tips & tricks

House Party: How to Play Game of Thrones

House Party: How to Play Game of Thrones bglass

by Kevin Birrell

When Stern announced the Game of Thrones pinball machine, people went absolutely berserk. It’s the perfect license, right? For once, Stern was going to release a game based on an interesting current property, unlike AC/DC, KISS, and Metallica! As it turns out, the theme wasn’t even the most exciting part; after the first few times people played the game at Chicago’s Pinball Expo, word quickly spread that the game had much more substantial rules and code than any other Stern game in recent history at launch. Indeed, Dwight Sullivan and the rest of the software team Got tyrionat Stern should be commended for the excellent job they’ve done with Game of Thrones. Typically, it’s not the case that there are multiple viable strategies for a given pinball machine. When there are, sometimes the game ends up feeling like a linear grind-fest where you might as well replace all scoring values with a shot counter. Game of Thrones manages to avoid this by having great risk/reward scenarios all over the place, resulting in a game where you are never completely safe and there is always something exciting to shoot for that doesn’t feel like “work”.

Right at the start of the game you can choose from six different houses (Baratheon, Tyrell, Martell, Lannister, Greyjoy, and Stark) to play. P1190806Each house provides a different advantage for the rest of the game: House Martell will give you an add a ball during multiball once per ball, while House Baratheon will increase the value of Battle for the Wall Multiball. The most interesting of these choices, however, is House Greyjoy. Unlike the other houses, Greyjoy does not give you any immediate reward. Instead, whenever you beat P1190803another house’s mode while playing as Greyjoy, you steal that house’s ability! This doesn’t come for free — when you play as Greyjoy, every mode will have additional purple-colored shots that you have to hit as well as each mode’s regular shots. For some modes, this isn’t a big deal as the extra shots don’t really force you to go out of your way to do anything abnormal. For other houses (especially Stark), these extra shots make completing their modes extremely difficult! Additionally, when playing as Greyjoy you can’t stack two house modes at once like you can when playing as any other house. This sounds like a big deal, but in my experience it very rarely matters.

With this knowledge in mind, you should make one of the following choices:

– If you don’t think you will be able to finish Martell and Tyrell during regular gameplay, pick Tyrell. Tyrell gives you the ability to increase P1190802your combo shot multiplier by simply rolling over a lit player-controllable inlane, allowing you to practically make all of your shots at anywhere from 3x-5x value!

– If you are confident about your skills and you think you can finish both Tyrell and Martell, pick Greyjoy! Having more than one house’s special ability is incredibly overpowered, so if you can make it happen, go for it!

During gameplay, you can light each house’s mode by shooting the shot that matches their color 3 times. It then can be started at the center ramp shot. If you have more than one mode lit and are not playing as Greyjoy, you can choose to start two modes “in alliance” at P1190804the same time. This is only beneficial if you’re about to start a multiball. Otherwise, you’re probably better off focusing on one mode at a time as most of the modes are pretty tricky to finish, even on their own!

If you choose Tyrell, you’ll probably want to take a stab at Stark as quickly as you can. It’s a fairly easy mode when not playing as Greyjoy, and it can have a juicy payoff if played right! During this mode, you can shoot either the center or right ramp (the P1190805center is vastly preferable) to advance the mode collect value (Arya’s “kill list”). After 3 shots, the orbits are lit to collect the mode value and finish it. Of course, you don’t have to finish the mode at this point. Keep shooting the ramps to build the mode value up to a whopping *75 million* which can be multiplied through good use of the inlane combo multiplier builders to 5×75M for a whopping 375 million!

If you choose Greyjoy, your immediate goals should be to finish Tyrell, Baratheon, and Lannister in that order. Tyrell is P1190800important because of the inlane combo multipliers, but is fairly difficult to finish, so definitely try to stack it with Blackwater Multiball (which is lit by shooting the Tyrell mode start targets for each lock). Lannister is also good to stack with a multiball since it requires hits on the dangerous targets between ramps/orbits to light the mode’s main shots. Baratheon should be easy Battering Ramenough to finish in 4 shots without multiball (left orbit, center ramp as Greyjoy, dragon, then target bank to collect value).

