**Lumines: FAQ/Strategy Guide** by **Rovingbar**

**Version:** 1.0 | **Updated:** 2005-12-02 |
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123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Lumines Skills Guide By Rovingbar AKA Jeff Hebert Version 1.0 0. Contents 1. Introduction to this Guide 2. Know Yourself 2.1. Your brain and Lumines 2.2. Motor skills 3. Blocks and Sequences 3.1. Squares, Blocks, Deletes, and Combos 3.2. Block Types 3.3. Block Frequencies 3.4. Destroyers 3.5. Sequence Probabilities 4. Rotating Blocks 4.1. Single Direction Strategy 4.2. Dual Direction Strategy 4.3. Rotation Statistics 5. Delete Strategies 5.1. A word on scoring 5.2. Basic Deletes 5.3. Infinite Tower 5.4. Layers 5.5. Slice 5.6. Double Slice 5.7. Power Slice 5.8. Advanced slice and dice 5.9. Maximizing Deletes 5.10. Managing Leftovers 6. Delete Theory 6.1. How many Squares does it take to make a Delete? 6.2. Rectangular Deletes 6.3. Max and Min Squares per Delete 7. Game Speed 7.1. Game Speed 7.2. Max Drop Rate 8. Know your Skills 8.1. Performance Statistics 9. Improve Your Skills 9.2. Upcoming drops 9.3. Planning your next move 9.4. Play Faster 10. Know your habits 10.1. Identify your habits 10.2. Break your habits 10.3. For Lumines Sake ? Know your habits 11. Credits 12. Copyright 13. Version History 14. Appendix 14.1. Table of 3 block sequences 14.2. Table of Typical Deletes 1. Introduction to this Guide This is a different kind of guide. I?ve read many guides on how to play Lumines. They cover controls and strategy very well. Please refer to them if you want to learn strategy. This guide is intended to help you develop your Lumines skills. I am actually writing this guide to help me formalize my thoughts. I am NOT an advanced player. I see things in this game that I have not seen in any other game. More importantly, no other guide covers this material. The shining star (IMHO) of this guide is the Improve your Skills section. In that section I discuss the essential skills of Lumines ? predicting, planning, and speed. Most important, I?ll recommend some exercises to help you develop these skills. But first, we need to cover quite a bit of ground so lets get started. Here is a quick guide to how you play the game, and the section of this guide with info on that skill. Quick Guide to Lumines Activities 1. Recognize the block (Section 3) 2. Decide what to do with it (Sections 5,6) 3. Slide the block (Section 9) 4. Rotate the block (Section 4) 5. Drop the block (Section 9) 2. Know Yourself 2.1. Your brain and Lumines Many folks describe a moment where you ?get it?. Before that moment, Lumines seems impossibly difficult. After that moment, everything seems to make sense. Yet the game is still impossibly difficult, you can just get much farther in the game until you come to some barrier. The way it typically goes is the first few games you get to 10k or 20k points, and get stuck there for a while. You may steadily improve to 30k or 40k where you get stuck again. Then you figure out the controls and the timeline and how deletes work and you can suddenly get to 50k or 80k. Then after another breakthrough you suddenly start scoring 150k to 200k points. Then you run into some of the fast levels and get stuck again. The reason this happens is because to play this game well you need to re-train your brain. This game is not just about reflexes or strategy, it is about training your brain to recognize and respond to patterns. As you play, you will recognize lots of patterns. You will drop a block onto it and see the results. Sometimes the results are good (many deletes) sometimes they are bad (checkerboard of death). After repeating that same pattern a few dozen times your subconscious will suddenly 'get it' and you will start dropping the blocks better. You will suddenly start getting combos that seemed impossible before. If you look closely at your combos, you will notice that they are usually the same pattern over and over. Even the most advanced players have a set of standard patterns stored away in their subconscious somewhere. The point of this is that the only way to improve in this game is through practice. You can study all the guides in the world. You can read how to beat specific puzzles, or how to do an infinite combo, or whatever. But not of that will really help you improve. (Actually, learning those techniques can help you improve, but only if you practice the technique over and over.) So don't worry if you don?t get it right away. Just keep playing and practicing. When you get stuck with Challenge mode, switch over to Time Attack for a day or two then come back to Challenge mode. Try some of the exercises later in this guide. They are designed to help you develop some of the skills that help you improve the critical areas of your game. [At some later date I may describe mental pathways, invariant representations, and habits.] 