Pinball Masochism, Part II

League starts up again this Wednesday. Wish me luck; based on how I played Friday, I'm definitely going to need it. :p

Also, for your viewing pleasure, pinball eye candy both modern (Stern's Avengers LE (2012)) and not-so-modern (Bally's Spectrum (1982)).

On the Sin front, the table's preliminary full ruleset will be posted tonight. Comments and constructive criticism from the readership will be welcomed.

Sean DonCarlos

Staff member
Mar 17, 2012
Well, I've only played in one tournament myself, so I'm not sure how valuable my advice will be, but here goes!

  • Have fun: Sounds obvious, but at your first tournament you should focus on enjoying yourself and not worry too much about the competitive nature of the tournament. This will let you be more relaxed and may enable you to achieve surprising results, such as fourth in B Division.
  • Know the tournament rules: Are extra balls allowed at all? If they are, do you get only one? Are you playing open qualifying or match play? Is the scoring for match play 4-2-1-0 (PAPA style) or 7-5-3-1 (IFPA style)? All these factors may affect your strategic play.
  • Practice in tournament conditions: Many tables have a special start button for tournament mode or else can be forced in tournament mode by holding both flippers in before pressing Start. Even if the table isn't equipped with these features, practice playing as if 3 balls is all you get, no extra balls. This will teach you to evaluate each shot for risk vs. reward and make decisions accordingly.
  • Be aware of your score, but don't obsess over it: Yes, if you only need 2M on Monster Bash to win, you pursue a different strategy than if you need 200M. But also don't agonize over the other player's scores: that's a sure recipe for a quick drain. Strive to play the best game you can whatever your score - even if "optimal" strategy dictates you pursue a risky yet rewarding mode, if you know from prior experience you suck at that mode, take another path.
  • Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy: Most tournament tables have draconian tilts. Practice accurate shooting, because you may not have the room to make the save you need under tournament conditions if you botch a shot.
  • Remember, pinball is a volatile game: Everyone's scores fluctuate wildly from day to day. PAPA A Division finalists occasionally have games that even I'd be embarrassed to record. Conversely, even total novices sometimes have the game of their lives and will beat you. If your first tournament doesn't go well, don't give up on competitive play!
And yes, it really is more fun to compete! Good luck!