No matter who you choose, don’t forget about the Battering Ram shot. It is the super jackpot during Blackwater MB, and also lights and starts playfield multipliers throughout the game, like the bell in AC/DC. Taking pot-shots at the ram during any multiball is seldom a bad idea, since there’s almost always something that can benefit from having a 2-5× multiplier attached to it!

Other things to take note of:

Lord of Light:

Shooting the drop targets on the bottom left of the playfield will, in addition to advancing you toward the Baratheon mode, also frequently lights Lord of Light at the outlanes, which works like a virtual kickback / ball save. This is effectively an extra ball that you can even work toward during multiball…so do it! Don’t forget about it!P1190828

Wall Multiball:

On the Pro version, you start this by repeatedly completing the bonus X rollovers at the top of the playfield. Eventually the dragon shot will be lit for Wall Multiball. On the Premium/LE versions, you shoot the dragon shot over and over to light the right orbit of Wall MB. This multiball used to be much more valuable in older versions of the game code, but it’s now fairly weak. Still, it’s worth decent points and is a good opportunity to get through some difficult modes and build playfield multipliers at the battering ram.

Hand of the King:P1190854

Once you finish four modes, the Hand of the King mini wizard mode is lit at the center ramp. Shoot a set of lit shots, then the battering ram, then repeat this process a few more times to collect the sum of all the shots you hit as a “Hurry Up” at the battering ram and add a ball into play. This mode can be UNBELIEVABLY valuable if played well (upwards of 4-5 billion, even), so don’t blow it if you get there! Each house that you’ve completed will affect this mode differently; some in a positive way and some not so positively. The one house that I find really hurts this mode is Martell, forcing you to hit twice as many shots for each phase of the mode.

Iron Throne:

Finish all seven modes for a special surprise! To solidly light Targaryen, keep in mind that you need to finish the mode *three times*, each time harder than the last. I’m not going to spoil this mode here. If you make it this far, you don’t need my help!P1190835

Originally published in Skill Shot 42 (March 2016)

tips & tricks

The Mode Road

by 3rd Place AndyStern Star Trek 2013

Stern recently released new code for its Star Trek (2013), adding new features and scoring. It’s more fun to play, in my opinion, and the strategy is deeper. The Vengeance, Klingon, and Kobayashi Maru multiballs are worth huge points, but I’ve found a way to score big on the first set of missions.

In the center of the lower playfield, there are six hexagons arranged in a triangle. Each color-coded hex represents a mission/mode with unique scoring objectives. The missions are: Prime Directive (Blue), Space Jump (Yellow), Save the Enterprise (Green), Nero (Pink), Destroy the Drill (Teal), and ModesKlingon Battle (Red). Additionally, each mission has three tiers, so imagine there are actually three sets of hexagons stacked on top of another. You must complete tier 1 of a given mode before tier 2 is accessible, followed by tier 3.

At the beginning of each ball, you usually have the opportunity to select a mode. Use the flipper buttons to change missions. Use the fire button to begin the mode. After a mode is completed, you may shoot either the left scoop or the Away Team rollover to begin the next mode. In all tier 1 modes, complete any lit shot once to light the Away Team. Access the Away Team by shooting the ball Away Teamunderneath the upper flipper and into the plunger lane. Away Team adds more time, increases scoring, and changes the lit shots for the mode. Play all six modes once to activate wizard mode, Kobayashi Maru multiball. Or play (and complete) three tiers of one mission to activate double scoring for a corresponding shot. For example, you may activate playfielddouble scoring for the left ramp by completing Klingon Battle 3; the spinner is doubled by completing Nero 3.

The Mode Road is a sequence of missions that maximizes mode scores. It also sets you up for Super Ramps and Super Spinners. First, complete Nero 1, 2, and 3. Next, play Space Jump. Follow that with Destroy the Drill and Prime Directive. On both of those modes, be sure to activate the Away Team, then shoot the spinner until the timer runs out. The spinner scores a lot here! Add time by hitting the black hole target when lit. Play Save the Enterprise next, repeating the Away Team + spinner strategy. There is an opportunity here to collect more medals, or you may finish the Mode Road with Klingon Battle. If you want more medals, Save the Enterprise 2 and Space Jump 2 are good choices. Focus on the ramps during Klingon Battle. Well done! Kobayashi Maru awaits you.

