Anonymous's Upstacking Guide

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Part 1

Hello all.

You may have seen or heard of me. But allow me tell you who I am anyways. I am anonymous, the best upstacker on all of Hard Drop!

Okay, that may not be 100% true. If you're judging by downstacking speed, Apocalypse is the best downstacker, but if you're judging by efficiency, then I am confident in saying that I am the best downstacker*!

  • Only in terms of Blockbox. If you're not familiar with Blockbox. Basically, it's all completely messy garbage, and double sends 1 line, triple sends 2 lines, tetris sends 4 lines, and Back to Back also adds an extra line send (so B2B tetris sends 5 lines). Also, there are no spins and no combos.

Blockbox garbage.PNG

NOTE: This part is stuff about Blockbox strategy. If you don't want to read about Blockbox strategy, then skip down to the downstacking section, although I encourage you to read this part as it may give you some good insight into downstacking.

So before I begin, we should define what efficiency is. I determine efficiency in terms of three things:

1. lines built up

2. lines sent

3. lines downstacked

The basic gist of my definition is lines built up vs lines sent and lines downstacked. I consider a line sent and a line downstacked to be of equal value (this isn't always true, but for simplification, they're of equal value).

Anyways, Here's a table showing the efficiency of all the different line clears. For efficiency, I did efficiency = (lines sent + lines downstacked) / lines built. In the table, I labeled back to back as b2b and garbage clears as g [line clear]. I realize that the math is slightly inaccurate since I didn't take into account the little block that goes into the garbage line, but a long time ago, I did the math and took into account the little block, and the results are pretty much the same, so bear with me.

Efficiency chart.png

According to the table, the most efficient things you can do are (in this order):

1. garbage single

2. garbage double / garbage b2b tetris

3. garbage tetris

4. garbage triple

5. non garbage line clears

What does this tell us? None garbage line clears are bad, and theoretically, you should maximize garbage singles. Here is the most efficient game you can play:

Clearly, this situation is highly unlikely, and actually impossible to do with the bag system. Theoretically though, this placement is what you should be striving for.

Personally though, I don't try to follow this strategy. The above strategy is way too difficult to achieve.

The basis of my strategy is that every clear must include a garbage line. This means (theoretically) no regular singles, no regular doubles, triples or tetrises. You can only get garbage singles, garbage doubles, etc.

Going more in depth, my main strategy is to keep my field as clear as possible through garbage clears. If your field is clear, it's easy to stack on and easy to keep clear (or at least easier than if your field was jaggedy). So how do you keep your field clear? Getting garbage doubles! Garbage doubles are excellent for three reasons. They have the second highest efficiency, if you do them (right) they keep your field nice and clean which also allows you to get garbage singles, and you don't really have to look down your field so much. Here's a pretty typical dig race 10 lines game I play:

Sorry I don't know how to make previews on fumen

Of course, you won't always be able to get just garbage singles and doubles. Often times you'll have to get garbage triples, garbage tetrises, and even *shivers* regular singles, although these aren't necessarily bad things, just try to minimize them if you can.

My strategy is much better than the one above because my strategy, while difficult, is still achievable and efficient.

Anyways, I hope this has been insightful, or at least interesting for you. But, enough talk about Blockbox! You're here to learn how to downstack, not Blockbox strategy!


Why you should learn this (January 29, 2013)

I know there are some people who tell themselves, "Why do I want to learn how to play Blockbox style? I only play TF/Nullpomino/TOP/etc. I don't play Blockbox at all, and I don't plan on playing it. Blockbox garbage is too hard! I only need to get better at downstacking TF garbage, not Blockbox garbage."

To begin, don't be a little girl and say Blockbox garbage is too hard (no offense to any little girls reading this). It's not hard. The problem is that you haven't put an effort into understanding downstacking. You play for a few hours, maybe even a few days and decide it's too hard. Instead of trying to learn how to downstack it, you scoff at it and say "why should I learn how to do it"? Well, this is exactly the wrong mindset to have if you ever want to be a good player.

