I’ve started and stopped writing this article 10 times over the last few weeks. It’s something I’ve been meaning to cover for quite some time, since I think it’s an important topic that everyone can benefit from. For those of you who may not be familiar with the lingo, “tilting” is a poker term for when something doesn’t go your way, causing you to get upset, lose focus, and make more mistakes than you normally would. Tilt is something I have a lot of experience with, given my background in both poker and competitive gaming, so I feel like I have plenty of advice that can help people try to conquer their own emotions and focus on how to make the best of every situation.
The inspiration to finish writing this article came just the other night, in the Finals match of the Season 6 TTS league, where, ironically enough, I had a rare lapse in my ability to restrain my tilt. I’ll get into the details of that story in just a second, but suffice to say that if you’re a human being, getting frustrated at unfortunate or “unlucky” circumstances are a completely natural thing that everyone has to deal with, and just like everything else, there is always room to improve.
You’re probably wondering what pushed me over the edge of frustration and put me on tilt, given that I literally just told you that I’m usually good about controlling my own emotions. Well here’s the situation.
It’s game three of the TTS league finals, and we’re down to the wire. I have Thrawn with 4 health left, and my opponent has just been forced to kill one of his characters because of my 7 indirect damage Planetary Bombardment. He elects to kill Aphra, and leaves Tarkin with 1 health remaining. He then activates Tarkin and rolls double resource sides, giving him three-action lethal (Power Action, plus two backup muscles). However, I’m one action ahead of him with my lethal, given that I have a focus already showing on Thrawn. Here’s a clip of what happens from there, taken from the Golden Dice stream:
For those of you who can’t, or don’t want to watch the video clip, here’s what happened.
- I activate my ARC and roll 2 ranged damage (lethal). Note that no matter what I had rolled here, I could have focused this die to lethal before he kills me.
- He plays Entangle and removes my 2 ranged damage and my 1 focus
See the problem? He just decided to kill Aphra a turn earlier, and Entangle is a spot yellow card! There are so many things that frustrate me about this situation.
- First and foremost, I ALWAYS catch these spot cards when I’m playing in real life, but for some reason it seems easier to miss on TTS. At the end of the day it’s my responsibility to catch these things, and I missed it.
- I literally had the game 100% won on board, and lost as a result of missing this.
- There were people watching, and no one intervened. To be clear, I’m not in any way blaming the commentators for not speaking up. I already mentioned that it is ultimately my responsibility, but I also feel like at any other event where people are spectating, this is an obviously illegal play that would and should be pointed out immediately if noticed. At the same time, I understand the Golden Dice guys were put in an awkward situation, since they were just there to stream and commentate. If you guys are reading this, please know I don’t mean to offend you with this, I’m just explaining my own frustration.
- I should have called a judge as soon as I realized the mistake (which was 3 actions later when he killed Thrawn with his last backup muscle).
As for item 4, I feel like this is an area I can personally improve as a player. I have a tendency to value sportsmanship extremely highly, and as a result I often err on the side of giving too much leniency, even at major events. I need to get better at not being afraid to play it by the rules and call a judge when necessary, instead of always trying to be the nice guy. At the end of the day I’m here to compete, and there isn’t anything wrong with calling a judge for an odd situation such as this one.
To my opponent’s credit, when I pointed out the issue, he offered to replay all of game three. Assuming my only other option was to accept the loss, I agreed. But I was on such tilt for literally giving away the series, that I barely remember that last game. It’s all a blur because I was on, as they say in the poker world, “full blown monkey tilt.” I was barely thinking about my actions, and I certainly wasn’t trying to think multiple actions ahead and plan out my strategy as I would in a normal game. I lost that game pretty badly, and I think a large portion of that was a result of tilting, and therefore lack of focus.
The point of this absurdly long story is that no matter who you are or how much experience you have, it can sometimes be difficult to suppress your frustration….but it’s something you can work towards improving.
How to Handle Tilt
I know what you’re thinking. “I came here to learn how to control my tilt, and all I’ve read so far are 1,000 words on how the guy who is supposed to be teaching me just tilted himself. Get to the point already!”
