[GUIDE] How to improve in osu!mania

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Topic Starter
Welcome to my magic thread on how to become insta-pro!! Just kidding, just kidding.

With lots of recent threads being about people asking how to improve in osu!mania, I decided to make a how-to to help all players, new or fairly advanced. This thread's purpose IS NOT to tell people how they should practice or to enforce some methods over others. This thread's purpose IS to compile different methods people has used to give an idea to players what they could try if things aren't going as good as they would want to. For starters, I really recommend playing other games like lr2 or o2jam because this game tends to enforce bad habits with it's mechanics that mostly impedes your progress.

Also, I find that this thread goes hand-in-hand with Entozer's beatmap list: t/147552


Things to look out for when trying to improve


They're split between the 4 categories bellow. They're split since some things aren't useful for all player levels.

Beginner: You just started, you aren't at the level to call the osu!standard converts useless and you find that even the easy mania songs are too hard.

Do not be afraid to be bad: Most people get discouraged from the level of difficulty in rhythm games early on. This is because most rhythm games features a seemingly never-ending difficulty scale, and it's intimidating when you're having trouble at the beginning. But this is also due that these games uses mechanics that one most likely never practiced before. In osu!mania, it's finger independence. It's completely normal to be bad when you start off. Most the time, when someone is better than you, it's simply because he's played more or has played more seriously than you. Just keep in mind that he used to be at your level too at some point in time :P .You just need spend more time playing and pushing yourself to the next level. Don't worry about it too much, it'll come.

Focus on training your finger-independence: Finger-independence is what I like to call the skill of being able to move each finger the most independently as possible. It's not something that's easy to develop, but it's an absolutely crucial skill to have in osu!mania. You need to keep your hopes up and practice anything you can get your hands on to improve your ability to move your fingers independence. Once you get accustomed to this, you're improvement rate will literally sky-rocket. It's just a matter of getting used to mechanics you're not accustomed to.

Song choice: At this stage, being exposed to different pattern types isn't an immediate concern. Since your main concern is getting used to playing a bit. Go ahead and play your favorite songs. But this does not mean exposing yourself to new patterns is a bad thing, it's always a good thing! If you feel up to it, read the pattern learning section from the mediocre category, there's song available for all player levels.

Play all keymodes: Try to keep your skill for all keymodes equal. Got 90% on 4k? Don't play 4k again until you can get 90% on the other keymodes too. The most common mistake for new players is starting off with 4k and completely shunning the other keymodes away, thinking something along the lines of "I'll get better at 4k before touching the other keymodes, they're too hard". Why is this a mistake? The more you improve on 4k, the more the thought of practicing other keymodes will become discouraging due to the skill gap. This keeps up until it becomes set in stone that you will never have the resolve to try and learn the other keymodes. To top it off, someone who practices all keymodes will improve at the same rate as someone who practiced a single one. I've done this experiment with my friends multiple times. Most recently with my sister and brother. I both got them to start playing at the same time, but told my sister to keep her skill in all keymodes equal. Two months later, with my sister having the smaller playtime, their 4k skills were nearly identical, they would beat each other in turns. Except my sister was that good in all keymodes while my brother couldn't play anything besides 4k. How is this possible? Because at the early levels, its all about training your finger independence. This means that learning 4k is nearly as hard as learning 7k/8k. Time spent practicing higher keymodes also helps with your skill of lower keymodes more than the other way around. So keep your individual keymode skills even, your overall improvement rate will increase faster rather than slower.

Short form: It's normal that you start off rough, practice that finger independence and make sure to play all keymodes equally.

Without prior experience, most people stay 1-3 months in stage, if playing a casual 1-2 hours a day. Though this can affected by how seriously you play, and how often you play.

Novice players: You're good enough to impress your friends. You've been playing for a while and started realizing what everyone meant about these standard songs, their notes aren't as fun to play as mania maps. You were improving so fast but now, it seems like you've hit a wall.

Learning patterns: At this point you should realize that mania is all about reading and playing patterns. We'll consider that a pattern is"known" when not only you can read it, but you can also play it properly. To get better you need to play different songs to add patterns into your "repository". One's skill is largely affected by, if not directly relevant to, the amount of patterns he knows. As you get better, you'll encounter patterns that resemble something you know but with a little something new, then again, then again. Until you're able to read a pattern that looked like a total mess to you a while back. With a little work, you can learn that mess of a pattern that you can now read and later consider it "known". This is the problem with playing osu!standard conversions. Their map patterns can easily be counted on all 10 fingers. Single, double, triple notes. Streams. Simple long notes with or without equally spaced notes. 1/4 beat. 1/8 beat. Some extra rare occurrences. This is due to the limitations that the converter has when trying to translate a song from a single-note "play-along" game to a song for a multi-note "play-the-music" game. At this stage, it's much better to practice mania maps. Currently, there isn't enough ranked mania maps to cover all your training needs. So you'll need to dabble in the unranked songs or conversions from other games. It should be noted that Bobbias's o2jam converts has a great variety of maps for all levels of players. Oh, and keep in mind that this whole pattern reading/learning/playing thing is completely subconscious. It's not like we keep track of all these patterns, it's just the outcome of good 'ol practicing.