Instead of saying that "Blockbox is dumb" or "this is too hard", focus on the real truth. You're bad at downstacking. However, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being bad at downstacking because it means you have room for improvement. If you have the mindset that "downstacking is too hard" as opposed to "I am bad at downstacking", then you already have the idea that you can't be good at downstacking. However, if you think to yourself "I am bad at downstacking" then at least you understand that you can improve (In fact, this applies for a lot of things, not just downstacking).

Having said that, downstacking is very tough to learn and only few players properly learn to downstack. You don't get any tangible feedback that you're getting better at downstacking. But I can tell you that if you practice these techniques, then you will improve your downstacking.

Furthermore, think about the long run benefits. If you can learn to downstack this garbage, you can learn to downstack anything thrown at you in TF. Sure, when you start, you may struggle (a lot) with the garbage, but once you understand it, then it'll just become natural to you. Also, games like TF will become a lot easier for you.

Think about this. American Football players practice running with a parachute behind them so that they can run faster when they're in game. Tetris is no different. If you can downstack Blockbox garbage, then you can downstack anything on TF and Nullpo. However, Blockbox teaches you more than just how to downstack. I can tell you that playing Blockbox has helped me become a better player in TOJ/TF/Nullpo in more ways than just becoming a good downstacker. Playing Blockbox has also helped me stack cleaner and flatter without needing to skim much, and it has helped me increase my combos.

Yes, playing Blockbox will greatly increase your downstacking ability, but it also increases your stacking ability as well. When you have 90% random garbage, you have to make lots of decisions, like where should I place my pieces so that I block the next garbage hole the least? What piece fits best in my garbage hole? What is my next garbage hole going to look like? Is the piece I need for the next garbage hole coming up or do I need to change what it looks like? A whole plethora of questions that require lots of analyzation in only brief moments. *

When you become good at these things, and you play TF and Nullpo, it really shows. Because TF/Nullpo's garbage isn't as messy, you don't have to worry as much about stacking over upcoming garbage holes, what piece you're going to need etc. The end result is that your stack becomes cleaner which allows you to build more T-spins, you can upstack faster, you have more time to think, and it allows you to downstack faster.

Furthermore, playing Blockbox style (or at least my style) is excellent for increasing your average combo. In my style, you basically are trying to turn all the singles and doubles you are getting into bigger line clears. For instance:

So how is this related to comboing? Well, comboing is just the exact opposite. Instead of turning singles and doubles into larger line clears, you're trying to turn those larger line clears into a lot more smaller line clears. In other words, comboing is just the exact opposite of my style.

Anyways, Here's a table showing the efficiency of all the different line clears. For efficiency, I did efficiency = (lines sent + lines downstacked) / lines built. In the table, I labeled back to back as b2b and garbage clears as g [line clear]. I realize that the math is slightly inaccurate since I didn't take into account the little block that goes into the garbage line, but a long time ago, I did the math and took into account the little block, and the results are pretty much the same, so bear with me.

Efficiency chart.png

According to the table, the most efficient things you can do are (in this order):

1. garbage single

2. garbage double / garbage b2b tetris

3. garbage tetris

4. garbage triple

5. non garbage line clears

What does this tell us? None garbage line clears are bad, and theoretically, you should maximize garbage singles. Here is the most efficient game you can play:

Clearly, this situation is highly unlikely, and actually impossible to do with the bag system. Theoretically though, this placement is what you should be striving for.

Personally though, I don't try to follow this strategy. The above strategy is way too difficult to achieve.

The basis of my strategy is that every clear must include a garbage line. This means (theoretically) no regular singles, no regular doubles, triples or tetrises. You can only get garbage singles, garbage doubles, etc.