Well geez, relax, would ya? I’m getting there!
In any game that is based around some element of variance, whether it be poker, fantasy sports (which I do now for a living), or Star Wars: Destiny, the goal is to ensure you approach every situation with a level head. Destiny is better than most games in that the mechanics have a ton of built in ways to mitigate your variance, whether it be through consistent deck building, discarding to re-roll, focus sides, etc.
Tip #1: Understanding the Value of your Dice
The source of a lot of tilt in Destiny is a result of “bad rolls.” I think the problem here is two-fold.
First, most Destiny players are far too focused on maximizing damage every round, and are therefore disappointed when every one of their dice doesn’t roll a damage side. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen an opponent roll out 6 dice and get something like:
- 2 melee, 1 melee, resource, resource, shield, blank.
And then say, “Oh man, my rolls have been so bad!” *points at the two resource sides* “Both of those dice have 50% damage sides!”
Here’s the thing though. That is a perfectly reasonable, average roll! Resources are incredibly valuable in Destiny, and while they don’t directly kill your opponent’s character in that moment, they can provide a lot of options to help mitigate, survive, or ramp into more damage in later rounds. It’s important to realize that it’s sometimes OK to resolve dice that are sub-optimal, but still beneficial, and not get fixated when you don’t roll above average every round. If you expect to maximize your damage each and every round (without playing tons of focus and dice fixing cards), you’re going to get frustrated very easily…which will lead to tilt.
Of course, I’m also not suggesting that you resolve every side you roll just because there is some value in it. The beauty of Destiny is that even if you roll something like the above, and decide you don’t want those resources or that shield, you have plenty of options to re-roll or otherwise fix those dice.
Tip #2: When Everything DOES Go Wrong
Sometimes you’re not being unrealistic, and everything does go just about as bad as it could. That actually happened to me as well in the TTS Finals series. Here’s a fun screen shot (forgive the terrible image quality).
You’re not seeing that wrong. That’s a Thrawn activation, a Snoke activation (with a Chance Cube), and an ARC fighter….and 6 blanks. Also in this round my Planetary Bombardment rolled the 4 indirect side (the lowest damage side on the die). This alone would be enough to send a lot of people off a cliff of tilt. I can hear them now…
6 dice, 6 blanks? What are the odds!?
The answer, if you’re curious is 0.0065%, or 1 in 15,503.88. Obviously this is an extreme outlier, but here’s the thing. It didn’t bother me at all. Of course I’d have preferred a better roll, but I also know that I still have plenty of chances to fix it before the round ends. So, instead of getting upset at my terrible luck in a vitally important game, I laugh it off and move on. Because I kept my cool, I was able to adapt and maximize an otherwise unfortunate round. At the end of the day I was able to do 5 damage, save my crucially important Dark Ritual, and gain a few resources. Not bad for starting with 6 blanks.
So, you may ask, what is the actual advice? Granted this may be easier said than done, but if you take one piece of advice away from this article, let this be it:
Any time you find yourself frustrated in a game of Star Wars: Destiny, stop what you’re doing, and take a deep breath. Don’t take another action until you pause, look at the entire board state (dice in the pool, things not yet activated, cards in hand, etc), and come up with the best plan to maximize the rest of your round with the options available to you.
Tip #3: Just Keep Playing
In total honesty, part of dealing with tilt is a matter of experience. Once you’ve seen all kinds of good and bad luck, you tend to get bothered by it less and less. But, if you go through the thought process I outlined above every time you find yourself on the bad side of variance, it will go a long way to ensuring that you’re in a calm state of mind as you progress through the round, which will lead to less mistakes made due to lack of focus.
It’s common knowledge in psychology that human nature tends to lend itself to remembering all the bad beats, but forgetting all the good ones. The key is to not worry about the results. Instead, assess what your options are, figure out what gives you the best chance to advance yourself to a win given your current situation, and execute that plan. Besides, few things feel better than having a few incredibly awful rolls and winning the game anyway.
Of course, the absolute BEST way to avoid tilt, as we all know, is simple: just roll 3s!