Pinburgh 2018 sob stories


I played like absolute garbage day one and followed that up with an encore performance day two. I have an incredibly hard time relaxing when I play and my scores suffer for it. I don’t know what happened to my head this year, but was just a mess from round 1 on.

I found this Pinburgh, this is my 4th, as a particular grind. The rounds I was in seemed to take a lot longer this year and groups bottlenecked frequently. 3 groups per bank is necessary but man can it get to be a drag when waiting so long to play.

With all that said I still had a great time and saw friends from across the globe and that is what makes Pinburgh special to me and why I will push this last year’s bitter result to the back of my head and sit pensively at my computer waiting to punch my ticket to Pinburgh 2019.


Your impression is probably correlated with your position. Placement on the machines are designed to try to make sure the highest seed players are not blocked. Lower seed groups are likely to play faster and get blocked more.


May be, but if you have 8 players waiting on 4 to finish their first game the system doesn’t seem to be working.


This is a common problem in manufacturing. If you are trying to do Just in Time (JIT) manufacturing you need to rate limit on the slowest machine. Makes sense right, you can only go as fast as the slowest member.

So given that we don’t know how groups are going to play, we need to make an assumption. We are going to guess that the longest playing group will be the one with the highest seeds. So the system should be designed to make sure they aren’t blocked since you can only go as fast as the slowest group.

Clearly this doesn’t always happen in the real world. Sometimes a lower seeded group will blow up a machine while a high seed plays fast. But if you’re bottlenecked behind the high seed then it is working as intended since having them waiting only to blow up the machine would stall the entire tournament more often.

Anyway, still sucks to wait around. :wink:


This is why the high-seeded group plays Game 1 (modern) last. We expect, in general, that it will take the longest and with this group playing it last, no one can bottleneck behind it. The group setup is structured so that the high-seeded group can play Game 2 (EM) and Game 3 (early DMD / late solid state) without interruption.

I wonder which game was the huge bottleneck for @TaylorVA. It would have had to be a Game 1, with the first group playing long enough so that the other groups all got through Game 4. This would be useful info for load balancing for 2019.


In my bank it was @jdelz playing Heavy Metal Holdup.


Guilty. Just can’t get enough of those hot licks!


We had a slight bottleneck behind the A-Division group on Bank 50 in Session 8 - but it was due to Fireball going down on the A-group ahead of us so it was no fault in the bank design. My group (D-Division) played Junkyard first and then our EM was reassigned to a back-up. We drew Band Wagon and finished that game before the A-Division group finished their EM. The next game (Class of 1812) was open, and someone in our group asked a TD if we could play it, but he let us know that would interrupt things. So we waited for the A-group to finish the EM, then they had to finish a full game of Class of 1812 before we could continue on. No big deal, it was just unfortunate that the EM went down (I assume while the A-group had played it for a substantial period) and it happened to be the round before dinner break!


My groups started on EMs in rounds 2-10. Backups definitely happened:

When we were playing Hocus Pocus, and a group started on Avengers.

When we were playing Slick Chick, and a group started on Iron Man. Yes this is surprising. The Iron Man group was halfway done with their game and we were still on player one of Slick Chick.

I didn’t notice it, but I’m certain it happened on Triple Action as well. Our group had three extremely long games on it.

I’m sure there were several others that I didn’t notice. In general, I would guess that the backups happened just as often because the DMD was playing tough (lightening flippers, no ball save, etc)…rather than the EMs were playing long.

In my groups, I’m reasonably confident that the early SS games actually played shorter than the EMs, so I wonder if the shifting the lower two groups back one game (so no one starts on the DMD…but the weakest group would move to it quickly) might have sped things up.

Having said that, I’m not sure I’ve ever had to wait when in the top group - so it is definitely working as intended.


I did not experience much waiting for games, but this comment did stand out, as several EM games our groups played took a bit longer than I would have expected, and there was at least one instance where the initial DMD game was completed before the EM game. Something the bank organizers can keep in mind… avoid placing long playing EMs with heavily butchered DMDs. The bank with Fireball and JY - our JY games were shorter in time than Fireball games.


My sob story has a happy ending.

It starts with my feet. About 2 months before pinburgh I played in a tourney were I was on my feet for about 15hrs much of that in the hot 95F sun. At the end of the night one of my feet felt funny. I guess it was bursitis or something. I also have planters fasciitis. Well it just kept getting worse, eventually spreading to the other foot. I could barely walk. I ALMOST canceled on the whole trip. Really didn’t make a decision until a few days before. I actually looked up if the convention center loaned out wheelchairs. They do! (according to the website) thankfully I didn’t have to use one. I did bring a chair this year.

Part two of the sob story. Tuesday night I am home in bed. I gotta be up in 5 hours. But I decide to check our robotic cat box in the basement before I fall asleep. I head down and discover… water. A pipe in the basement sprung a leak. And it was BEFORE the cutoff inside the house. So I had to call relatives to help find and shut off the water at the main in the yard. So I got maybe 3-4 hours of sleep tuesday.

