Tips & strategies

Slam23

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Jul 21, 2012
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I saw there was no dedicated tips/strategies thread, so I've created it with thanks to the guys who posted some tips in the "first impressions" thread. I've been playing Earthshaker a lot this week and just upped my best to 133M, good for #13 on the leaderboards. I didn't "get" this table at first, too lazy to really get into the rulesheet and frustrated by quick drains and very few HOF points to show for what I felt was already a nice long game (around 50M). Although it's still quite a shallow table rulewise, I did find some joy in mastering all the different shots, especially in trying to dependably farm the 1.5M Jackpot+EB.

Scoring
Earthshaker has no progressive scoring after maxing out bonus, so you're in for a long and steady flow of points. The best scoring comes from Jackpots up to 2.5M (non-repeatable within the same MB). Maxed bonus (99 miles and 69 Fault trips at 6x bonus) gives near 2M but only after losing a ball. You'll get 1M from Quick MB that lights at "5" after shooting a maxed out captive ball shot (which gives 250K in itself). I took the following list from the rulesheet by Brian Falardeau to summarize the rest of the scoring:

• Bumpers 1010 (off), 2010 (lit), 3010 (blink), or 5010 (all blink)
• Captive Ball 25K, 50K, 100K, 150K, or 250K
• Center ramp 25K, 50K, 60K, 70K, 80K, 90K, 100K, or 200K (end of road after 99 miles)
• Drop targets 50K, 60K, 70K, 80K, 90K, or 100K
• Fault trip 50K (normal) or Quake Trip 250K (in Multiball)
• Jackpot 500K/Special, 1M, 1.25M, 1.5M, 1.5M/Extra Ball, 2M, or 2.5M
• Loop 20K (normal) or 100K (Jet Bumpers)
• Outlane 50K
• Return lane 5000
• Skill shot 10K, 25K, 50K, or 100K
• Slingshot 110
• Spinner 1000/revolution (unlit) or 3000/revolution (lit)
• Stand-up 25K (unlit) or 40K (lit)
• 50K Stand-up 25K (unlit) or 50K (lit)
• Zone (lit) 40K

So there's nothing fancy to be had. A case could be made for only making ramps after 99 miles. I think that's the most shot- and time efficient way to get 200K, even quite safe to do, but very boring. Say you're up to 10M when you hit 99 miles. It then takes 5 200K ramp shots for a million. To get to 100M you'll need 450 consecutive ramp shots.....beating the top score which is at the moment at 500M+, that's near 2500-3000 ramp shots in total.....Just to carry this a bit further: it takes about 2 seconds to complete consecutive ramps. That will be 6000 secs for 3000 ramp shots, which is 100 minutes. So you could hit 500M theoretically within 2 hours, adjusting for some missed ramps and drains. My best game of 133M took around that many hours, so I'm doing something wrong.... :)

Setting up MB
You'll have to lock 2 balls before you can plunge the third for regular MB. Locks are lit after you completed all the zones (shots/targets 1-9). At the start of the game you'll have to complete 4 zones in any order, this will get harder until you'll have to hit all 9 zones in order. Plunging the ball -and getting the skill shot- gets you zone 1 or the lit zone if you already completed zones. Shooting a fault trip also get you a zone. When all 9 zones are needed to light lock, I prefer to get 2-3 by shooting fault trips. Then I hit 4 and 5 directly. Immediately after 5 you can shoot a loop for 6 and get 7 through a fault trip. The returning ball gets you 8 (inlane at the left lower flipper) and a fault trip or captive ball shot will get you 9. I prefer a fault trip, because this immediately locks the ball. The best way to get the fault trips is to do rolling backhand shots to "5" from the left lower flipper when they return from either a ramp shot or from the fault trip. This will set up an upper left flipper shot to the fault lane. Missing the "5" is quite safe, if it's early you get the ball directely before the upper flipper for a fault trip shot, a slightly late shot will bounce eventually to the right flipper for a cradle. A late shot will give you a ramp after which you can try to backhand. If I happen to get the ball on the right flipper, I aim directly for the "5". This works equally well with cradled and rolling shots and will help in MB when the ball is fed to the right flipper. Fault trip shots that roll back can be controlled safely in most cases. If it just stops a ball length from completing, the ball will eventually go through one of both inlanes at the right flipper, don't nudge or flip in this case. If it stops earlier than that, you'll have to read the situation on how to get control back. In any situation where the ball hits the top of the right slingshot towards a seemingly safe right inlane, try to nudge it back to the middle of the playfield, because it will drain in the right outlane. Another bad situation is a hard shot around the loop from the lower right flipper, this will drain eventually also in the right outlane. I haven't found a way to prevent this from happening, even nudging doesn't seem to have any influence on this shot.