Orginally published in Skill Shot 40, October 2015

outer space

tips & tricks

Getting from Point A to Pinball

By Aaron McAbee

It’s easy to be a bus rider and pinball player in Seattle and the surrounding area, but it takes an awareness of time and the always-changing bus schedules. It also requires headphones to avoid unwanted conversations, a charged old mapphone to confirm bus times, and a book or a game to pass the time. A smartphone is also your best friend for managing schedules, transfers, and real-time updates. Every transit rider with an Android or iPhone should have the OneBusAway, Transit, and Google Maps apps locked and loaded, but nothing beats personal knowledge or this copy of Skill Shot as a backup plan.

Capture 2The 40 is the most important pinball bus in Seattle! It hits Olaf’s and Full Tilt (both in Ballard), Add a Ball (Fremont), and Shorty’s (Belltown), then runs down 3rd Avenue where you can connect with other buses that will take you to the Seattle Pinball Museum (International District) and places such as the Narwal and John John’s (both on Capitol Hill). The last southbound 40 leaves Northgate on weeknights at 12:16 AM, hits Ballard at 12:40 AM, and Fremont a few minutes later.

Getting to popular pinball destinations in Georgetown like Flip Flip Ding Ding, 9lb Hammer, Jules Maes Saloon, and Georgetown Liquor Company is easy with routes 106 and 124. The 124 runs the latest with the last two leaving at 1:29 AM and 2:49 AM along busAirport Way, the main road to Georgetown. The last 106 leaves Georgetown at 11:58 PM.

The 8-Bit in Renton is a great location with two main buses from downtown (the 106 or the 101). The latest bus back to Seattle leaves only a few blocks away from the 8-Bit at the Renton Transit Center at 11:35 PM, riding into Seattle just before midnight.

Another Castle in Edmonds can be reached by the RapidRide E line, taking it all the way out to Aurora Village Transit Center. What’smetro great about the RapidRide lines is they offer free wifi, and are considerably more comfortable than the older buses. From there, take the Community Transit 101. The last bus leaves at 10:11 PM on Highway 99, where Another Castle is located. Be aware that this is not the same Metro 101 bus that takes you to Renton — this is a Community Transit that runs to Everett via highway 99.

DSCF7620Planning a trip out to Dorkys’ in Tacoma? Catch the Sound Transit 594 on 2nd Ave. It is a very pleasant, mostly nonstop ride on I-5. The very important information you need to write on the back of your hand is 10:20 PM. That’s when the last bus from Tacoma leaves the 10th and Commerce stop on both weekdays and weekends. Do not miss this bus or you shall be taking an expensive taxi ride back to Seattle. Check Dorky’s website for their hours – they are currently closed on Mondays and have varied hours throughout the year.

If you let pinball destroy your sense of time in the many late night pinball tournaments that Seattle offers, get familiar with the RapidRide Routes: C serving West Seattle, D serving Ballard, and E serving Aurora. All lead to connecting buses downtown and run as late as 1:30 AM, but the later oldit is, the less frequently they get. The E also provides free nightly entertainment, seemingly programmed by Tom Waits and John Waters. Another option for the late night crowd is the 80 series of night buses. They are slow, have very limited schedules (with sometimes more than an hour between one bus and the next), and go to limited areas but it’s cheaper than a late night taxi, Lyft or Uber.

Bus times and schedules change every few months, so make sure there are no surprises when you deal with Metro, Community Transit, or Sound Transit. An ORCA Card is the easiest way to transfer from one bus service to the next without having to pay multiple times. The card orcakeeps track of your transfers for you! You can use the multiple ORCA machines located throughout the downtown Seattle transit tunnel to load more money when you run out, or online. Take note: certain transit centers (Aurora Village and Alaska Junction to name two) do not have ORCA machines. Remember to bring cash or just a few extra quarters on your way out the door if you’re uncertain about your ORCA balance, or buy a monthly pass and don’t sweat it.

