Bad cats tournament modifications?

Someone offered up a bad cats for potential use in one of my events. I understand it is not typically used in tournaments. I’m not super familiar with the game and why this is the case, but more importantly, I’m curious if it can be modified to make it tournament worthy.


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I think the only thing that makes it unsuitable for a tournament play is on ball three, five or so consecutive shots to the left ramp give you 20 million points. It’s available for both players though, and we’ve used it at the Add A Ball tournament for years off and on without complaint. 20 million is a fairly difficult score to achieve without the ramp trick. I would say it’s fine for anything except a major event. It might depend on how the game is set up, but five consecutive shots is very difficult to pull off on the one we use and the timing window is very tight.


Oh, also it has a cumulative jackpot. A power cycle before games would fix that probably but we never bothered.


5 million point trash can for the win! I think my favorite game of BC was against @zvrabes neither of us collected a jackpot nor 20 mil ramp, but a few trash cans and 1mil ramps took her to ~26M and myself to ~18M (scores may be misremembered because… addaball.)


Very helpful thanks!

Papa’s notes say “Features easily repeatable strategies that can be exploited by higher caliber players.” What is this referring to? Because my tournament features higher caliber players that like to exploit easily repeatable strategies.


Looping either ramp (preferably left ramp) is the best scoring strategy.

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The biggest adjustment to make is to crank the sound up because it’s awesome.


Was this a bit ago? The vari-target at adda registers for poo these days. But yeah on a working Bad Cats that’s very viable but also leads me to a question about the 10x in-lane…

So my understanding is -one- of the in-lanes are always ‘lit’. The right for 10x (for sweet trash can collects, better when the vari target works, doesn’t 10x the ramps) the left for lighting the doghouse scoop. Best guess is they alternate back and forth with switch hits (likely just pops and slings). Does anyone know if the game tells you which one is lit -before- rolling over the in-lane switch? As far as I can tell there isn’t, so it’s a 50/50 chance on the trash can. You know when you’ve got it on the left in-lane because the doghouse scoop lights, but it’d be nice to know it’s gonna light before the in-lane happens.

Just came here to say I love the tsss tsss sound of the barbecue and corresponding light on the backglass.


That was a couple years ago – back when BC was sitting where Little Pro is now. The varitarget has good days and bad days.

I’m not sure I follow your other question though. I usually rely on the inlane lamps (a bird, and a mouse, iirc) to know which is lit. You’re correct otherwise – one is always lit, and pops/slings switch it back and forth.

At some point I’ve seen the suggestion that you can change it to a five ball game. Have the players end their game after ball 3, and no one will have reached the 20m ramp shot, which will have been pushed back to ball 5.


“used it at Add a ball … without complaint”? Ha! It’s been complained about more than any other machine! And that’s in a casual weekly, not a major. Not only is there a carry-over jackpot that can grow really big, it can be awarded randomly on the right scoop. To use this in a tourney, you would want a custom ROM that disables carry-over jackpot (maybe a fixed 5M, to balance it with the plunger IF the plunger works), eliminate the ball 3 20M shot on the left ramp, and give the wheel awards in a specific order that’s the same for all players. You also want to ensure looping the left ramp is doable but challenging (extra thick rubber, bounce on flipper, etc.), or some players will be able to loop it all day. Without such changes, leave it out of a major tourney with top players, but go ahead and use it in local tourneys that don’t have A players.


Dave would know better than I, as he is the unofficial complaints department for all things Washington pinball. We have used Bad Cats for the Add A Ball annual 420 tournament though with roughly 100 players as well as at least 100 weekly events and if any riots occurred, they were swiftly put down before we needed to get the tear gas and stun batons out from the closet behind Judge Dredd.

Who can test a tournament rom? Based on suggestions here:

Nerf the 20m shot on the last ball (hey I didn’t even know about that one!)

Fixed jackpot. What’s a good value? 3,000,000 is the stock “default” value it seems. Cycling the power doesn’t do anything to clear this :slight_smile:

Get rid of curiosity spins on last ball - you can use the stock setting to eliminate the chances of extra balls, specials, and freebie light jackpots by setting them to 0 percent.

Pick a value to always award on the seafood spin 10k or 50k would probably make the most sense. Or, just eliminate the spin lighting.

I dunno about the 10x elimination thing, that sounds like skill based vs. luck based. The 20m ramp really is, too, but I can see why someone wouldn’t want that enabled - it’s by far the highest point value thing you can collect in game (unless the jackpot, which does max out at 20 million and change, is that high).

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Instead of nerfing the 20M shot, can you reduce it to 5M? I would recommend a 5M fixed for the Jackpot, and removing it as a random award on the spins. Alternately (but might be too difficult), earned jackpot via spelling bad cats is 5M, but jackpot lit due to curiosity spins is only 2M. Don’t nerf the 10X. The plunger/trash can aren’t worth anything unless that 10X is lit. Basically it forces you to shoot a ramp to get right inlane to light the shot, then collect. 10X with plunger at max value is 5M, so that would be in line with the 5M instead of 20M and the 5M jackpot. Offer curiosity spins in same order always. Maybe always start game at ‘1’, then increment on each collect?