Bobbias's o2jam convertions - t/116229

Attitude: You won't improve unless you want to improve. You gotta play with a mindset positive for improvement. This means setting up goals and milestones and striving to accomplish them. There's a certain limit to how good a player playing just for the sake of playing can become, and this is pretty much that level. Basically, you won't improve unless you're actually trying to do better than your best.

Confidence: This is MUCH more important than people think. This is the biggest reason that "taking a break" or "getting new songs" sometimes results in an increase of skill. Let's say you have a favorite map that you play daily, but there's this part in the song you always screw up. Up comes the part and you're thinking "here it comes....!!!", and guess what? You screw up again. But then you had to take a break, vacation or whatnot, and something weird happens when you come back; you FC the song. Why? Most likely you forgot about that part, and played through it like it was never a problem. An other scenario to prove this is when you're having a "good day". Usually starts when you beat one of your best highscores, you start thinking "oh wow, I'm awesome today!". You then proceed to beating a lot of your records. Yes it's possible you were healthier that day, but it's mostly due to your confidence again. Don't let yourself be intimidated by difficult looking patterns and try your best to read em, because you can; you just didn't find out how yet. Try to keep this in mind when you play, no negative thoughts!

Adjust your speed and where you look: If you're playing while looking at the bottom of the screen, then your scroll speed isn't fast enough. Adjust it until you're looking somewhere around the middle area of the board. You want it to be as fast as you can while still playing good since it spreads out the notes and facilitates the reading. If you're not used to playing while looking in the middle, try a couple easier maps with flashlight on. Now, don't expect to do good, it's just to give an "average feel" of what a good speed and concentration area is. Looking at the center of the playing field with an appropriate speed is crucial to properly read harder patterns.

Adjust how you play: We can all agree that the chances of you playing with most comfortable and profitable posture/techniques possible for you on your first try is very low. Don't be afraid to test new things to see if it's better for you. Some people seem to have adapted the proper keyboarding
etiquette in their playstyle. Others spread out their hands a little to feel more relaxed. Others tries to limit the movement of their fingers, keeping em relaxed on the keys instead of "bouncing" them. Some people rather resting their wrist on a surface while others like keeping them in the air. Ask around to see how others play or experiment yourself, I'm almost 100% sure there's a better technique/posture out there for you that you just haven't found yet.

Practice: Of course. But why give it it's own spot? Because the time you need to spend playing to reach the next level is a lot more than most new players think. Were talking anything from 6 months to even a year. Progress will be slower from now on and you'll start liking songs more based on it's noting patterns over the actual song. But don't be discouraged, if it seems like you're going nowhere, just keep practicing. Just keep thinking positive and have fun, improvement is just around the corner.

Train your accuracy and stamina: Accuracy is the biggest contributor to your score. Someone who achieves an SS can still be beaten by someone who broke his combo midway but hit an insane amount of MAX (the rainbow 300s). But MAXs can prove to be pretty difficult to hit. Make sure to try and hit the notes as accurately as possible, it not only gives you a better score, but also helps in learning harder patterns when you have the habit of hitting 75%+ MAX. But no matter how epic your accuracy, a song that keeps a tiring pattern going for a while will tire you out. Some songs have easy patterns but the length and speed of it all makes your arms turn to jello by the halfway point. To train stamina, all you can do is keep playing stamina songs until your stamina improves. A good thing to practice on are the harder 4k mania songs, since they're mostly easy to read but requires lots of stamina.

Stay healthy: Yup, eat your meat and veggies and sleep a normal sleep routine. Exercise, workout and take a breather outdoors. No matter how good you are, you'll still perform better when in tip-top shape. Not only will you play better, you will also improve faster, it's just how the human body works.

Short form: Practice varied patterns, be confident, adjust your playstyle a bit and practice! You're at this stage for a while so make sure you're having fun.

People usually stay well over a year in this stage, only true enthusiasts or competitive players manage to get out of this stage.

Advanced Players: You got well over a year or two of experience. Songs that you cant complete are considered ridiculous or just outside of your reach. You consider yourself pretty good and only the "super crazy guys" can clean the floor with you.

Now obviously everything for the previous category applies, but people at this level mostly know those things. The things mentioned in this cattegory aren't necessarily better than what was mentioned in the last category, but it's stuff that might help in the long run and that won't necessarily be helpful to mediocre players. Most of these revolve around hardcore training and chances are they produce the same results as just normal practice anyways.

Mods: Play difficult songs with mods. Mods like HR or FL helps turn patterns you know into something more like a reflex. Super-familiarizing yourself with the patterns you know will help connect the dots with patterns you have a hard time reading. Of course, I'm not talking about memorizing a song, this won't help your skill at all. Make sure you apply the mods to a wide variety of songs. Random mod also helps with learning patterns since it forces you play while solely relying on that "repository" of yours. Doing good on a song with random proves that you are familiar with the patterns featured in that song, and not that you familiar enough with the song to have memorized it. Big difference!

