Tournament Stamina

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Panda with issues...
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Tournament Stamina

Postby Panda with issues... » Mon May 11, 2015 11:44 pm

We're deep in tournament season, with some regionals and the looming threat of an 8 round of Swiss nationals.

8 rounds is going to be brutal, let's make no bones about it. I played in the London and Oxford regionals, which have been, to date, my longest (netrunner) tournaments. Often these days are very long, especially when factoring in travel time, and yet you have to stay totally on point in order to perform at your best. Yes, in most ways it's the same for everyone, but what can you personally do to help yourself?

I realised I wanted to have a proper think (and discussion) of this on Saturday, when I realised I ate 5 meals over the course of the day (4 more than I normally would). I also drink litre after litre of water, to keep hydrated and stop my mouth drying out from all the talking during games. - I don't want to, but I may have to cut this down during nationals, since the rounds are likely to be shorter and it will be unfair to my opponents if I require a mid-round 2 min toilet break as I often do.

I generally prefer to play fast, aggressive decks in order to give me both less chance of going to time, as well as potentially a lot of downtime between rounds. I'm a pretty fast player, but you can rarely account for the actions or deck choices of opponents. This extra downtime lets me decompress for a bit, and then have a realistic think over the results of the previous round - what were my mistakes? What should I have done differently? Can I learn anything from the decisions of my opponents when I presented them with a problem?

The toll tournaments take is expressed both mentally and physically, to the point I normally feel utterly destroyed the next day. I was surprised to find I got cramp in my calf when facing Nememiah in the swiss on saturday (possibly fear related?!)

A few things I like to do:

Drink loads of water, supplemented by patently unhealthy energy drinks if I have had to get up early or find myself fading - I pay the price for these the next day normally.

I normally try and find some sort of healthy(ish) comfort food in between rounds. Not quite vinegarymink's notorious salads, but i'm not that disciplined!

I get fresh air, and a bit of a walk when I can. Often we're sitting for hours at a time, potentially in cramped conditions/hunched over tables, dependent on your posture. Allows me to stretch a bit.

I try to get a minute or two alone, between rounds (sorry to anyone who might feel I blanked them at a tournament). I'm not great with large crowds, even when I know there's a lot of likeminded friendly people.

Any further tips would be highly sought after. Nationals is going to be very much a slog.
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Xenasis
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Xenasis » Tue May 12, 2015 1:10 am

I'm not exactly the best at tournament stamina either, but I'll list some of the things I do as recommendations (even if it is very much the blind leading the blind). Some of them may overlap with what you said, but getting a sense for what people tend to do might be beneficial. I'm not sure any of them actually work or apply to anybody but me (and if they sound fishy, ignore them), because I tend to be just as exhausted as everyone else, but either way...

  • Don't play games before or after rounds. Netrunner's extremely mentally taxing. We're all playing it for fun, don't get me wrong, but you can and will get burnt out by the end of the day.
  • Get a massive bottle of water or some other drink at the start of the day. I'll just buy anything as long as it's around 2L, and that doesn't always last me the full tournament. My bladder is far from superhuman, but not staying hydrated would murder my voice. Water probably keeps your brain sharp in some way, too, but that's just a guess.
  • Eat. Eat eat eat. Sometimes it's easy to even forget I need to eat when I'm caught up in a long Netrunner tournament (or other mentally taxing activity, such as programming), so I tend to eat whenever I think I should, as opposed to whenever I get hungry. I try to make a point of going on a shopping trip the day before a big tournament and picking up some snacks before the day. Sometimes I even make sandwiches!
  • Pick a deck you enjoy playing and are comfortable with, and that you won't beat yourself up over. At Birmingham SC, I brought MaxX combo, a very mentally taxing (and tier one, if you ask me) deck, and it's a deck I enjoyed a tonne playing casually. I made a few small mistakes with it throughout the day, I distinctly remember one game I tried to go off to early and made stupid mistakes whilst doing it and it lost me the game; I was beating myself up over it throughout the rest of the day. The deck's extremely volatile and I just wasn't prepared for how it played in a tournament. It may just be how I as a person react to losing with combo decks in tournaments, or it could be that it was because I hadn't played a deck like it at a tournament before, but I'm glad the first tournament I brought it to wasn't a higher profile one with more on the line. Pick something not too unlike what you've played before in a tournament or tournament-like environment and know you're comfortable with.
  • Fresh air! Fresh air is good: looking for/walking to a nearby shop is a good excuse to get a breather outside.

