Fall 2016 Week 3/4 Recap

It's gettin' hot in here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Another set of banks in the books!

It was a close race to the end, but John Delzoppo once again emerges our KFP points leader, with a staggering 2,485 points. John put up a whopper in 3/4B for 651 points for our week 4 point winner. Two massive games contributed to this points tsunami, a 218M on Fish Tales and an unconscionable 109M on Medieval Madness. As the wisdom of Joe Kiskis illuminated Wednesday, “He's really good at pinball.” Way to go John!

John increased his lead over Aaron Burke by 27 points, but at only 30 points separating the two, it's still a very close race. Rounding out the top 8 we have Ryan Case (3, -122), Don Johnson (4, -174), Rod Lawrence (5, -189), Greg Sherwood (6, -269), Tommy Bizzi (7, -299) and Brian Dodd (8, -334). Honorable mention goes to Mark F Brown OH at 9th place.

Big movers from Week 1/2 to 3/4 Dave Amen moving up 22 spots into 44th. Tim Kerro put up a monster 3/4A week with 12M on FH, 8B on AFM, 144M HS2, and 1.3M on Skateball and solid scores for the rest (securing the week 3 top spot). This launched him from 39th to 19th place. Congratulations to the other big movers for the week, Bob Koster (+18), Lindsay Sherwood (+16), Dan Poor (+15), George Klepacz (+15), Ryan Mitchell (+15), Bill Holtz (+14) and Victor Cottrell (+14). Also of note up in the A division, Don Johnson making up 7 places, Tommy Bizzy (+5), Steve Clute (+6) and Jeffrey Dickson (+11). Keep up the great work!

The Numbers

Here are your M/A/H for the season through weeks 3/4.

Medieval Madness
Median: 9,380,350 | Average: 12,789,448 | High: 109,457,640 (John Delzoppo)

Attack From Mars
Median: 1,160,425,380 | Average: 1,755,493,654 | High: 9,836,537,510 (Mark F Brown OH)

World Cup Soccer
Median: 277,442,930 | Average: 340,247,456 | High: 1,634,682,470 (Ryan Grant)

Fish Tales
Median: 17,717,710 | Average: 29,749,558 | High: 218,617,420 (John Delzoppo)

Guns N Roses
Median: 358,993,675 | Average: 530,894,585 | High: 3,776,792,400 (Don Johnson)

Game of Thrones
Median: 31,245,650 | Average: 129,965,510 | High: 1,390,725,410 (Ryan Case)

Median: 2,331,490 | Average: 3,618,517 | High: 20,672,980 (Aaron Burke)

The Getaway: High Speed 2
Median: 26,025,270 | Average: 42,152,175 | High: 341,221,930 (Jeffrey Dickson)

Median: 250,250 | Average: 329,472 | High: 2,499,650 (Greg Sherwood)

Median: 6,897,085 | Average: 10,933,246 | High: 49,718,300 (Greg Sherwood)

Monster Bash
Median: 15,335,085 | Average: 29,168,739 | High: 221,538,720 (Tommy Bizzy)

Time Machine
Median: 427,635 | Average: 732,689 | High: 5,723,750 (Ryan Case)

and introducing another fun stat and thing to shoot for... 

Weekly Winners
Season High: 
Aaron Burke (Week 2, 682)

Week 4:
John Delzoppo (651)
Week 3: Tim Kerro (661)
Week 2: Aaron Burke (682)
Week 1: John Delzoppo (675)

Getting Better Part 2: The Bounce Pass

It's simple. It'll increase your scores. It'll make you a better player. And it's downright terrifying.

It was about 3 years ago when our company moved downtown. I was telling one of my friends at work how excited I was to have pinball machines at the Holiday Inn next door. I hadn't played pinball in a long time, but ever since I was a kid I was captivated by the game. My friend told me, “Oh, do you know Rod Lawrence? He's really into pinball and plays competitively and is really good.” Wait. Compete? Are you kidding? I didn't know Rod, but was looking forward to meeting this dateless wonder. I mean, who plays competitive pinball, right?

As I'm watching him, my jaw is just dropping. He's not flipping at the ball the entire time, he's letting it come down and hit the flippers without flipping. As he plays, and plays, and plays, my mind is just kind of blown by this technique he's using. I've always played pinball like you would play with that rubber ball and paddle thing, any time the ball comes down you gotta hit it. I was a good player, but I played live 100% of the time. Rod told me that I was draining a lot because of it, taking too risky shots, and illuminated the fact that when you make your shot you get rewarded, and when you miss your shot you drain. Over and over he hammered this mantra in to me: Miss the shot, pay. Make the shot, get rewarded. I just kind of played to keep the ball alive, I didn't realize that flipper skills and control were that big of a part of the game.

If there's one thing that will improve your game tremendously, it's the bounce pass. When you're playing a game and attributing things to bad luck and bad bounces, you can usually trace it back to a missed shot, or a misplayed ball. As much as the game can seem random at times, it's really a game of quick thinking and control. In my three years of competitive play, nothing has increased my scores like the bounce pass.

The best game to get started on with this at Kidforce is The Addams Family. On the lower left-ish side of the playfield is the chair, which starts a mode and gives you a panel on the house. When you make this shot, it kicks back out to the left flipper. With that, you could one-time a shot to the main ramp, or toward greed, but both of these are pretty risky shots. And as we are all dreadfully aware of, TAF can be a merciless, brutal game, especially around that right outlane.

When the chair kicks the ball out, simply do nothing with your left flipper. The momentum that the ball has will force it to hit the left flipper, and very gently, very nicely, bounce it over to the right flipper for a cradle (when you keep the flipper up to stop and hold the ball). This chair kick out / bounce pass is reliable nearly 100% of the time. Not only does this keep you from making a risky shot and potential drain, but it slows the game down and gives you some time to think about where you're going next. On games I don't know terribly well, I struggle to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing next. Slowing the game down with a cradle, live catch, bounce pass, whatever, is tremendously helpful to me to figure out where my next shot is, take a look at my score, get myself situated again.

The bounce pass will work on just about any machine. When I first started with the bounce pass, I would only attempt it when the ball was coming from the right side of the playfield toward the left flipper, or vice-versa. This made the most angular sense to me, but was still *incredibly* difficult to break the habit of flipping all the time. After about 6 months of playing league once a week, the bounce pass finally became a native thing to me, and a great tool in my arsenal to slow the game down, and make the next shot.

The beauty of the bounce pass is that if you know what you are supposed to be going for next, or have a strategy in mind, it can get the ball to the correct flipper. For example, if I'm playing Tron and I am going for Quorra, if that ball comes out of the pops on the right hand side toward my left flipper, I'll leave the left flipper dead and let it bounce over to the right flipper and then cradle it. That gives me a clear shot to Quorra. Otherwise, a live flip on the left flipper doesn't really advance my game. Similarly, if I'm going for the Recognizer (Disc Multiball), and I have the ball coming from the left side of the playfield toward the right flipper, I'll bounce pass that over to the left flipper because I like Disc shots better from the left flipper.

If you're looking to improve your game and you're not bounce passing, I can't recommend this technique enough. I resisted it for a long time because I told Rod I was a better live player and that was just how I played. And I'm awesome just the way I am so shut up. But after some time I started to see that Rod was right, and the benefit of slowing the game down AND getting the ball to the correct flipper is huge. It's unnerving to watch it hit the flipper without batting at it. Sometimes you're going to hit the nook of the flipper and inlane, or misjudge it and drain on a bounce pass. Lord knows I've done that more than I care to admit while I was learning. Yet for all of those times I tanked a bounce pass, I can count double the times I've bricked a shot and had it rip the outlane or fire right back at me straight down the middle. Game of Thrones is a fantastic example of a machine where if you flail, you're going to put up terrible games. All of those targets at the side of the ramp are there TO make you drain, and if you're playing live all the time on GoT, you're gonna pay.

Here's a little bit on a few machines to get you started:

The Addams Family: Chair, 99%. Swamp (right eject hole): Danger!
Attack From Mars: When the Stroke of Luck scoop protector is behaving, it'll fire from the hole to the left flipper, bounce over to the right for a cradle.
Game of Thrones: When the dragon releases the ball, it'll gently come down to the right flipper for a bounce pass over to the left. When he's angry and firing back at you, keep that right flipper up.
Medieval Madness: When the Castle ejects the ball into the left orbit, as it comes down, if it is hugging that metal rail it's a nice clean bounce pass to the right flipper. If it's not, it gets scary quick, but this one is a great example of a bounce pass that does not have the opposing angles. It's coming from the left, to the left flipper, and somehow it just bounces over to the right very nicely.

It takes a lot of time and practice to feel comfortable with the bounce pass. Prior to doing your league games, spend a few quarters and look for an opportunity to bounce pass. Again, it's the easiest when it's coming from the left of the playfield to the middle of the right flipper or vice versa. You're going to drain a bit while you learn, but I promise that if you stick with it, your scores will improve. Guaranteed!

Here's a short video about the bounce pass.

Happy Pinballing!