Song recommendations: At this level there are some patterns that have a completely different feel to em that will need be practiced. When new, innovative patterns appear, there's no reason not to play em! Examples would be long note heavy songs, speed change heavy songs and BMS songs, three completely different kinds of insane. Good long notes can be found on the servers or in Bobbias's converts. Good BMS songs can also be found on the servers or Doorknob's and Davteezy's converts. Good speed change songs are a little trickier to find, but they're out there (Agka-type SV ftw!). Now I'm not saying train these maps to improve. It's just notifying that the more you improve, the more varied map styles become available. It never hurts to add a couple patterns in that "repository" :p

Doorknob's and Davteezy's 7K BMS conversions t/132783

Training yourself physically: I do not think this is common in mania, but this occurs a lot on the professional level of lots of speed-heavy games. Basically, play with physical limitations until you're as good with em as you were without em, then remove em. Limitations like finger weights or a tight pair of one-size-fits-all gloves are ideal. This is the same concept as practicing with mods but instead of helping with your reading, it'l help enforce your muscles for finger independence and speed. This is also great for building stamina without having to play the hardest songs you can handle over and over again.

Delve deeper into an ability when necessary: With the wide variety of patterns osu!mania can offer, it can prove to be extremely difficult to excel at everything. Many of the best players excel in a couple skills, leaving their performance on other skills on par with some of the better advanced players. A few example of such skills would be; jackhammering, bursting, chordstreaming, long notes, accuracy and reading SV (speed changes). Keep in mind that mastering just one of these skills can easily take multiple years.

Short form: Apply difficulty increasing mods both in the game and physically. Make sure to keep exploring new patterns! Oh and practice for like another couple years.

People stay here for one heck of a long time. People with well over 3-4 years of experience are still in this stage. Someone once told me the rule of thumb to become ET, is to have at least 2 years of gameplay time!

ET: The super crazy guys
Time to move on to the real rhythm games cause you're a big boy now ;)


Fine-tuning mania to suite your hit-timings


This will be more helpful to experienced players who hops between different VSRGs often or recently changed a couple things in their playstyle. What I'm referring to as a player's "timing" is the reflexes they've acquired to hit a note xx ms after having seen it in their area focus (visual timing) or to hit a note xxms before or after having heard the relating sound (auditive timing). For players that has trained themselves in a specific timing, it's much more difficult to adjust to a new one than learning a timing for the first time.

Click me!
First off we need to confirm whether or not your current setup complies with your timing. Also, I suggest having your frame limiter on unlimited. Go ahead and play a couple songs. Try not to focus too much on your accuracy, play in a neutral comfort zone. One the result screen, you should see this little thing when you rest your cursor on the HP graph.

The +/- ms stands for how late your average late taps are (+) and how early your average early taps are (-). The unstable rate is some form of standard deviation on your tap timings, telling us how consistent your timings are. The bigger the rate, the more inconsistent your are in your timings. If you start realizing a trend, like you're always hitting xxms early or late, then there is stuff you can do to fix that. Keep in mind that playing hard songs won't yeild reliable results, since players always hit patterns they're not comfortable with early or late. You should take plays with a low unstable rate into bigger consideration, since this will mean you were "consistently" hitting at these offsets. If you don't notice any particular trends, then good job! Your game doesn't need any tunnings.

First off we will be adjusting the game to your visual timing. Pick out some easy songs you can S with FC. Now turn your sound completely off and play these a couple times with hidden. For more reliable results you can try to cover up the judgement or replacing them with 100% alpha images in your skin, since seeing what judgements you're getting will make you subconsciously try to adjust your timing corespondly. The goal of this is to find where your hit your notes simply by seeing them in the middle-region. Make sure to play them more than, once keep track of your offset and remember to keep plays with low unstable rate into bigger consideration. If you realize that your plays fluctuates between late and early, your setup most likely doesn't need any visual adjustments. But in the case you do have have consistent offset, then we have some tinkering to do in your skin.

Let's say you played 3 easy song's 3 times, and all your plays were 5ms-15ms early averaging at ~-10ms. Go in your xK.ini and look for the line "HitPositon: 402". That should be the default value, if it's not there add it. This value depicts how far from the top of the playfield notes need to be hit for that +/-0ms hit. In our example, we were hitting 10ms early, so we want to raise the hit position. So lower the value by 10, this should leave use with "HitPosition: 392". Save and reload your skin (or restart the game). Go ahead and do the previous experiment again and keep adjusting the hitposition until you find that sweet spot of yours. This should take care of your visual timing.

Now for your auditive timing. Like when we tuned our visual timing without sound, we will be tuning our auditive timing without visuals. I prepared a couple difficulties here from different mappers (feel free to make your own) that is just the same note repeating on a 1/1 beat for about 30ish notes. What you want to do with these is just tap to the beat while looking away from your screen. Make sure to "visualize" the notes in your head when you're doing these, pretend you're playing, imagine different patterns. Since let's say you've trained yourself with negative offset, whether or not your aware of it, your playstyle relies on hitting notes a little early from what you hear. Simply taping to the beat in this case won't yield the audio offset that's perfect for you. With these, since all you're doing is consistently taping to the beat, we will be aiming for extremely low unstable rates. Throw away any results over 200, aim for like 150, it's even possible to get under 100 if you're extremely consistent. Once you've obtained a fair amount of reliable results, you can then judge if your audio needs any offset or note.

Adjusting the audio offset is pretty straight forward, if you averaged about 10ms early, you want the lag the audio by 10ms. So in simple form, if you average offset is -10ms, add +10ms to your audio offset. Keep doing the previous experiment until you find that audio offset sweet spot.

Now you can go ahead and try out the new settings, adjust here and there a little more if you find the need to. Just keep in mind that it's completely normal to consistently hit early or late on harder songs and it doesn't mean anything needs tuning.


