bag draws are not ideal.
    3) Your opponent is salty
    4) You misinterpreted a rule
    5) There is a ruling that you disagree with
    6) You made a misplay
    7) You dropped a game in Top 8

    These are some of the many things that might induce tilt in you. It's not the trigger, though, it's the reaction to it. Decisions become less strategic or are based mindlessly on a losing strategy. Next time something like the above list occurs (or perhaps others will share tilt triggers in the comments) stop for a second and think about how you're reacting to the circumstances.


    Avoiding Tilt in Dice Masters

    The greatest part of this is that the solution is something that enables you to be a better player. Strategy is only one facet of Dice Masters - you want these dice, fire that combo, push out these characters, win. The problem is that the dice may seem to have a mind of their own. Excellent tactical play becomes quite important with this in mind.

    Even when you're in a bad spot and you have a 10% chance of winning, you need to look for the play that gets you to 15% or 20%. That's still a bad position, no question. Still, to an opportunity to practice looking for the best board position for yourself in a given situation instead of mindlessly following a strategy that may no longer work. Increasing your equity in those situations is what will help you do the same when you're sitting at 80% and trying to seal the deal.

    Also remember that variance will swing both ways. You'll experience highs and lows, so don't sweat the lows or be too thrilled about the highs.

    Finally, don't compare yourself to others. Don't expect to win or expect that your preparation is better than someone else's. Expect to perform your best. Don't expect the dice to always come up your way, all the time. Giving up to tilt is more likely when your incorrect expectations meet a heavy dose of reality, so be ready regardless of the roll. Know your deck and know the optimal play for any situation going into the game. If you're used to doing that, then you've already made most of the difficult choices beforehand and it'll make your games as a whole go more smoothly.
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. Jwannabe's Avatar
      Jwannabe -
      Great read. This game will definitely let you see this from both sides. I've been able to win while at 1 life many games and my opponent only needed to roll 1 die a certain energy several turns in a row to win and was unable to do so .
    1. StrangeBrew's Avatar
      StrangeBrew -
      Great article. I won a game yesterday only because my opponent didn't get the one die out of his bag the last 3 turns that he needed to put me away. I knew it, he knew it. I was playing a chip away/"ping"/"bleed" deck I hadn't played before and he was playing a one shot. Either of us could have played worse. I could have frozen or "tilted" when I saw his strategy, but I kept playing my game and squeaked out a win by the skin of my teeth. I suspect two of the good ways to avoid tilt are to always remember this is a game you're playing for entertainment, and that your opponents are always, at least potentially, your friends (people with the same interests you spend time with). Thanks again for a thoughtful article.
    1. Dave's Avatar
      Dave -
      I'll tell you what, thinking about this article today at the PDC States really helped me. I'm glad I just forced myself to think about it by writing it! Some times that I got down or didn't like the board state but managed to find a way to right the ship.
    1. agentj's Avatar
      agentj -
      Great article Dave. Glad I got to meet you today and play against you. For not playing in a while you played really well and had me struggling.I look forward to playing you again in the near future.
    1. cbone3's Avatar
      cbone3 -
      I had an interesting experience that is relevant to this. I have been studying for the CPA exam. I took the first part and KILLED it. In the lead-up to taking the second part, my practice exam scores were even higher for this part than the first part. I went in confident. As the questions came, there were questions on material that simply were not covered in my review course. As I continued, I was starting to tilt (and, frankly, get scared). I had put so much into studying and preparing. I started freaking out. Then, I told myself, "You're in some (explitive) here. Do your best on every question, one at a time, and pull this thing out." I did. But it happened because I recognized my mental state, slowed down, and made the best decision I could the rest of the way through.
    1. Nemesis's Avatar
      Nemesis -
      Does Marshall from Limited Resources know you're adapting his topics? hahah Very on point and always great reminders so far!

      Here are some easy steps to help avoid and fix the tilt you may experience.

      1) Prepare! Know your team. Test lots and know what you're going to buy in case of bad rolls. If you are prepared for the bad rolls and have a plan, they won't seem like such a big deal.

      2) Get some sleep. If your event is at 10 am and you're still up at midnight, you're probably wrong. A well rested mind is better able to analyze information and make the best decisions.

      3) EAT! Eat some breakfast, bring a HEALTHY snack and have a bottle of water handy. Being hungry or thirsty will distract you and distractions will bring about misplays. Chocolate bars and chips and pop are terrible for you and they won't fill you up for as long. Eat healthy, hydrate and win.

      4) Breathe. I am combat veteran and I can tell you hand-on-heart that breathing will get you through just about any stressful situation you find yourself in. When the proverbial shizznit hits the rotating blades of fury you want to be able to keep your cool. Take a few long, deep breathes and hold each for a couple seconds slowing your breathing right down. This will allow you to get back into a less panicked state and re-assess the situation you are in.

      5) Lastly be a good sport. This is a game and we will lose some of the time. When it happens don't lose your cool. Be calm, congratulate your opponent and wish them luck. Keeping your cool is contagious and when we all do it, the environment you're in is better all around.


      Keep rollin' folks!
    1. Dave's Avatar
      Dave -
      @Nemesis - I am definitely of the Marshall/LR school of thought when it comes to technical play/internal development. No question. Zilch.
    1. Nemesis's Avatar
      Nemesis -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave View Post
      @Nemesis - I am definitely of the Marshall/LR school of thought when it comes to technical play/internal development. No question. Zilch.
      Ain't that the truth! Helped my Magic playing in a big way and a lot of those skills trasfer!
    1. KennedyHawk's Avatar
      KennedyHawk -
      Getting tilted is so easy in this game.

      It's sure to hit everyone from time to time even the most prepared players.

      The best piece of advice I can give is to leave it at the table.

      If you get Tilted in one round of swiss it can be painful, but in the next round just pull yourself together and give your next opponent the best game you have.

      I got pretty tilted at the WKO in Chicago this spring, one of my opponents sat at the wrong table. It was a huge mess that couldn't be resolved because two people couldn't distinguish table numbers. After winning my game our entire table was given a draw because of someone else ineptitude. At the time I was a little tilted to say the least. When I went to my table in round 5 I had to forget about it all and just play my best to play into the Top cut. By keeping calm, forgetting about the incident, and focusing on the positive I was able to win out and make the Top Cut.

      One other note on getting tilted or being tilted. Don't. I repeat DON'T try to get your opponent tilted. I've seen people do this as a tactic. It's awful and not fun to play against. You'll get a reputation as that guy. Don't be "that guy".
    1. The0retico's Avatar
      The0retico -
      So much has been said and written on this topic in Magic community...
      I think the most important point to take is, that in this game you have pretty much the control over what happens, so there is no reason to tilt.
      You cannot get bluffed or jedi-mind-tricked, because there is basically no hidden information.
      You cannot get screwed/flooded because you decide what dice and when to put in your bag.
      There is no topdecking - you pretty much know what will happen during your opponents turn.
      You cannot lose to a fringe card yo udidn't expect, because you know your opponents team.
      Just practice a lot and think hard.
    1. Dave's Avatar
      Dave -
      Quote Originally Posted by The0retico View Post
      So much has been said and written on this topic in Magic community...
      I think the most important point to take is, that in this game you have pretty much the control over what happens, so there is no reason to tilt.
      You cannot get bluffed or jedi-mind-tricked, because there is basically no hidden information.
      You cannot get screwed/flooded because you decide what dice and when to put in your bag.
      There is no topdecking - you pretty much know what will happen during your opponents turn.
      You cannot lose to a fringe card yo udidn't expect, because you know your opponents team.
      Just practice a lot and think hard.

      Some of this is true but we have the variance of dice to contend with.
    1. KennedyHawk's Avatar
      KennedyHawk -
      Quote Originally Posted by The0retico View Post
      So much has been said and written on this topic in Magic community...
      I think the most important point to take is, that in this game you have pretty much the control over what happens, so there is no reason to tilt.
      You cannot get bluffed or jedi-mind-tricked, because there is basically no hidden information.
      You cannot get screwed/flooded because you decide what dice and when to put in your bag.
      There is no topdecking - you pretty much know what will happen during your opponents turn.
      You cannot lose to a fringe card yo udidn't expect, because you know your opponents team.
      Just practice a lot and think hard.
      It's not as easy to get tilted with your opponent but just adding dice to a game makes it very easy to get tilted at your situation. If the game was just practice a lot and think hard that implies the game is deterministic by equally skilled players. I don't think this to be the case.
    1. The0retico's Avatar
      The0retico -
      Don't get me wrong - I am not saying there is no variance in Dice Masters. I just wanted to stress, that it is easier to find misplays and find optimal plays and therefore it is waste of time to tilt, when you can be improving instead.
      If you know both games and try to think about the probabilities, you would see what I mean.
    1. Dave's Avatar
      Dave -
      Quote Originally Posted by The0retico View Post
      Don't get me wrong - I am not saying there is no variance in Dice Masters. I just wanted to stress, that it is easier to find misplays and find optimal plays and therefore it is waste of time to tilt, when you can be improving instead.
      If you know both games and try to think about the probabilities, you would see what I mean.
      In that sense I agree, and that's where things like looking for equity and seeing the whole board come in.