2.2. Motor skills Obviously, motor skills play a role in this. Again, the only way to develop those skills is through practice. Remember, this game is about patterns. That is why it is a puzzle game. The more you play, the faster your brain gets. Soon enough you will find that you have an intuition about where to place blocks, so you don?t have to think about them much. At that point, your game becomes limited by your motor skills. How fast can you move the block 3 columns right, rotate it once, then drop it. Fast players can do that in about half a second. Slow players take 1.5 to 3 seconds to do that simple move. When you first start playing, it may take 2 seconds to figure out what to do with a block, so it doesn?t matter if it takes you 2 or 3 seconds to move it. You can do some multi tasking and the entire sequence works well. But as you advance in the game, you must be able to move blocks faster so you can devote more brainpower to figuring out what to do with the blocks. 3. Blocks and Sequences 3.1. Squares, Blocks, Deletes, and Combos Squares are the fundamental pieces of Lumines. Four squares create a block. You drop blocks to create deletes. A single delete is always a 2x2 collection of same color squares. Combos happen when you get more than 1 delete. The most efficient way to get combos is to pile many squares of the same color onto each other. There will be more on deletes and combos later in this guide. 3.2. Block Types For the purposes of this guide, I?ve chosen to use a numeric nomenclature for blocks. Whenever you see a code like [1], that means that 1 of the squares is dark. A [2x] means that 2 are dark, and they are the checkerboard type (AKA Deuce) block. Note that there are only 6 types of blocks, but for some the orientation is significant. So there are 16 possible configurations. I label the possible orientations ABCD. Throughout this GUIDE, you will see codes like [3]A or simply 3A which means 3 dark blocks, and the one light block is at the top left. Keep this table handy for reference. Orientation Block code A B C D Blank [0]: OO OO One [1]: XO OX OO OO OO OO OX XO Two [2]: XX OX OO XO OO OX XX XO Deuce [2x]: XO OX OX XO Three [3]: OX XO XX XX XX XX XO OX Four [4]: XX XX 3.3. Block Frequencies We need to get something straight here. Lumines is a game of random probabilities. That is part of the elegance of the game. When generating blocks, the program randomly chooses the color of each square. There is a 50% chance of getting either light or dark for each square. Squares are put together in groups of 4. The order is significant, thus the probability of getting any one pattern is 2^4 (i.e. 2*2*2*2) or 16 possible combinations. The probability of getting any one of the combinations is 1/16 or 6.25%. The part that confuses most people is that there are several different orientations for some of the blocks. Block My Code Orientations Total Probability Blank [0] 1 6.25% One [1] 4 25.00% Two [2] 4 25.00% Deuce [2x] 2 12.50% Three [3] 4 25.00% Four [4] 1 6.25% TOTAL 16 100% 3.4. Destroyers Destroyers come along about once every 64 or 128 blocks. That means the probability that any given square is a destroyer is 1 of every 2^8 or 2^9 squares. Yes indeed, they are very rare. Note: I would be grateful if anyone can provide statistics on actual destroyer frequency. I?ve seen some posts, but there is precious little data. 3.5. Sequence Probabilities This section is of limited use, but I thought it would be useful to get a sense of the top sequences. Note: These sequences ignore orientation because initial orientation is not relevant to how the block is finally placed on the field. 3.5.1. Two Block Frequencies As expected, the most frequent blocks dominate the most frequent sequences. Blocks 1,2, and 3 show up together nearly 56.25% of the 2 block sequences. Probability 1st 2nd 6.25% 1 1 6.25% 1 2 6.25% 1 3 6.25% 2 1 6.25% 2 2 6.25% 2 3 6.25% 3 1 6.25% 3 2 6.25% 3 3 3.13% 1 2x 3.13% 2 2x 3.13% 2x 1 3.13% 2x 2 3.13% 2x 3 3.13% 3 2x 1.56% 0 1 1.56% 0 2 1.56% 0 3 1.56% 1 0 1.56% 1 4 1.56% 2 0 1.56% 2 4 1.56% 2x 2x 1.56% 3 0 1.56% 3 4 1.56% 4 1 1.56% 4 2 1.56% 4 3 0.78% 0 2x 0.78% 2x 0 0.78% 2x 4 0.78% 4 2x 0.39% 0 0 0.39% 0 4 0.39% 4 0 0.39% 4 4 3.5.2. Three Block Frequencies This is just the top frequencies that you will see more than 1% of the time. The complete table is at the end of this guide. Note that again, these sequences are dominated by the most frequent blocks. Blocks 1,2, and 3 show up together nearly 42.19% of the 3 block sequences. Probability 1st 2nd 3rd 1.56% 1 1 1 1.56% 1 1 2 1.56% 1 1 3 1.56% 1 2 1 1.56% 1 2 2 1.56% 1 2 3 1.56% 1 3 1 1.56% 1 3 2 1.56% 1 3 3 1.56% 2 1 1 1.56% 2 1 2 1.56% 2 1 3 1.56% 2 2 1 1.56% 2 2 2 1.56% 2 2 3 1.56% 2 3 1 1.56% 2 3 2 1.56% 2 3 3 1.56% 3 1 1 1.56% 3 1 2 1.56% 3 1 3 1.56% 3 2 1 1.56% 3 2 2 1.56% 3 2 3 1.56% 3 3 1 1.56% 3 3 2 1.56% 3 3 3 4. Rotating Blocks There are two strategies when it comes to rotating blocks: Single direction or dual direction. 4.1. Single Direction Strategy The single direction strategy is easier to learn, you rotate blocks either clockwise or counterclockwise. The primary benefit is that once you?ve decided what orientation you want, you don?t have to think about which direction to rotate. You just hit your favorite rotate button 0, 1, 2, or 3 times. 4.2. Dual Direction Strategy The dual direction strategy is slightly harder to pick up, because you have to learn which way the block rotates when you press the different buttons. However, once you master this technique you can rotate blocks with fewer button strokes. Let?s look at some numbers... 