TAF Tactics & Strategies

EldarOfSuburbia

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Feb 8, 2014
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There isn't a thread for this yet, let's start one.

First a bit of paperwork:
- Fixed, one-time EBs: 8 Bear Kicks, 50 Bear Kicks, 90M points, 4 Train Wrecks.
- Repeatable EBs: Mansion Room, Tour The Mansion.
- Finishing TTM (meaning it gets to the Thing Multiball countdown) means you can't collect any more Mansion Rooms until you drain.
- If The Power is active, hold the ball(s) for 10 seconds or so, and The Power will turn off until a switch is hit. Great if you need a Bear Kick or The Vault.

Now some basic scoring strategies:
- Practice the Train Wreck shot. A full-strength Train Wreck from the top-right flipper is actually pretty safe. You will want to get a Train Wreck per ball not just to progress towards the EB, but to hold the Graveyard value - because...
- Once Millions Plus (10M @ left ramp) and the Graveyard (4M) are maxed, going Bear Kick->Thing->Left Ramp->Swamp nets you 30M+ and is relatively safe. Not the quickest but there's NO "quick" scoring on TAF. Manually shooting the Swamp from the left mini-flipper is very easy in TPA, take it for all it's worth.
- This circuit is good to keep going as much as you can. It will collect EBs, Mansion Rooms, and T-H-I-N-G bonuses along the way too.

Going for TTM vs Multiball:
- In the long run, go for TTM ahead of Multiball. Because TTM locks out Mansion Rooms until you drain, Multiball is the only worthwhile thing to do after TTM.
- A trap on the left flipper is by far the safest and easiest shot for the Electric Chair, even with The Power active.
- Don't play Seance, or Raise The Dead. Both are asking for a drain. Trap the ball from the kickout and hold it there until the mode times out.
- Try to activate the Thing Multiball countdown from a Bear Kick that feeds the right flipper. Thing is a very easy shot from a Bear Kick, and it's the only way to hit the countdown at 15M.
- during TTM, just play normally!! Follow the circuit above. The 50M and EB are the most important awards, and you get those right off the bat.
- The Special is worthless (doesn't even award an EB). Still, nice animation :cool:

Multiball:
- You don't need 3 balls. Lose one as soon as you can safely do so.
- Don't start multiball from the Chair. You want all the balls kicking out from the Swamp.
- First ball from the Swamp, bounce pass and hold on the left flipper.
- Second ball, let it drain.
- Third ball, hold up the right flipper and catch it.
- Backhand the Bookcase from the right flipper, if you get it right you will be lined up perfectly for a shot to the left ramp.
- Shoot the vault from the left flipper.
- Get the balls trapped one on the left, one on the right, rinse, and repeat.
 

Slam23

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Jul 21, 2012
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Nice write-up, really nothing much to add here! Couple of stray points:

- In Seance you can let the Power also turn off after a few seconds of holding the ball on either flipper, then the countdown timer also sometimes stops. You can then shoot the bear ramp without risk. Just be careful again when the ball returns, because the Power will be on again. I'm not really sure how the mode timer works exactly, because sometimes it stops, and I also had it run down all the way. Seance is by far the most risky mode vs. reward, and this is probably the reason you have a chance for a Super Seance in the Gold Edition (which still sucks in my opinion)
- Kickouts from the chair and swamp can be catched with upright flippers, even when the swamp kickout seems to go over the right flipper tip, it won't (promised! :) ). They can also both be dead-bounced to the other flipper for easy control.
- I had Thing Multiball at 13.4M at my quickest from a Chair kickout and left to right deadpass, still no chump change. Spot Mansion is the better way though as EOS said.
- When dealing with return balls from the Bear ramp that feed the right flipper, I always do a flipper pass over to the left to get control or a good shot up the ramp or a bookcase hit. On iOS this gives different results depending on the speed of the ball, but all can be saved, even those that require somewhat of an alleypass back to the right.
- Holding up the left miniflipper will feed the left flipper in most cases and worst case scenario light the right inner lane at the left flipper for a double Bear Kick. Just don't shoot the left miniflipper too late, or immediate drain in right outlane, and
- Don't let Thing flip! His timing can be off and miss the swamp, even had him shooting down the right outlane a couple of times.
- The TTM extra ball is not saved for the next ball, so get it while it's fresh (meaning, don't drain!)
- With a lock at the swamp, plunge softly and get an easy kickout (and a compliment by the game)

That's all I can think of now, just some added points!
 
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Epsilon

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Apr 19, 2012
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Good strategies here! I especially like the multiball strategy of letting the second ball drain and holding on each flipper; reminds me of the Whirlwind multiball strategy. I was normally just flailing around on the multiball and hoping to get a couple balls into the Thing scoop for an easier ramp shot, but backhanding the bookcase definitely is easier and safer. I'll have to give that a try.
 

Zaphod77

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Feb 14, 2013
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Actually you do want to start from the chair. hold both flippers up. you will catch two and lose one, unless the power interferes. try it. :)

Yeah, seance doesn't like to time out. You can try repeatedly post passing, but that' snot always reliable.
 

DA5ID

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Aug 27, 2014
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Just want to second the train wreck/ hold graveyard value - keeping it at 4mil (max) value and then the 5x swamp shot become easy high scoring points with either the thing flip or manual shot. Find myself making the train wreck a priority on every ball.

Thing flip - it seems to be more spot on in the beginning of the game and gets progressively worse - I think I read somewhere that it was the first AI ever to be implemented in a pinball game where it "learns how to take the shot". If that's the case it certainly doesn't seem to learn from its mistakes. I do find when it does miss it's always higher on the playfield - hasn't shot directly into the outlane for me yet.
 