Part 3. Wed night in pittsburgh I get to bed around midnight. Right before I go to sleep I get an alert that my front door at home had just opened and closed. Then I realize I’d left it unlocked with all the confusion of the water leak. I figured it might not be a real intruder. We have a nest cam and I didn’t see/hear anyone so I fell asleep. Two hours later I wake up and can’t go back to sleep. So now I gotta play day one at pinburgh on 2hrs sleep. Riding to the convention center I felt like I was on bad drugs. In a total DAZE. But once I hit the tourney area around 8:15am I came alive. Maybe the lack of sleep took away the nerves that defeated me last year. But I played pretty good and ended up in A division which was my main goal.

So it was a rough start but it all worked out. Finally went to the dr last week and my feet are almost back to 100%.


I noticed this frequently too. Lots of the DMDs were absolutely brutal, and the EM was frequently my group’s longest playing game. SS were usually over quickly too


Similar experience here. I was on bank 12 in Day 2 and we had a two-group back-up waiting on Surf Champ. The other games were Dracula, Cosmic Gunfight, and Indy 500.


I don’t remember too many times I got backed up like that, but a few things come to mind:

  1. A 3-ball DMD with no ball saver has a good chance to be faster than a 5-ball EM with no ball saver.
  2. I remember a tendency to wait a bit longer after previous players put moves on EMs vs DMDs. Maybe that’s due to the lack of tilt warnings where catching some of that previous player’s movement would be fatal to you. This eats up time not spent actually playing.
  3. Lots and lots of EMs encourage plunging perfectly to catch a top rollover. That equals lots and lots of failed plunges trying to catch the perfect plunge. This eats up more time.
  4. Pure speculation here, but I would also bet that lower-division players aren’t as likely to wait between balls on that DMD to the left, so they finish even quicker on Day 2. They also aren’t trapping up as much to chill. So that’s more time taken.

I’d be willing to bet that total actually-playing-the-machine time was still less on the EMs vs. the DMDs; it’s the time-sucks that elongate the amount of time needed to complete the game.


This, especially points 1 and 3, tracks very well with my experience in (inexplicably) A division for the first time.


Re: Bank game times and groups waiting for longer-playing groups in front of them… big shout out and congrats to the Pinburgh organizers that stories of groups waiting a long time for their next pin seem to be the EXCEPTION and not the NORM. There were 72 banks of games, and we’re hearing logjam stories of just a few. And those few may have been limited to just one particular round where the logjam was due to a special cause (versus normal variation). I find this remarkably successful.

And the cool part is that knowing @PAPA_Doug, @bkerins, @mhs and the rest of the tourney team they’ve assembled and their passion for Pinball and the Pinburgh experience, even with the 2018 successful situation of rare instances of logjams, they’re STILL going to spend time to analyze reduce those logjams into even more rare territory. Bravo!

With that in mind, if any of you do have those rare instances of logjams/issues to sob about, do the Pinburgh team a favor and provide specifics similar to what @zvrabes and others have done (listing out the specific games, banks, etc).

My non-sob story to share in this regard this year is: my groups only got moved to a backup pin ONCE out of forty pins that I played (Safari — and by the time we were back to our original bank for the next pin, it had been fixed for the other groups on our bank). That’s an amazing feat! In prior years, I recall being moved to backups 2-3 times per year — which is still only 5-7.5% of the time. Amazing condition of pins across 300 pins!


I think it’s important to be clear that I was happy with Pinburgh this year and impressed by how well managed this was. Still, one can be appreciative of all the hard work that goes into an event and still note the issues one encounters that might impact the show for others. In my case, that’s the long-play of EMs, which I was As much a part of as anyone in my groups. And to be clear, by “issue,” that’s not the same as “problem.” The EMs were long because making precise skill shots and working with five balls is a feature of that era. Meanwhile, the DMDs are fast playing in part because of the ability to disable ball savers, etc. (to say nothing of that Metallica tilt bob), but I am well aware of how easilt even a modified DMD can still end up very long playing. The logic is sound!


Since this has kinda turned into the suggestions thread I have two that come to mind at the moment.

There were multiple times (3) that I saw games on the end of a bank have spectators come up and either touch the game or player or be directly at the side of the game in front of the player. All players handled the instances I saw tactfully. Would be nice to have some sort of obstruction there if possible.

GLARE GALORE. Mostly DMDs under banks of lights. I developed some new stances that I think improved my play but still would be nice to eliminate. There looked to be some different banks of lights on throughout the weekend to try to mitigate but position under the lights wasn’t good for the glare.


I think the glare this year versus the last two years has to do with how the games were positioned in the hall. In previous years, the last two at least IIRC, they ran perpendicular to the house lights which caused only a fraction of games to have glare on them. This year the banks ran parallel to the lights.


I’ll boost the signal on this one, and to tie it into the topic, I sob that non-tournament people still infiltrate the tournament area so easily. More than once I had to grab a member of staff to run them off of tournament machines (side note: I was actually discouraged from doing this myself, which was interesting). I understand friends and family wanting to hang out and cheer on participants, but I also wish there was a way to keep more of the general public out during qualifying.