Let's Discuss: Combo Scoring & Benefits

Combos are rad. I think the different ways pinball programmers have embraced and rewarded the flow of combos is interesting. I’ve been thinking about the different ways combos can benefit the player, and I’ve decided my favorite, but I’ll first list out the ones I can recall:

  1. Any shot in combo is 2x (Stern Trek, Aerosmith, Kiss, Guardians). We’ll call this ‘The Ropp’.

  2. Combos light mystery/EB after X combos (Demo Man, AC/DC, Dialed In, Metallica)

  3. Combos are an essential item for reaching wizard mode (AFM, Maiden sorta, Stern Wars)

  4. Combos increase in value per combo’d shot (GoT)

  5. Combos have unique names w/ some (usually minimal) points (Stern Trek, X-Men)

  6. Combos that end in a dead end award potentially big points (Tron, Metallica, Maiden)

  7. Combos award set point amounts and sometimes have rad callouts/sounds (Twilight Zone, Whirlwind)

  8. Combos do nothing (boooohisss)


  1. X Combos lead to a mode (Spiderman, Deadpool)

  2. Game features modes where combos are the goal (Maiden, Wheel of Fortune, LOTR)

  3. Combos are a big component of bonus (Batman 66)

I may be forgetting some, but it was fun to think it through. Personally, I think #6, and in particular Tron’s end of line, to be a really fun game mechanic that I always like to see.

But I also want to give a shout out to Game of Thrones for (AFAIK) the most unique handling of combos, and my personal favorite. I’d like to see it explored more. It’d be really fun and risk/rewardy to put a jackpot or big collect on a single shot like a side ramp, and let the player try and bring a 6 way combo in to that shot for a 6x collect.

Bonus statement cause no one asked. My favorite combo: Stern Trek’s backhanded left ramp, right ramp, left orbit, warp ramp warp ramp warp ramp.

Did I miss any good ones?


Spider-Man Combo mulitball :slight_smile:

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Agree. Combo concepts are awesome. And a great way to mix-up the experience of playing. And the paths to points.

You certainly miss one. The Shadow. AFAIK, that game took combos to a new level. Progressive scoring. Call-outs.


Hah yes, forgot about this one. I like that, for me at least, it was a lot easier to reach the final wizard mode than this mode.

I like the hidden 3 way combo in Whirlwind.

I really like the concept of fast-react timed shots, like an inlane starts a very short hurry up on some shot that you can’t cradle up to shoot, and it’s worth enough that it can give an edge to on the fly players vs. the measured cradle up style.


Sadly I haven’t really had any time on The Shadow up here in Seattle, but I’m not surprised I missed one!

I like it too but it awards garbage points for how hard it is!

The Whirlwind mode combo complete on Dialed In! is one of my favorites. It nearly doubles the mode value: 62k in mode shots +50k combo bonus. It also just made me really happy when I did it for the first time.

The one I continue to wonder about is Ripley’s. Is there a 3 way combo award? I haven’t been able to hit it yet and can’t bring myself to take the glass off to try it. Or is there more than one way get the two way? Hard to watch the DMD and combo at the same time.

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Another great modern example is Deadpool Weapons. For reference, shooting combos lights Weapons on the scoop at a rate of 1 per combo (minimum 2) that can be cashed out at any point. The incentives from the game make you constantly think about combos:

In the early/mid game, there’s an extra ball tied to Weapon collection that is a good objective to target.

In the midgame, 45 Weapons lights Mechsuit Multiball for wizard mode progression/LOTS of points.

In the endgame, every 100 Weapons bumps Playfield X for the rest of the GAME. Super useful if SNNKT is hard to hit, and really nice nonetheless. Not impossible to get to!

At any point, you can get some pretty cool animations if you pay out tons of Weapons. I’ve seen the 20 Weapon collect once - it’s pretty sweet!

Also, Weapons contribute to a fairly large portion of the Bonus collect, so they can be worth tens/hundreds of millions on a well played game.


On DP, I forget… does the score awarded when you do a Weapons collect at the scoop go up non-linearly based on the # of weapons you’ve qualified via combos (since your previous collect)?
And is such score of any significance where there’s incentive to defer shooting the scoop – other than getting to see the cool animations of Deadpool loaded up with weapons?

If it does, it isn’t significant. I’ve had 15 weapons collect for ~2M for reference.

If there’s a major milestone (EB/45/Multiple of 100), I would cash out no matter what. Especially with the multiple of 100 buff in 1.01 removing the decision to/not to bump.

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I think combo to gain spike awards is great in Johnny Mnemonic. Corvette has different combos with track names that can be quite valuable.

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Use the 2X Combo on KISS when you’ve got a KISS Army Super Jackpot coming up.
The 2X combo scoring in KISS was involved when I scored a 5.2 billion KISS Army Super Jackpot:
10X playfield + 2X multiplier on the Demon shot + 2X Combo, 40X * 130.850.000 = 5.234 billion.


Probably best fits no.6
Was playing JJP PotC last night and my opponent (playing as Gibbs) hit 8 upper loops in a row, then gold targets (by leaving upper left flipper raised) - it spawned 350/360 gold.

I wonder just how high that could go?
Thats a combo I’ll be exploring in much more depth the next time i can get a game on it


I’m into the GoT combo multiplier. I think it would be rad to keep up this scoring indefinitely, as opposed to Stern Wars 40x shot being on a timer. You want to shoot a 40-way combo? Great! Also what’s cool about GoT is the requirement to earn higher thresholds by completing objectives, so you can’t just start a game and immediately get into 5x scoring- Combos max at 3x until you collect 1 sword, then go up to 4x, then up to 5x. I don’t see why this number should be capped at all! More swords, more Xs!! Also for games with this build-up combo, I like the idea of the combo timeout timer getting incrementally shorter with each adv combo-x.

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I’m surprised I haven’t seen more games that reduce the X as it times out instead of resetting it. SW/GoT you can build up some big multipliers, and it seems the higher they are the faster they expire, but they always expire down to minimum. Why not have it reduce back down level by level just like it went up, but put it on an even tighter timer? On SW it gets to the point where I actually don’t want 40x because the timer is so short you’re going to die trying to keep it going

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