Flow games vs. Stop and Shoot- A deadly feud

As many of you may, or may not, know I love thought experiments and overall broad topic discussions. One thing I have been thinking about lately is Lawlor games vs. S. Ritchie games. Now maybe I am wrong in this assumption but Lawlor games ‘tend’ to be more ‘shooter’ based where as Ritchie games are ‘flow’ based.

And these two ‘factions’ can sometimes be at war, ha. I know while I like Ritchie ’ flow’ games, as much as the next person, I prefer games where I am rewarded for spending a little more time ‘aiming’ and thinking about a strategy.

I will admit there is something exciting about getting into a looping rhythm but it’s not how I like to spend all of my time. I like the opportunity to stop, look around the playfield for the next and best scoring opportunity and build something cool. And while I disagree that WOZ is floaty (at least my machine doesn’t feel that way) I will admit it plays slower than AC/DC. And I love that. BUT there is still lot going on. For me it’s more cerebral, planning, stacking, shooting, missing, thinking about a strategy, and then going for it.

So just curious about everyone’s thoughts, preferences, or hate mail.


Pinball > flowball. Said it a million times, probably say it a million more.


Agreed. Part of my thought process was the fact that everyone (an exaggeration I KNOW) seems to love love love Ritchie and some say his style is ‘real’ Pinball. Which I disagree with. They both work and have appeal, but I don’t get why he’s real and everyone else is ‘boring’.

Now, to each thier own. SO maybe to a flow-head what do you dig about it. What excites you about a Ritchie game?

All love for all pinball :slight_smile:

A big part of the fun of Steve Ritchie games is hitting specific combos. Using GoT as an example, starting a mode (or set of modes) tells you what shots to hit, and I’ll use those few seconds to try to figure out the most effective way I want to tackle those shots. There’s just as much planning and strategy involved at a higher level.

For example: say I’m playing Targaryen II and Greyjoy. I know right off the bat I have to hit both ramps, both loops, then the dragon. Greyjoy doesn’t care what order I hit them, but I have to do the ramps, loops, then dragon for Targaryen. So by the time the ball kicks out, I’ve got a plan:

  1. Hit the center ramp.
  2. If the ball’s going relatively fast, I can flipper pass from right to left to hit the right ramp. If it’s slow, I’ll go for a backhand.
  3. Hit the right orbit.
  4. Either bounce-pass to the right or live-catch and backhand the left orbit.
  5. Hit the dragon.

And to be able to pull that off in one combo… it’s always a satisfying feeling.


Well winter league starts for me tomorrow. And as a stop guy I am going to make an effort to focus on flow games to see if I can get in the flow with them. Hahahah I crack myself up.

Always looking to be better weither I dig or not. I like the idea of finishing a mode in one combo

I think considering some of my favorite games, I’m more of a flow guy. But I definitely appreciate everything. I really don’t think I could have only one game becuase of this.

I think I prefer flow games because most of the stop and go games I have significant time on feel like chopping wood the whole time. Although the game is plenty fun, I’d prefer a game that is fast and furious with good flow to a game with more stop and go game play.


Both styles are definitely fun. I do think it’s reasonable to call Steve a master of flow and Pat a stop-and-shoot expert. Personally, I’ll prefer one style or the other from day to day or week to week, just depending on my mood.

And of course, there’s much more to it than just the playfield design… code is huge too. I really don’t care for No Fear just because the rules are mediocre. But I find (Stern) Star Trek to be fun. Both are Steve games. Meanwhile, Pat’s TAF and TZ are brilliant games, but RCT, not so much… same problem, lousy rules on the latter.


I like to think of myself as a flow type player. However, I disagree on what it means to flow. There is no less thought put into actions. If anything, I’m emptying my mind of thoughts that have nothing to do with pinball (and the game in front of me.)

