Pingolf: example goals and setting advice


#1

We had a large pingolf event here in Colorado last weekend (75 players and 18+ machines), and I thought it might be helpful to have an ongoing thread that discussed appropriate pingolf goals.

The conditions for any event are different from any other, but we had a wide mix of players (from 8th in the world, all the way down to a half dozen for whom this was their first event). We had 24 games that were brought in by 20ish different players, with no coordinated standards for setup (in terms of difficulty, etc).

I wrote down notes for each game with proposed goals, and then had some last minute input from three other very good players.

Below I’ll list the goals I used (followed by their average strokes). In some cases, the goal was a target score. In other cases, the goal was an objective. Some games had both a target score, and an objective…in which case either one counted as a success. All games were set on 5 ball. If you weren’t able to reach a goal, then you took a 6. My intention was for the holes to average roughly three strokes each.

  • Iron Man: Start any MB. 2.46 strokes. (MBs might not have been factory. 3 shots to raise monger. 7 or 8 for Whiplash. 9ish Drones for War Machine)
  • X-Men: Start Villain Mode, or 6m points. 2.55 strokes.
  • The Shadow: Start any MB. 2.59 strokes. (Mistake here: didn’t realize there was a mode that gave a MB, so it could be done in 1 shot).
  • Swords of Fury: Collect Lionman Bonus, or 650k points. 2.65 strokes.
  • Spider-man (Stern): Start Blacksuit MB, or 20m points. 2.92 strokes.
  • Taxi: 500k points. 2.93 strokes. (Was playing tough, hard to hit ramps, drops not always registering consistently).
  • Strikes 'N Spares. Un-spell S-P-A-R-E. 2.99 strokes.
  • Diner: 1.5m points. 3.18 strokes.
  • Supersonic: Light 5x bonus, or 100k points. 3.18 strokes.
  • Star Wars LE: Start any MB or 100m points. 3.30 strokes.
  • Doodle Bug: Collect Extra Ball or 20k points. 3.31 strokes.
  • Kiss (Bally): 85k points. 3.55 strokes. (Was very floaty).
  • Transformers: Start Optimus Prime MB. 3.61 strokes.
  • Eight Ball Champ: Un-spell C-H-A-M-P. 3.76 strokes.
  • Mousin’ Around: 1m points. 3.82 strokes.
  • AC/DC Premium: Start any MB, or 15m points. 3.89 strokes.
  • World Cup Soccer: Lock a Ball. 4.09 strokes. (Didn’t realize it was set to require one extra Build shot. Right ramp was hard to make it all the way up.)
  • Jungle Queen: 35k points. 4.46 strokes. (My gut after playing it was 25k but I let others talk me up).

My advice:

  • Make goals that you think are too easy…something that can be done in 5 to 6 shots.

  • Rely on one trusted goal setter as much as possible (the places where I’ve gone wrong in the past is taking blind advice from others, without knowing the game well or having played it, or having machines split up and their goals set separately by different people).

  • (Almost) never trust the owner of the game to give you a fair goal. Remember that most people will be stepping up to this game for the first time, and either have no general idea how to play it, or no idea how to play this specific copy of the game.

  • Stay away from goals where the progress isn’t cumulative. Un-spelling C-H-A-M-P on Eight Ball Champ was a bad idea, because if you failed on Ball 1, you started over from scratch on Ball 2 (which I didn’t realize). Many EMs do not carry progress, which means it’s better to come up with a target score. Otherwise, it becomes a game of: “which ball did you get a hole in one on?”

  • I repeat: Make goals easy. I’ve never been to a pingolf event where the holes were set too easy.

Hope this is helpful to others. Would love to see what others have done for goals in their events.


Pin-Golf difficulty check, please?
#2

I strongly agree with setting the goals at what would, at first glance, seem “too easy”. We recently had a pingolf tournament here. I can’t remember all of the goals, but here are some of the ones I can remember:

  • Trident: Reach 3x bonus. (This requires clearing two drop targets in the bank, then three drop targets.)

  • Trident round 2: Score at least 100,000 points.

  • Twilight Zone: Start any multi-ball.

  • Twilight Zone round 2: Light three door panels.

  • Creature from the Black Lagoon: Light three of the four letters in FILM.

  • Creature from the Black Lagoon round 2: Start video mode.

  • Terminator 2: Start Payback Time.

  • Terminator 2 round 2: Get a jackpot.

  • Spiderman: Light any three of the villain inserts.

  • Spiderman round 2: Start any multi-ball.

  • The Walking Dead: Collect extra ball.

  • The Walking Dead round 2: Start any multi-ball.

