Space City Pinball League Season 6 Week 7: This ten was anything but perfect

Note: Due to recent events, Shawn no longer recommends participation in Space City Pinball League events until further notice. Please see the Bayou City Pinball League website for alternatives.

This league has an eight-week season, so week 7 is where the games start to have a bit more of a playoff feel to them. Well, they are supposed to, anyway.

I was grouped with Erich Stinson, Bryce Revnew, and Jason Cortez. Going into this week’s games, Bryce was sitting in first with 113 standings points, Erich was in third with 107 standings points, and Jason Cortez was in eighth with 89 standings points. Meanwhile, I’m sitting way down there tied for 23rd with 60 standings points. A big night here would not only help my chances of making A division, but would be a huge psychological victory as well.

The game lineup: Attack from Mars, AC/DC, Medieval Madness, Metallica, Star Wars, Star Trek, Spiderman Vault Edition. Spiderman would be taken out of the lineup due to a malfunction (scoring phantom points due to a chattering switch) but one group did finish their game and submit a result before the malfunction happened.

We would begin the night on Metallica. I had just posted a 51.0M+ on this game during warmups, so I was eager to get on with it and repeat that performance. If only I could actually get it done. I would settle for third place with 8.9M+, saved only by Jason’s even worse 3.9M+. I feel like I had a decent game, it’s just that Bryce and Erich had better games than I did (12.3M+ and 19.0M+ respectively). Two standings points after one game…

Next up would be AC/DC. I can’t say I hate this game, but I feel like it’s just not a game that is a strong fit for my style of play. Nevertheless, I have to play every game to the best of my abilities. My 21.9M+ was a respectable score until Bryce puts up 35.6M+ and Erich blows it open with 84.3M+. Four standings points after two games. I’m starting to get a bit frustrated, but holding out hope things will get better.

Our game on Star Wars would bring more of the same. Erich takes first with 493.3M+, Bryce takes second with 228.9M+, and guess who would take third place yet again with 148.3M+? Yep. That’s me. (Jason finishes last with 114.5M+, but this is hardly comforting to me.) Six standings points, but if I can put together a couple of decent games I might finish with as many as 16 on the night, I was thinking.

Medieval Madness would be the next game. I have a couple of the Madness multiball rounds lit, but I drain before I can get multiball started. I sign off with a 1.9M+, good for another third behind Bryce’s 4.5M+ and Erich’s 2.3M+. Eight standings points, and at this point, I’m just playing the last game for pride.

As a further example of just how badly the night is going, I’m only able to put up a 440 on Ice Cold Beer in between games. Usually, I do better than that…

Attack From Mars would finish out the night’s contests. I get a decent start to this game but falter and wind up with 530M+. This time it’s Jason who would eek out a second ahead of me with 540M+, with Erich taking first place with 1.438B+.

Five games. Five third-place finishes. Ten standings points. One disappointed pinball player with the initials “SKQ”.

If I hadn’t already skipped two weeks, this was easily my drop week. I’m in a three-way tie for 21st with Chris Dyer and Chris Gonzales with 70 standings points going into the final week. Realistically, I need everything I can get to have any realistic hope of making A division, preferably a 25 but definitely no less than a 21. Mathematically, it might be possible with a 20, or maybe even a 19, but I’m not counting on it.

So far this season, the best I have put up is an 18 back in week 3. I have put up a 21 before back in week 2 of season 5 (spring 2017), but nothing higher. Here’s hoping that changes in week 8.

Space City Pinball League Season 6 Week 5: Holy high score, Batman

Note: Due to recent events, Shawn no longer recommends participation in Space City Pinball League events until further notice. Please see the Bayou City Pinball League website for alternatives.

I never got around to writing the post for this week when it was fresh in my mind, so this one’s going to be a bit light on details. Groupmates: Bryce Gilbert, Jamie Jenkins, Brad Berryman. Games assigned to us: Batman 66, Medieval Madness, Attack From Mars, AC/DC, Star Wars. Games not assigned to us: Aerosmith, Ghostbusters.