Anyway, my brain frazzles quickly throughout tournaments, and I'd love to hear what everybody else says on the topic. It's definitely something I want to improve upon for Nationals.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby MouseChan » Tue May 12, 2015 1:55 am

Also learn how to handle tilt. A natural human reaction to a bad beat is to not let it go. If you have time before the next game leave. Walk around and re centre yourself. Playing on tilt is just bad. Trust me. Im an ex poker player.


Also remember to give your TOs thanks. We have to do the 8 rounds too but we dont get to play the game we love so you guys can. While we signed up for it its a brutal workload.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby mendax » Tue May 12, 2015 2:18 am

If you have problems, play simple decks. One of the reasons I've stuck with NEH so long is that even with only half a brain functioning you can still play it to a high level.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Nemamiah » Tue May 12, 2015 5:45 am

Great topic, and I think you guys have covered most of the key ones already. The food and drink one is massive, but I don't think it really matters what you have. You have the rest of your life to eat healthy, so if coke and sweets is what you need to stay focused go for it.

Make sure you get a good night's sleep the night before. These things start early and finish late, so you can't afford to be up at two in the morning finalising your deck. If you have small children consider accidentally losing them for a day or two before the event.

Wear comfy clothing, and ideally with a couple of layers so you can add or remove them as necessary if the venue is overly hot or cold.

CJ is bang on about tilt. After a game take five minutes to think about whether there's anything you need to learn; a mistake that you need to avoid or a winning line of play that's worth remembering. Then dismiss the rest of the game and move on; don't dwell on errors or get wound up about luck. I occasionally take headphones and some music with me to help clear my head.

Playing fast decks is an advantage in that it gives you more downtime, but on the flip side something like glacier or RP can also prove more mentally taxing for your also mentally fatigued opponent. Consider paying something that can induce and punish mistakes.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby king_mob » Tue May 12, 2015 8:15 am

I could write a book on tilt and what its cost me in terms of competitive play.

Electrolyte powders are dirt cheap from many high street shops, bang one of these in a litre bottle of water and it will keep you hydrated without having to run to the loo every 5 minutes.

Eat as much as you are able to but avoid sugary stuff as the last thing you want is to crash in the middle of a round. Ironically this includes stuff like breakfast bars or those energy bars for hiking. Bananas are a good shout.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby ApeAsylum » Tue May 12, 2015 8:54 am

hmmm i am probably the most unprepared player ever then. I live off mostly nicotine/coffee and always forgot to bring any food with me. On Saturday i didn't even drink any water until about 4pm (i did drink a fanta at lunch). Less then optimal lol
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Rotage » Tue May 12, 2015 9:32 am

Nothing much to add, but one thing would be to have a good meal the evening before, ideally with carbs to keep you going the following day and a good night's sleep.

A final point is something I heard discussed on a netrunner podcast a few months ago, the idea being that you have a finite amount of brain power to use during the day so to ensure you don't waste it on unnecessary things, i.e have your travel plans done well in advance, have your decks made the day before
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby king_mob » Tue May 12, 2015 10:28 am

Rotage wrote: have your decks made the day before


Iv never ranked lower than 3rd in any GNK where the decks i played, i had made on the bus to the venue, and with the deck list scrawled on the back of a rizla.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Rotage » Tue May 12, 2015 11:10 am

king_mob wrote:
Rotage wrote: have your decks made the day before


Iv never ranked lower than 3rd in any GNK where the decks i played, i had made on the bus to the venue, and with the deck list scrawled on the back of a rizla.