4.3. Rotation Statistics Given the random nature of Lumines, let?s look at each type of block and each type of orientation to see which rotation strategy is best. To read the following tables, consider any block can be presented randomly in any given orientation. That is that the Drop orientation can be A, B, C, or D. You may need to rotate it to another orientation. Overall the Drop and Need orientations should be uniform. That means that 25% of the time it drops in orientation A. Given that drop, 25% of the time you need orientation A so you don?t need to rotate it. 25% of the time you need orientation B so you have to rotate it once. 25% of the time you need orientation C so you have to rotate it twice. The main difference between the Single and Dual strategy is that in single, you periodically have to rotate 3 times, while in the dual, you simply rotate backwards 1 time. Single Strategy Rotation Table for type 1,2,3 Need Drop A B C D A 0 1 2 3 B 3 0 1 2 C 2 3 0 1 D 1 2 3 0 Average = 1.5 Rotati0ns per Drop Dual Strategy Rotation Table for type 1,2,3 Need Drop A B C D A 0 1 2 1 B 1 0 1 2 C 2 1 0 1 D 1 2 1 0 Average = 1.0 Rotati0ns per Drop Single and Dual Rotation Table for Type 2x A B A 0 1 B 1 0 Now that we have tables for the different types of blocks, lets put them together and use the drop probabilities to figure out how many rotations you need for each strategy. Summary Table for Rotation Strategies Block Prob Single Dual 0 6.25% 0.0 0.0 1 25.00% 1.5 1.0 2 25.00% 1.5 1.0 2x 12.50% 0.5 0.5 3 25.00% 1.5 1.0 4 6.25% 0.0 0.0 Total 1.2 0.8 So this data shows that folks who use the single direction strategy will press the rotate button 50% more than those that use the dual direction strategy. This may be a limiting factor when you advance very far in the game. 5. Delete Strategies 5.1. A word on scoring There are basically two scoring levels. You get 40 points per delete. However, if you get 4 or more deletes when the timeline passes, you get a 4x combo bonus. This is great for your score, and it actually gives us a way to measure how good you are at using combos as you will see in Know your Skills. N Points Points/Delete 1 40 40 2 80 40 3 120 40 4 640 160 ? 4X Bonus begins 5 800 160 6 960 160 And so on... all combo?s after 3 deletes are worth 160 points per delete. So when it comes to maximizing your score, make sure you get 4 deletes each time the timeline passes. This will come naturally as you play faster. 5.2. Basic Deletes The first think you need to realize about deletes is that they are not always 4 squares. The first delete is always made by 4 squares of the same color. After that, you only need 2 squares to make the second delete. Sometimes you can make a delete with only one more square. (This topic is covered in detail in the Delete Theory section of this guide.) One delete 4 squares XX XX Two delete combo 6 squares XXX XXX Three delete combo 8 squares XXXX XXXX XX XXX XXX Four delete combo 9 squares XXX XXX XXX 10 squares XXXXX XXXXX XX XXXX XXXX 5.3. Infinite Tower As I understand it, Stan64 was the first to formally articulate this strategy in Lumines forums. This is a fundamental skill which helps buy you time to think, and can help you get through some very tough spots in the game. I believe that most people develop this strategy on their own, though they may not recognize it as thoroughly as Stan64 did. The Infinite Tower combo always starts with a single X or O square. The square can be sitting on the base, or it can be on other squares. You can find this pattern just about anywhere. Sometimes you will get a delete with a tower drop, sometimes you will just build up the tower. Using this strategy you will very rarely get more than 2 or 3 deletes when the timeline passes. Tower base examples X X O _X_ XO XX XX Blocks 0 or 4 ? Be sure to put these off to the side OO OO --> OO X X OO Blocks 1 or 3 OO --> OX O OO X XX Block 2 ? Be sure to put these off to the side XX OO --> XX X X OO Block 2x XO OX --> X OO X XX 5.4. Layers Layering is what I call laying down rows of 2 colors side by side. You can sometimes get a long row of the same color. Or you can end up with a stack of alternating colors. Either way, these layers are fairly easy to set up and to delete. You will get a 0, 2, or 4 about 37% of the time, so one in 3 blocks should be a perfect match for one of these setups. You can also use a 1 or 3 block, but it will mess up your layer. OO XX OO XO OO OO OXXO OOOO OOOO OOOO Another way to use 1 or 3 blocks is by building a ?house? around an existing layer. The example below will clear all the blocks with two timeline passes. OOOO OXXO XX OO 5.5. Slice I call this a slice when you build vertical columns of similar colors. You slice off part of a block to get a delete. The block below will cause the two O columns on the left to delete. OX OX OXXO OOOO 5.6. Double Slice A double slice will make two deletes over the course of two timeline passes. In this example, the two O columns will delete, and then the X column will drop and cause another delete with the next timeline pass. OX OX OXXO OXOO 5.7. Power Slice A power slice causes two or more deletes when it drops. Usually you get these deletes by staggering columns of blocks. OX OX X X OXXO OOOO 5.8. Advanced slice and dice As you get better with slicing, you can build higher columns. If you are fast enough, you might be able to drop 2 or 3 blocks into one of these structures and get quite a few deletes. Sometimes folks will call these J, U, or L structures because they look like letters J, U, and L. These structures can have a one or two square opening in the middle. The advantage of one square opening is that you get an extra deletes with the drops. The next section has details on how to maximize deletes with each type of block. O O O O O O O O O O O O O OOO OOO OOO Variations on JUL X O O X O X X O O X O X XO O O X O X XOOO OOO OOOX 5.9. Maximizing Deletes I?ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to get the most number of deletes from a single drop. There are two issues here: 1. Maximizing delete with this drop, and 2. Setting up to maximize deletes with another drop. For now, lets focus on how to maximize the number of points you get with each type of block. As you develop your skills, you will naturally setup these types of patterns. 5.9.1. Blanks (0 or 4) 6 deletes from a blank or four block. OO OO O O OOOO O O --> OOOO OOOO OOOO 5.9.2. Ones and Threes (1 or 3) 4 deletes from a One or Three block XO OO X O OOO O O --> OOO OOO OOO 5.9.3. Twos (2) 5 deletes from a Two block (Note: A = any block that does not complete a delete.) XO XO X XX X --> XX XO O XOOO AO O AOOO AOOO AOOO 3 deletes from a Two block XX OO XX O O --> OOOO OOOO OOOO Or even 4 deletes from a Two block OX OX O X OOXX O X --> OOXX OOXX OOXX 5.9.4. Deuces (2x) 3 deletes from a Deuce block OX XO O X XX XX --> XXX AO O AOOO AOOO AOOO 5.10. Managing Leftovers 5.10.1. Cleaning up a mess [Eventually I plan to add some details on how to clean up a mess. But first I have to learn how to do it myself. :) ] 5.10.2. Setting up for slicing The simple rule for slicing is that you need vertical columns of similar colors. This is exactly the opposite of the infinite tower strategy. You start off with a similar base, and you simply want to make it taller. Try to have open space next to your column. Slice base examples X X O _X_ XO XX XX Blocks 0 or 4 ? Be sure to put these off to the side OO OO --> O OO X XO Blocks 1 or 3 OO --> OX O OX X OX Block 2 ? Be sure to put these off to the side XO XO --> X XO X XO Block 2x XO OX --> O XX X OX 6. Delete Theory So what the heck is he talking about delete theory? What theory could there be? Its just a game. Well if you are interested, here are some interesting observations. 6.1. How many Squares does it take to make a Delete? No, this is not the start of a joke. This is a serious question. You?ve probably noticed by now that you can get a delete with fewer than 4 blocks. But how many squares does it really take? Lets start with some basic deletes. In the diagrams below, there are three columns, the number of deletes from the pattern, the number of squares in the pattern, and a diagram showing the pattern. The numbers in the pattern refer to the delete in the pattern. For instance a 3 represents the third delete in the pattern. Del Sq Pattern 1 4 11 11 2 6 112 112 3 8 1123 1123 8 33 112 112 4 9 334 112 112 10 11234 11234 10 44 1123 1123 6.2. Rectangular Deletes We can easily develop a grid for calculating the number of deletes from a rectangular pattern of the same color squares. A 2x2 square gives 1 delete. A 4x4 square gives 9 deletes. A 4x5 rectangle gives 12 deletes. Width 1 2 3 4 5 1 0 0 0 0 0 Height 2 0 1 2 3 4 3 0 2 4 6 8 4 0 3 6 9 12 5 0 4 8 12 16 It turns out that the formula for the number of deletes for a rectangle is (h-1)*(w-1). 6.3. Max and Min Squares per Delete I combined the numbers from the previous two sections and came up with a regression equation for the min number of squares per delete. The equation for minimum number of squares per delete is MinSq = 2.1 + 1.9 * Number of Deletes (Combos <10 deletes) The equation for maximum number of squares per delete is very easy. It is one block per delete, MaxSq = 4 * Number of Deletes So the average number of squares per delete falls somewhere between those two numbers. Actually, at the extreme, you only need 1.14 squares to get more deletes. But this is really only valid for single combos above 20 deletes so it really is not useful. MinSq = 7.8 + 1.14 * Number of Deletes (Combos >20 deletes) 7. Game Speed Game speed governs how far you can get. 7.1. Game Speed I?ve collected some data on the speed of the timeline and the speed of drops. The timeline speed is the amount of time it takes for the timeline to cross the screen. The Drop Speed is the time it takes a block to fall if you don?t speed it up. Notice that the timeline speed is all over the mpa throughout the game, while the drop speed decreases as you advance. The one exception is that blessed oasis Holiday in Summer where we get a brief respite before the maddening pace resumes. Skin Skin Timeline Drop Speed Level 1 Shinin' 3.0 6.7 0 2 Urbanization 4.0 6.5 4 3 Round About 3.7 7.2 8 4 Slipping 4.0 6.4 12 5 Shake ya Body 4.0 6.3 16 6 Square Dance 4.0 5.0 20 7 Talk 2 You 4.0 4.0 24 8 Just... 3.5 3.0 28 9 I Hear the music... 