Once you start hanging out with pinball people, you will have a network that will help you to major bus routes, or maybe even a ride all the way home. Remember, gas money is essential and polite to offer to anyone nice enough to give you a ride. The wider your social circle, the better your options to get to Monroe or Seattle Pinball League tournaments at far away, hard-to-reach locations. It’s more fun to compete and connect!DSCF7398



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There’s No Place Like the Outlanes

There’s No Place Like the OutlanesP1050519
By Kevin Birrell

Wizard of Oz is the first game by Jersey Jack Pinball, and it is clear that the team behind the game has taken advantage of their new pinball platform to develop interesting features never before seen on games from any manufacturer. From making every insert in the game multi-colored to using an LCD to display stackable modes and features, there’s no doubt that Wizard of Oz is full of innovation. While the software isn’t even close to complete yet, there are already some very interesting features P1050694that don’t just feel like they were cut and pasted out of the code from another game. One of those features is a pair of modes that allow the player to save their ball by completing certain tasks once their ball has drained down the outlanes. Toto Escapes is startedP1050703 when the player drains down the right outlane and rolls over all four TOTO targets. The ball is then re-plunged and the player has about ten seconds to shoot the right ramp (or other shots depending on the settings) to return to regular play.P1050537

The second mode, “There’s No Place Like Home”, is the more involved of these modes and can be started when the ball drains down the left outlane. The ball will bounce between the State Fair Balloon bumper in the outlane and the five standup targets next to it, and if it hits all five targets the ball is re-plunged for “There’s No Place Like P1050705Home”. In this mode, the player attempts to save their ball and re-enter normal play by completing all four stages of the mode without draining. First, the player has to spell RAINBOW by hitting the seven targets in the upper right area of the playfield. Banking the ball off the witch and into the R and A targets is a good way to finish this off if P1050581you’re having trouble. Second, the player must shoot the Crystal Ball and the Throne Room saucer. Third, the player has to make the left and right loop shots. Finally, the player must shoot the ramp to finish the mode and continue normal play. The little “sepia to color” effect when you do this is pretty cool!

All normal scoring and other modes are disabled during TNPLH, so there’s not much to do except try and get your ball back. It’s pretty hard, but the reward of essentially an extra ball (even in tournament play where extra balls are disabled) is pretty sweet!P1050734

Originally Published in Skill Shot 31

tips & tricks

Gilby Rolls [like a vehicular manslaughterer]

Gilby Rolls [like a vehicular manslaughterer]
By 3rd Place Andyguns-n-roses

Data East’s 1994 widebody Guns N’ Roses is packed with features. There are five different multiball modes. There are two plungers. There are magnets. There’s even a giant snake pit! But this article is about the video mode, “Gilby Rolls,” a fast-paced motorcycle rideDSCF7899 that takes you down an obstacle-laden three-lane highway.

How to start “Gilby Rolls”: On the left side of the playfield is a guitar neck. The frets of the neck have different guitar features (modes) on them. Start a mode by shooting the saucer (located top of the guitar neck) when the mode light is blinking. The pop bumpers toggle which mode is lit. Hint: Pulling the trigger of the gun (ball launcher) freezes the lit mode until it is collected, preventing the pops from changing it to another mode. Alternatively, one of the skill shot options is “start guitar feature” which will instantly start whichever mode is lit.

How to play “Gilby Rolls”: Gilby automatically drives at a fixed speed. Hey, where are the logobrakes?! Use the flippers to steer Gilby. You have more time to dodge a car in the right (bottom) lane than one in the left (top) lane due to the slanted perspective of the track. The goal is to hit the pedestrians while avoiding the cars. I’ve included a road map (since the course is the same every time) to help steer you through. Hit the pedestrians and the avoid the cars. The numbers at the top represent approximately how many seconds into the mode you are. The mode ends when you either reach the end of the course or crash. Points are awarded both for distance traveled and pedestrians hit. Rock and roll!Skill-Shot-30-Gilby-Video-Mode-color-slantmotorcycle

Originally published in Skill Shot 31
other tips & tricks



There are three main multiballs in AC/DC that one should always try to advance while playing through songs.

