Tips for Intermediate Level Players

Table of contents
  1. Introduction
  2. Game options
    1. Use Random
      1. Justification for always using random
    2. Turn on FAST / SLOW
    3. Keep your green number within reasonable range
    4. Reduce your white number if it’s too high
  3. Song Selection for Practice
    1. Play more songs at your skill level
    2. Play a variety of songs
    3. Use tier lists for Levels 11 and 12
  4. Physical Form
    1. Reevaluate your playstyle
    2. Watch your form
    3. Keep your eyes focused
  5. References


As stated in the section’s introduction, the audience for this article is for 8th dan to 10th dan players.

If you are already at 10th dan, Tips to reach SP Kaiden would also be good to read.

There will be a little bit of overlap between the two, if they are really that important.

Game options

Use Random

Use the random option for almost all songs when you are playing. Keep random on for playing easy charts, difficult charts, new charts, and especially your favorites that you play over and over. For levels 11 and below, the only real exceptions to turning off random would be for scratch-heavy songs, in which case you would typically use non-ran or mirror.

And yes, the random option, not r-random, and not s-random. See here for details.

Justification for always using random

The biggest upside of playing with random is that you get to experience a variety of patterns. Since IIDX charts are hand-crafted, there are many recurring patterns; for example, repeated bass notes on 1, stairs that go from 1-7 or 7-1, chords consisting of just the white notes or just the blue notes, 1/7 trills. If you play random, the game will challenge you with bass notes on 4, 1/2 or 6/7 trills, chords that are mixed up & difficult to read, and so on. These are just extreme examples to illustrate a point, of course.

It also prevents you from developing bad habits. For example, if you repeatedly play the same chart on non-ran, your brain may start to memorize the note pattern. This is not a good thing! Instead of developing the ability to read and process note patterns, you may be relying on your memory, recalling how to hit the notes without looking at each individual notes. The worst possible case is if you are doing this poorly – this may be due to incorrect memorization of notes, or from muscle memory preventing you from hitting the notes correctly. By playing random, you can prevent this memorization effect; if you always play with random, this wouldn’t happen in the first place.

Remember, this isn’t about using random to somehow make the chart easier or harder, or helping you get higher scores or lamps with a “good random”. It’s about improving your skills. Don’t fish for random, don’t immediately quit out if you get a difficult combination of notes; try to play every song to completion.

Turn on FAST / SLOW

If you haven’t already, go to the blue menu and turn on timing display. Put the display where you can see it – typically this is Type A.

timing display screen

On the result screen, check that your fast/slow ratio is roughly 1:1. If it isn’t, this page on timing is worth a read.

Keep your green number within reasonable range

At this level, a typical green number is between 270 to 320. If your green number deviates greatly from this, you might want to consider going back to more conventional setting and making small adjustments.

Avoid setting your green number extremely low, forcing yourself to play from pure reaction. This is a common pitfall for players at this level. While you may be able to keep up in the lower levels, your reaction time may not be sufficient once you start playing 11s and 12s. As the patterns get more complex, your brain will need more time to translate them into muscle movements.

Reduce your white number if it’s too high

If you use a high white number (if your lane cover or lift covers a lot of your screen), try to reduce it.

playing with high white number

The idea is that – given the same green number – if the play field is too small, the spacing between notes are compressed vertically, making it harder to differentiate between them.

Typically, players cover about 5%-40% of the screen. If more than 50% of your screen is covered, strongly consider reducing it.


Song Selection for Practice

Play more songs at your skill level

During your session, you should spend most of your time playing charts that are at your level.

Don’t bang your head against the wall trying to clear a song that is significantly above your skill level. Similarly, don’t waste your time trying to ex-hard or full combo clear a song way below your level.

You should be playing easier levels during your warm-up routine, of course.

Play a variety of songs

There are over a thousand songs in IIDX, and way more if you want to count each chart separately.

Back in the days, when there were very few songs, it was common for players to practice the same song over and over (e.g., playing Quasar or AA on random). This really hasn’t been necessarily in the last decade.

Therefore, try to play a variety of charts instead of focusing on a few. If you fail a song, maybe you can move onto other songs for now, and come back when you are ready again.

Use tier lists for Levels 11 and 12

Once you start playing 11s, you can use tier lists as a reference; this is especially useful when you are trying to play songs around your skill level.

When you are playing 12s, you should definitely check out the tier lists to start with the lower end. Songs in Level 12 folder span an extremely large range.

Use tier lists and lamp trackers as a motivator and to measure your progress. Remember that there are separate tables for normal and hard clears; you should use both.

Don’t worry too much about tier lists for level 10 and below, there are no good tables for these, and difficulty spread is much narrower in the lower levels.

See here for tier lists and progress trackers.

Physical Form

Reevaluate your playstyle

Here is a page on common playstyles.

The most common playstyle at this level is transitional 1048, so if you are still unsure, this is a safe choice.

If you are playing an uncommon playstyle, it’s time to reconsider and see if you can adopt to more common one. You may have developed an odd playstyle along the way while playing lower levels, which may quickly become less than ideal as you progress through the game. There are reasons why some styles are less popular.

Every playstyle is viable – there are plenty of players who can pass kaiden with one hand, even; but not every playstyle is the most efficient at making progress.

Watch your form

Don’t do this:

playing with wrist too low

Lift up your wrist like this, but not too high:

playing with level wrist

and remember to hit the keys with the tip of your fingers.


Keep your eyes focused

Try to keep your eyes focused on one spot. Where on the screen depends on each individual, but typically, players look at the area slightly above the judgement text.

If you are unsure what that means - try to look only within the green box. (Exceptions would of course be made for sof-lan songs when BPM significantly lowers.)

green box

Try your best to avoid your line of sight from dropping lower over time. Make a conscious effort to “reset” your focus back to the green zone if your catch yourself doing this.

Avoid scanning the screen up and down - try not to have your eyes follow the notes as they scroll down, instead you should be focused on one spot of the screen and scanning the notes pass through the green zone.


The Safari on improving your skills

Reducing Negative practice on The Japari

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