7.0 4.1 32 10 Dark Side... 4.5 3.0 36 11 Aback 4.5 3.1 40 12 Working in the Hole 3.5 3.0 44 13 Sister Walk 4.5 3.0 48 14 Da-Di-Do 3.5 2.5 52 15 Strangers 3.0 2.5 56 16 Holiday in Summer 6.7 6.0 60 17 Take a Dog out... 6.0 5.0 65 18 Big Elpaso 7.0 4.5 70 19 My Generation 3.5 3.8 75 20 Meguro 6.0 2.7 80 21 Spirits 4.0 2.2 85 22 Get Up and Go 4.0 1.2 90 23 Fly into the sky 4.0 95 24 Lights 100 25 Water, Flower & Lights The important lesson here is that your ability to progress in the game depends on your speed relative to the native Drop speed. If you need 4 seconds per drop, you will very rarely make it past the 8th skin. (And many intermediate players can attest just how frustrating that Just... level really is.) If you need only 3 seconds, you can barely make it to the 13th skin as you watch the screen fill up with your mistakes. 7.2. Max Drop Rate Your maximum drop rate may vary, but I?ve measured it to be about 0.4 seconds. That means that at best you can drop 2.5 blocks per second, or 25 blocks in 10 seconds. This has real implications on how many deletes you can get in the game. For instance, if the timeline speed is 4 seconds, you can drop up to 10 blocks or 40 squares. Based on the previously described delete theory, the best players use about 2.5 squares per delete. That means that the best players can get up to 16 deletes in real-game situations. (Remember that you can get many deletes in the aftermath of a destroyer combo. This discussion is about typical game play, not those situations.) 8. Know your Skills This section tells you how to measure some basic performance statistics, and gives some exercises to help improve your performance. 8.1. Performance Statistics The following statistics measure how well you play the game. The purpose of these metrics is to give us a method of measuring our improvement. Just like golf, or baseball, these statistics can also tell us how we compare with our past performance as well as comparing ourselves with others. The first four can be calculated from data displayed during most challenge mode levels. To measure your performance, simply pause the game after you have been playing for a while and write down your numbers. The remaining statistics take some creative measurement. LPM ? Levels per Minute DPM ? Deletes per Minute PPD ? Points per Delete ACE ? Apparent Combo Efficiency DrPM- Drops per Minute TDR ? Typical Drop Rate MDR ? Maximum Drop Rate SAS ? Slide Accuracy Score SDS ? Slide Drop Score Formulas LPM = Level / (Hours * 60 + minutes + seconds/60) DPM = Deletes / (Hours * 60 + minutes + seconds/60) PPD = Score / Deletes ACE = (PPD -40)/120 = (Score / Deletes - 40) / 120 DrPM = Number of Drops / (Seconds / 60) DrE = DPM / DrPM TDR = DRPM in a typical setting MDR = Your best possible DRPM SAS = 2 * # perfect drops + 1 * Number off by 1 square SDS = Start Seconds ? End Seconds 8.1.1. Levels per Minute LPM = Level / (Hours * 60 + minutes + seconds/60) Levels Per Minute is a simple statistic that is related to how fast you play. I don?t find this statistic to be very useful. Deletes per Minute is much more useful. 8.1.2. Deletes per Minute DPM = Deletes / (Hours * 60 + minutes + seconds/60) This is an elegant and useful statistic. It is the best measure of how fast you play the game. DPM is an average number of deletes per minute. Many factors influence your DPM. Some of them are how fast you play, speed of the timeline, how good you are at managing leftovers, and how good you are at making large combos. One quick estimate of your DPM is your max Time Attack score. Your 60 Sec Time Attack score is your max DPM under limited circumstances. You have one skin, and one timeline speed to deal with. The best players can get 120 or even 150 deletes per minute in a 60 Sec Time Attack. There are many ways to improve your DPM. Playing Time Attack games is probably the best way. Also, try some of the games described in this Faq. One non-intuitive way to improve your DPM is to slow down and look for combos. Sometimes we get so caught up in making deletes, that we miss opportunities to get combos that may be worth 2 or 3 deletes instead of just one. 8.1.3. Points per Delete PPD = Score / Deletes Points per Delete is also an elegant metric that tells how well you are using combos. Each delete is worth 40 points. However, when you get 4 or more deletes, you get a 4X bonus so each delete is worth 160 points. Using this knowledge, you can calculate your PPD to see how well you are using combos. If your PPD score is around 40, then you are only getting a few deletes per pass. If your score is near 160 you are usually getting 4 or more deletes per pass. This metric is very useful, but it can be hard to interpret. So I came up with the concept of Combo Efficiency or ACE. 8.1.4. Apparent Combo Efficiency ACE = (PPD -40)/120 = (Score / Deletes - 40) / 120 Your ACE score should be reported as a percentage. It represents how well you use combo?s during the game. If you have a low ACE score, you rarely get more than 3 deletes with each pass of the timeline. An ACE score of 100% means that you nearly always have 4 or more deletes when the timeline passes. For instance, I currently run around 60% combo efficiency. That means that about 60% of the time I have more than 4 deletes when the timeline passes. Of course, this number is affected by points from fast drops, single color bonuses, and all clear bonuses. So it is possible to get more than 100% combo efficiency. That is why I call it an _apparent_ combo efficiency, not the actual combo efficiency. For the same reason, it is not really possible to get 0% ACE. You can measure your ACE score at any point during a game. Simply pause and record the Score and the number of deletes at that moment. The ACE score should be averaged over several games. Generally it is best to calculate the score later in a game because it will cover a broader range of play conditions (i.e. many skins). The ACE metric is valid for scores between 1,000 and 999,998. Once you reach 999,999 your ACE quickly becomes meaningless. It is best to use DPM after you max out the score. 