The main goal in JAM multiball is to shoot ramps for jackpots. Pretty straightforward, and it doesn’t involve the “Song Bonus” or other such things which can be a bit confusing for a new player to wrap their head around on the first few goes. During JAM it is beneficial to choose a song that also awards the song P1020800value for ramp shots, such as “Rock n Roll Train” or “Highway to Hell,” along with the JAM jackpot for more scoring opportunities. After about twenty ramp shots, the Bell will light for a “JAM Multiball jackpot”. This value is usually around twenty million or so, which is good especially with an activated playfield multiplier. If you are within one shot of a multiplier and the bell jackpot is ready, you’ll be awarded the jackpot value with the multiplier on the same shot. AWESOME!

In JAM, shooting either ramp will award a base jackpot value of 250k, increasing as you advance the jackpot shots toward the final goal of the JAM multiball super jackpot. You P1020806should also consider the value of combos in this mode: if you shoot one ramp and then the other — let’s say a left-right combo — you will be awarded the jackpot value plus the additional combo value. This value increases with each successive, successful combo. Additionally, once 25P1020803 combos are achieved the right-loop/orbit shot will light for an extra ball. On top of all these scoring opportunities, the songs that I previously mentioned follow the same structure for scoring. So shooting a ramp in JAM multiball while either of those songs play allows you to collect the base jackpot value, the song value, the combo value, with the total doubled or tripled if multipliers are active by progressing the bell. All this comes together to quickly P1020140build the ‘Song Jackpot’ value and massive score increases. The song jackpot is increased by first shooting the lit shot of the chosen song. For “Rock n Roll Train,” the lit shot is the left ramp. When hit and followed by successfully hitting any of the other major shot on the playfield, you will light all other main shots. These are: left loop/orbit, left ramp, bell lane, right ramp, right loop/orbit, and all target banks.

The Add-a-ball feature during the JAM multiball is also important to note. This feature is common to most new Stern titles and is a source of some debate on AC/DC. To add a ball,DSCF0957 one must simply shoot the lit shot once on one of the five major available shots anytime during JAM multiball. Now, knowing which of these five shots is lit to do this is still unclear. I have heard Bowen Kerins and several other experts contest what actually controls this. As a general rule, I try to shoot each of these shots once while playing a multiball, to cover my bases. Sometimes you’ll add the ball on the first try and sometimes it will take all five before you hit the correct P1020796shot. One key thing to remember, and this is a common mistake people make: for the add-a-ball feature to be active, the shots must be lit for the current chosen song. This means if you are on “Highway to Hell” (HTH), you MUST first shoot the right ramp to light all the other shots. This is easy for this song as the right ramp is not only the main shot for HTH but is always the way to start multiball.


P1030458Q: How do I know when my multiball is ready?
A: The right flasher bulb next to the cannon above the right sling will be glowing anytime the cannon is ready to load. The DMD usually tells you how many shots to progress towards multiball.

Q: How many shots to get to JAM multiball?
A: The default is seven ramps for the first JAM and then increasing by 1 or 2 for each successive JAM multiball.

Q: What if I have a question?
A: Lyman Sheets saves the day. Finally a Stern with ‘status info’ again. Just hold either flipper button before plunging or while a ball is trapped and you will receive a plethora of information.

P1030468Originally published in Skill Shot 30

news & gossip tips & tricks

Getting the Most Extra Balls from The Addams Family

By 4th Place Andy

(Originally published in Skill Shot 26, October 2012)

The Addams Family (or TAF for short) is known for its generosity with extra balls (EBs). One can feasibly play an infinitely long game by getting enough EBs. This strategy is simple on most machines- you just need to collect one EB before you drain. Sometimes you can even store up a reserve of EBs and keep playing through a few drains.

But have you played TAF at Shorty’s lately? It has an EB cap. You may collect 3 EBs per nominal ball. After 3 are collected, all EBs will be disabled until your display shows another ball. Think on the display where it says, “Ball 1,” “Ball 2,” or “Ball 3.” Those are your nominal balls. The maximum number of total playable balls is then 12. 3+1 is 4, 4×3 is 12. To get 12, you will have to collect EBs consistently, and not just a bunch at one time. Note: this EB cap setting is operator-adjustable so not all TAFs play this way.