Reading Methods


By reading I'm talking about some of the common methods players use to "decrypt" the notes they see before in order to make sense of them. Enabling the player to play the patterns they know just fine.

Click me!
Alright, this is something that I've actually been curious about for a while. I've asked dozens of great players, most better than me, half complete ETs. This section is mostly a "compilation" of the answers I've received. Personal opinion probably accounts for 1% of the rendition, the part where I talk about myself haha. If you disagree with anything said bellow, feel free to leave your opinion! I'm always interested in discussing playstyles/training styles.

Alright earlier I've touched upon pattern reading and recognition. But as things gets more complicated, it makes sense that players find different ways to read their patterns. But, you can predominately categorize them into two major reading "methods". I've come to name them "Vertical reading" and "horizontal reading".

Let's take a look at horizontal reading fist, since it's the most common. In horizontal reading, you split sections horizontally making "blocks" to read sequentially. Take a look at this pattern:

Looks like a mess right? Well let's try splitting it up into blocks. We'll make sense of this in no time.

If you follow the colours, You'll be reading this as "burst" "chord" "burst" "chord". Excluding the speed that this may be coming at you, I bet the pattern looks much playable now that you can make sense of it right? This is the basis of horizontal reading. It's more like taking all the notes and reading them as whole than anything else.

Now for vertical reading. This one is much more tricky. You need to be able to dual or triple task properly to use this method properly. In vertical reading you focus on recognizing all the patterns within the big picture and playing them simultaneously. Let's take the last example again for the sake of convenience.

The little trills can be grouped as 2 broken trill stairs

This could maybe be interpreted as the green being the drum, the broken trill stairs be the melody and the white notes be the bass line. It's splitting the map up by it's tracks. That big mess of notes can easily be split up into smaller patterns that you most likely know how to play just fine. Now it's just a matter of being able to play them simultaneously. It can be tricky I agree, but trust me it's not more trouble than it's worth.

So now to answer the big question, which method should you be focusing on? If we take the previous example, most players would opt for horizontal reading. This is due to the fact that recognizing, isolating and playing multiple pattern simultaneously in a high-density map is no easy feat. But that doesn't make horizontal reading superior. Take this for example:

Aha, I wish you luck in finding an efficient way of splitting this horizontally. But it's pretty easy to do vertically;

Inversed reverting stairs, broken stairs and simple long notes!

From these examples you can most likely tell that most o2jam players (LN heavy game) are vertical readers and most bms players (high note density game) are horizontal readers. Now this doesn't mean this is the only way the reading methods should be used. They are pros and cons for most situations. Vertical reading helps get a better rhythmic grasp of the map, generally allowing for better accuracy at the expense of increasing the chances of missing on more difficult maps. The instant view and perception that horizontal reading offers makes it easier to combo high density notes, at the expense of accuracy.

I'm personally mostly a vertical reader, though I try to read horizontally for high level bms maps. You should try em both and experience for yourself!

Pattern Repository [WIP]


Just a note, this is not in any way a reference for mapping. A mapper shouldn't focus on what patterns to map, the patterns should just be a coincidental outcome. This is a player reference, since it's unavoidable for players to recognize patterns within a map even if it wasn't intended. The way a mapper visualizes and maps a map, and a player reads and plays a map, is two completely different things.

Also, a little something about how these patterns are categorized. A pattern in the novice section does not mean a novice-level player is expected to be able to play it easily, or play it at all. It means a novice will have to work on learning such a pattern in order to improve. If I were to list patterns novices are familiar with in the novice section, then the beginner section would be empty. Since beginners aren't familiar with anything when they first start off.

Keep in mind that the visual examples are nothing more than an example. Such a pattern can differ greatly from the example I showed. Also, pay no heed about the fact that the examples are in 7K. The only reason for this was that is was the default option in the tool and thought nothing of it until I had to show a patterns in 8K to show it off better. These examples are valid for all key modes unless stated otherwise.

Quick explanation on timings
I'll be using timings to better explain the patterns. Stuff like 1/4 beats and 1/8 beats. The timings will be based off BPMs ranging 120-200 BPM.

For those of who don't know what this is, I'll give a quick overview. To start off, notes timed 1/1 mean there's a note at every beat. Tap your hands to beat; those taps were timed 1/1. From there it's simple to understand what the other timings mean. 1/2 timings mean there's 2 notes per beat, or the time between each notes is two times less then the time between each beat. 1/4 has 4 notes per beat, 1/8 8 notes per beat etc. etc.


Simple notes

Any beats

These are the basics. Simple notes following a simple melody or beat from the song. New players will find these challenging at first most likely due to a lack of finger independence. For players just starting out with these, the thing you need to focus on is hitting them correctly. Make sure you only hit that note, and not that note and the one beside it. A big helper is paying attention to song's beat to tap the notes instead of visually judging the timing by it's approach rate.

Simple Chords

Any beats

These are trickier than simple notes. Two notes at once usually represents an actual song chord, or two notes from different tracks layered on top each other. For example. the melody AND the drum. Track layering is a big thing in osu!mania and players are exposed to it very early on, in the form of chords. If hitting two notes at once seem difficult and confusing, it's completely normal. This is just further training that finger-independence.

There's two ways to about playing these. The first and more common way is practicing them until you can recognize and play these chords as easily as single notes. The second way is to think of the two tracks separately, of course this only applies to songs where the chords occurred due it having more than one track. Ideally it's best to play them like they were mapped, but it's hard to tell with notes is from what track early on, let alone playing two tracks at once. So just focus on practicing these chords until you can play them easily.

