You probably thought I was going to launch into pinball talk, didn't you? I'll get there soon enough.

First, I wanted to say something about Pittsburgh: I don't think there's a meal in that city that comes with less than a half pound of meat in it.  Seriously, there is some great food up there; of the places we went, I'd have to list Primanti Brothers at the top of the list.

A couple of weeks ago, we took a trip to Pittsburgh for the yearly PAPA World Championship.  This year we decided to compete (in the Novice category; we weren't foolish enough to think we stood a chance in the higher categories) in addition to just playing among the 450 machines they had on site.  It was a fun and exhausting trip, not really a vacation, but it was good to get away from the daily grind for a weekend - especially when that weekend contained lots of pinball.  I guess that still makes it a vacation; it just wasn't a particularly relaxing one - but still, a lot of fun.

The following table lists the machines which were set aside for tournament-play for our division.  Out of the ten machines available, I only needed to play five for my entry.  Also included in the table are my tournament machines (in bold) along with my abysmal scores during the tournament, my rank, the number of entries using those machines, and finally, the percentage of players who scored better than me (it's kind of depressing, huh? - it can't all be sunshine and roses).

Table Score Rank Competing Percentage
Tron Legacy
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Dr. Dude 1,339,260 181 357 50.70%
Judge Dredd 58,063,880 164 310 52.90%
Ripley's Believe It or Not 5,572,550 126 285 44.21%
Revenge from Mars 27,629,220 155 308 50.32%
Scared Stiff 1,717,860 248 317 77.99%

If you've been playing along, then you're aware that Scared Stiff is a table we have at home, which makes it all the more sad and embarrassing to have such a low score and ranking on it.

. . .apparently, we were foolish enough to think we stood a chance in the novice category . . .

We did our tournament entries on Saturday morning when there wasn't much wait for the tables.  Qualifications had been going on since Thursday so there were a number of entries already made.  For a while I had nine points from my play of Ripley's; by the end of the day I had zero.

Now that we have an idea of what to expect, I think next year we'll do a bit better.  First, our expectations are adjusted; our interpretation of "novice" isn't necessarily what others think it means.  Second, we have a year to practice some techniques which should help us out; we've been at a point of trapping, backhands, and to a lesser extent passing, but we can improve these and start working on nudges (which we've stayed away from intentionally - but have come to realize that without these, there is likely no hope in actual competition) and other skills.

Below is collection of the machines we played while we were there; I grabbed a photo of them so I could easily come back to it.  Most were played multiple times; some were tournament games played for practice while others were for fun.

PAPA 16 – August 8-11, 2013

PAPA 16 is coming up in a few months so we're trying to figure out travel plans for this year's event.  We were there for last year's tournament with a couple of friends (and it turns out they'll both be there this year as well).  It was a great time and we're really looking forward to it (and possibly competing this year. . .).  Now if we can just figure out travel schedules.

Pin swap update

Overall, the pin swap trip was a lot of fun.  There were  quite a few games there for play, and a number of businesses there selling parts and other items. We got a chance to play Wizard of Oz and Space Invaders, as well as a few others (AC/DC, Demolition Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon) and it was great fun.  I'll talk about Wizard of Oz in just a minute, but for now I'll mention Space Invaders.  The machine was in good condition overall, but the game-play seemed lacking; I think this may be just how the game is.  It is a wide-body game, having a width greater than general cabinet dimensions, which creates more open space on the playfield.  Additionally, the playfield angle is less that that of more recent games which I'm accustomed to.  These two attributes combine to make for a slower-moving game; I think I just prefer the faster gameplay of more recent games. IMG_20130427_133836_433


Wizard of Oz was very visually stunning game, however overall I can't rate it very highly.  This may change once the game is officially released later this year, but for now it feels a little too cheap.  There were a couple of Vertical Up-Kickers which didn't work very well (on can be seen pretty early in the first video in the photo gallery below).  My view on this is that these machines are brand new (show machines) whose job is to showcase the quality and features of the product.  I don't feel like this one is doing its job well.  Admittedly, we didn't get much play-time with the table so with more time we may have gotten more into it and been better able to overlook some of these issues.
The display was nice looking with vibrant colors and capable of displaying a lot of information.  However again, I feel like its addition is kind of gimmicky; I had difficulty finding game information at times, which was usually not much of a problem on the smaller, more limited screens on the other games.  The potential was there, but the implementation was lacking.  Perhaps some of these things will change between now and when the game is officially released.
Anyway, the overall experience for the day was a good one.  There were a lot of games and a lot of people; it's promising to see such an active pinball community - it may not be very visible in our daily lives, but there a good number of people out there who are interested in pinball.  Enjoy the photos.

Atlanta Pin Swap

This Saturday, April 27 2013, there is a pinball event in the Atlanta area (Buford, to be more precise); I'm very excited.  The Atlanta Pin Swap is a gathering of pinball vendors, owners, and enthusiasts who will come together to buy/sell parts and machines, as well as to play the machines brought in by owners.  There will also be a tournament for people to compete in.

There are a couple of games that I'm looking forward to playing while there, Bally's Space Invaders (1979), and Jersey Jack's Wizard of Oz (Fall 2013).  We haven't been able to find a good Space Invaders to play on (we ran across one in a bowling alley in Albuquerque, but as with most machines we've run across in our search, there were maintenance issues with it), so we're hopeful that there will be at least one in good working order.  Wizard of Oz is Jersey Jack's first machine and I'm hopeful that they'll provide some much needed competition to Stern which will improve the quality of the machines out in the world.
If you're in the area and need to satisfy your pinball cravings (given the dearth of machines. . . ), check out the Atlanta Pin Swap.
Also, as I found out recently there is also an Atlanta Pinball League (they're sponsors of the Pin Swap); check them out as well.