How do you get an EB? First, you must light an EB, then shoot the diverter (top center, just to the left of the ramp) to collect it. If you trap a ball and hold up a flipper, the display will toggle through your Status Report so you can see how many EBs you have in reserve. Where are the extra balls? There are two available from Bear Kicks, aka the center ramp. One is for 10* Bear Kicks, and the other for 50 (*amount goes up or down depending on how often it is collected). There is an EB in one of the Mansion Rooms (MRs). You can light an EB from a number of Train Wrecks (normally 3 or 4). One is lit when you complete the Mansion and start the Tour the Mansion (TtM) wizard mode.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky. On any given ball, you can collect the MR EB, and later the TtM EB. After TtM, the MRs and TtM are disabled until a ball is drained. A typical EB “loop” is to collect the MR EB, the TtM EB, then drain, and repeat. This loop collects 2 EBs and only drains 1! It gets really tricky when you are playing an EB cap machine, like at Shorty’s. The cap effectively “closes the loop.”   

Keep practicing, and good luck! If you can muster a 12 ball game, completing TtM every other ball, and keeping that bonus multiplier maxed, you will be able to beat the high score!

news & gossip other tips & tricks

Learn to love Speakeasy

by Jawn Wakefield

Speakeasy is the saddest game at Shorty’s. Look at the backglass: no one is smiling. It’s also the saddest game because it’s the least played pin in the room. This means most people aren’t very good at it and that means the games are over quickly, so you’re statistically more likely to play a tournament match on Speakeasy than any other game. Learn to love it, and learn to play it well so you can crush your opponents with your huge and numerous balls.

Speakeasy is all about the add-a-ball. Master the shots that lead to the extra balls and you can play for hours on fifty cents. There are five ways to get extra balls. Here’s how it’s done:

Roulette Wheel – The simplest and most random. Spin the wheel, hope you hit an extra ball. The downside is that there’s a subtract-a-ball as well, which you’re just as likely to hit. To spin the wheel, hit either of the two kickout holes when lit. The roulette wheel also spins at the end of each ball if you haven’t tilted. You can’t avoid a subtract-a-ball by tilting — once the wheel starts spinning, you’re stuck with the results.

Jokers – Along the right side of the table is the joker lane. Each time the ball rolls through, a joker is lit, and four jokers equal an extra ball. The easiest way is to hit the right kickout hole, which drops the ball right down the lane.

Spades Flyaway Targets – In the center of the playfield are five flyaway targets, the Ten through Ace of Spades. Flip those up in sequence to earn an extra ball and advance the bonus multiplier. Out of sequence will advance your bonus multiplier as well, so they’re great targets to shoot for. These targets reset at the beginning of each ball. 

Hearts Rollover Targets – At the top of the playfield are five rollover targets, the Five through Nine of Hearts. Hit these in sequence and get TWO extra balls. They are persistent between balls, but the sequence detector resets with each ball. This means if you light the first four out of order, drain, then hit the 9 lane you get your balls.

Specials – Speakeasy only allows one replay per game. After that each special will add-a-ball. The best way to exploit this is the right orbit shot. Each time you hit it and finish the Hearts rollovers it advances towards special. When the special gets lit you get an extra ball. Hit the orbit to get a special, then continue to hit it to rack up the extra balls until you max out.

There are three other opportunities for specials. The dice target on the lower left playfield is the first. Hit it to light an arrow, light the arrows toward the outlane until the red one is lit, and roll over the outlane to collect the special. The second is the Chip value lights in front of the flyaway targets. These advance one light each time you flip all five flyaways, and when they are all lit, the red arrow on the right outlane lights for a special. Roll over to collect it. The easiest special is to score 850,000 points. This value is fixed and relatively easy to get with any decent game.

All the extra balls in the world won’t do you any good unless you know how to maximize your score on each one. This game is all about the bonus. The value is persistent, and tops out at 119,000. The real points come from the bonus multiplier, increasing each time you complete all five flyaways or the upper rollovers. The multiplier also affects the points awarded by the roulette wheel, so your best strategy is to go for the 10x bonus on each ball.

With effective ball and bonus management, Speakeasy becomes an endurance game, limited only by how long you can stand to continue playing.