As of the night these games were played, I had not yet decided to forgo playing in the following week, and I was at 45 points, good for 20th place, still well in the running for A division assuming we eventually met a 34 qualified player minimum to have 16 players in A division (between 18 and 33 qualified players, A division is 12 players).

Before I get into this, this was the week that Bryce Revnew ran up an absolutely insane high score of 1,570,153,460 on Batman 66. This happened toward the end of the night if memory serves me correctly; Bryce had topped the 1 billion mark when I looked over in the middle of the game we were playing, then our group finished, and then I looked over again and he was still going at it, much to my surprise.

Anyway, on to our games in order of play:

Attack from Mars: I would barely eek out a third with 773M+ in front of Brad’s 732M+. Not exactly the ambitious start I wanted, to say the least. (Standings points so far: 2.)

Medieval Madness: I took first with 13.0M+ in front of Brad’s 7.6M+. As much as I hate this game and its notoriously flat flippers and tight tilt (as set up here, anyway), this is two weeks in a row where I would do well on it. (Standings points so far: 7.)

AC/DC: I only manage an 8.7M+, Bryce scores 11.8M+, and the other two even higher, giving me my first last-place finish of the night. I think this one came down to not being able to make the shots when I needed to, with a couple of really bad misses that didn’t exactly help. (Standings points so far: 8.)

Star Wars: Somehow my 233.4M+ is good enough for first place, with Brad taking second with 104.3M+. I don’t even feel like I had a particularly good game, but I’ll take the win any day. (Standings points so far: 13.)

Batman 66: I put up 55.0M+, good enough for third in front of Brad’s 35.7M+. I just couldn’t keep it in play long enough to really pile up points. This is a very close second for the most disappointing performance of the night.

That leaves me with 15 standings points on the night, good enough to bring my total to 60 where it would remain until the start of week 7 because I decided not to play week 6. At the end of week 5, it’s good for 16th place, still putting me squarely in the running for A division. After week 6, however, I would drop to 23rd tied with Chris Dyer. Not out of it, but not really in the thick of the race, either.

Space City Pinball League Season 6 Week 4: Tilt switch madness

Note: Due to recent events, Shawn no longer recommends participation in Space City Pinball League events until further notice. Please see the Bayou City Pinball League website for alternatives.

The games this week: AC/DC, Star Wars, Medieval Madness, Transformers, Metallica, Star Trek, The Walking Dead. My group mates this week: Erich Stinson, Ken Graham, and David Pollock. Yes, the same David Pollock that, just the previous Saturday, placed fourth in the Texas Pinball League qualifier for Houston. Would he do as well this time around? Would I get some form of redemption for the performance that, in all likelihood, stunk up Austin Knight’s house well into Sunday morning?

We would begin the night on Metallica. If I remember right I didn’t get much going in the way of multiballs, but I did wind up putting up a quite respectable 19.9M+ good for second place to Erich’s 24.0M+ (the score was before he plunged his third ball which is why it still shows ball 3). And for the curious, David came in last.

Next up would be Transformers. I had what I felt was a decent game. I did get a couple of multiball rounds going but didn’t really make as much of them as I’d have liked. Erich, on the other hand, blew it open with a 19.7M+. I would sign off with 9.3M+ good for second. Ken would eek out third with a 3.868M+ over David’s last-place 3.795M+. So I’m up to two second-place finishes on the night. Not too bad.

We would continue on AC/DC. I put up a 23.5M+ which ordinarily would be a decent score. Ken made a contest of it with a score of 35.8M+, which Erich would top to take first place. David, once again, finishes last with a 6.8M+. For me, two seconds and a third, which is eight standings points after three games. Not too shabby, all things considered.

Our fourth game would be Star Wars. This is a game I barely know what the hell I’m doing on. I managed to eek out a third place with a 133.7M+ over Ken’s 129.9M+. That’s not a huge score margin on this very high-scoring game. Erich, of course, would take yet another first place with a 533.6M+ (it never was a close game at least as far as first place was concerned) and David would finally finish out of last with a 220.0M+ good for second. I have two seconds, two thirds, which totals 10 standings points with one game left to go.

Finally, last and certainly least, is Medieval Madness. Again, this game is set to a ridiculously tight tilt, tighter than it’s ever been. So much so that when David nonchalantly decides to move the game over a few inches before starting, it tilts on him as soon as he launches the ball. We start the game over.

Amazingly, despite my normally just plain terrible luck on this game, I get through the entire game with only one tilt warning and a 13.6M+ score, good for second behind Erich’s 23.5M+. David would eek out a third with 5.7M+. I finish with 13 standings points. Erich took first place across the board and becomes the first player this season to pick up a perfect 25 standings points in one night. (Of course, he had to be in my group when he did it…)

It’s not like I did that poorly. I think the 13 standings points do not tell the whole story, just that another player or two in the group was/were able to outscore me every game. I’ve done better on just about all of these games (Medieval Madness being the exception), but it’s not like any of the scores I put up are shamefully bad. I’ve been the guy finishing with 10 or fewer standings points on the night like David did (with a total of eight), so I know how it feels. In a way, I’d rather have laid an egg tonight and done better at the Texas Pinball League qualifier than the other way around. The way things actually happened, though, at least I am not distracted by the imminent Texas Pinball League final while trying to qualify for A division in Space City Pinball League.

Texas Pinball League Qualifier 2017 Houston: As Red would say, “It’s a dud”

The title kind of gives away just how well I did (and no, Road Show was not actually in the line up). I do appreciate Austin Knight hosting this tournament on his collection, as I did gain some experience despite the lousy finish. The details have kind of faded from my memory a bit in the days since the tournament so I’m going to keep this to a brief summary of each game and what I remember.

The format was eight rounds with 7-5-3-1 scoring (or 7-4-1 if we had any three-player groups, which we didn’t).

First round: NBA Fastbreak with William Thornton, Kevin Tooley, and Jeff Mleynek. Overall I had a very good game and finished with a solid score of 76, good enough for first place easily. My confidence got the boost it needed as we went into the second round.

Second round: World Cup Soccer with David Pollock, Austin Knight, and Joshua Fishman. Even though I did finally start multiball, I wasn’t able to do much with it, and this game wound up being a disaster. I would finish dead last with a paltry 210M+ behind a 344M+ from Joshua, a 398M+ from Austin, and a 1.476B+ from David.

Third round: Metallica with Fred Revnew, Phil Grimaldi, and Cory Westfahl. I’m normally decent on this game. No matter what league or tournament you’re in though, the odds just don’t favor a sub-4M score getting it done. My 3.79M+ was no exception, good for dead last behind Cory’s 7.07M+, Phil’s 28.92M+, and Fred’s 29.71M+.

Fourth round: Ghostbusters with Bryce Revnew, Matt Quantz, and Frankie Griffin. Another case where the score I put up (in this case, a pissant 9.62M+) just wasn’t going to get it done no matter what. Scores of 12.2M+ from Matt, 331.4M+ from Bryce, and 104.5M+ from Frankie all ran circles around my lacking effort.

Fifth round: X-Men with Carey Fishman, Ben Whittington, and Fred Revnew. It’s really just more of the same. I was barely able to put up a 2.41M+, which just wasn’t going to get it done behind 4.42M+ from Ben, 5.37M+ from Fred, and of course, Carey takes first easily with 33.5M+.

Sixth round: World Cup Soccer (again) with William Thornton, Frankie Griffin, and David Dronet. This time it’s even worse, 159M+, but David lays an even bigger egg with 54.7M+ giving me third place. The real contest was between William and Frankie with 1.294B+ and 944M+ respectively.

Seventh round: Lord of the Rings with Jeff Cook, Carey Fishman, and Cory Westfahl. I’ve done much better on this game than the 12.54M+ I put up. I eeked out a third ahead of Cory’s 10.56M+, but I was no match for Jeff’s 38.11M+ and Carey’s 21.40M+. If I had actually been able to cash in the multiball instead of draining out with two balls locked, I might have been able to push that a bit higher.

Eighth round: NBA Fastbreak (again) with Joe Cuellar, Matt Quantz, and Joshua Fishman. Knowing my earlier play on this game was my only first-place finish of the day so far, even though I had long since been mathematically eliminated from any realistic hope of qualifying for the finals, I hoped to do well to at least finish the tournament on a high note. Unfortunately, that was not to be. A paltry 16 rounded out the day behind 23 from Joe, 41 from Matt, and 58 from Joshua. What a damn fine way to go out.

After finishing up my game on NBA Fastbreak, I got to see part of the trailing end of the eighth round action featuring David Pollock, David Dronet, William Thornton, and Phil Grimaldi. David Pollock winds up tilting out before surpassing David Drouhet’s score, giving the latter third place and saving him from a last-place overall finish in the tournament as a whole. David Pollock would still take fourth place in the tournament, qualifying him for the finals alongside Fred Revnew, Phil Grimaldi, and Carey Fishman.

Final standings: 19th place with 18 standings points, either tied with Cory Westfahl or outright (since I technically had the tiebreaker over him with my one first-place finish in the first round).

It stands to reason that I’d immediately put up a 76 on NBA Fastbreak, a 22.77M+ on Lord of the Rings (which unfortunately still wouldn’t have been enough to beat Jeff), and a relatively decent 69.65M+ in single player games after the tournament was over. Of course. Anyway, despite the absolutely crummy finish of either dead last or next-to-last, I had a great time and gained more tournament experience.

Austin Knight did an awesome job of hosting. Lest I forget, Carey Fishman was also awesome for letting me recharge my phone on his USB battery after I did something that’s just typical me: I brought along an external USB battery of my own and forgot the cable to plug my phone into it. I immediately found the cable when I got home, of course. Such is life as a competitive pinball player.

Space City Pinball League Season 6 Week 3: Dial me in to a proton pack

Note: Due to recent events, Shawn no longer recommends participation in Space City Pinball League events until further notice. Please see the Bayou City Pinball League website for alternatives.

So for various reasons, I wasn’t able to play week 2. In the grand scheme of things, it really just means I was that much more eager to really make a splash this week.

My group-mates this week: Brittany Rogers, Blake “Q*Bert” Dumesnil, and Joe Cuellar. The games this week: Aerosmith, Ghostbusters, Batman 66, Dialed In, Attack from Mars, AC/DC, and Star Wars.

We would begin the night on Ghostbusters. With the help of points from the extra ball shot (the game awards points instead of an extra ball) I would finish with 56.8M+, easily good enough for a first place. Given I didn’t really get much else going during the entire game, it was a relief that my score held up.

We would move on to Aerosmith. This game is becoming downright vicious when it comes to spitting freshly plunged balls straight down the middle. I managed to put up 2.1M+ good enough for third place, which is a minor miracle given that I was barely able to keep one ball in play for longer than 30 seconds. Obviously, a third, non-last place game is not where I want to start a league night, but it is better than finshing fourth in a group of four.

Our next game would be Batman 66. I put up a respectable 86.0M+ but it was not going to be good enough for first because Joe posted a blistering 177.8M+ which I wasn’t going to catch barring a miracle (which obviously did not happen). There’s nothing like having the crane just sit there blocking the lock shot when all you want to do is lock three balls and start multiball. That’s the one thing I am starting to hate about this game… Still, by this point I know I have at least 10 standings points on the night with two games to go, so I’m feeling pretty good.

And then we get to play Dialed In. I did decently on this game during the brief time I had to warm up, but for once, I was really able to turn up my game when it counted, getting at least a decent number of points off of multiballs. I would sign off with 545K+, more than double the other three players’ scores added together. Fifteen standings points with one game to go. Even in the worst case, I’m leaving with a total of 16 standings points on the night, which is good. But I want better, of course.

Attack from Mars would round out the night. Thankfully, the debacle that occurred in week 1 was not repeated. I was able to put up 2.029B+, but then I got to watch Joe eek past it and sign off with 2.283B+. I’m not too ashamed of second place here, as I know that score would barely be good for third given certain other groupings. I would finish up with a total of 18 standings points, tied for the sixth highest total of everyone present.

