Most Instructive Game?

On which game did you learn the most about competitive pinball play? What did it teach you?

-> Relevant thread here <-

If you’re not just talking about specific skills, fish tales taught me that I’m bad at pinball and should just give up.


LOL. I guess I should actually broaden my question a bit…

(I presume that most members of this forum are primarily into competitive play.)

What does the collection of a typical competitive player look like? Do you guys tend to keep games with the most complex rulesets? Or perhaps only the most difficult games? Do you guys just rotate in random games? Have you tended to own lots of different games, in order to have the broadest possible exposure? Do you tend to avoid owning games that are more readily accessible on location? What factors enter in to your decision to buy a game?

Perhaps there is no discernible pattern, but I’m not sure, hence the question.

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Look for games where ball time is NOT necessarily equivalent to a good score.

I think a lot can be learned from these games:

Attack From Mars
World Cup Soccer
Dirty Harry
Fish Tales

BSD is probably the best learning experience out there imo.

These all require you to use strategy, choose your shots wisely, avoid risky shots and most importantly execute at the right time after you have invested to get to a payoff point. There aren’t any free points for a lucky flail fest.

lastly, they all require a wide range of flipper skills and abilities, and the useage of them at the proper time/situation will increase your MPM significantly.


I’m pretty new to the competitive scene, so I’d love to hear people’s feedback on my thinking.

I can only fit one game in my small NYC apartment, so I chose Spiderman. Here was my thinking.

  • 3rd flipper allows me to practice staging.
  • Shot behind third flipper which is tighter than the one on ST would make me better at that shot.
  • You can backhand most shots.
  • Practice live catching out of the pops.
  • Practice loop passes when post is down. (Or disable the post.)
  • To start modes you are required to hit every shot, so lots of practice on different shot types.
  • Shot doublers and stacking multiballs require strategy.

It also doesn’t hurt that it is one of my top 3 games. :slightly_smiling:

After owning the game for almost two years I think I’m ready to put another machine in it’s place. But for the purpose of practicing I think it was a great machine. Having said that, it does violate what @cayle said, scores are pretty linear and require long ball times.

Thanks guys, very interesting stuff. What about games that help you learn how to accomplish (non-random) things within multi ball? For example, learning the Piano/Camera sequence in TZ multi ball was very helpful for me.

Metallica is really good for this, and also includes extra strategic decisions.

During any MB, you have to decide whether to go for add-a-ball + 2x scoring + ball save via the picks + a snake shot vs. Fuel 2x scoring vs. jackpots/super jackpots vs. advancing Crank It Up (vs. advancing the next coffin lock, too).

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Fish Tales helped me reconceptualize my approach to multiball, since you need to shoot the caster’s club to light jackpot and it’s not an easy shot to hit just by flailing around.

For me it’s a tie between Indy 500 and Metallica. The former because it taught me how to use modes to my advantage during multiballs, and the latter because it has a lot of strategy in order to obtain huge scores.

My pathway to learning pinball always was owning just one game at a time. World Poker Tour helped with shot making. I would spend games doing nothing except calling out drop targets and aiming for them. Also was a good multiball game.

Had a tron after that and I would mess around with differently game adjustments making it as difficult as possible. (upper left flipper experience acquired)

Got a ripleys after that which really helped me with my decision making and multiball control. (upper right flipper experience acquired)

All of these games had flipper staging which I am fortunate to have had experience with this.

In picking these games, the only intentional decision I made was to get WPT to improve shot making. I remember watching a video of some competitive pinball from whenever. @bkerins was commentating and he said something like “Keith chose to shoot this instead of this.” I was dumbfounded how a player could choose shots and make decisions so I actively chose to work on that skill.

I disagree about metallica. Its way to easy to get good things happening accidentally on that game. I’ve seen a lot of great games and scores where people earned it, and a lot where they didn’t.


agree 100%. I watched a guy once throw up 150m on a fairly difficult route MET and thought, oh who is this person? I don’t know him, where did he come from…deduced fairly quickly he had no idea what was going on the whole time. Flailed himself into every MB, and CIU.

100% agreed!

I’m big on fan layouts myself for practice. Attack From Mars, Iron Man, stuff like that. Games that let you use every flipper trick in the book and emphasize shooting every shot on the playfield to get the most out of the game.

Am I crazy for thinking transformers would be a good option?

  • not a lot of random points
  • al shots in play
  • backhand, loop pass, live catch, post pass are all there
  • descent amount of strategy regarding modes, shot multipliers and when to start MB’s

Plus not quite as brutal a learning experience as BSD imho

I don’t know about Transformers…

I don’t feel like there is much to translate from that game to other machines. maybe good to learn a post catch on… but so is most any modern machine after about SM.

Transformers is probably good for learning flipper skills (bounce pass, drop catch, post transfer, loop pass, backhands, live catches), but it likely won’t teach a player much about mode stacking and things like that.

Twilight Zone and Road Show

After 20+ years, these games is still teaching me new things about them. Some things are relatively easy to learn as in the ramps don’t give you points, but light up the rest of the table. Others take a bit of time to notice (for ex. TZ increased JP scores from the main MB with at least 2 balls locked) and other times I’ll work a mode in a way that I never thought of before and the scores are through the roof. Or finding the 10m clock mode from the Camera and then hitting gumball multiball. Stage flipping, crazy cross PF shots. Those two widebody games just keep on giving. RS definitely has some quirks and bugs (bonus), but the gameplay is awesome! Pat Lawlor is the MAN!

I agree that TZ was very instructive for me. The main lesson for me was how to pay attention to specific goals during Multiball rather than just wail away and pray. (Piano for JP, Camera to relight, Power playfield during Powerball mania, etc.)

Games that encourage nudging include WOF and Genie. If you don’t nudge those two games, you’re never gonna nudge. Genie is probably the easiest game built in the last 40 years to wicked shimmy. If you have a non-nudger in your house, get one of these two games to cure them.