1.5M Jackpot+EB
To go long in this game, you will have to figure out a safe way to get the one dependable repeatable EB and that is the 1.5M Jackpot+EB. You'll start the game with plenty early EB possibilities, twice after a set number of miles (12 and 60) , and getting to 6x bonus the first time (bonus goes up with completing the Zones to destroy the "Earth Quake Institute", after which you can lock balls). Hitting the third Quick MB Million will also award an EB (this will probably not repeat after another 3 Quick MB's, but I'll have to confirm this). After getting those, only the Jackpot EB remains. There is a random EB to be had from "match up" but I haven't got one in quite a few long games, so seeing is believing, and I don't believe it yet :). It may be that it won't give EB anymore after a set point, for example points scored, EB's collected or something like that. The rulesheet by Brian seems to confirm this, but the wording is a bit ambiguous: "The Match-up will not award a value that is already completed. The "Zone Completed" value will not be awarded, for example, if the building is already completed". Does this mean that if you get an EB before Match-Up, it will regard this as "completed" and not give an EB, or is "completed" just reserved for the Zone/Building aspect"?

Anyway, back to the 1.5M Jackpot+EB. This is how it works: The "billboard" drop targets located in the middle of the table are the only way to change the current Jackpot light. You'll start at 1M every game, and it progresses through 1.25, 1.5, 1.5+EB, 2 and 2.5. It then reverts to 500K+Special. Everytime you drop all three targets, you'll progress to the next Jackpot. This also happens after losing a ball. You'll want to progress to 1.5+EB and stay there as long as possible. Get the EB by shooting the jackpot (ramp and then fault trip shot). Then it gets interesting. You can opt to play out MB as long as possible (Quake Trips net 250K a piece for example and with multiple balls in play scoring goes a lot faster anyway), or revert quickly to single ball play to stay at 1.5+EB because flailing away in MB will drop targets in the long run and progress Jackpot. I do try to keep 2 balls in play and play the MB in a controlled manner, farming those Quake Trips. It's not clear yet if you can stack EB's above 4, haven't had more stacked myself yet. In the "first impressions" thread EldarOfSuburbia mentioned he got it up to 5 (but later reverted to 4).

I think there's essentially two ways to light 1.5+EB.
- The first strategy is deliberately shooting the drop targets from both lower flippers in single ball play. I feel that shooting from the right flipper is the most safe and effective way. It's possible to drop all targets in one shot and that involves aiming slightly left to graze the right post next to "5". This will give some nice bounces that can clear the whole row. With luck the ball then clears at the left upper flipper and drops down for an easy deadpass from left to right lower flipper, rinse and repeat. But this will not always happen so be prepared to get control back with other means like nudging. If only the rightmost target is left, it can be better to shoot from the left flipper because you can hit it straight on.
- The second strategy is using MB situations to progress the Jackpots, relying on inadvertent bounces to the drop targets. This feels less risky, especially if you can control 1 ball on a flipper as insurance. But I feel that strategy one yields better results because it can take quite a long time to progress the Jackpots via the MB method, all the time increasing the risk of draining more often than repeating the EB. Furthermore, playing MB is a bit risky in itself because of colliding balls and quick drains and when unlucky, you'll zoom past the 1.5M+EB because of some extra dropped targets.