Going more in depth, my main strategy is to keep my field as clear as possible through garbage clears. If your field is clear, it's easy to stack on and easy to keep clear (or at least easier than if your field was jaggedy). So how do you keep your field clear? Getting garbage doubles! Garbage doubles are excellent for three reasons. They have the second highest efficiency, if you do them (right) they keep your field nice and clean which also allows you to get garbage singles, and you don't really have to look down your field so much. Here's a pretty typical dig race 10 lines game I play:

Sorry I don't know how to make previews on fumen

Of course, you won't always be able to get just garbage singles and doubles. Often times you'll have to get garbage triples, garbage tetrises, and even *shivers* regular singles, although these aren't necessarily bad things, just try to minimize them if you can.

My strategy is much better than the one above because my strategy, while difficult, is still achievable and efficient.

Anyways, I hope this has been insightful, or at least interesting for you. But, enough talk about Blockbox! You're here to learn how to downstack, not Blockbox strategy!


Why you should learn this (January 29, 2013)

I know there are some people who tell themselves, "Why do I want to learn how to play Blockbox style? I only play TF/Nullpomino/TOP/etc. I don't play Blockbox at all, and I don't plan on playing it. Blockbox garbage is too hard! I only need to get better at downstacking TF garbage, not Blockbox garbage."

To begin, don't be a little girl and say Blockbox garbage is too hard (no offense to any little girls reading this). It's not hard. The problem is that you haven't put an effort into understanding downstacking. You play for a few hours, maybe even a few days and decide it's too hard. Instead of trying to learn how to downstack it, you scoff at it and say "why should I learn how to do it"? Well, this is exactly the wrong mindset to have if you ever want to be a good player.

Instead of saying that "Blockbox is dumb" or "this is too hard", focus on the real truth. You're bad at downstacking. However, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being bad at downstacking because it means you have room for improvement. If you have the mindset that "downstacking is too hard" as opposed to "I am bad at downstacking", then you already have the idea that you can't be good at downstacking. However, if you think to yourself "I am bad at downstacking" then at least you understand that you can improve (In fact, this applies for a lot of things, not just downstacking).

Having said that, downstacking is very tough to learn and only few players properly learn to downstack. You don't get any tangible feedback that you're getting better at downstacking. But I can tell you that if you practice these techniques, then you will improve your downstacking.

Furthermore, think about the long run benefits. If you can learn to downstack this garbage, you can learn to downstack anything thrown at you in TF. Sure, when you start, you may struggle (a lot) with the garbage, but once you understand it, then it'll just become natural to you. Also, games like TF will become a lot easier for you.

Think about this. American Football players practice running with a parachute behind them so that they can run faster when they're in game. Tetris is no different. If you can downstack Blockbox garbage, then you can downstack anything on TF and Nullpo. However, Blockbox teaches you more than just how to downstack. I can tell you that playing Blockbox has helped me become a better player in TOJ/TF/Nullpo in more ways than just becoming a good downstacker. Playing Blockbox has also helped me stack cleaner and flatter without needing to skim much, and it has helped me increase my combos.

Yes, playing Blockbox will greatly increase your downstacking ability, but it also increases your stacking ability as well. When you have 90% random garbage, you have to make lots of decisions, like where should I place my pieces so that I block the next garbage hole the least? What piece fits best in my garbage hole? What is my next garbage hole going to look like? Is the piece I need for the next garbage hole coming up or do I need to change what it looks like? A whole plethora of questions that require lots of analyzation in only brief moments. *

When you become good at these things, and you play TF and Nullpo, it really shows. Because TF/Nullpo's garbage isn't as messy, you don't have to worry as much about stacking over upcoming garbage holes, what piece you're going to need etc. The end result is that your stack becomes cleaner which allows you to build more T-spins, you can upstack faster, you have more time to think, and it allows you to downstack faster.

Furthermore, playing Blockbox style (or at least my style) is excellent for increasing your average combo. In my style, you basically are trying to turn all the singles and doubles you are getting into bigger line clears. For instance:

So how is this related to comboing? Well, comboing is just the exact opposite. Instead of turning singles and doubles into larger line clears, you're trying to turn those larger line clears into a lot more smaller line clears. In other words, comboing is just the exact opposite of my style.