Space City Pinball League, Season 2 Week 8: Change of venue and pizza

Okay, so it’s been a while. Due to various personal reasons I’m not going to try to go into here, I missed week 7. And, due to the Astros playing a home game this Tuesday night, league night was at Phil and Matt’s house, on their collection. In the rotation for league play were: Tales From the Crypt, Dr. Dude, Whirlwind, Firepower, Diner, and The Simpsons Pinball Party.

I was grouped with Leon Moncla, Blake Dumensil, and David Pollock. I’m not going to go into where everybody was with regard to standings, as it was pretty much set. After looking at the way it played out, it was obvious I was stuck in B division at least after the week 7 no-show, possibly as early as week 6. I may go in and look at what could have been in a later post, or I may not. Staring at standings numbers gives me a headache at the moment, so now is definitely not the time.

I’m going to go ahead and touch on the second half of the post title here, since the majority of what I have to say on the topic is going to be in a post on Rant Roulette. Every week, everyone who wants to eat pizza chips in $5 towards pizzas. With the change of venue, we were out of the delivery area of our usual pizza place. Suffice it to say, this week the usual timely arrival of the pizza didn’t happen. Details and my thoughts in the aforelinked post (that’s why I have Rant Roulette in addition to this blog).

The night got off to a pretty good start on Firepower. I managed a score of 101,580, bested only by Leon’s 110,630. I had a great game even though I was not able to get a multiball going, and ordinarily I’d be a bit embarrassed by a score that barely cracked six-digit territory. Starting off with a second place that didn’t miss first by all that much is pretty good given some of the first game stinkers I have had from weeks past.

Our second game would be on Tales From the Crypt. I was able to get multiball lit; that’s the good news. The bad news is I couldn’t get it started, and really didn’t get much of anything going on this game. If there was any hope of me making A division, it was definitely gone when I posted a stinky 17.5M+ in this contest, last behind David’s 35.0M+, Blake’s 76.5M+, and Leon’s damn impressive 183.0M+. Two games, four points, and I’m a bit unhappy.

We would move on to Diner. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be proud of a 2.5M+ score on this game. But, in this case, it was good for first, with none of the other three players able to even break 900K. In fact, looking at the machine stats, only Phil Grimaldi was able to put up a higher score during league play (8.4M+). Given we were playing at his house, and thus Phil gets to play that exact machine a lot more often than the rest of us (different machines of the same title often play differently), that shouldn’t be a big surprise. I have a first place, and even if I’m only playing for pride, I’m starting to feel a lot better. Three games down, nine points, two games left to go.

Our next game would be Whirlwind. I have a terrible first ball, and a rather lacking second ball. Meanwhile David is hitting everything but the kitchen sink. I’m staring down David’s 5.39M+ score when I have something like 1.5M+. At this point I am realistically just thinking about second place. I manage to start multiball, but can never hit the Million Plus shot (the left ramp was very difficult to hit for some reason on this particular machine). I do manage to hit the cellar shot to restart multiball, but still cannot cash in.

At this point I am just thinking to keep the ball in play for as long as I can, and score whatever points I do in the process. I’m looking up and see the score counter pass somewhere in the 4.7M range, closing in on David’s potential winning score. At that point I’m still thinking to myself “back to basics, ball control, low risk, keep it in play.” I do manage to make both NE and SE shots toward lighting the next lock, but then I find out I have to light SW as well, so for the moment I forget about going for another multiball. (Hopefully those are the right directions, this is strictly from memory.) I catch a glimpse of the score counter briefly enough to see the millions digit at 5, which gets me to relax a bit knowing at least I’m not going to embarrass myself with a 4.8M+ or 4.9M+ score. The ball finally drains, and my final score is 5,790,190. Not a big huge lead, and certainly a score that either Leon or Blake (or maybe both) could top. As it turns out, they did not. Four games played, fourteen points, one game left. At this point I have clinched a personal best league night of the season (going back to week three, where I put up 13 points).

We would end the night on Dr. Dude, which was being livestreamed on Twitch for the first time ever. I made sure to tweet out the stream URL, but I don’t think too many people watched it live. I do have the video saved. I get one shot away from having multiball lit (the Mix Master shot) on the first ball, and put up a first ball score of 900,300 thanks in large part to a 200K outlane bonus, good for an early lead. My second ball isn’t that great, but I am still sitting at 1,185,650 going into ball 3, with the next highest score being 831,460. Not a huge lead, but still a lead.

The third ball of this game, however, wound up being one of my bigger failures of the night. After a botched post pass, I wind up draining straight down the middle. The save after the botched post pass put the ball in the bumpers, and I got a really unlucky bounce which wound up being unrecoverable. I sign off with 1,335,280 (not quite 150K on the third ball). Leon would jump in front with better ball control skills than I was able to muster the entire game, winding up his game with 1,769,070, which easily could have been much higher if he didn’t tilt out (the tilt on this machine was set rather conservative). Blake also tilts out early, with a final score of 385,190. David gets a very unlucky down-the-middle drain and would finish with 1,032,810. So my rather lame score is still good enough for second place, and I finish the night with 17 standings points.

The final regular season standings put me in the fifth spot in B division, with 69 standings points. All other things being equal, I would have needed 19 more points at some time during the season to finish ahead of Preston Moncla who snagged the last A division slot with 87 standings points. Put another way, Preston’s 87 standings points is a consistent average of 14.5 every non-dropped week, with a couple of allowable absences or garbage performances.

I’m not particularly ashamed of it, given it’s my first time playing in a league, but I know I’m capable of better. If I had been able to put up an average of, say, 17 points for at least four weeks out of the season (68 points, leaving another 19 split between the other two weeks, which I’ve proven I can do with no problem), I would have had a decent chance at A division going into the final week. Showing up for weeks 2 and 7 probably wouldn’t have helped as much as many readers think it would; I wound up with two weeks with 10 and 9 as my potential drop scores, and realistically I don’t think a performance of higher than that was forthcoming in those weeks had I showed up to play, due to various factors. I would have needed to put up an average of 19 those two weeks to have had a decent chance at A division (due to the two lowest weeks getting dropped).

Several pictures of pre- and post-league play games are included. I will caption as time permits.