Tetris is an abstract game with some elements of luck and a range of goals depending on the variant, making it difficult to formulate definite strategies and tactics. In many variants, a player's success lies in how accurately, efficiently, and quickly he or she can perform. This remains especially true for matches against an opponent. Some variants remove the time element, making speed less important.
Some techniques are common among many experts. Remember that beginner players will naturally take the route easiest to learn, which may not always be the best. In some cases, a player may need more than just one sitting to learn how to do something a different way. An important trait of a successful player is that they are able to change their ways and take the time to learn something better.
Note that while the name of this article is "General technique", the following list of strategies in its current state has a bias to games that conform to the Tetris Guideline. Other games may have different rules, rewards and features which all call for different favorable strategies. What may be considered foolish actions in one game may be essential strategies in another, and vice versa.
- Stacking for Tetrises. Almost all games, except those early games licensed through Andromeda and Mirrorsoft, reward the player for clearing more lines at once. In most cases, clearing a single in order to move on to the next Tetris is more efficient than building the single up to a double or triple. Although, in games with line clear delay, it is of course faster to clear one triple rather than clearing three singles to get to that upcoming Tetris.
- Clearing garbage. In a match against another player, the goal is to prevent topping out and to make the opponent top out instead. It's useful to look down and see how much garbage is incoming in order to act accordingly. In a lot of cases, it is more beneficial to remove this garbage before trying to send garbage back to the opponent.
- Piece preview. Keep an eye on the next piece(s). They will help prepare for how the pieces at hand shall be placed.
- Stack evenly. When garbage comes, it is desirable to stay as close to the bottom as possible. A rough surface or a "castle" like structure might hinder optimum piece placements. Don't stack perfectly even either, as there are Zs and Ss to deal with.
- Soft drop sparingly. In games where hard drop is fast, soft drop is slow or unavailable, and firm drop is not available, avoid situations where pieces must slide into place. If a situation occurs where it is necessary, for example the first two tetrominoes are S and Z, try to stack so that only one piece needs to soft drop and slide instead of two, or use a platform opening. With respect to T-spins, soft drops will be needed.
- Practice often and effectively. The best way to improve block stacking ability is to practise often and to practise playing in the most effective way. "Practice makes perfect."
Techniques for Guideline games
Newer Tetris brand games follow the Tetris Guideline. For these, the following additional techniques apply:
- Dual rotation. Use both clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation buttons to save key presses.
- Open column preference. If a side shall be left open for Tetrises, use the right side. If a middle column is open for Tetrises, use the right-middle. Since non-I and O tetrominoes spawn closer to the left, and the symmetrical I will be the only piece needing to go in the open column, placing the open column to the right will require the non-I and O tetrominoes to move less.
- Smart holding. Don't excessively hold tetrominoes. Although holding is preferable to soft dropping, do it only when necessary. Hold I tetrominoes, but if the first tetrominoes come I then Z, don't hold the I. This will require a soft drop. If four rows are lined up for a Tetris, don't hold the I. Use it unless some other reason justifies using a frame to hold it. If a tetromino requires soft-dropping to be placed optimally, hold it, but next time stack better. In reality, even experts hold a lot, but it's important when starting out not just to use it because the mind doesn't feel like thinking about how to place a piece. Learning to stack efficiently in these difficult situations where one doesn't immediately see somewhere that fits is very important.
- Stacking for Tetrises - General guideline to stack consecutive tetrises.
- Multiplayer techniques - Various multiplayer tactics.
- Movement Finesse - A system to place tetrominoes with the least amount of keypresses.