Every ball that passes the left upper flipper can be safely deadpassed to the right flipper when dropping down to the lower flippers, just watch out for balls that go to fast for example after a hit with a bumper. Once in a blue monday, the dropping ball will graze the top of the left slingshot, then it's a SDTM drain if you don't nudge.

Plunging for skill shot and MB
This may sounds like a trivial thing, but I will show that it actually is important. First off, the regular skill shot is quite simple. In iOS a full plunge will always give the max 100K. This adds up nicely over a whole game. In addition, a made skill shot completes one zone. Starting regular MB though when plunging that third ball is all about getting that ramp as quickly as possible to light jackpot. I found that plunging exactly between full and the first (black) stop just passes the 100K hole and feeds the ball directly to the left lower flipper. From there you can -ideally- onetime the ramp and backhand the returning ball to the "5" to set up the jackpot shot. It's not easy timing though, that ramp shot is a tight one, the ball has more speed than usual. In the mean time the other 2 balls are released, just when the left inlane is triggered after the initial plunge. It's probably best to let one ball go to reduce the MB to two balls, especially if you want to stay at 1.5M+EB. This is the most safe and efficient way I know to get the jackpot and minimize risk of accidentally lower the drop targets when you're at 1.5M+EB.

Bugs
This table is quite stable in TPA and with respect to it's ROM. I have found two problems of which one was already mentioned in a seperate bug thread.
- Ball not released from Fault Trip lock area. The table can lose track of a ball and only return it after a ball search. This behaviour once started will repeat itself until the ball is lost and a new one is started. It's not gamebreaking but very annoying because of the wait time until the ball search. It's not clear how the table loses track but one condition could be that too many balls are fed to the Fault Trip lock area. But I've had it happen with single ball play too
- Drop targets staying down. This one is more rare it seems, I encountered it twice now. Also not clear what triggers this, and it's probably a ROM thing. Also not gamebreaking and can actually be profitable if you are at a Jackpot level that benefits you, like 1.5M+EB or 2.5M because the Jackpot won't progress. It's a bummer in other cases. It resets itself with a new ball.
 
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vikingerik

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Nov 6, 2013
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Good stuff, thanks for the post.

My 234M second place took somewhere over 3 hours if I remember correctly. I eventually figured out the same thing you did, just looping the ramp scores faster than any other method, considering it's pretty safe so you're not spending time working back toward the EB jackpot. I would loop the ramp during multiball with a ball trapped on the right flipper, for drain insurance. I would pretty consistently string 10 or more in a row before missing.

One more important bit is how quick multiball can lock balls and progress towards or turn into regular multiball. I forget the details of this - do you remember, if you're fresh on playing it?

Also note that you can turn off the shaker motor in the options, at least on the PC. Scores are still eligible for the leaderboard. Really saves on the motion sickness!
 

Slam23

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Jul 21, 2012
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Hi Viking,
Nice addition: in essence you provide another viable scoring strategy. Work towards MB and then loop the ramp with another ball as insurance. Even with getting MB really going and essentially "looping" the Quake trip, it's still questionable if that really gives more points, aside from the fact that working towards MB takes a lot of time, increases drain risk and yields significantly less points. It's more fun though! :)
As far as the Quick MB, this works in two ways. If you activate it without having a ball locked in regular play, it behaves as regular MB but with two balls and you can't get another Jackpot. After getting the million you can score Quake Trips. If you have a ball locked before activating Quick MB, it converts to regular MB after getting the million, you then plunge for the third ball and you can go for the lit Jackpot.
 

Tarek Oberdieck

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Jan 18, 2015
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Good stuff, thanks for the post.

My 234M second place took somewhere over 3 hours if I remember correctly. I eventually figured out the same thing you did, just looping the ramp scores faster than any other method, considering it's pretty safe so you're not spending time working back toward the EB jackpot. I would loop the ramp during multiball with a ball trapped on the right flipper, for drain insurance. I would pretty consistently string 10 or more in a row before missing.

