Preparing to play at big events...

Hi there folks,

So I’m back from INDISC having enjoyed it hugely - but the toughness of the games really showed that despite playing better over the past year that I need to get even better and prepare more.

I spoke with Jim about how he had set some of the games up but wanted to post here and ask for your insight on setting games up tough. This was less about the rule settings of the game more about the speed of the ball on the playfield, the control you need on the flippers and thus the accuracy. If I use a couple of examples I want to setup my Dialed in and Meteor - exactly like the one at INDISC. Maybe it helps me or maybe I’m not good enough - I’m cool with that but I at least want to be able to say I put the right preparation in. I’ve been to many UK and EU events and none of them come close to the challenge that I’ve experienced at US events.



This is something I need to do at home as well. There are some obvious things: outlane posts up, rubbers potentially removed, playing with the steepness.

One that might not be obvious, but I imagine is the best bang for your buck: sensitive slingshots.


Good points Ryan, my Dialed in is at the steepest settings - interestingly lots of folks complain about how tough I have that setup and I’m good for around 800–1.2M on it but the one at INDISC I struggled to put 500K on it with a couple of games below 100K!

The slingshots is definitely something I need to experiment with. I was looking at the coil settings in the menu @keefer is more power a higher or lower number - the menu talks about pulse time?


I was super impressed with how the open games were set up. They all seemed suspiciously modest when you looked at the hardware, and even had generous tilts for the most part, yet each of them just played so fast and furious once you pressed that start button!


Yes I agree, maybe except Comet where the gate removal made that a bit more challenging!

But yes reasonable tilts so you could nudge and not much in the way of post or post rubber removal. Dialed in for example had all the post rubbers on it. It was just the sheer pace of the ball, I found it hard to get the ball under control. The games got a little slower towards the end of Saturday but not by much!

As someone who watched the streams, I could see that flipper strength was a contributing factor to the speed of all the games. Missed shots were punished hard and if I could change one thing on all the games I play regularly - it’d be to play with strong flippers. I don’t own any pins, so I am not in control.

Not that I’m going out and winning all these big events, but after my first big tournament where I was not used to games setup like that, I went home and set mine up even harder. Then I left them that way.

Playing games setup really brutal every day made playing in these events much more comfortable.

Tilts crazy tight, slings sensitive(as in the ball cant even roll down the sling), red rubber on all flippers, no rubber on posts or remove posts completely in some cases, lightning flippers, etc.

Most of the time now when I go a big tournament the games aren’t this hard. I’m immediately relieved and tend to play much better.


Lots of good info above. I especially agree with sensitive slings and strong flippers.

I’ll add a couple things:

  1. When you play your machines, or have others play them who have a lot of success, really scrutinize where the machines are vulnerable. Are the tilts loose and allowing multiple hard nudges that impact ball time? Are the slings too loose? Does your bottom Congo pop bumper never come close to putting the ball in danger? Etc., etc.

  2. Imagine that, with the snap of a finger, your collection is the INDISC tournament bank(s) and that you also have access to Jim and the tech crew. As you play these machines daily, you’ll get used to their rolls, spins, feeds, settings, and speed and will get almost as good at playing them as you are with your current collection. That’s just the nature of repetitive play on the same machines regardless of their condition, and of course is something that will happen even if you master setting your current machines up in a similarly challenging way.

Therefore, another important tip is to try to play as many hard games in as many different collections/tournaments as possible.

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You could tell the games had been fully serviced before the tourney. I bet every game got flipper rebuilds or all coil based mechs rebuilt. Every game was cleaned and probably waxed, probably with new rubber rings. If you’ve ever unboxed a new Stern you’ve probably noticed how mean and fast they play, when everything’s working 100% and fresh games play way harder.

It’s also usually a confluence of things. Neil you had to fly six timezones away and stay on your feet 15 hours. It’s just hard to play good pinball at an event like that even when the machines are friendly.

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(1) This ^^^. INDISC slings were brutally sensitive and murderous. They were also strong, but most importantly, sensitive to the slightest touch from the ball.

(2) I strongly disagree with this – and INDISC was a great example of how you do not need crazy tight tilts to make games tough and punishing. They shouldn’t be loose, but also not crazy tight. Besides the games playing in tip-top shape, this is perhaps my biggest “pin condition” compliment to the INDISC crew: you could actually nudge the games without getting undeserved tilts/warnings. Superb job! Especially given the PAPA (RIP) card/ticket qualifying format, everyone wants the chance to play/nudge the game.