I would say the reason I like Steve Ritchie games (and I do like so many of them) is largely due to how satisfying so many of his shots are. From the jump on No Fear to the scoop on Getaway, the shots feel good. The fact he has designed his games so that you want to keep that momentum is only a bonus. It’s not so much that this game isn’t good for those that like to aim their shots off a cradle- it’s more like it was designed to be a flow game.

Take a look at Whirlwind, for instance. The rubber placement in the lower playfield was designed to help take off a lot of the momentum of the ball to gain control easier, and aim a shot to where it needs to go. That’s what Pat wanted- the game was designed to make your heart pump as you frantically try to gain control of the ball and aim it where you need it to go. That first multiball is easy to get, but boy do you have to so work so much harder to get any more after that.

Having now publicly admitting I’m a flow player, I have to say I enjoy playing both ways. What game it is depends on how to play. Some games have very reliable shots when they come in off the inlanes. Other games basically require you to gain control; where perhaps any on the fly attempts will only end in an unceremonious drain.

Games that are able to design things in such a way that both flow and control shots are present are best in my opinion. Taxi comes to mind- if you get the ramps going in Taxi, there are so many choices for shots. Dracula, the ramp, and the Santa scoop are all accessible from the right, and there are just as many shots from the left. All these shots can also be hit from a cradle, so it really is just a matter of preference.


I like the feel of flow but I won’t do flow for flow’s sake. I’m more of a stop and shoot player but I will use flow type shots when it’s practical, advantageous, or necessary.
FT ramps and monster fish
GoT Stark (lol i bet even martell was intended to be that way instead of just backhanding it)
No Fear upper loop
Star Trek upper loop
Probably any kind of timed repeated ramp shot

I don’t think you can play successfully if you are committed to only one style.

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Here is something to incite discussion, hopefully friendly, but there are people out there, I’d love to hear from them, they refer to a lack of flow in a pin as a bad thing. As something that is necessary to have to qualify it as a viable pin. As in ’ that game is a turd, it has no flow’.

It would seem that these people just love flow. Which is fine. And maybe they see a lack of it as unappealing. Like how I don’t like mushrooms, ha. So any of you out there? Hardcore flow fans that see pins with “no flow” as unworthy of your time.

Your resident thought and discussion experiment inciter.


I guess that would sort of be me. I say sort of because I like well-designed stop-and-shoot pins (like Whirlwind), just not as much as flow-oriented pins.

But, games with “excessive” time between my ability to flip are what get me annoyed, and what I start labeling as “no flow” (in the derogatory sense). Pins with lots of scoops or mechanisms that stop and hold the ball annoy me. Part and parcel would be games with lots of (or long) video modes. Widebodies with floaty physics (exceptions exist, but if it’s wide then I immediately approach it skeptical that it’ll be fun, and usually they are not)… granted the ball is at least moving on these, but it just… feels… like… I’m… waiting… forever.

Long story short, I want the ball back to my flipper as quickly as possible. Games that delay this too much (as arbitrarily defined by me of course) get my “no flow” brand and join the list of games I don’t want to play.

For example, Champion Pub. The speed bag and (especially!) jump rope gimmicks take a while to set up, so you’re sitting there waiting for the modes to start (almost like you’re in a video mode). The long waits as each fight “prepares” while the head rotates (Attack from Mars lets you keep flipping as the forcefield raises/lowers, but the Pub is ever so kind and withholds the ball from you while the Bout sets up). The video modes obviously just consume time, especially Spitting Gallery. Even the skill shot with its hold-down-the-button-and-wait-2-minutes-while-I-get-my-timing-down-for-release stinks. All this combines for me to brand the game as a “no flow” pin.

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They are simply the worst.

I agree on champion pub. The more I play that the more I dislike it.

However Adams family and say funhouse are more stop and go and those are fantastic games. Very technical and the game give you really no free points. Gotta earn everything. Especially on funhouse.

CP is so stop and go and gimmicky that it just loses me.

POTC is a good example of very stop and go but it’s done well. Love getting those jackpots lit and having scores doubled and other stuff stacked. So much fun.

