GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING MULTIPLAYER TETRIS
The objective of this guide is to give newcomers a better understanding of what they are actually witnessing when they spectate a game with two high caliber Tetris players. This guide is going to cover the basic game mechanics of multiplayer Tetris, keeping the use of technical terms to the minimum and not going too much in depth on every topic. The reason I want to keep this guide as simple as possible is that I don’t think it is required to read 10 pages of technical stuff you barely understand in order to get an idea of what you are watching. There are some topics that are not covered by this guide because they are not needed in order to obtain a basic understanding of Multiplayer Tetris. If you at any time encounter a term that you are unfamiliar with, there is a good chance you can find an explanation at http://tetriswiki.com/Glossary
THE FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH MULTIPLAYER TETRIS
The first impression when you see high level Tetris play, whether it is a YouTube video, Live Stream or in game, canbe confusing. To the right you can see a .gif example of a multiplayer match. If Tetris is new to you, then you are most likely not able to tell what is going on and it looks just like a blur of different colors. The moment you realize that those are Tetrominos (playing pieces) and not just random colors, you will question if or how playing with that speed is possible. I can guarantee that in over 99% of the cases, what you see are legitimate players and not some kind of cheat or bot. Tetris has changed a lot since its birth in 1984. Most of the newer games have mechanics that allows the players to place the pieces much faster than you could in older versions. Players who have played for many years are able to place more than 2 pieces per second, and some players can even go above 3 pieces per second. With that being said, speed is not everything here. Below this fast-paced madness of falling blocks lies a sea of deeper strategies than you could possibly imagine.
GAME OBJECTIVE AND MECHANICS
The game ends when a player tops out, that is when a new Tetromino cannot be placed because it’s spawn position is blocked or when received garbage lines pushed the top pieces above the spawn zone. The goal in multiplayer Tetris is to stay alive longer than your opponent. This is easiest done by sending garbage lines to your opponent.
Garbage lines are the lines consisting of nine blocks and one hole that appears on the bottom of the matrix, pushing everything else up.
There are many different ways to send garbage, and they all got one thing in common. A player needs to clear lines from his/her own playfield to send garbage lines to his/her opponents field.
In guideline games a single line clear does not send any lines, double line clears sends one line, triple line clears sends two lines and quadruple line clears also known as Tetrises sends four lines.
You can also use combos to send lines. Combos are consecutive line clears. The gif to the left shows an example of a 6 combo. Next to it is a combo table showing how many lines are sent per combo. Combo tables varies from game to game but generally the longer your combo, the more lines you send.
The third way to send lines are T-Spins. The most common types of T-spins are T-spin singles and T-spin doubles. A T-spin double is when you set up a T shaped hole with an overhang above it. Then you soft drop the T piece and spin it into place so that it clears two lines. The left gif illustrates a T spin double. A T-spin single is almost the same as a T-spin double, the only difference is that you clear one line instead of two lines as shown to the right. A T-spin double sends four lines and a T spin single sends two lines. Setting up a T-spin double takes roughly half the amount of pieces it takes to stack up a Tetris. Due to their high lines cleared/lines sent ratio, T-spins are favorable moves among Tetris players so you can expect to see a lot of T-spins in high level matches.
DOWNSTACKING AND GARBAGE CANCELING & COUNTERING
Downstacking is the act of clearing blocks inside the matrix to lower the height of the stack. When a player receives a lot of garbage lines he or she will have to downstack to avoid topping out. There is not much more to say about downstacking without going too much in depth. If you’re one of those who would like to know every detail of the game you can find more on downstacking here and here.
If both players make an attack of equal strength at the same time they cancel each other out. If player A sends two lines and player B immediately responds with an attack that sends four lines, then player B cancels his two pending garbage lines and counter attacks with two lines. These concepts are called garbage canceling and garbage countering and can help you survive for longer.
Below are some links to other websites that goes more in depth on things that are not covered by this guide.
- More details on multiplayer: http://harddrop.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=3033, http://tetrisconcept.com/multiplayer/
- The tetris guideline http://harddrop.com/wiki/Tetris_Guideline
- Different T spin methods http://harddrop.com/wiki/Category:T-Spin_Methods
- Very in depth sprint guide http://harddrop.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4371
- More articles http://tetrisconcept.com/
- Some notes on parity http://harddrop.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5013
- Perfect clears: http://harddrop.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=5465