Overall I was happy with how I performed this week. Should I continue to have enough good nights like this, qualifying for A divison is a distinct possibility. Unfortunately I missed week 2 so that already accounts for potentially one drop week of two allowed.

Space City Pinball League Season 6 Week 1: Seconds are meant for dinner

Note: Due to recent events, Shawn no longer recommends participation in Space City Pinball League events until further notice. Please see the Bayou City Pinball League website for alternatives.

I walked into Eighteen Twenty Lounge and was greeted by seven pinball machines lined up against the wall. The new season of Space City Pinball League was officially about to begin, and as I said in my previous post, it couldn’t come soon enough.

The games: Ghostbusters, Batman 66, Star Trek, The Walking Dead, Aerosmith, Attack From Mars, and Star Wars. The Attack From Mars machine we had tonight appeared to be an original Bally game, modified with a large color LCD scoring display. The others are the usual suspects, with the exception of Star Wars, which is a new release (I attended the Star Wars unboxing, which I need to go back and write a post about now that I think about it).

I was grouped with William Thornton, Chris Reyes, and Carlos Yepez. The two games we would not wind up playing were Batman 66 and Star Wars (which means we played the five other games besides those).

So we got to play Ghostbusters after a bit of a wait. I had a pretty unremarkable first couple of balls, by which time William had already jumped out to a sizable lead. He would sign off with 23.1M+, and I would have a 2.3M+ from Chris to beat if I wanted second place, which I did. I would sign off with a 6.0M+ good for second place, not an awful score but I’ve done much better on this game.

Ghostbusters was originally the only game assigned to us, with the others to be filled in as Match Play Events figured it out. Which, I might add, took an unusually long time, or at least it seemed that way. I saw games sit idle when we had more groups than games, which should never happen. At this point, after our first game, we were doing a lot of sitting around waiting to be assigned games by the software. Finally, we would be assigned Aerosmith and Star Trek (I think) with the final two games to be filled in later.

Aerosmith was the next game to open up. There was a glitch with this game; for some reason, Chris’s second ball was launched by the game software without him present for no apparent reason. Per the IFPA rules we play under, he got a consolation ball at the end of the game (that’s what the additional picture shows). He would finish with first place after adding the score of the consolation ball (4.6M+), and I would eek out a second place with 4.1M+, usually an embarrassingly low score, but the game was being vicious tonight and sending all autoplunged balls straight down the middle.

The other games were filled in at this point, and one of them was Attack From Mars. I had put up a decent game for the first two balls, but then Chris puts up an impressive ball 2 with a multiball where he hits just about everything but the kitchen sink. The multiball I was able to start in ball 3, well, left a bit to be desired. I would sign off with 614M+, good for second place next to Chris’s 1.310B+.

We would continue with a game on The Walking Dead. This wound up being a very close game except for William’s absolutely smashing performance of 54.2M+. I signed off with 11,692,280; Chris wrapped up with 11,222,210, but the real surprise was Carlos eeking out a second with 11,829,210. Exactly 607,000 points separating second and fourth place, and just under 137,000 separating my third place score from second place. The frustrating part is that I know I’m a better player than that score indicates; to add insult to injury, I whiffed on the lit extra ball at the end, which would have almost certainly given me enough to nail down second place.

Concluding the night’s play would be a game on Star Trek. I have not forgotten the lousy game of Star Trek from Season 5 Week 7 that I even said “was more like a Star Wreck”, or for that matter the really, really bad score I put up during the Season 5 playoffs. Amazingly, the 23.79M+ I was able to put up was good for a second behind William’s 51.5M+, even though it was actually lower than my score from Season 5 Week 7. To be fair, my opposition this time around wasn’t nearly as strong.

So that’s fourteen standings points to start off the season. To give you an idea just how large that 137,000 or so points difference between second and third on The Walking Dead looms now: had I been able to secure second, I would be tied for 13th place instead of 16th, and usually A division cuts off at 16th place. To say the least, I don’t want to rely on a tiebreaker to make A division.