One more important bit is how quick multiball can lock balls and progress towards or turn into regular multiball. I forget the details of this - do you remember, if you're fresh on playing it?

Also note that you can turn off the shaker motor in the options, at least on the PC. Scores are still eligible for the leaderboard. Really saves on the motion sickness!

What? Scores are still eligible for the leaderboard? A wrong setting in my opinion.
Just looping the ramp is a very boring strategy. I've reached my 533M #1 with a different loop path:

Find a safe way to repeat the eject hole and the fault. This will forward you to multiball and score good points.
Go for the drops as slam23 described to enable maximum EBs. Quick Multiball is not important after the awarded EB for the million shot.
 

Slam23

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Jul 21, 2012
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I don't know how forceful the shaker effect is on PC, but on iOS I barely notice it (anymore).

@Tarek: is backhanding the "5" eject hole from the left lower flipper what you mean by repeating? This is what I do, and I sometimes alternate that with shooting safe shots directly to zones (left flipper to 4 and deadpass/catch to left again and looping 6 from upper left) just to mix/speed things up a bit. All the other zones are either via Fault Trip or automatic (5 from the shot I already use to get balls to the upper flipper via the eject hole, 8 from returning balls to the inlane of the lower left flipper).
Quick multiball can be profitable if you already have a ball locked. This will net you 1M from the Quick MB and after that will ease into regular MB for another Jackpot. Shooting the captive ball is quite safe, probably not so on the real table though.
 

Tarek Oberdieck

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Jan 18, 2015
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@Tarek: is backhanding the "5" eject hole from the left lower flipper what you mean by repeating? This is what I do, and I sometimes alternate that with shooting safe shots directly to zones (left flipper to 4 and deadpass/catch to left again and looping 6 from upper left) just to mix/speed things up a bit.

No, backhanding the eject hole is to dangerous. I always hold the left flipper up when the ball comes from the fault trip and shoot the eject hole with a running ball from the right again. As I know some people always nudge to catch the ball on the right, I prefer games without nudging every few seconds. I would never aim for zone targets, it's to risky.
 

Slam23

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Jul 21, 2012
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I tried the flipper passing yesterday as you described but haven't had success with it. In half the cases the ball has not enough speed to make it over to the right flipper and needs a nudge with variable results. Maybe the physics on the table differ between iOS and PC? We have had tables before with clear differences between platforms. Backhanding a rolling ball from the left flipper is quite safe on iOS, even with a miss you either have a direct clear shot at the Fault Trip when early or a deadpass back to the right flipper, or a railroad that leads to a cradle on the right flipper when late. Anyway, whatever works right? :)
 

Tarek Oberdieck

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Jan 18, 2015
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I tried the flipper passing yesterday as you described but haven't had success with it. In half the cases the ball has not enough speed to make it over to the right flipper and needs a nudge with variable results. Maybe the physics on the table differ between iOS and PC? We have had tables before with clear differences between platforms. Backhanding a rolling ball from the left flipper is quite safe on iOS, even with a miss you either have a direct clear shot at the Fault Trip when early or a deadpass back to the right flipper, or a railroad that leads to a cradle on the right flipper when late. Anyway, whatever works right? :)

Hmm... seems a big difference in the platform editions. I've tried again and the speed on PC is always enough to reach the right flipper. All I had to do is get the right feeling for the timing with the running shot from the right which isn't always the same. Try again on PC or find another combination for IOS. :rolleyes:
 

Zaphod77

Active member
Feb 14, 2013
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Like Whirlwind, this table has a six extra ball limit. Once you get number six, you cannot ever get any more. not six stacked, six ever.

with this in mind, don't worry too much about the extra balls from jackpots, because a good game will collect one from score, one from 3 quick multiballs, one from bonusx, two from miles, and there's a a special from miles and a special from seven locks. That's seven out of six.

The shaker is purely cosmetic. that's why you are allowed ot turn if off. on the real table, the shaker running during multiball actually makes the ramps harder
 
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