Simple Long-Notes (LN)

Any beats

Long notes are also very standard in osu!mania, they literally represent a note that lasts for a longer period of time. Long notes seem easy enough once you got the simple notes down. But there's a catch: you got to release them with the right timing too! It takes a bit of getting used to to get the release timing right, but once you got that down, simple long notes shouldn't be much of a problem.

Grace Notes

mostly 1/16, 1/32 or 1/64, but can be more

A somewhat rare occurrence. These are usually 2-3 notes in a quick succession, usually near the end of a song to give a "graceful" effect. These are a great opportunity to show what I mean when I say previously learned patterns help connect the dots to learn new patterns. If a player is already comfortable playing chords, he can think of these as chords with one note hit slightly earlier. Which wouldn't be that hard to do. But a player not comfortable with chords will think of these as simple notes and 1/32 of a beat is too fast for a new player. He'll most likely mess up.

So just think of these as a chord, with a note hit slightly earlier.


1/2 beat and up

Stairs, believe it or not, is usually the easiest way to play a fast sequence of notes. So try not to be too intimidated when you first encounter them. Although they are one of the hardest things you encounter at this level, it's still very doable!

Now to be honest, this may or may not need some external training. Have you ever been bored and tapped your fingers on a surface in a sequence kind of like these stairs? If so, think about that when trying to do stairs, notice when/where it starts and when/where it ends (like always, depend on the beat for timing, not approach the rate) and do that motion within that time frame. For people who has never done this, then I really recommend you try it, it's a great exercise for finger independence. Try practicing it both ways and you'll eventually find out that simple stairs aren't all that bad!

Simple Long-Note Layering

Any beats

Now these patterns truly test a player's finger independence. You're going to have to keep a key pressed while playing a different pattern. Now I can't really give any helpful tips on layered patterns other than practice the patterns involved. If you're comfortable with long notes and the pattern it's being layered with, and you're still having troubles, you're just missing a bit of practice. Just keep trying, remember to focus more on the beat than the approach rate and you'll soon be able to play these.



1/4 beat and up


1/4 beat and up


1/8 beat and up

Advanced long-notes

Any beats

Advanced chords
(not completely applicable to 4k and 5k)

Any beats

Skipping stairs
(not applicable to 4k)

1/4 beat and up

Sequential chord stairs
(not applicable to 4k and 5k)

1/4 beat and up

Reverting stairs

1/4 beat and up

Symmetrically layered stairs
(not applicable to 4k, since it simply becomes 2 trills)

1/4 beat and up

Pedal point

1/4 beat and up


1/8 beat and up


1/8 beat and up

Simple brackets
(not applicable to 4k and 5k)

1/4 beat and up


Double Stairs (or triple/quadruple)
(not applicable to 4k and 5k)

1/4 beats and up

Trees or Runningmen
DDR term, would like to find a more mania-like term

Chord streaming
(This is novice-level for 4k and 5k, so it's not completely applicable)

1/4 beats and up

Ladders or Trilling stairs
(not applicable to to 4k)

1/4 beats an up

Sheild stream

1/8 beats and up

Asymmetrically layered stairs (intersecting melodies)
(not applicable to 4k, I don't think it's possible in 5k)

(colored to better visualize the 2 streams, green is when the note is shared by both streams)

1/4 beats an up


Explained bellow


1/8 beats and higher

Jackhammers are when notes come down in a rapid succession, make tap the same key extremely fast, so fast it's literally impossible without some special practice or training.

Jackhammers are a hard pattern for everyone. Some songs will even feature some 1/16 beat jackhammers that can potentially drain your HP within a second. Of course it's inhuman to tap that fast, so in those songs, the goal is survival. Practicing on such songs will make the common 1/8 or 1/4 beat jackhammer seem a little easier. Jackhammers aren't hard to read, it's all about how fast you can tap. So keep practicing until you can move that fast. An alternative would be to do some finger-muscle speed training.

Chord jacks

1/8 beats and up

Advanced brackets
(not applicable to 4k and 5k)

1/4 beats and up

Bursts (or rushes)

1/16 beat or more

Burst most commonly lasts a short period time, a couple seconds of insanely fast notes. But it's possible for higher level BMS songs to feature this pattern for the whole song. This requires an insane amount of stamina. Not just physical stamina, mental stamina too. It's hard enough to perceive and accurately hit every note in a short burst, but doing this for the whole song is on a whole different level.

The only thing special about bursts is their speed. To learn how to do these properly, you simply gotta train how fast you can read and play streams and chordstreams. Haha "simply" ;)

Advanced long-note layering
(Don't think it's possible to do in 4k...)

Any timings

Inverse notes (lifts, LN walls)

Any timings

Aaaaah long notes, the most hated and equally loved pattern type. What happens here is instead of keeping your keys unpressed by default and pressing a key when a note comes down, you keep your keys pressed down by default and release a key when an "opening" comes down. Flips your whole world upside-down.

