Three months and a hurricane later: end of summer reflections on the past and the future

It’s been a while between seasons of the Space City Pinball League. There have been tournaments happening locally but for various reasons, I have not been able to make it to them, and if you’ve seen the Twitter, Facebook, and/or Mastodon feeds, I have been active elsewhere on the net.

I had been kicking around this post for a while. I’ve been trying to stay sharp playing on Pinball Arcade on my tablet. I have screenshotted just about every best score going back to when I first downloaded the app, but I haven’t decided whether or not to post them yet.

For those of you who are just now getting out of the cave and/or ending a month of being “off the grid”, we had unusually high rainfall from Hurricane Harvey hit the area. I emerged relatively unscathed as did the rest of my family, though there are many people who did not, including a close friend and at least one player in the region. Already I have seen at least one restaurant location close permanently due to what I would assume are the effects of the storm (the location flooded during both TS Allison and Hurricane Ike as well from what I heard, and the profits from the location may not have been worth the cost to resume business). So it’s not like I’m completely unaffected; in fact, it’s safe to say that life has changed for everyone in the area.

(For those interested, I wrote a post on Rant Roulette about the hurricane, its effects, and what we might do to lessen the impact of a future storm.)

The delay between league seasons and the events of the past three months and change have only served to strengthen my resolve to do better when Season 6 finally begins. I still have yet to qualify for A division playoffs out of the four seasons I have played. The quest for A division continues tonight, and I am looking forward to it. Perhaps more importantly, though, I am looking forward to the return of the Space City Pinball League for a sixth season as yet another sign we as a city are returning to normal life after this disaster.

Space City Pinball League Season 5 Playoffs: A fitting finish?

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

How do I even begin this one?

The night began with high hopes. I got in a couple of decent games on Game of Thrones during warmups. My confidence was pretty low from weeks prior and needed a boost.

Since this is the playoffs, the grouping is completely different. Groups of four based on seeding, with three games in each round, top two out of each group advance to the next round until there are four left. Those four are the finalists and play one more round to determine the finishing order.

And so we began. I would be grouped with Billy Joyner, Nina Ruiz, and Ken Holmes. We would be playing on Star Trek, Spiderman, and Aerosmith.

Last week, I referred to my game on Star Trek as more like Star Wreck, and I was really looking to redeem myself. I usually do fairly well on this title but for some reason, this week I managed to post a really stinky score yet again: 3.9M+ when Nina’s 12.2M+ would be good enough for third place. Billy took first with 47.3M+. Another Star Wreck, it would appear to be.

Spiderman is another game I feel reasonably confident on. And I do a bit better: third place with 6.4M+, behind 10.8M+ from Nina and 11.0M+ from Ken. However, this is still a disaster, as it meant I would need to finish first place on Aerosmith to have any hope of advancing, and even then it was doubtful unless the other players finished in the “right” order.

My first two balls on Aerosmith were rather lacking. By the time my third ball comes up, Billy had posted a score in the 60M+ range (his final score was 64.9M+ but only because he plunged his final ball in the interest of time, having already won the game). Quite a bit goes right on the third ball: I get an incredibly lucky break when a ball passes the flippers but bounces off the area behind the left flipper back into play. I get multiball started (taking the sure thing of a three-ball multiball instead of going for more). I make a few shots. And then the bottom falls out; I lost two balls putting me back in single ball play, and then not too long after I lose the third ball. Final score: 15.7M+, nowhere near enough to take first place. As it turns out, first place would not even have helped me to advance (Ken had clinched third by the time my third ball came up).

I played in the consolation tournament, which went by very quickly given the format, a two-strikes elimination format (strike to any players not finishing in first). The first game was Ghostbusters against Craig Squires, Brian Foytik, and Frankie Griffin. I was the third player, putting up 21.6M+ which was only good for second to Craig’s 27.2M+ for strike one. Second game was The Walking Dead against Matt Quantz and Brian Foytik. I put up 16.1M+ which wasn’t enough to top Brian’s 24.1M+. I did get a reasonably good start during the second game and felt like I was in a position to possibly win going into ball 3, but it just didn’t happen. But, that was still strike two, so at that point, I was done.

So, there you have it. That’s the rather disappointing end of my season 5. The good news is there are at least a couple of weeks before the start of the next season for me to reflect on things.

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Space City Pinball League Season 5 Week 7: Last chance to make a splash

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

I entered tonight’s match with a chance, however small, of making the A division finals. I was in 17th place by one point, though with others also able to improve their scores, I really needed my best performance to keep hope alive. This week’s grouping: Brian Foytik and Fred Revnew. This week’s games: Star Trek, Aerosmith, Game of Thrones, Kiss, Ghostbusters, (Medieval Madness, The Walking Dead).

