You are staring down at a board with your minions flooding your opponent, threatening lethal. You are in a dominating position and your opponent has no cards left in his hand. However, your opponent topdecks and does the most inconceivable way of winning. You have no choice but to accept the unjustified defeat. Does this situation ring a bell?
Hearthstone is a game which revolves around both skill and luck. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where RNG (or Random Number Generator) fails to favour us, and we might drop games which hinge on that single low-percentage out. This constitutes to a case of poor emotional control and it is one of the most underrated disciplines in sports. In a “mind sports” such as chess, poker or even card games like Hearthstone, it’s even more important.
What is Tilt?
The term “tilt” is used by players to describe the loss of emotional control. The term originates from the pinball machine. When a player realises that he is losing the ball, the player will lift the machine in the attempt of tilting the ball away from the gap between the flippers. However, the pinball machines would flash the word ‘TILT’ and the flippers would freeze. Thus, this causes the ball to be definitely lost. This suggests that a player’s actions due to frustration can lead to detrimental actions causing the player to lose control of the game.
Tilt can take a number of forms. In its most extreme form, it is usually anger. When it happens, it takes over and there is very little one can do until the body naturally calms down. Tilt in its milder form is a much more insidious andpotentially more dangerous because the player may not even be aware that they are tilting.
Recognising that you are tilting
Before we go into how we can try to have better emotional control to combat tilting, we first would need to recognise how tilt manifests itself in you. It usually comprises some or all of the following:
Frustrated about your loss from your previous game, you fall into the cycle of self-pity (I’m never lucky BabyRage) and blame the world for your misfortune in a children’s card game. Most of the time, losses incurred are caused by poor decision-making throughout the game. To negate the feeling of simply ‘being unlucky’, one could possibly take a step back to review the game afterwards. Analyse every decision by considering every possible alternative play. Then, evaluate whether that play would have resulted in an outcome that would have put you in a better position. By doing this, you will recognise the true number of instances where losses were entirely out of your control (a number which should be a lot less than previously believed) and improve yourself as a player by learning from your previous mistakes.
Irrational Decision Making
As mentioned earlier, this is one of the main problems that most players fall into when faced with ‘tilting’. Certain players fall into the category where they start to play the game without much thought due to the mindset that they will often lose due to poor RNG. Moreover, a majority of players take extremely unnecessary risks such as playing a rag which has a 20% of killing the minion you are targeting to kill rather than going for a safer play like setting up to kill the target the next turn. Players often make this mistake as they think that since they have been extremely unlucky in the earlier few games, ‘RNGesus’ will eventually bless them with better luck. The player, however, fails to realise that the probability of Rag hitting the target does not change.
After being on a losing streak and having gone through a series of emotions, players become extremely tired of playing the game. However, they continue to press on disregarding their tiredness from the hours of grinding. Thus, their standards start to slip and the number of misplays starts to gradually increase. Taking breaks in between games is important and I am sure this is fairly obvious with homework, sports etc. Keeping a fit mental state is important for one especially in Hearthstone where many decisive plays are required in this game.
Poor emotional control
Since the players are often blinded by their frustration, this leads to poor decision making and the incapability to evaluate situations rationally. A majority of inexperienced players fall into being self-serving bias, where they attribute their losses to bad luck. More experienced players, however, lean towards modesty bias where they attribute their losses to their own mistakes. This is what separates a player from being successful on the ladder and being stuck in the dumpster ranks. Nobody is immune to tilting, but different people approach it differently. Professionals are more experienced and have been through this more often which cause them to be more resistant to tilting as they are able to handle their emotions much better. Thus, the end goal of every player is not only to become better in the game but to also improve their emotional control.
How to deal with tilting
Tilt affects performance by causing a mixture of emotions that have a negative impact on one’s performance. One way to deal with tilting is to constantly check your emotional wellbeing. If you are faced with a losing streak and feel that you are losing control of your mental stability, here are some activities that you might want to consider doing.
- Take constant breaks between your games. Rinse your face to refresh yourself and rest your eyes for at least 15 minutes before grinding the ladder again.
- Reevaluate your previous plays. Take multiple screenshots of plays that you are not confident with and identify where you could have done better after your game. This will improve your thought process and also identify losses that could have been avoided if you had made better decisions.
- If you have lost at least 3 games consecutively, stop playing for the day. Being faced with a losing streak is often due to poor decision-making during games rather than continuous bad RNG.
- Stop playing when you are feeling tired. Many players grind the ladder at late hours which is extremely unhealthy. As fatigue sinks in, players gradually become more exhausted and are faced with more stress, increasing their misplays. Thus, it is much more efficient to climb the ladder when you are feeling refreshed and mentally fit.
Mental health is key
I cannot stress the importance of one’s mental health when climbing the ladder. I myself have experienced a lot of stress when I was grinding my way up to the legend rank. If you are faced in a losing streak during your climb and feel frustrated, always take breaks to calm yourself down and stop playing until you feel confident again. Reflect constantly on why you lost, whether you could have made a better play and learn from it so you will keep improving. At the end of the day, RNG is the nature of Hearthstone and we just have to accept the fact that it is not much you can do about it. Move on and try to not let it affect your mood in the next few runs. The greatest opponent is yourself and the only way you can succeed is to take control of your mind and not let your emotions take over your thought process.
Cheers guys I hope you had a good read and had a good take away from this article. All the best in laddering!