So as a general rule, I really hate it when games are screwed so tight they basically become Pachinko machines. I have always advocated for “hard but playable” since I want to see top players show their skill, and I dislike when entire skill vectors are removed from the game. For example, hair-trigger tilts basically removes the skill of nudging. I understand the desire to make games play shorter, but how much time is being added on when everyone waits 3 minutes between balls to make sure that tilt bob is absolutely settled?
In years past, PAPA tournament machines suffered from this a bit. There’s the somewhat common phrase “PAPA tight” when referring to machines like this. I think they have done an excellent job of tempering this over time.
When deciding on how hard to set up a machine, I’d like to see a little more consideration given to the rest of the field, not just the top players, and more consistency. Using Pinburgh as an example, it almost feels random which machines will have a short ball saver and which will not, which have had lightning flippers installed, which have had posts removed, etc. For me, I think if there is no possibility of a “safe” plunge (something like a gun or button that doesn’t go to top lanes, like T2 or LW3) then a short ball saver is in order. Where safety can be achieved with skill, then no ball saver is acceptable. As for other settings… I tend to think that providing a good experience to the hundreds of players who are not the best in the world is just as important as not having 3 hour rounds on day 2. I’ve seen lots of players frustrated because they feel like they are just plunging and draining a lot of the time. That’s not fun. I don’t have a magic bullet here, just a hope that the experience improves over time for everyone.