Always has to be one exception :)

I couldn't do that, I have to have the decks and lists made the day before and everything planned out, althoigh I always finish in the middle, the one time I forgot half the stuff and was hung over I made the cut, so maybe I should try that method again...
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby ApeAsylum » Tue May 12, 2015 11:23 am

honestly, i find state of mind much more important than what's going on physically with me. Staying as relaxed as possible but also as focused as possible is a very hard skill. I don't really like to talk too much in-between rounds, id much rather go outside have a cigarette and just chill, text the girlfriend/look on facebook. My body can usually look after itself, but my mind gets battered playing NR. Also something i find very helpful is to practice ALOT! make all the general plays under autopiolot, knowing that your making the correct move for the current board-state, this gets harder as the game goes on, just because every game can be different so your brain should be quite rested going into mid-late game.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Vapo » Tue May 12, 2015 11:30 am

I actually made some notes of what I was doing/listening to on the way to the Oxford SC (it was a long train journey by myself...) so apparently if you want to win a tournament you should get some cheap nasty coffee in the train station at 7am and listen to Bryter Layter by Nick Drake about 2 and a half times then switch to Walking With Thee by Clinic, and finish off with various Lou Barlow/Sebadoh stuff. While reading a book about the history of cooking. Did you know Geese used to be used to turn spits? This was worthy of a note at the time.

It gets much easier with practice, it takes a really long event for me to notice these days and my planning has gone to shit, I only started testing my corp deck for Oxford the day before and put it together after midnight. Decklists get done on the train, or probably at the store for a local event.

You do need something to eat & drink but take whatever you like, I do most of my tournament shopping in New Street Station's M&S. I swear my form took a hit when they stopped doing the big cartons of cherry juice.

Fag breaks are always nice, if you see me with fast decks it's because I'm worried about missing them.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Vinegarymink » Tue May 12, 2015 11:38 am

My mental/tournament stamina is pretty good, so I thought I'd give my 2 cents. I'm pretty sure that part of the reason for this is luck and studying academic subjects with a lot of exams for the past 5 years of my life, so there are a few things that I think have helped.

Food and drink has been mentioned already and I'd just like to second it. Sometimes when you're concentrating very hard on something you have no desire to eat, but work out when your body needs it anyway. Eating before the top cut starts is something I've got into the habit of doing because I don't want to worry about it once important games begin. Don't be afraid of Energy drinks if nothing else will help.

While I'm not superman, I'm pretty physically fit and have good physical stamina. There's no way that this doesn't have a bearing on tournament play, so while I'm not the kind of awful busybody to always be telling people to get regular exercise, it is another reason to make an effort to do it. Running is cheap and easy to do.

Additionally knowing matchups and learning to play more quickly do a lot when it comes to preserving mental stamina. Mental shortcuts and a vague knowledge of how the most likely matchups will play out means that you avoid a lot of the mental heavy lifting that you'd have to do otherwise, and just spending less time thinking saves you effort too. Mushin no shin is a legit technique.

Bonus salad facts:

I've been to 6 tournaments this year, and have only not eaten a salad at some point during the day at 2 of them. 1 of these tournaments was the only one where I didn't make the top cut, but the other was one of the tournaments that I won. Correlation still hasn't been established here.

Salad was the only food that I ate all day in Manchester given my illness, and I still didn't really want to eat it. It was a much more appealing prospect than a stodgy sandwich or something though.

I wasn't going to eat a salad at the SSCI, but I did because everyone in the Google hangout told me to do it. Salad at midnight is an odd feeling, but I think it did me good in the end.

The best salad that I've ever had at a tournament is the Pasta Salad with Spinach and Pine Nuts from Marks and Spencer that I had at Leamington Spa. Along with getting 4 brain damage against PE and winning anyway, and winning the tournament, this salad was the best thing about the event.