As in your tournament, we had a wide range of skills, from expert to near beginner. The points were spread over a wide range, which is good. We had 18 holes on nine machines, each machine with two different goals. The best score was 37, with 49 for 2nd place, 51 for 3rd, 52 for 5th. At 19th place, we had a score of 60, at 31st place a score of 65, at 41st place a score of 72, and 46th (last) place a score of 75.

Some of the goals that seemed “easy” weren’t. A surprising number of (good) players didn’t get 100,000 on Trident in five balls, even though, when things go right, you can do 200,000 plus on the first ball, no problem. Similarly, quite a few good players didn’t reach one or both goals on Terminator 2. (Admittedly, it was set up to play evil.)

When I first walked past the machines and looked at all the goals, my thought was “these are easy”. Well, not really. The bulk of the better players were spread between scores 51 and 60 (3rd place to 19th place), despite the seemingly easy goals.

One other thought: pay attention when mixing machines set for three balls and five balls. If everyone plays all of the machines, it doesn’t matter. But, in our tournament, we had the top eight enter into the finals in two groups of four. Each group had to play three machines drawn at random; from each group, the top two players advanced.

One group drew three 3-ball machine, but the other group drew Trident, which was set to five balls, plus two 3-ball machines. In the group that included Trident, not making the goal meant a worst possible score of 6 whereas, on any other machine, the worst possible score was 4. That created an imbalance if someone didn’t reach the goal on Trident, because a score of 6 can’t be recovered from if the worst possible score on the other machines in the same round is a 4. In future, we’ll avoid this by either omitting 5-ball machines from finals, or by setting 5-ball machines to three balls.

Basically, the goals should be set such that a reasonably skilled player has a decent chance of getting a hole in one. During the actual tournament, there will be plenty of skilled players who, despite this, won’t reach the goal at all and walk away with a 4, especially on harder machines, machines without a ball save, or EM and early SS machines.


#4

The “interesting” solution is to play the 5-ball games last, to give more swing to the end of the round.


#5

One big thing to consider when setting goals is the volatility of that goal. For example if you choose to require 5X on a game that resets the multiplier each ball and has a 1x, 2x, 3x, 5x progression, you have chosen a high volatility goal, because I can play all five balls and only get to 3x each ball. That means that I actually advanced the multiplier ten times, yet never achieved the goal. But having a good ball, a player can achieve the goal with only three advances.
A low volatility example would be any progression that is remembered from ball to ball or score.

I would also try to play for your intended goal using the range of skill levels that you expect in the tournament, with a sample of at least 25 test games for each skill level to get a better stroke average. This way you can try to balance out your course (and tweak your goals), but it’s not necessarily bad to have some easier holes as well as some harder holes. Try to put the hard holes at the end!


#6

What was the stroke average for Spider-Man? (I know what it was more/less than).

Did games have ball save turned on? The xmen one seems so trivial because, I believe, you just have hit it into the scoop over and over. (Though a bad kickout could make it challenging) .


#7

Yes, that would work, provided that everyone has to play that machine, not just some groups.

Yes, that’s a good point. Trident murdered quite a few good players because a number of them did not manage to get to 3x bonus on any of the five balls, and you have to start from scratch again on each ball.


#8

Yes. 5x on Supersonic wasn’t a great choice for that reason. I initially wanted to do 1-2-3-4-5, which carries progression, but got talked out of it.

Oops. It was 2.92. I updated it. I think the sophisticated players would start Doc Ock right away, and then use that to make progress towards Blacksuit.

I didn’t do anything to ball savers. I’m pretty confident that nearly every game that had a ball saver still had it turned on when it arrived. My opinion is that turning off ball savers disproportionally hurts the lesser skilled players. (The better players are much less likely to drain in the first few seconds anyway). To hurt the best players, it’s better to remove rubbers from center posts, inlane/outlane dividers/posts, and open outlanes.

The main reason to do those things in tournament play is so that people don’t have 30 minute long games. That’s not a necessary consideration for Pingolf because you can just adjust the goals. The best players are going to have the shortest game times, as they can reach the goals more quickly.

Does hitting the scoop spot you an inlane? I didn’t realize this. I was imagining they’d have to complete two sets of inlanes and then hit the scoop. It turned out to be one of the easier holes, and would probably change that to something else in the future. Suggestions?


#9

One other thing I’ll add, the new rules for pingolf take into consideration the average strokes per hole of the players that advance through the qualifying round. For my tournament above, the average of all players was 3.29 strokes per hole. The average of those who advanced (top 32 out of 75) was 2.70. So, we took a small hit to TGP (only got credit for 16 games instead of 18). This didn’t matter because the finals easily got us up to 25+ meaningful games played. Not a big deal but it’s something to be aware of depending on your format.