Anything is possible. But I do not like what you suggest at all.

To me, text on playfield and inserts has to be correct. Meaning, for this example, a 20M indicator on a ramp has to award 20M when lit. And has to be lit’able somehow. That is the goof, the playbook, the challange.

Adjusting scores is the easiest of hacks. But seldomly the proper treatment and a solution on its own. And not as easy to do right as people might think. Reducing one biased reward/strategy can easily just open up for another one. And btw, 5M instread of 20M. It is still a repeateble ramp shot, right.

To me, modifications, software or mechanically, is about doing what the original designers would have done, had they magically been given an extra month or two to perfect things. With being able to see the future of high level competition.

You seem to know Bad Cats very well. And have some fine suggestions.

The amount of work needed to light jackpot (7 drop banks) is way more and probably more dangerous than doing 5m bone-us all day. TBH jackpot should be started at 20m to help offset ramp value and set to 0% on the wheel. I really think that would get you most of the way there. You can fix the wheel value if you want, but most values shouldn’t matter since you can 0% the important ones.

@soren, no it is not a repeatable shot on the loop. The 20M shot is a one-time ball 3 award. Ramp rules are the following: First is 50K, second is 100K, third is 200K, fourth is 1M, fifth is 20M but only once on Ball 5. Furthermore, once you get to 200K, hitting any switch on the playfield except ramp entry switch or right inlane will reset the ramp to 50K. So to get that 20M, you need to combo the ramp 3 times in a row once it’s lit for 100K, or it resets. On any other ball, or if 20M was collected, then fifth and subsequent ramp shots are 1M each.

You mention “is about doing what the original designers would have done”. That’s precisely why I think that 20M value should be reduced, but not eliminated. It is a unique dimension of that game where on Ball 3 you have that additional carrot hanging out there. It can add pressure in competitive play while providing a player ahead to seal the deal, or someone behind one more opportunity to catch up. So I like that dimension. Problem is just the 20M is too dominating versus the typical scoring level of that machine. But to award it once, using same rules as the 20M, is what I think would be the right thing to do.

As far as trying to align with playfield inserts, this particular light is on the playfield. It’s a light on the back part (like the skill shot lights on Taxi). You can put a sticker over the 20M if you really care. But there are enough machines out there where a particular insert is incorrect, and at least for tourney play an easy one to explain.

@keefer, if you fix jackpot at 20M, then those two items become dominating and nothing else you do in the game matters. If you fix jackpot at 5M and that 20M shot to 5M, then you also have the plunger/trash can strategy with similar difficulty to obtain 5M, or get 7x bonus and that can award you several M end of ball bonus.

Please also see my response to Soren with regards to ramp rules. That 20M is awarded maximum once per game and only on ball 3. So no, you cannot do the 5M bonus-all-day. The ramp could be 1M all day (which it currently is), but just ensuring ramp is not super easy (e.g. easy to put a big enough rubber at entrance) is enough to offset looping the ramp ad infinitum.

I think you misunderstood my points a little, which is definitely partially my fault because I was doing it on my phone while I was waiting for my shower to warm up. :slight_smile:

5M bone-us all day was a reference to the 10x 500K vari-target value. You can do this all day long, and it’s probably a maximum of 4 shots: up to 2 vari-target hits, left ramp to lit right inlane (add a center ramp first to force it over if you need to I guess), then the collect shot. Personally, I feel this is already the one true strategy on Bad Cats other than trying for the 20M on your last ball.

To light jackpot, you need to spell BAD CATS which you earn letters in my completing 3- and 5-banks. That is a lot of work compared to gong for the 5M fish bonus, which is why I said the jackpot should be at 20M. I think a 20M value should be pretty consistent with the amount of work to get 20M via the vari-target (4x 5M collects).

These 2 combined, I feel, defend very nicely against the one-time 20M ramp shot. Is it still a bit unbalanced? Yes. But it’s also a high-pressure situation, and someone could grind out a much better game going for bone-us and jackpots than one single 20M ramp collect.

All 3 of these combined dwarf regular end of ball bonus, it’s true, and while it CAN be worth a decent amount at times, I don’t know you need to alter the rest of the game to make it actually matter that much. The most bonus I’ve ever had combined in a single game is probably around 5M I’m guessing. As for going for top lanes for bonus x, that’s OK, I’ll just shoot ramps for lit inlanes instead.

Anyway, hopefully I’ve made my position a little more clear this time. I think you will have a hard time convincing me jackpot should be worth 5M in view of the Fish Bone-Us and the work involved.

Also I can’t believe we’re arguing this much about Bad Cats. :wink: