What should I buy?

I’m fairly new to competitive pinball ( 1 1/2 years) and getting better, but want something that will help take me to the next level. I thought I would throw this out there to get some thoughts on what I should get for my next machine (I plan on getting it over the summer). I know it’s ulitmately my decision, but just looking for some other thoughts. I currently have two machines, Earthshaker and Stars, and want to add something more challenging.

I’m of two minds on this: Classic DMD, or Modern Stern? Although, right now I’m currently leaning towards the Modern Stern route.

Here’s what I’m looking to get out of the new machine.

  • Work on my drop catches
  • Improve shot accuracy
  • Good rule sets to keep me interested so I don’t get bored of it quickly

I’d like to keep the cost under 6k (USD) if possible.

I had been thinking of these as possibilities.

Modern Stern:

ST Pro

I’ve left MET off as I get to play it more than the above during league play so I don’t feel I need to own this.

Classic DMD:


As far as themes go, the Modern Sterns really don’t do anything for me, whereas the themes of the Classic DMDs I much prefer, but I know themes aren’t the most important thing. TWD looks great and I always enjoyed playing it, but the theme might not be too family friendly (two small children), unless I can convince the wife otherwise :slight_smile: My kids both love zombies, so how bad could it be?

Any way, any thoughts/ideas would be appreciated.

Any of those DMD games should fit the bill. Some would be better than others, but IMO the degree to which that’s true is not as important as you picking a game that you really like and will enjoy playing over and over. (And over and over and over.)

My favorites from your list:
TWD Pro (but the Premium is worth the upgrade on this one)

ST is fun, but it still has a few bugs that are annoying enough that I sold mine and don’t miss it.

TZ is hard to keep running in my experience with a couple of them. But of course a great game with lots of ways to approach scoring well.

TAF is a classic. Hard to find in good shape for a price that makes it worth considering over a new Stern these days.

I really don’t think it matters what I think, though. :slight_smile:

My immediate thought based on your goals (drop catches, shot accuracy, deep rule set) is TWD. I’m still learning new things about the modes and I’ve gotten all the way to Horde, so the rule set and multiple scoring strategies are definitely robust, and accuracy is paramount if you’re trying to get large point totals for modes (also the fact that the high scores include mode high scores and biggest multiplier shots is helpful for tracking your progress).

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It might not be in your timeframe or budget, but Multimorphic just announced this:

Wizard - A pinball training game - Learn and practice all types of pinball playing techniques

Wizard: $499 (estimated) (requires Cannon Lagoon playfield)


Out of the games you mentioned, my top 2 choices would be TWD Pro and Shadow. Both have balanced rules and show up in tournaments often. There are multiple ways to attack each game for points and both will teach you valuable skills that will translate to other games. I think TWD is the best game Stern has ever released and Shadow may well be my favorite WPC era game.

Another honorable mention that isn’t on your list that has improved my skills tremendously is Wheel of Fortune. That game really teaches you to how to nudge and when to flip and not flip. The game is also brutally tough. If I play WOF and then step up to another DMD game it will feel like a cakewalk in comparison.

You’ve got good taste! Agreed on all points.

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You should be able to get almost all of these games for under $6k, especially if aesthetics are not your absolute first priority (which it sounds like they aren’t).

My vote goes to TWD. It will be my next new Stern purchase.

Honestly, going out on location and playing as many different games as you can will help you a lot more than buying a game unless you’re ready to buy like 20 games or more. I cracked the top 100 without owning a single game, and even now there are 4 games in my house just collecting dust waiting for NW Pinball Champs. Getting dialed in on a game you have will basically just encourage lazy play and bad habits because you won’t be inclined to do anything new / different in your gameplay if what you’re doing works on your game.


Thanks everyone for their replies so far. Seems like TWD is a leading contender. Giving the kids nightmares be damned lol

@KCB Thanks Kevin. I understand and respect what you have said. If you get too used to your machine and play the same one elsewhere you might be in for a rude awakening if you think they are going to play the same. It’s an interesting way to think about how to get better. Not having machines forces you to keep you on your toes and react to what’s going on in the moment, instead of what you’re used to.

I do try to get out on location as much as I can. I play in two leagues and try to attend as many local tournaments as possible. Having two small kids doesn’t always make playing more viable so I’d like to have a few machines at home to practice on. Plus I just plain like playing. With that said, there are some basic/fundamental skills that I would like to be able get better at and having something that I can practice on that isn’t necessarily particular to my game I think will help.


Thanks Law. Not in my timeframe or budget, but I will get to play one as one of the guys in one of the leagues I play in is getting one.

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Yeah for sure. In that case I would just buy BSD and Jackbot and call it a day as those are two of the hardest games out there that require you to use pretty much every skill in the book.

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Keep in mind they may live in a location with poor location pinball availability.

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I would recommend to not buy anything at all. Instead, go directly to heroin. The overall suffering may just be less that way… :wink:


PS: I know that I can stop any time I want to. Really!