Training this is like pretty much learning mania all over again. When advanced players are first exposed to this pattern type, even if it's just the inverted version of a beginner song, they most likely find themselves failing. What needs to be done to master this pattern type, is pretty much: get some inverted versions of easy mania songs and retrain yourself from step 1. Have fun!

change log
01/08/13 - First post (general tips on how one can improve)
02/08/13 - Added a couple points mentioned by others in the improvement tips
05/08/13 - started the beginner and mediocre pattern repository
06/08/13 - started the advanced pattern repository
07/08/13 - Added descriptions and tips to the beginner patterns, also added a couple clarifications about the whole pattern repository
04/12/13 - Added the "Reading Methods" section
26/03/14 - Added the "Fine tuning" section, also edited the format and typos here and there

To do
Complete the pattern repository
Add a common playstyles sections - will think of something productive to do with this
Possibly add (or link) an in-depth analysis of how one improves in osumania
possibly more

Special Thanks
Sakuya Lv9 for this awesome tool : viewtopic.php?p=2225856/
Bobbias for his o2jam converts and contribution to the guide
Agka for some contributions to the guide (patterns)
LongGone for some very helpfull contributions
xxbidiao for some great additions
Doorknob for his BMS converts and small contribution to the guide
Davteezy for his BMS converts
Drace too ET.

On a more serious note, tackling on what I've read on the advanced tips, some players (including me) has mixed results doing physical training for the search of faster finger pressing and individuality. From personal experience, I haven't noticed a concrete/large change with or without physical training. However, different people might have different results.

Take a look at ABCD, a BMS top ranker, for example. Gets enlisted for mandatory one year military service, and when he came back, he got even better and started hard clearing Overjoy 6 charts.

There are gods among men, and they do finger pushups while eating greens for power.
couldn't do any patterns on the lv.00 or lv.01 BMS maps for a whole week and then the next day i can. I don't get how this skill progression nonsense works
Nice write up, and thanks for the plug!

The very first thing I want to say is do not be afraid to be bad. If you've only ever played Osu!'s standard maps, learning mania can feel very difficult and take a little while to really get into, but if you keep practicing, you'll get it eventually.

I've been doing some research into what actually happens in your brain when you learn to play games like this, and you've done a good job at identifying the important points at each level of skill. The current generally accepted learning process involves 3 stages: the Cognitive Phase, the Associative Phase, and the Autonomous Phase. (This page explains it a bit) This actually matches up very well with the stages you outline in your post, actually. I don't think that is a coincidence.

I want to point out one thing. You mention how learning to recognize patterns is extremely important, and it is. But you don't seem to mention that being able to recognize a pattern does not mean you can actually play that pattern. These two things don't progress at the same rate. Sometimes you can hit anything, as long as you can recognize it in time, and other times, you may find yourself thinking everything looks easy, but you can't seem to hit the patterns. Both of these are normal.

For beginners, the single most important thing is associating your fingers with the columns on screen. Even if you think "oh, I can hit notes on any column" that doesn't mean you've passed this point. If you find yourself hitting the key beside the one you want, or panicking and mashing a few keys trying to hit the one you want, you're not out of this part yet. Don't worry, once you do get out of this part, you'll find things a lot easier. When you're in this stage, you're response time for hitting the right key is usually pretty slow, even if you're pretty accurate.

For mediocre players, the goal here is to begin learning patterns and to improve your ability to hit those patterns. The only way to really improve your ability to hit patterns is to play them enough, so all you really need to do is practice to improve that, but to learn patterns, you definitely want to find as many different styles of map as possible, in order to be exposed to as many different kinds of patterns as you can.

For advanced players (which I consider myself, because I'm nowhere near as good as players like Entozer), random is incredibly helpful at this point. I regularly practice with pretty much every mod except Fade In, but I think random has had the most actual benefit.

I just overcame a skill wall in the past few days, and I think it'd be good to share the changes I made in how I play that are responsible for getting over the wall.

The most important change I made, which has allowed me to play much faster and more accurately than I used to, is to keep my fingers resting lightly directly on the keys, and keeping my hand relaxed the whole time. It's incredibly easy to tense up when playing fast stuff, and I had a bad habit of pressing the keys really hard and pulling my fingers back really far when I'd lift off, almost hovering over the keys. Now I make an effort to keep my fingers resting directly on the keys, and keeping my hand relaxed, and it's made a huge difference.

The other part that helped me break my wall was that I practiced on Davteezy's BMS conversions (I still need to download all your ones Doorknob T.T). Reading those patterns helped me get better at handling chords, and layered patterns, and the change in technique both had a noticeable impact.
Topic Starter

Doorknob wrote:

Drace too ET.

On a more serious note, tackling on what I've read on the advanced tips, some players (including me) has mixed results doing physical training for the search of faster finger pressing and individuality. From personal experience, I haven't noticed a concrete/large change with or without physical training. However, different people might have different results.

Take a look at ABCD, a BMS top ranker, for example. Gets enlisted for mandatory one year military service, and when he came back, he got even better and started hard clearing Overjoy 6 charts.

There are gods among men, and they do finger pushups while eating greens for power.
Yeah, I made sure to clarify that the methods in the advanced section may not prove to be helpful to everyone. I put it in there anyways due to hearing couple instances of it and of course I do it myself. My own experience were positive, just takes a practice song or two to adjust your accuracy after taking the gloves/weights off since it makes your fingers feel so lite haha

Bobbias wrote:

Nice write up, and thanks for the plug!

Thanks! And those are great points, I'll make sure to add those in the first post in a bit.