#10

Something else to keep in mind: Some machines are more lenient or stricter than others. Hence, the goals should be tested with that particular machine in mind, not just for the game in general. For instance, I’ve played a number of BRUTAL Iron Man machines in which you might not get any multiballs at all, especially if Iron Monger comes up and both blocks your shots for Whiplash and War Machine AND has that magnet that has a good chance of swinging the ball right into the center drain (and Iron Monger himself is a risky dice roll in that you could be sending the thing into the center drain too if you’re not extra careful).


(リスキーダイス - Risky Dice - An icosahedral die with 1 bad side and 19 good sides. Rolling a good side brings luck, but rolling a bad side will bring terrible luck, enough to cancel out the other nineteen sides.)

The Iron Man at AYCE Gogi used during the Stern Star Wars launch competition, for instance, is like that. I never played on it myself, but I did see it in action when I was at Star Trek right next to it. No one started any multiballs. Two of the players didn’t even reach one million points. For something like that, you want an easier goal. Maybe something like spelling out I-R-O-N-M-A-N or 750,000 points. It sounds ridiculously low, but it was a ridiculous machine.

[quote=“michi, post:2, topic:3159, full:true”]One other thought: pay attention when mixing machines set for three balls and five balls. If everyone plays all of the machines, it doesn’t matter. But, in our tournament, we had the top eight enter into the finals in two groups of four. Each group had to play three machines drawn at random; from each group, the top two players advanced.

One group drew three 3-ball machine, but the other group drew Trident, which was set to five balls, plus two 3-ball machines. In the group that included Trident, not making the goal meant a worst possible score of 6 whereas, on any other machine, the worst possible score was 4. That created an imbalance if someone didn’t reach the goal on Trident, because a score of 6 can’t be recovered from if the worst possible score on the other machines in the same round is a 4. In future, we’ll avoid this by either omitting 5-ball machines from finals, or by setting 5-ball machines to three balls.
[/quote]

What about a par system, like in actual golf? I mean, some holes are longer than others and requite more strokes. I see no reason why you wouldn’t have some 3-ball machines and 5-ballmachines if you scaled it out accordingly.


#11

Sure, as long as everyone plays the same holes. But, in the finals, we had some groups that never played Trident, and others that did. The goal on (5-ball) Trident was to get 3x bonus, requiring clearing the drop targets twice. Progress isn’t remembered across balls, so the goal must be achieved in a single ball.

On a three-ball machine, if I bomb out on the first game and don’t reach the goal, I score 4. If a player in my group gets a hole in one, I’m 3 behind. In a round with three machines, that’s something I can conceivably recover from. But, if I bomb out on Trident, I get a 6. So, if someone else gets a hole in one, I’m now 5 points behind instead of 3, and that is something that I can’t recover from in the two remaining (3-ball) games.

Basically, having a 5-ball game in some groups but not in others means that players in a group with a 5-ball game run a higher risk of making an irrecoverable mistake than players in a group without a 5-ball game, so things are not even among groups.


#12

This always concerns me about pingolf scoring in small banks of games. Last year I tried to run a format where the player who had the lowest score on the hole got a 1, and everyone else got a zero…hoping to encourage people to go for the win, rather than trying not to lose. (And if you a bad game, it didn’t hurt you too much).

Most groups ended up 2-1-0-0, with top two advancing. (If a player won their first two games, they were through and sat out the third game to avoid a 3-0-0-0 situation).

Most people hated it. I think it was a combination of not totally understanding or being familiar with it, plus some added confusion about ties and why someone would advance even though there was still one game to play and other confusing situations.

Example: Two or more people could take a 1 if they tied on a hole, so you could have a 2-1-1-0 situation after two games. Then the player with 2 sits out, but the ones could tie that player on the third hole. But then with 1-1-0, if the zero wins, it’s now a 3 way tie and requires a playoff…so why let the zero player play at all. And what about 2-2-0-0 after two. No point in playing a third game. Etc.

Might have been more strange situations than I first thought.

An alternative way to play would have been like skins in golf. So, if no one wins outright, no one gets the point and it carries over to the next hole…which becomes worth two. This is better, but would require a fourth hole to be played if someone took all three skins in game three.


#13

The skins idea is interesting. I suspect though that people would get confused by the scoring.

BTW, the analogy with par in golf doesn’t hold for pingolf; in golf, it is almost always impossible to get a hole in one on a par 4, and impossible to get a hole in one on a par 5. In pinfold, a hole in one is possible regardless of “par”, at least for all the goals I have seen so far.