8.1.5. Drop Rate DrPM = Number of Drops / (Seconds / 60) Drop Rate is an interesting metric related to your DPM rate but entirely different. Drop rate is the number of drops per minute while DPM is the number of deletes per minute. If all your deletes are 4 squares, then the two numbers will be equal. But you probably noticed that sometimes a delete is 3 or 2 or even 1 square. So your DrPM is usually less than your DPM score. There are many different ways to measure this rate. On each level, blocks drop at two different rates. One is the ?native? rate, the other is the ?drop? rate. I think the ?drop? rate is constant throughout all levels. The ?native? rate changes from level-to-level. Finally, there is a personal drop rate which is the number of blocks you can drop in a minute at your normal play speed. The three metrics are important because they really govern how far you can get in the game. To progress in the game, your DrPM must be higher than the Native Rate for the skin. For example, if your average drop rate is 50 blocks per minute, but you come to a skin where the native drop rate is 60 blocks per minute, you will soon find the screen filled with random blocks. You will do fine on skins where the native rate is say 30 or even 40 blocks per minute. (Stats on the native drop rate are covered in detail in section 7.1 Game Speed.) As a general rule, if you can pass a level easily then Native Rate < DrPM < DPM < Max Drop Rate That is, for you to pass a level, your Drop Rate is higher than the native drop rate. Therefore you can get combos and your DPM is even higher than your DrPM. For the most advanced players, I believe it is possible for the DPM to be greater than the Max Drop Rate. But this is only true because of something I call Drop Efficiency (DrE). I find that the best way to measure your drop rate is the 60 sec Time Attack mode. Simply count the number of drops you make in a fake game. There are two ways to do it. Typical Drop Rate (TDR) This is best to do with a friend, or video camera. Play a normal 60 sec Time Attack game. Your friend must keep track of how many blocks you drop during the game. Or check your video to count them. Max Drop Rate (MDR) Don?t worry too much about deletes or combos. Simply focus on counting the drops. You should spread the blocks around a little bit like your normal game. This will give you a higher number, but it is a good measure of your current reflexes. I?ve found this is the easiest 9. Improve Your Skills 9.1.1. Drop Efficiency DrE = DPM / DrPM Drop Efficiency is an interesting metric which tells you the average number of deletes you get from a single drop. Now you might think if you keep the screen mostly clean your drop rate would be the same as your delete rate. That is, Typical Assumption: DrPM = DPM But the fact of the matter is that deletes can be 1, 2, 3, or 4 squares. Drops are always 4 squares. SO we have to introduce an efficiency. Think about it this way, when you play, the number of squares on the board stays nearly constant. That is you may have 40 squares on the board. During a minute you may drop 20 blocks (20 blocks * 4 squares/block = 80 squares) During the same minute, you may get 40 deletes. When all is done, you may be left with 20 squares. DPM = DrE * DrPM 9.1.2. Speed Slide Accuracy When you slide blocks, you have probably noticed that they slide faster if you pause half a second. For a long time, I simply pressed left or right many times to line up the block. This game is fun, and a little tricky. You get to practice sliding to a specific point in the field. The play field is 16 squares wide by 10 squares high. I?ll say there are 16 columns and 10 rows. Counting from the left, blocks are automatically centered over column 8 and 9. For this game, you practice trying to slide blocks to column 2 and then dropping them. Then slide to column 14 and dropping them. The Game: Alternate dropping blocks over columns 2,3 and 14,15. 