And about pattern reading/pattern playing. I tend to consider pattern "known" or "recognized" only when I can play it properly. But you pointing that out shows that different interpretations could lead to certain misunderstandings. I'll make sure to clarify this point.
Nice and thanks for the tips, that was interesting and good to read.

Drace wrote:

And about pattern reading/pattern playing. I tend to consider pattern "known" or "recognized" only when I can play it properly. But you pointing that out shows that different interpretations could lead to certain misunderstandings. I'll make sure to clarify this point.
Ahh, that makes sense. When I look at patterns, the degree that I actually recognize it can be kinda determined by how many "sub-patterns" I can recognize and how automatic my respone to them is. What I mean by that is that on harder stuff with layered patterns, especially layered hold patterns, you can often be at a point where you more or less recognize what you have to play, but can't really figure out what the individual components that make up what you're seeing actually are. This also seems to be in line with the research I've done. It's effectively a process of "chunking". We've heard the whole "your brain can only handle 7 things at once" line, but it's actually true. The way we get around that is by "chunking" patterns into a "heirarchy" (each pattern can contain other smaller patterns, but can also be thought of as a whole object by itself). Just like we know that a car is made up of wheels, an engine, etc. and we know that wheels are round, and engines are made of metal, etc. you can consider the entire collection of notes visible on the screen as a singe pattern made up of various "sub-patterns", which are then made up of notes (or even other sub-patterns!). Often times I can read the individual notes, but not be able to really break something into "sub-patterns". When that happens I can still play it, but it takes more mental effort to read, which increases the chances of missing notes or playing poorly.

My understanding is that this process is naturally how we learn to be able to read these patterns, whether we're conscious of the process or not. The better you get at breaking what you see into patterns made up of "sub-patterns", as opposed to having to pay attention to each individual note one at a time, the less mental effort it takes to recognize the proper response.

Just to clarify, when I say "sub-pattern" I just mean shorter smaller patterns.

Here's a color coded image showing the 3 main "sub-patterns" I would identify in the pattern shown:

This is how I would actually think about that pattern when I play it.

You'll notice, however, that the right side is almost all red. That's because that section gets further broken down into separate nested "sub-patterns", which I learned to identify and play much earlier on, and are now have an entirely automatic response:

(The site I used to create these is in this thread, I just colorized them in
Topic Starter
That's some great stuff right there, there so much to be said about the technicalities behind how we learn, read and interpret patterns. Better understanding of the fundamentals behind this could very well help people improve. Give people an idea on what to focus on when there's patterns they're trying to learn. I might include something like this in the guide if I figure out how to implement it without making look like too hefty of read. Don't want to scare away the people this thread was intended to haha

That's why we hide stuff in boxes... it's a trap :roll:
Haha yeah. I've wanted to put together a "The learning process, and how it applies to learning music games like osu!mania" type document for a while actually. Making it look less intimidating is definitely something we need to keep in mind.
quick question
Is it normal to go from not getting 10 seconds into a song to getting a b ten minutes later?
This happened a few days ago and after i finished i was like holy cow i actually beat that map
At lower skill levels that sort of improvement can be pretty common. The amount of time and effort it takes to improve increases as you get better, so until you get fairly good at something, there's a good chance you might hit a point where you improve like that. Sometimes all it takes is one little thing to improve for you to go from failing something immediately to passing it.
Topic Starter

lolpoi wrote:

quick question
Is it normal to go from not getting 10 seconds into a song to getting a b ten minutes later?
This happened a few days ago and after i finished i was like holy cow i actually beat that map

I like to refer to such situations to a "click". It's more common in the early stages since you haven't yet explored many patterns. Although it may not seem like it, you are sometimes closer than you think to be able to read a certain pattern. It just takes that missing something, then "click" the pattern makes sense. It's not at all uncommon, I can think of a couple patterns in which I myself learned this way.

And also, sometimes songs have a high enough drain speed to make you fail with a B or even an A grade accuracy. So it's possible you were just playing a song with a high drain speed.

Either way, both are completely normal ^^
Nice post Drace.

I'd like to sum it up.

All there is to this game is attitude: if you want to be good at the game, play to get good at it. That means getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. If you are a bad player and will just spend the whole day complaining about how everything is out of your reach, find a new hobby- even more so when there's people actually improving. If you're not, you're the only one to blame.

Drace wrote:

I like to refer to such situations to a "click". It's more common in the early stages since you haven't yet explored many patterns. Although it may not seem like it, you are sometimes closer than you think to be able to read a certain pattern. It just takes that missing something, then "click" the pattern makes sense. It's not at all uncommon, I can think of a couple patterns in which I myself learned this way.
Yeah, I usually call those moments "clicking" as well, actually. Haven't been able to think of a better word lol. And yeah they tend to happen more often earlier on, but they can still happen at any time.

Agka wrote:

All there is to this game is attitude: if you want to be good at the game, play to get good at it. That means getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things. If you are a bad player and will just spend the whole day complaining about how everything is out of your reach, find a new hobby- even more so when there's people actually improving. If you're not, you're the only one to blame.
I wouldn't quite say that's summing up what Drace posted, but it's still true. It's entirely possible to only ever play music games on a casual level, but you cant expect to get good without legitimate effort.