EldarOfSuburbia

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Feb 8, 2014
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Actually you do want to start from the chair. hold both flippers up. you will catch two and lose one, unless the power interferes. try it. :)

Yeah, seance doesn't like to time out. You can try repeatedly post passing, but that' snot always reliable.

Well, you can only start the first two multiballs from the chair, so getting used to all the balls coming from the Swamp is essential.

Yeah, I forgot about avoiding Thing Flips - as in real life, Thing can sometimes get very wild. Sometimes he will do the "impossible" shot straight into the Swamp(!), but often he will fire the ball into the right outlane; once he went right slingshot->left outlane for a change.
 

Zaphod77

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Feb 14, 2013
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I've played real life machines where thing flips was 95% or better. He's expected to be 60% by the designers.

It seems he's more accurate if you shot the bear kick ramp with the RIGHT flipper in TPA. if you shoot it with the LEFT he usually misses.

since you can often hold pass the ball from left to right. i get lots of accurate thing flips. :)
 

Sean DonCarlos

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Mar 17, 2012
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Stickied for great justice. Thanks for starting the thread!

I was going to do a big write-up like I did for TZ, but there's not much to cover that hasn't already been said. Stay tuned to the Lost in the Zone segment of BlahCade #16 for the audio version and real table comparison.

And after that bit of shameless self-promotion, we now return you to your regularly scheduled ookiness. :p
 

TomL

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Mar 12, 2013
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I find Thing Flips to be very accurate unless I hit the left flipper button just the ball gets to the flipper.
 

DA5ID

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Aug 27, 2014
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I find Thing Flips to be very accurate unless I hit the left flipper button just the ball gets to the flipper.

:) that would be you just manually hitting it and missing no? I sometimes forget that thing flick is active and I manually hit it and then always seems to work - maybe teamwork is the answer?
 

TomL

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Mar 12, 2013
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:) that would be you just manually hitting it and missing no?

No, not that. I mean as the ball is on its way to the flipper, if I hit the left flipper at all, even before the ball arrives, Thing's timing is thrown off and he'll miss the shot.
 

DA5ID

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Gotcha - that might mess with whatever AI is supposedly happening - interesting comment from ZAPh that it should be 60% success rate - don't think that's a changeable setting in OP menu, but I haven't dug in there.
 

Sean DonCarlos

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Gotcha - that might mess with whatever AI is supposedly happening - interesting comment from ZAPh that it should be 60% success rate - don't think that's a changeable setting in OP menu, but I haven't dug in there.
Properly maintained real tables can manage an 80% hit rate easily once they've had a chance to calibrate themselves (by making a couple hundred Thing Flips shots), and in some cases they can reach 90%. There's one on location near me that's quite a marksman.

And yes, if you flip before Thing takes his shot, it messes with the optos that are responsible for measuring the incoming ball location and speed.
 

vikingerik

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Nov 6, 2013
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I don't think Thing's AI can learn over time in TPA. The data would have to be stored within the ROM's memory, but that gets reset to a known state at the start of each game in TPA, losing any past data. Pro Mode might be able to preserve it, but not for leaderboard-eligible play.

The same thing happened with Phantom Flips in Monster Bash. Unfortunately Farsight didn't train that very well before baking the ROM starting state, so it almost always misses on that table. (It's bad enough that it's likely to hit Frank when it thinks it's aiming for Bride.) It will learn and improve over the course of one very long game (3-4 hours), but the data gets reset on starting any new game.
 

DA5ID

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So what does that mean for TPA? Is it calibrating over the course of one game and then resetting on the next?
 

Zaphod77

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every time you exit the game or restart, it resets the calibration. If you play many long sessions and never quit or restart, thing will improve.

and flipping before thing does messes him up in real life too, because the coil doesn't always fully de-energize, causing a flip of unpredictable strength. it has no effect on the opto at all.

two things affect ThiNG's ability to be consistent.

1) how consistent the feed is. if it always rolls down at the exact same speed, thing will be very accurate. thing can compensate somewhat for this by adjusting based on the length of time the opto is blocked, but that's not perfect.
2) how consistently the flipper flips at the same strength. If the flipper is not reliable, thing has no hope.

As I've said i've played machines on location where thing is a real marksman. there is no adjustment for how often thing makes his flip. he always tries to make the shot. The quoted percentage is what's listed in the manual for how often thing si expected to make his shot, vs how often a player can (40% is considered a good job for a human player!)
 

Fungi

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Feb 20, 2012
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and flipping before thing does messes him up in real life too, because the coil doesn't always fully de-energize, causing a flip of unpredictable strength. it has no effect on the opto at all.

This is interesting. In TPA, there is no actual coil. Why does flipping before hand screw Thing up here?
 

TomL

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Mar 12, 2013
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Thing Flips is also aided by the 4 adjacent targets on either side of the Swamp entrance. If Thing's flip resulted in a hit on the adjacent targets, it knows to compensate flipping earlier or later next time.
 

Sean DonCarlos

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Mar 17, 2012
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and flipping before thing does messes him up in real life too, because the coil doesn't always fully de-energize, causing a flip of unpredictable strength. it has no effect on the opto at all.
If the coil is energized while the opto is taking measurements, the table does not record the results of the impending flip for use in "aiming" future Thing Flips, because it assumes there was human interference on that shot. It also doesn't use what was just measured and relies solely on the "average conditions" stored in memory, which is another reason why Thing often butchers the shot under these circumstances.

As I've said i've played machines on location where thing is a real marksman. there is no adjustment for how often thing makes his flip. he always tries to make the shot. The quoted percentage is what's listed in the manual for how often thing si expected to make his shot, vs how often a player can (40% is considered a good job for a human player!)
I imagine they deliberately lowballed the number a bit to account for inaccuracies introduced by negligent cleaning/maintenance, unlevel machines, etc.
 
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