1. Slide a block to columns 2 and 3 as fast as you can and drop as fast as you can. 2. Slide a block to columns 14 and 15 as fast as you can and drop as fast as you can. 3. Repeat 1 and 2 until you have dropped 8 blocks (4 blocks on each column) 4. Pause. You get two statistics from this exercise. SAS ? Slide Accuracy Score SDS ? Slide Drop Score Scoring: SAS ? Slide Accuracy Score = # of squares that hit the correct column SDS ? Slide Drop Score = Time required to stack 4 blocks over columns 2 and 3 SAS is a score between 0 and 32 which indicates your accuracy when doing a slide-drop. Simply count the number of squares that land on target (column 2,3 or columns 14,15). If the block is on the right columns you get 4 points because all for squares are on the columns. If you are off by 1 column, you get 2 points because two squares are on the right column, and two squares are not. Otherwise you get 0 points. When you first start playing, you may have to pause part way through the game if you get any deletes. After you play a few times, your accuracy improves and you don?t have to worry so much about deletes. SDS is a score in seconds which tells how long it takes you to slide and drop 8 blocks. (i.e. 10 sec) You can turn this into a Drop per Minute score with this formula DrPM = 60 * Drops / SDS = 240 / SDS Do not confuse this with DPM (Deletes per Minute). DrPM (Drops per minute) is related to DPM, but they are different. Advanced Game: You can play this game with any column. I generally double up the game during a single Time Attack game. For example: Hit 2,3 and 14,15 then hit 5,6 and 11,12, stop and count. Sometimes I miss a lot and have to stop early. Also, sometimes I get deletes. This is not a problem, but I usually pause and record which column the deletes happen in. At first, this game seems impossibly hard. You will probably start with your normal left-left-left-left-left-left-drop sequence. After a while it becomes more intuitive and you can do left-hold-drop. You will be amazed at how much faster you get after just a few dozen games. 9.2. Upcoming drops Basically, you are trying to improve your awareness of upcoming blocks. You can play this game without touching the controls, but it is best to hold your PSP as you would during a normal game. Look at the center of the screen and use your peripheral vision to see which blocks are coming next. Do not worry about making deletes at first. Simply pay attention to the upcoming blocks. I am not really satisfied with my technique for measuring this skill, but here it is. Drop a block in the center and look at it. For the next 4 blocks call out what you think the block is. (Blank, one, two, etc. or 0, 1, 2, etc. whatever you are comfortable with calling the blocks). If you are right, you get a point, if not you get nothing. You will get a score between 0 and 4 which is your Upcoming Drop Proficiency score. 9.3. Planning your next move This game is the flipside of the previous game. Instead of looking at the field, look only at the blocks. You have to ?know? where the blocks are on the field, and plan where you want the upcoming blocks to fall. Then (and here is the tricky part) slide and drop them WITHOUT LOOKING. This is a much more advanced skill than the Upcoming Drops skill. It also requires that you are pretty good with your Speed Slide accuracy. So you may want to wait a while before trying this exercise. 9.4. Play Faster This has been a recurring theme of this guide: Practice. The only way to play faster is to practice until all the Game speed is governed by five activities. You go through this entire list each time you drop a block. The order of the last three may be a little different, but all these activities happen. 1. Recognize the block 2. Decide what to do with it 3. Slide the block 4. Rotate the block 5. Drop the block Hopefully you recognize that each of these activities has been covered in great detail earlier in this guide. This is the final stop where we bring it all together. These five activities work together to determine your DPM rate. I break these activities down into two categories: Predictive and Reactive. Predictive activities are Recognize and Decide. The process is mostly mental where you figure out what you will do with the block. The Reactive activities are slide, rotate, and drop the block. They are primarily physical, and the speed is based on your reflexes. Rotation strategy can play a role, but your speed here still boils down to reflexes. 10. Know your habits 10.1. Identify your habits OK, this section may be hard for some to take. I know it was tough for me to recognize at first. Lets start with the basics: You have habits which limit your ability to get large combos. Yes you. The shining star Lumines player, you too have habits that limit you. I found that most of my habits caused me to get many single deletes and miss out on combos. For instance, if I got a 1 or 3, I would look for a lone block to make a delete. This kept me from stacking up the blocks next to the lone block in a U or J shape. Eventually I learned how to make those structures, and they became a habit. 10.2. Break your habits The best way to break your habits is to first recognize them, and then to deliberately NOT follow them when they come up. For instance, I typically use an infinite combo to deal with a [3] block when I see one. I?ve gotten into the habit of forming vertical columns of light and dark blocks. So when I get a [3] or [1], I look for a column and either drop it 2 columns away to setup the next slice, or I slice it through the column to get the 2X delete. 10.3. For Lumines Sake ? Know your habits The best way to learn about your habits is to record yourself and watch the video. Pause it after each drop and try to think of other ways you could have dropped the block. Do you find yourself following a pattern? Is it a good pattern? Do you want to change something? 10.3.1. Practice patterns One good thing to do is forcibly practice some of the patterns. Practice building L and U columns. 