Hi! I'm Asmodeus, Hearthstone coach and author of The Complete Guide for Hearthstone Player. Welcome to the second episode of Coaching Insights. This series is inspired by recurring themes and patterns I've noticed from my coaching sessions with Hearthstone players. I've decided to share those insights whether it's an important concept which I find myself teaching over and over again, or just a pattern I've noticed in my students. Those things will help you get better at the game without having to figure it all out by yourself.
In this episode I'll explain the process of tilting and how to effectively deal with it, and more importantly, how to prevent it.
What is tilt and why does it happen to you
"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."
The main cause of tilt is a surprising situation where the player's expectations don't match the reality. For example - it can happen when you get unlucky more times than you'd expect. People very commonly tilt when they recognize an RNG roll important to securing the win, and become immediately attached to the positive outcome they expect. If they lose that roll, they'll inevitably become frustrated or angry.
Being on tilt will always make you play worse and shift your focus to look for excuses rather than looking for better ways to play the game. Since it always originates from a dissonance between your expectations and the reality of what actually happened, you need to recognize which of those things needs to be changed. If you've been putting yourself in situations where your odds have been great but you simply got unlucky, you need to learn accepting it as soon as possible. Expect and embrace the situations in which you've played well and got unlucky. This happens to everyone and that time it was simply your turn to be on the losing side.
If what happened was not what you expected, and that frustrated you, you should take a look at those expectations and change them. The reality of the situation is independent of what you think about it. If you'd like to play a sweet control deck but all you queue against is aggro, then you should change your expectations and be prepared to encounter whatever people are currently playing.
Define better goals
One of the beast measures you can take to prevent tilting, is defining better goals for yourself. Even if you don't have clear goals, your brain automatically assumes them. You're trying to win, and anticipating that it will happen, so your brain puts the importance on winning the game. Unfortunately you can't control the outcome of each individual match, you can only increase your odds and improve your win rate.
Instead of having a win as a goal, make your goal more specific and focused on a process rather than the outcome. Make it something that depends on you, not on random RNG rolls.
For example, you may want to play 5 games a day with your favorite class to get closer to your golden hero skin. You may want to set as a goal learning how to mulligan in each matchup, with the deck you're playing. Another good goal is to make sure you learn and internalize at least one thing for each game (win or loss) you've played.
As long as you're accomplishing your goals you will be satisfied and your win rate will be actually higher than if you've focused on just winning. Being process oriented rather than outcome oriented will definitely help you tilt much less.
Change your expectations
Your brain does not want to admit that you've been wrong. It will do everything to protect its previous beliefs. Fortunately there is a way around it. You can change your expectations ahead of time.
There has been a study, conducted with children learning a foreign language at school. The students were divided in two groups and given separate instructions. The first group was asked to visualize themselves speaking fluently in the language they were going to study. They were told to imagine all of the great things they could do if they acquired that skill. The second group was also asked to do the same thing, but they were given an additional task. They were asked to list all of the potential problems and setbacks they were likely to encounter on their path to mastering a new language. At the end of the semester, after controlling for other factors, the researchers found that the second group achieved significantly better results, while the first one was indistinguishable from any average group of students.
In hearthstone you should adjust your expectations to match the reality more accurately. Expect the climb to legend to take very, very long. Expect it to be hard and slow. Expect to lose games without being able to do anything about it and realize that just as often you're on the other side of this coin.
A great exercise to get over your tilt and the attachment to winning is to queue with the expectation that you're going to lose the game. That's right, the way to deal with tilt and especially losing streaks is to go and lose more games. Go into the game saying to yourself: "I lost this already, this is a loss, let's just play it out as well as I can". Repeat this for a total of 3 games and notice how much more relaxed and fun the game becomes again.
Take a break
Tilt is as much psychological process as it is physiological. If you change your physical state, your psychology will follow. You can test it in a very easy way. Simply stand up straight and smile as hard as you can for a moment. Even though nothing really happened you'll feel in a better mood just from that simple action. Your brain associates how you feel with what you're doing and it works both ways.
When you feel so frustrated that you can't think straight to find a way out of it, your other option is to take a break. It's best to do something physical. Go for a run, walk your dog, take a shower or just do anything else that will get your body moving. When you're frustrated your body tells you to deal with it and do something, so sitting in front of an opened Hearthstone client and writing an angry post on Reddit will not solve it.
After you get some fresh air or move your body it will be much easier for you to choose the next, right step in dealing with what occurred.
Don't blame the deck
A common response to tilt is swapping your deck. It quickly becomes a habit and it's among the worst things you can possibly do if you're trying to climb the ladder. If you've picked your deck based on confirmed results from other players, then the deck is not at fault. You need to play many games with a single list to become proficient at using it. Every deck has little intricacies and and mulligan choices which you need to learn for every common matchup if you hope to get good results, no matter how good the deck itself. Swapping the deck is like shooting yourself in the leg. You've picked something which other people had success with, over a large number of games, and just because of a few losses you're tossing it away.
Pick your deck wisely and then decide to stick with it for a set number of games. In other words - choose your deck based on statistics, not emotions.
Create better environment
Your surroundings, both physical and social, influence your mood. To ensure you're in a good headspace, you should take care of your environment before you start playing. If there are unresolved issues lingering in the back of your mind, then you wont be able to fully focus on the game. Distractions are your worst enemy in a game that depends solely on the quality of your decisions.
It may be the fact that your desk is messy, or an important task that you should be doing instead. Whatever it is, if you deal with it before playing, you'll feel much better and will be less prone to frustration or anger. Trying to climb the ladder can be a frustrating task by itself, so try to make your environment more relaxing instead of having it contribute to irritating you.
Earlier we went over changing your expectations if they don't match the reality, now it's time to change the reality. The things which you can affect in every game are your decisions and actions. Even if you get incredibly unlucky and the enemy steals a sure victory away from you, you should still look within yourself for anything you could have done to improve your chances.
The easiest way to find and fix your mistakes is to record your games and look at them afterwards. This is because most game-changing mistakes occur many turns before you actually lose the game. We tend to look at the most recent events to find the cause behind what happened, but the earlier a mistake happened, the more potential impact it had. The board situation in hearthstone can snowball out of one small mistake in positioning or trading, and you'll never catch those if all you analyze are the last few turns before losing the game.
Take the responsibility for the quality of your plays and not the outcome of each individual game. Your job is to increase your chances and make better decisions with each attempt. The outcome of RNG should be left to the chance, while you focus on the things you can affect.
Hopefully this will benefit you in dealing with frustration and tilt in Hearthstone as well as with everything you do outside of it. These principles are universal and you can apply them anywhere in life. You can share your opinions or questions in the comments, I'm always happy to answer them and good luck in your games!
If you're interested in 1 on 1 Hearthstone coaching - you can find more information about it here: Coaching with Asmodeus