#14

I’ll take your word for it, as you’ve held and played pingolf events and I haven’t. I take it this is due to strokes in pingolf being highly variable in progress whereas it’s more fixed in real golf? (Another suggestion: Maybe make balls 3, 4, and 5 in a 5-ball game count as “ball 3,” or some variant thereof, where ball 1 counts as ball 1, balls 2 and 3 count as ball 2, and balls 4 and 5 count as ball 3. You’d have to be very careful setting those goals though.)

In any case, progress that resets after a drain, I’d say, is a completely different issue. It’d be like if you’re playing real golf and any stroke that doesn’t send the ball straight into the little hole requires the player to try again where they began. That, to me, feels like an exercise in frustration.


#15

In real golf, a par 3 means that you are expected to get the ball from the tee to the green in a single stroke, and then take 2 strokes to putt out.

A par 4 means that the green cannot be reached from the tee in a single shot (except in quite rare circumstances and, even then, it typically is high risk to try). So, you are expected to make a shot onto the fairway, a second shot from there onto the green, and putt out in another 2 strokes.

A par 5 is a hole where the green is so far away that you can’t reach it in two shots; you are expected to take three shots to get onto the green, plus 2 shots to putt out.

So, in golf, on a par 5 hole, a hole in one is physically impossible (and is impossible on almost all par 4 holes). In pingolf, any hole can be a hole in one, if the player is good enough.

This would work, but I don’t like the potential scoring confusion it could create. The simple thing is to set that game to three balls (or just stipulate that, if you don’t get the goal in 3 balls, the score will be 4). That way, it’s not possible for someone with a hole in one on that machine to put more distance between themselves than is possible on the 3-ball machines.

Yep! :slight_smile: But most older machines are that way. They don’t remember progress from ball to ball; often, each ball starts with the game in the same state as it was for ball 1 (except for the accumulated score). For pingolf, the problem these machines present is that it’s difficult to set any goal other than “reach x-thousand points” because all other goals have the issue that progress is lost every time a player doesn’t reach the goal.

I guess that’s pingolf… :slight_smile:


#16

I think a better analogy would be to miniature golf (rather than regular golf), where all holes are par 2 and the player can get a hole in one on any hole. At first, I found it unfair to mix three balls per play games with five balls per play games, since typically older EMs are five balls and modern games are three balls, This gives favorable balance to players of EM games since the worst score on a modern game is a 4 and players who perform poorly on EM games can get a 6.

But then, I came back to TDs putting everything into perspective when creating their PinGolf course. Obviously most courses will be dominated by modern games and may include a few EMs in the mix. That is perfectly okay and really does help balance out average scoring. Everything really goes back to having the TD set proper goals for each machine. Maybe even putting some modern games on five ball play if necessary (or some EMs on three ball play).


#17

[quote=“pinballguru, post:16, topic:3159”]
At first, I found it unfair to mix three balls per play games with five balls per play games, […]

But then, I came back to TDs putting everything into perspective when creating their PinGolf course.[/quote]

The mix of machines is a problem if not all players play the same machines. Someone who gets to play only 3-ball machines has a lower risk than someone who plays 5-ball machines. In our case, everyone played all 18 holes in qualifying, so it wasn’t a problem there. But, in the finals, some groups played without ever coming near a 5-ball machine, and others didn’t.

It’s something to keep in mind when designing for the format.


#18

Supersonic also had target score of 100k, which is what I went for on day 1 and 2, but on day 2 I got lucky with the scoop.

If champ had a target score, the resetting objective wouldn’t be that big of an issue.


#19

Thanks, I had forgotten about that. Probably because if I’m playing for score, I shoot the saucer anyway.


#20

So I’m going to be running my first pin-golf tournament next weekend, and I’m looking at the league averages on the games we have to try and determine a good score goal. I’m going to have everything set to 5-ball, and my goal is to have most games be somewhere between par 3 and 4. Would 2x the league average, or perhaps 1.75x be a decent place to set the goals?

For example- Getaway’s average is just a little above 50 million. I think 100m could be reasonable. This wouldn’t be the method for every game, though… for instance, Jungle Queen is already set to 5 and the average is ~60,000. I probably wouldn’t set it much higher, if at all. Maybe up to 75,000 just because I like quarters more than thirds.


#21

If you know the league average (on 3 ball play) is X, and you’re going for par 3-4, why would you think that the typical score after 3-ish balls would suddenly be 2X?

I’d suggest setting the goals lower than you would expect. And then think a bit about players on the low side of the average… it’s a little demoralizing if these folks play every “hole” and wind up taking a 6 (or whatever your “failure” result is) time after time. IMHO that’s actually more painful than just having a low score on a game… this is outright “fail!”

Personally, if you know the 3-ball average score on a game (over a large number of games / player skill levels) is X, and you’re going for par 3-4, I’d baseline the target at about 0.9X, and then adjust for specific games as you feel is appropriate.