Need Help with Launch Party Format

I’ll be running an Aerosmith launch party next month in Eugene, OR, but have never myself attended a pinball launch party before. My goal is to draw as many players as possible by assuring a hearty helping of WPPRs (particularly to attract the PDX crowd) while ensuring lower-skilled players have a chance to play more than a couple of games. A couple of details about the event:

  • Large space with lots of parking
  • Weekend; daytime start, ~1-2 pm
  • Nearly all newer Sterns (20-25 pins)

What would you suggest in terms of format? What are some things to watch out for? Thanks in advance!

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Matchplay with Swiss pairing and 2 or 4 player groups is a format I enjoyed when I was new to competing. Still do, but I also used to.


A launch party should be more about the new game and socializing rather than a WPPR point fest. Even in Eugene I would expect you will get some people that want to play the new game but don’t want to compete. One or two attempts at a high score with a high score playoff for the top 8 should be plenty. Top 8 play 2 four players games, highest two scores from each group play for all the marbles (and a few WPPRs).

If you have more than one AER game coming, that gives you a little more wiggle room. If only one though, make sure everyone gets a chance to play it. One new to everyone game is a draw on its own if there are no others around. You shouldn’t need a big point tourney to get people there.


I used to enjoy the Stern launch parties in Portland, thrown by Quarterworld (I moved away 5.5 years ago). They were simple. And not remotely WPPR fests. In fact, I think there awarded zero WPPR points. But they were fun, and a good way to get familiar with the game.

Here’s what I remember (some details might be wrong):

Event runs from like 6pm-10pm.
Single player games.
During that time, you tried to put up the highest score.
Top 4 highest by 10pm played a 4 person game (sometimes it may have been: highest by 10pm immediately wins).
Winner of that game wins.

Prizes were usually operator swag, like shirts and translites.

I don’t remember a queuing system, or limits to entries.

Like @phishrace noted, it was about socializing and learning about the game. It’s fun to focus on the game - feelings, strategies, etc - without getting too wrapped up in heavy competition.


I have ran probably a dozen+ launch parties. $5/entry. We typically run them on a Friday night and we are limited on time(the place is in a mall and it closes at 10PM). So we usually only have about 4 hours to get it done. We do an hour of practice on TWO of the launch pins, then everyone draws a number for qualifying order. Each player gets one qualifying attempt. Then the top 4 play a single 4 player game for 4 prizes and the 5-8 qualifiers play a 4 player game for one prize. Easy peasy, but worth VERY FEW WPPR’s. 12% TGP.

So we tried something different with GB. We did it on a Saturday and started at noon so we had a good 6-7 hours to get it done. Everyone got two attempts, one on each pin. Those two scores were added together to get your qualifying score. Top 16 made finals. We did PAPA style playoffs, using the launch pin and two other Sterns. Top 2 advanced from each group. Worked great. 80% TGP.

So it really depends on how much time you have. There’s nothing wrong with bringing other pins into the tourney, as long as you heavily feature the new pin. Good luck with your event!

BTW, we are trying yet another format for Aerosmith. Two attempts, added together. Then top 16 playoff in 4 player groups but only on a single game. Top two advance from each group. Should be 32%TGP. We regularly have 32+ players at our launch parties.

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If you really want the WPPRs (or just want to attract the WPPR seeking players) just have two tournaments. I would do something similar to what @phishrace suggested for the new game (so that people get guaranteed play time on it and to showcase it on its own), but have another tournament for the serious competition.


Most details are correct, but we did add queues and limited number of entries after you left because the events got too popular :wink:


Hey everyone, thanks for the great feedback! This is exactly what I was looking for. We need to submit it by tonight, so we’ll likely do a format similar to what @LOTR_breath did for his GB Launch Party (Pending an email response from @CFFLegs about what she thinks would be a good draw for her people!)