Personally, my mindset is that I want to improve, not to be highly ranked, not to get top 50 scores so people can be amazed by my "l33t skillz", but because I find that I have more fun playing harder things. The more challenging a map is, the better I feel when I finally pass it. Ranks are nice in that they make you feel like you're competing with other people, but as far as I'm concerned the only person I'm truly competing with is myself.
Jin Xero
Where was this guide when i first started >.<! Solid tips mate, really enjoyed it and very thoughtful to read. It's been only a month only a month since i started mania, but i can say start getting a feel to the harder songs, try em(especially un-ranked ones!)
Thank you Drace for the information written here, it was indeed a good read.

Also, thanks to Bobbias for the o2jam converts. :)
Topic Starter
First off; thanks for the great feedback! It's really great :D

Now I got the general tips on progression pretty much done. But if anyone thinks anything should be added, corrected or clarified; please tell me. I want this guide to be as complete and as helpful as it can possibly be. And it's not really something one can expect to accomplish on his own :p

I also got some noteworthy advances in the new pattern repository, tips directed to specific patterns classified by skill level. The beginner patterns shows what I'm aiming for in this section; a name, an example, a brief explanation, and a couple tips for players currently trying to get comfortable with that specific pattern.

But I gotta admit, finding specific tips for every pattern out there on my own has proven to be quite difficult. But I think it'd be great to have such a thing completed properly. Players having trouble with something in particular will hopefully be able to find a wide range of tips from players all over! Hopefully providing a positive result. If only I had such a thing in the past xD So I'll gladly take tips or personal experiences from anyone into consideration, so don't be shy to help out ^^

Also a big thanks to the ones who've helped so far, I decided to keep track of em all so I added a little 'special thanks' box at the bottom of the first post.
Great guide!

I would like to also point something interesting on advanced / expert level:

Practice deep into one ability when necessary.
While there are a lot of patterns existing in osu!mania with many things to be learned, it's really hard to be a god who is good at everything. Many "ET" (Super expert players) can just play a few styles like god; when they meet styles they are not good at they would just perform like advanced players. I would list a few abilities "ET" hold to perform unbelievable scores. To be honest, each of them needs years of practicing before you get great improvement.
These ability includes:
(1) Single-key rushing

Jackhammers are hard for both beginners and experts. When jackhammers become quick enough to an insane level, it would transform into "one-second killing" period. A typical example is Identity II in O2Jam, where in a special period of song (~3 seconds) you would have to press like 20 times per second on each key to FC it. Since no one can really have such high hand speed, to miss little in order not to let the HP gauge empty becomes the playing target for these songs. If you practice a lot on this ability, you would finally get used to slow (~5 hits per second) jackhammers and are able to pass a few songs with long period of 20 key per second (KPS).

(2) Sightreading
SV changes are hard, extremely when they come in long period. When you face a 20~30 second of x0.3 SV, it's really hard to catch up the note because of too high density on the board. Try to play a random song with mania speed 1, and you would face the challenge.
If you practice a lot on the ability, finally you would find it easy to read any map, especially on these parts that are full of notes. As a side effect, you would have slightly better judgment. (Some O2Jam ET told me to practice super low speed; They told be you would raise your judgment level quickly but I finally give up on that crazy practice :o)

(3) Multi-key rushing

Unlike single key burst, double or triple streams may last for minutes or just the whole song (mostly in BMS songs where they don't use LNs). To have a stable output when smashing your keyboard for minutes, having each note accurately hit and no note wrongly pressed is a really tough task; This need high level of endurance. If you practice a lot on the ability, you would be able to play, you would not only pass these maps which is full of heavily placed notes, finally you would be able to FC them. (It is really hard for players not having a mistake each 100~200 notes)

(4) Accuracy
Since MAX need really strict timing, getting a song perfect is really hard. when you see your SS score only 990k and are overtaken by 991k S score, won't you be sad? It's a good target to get 999k on each song despite of its difficulty, but is it possible...? (999k is nearly 98% EX Score comparing to LR2, where a lot of ETs have proved difficulties on this task and some of them finally made it on nearly every song.) If you practice a lot on the ability, finally you would found your S overtaken others' SS :)

(5) Long notes (LN)

Many people love immerse LNs; many people hate it, but the fact is many ET are able to play immerse maps that is already insane difficulty on their un-immerse version. To practice in this style means you would enter a fresh new world, when you find nearly every experience on former play unusable. For many players the typical scene is after years of practice, when they meet the easiest immerse LN maps which un-immerse version is just beginner level they would easily fail. If you can struggle on this and practice a lot on this ability, you would find anything LN easy. Not only on immerse maps, you would found you having no difficulties playing maps with LNs combining with other hard patterns. (Actually immerse LNs are initially designed as a finger practice to normal "hard LN maps".)

As seen in my experience, any one of above abilites needs years of practice to conquer, which make it really hard to get everything good. It's wise to mainly practice one or two abilities when not giving up other abilities, but keep in mind that you would struggle to make progress on this level. Don't worry, any one of these abilities would grant you an honor place on the ranking :D
Topic Starter
Wow that's some great stuff! Exactly what I was looking for, a big thanks! I added stuff in the guide right away xD
As a complete beginner, there's one thing this guide didn't explain to me - what key bindings to use, what styles are there (symmetrical/ltr) and what's their advantages. I picked sdf space jkl because that's what most people seem to be using. Also, the link to Entozer's map list should be a little bigger, I didn't notice that when reading the first time x_x
Besides that it's nice :D Great job, thank you
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