Hey all. I’m giving a 1 hour long “How to Play Pinball” Seminar at the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown this weekend. I’ll be mic’d up, and have a machine with a video camera being display on a monitor. I’m frequently showing people how to play on location, but it hasn’t been very formalized.
I wrote a rough outline of what I think I should cover in the seminar, and I did put some thought into how this should be ordered. I’d love some advice and feedback though. Maybe I’ve missed something? Maybe the order could be better? Maybe this is too much? I haven’t tried it out on anyone yet, but will find a guinea pig for that soon.
(This is just an outline and doesn’t go into depth on anything, but hopefully you can imagine what I might say for each item). Begin:
- thought pinball was too random and unfair
- finally watching someone good
- playing a lot (for free if possible!)
Simplicity disclaimer: we’ve got people from all abilities here so don’t be put off if the first few minutes is simple simple stuff. In the beginning of this talk, I may do use some techniques out of habit without explaing them. I’ll come back to them later though.
“Oh come on! It went right down the middle!”
- It’s (almost always) your fault. How to avoid? Don’t miss.
Controlling the ball
- simple cradle
- tee ball analogy (if you wanted to hit a ball into left field, wouldn’t it be easier to put the ball on a tee than try and hit a fastball?)
- If you flip both flippers at the same time, that’s the first habit to break.
Aim for Something Specific
- shoot the flashing shots
- knowing basic game rules helps
- how to start modes
- how to start multiball
- inlane, outlane, flippers, slingshots, shooter lane, plunger, scoops, etc
General concepts for (most) games
- skill shot
- rollover lane change
- ball save
- inlane lane change
- locking balls for multiball
- 2+ player games, many beginners don’t know this!
- bounce pass
- post pass
- tip pass
- tap pass (not sure if I’ll have an older machine)
- drop catch
- live catch
- beware the slap save!
- it’s not illegal (explain tilt bob)
- when at the top of the slings
- when headed towards the outlane (you are moving the post into the path of the ball…not trying to move the ball)
- when headed STDM
- slapping the side of the cabinet
Safe shots vs dangerous shots
- all shots are not created equal
- risk / reward
- backhand vs forehand
- up and down the playfield vs side to side
- might want to avoid using upper flippers
Getting control of ball
- watch other players to see what they do
- return from kickouts (cradle or bounce over?)
- return from ramps (pass over or shoot immediately?)
- return from orbits (cradle or bounce pass?)
- what returns are consistent? a (nearly) guaranteed way of controlling the ball is incredibly valuable
- As a novice player, playing one game and then moving on to the next machine will not help you in the beginning. Play the same game over, and over, and over, and over to learn how to read & control the ball on one machine. Then move to the next.
Fun vs Not Fun
- people tell me that they don’t try to control the ball because it’s less fun. (I get that, but provide counter-argument)
- When learning new skills, you’ll probably get worse at first
- Usually where the vast majority of the points are
- Figure out how to start modes
- Then, make the shots!
- Good to know your objective ahead of time
- Okay to flail during ball save
- Consider cradling after (with <3 balls)
- Cradle separation
- Up and under
- Saving a STDM drain with another ball
- Get those super jackpots!
- Add-a-ball & restart of the ball save
- Multiball strategy varies wildly from game to game.
- Some games: use multiball to progress on other, dangerous objectives.
- leagues and/or local tournaments
- “I’m not good enough”. There are people of all abilities. I see total novices at almost every event I go to.
- “I’m not going to win, so what’s the point?”. Yes, you’ll be throwing your money away at first, but all the local tourneys and leagues are $5 per night. I won money only once in my first 22 pinball events. I told myself that I was donating to the better players - but I would watch them and ask questions to get my moneys worth. Pretty good entertainment value for $5.
- Some people are afraid that they’ll look bad or embarass themselves. It’s all in your head - the other players aren’t talking about you - they’re worried about their own play.
- “I’ll join once I get better”. The people playing in leagues and tournaments are improving faster than you.
- Leagues are more casual/social and have a wider range of skills. Tournaments are a little more serious, but still 100% welcoming to novice players.
- One of the best things about pinball: mostly skill, but there is enough randomness that anyone can beat anyone else if it’s just one single game.
Haven’t figured out the closing yet.