The worst salad that I've ever had at a tournament was the a Chicken Salad from Tesco that I had in London. I forced it down for sustenance but it tasted like the worst kind of aeroplane food.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby evilgaz » Tue May 12, 2015 12:12 pm

Not much new, but Top Ten Tips:

1) Hydrate, drink water, fruit juice, coffee, etc.
2) Know where the "facilities" are to relieve yourself. Much like a long car journey, squeeze a few drops out even if you don't feel like it.
3) To avoid "Gamer's nads", get up and walk around between round, don't be frightened of walking off on your own for a bit
4) Say hello to other people and see how they got on or where they're from. Interactions with others will help you realise we're all just humans and there to have fun.
5) Don't be scared by "big" names or people from certain metas. Like spiders, you'll find they're equally if not more scared by your rep - or that you're someone unknown maverick who could be playing anything.
6) Avoid touching Vinegary Mink, a.k.a. The Plaguebearer
7) Have food. Bacon butties or a tub of fruit, whatever. I timed it wrong at Worcester and only had a bag of wotsits to eat all day by 4pm. This wasn't good. A mix of comfort food and nutritionally dense material is a good mix.
8) Banter. Some people are (deliberately or otherwise) like robots at the game table. If things are mega tense have a joke or say "Come at me bro" or something else to remind you both your playing this for fun. Don't expect there to be a 65 minute LOLfest, but you can speak to people during a game.
9) Makes some notes between games. Anything you want to reflect on later? Lessons learned? New ideas? Jot them down on paper (or on your fancy electronic device) and then pack that shizzle away for another day and get on with the next games afresh.
10) Depending on how competitive you are, you might not like this, but you can always concede a game. If you're playing against RP, can't get in, constantly losing psi games, whatever - consider if you really want to prolong the session. If you've probably lost anyway (no breakers, no money, all the brain damage, whatever) consider if its worth a tactical loss to get on to the next game with more time - or finish the match and have some time to reset / eat / wee / cry outside / get a pint / go shopping. (I'm one of those that never wants to give up, so don't do this, but another of the high flyers in Notts does this regularly to not waste time and get more quality out of games.)
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Sixtyten » Tue May 12, 2015 12:39 pm

Vinegarymink wrote:My mental/tournament stamina is pretty good, so I thought I'd give my 2 cents. I'm pretty sure that part of the reason for this is luck and studying academic subjects with a lot of exams for the past 5 years of my life, so there are a few things that I think have helped.

Food and drink has been mentioned already and I'd just like to second it. Sometimes when you're concentrating very hard on something you have no desire to eat, but work out when your body needs it anyway. Eating before the top cut starts is something I've got into the habit of doing because I don't want to worry about it once important games begin. Don't be afraid of Energy drinks if nothing else will help.

While I'm not superman, I'm pretty physically fit and have good physical stamina. There's no way that this doesn't have a bearing on tournament play, so while I'm not the kind of awful busybody to always be telling people to get regular exercise, it is another reason to make an effort to do it. Running is cheap and easy to do.

Additionally knowing matchups and learning to play more quickly do a lot when it comes to preserving mental stamina. Mental shortcuts and a vague knowledge of how the most likely matchups will play out means that you avoid a lot of the mental heavy lifting that you'd have to do otherwise, and just spending less time thinking saves you effort too. Mushin no shin is a legit technique.

Bonus salad facts:

I've been to 6 tournaments this year, and have only not eaten a salad at some point during the day at 2 of them. 1 of these tournaments was the only one where I didn't make the top cut, but the other was one of the tournaments that I won. Correlation still hasn't been established here.

Salad was the only food that I ate all day in Manchester given my illness, and I still didn't really want to eat it. It was a much more appealing prospect than a stodgy sandwich or something though.

I wasn't going to eat a salad at the SSCI, but I did because everyone in the Google hangout told me to do it. Salad at midnight is an odd feeling, but I think it did me good in the end.

The best salad that I've ever had at a tournament is the Pasta Salad with Spinach and Pine Nuts from Marks and Spencer that I had at Leamington Spa. Along with getting 4 brain damage against PE and winning anyway, and winning the tournament, this salad was the best thing about the event.

The worst salad that I've ever had at a tournament was the a Chicken Salad from Tesco that I had in London. I forced it down for sustenance but it tasted like the worst kind of aeroplane food.