(3) Removing rubbers is a “it depends” on each game. In some cases, keeping the rubber on, particularly for the inlane post, actually makes it more susceptible to an outlane drain (because the inlane post rubber, combined with the slingshot post rubber make it difficult for the ball to go down the inlane). But you should definitely make the outlane post at widest setting.
Cases in point: JPLE had rubber on the inlane posts (and outlane posts, IIRC) – it was plenty drainy!
ACNC had the inlane post rubber removed, and it made the outlanes quite drainy on it as a result.

(4) Steeper isn’t always harder. In fact, it often makes the game much more controllable because it increases vertical motion (decreasing horizontal motion), resulting in two player-favorable outcomes: less impact of side-to-side motion with outlane drains and easier to cradle a ball on a flipper.

(5) Unlike LA traffic, for pinball at INDISC, It’s Never Slow in SoCal – every pin’s flippers were ridiculously powerful and snappy, in all three banks. Combine that with freshly cleaned/waxed playfields, and it made any shot to a lower-playfield target or post immediate drain risk. Go watch two of my three balls drain off that Sopranos drop target in finals. Doh!


The games at my house are stupid hard. I didn’t say that’s how they should be setup for big time events. Haha.

So when I go to a major tournament the tilts seems like they aren’t even installed and I am extremely comfortable.

Just to clarify.

But yeah, glad the days are gone of walking up to a game and getting two warnings on the plunge.

I can’t think of a case where a lower number is more power. That being said:

  1. I completely agree with things being more sensitive is usually better than just being more powerful.
  2. It’s pretty easy to stupid things by turning stuff up too much. For example, with slings, at some point the fire time is so much it’s just holding the arm out longer which is most assuredly not what you want. Your ideal setting is to get the arm to the extent of its travel as fast as possible (maybe just a hair before the end) and then back off to it can respond to the next sling hit. A similar phenomenon will happen with jets where longer times will adversely impact their performance by keeping the ring down too long.

Yes, every game in all three banks was waxed Wednesday night, so they would all be freshly super-slick. Slings were a touch shy of “vibrato” level. Colin’s right about the outlane posts, we’ve found some games are tougher with them in than out. A great example of that was one event where they were removed on a Seawitch and the scores actually went up! Colin’s also right about steepness cutting down side-to-side drain risk at times. And as players, we hate flippers that aren’t strong enough to consistently make a needed shot, whether due to steepness or flipper power. Ditto super-tight tilts. Let people nudge, just not move or do extreme slide-saves on the games. It is possible to set games up tough without making them “evil” and having lots of people bitching about them. Jim did a great job in that regard.


Thanks Keith - just didn’t want to assume!

LOL!! Unless it’s a game at your house in league!!! Then you can breathe on them and get at least 2 warnings if not tilt!!! :smiley_cat:

I made them easier for league! :joy:

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I think that setting tilts too tight is actually counterproductive to getting better as it keeps you from learning nudges like outlane shimmys or slide saves.

You can obviously set your games up however you like, but learning how to make big moves is equally as important if not more so than learning how to make small moves.


Totally agree. So I suggest if setting tilts super tight do it after you’ve become really strong at nudging. By getting used to super tight tilts I forced myself to become a more accurate shooter. By far the weakest point of my game. And still is. But knowing I wouldn’t be able to do much to save my misses, taught me to be more accurate. And also learn to make more intelligent nudges. So many times I would give a game a big move when I didn’t need too. Learned this too from crazy tight tilts.

So when I travel to a big event and their tilts are way looser than what Im used to, even better. I was more accurate and I could get away with bigger nudges.

YMMV as always.

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That Meteor was mine. It wasn’t intended to be used for anything other than TMPC on thursday but Jim decided to drag it into Open since Beat the Clock had a phantom tilt problem that couldn’t be sussed out and Meteor was one of the more reliable games from thursday. Special thanks to @chuckwurt for helping me get the original slingshot parts into it as I was missing one when I got it. The WPC parts people use to replace them work but don’t have the same extension and so perform less favorably IMO. As for specific setup on that game, only thing I can think of is that I pulled the flipper rest pins and drooped the flippers ever so slightly which allows for a better angle on the spinner and the lower drop banks IMO. There are no shots up the middle on this game so I don’t care about being able to shoot there. Other stuff is just normal get a game ready stuff… make sure everything is fresh and clean. @neilmcrae, feel free to PM if you want some specific help.


Agreed, and every once in a while you’ll get away with a big move on a game with a tight tilt, or inexplicably tilt on a loose game. And behind on ball three, I would rather have the practice making big moves successfully than not.