The night would begin innocently enough on Star Trek. Fred ran up a mind-blowing score of 119.2M+, most of it coming on the first ball. Most of this came on the first ball. Realistically, once I came up to play ball 3 with Brian’s 51.3M+ behind me, I knew just getting a second place was going to be a challenge. I had 25.6M+ going into ball 3, and wound up with only 27.2M+, so my game of Star Trek was more like a Star Wreck. To boldly lay an egg where no man has laid an egg before… (Brian finished with 55.4M+.) One game done, one standings point. Not the start I wanted to say the least.

Next game: Kiss. I don’t even know what to say to this. Against a player like me, Brian’s 6.1M+ should not be good enough for second place. I have a history of doing terribly on this particular table, and tonight’s 4.0M+ was no exception. Fred, again, blew it up with an 87.1M+. Two games, two standings points, and it’s starting to look like I can “Kiss” my hopes goodbye.

On to Aerosmith. I had a relatively lousy score going into ball 3 (I didn’t record it, but I want to say it was under 1M) facing, again, higher scores from Fred and Brian (10.5M+ and 3.1M+ respectively). Hardly insurmountable scores, but my confidence was pretty low given what the night had brought so far. Fortunately, for once, I was able to pull off a clutch performance, scoring a massive 94.1M+ which was not that far from the lowest high score of 110M+ (which could have been higher had I not had the game end a bit early due to a stuck ball). That didn’t matter; what did was that I finally got a first place and kept hope alive for a bit longer. Three games, seven standings points.

The next game would be Game of Thrones. Fred put up a 1.117B+, with over 800M or so of that on the first two balls. Brian wound up putting up 137M+. I barely managed 4.8M+, as all three balls were pretty much a disaster (though I started to get things going on ball 3). Game of Thrones? More like Flushed Down the Thrones. Four games, eight standings points, and although I didn’t know it at the time, I needed at least a second place to keep any hope of making A division finals alive.

Finally, Ghostbusters. Our game was delayed due to an issue with the machine malfunctioning for the prior group (Blake Dumesnil, Erich Stinson, Lisa Shore, and Clay Harrison). Apparently right as our game on Game of Thrones ended, Ghostbusters had reset sometime during the third ball (and did not record the scores earned up to that point, showing instead the prior game’s final scoreboard). I’m not sure of the details on the ruling, as I didn’t follow it that closely, but fortunately, the machine didn’t reset when we played it. With a finish of 10.7M+ next to Brian’s 55.4M+ and Fred’s 51.2M+, I would finish the night feeling, well, rather busted. I would replace my low score of nine points from week 4 with… nine points. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in math to see that that’s a gain of exactly zero.

I’m either 21st, 22nd, or 23rd depending on where the tiebreakers fall. I’m going to go ahead and return for the finals next week, even though I’m in B divison, again, as I still have a chance to improve upon last season’s B divison 3rd place finish. What’s particularly frustrating is that I look at the standings, and right above me in what shows as 19th place is Rob Torres. He only played the last four weeks (weeks 4, 5, 6, and 7), and finished with 71 standings points in four weeks above my 69 in my best five out of six weeks. Don’t get me wrong, Rob is a great player and a great guy, and I admire what he was able to pull off. At the same time, however, it reflects just how poorly this season wound up going for me.

Fortunately I have a few days to clear my head before next week’s finals. Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center is this weekend and I will be staffing the Extra Life booth for a good chunk of the day Saturday. If you’re going to be there, feel free to come by and say hi.

Space City Pinball League Season 5 Week 5: Quick, to the Batmobile

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

Again, running way behind on these, so these are going to be rather spartan.

Games: Aerosmith, Batman 66, Game of Thrones, Ghostbusters, The Walking Dead, (Star Trek). Grouping: Bryce Revnew, Blake Dumesnil, Rick Garcia.

First game: Game of Thrones. Second place with 19.8M+ behind Rick’s 34.3M+. Three standings points after one round.

Second game: Ghostbusters. Last place with 11.5M+ behind Blake’s third-place 24.0M+. Four standings points so far.

Third game: Aerosmith. I scored 12.76M+ which barely held up for second ahead of Bryce’s 12.66M+. Blake took first with 37.1M+. Seven standings points so far.

Fourth game: Batman 66. I completely dominated this one with 427.8M+, good for not only an easy first place ahead of Bryce’s 142.3M+, but for fourth on the all-time high score list. Twelve standings points so far.