If/when you get to design a card for FFG, please ensure that there's either a salad related name involved or in the flavour text!
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby mendax » Tue May 12, 2015 10:27 pm

Gaz - you're not actually allowed to concede in netrunner, though as with all these rules it's unclear what the punishment would be.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby evilgaz » Tue May 12, 2015 10:50 pm

mendax wrote:Gaz - you're not actually allowed to concede in netrunner, though as with all these rules it's unclear what the punishment would be.

Oh, I'm not obviously, but other people who are weak are... ;)

If you wanted to lose a game its not very hard to do is it? Do you reckon Mike and Cj are going to be doing the rounds watching for people deliberately losing? If they are, I'm worried because a lot of games would seem to be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory to a casual observer. Actually, you've got me worried now. :O

While I concede the technical point, but I think my advice can still stand if people wish to take it. :D
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby MouseChan » Tue May 12, 2015 11:33 pm

"5) Don't be scared by "big" names or people from certain metas. Like spiders, you'll find they're equally if not more scared by your rep - or that you're someone unknown maverick who could be playing anything."

This. To reach the top you will eventually face monsters. Remember that as soon as you get overly nervous you tilt.

@Conceding.

it's seen as fixing the event results, unlike magic you can't ID. Now scooping a game you clearly can't lose I personally have no problem with. Like if you had all your programs smashed with no recursion. Scooping to an opponent after the game went to time so your tiebreakers are better (seriously it's the reason the rule exists in the first place), you'll get warned and possibly match losses or DQs.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby evilgaz » Wed May 13, 2015 7:16 am

People give in to help tie breakers? Silly people. Okay then I'll have to think of another tenth tip.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby MartinP » Wed May 13, 2015 8:25 am

NetrunningYork wrote:Also learn how to handle tilt. A natural human reaction to a bad beat is to not let it go. If you have time before the next game leave. Walk around and re centre yourself. Playing on tilt is just bad. Trust me. Im an ex poker player.


I'm particularly bad at this, I'll get an early bad round (See round 2 Manchester), and if it follows with another bad round(s) later (See rounds 5 and 6), it can really "set the mood" for the event for me. Luckily I can brush it off, and it was still a good event and no hard feelings to any of my opponents!

evilgaz wrote:6) Avoid touching Vinegary Mink, a.k.a. The Plaguebearer


In the future all netrunner will be played in Hazmat suits.


Rotage wrote: have your decks made the day before


I usually have my decks built the day before, I'd also recommend double checking card count/influence/agendas etc the night before if it's a deck you've had built for awhile.

One tip I would give is to have your game stuff packed and ready to go a day/night before. For Oxford I had packed my deck box, mat and counters into my usual backpack, and still when I reached my friends house to pick him up, I panicked and had to check my bags again...
Last edited by MartinP on Wed May 13, 2015 9:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby evilgaz » Wed May 13, 2015 8:55 am

Much like checking passport constantly on the way to the airport, I must check I have my decks with me 43 times before each event.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Sixtyten » Wed May 13, 2015 12:21 pm

evilgaz wrote:Much like checking passport constantly on the way to the airport, I must check I have my decks with me 43 times before each event.


We met a chap on the bus to the Oxford Regional that had left his deckbox in London and had to make new decks the night before with his remaining cards. I think he still finished higher than I did...
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Tim the Enchanter » Wed May 13, 2015 2:21 pm

I'm flying to the Edinburgh regional this weekend and will also be constantly be checking i have my passport.... wouldn't want to be without a decoder.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Panda with issues... » Wed May 13, 2015 2:26 pm

Tim the Enchanter wrote:I'm flying to the Edinburgh regional this weekend and will also be constantly be checking i have my passport.... wouldn't want to be without a decoder.


Bdum tsh.
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Re: Tournament Stamina

Postby Rotage » Wed May 13, 2015 4:06 pm

Sixtyten wrote:
evilgaz wrote:Much like checking passport constantly on the way to the airport, I must check I have my decks with me 43 times before each event.


We met a chap on the bus to the Oxford Regional that had left his deckbox in London and had to make new decks the night before with his remaining cards. I think he still finished higher than I did...

Yeah I think I played against him, or someone else left their deckbox in London... His decks were quite good considering

I'm always checking and double checking that I have my cards with me, so I can relate to that
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