10.3.2. Practice again 10.3.3. Practice skills 11. Credits In building this guide I sought guidance from many people. Most of the people were forum members at gamefaqs.com. I have already mentioned the wonderful Lumines FAQs on the site. Thanks to For contributing Stan64 Infinite Tower strategy itsmeoreo Data to help develop the metrics Lord Grahf Data to help develop the metrics MaSTeR C 3223 Data to help develop the metrics Tighting Previous work on Bar speeds 12. Copyright This guide is completely my work. Do not copy it without my permission. If you want to use any portion of this guide, send email to faq @ rovingbar . com. I will probably give you permission. If you don?t hear from me it is because the spammers found me before you did. Try posting to the Lumines board at gamefaqs.com if you can?t get me through email. Copyright 2005 by Jeff Hebert 13. Version History 9/1/05 Rev 0.0 Began working on the guide 12/2/05 Rev 1.0 Completed enough to publish first draft 14. Appendix 14.1. Table of 3 block sequences Prob 1st 2nd 3rd 1.56% 1 1 1 1.56% 1 1 2 1.56% 1 1 3 1.56% 1 2 1 1.56% 1 2 2 1.56% 1 2 3 1.56% 1 3 1 1.56% 1 3 2 1.56% 1 3 3 1.56% 2 1 1 1.56% 2 1 2 1.56% 2 1 3 1.56% 2 2 1 1.56% 2 2 2 1.56% 2 2 3 1.56% 2 3 1 1.56% 2 3 2 1.56% 2 3 3 1.56% 3 1 1 1.56% 3 1 2 1.56% 3 1 3 1.56% 3 2 1 1.56% 3 2 2 1.56% 3 2 3 1.56% 3 3 1 1.56% 3 3 2 1.56% 3 3 3 0.78% 1 1 2x 0.78% 1 2 2x 0.78% 1 2x 1 0.78% 1 2x 2 0.78% 1 2x 3 0.78% 1 3 2x 0.78% 2 1 2x 0.78% 2 2 2x 0.78% 2 2x 1 0.78% 2 2x 2 0.78% 2 2x 3 0.78% 2 3 2x 0.78% 2x 1 1 0.78% 2x 1 2 0.78% 2x 1 3 0.78% 2x 2 1 0.78% 2x 2 2 0.78% 2x 2 3 0.78% 2x 3 1 0.78% 2x 3 2 0.78% 2x 3 3 0.78% 3 1 2x 0.78% 3 2 2x 0.78% 3 2x 1 0.78% 3 2x 2 0.78% 3 2x 3 0.78% 3 3 2x 0.39% 0 1 1 0.39% 0 1 2 0.39% 0 1 3 0.39% 0 2 1 0.39% 0 2 2 0.39% 0 2 3 0.39% 0 3 1 0.39% 0 3 2 0.39% 0 3 3 0.39% 1 0 1 0.39% 1 0 2 0.39% 1 0 3 0.39% 1 1 0 0.39% 1 1 4 0.39% 1 2 0 0.39% 1 2 4 0.39% 1 2x 2x 0.39% 1 3 0 0.39% 1 3 4 0.39% 1 4 1 0.39% 1 4 2 0.39% 1 4 3 0.39% 2 0 1 0.39% 2 0 2 0.39% 2 0 3 0.39% 2 1 0 0.39% 2 1 4 0.39% 2 2 0 0.39% 2 2 4 0.39% 2 2x 2x 0.39% 2 3 0 0.39% 2 3 4 0.39% 2 4 1 0.39% 2 4 2 0.39% 2 4 3 0.39% 2x 1 2x 0.39% 2x 2 2x 0.39% 2x 2x 1 0.39% 2x 2x 2 0.39% 2x 2x 3 0.39% 2x 3 2x 0.39% 3 0 1 0.39% 3 0 2 0.39% 3 0 3 0.39% 3 1 0 0.39% 3 1 4 0.39% 3 2 0 0.39% 3 2 4 0.39% 3 2x 2x 0.39% 3 3 0 0.39% 3 3 4 0.39% 3 4 1 0.39% 3 4 2 0.39% 3 4 3 0.39% 4 1 1 0.39% 4 1 2 0.39% 4 1 3 0.39% 4 2 1 0.39% 4 2 2 0.39% 4 2 3 0.39% 4 3 1 0.39% 4 3 2 0.39% 4 3 3 0.20% 0 1 2x 0.20% 0 2 2x 0.20% 0 2x 1 0.20% 0 2x 2 0.20% 0 2x 3 0.20% 0 3 2x 0.20% 1 0 2x 0.20% 1 2x 0 0.20% 1 2x 4 0.20% 1 4 2x 0.20% 2 0 2x 0.20% 2 2x 0 0.20% 2 2x 4 0.20% 2 4 2x 0.20% 2x 0 1 0.20% 2x 0 2 0.20% 2x 0 3 0.20% 2x 1 0 0.20% 2x 1 4 0.20% 2x 2 0 0.20% 2x 2 4 0.20% 2x 2x 2x 0.20% 2x 3 0 0.20% 2x 3 4 0.20% 2x 4 1 0.20% 2x 4 2 0.20% 2x 4 3 0.20% 3 0 2x 0.20% 3 2x 0 0.20% 3 2x 4 0.20% 3 4 2x 0.20% 4 1 2x 0.20% 4 2 2x 0.20% 4 2x 1 0.20% 4 2x 2 0.20% 4 2x 3 0.20% 4 3 2x 0.10% 0 0 1 0.10% 0 0 2 0.10% 0 0 3 0.10% 0 1 0 0.10% 0 1 4 0.10% 0 2 0 0.10% 0 2 4 0.10% 0 2x 2x 0.10% 0 3 0 0.10% 0 3 4 0.10% 0 4 1 0.10% 0 4 2 0.10% 0 4 3 0.10% 1 0 0 0.10% 1 0 4 0.10% 1 4 0 0.10% 1 4 4 0.10% 2 0 0 0.10% 2 0 4 0.10% 2 4 0 0.10% 2 4 4 0.10% 2x 0 2x 0.10% 2x 2x 0 0.10% 2x 2x 4 0.10% 2x 4 2x 0.10% 3 0 0 0.10% 3 0 4 0.10% 3 4 0 0.10% 3 4 4 0.10% 4 0 1 0.10% 4 0 2 0.10% 4 0 3 0.10% 4 1 0 0.10% 4 1 4 0.10% 4 2 0 0.10% 4 2 4 0.10% 4 2x 2x 0.10% 4 3 0 0.10% 4 3 4 0.10% 4 4 1 0.10% 4 4 2 0.10% 4 4 3 0.05% 0 0 2x 0.05% 0 2x 0 0.05% 0 2x 4 0.05% 0 4 2x 0.05% 2x 0 0 0.05% 2x 0 4 0.05% 2x 4 0 0.05% 2x 4 4 0.05% 4 0 2x 0.05% 4 2x 0 0.05% 4 2x 4 0.05% 4 4 2x 0.02% 0 0 0 0.02% 0 0 4 0.02% 0 4 0 0.02% 0 4 4 0.02% 4 0 0 0.02% 4 0 4 0.02% 4 4 0 0.02% 4 4 4 14.2. Table of Typical Deletes The numbers and letters in the pattern column tell which delete the square belongs to. Del Sq Pattern 1 4 11 11 2 6 112 112 3 8 1123 1123 4 9 334 112 112 10 11234 11234 5 12 112345 112345 6 12 3346 1125 1125 14 1123456 1123456 7 16 11234567 11234567 8 15 33468 11257 11257 18 112345678 112345678 9 16 7789 3346 1125 1125 20 1123456789 1123456789 10 18 33468A 112579 112579 22 1123456789A 1123456789A 11 24 1123456789AB 1123456789AB 12 21 33468AC 112579B 112579B 20 99ABC 33468 11257 11257 26 1123456789ABC 1123456789ABC 13 28 1123456789ABCD 1123456789ABCD 14 24 33468ACE 112579BD 112579BD 30 1123456789ABCDE 1123456789ABCDE 15 24 99ABCF 33468E 11257D 11257D 32 1123456789ABCDEF 1123456789ABCDEF 16 27 33468ACEG 112579BDF 112579BDF GG 34 1123456789ABCDEF 1123456789ABCDEF 17 29 HH 33468ACEG 112579BDF 112579BDF 27 DDEFGH 33468AC 112579B 112579B 27 GGH 99ABCF 33468E 11257D 11257D 36 HH GG 1123456789ABCDEF 1123456789ABCDEF 18 30 HHI 33468ACEG 112579BDF 112579BDF 28 DDEFGHI 33468AC 112579B 112579B 28 GGHI 99ABCF 33468E 11257D 11257D 38 HHI GGI 1123456789ABCDEF 1123456789ABCDEF 19 31 HHIJ 33468ACEG 112579BDF 112579BDF 30 JJ DDEFGHI 33468AC 112579B 112579B 29 GGHIJ 99ABCF 33468E 11257D 11257D 40 HHIJ GGIJ 1123456789ABCDEF 1123456789ABCDEF 20 32 HHIJK 33468ACEG 112579BDF 112579BDF 31 JJK DDEFGHI 33468AC 112579B 112579B 30 GGHIJK 99ABCF 33468E 11257D 11257D 42 HHIJK GGIJK 1123456789ABCDEF 1123456789ABCDEF 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890 [End of Guide]