Final game: The Walking Dead. Any other day 16.0M+ would be a relatively decent score, but today Bryce’s 17.2M+ was only good enough for third, meaning my score was last. Thirteen standings points on the night, not terrible but it easily could have been another night with eleven, ten, or even nine.

(Also included in the photo gallery: A panorama taken during warmups, a high score from a multi-arcade unit on the bar, and a selfie taken right after dominating on Batman 66.)

I wound up missing week 6, so the next post will be week 7 which just happened, and there’s actually a bit more detail in it.

Space City Pinball League Season 5 Week 4: Welcome to the Bryce and Rob show

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

I’m way behind on these posts, so forgive me for being brief and not going into huge detail.

Games: Game of Thrones, Batman 66, Aerosmith, Star Trek, The Walking Dead, Medieval Madness, Ghostbusters. Grouping: Rob Torres and Bryce Revnew. As you may have guessed by the title, I didn’t do that well this week. Just how badly did I perform? Well, let’s see:

First game up: The Walking Dead. 15.3M+, ordinarily that might skate by for at least second in a three-player group. Not this week; Rob put up 39.4M+, and Bryce blew it open with a towering 97.9M+. That’s one game in last place.

Second game up: Aerosmith. How I managed to put up an embarrassingly bad 3.4M+ next to Bryce’s 71.5M+ and Rob’s 75.4M+ remains a mystery to me. That’s two games in last place.

Third game up: Star Trek. And I put up yet another stinkbomb. 6.8M+ with Rob posting a 63.2M+ and Bryce ringing up 76.3M+. That’s a third game in last place.

Fourth game up: Game of Thrones. Ordinarily 48.9M+ would be a decent score, but again Rob puts up 177.5M+ and Bryce rings up 225.4M+. (Rob accidentally started a fourth player on this game, which we just plunged off; this is why there is a fourth player in the picture on this one.) Four games, four last place finishes. Now, the best I can do on the night is nine standings points.

Last game of the night: Batman 66. At this point, given the above, I’m just playing for pride. I’ve done better than the 143.2M+ I put up, but it was enough as Bryce only managed 15.0M+, and Rob only a 29.3M+. The way things had gone the rest of the night I would not have expected that score to hold up. But I’ll take a first place finish anytime no matter how it comes; it was like an ice pack for my somewhat bruised ego. For some reason I just tend to dominate on this game, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

With nine standings points (four lasts, one first) it is highly likely this will wind up being one of my “drop weeks” (the five best weeks of the seven are counted, with the other two being dropped). Unless I wind up not being able to show up for either week 6 or 7, which at this point would kill most hope of me making A divison.

(It still felt damn good to win on Batman 66 though…)

Space City Pinball League Season 5 Week 3: “Transforming” the lineup

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

Catching things up, as I have been swamped with Real Life™ and the like. This was from a couple of weeks ago so it’s going to be a bit light on details.

Games in the lineup: Aerosmith, Batman, Ghostbusters, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, The Walking Dead, Transformers. My grouping: Marc Gammons, Chris Dyer, and Johnathon Morlan (new player).

We would begin on Ghostbusters. I had a decent game, putting up a 25.7M+ that wound up holding up, with Chris’s 9.4M+ good for second place. I remember getting a fair amount of points from skill shots and modes but still not getting a multiball started. Still, first place is a good start. Five ranking points, one game down.

Second game: Ripley’s. As much as I’ve played this on Pinball Arcade on my tablet, I should be better at it. Somehow, playing on the real thing is a lot harder. I would put up a piddling 2.7M+ with Johnathon taking first with a 7.1M+ and Chris putting up a 6.1M+ good for second. So, seven ranking points after two games.

Third game: Aerosmith. I’d like to think 30.5M+ is a decent score. Next to Marc’s and Chris’s scores of 40.9M+ and 32.4M+ respectively, however, it’s just another ho-hum third place score. I’m now at nine ranking points after three games.

Fourth game: Transformers. It’s pretty much mediocrity across the board. My 5.09M+ just happens to be a bit less than, again, Marc’s and Chris’s scores of 5.64M+ and 5.56M+. So two more ranking points from this game would bring me up to eleven on the night. Not that great…

We would finish the night on The Walking Dead. I got a pretty decent run going on this one, putting up a 12.5M+. The best anyone else did was Marc at 8.1M+ so I would wind up with another first place, bumping me to sixteen ranking points on the night. I’ve had better nights, of course, but this would help keep A division hopes alive for the time being.