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I have an idea for you. Jagov’s Revenge. All shots are Jagovs. Bring them all back. The ram, war machine, targaryen, Jagov (and probably many more I am not thinking of right now). 4 Jagovs, 2 orbit shots without gates and a bunch of blue posts of death for when you miss.

The ultimate get the ball back on the flipper game has to be spectrum.


Haha, this is the part where I say F-14 is too fast for me. That and Mustang, I just can’t keep up! But I like the layouts, so that’s on me (play better!). Still, to imagine a full flow game where every success is rewarded with a return-to-flipper, and a single miss means almost certain death… tempting. Most tempting!

Never seen Spectrum. I’ll keep an eye for one at TPF. Reads pretty strange.

I cannot stand Rollergames, BK2K, Terminator 2, Star Trek TNG, ACDC nor Thrones. Spider-Man, however. One of the best games ever. Also really like No Fear. The flow-iest of them all.

Another thing that cracks me up is the bashing on reused concepts these days. “Oh, Batman 66 is just the same game, bla bla”. While Lawlor, as praise as one of the all time greats, from Earthshaker to Twilight Zone, reused some 80% of the previous game to the current. With Road Show being Funhouse concepts back again with a tune up. Rightfully so. Funhouse, one of the best games ever.

It is all very mythical to me.

A great game is all in the right balance. And the right challange.

A balance that might be scewed by the mechanical health and configuration of the particular game played. Which may taint the experience and peoples feelings about a particular title.

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I will say this, I love stern Star Trek. However, it is one of the worst games for waiting around doing nothing. You hit that final shot to end one mode and start the next and you need to sit through.

  1. Mode end animation
  2. Possibly a locked ball animation
  3. Possibly a 3 in a row animation.
  4. Voice call out telling you to select a mission

And now after what feels like forever, it will finally allow you to select a mission. Too much waiting.

I hate unskipable video sequences. MET, GB, ST, and many many more. Please, just let me lose my money faster.


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There needs to be a 3rd category to this which is not flow based but ball is either back on flipper or in danger at all times which keeps you on the edge of your seat. Mustang and Dracula both do an excellent job of this while maintaining almost no shot flow.


One point to make is that tables with flow can still be played stop and go. For example the way I play GOT to bring Lannister and Greyjoyn into the first multiball is very stop go and precise shot making. TWD also can be played quite stop go with lots of cradling up and precise shots to the drops/well walker or prison. These games will all have times when flow is required but it’s not just flaling away at the ball. However with stop and go tables there is not always opportunity for any flow which can make them feel more one dimensional. That’s why I think fan style tables have become the norm. They offer opportunities for free flowing shot making, however well implemented rules can also force the player to slow down and hit precise shots or sequences.


I like them both, though I would align myself more with stop-and-shoot, because I am a lot more comfortable doing things if I can plan it out in my head in advance. Hence, I am bad at face-to-face conversations, but in exchanges where I can take my time and form my thoughts, I do a lot better.

However, all in all, there are things way more important to the enjoyability of a pinball game. I’d say the rules are the most important part. All other things equal, a flow game with good rules will always be better than a stop-and-shoot game with bad rules, and same with a stop-and-shoot game with good rules versus a flow game with bad rules.

That being said, does one kind need more maintenance than the other? I would imagine flow games, due to how the ball isn’t hitting or landing on anything much of the time, would be easier to maintain.

Mushroom happens to be my favorite pizza topping.

But what you’re referring to is what TV Tropes would call a Broken Base: A point of contention among fans of the same thing that causes flame wars to break out. Some famous ones include items vs. no items among Smash Bros. fans, Europe vs. North American among board game fans, and thought-provoking vs. pure horror among horror movie fans.

Every fandom, once it’s become big enough, will have a broken base. I think it’s healthy because it means the fandom is big enough to have diverse opinions and secure enough for said fans to speak them out loud.

That reminds me–I should add flow vs. stop-and-go to there. I knew I had forgotten something.