Stately Balls Of Steel

March 2021

Table: Mars (Zen)


Starship Troopers: @univac
Black Knight: @univac
Jurassic Park: @Snotty128
Sorcerer’s Lair: @Snotty128
Portal: @Snotty128
Excalibur: @univac


Ooh, thanks for reminding me. We used to have a proper place in the city for real pinball, it got closed down for repairs and was due to reopen last month. I’ll check it out and get some photos.

I used to play bride of pinbot there, then go home and learn all the secrets on the Xbox 360 version of the table. I wonder if they still have it there.

Anyway, I’m quite into pinball too so I’d be down for some kind of tournament or friendly high score challenge here


I used to prefer Pinball Arcade over Zen Pinball because I loved playing actual tables that I remember from my youth. That ended when I couldn’t get any of my purchased tables to show up (for the umpteenth time) in that godforsaken app. I thought the physics and whatnot were great, but the wrapper to switch tables and their constant failure to recognize tables you’ve purchased along with losing your scores was infuriating. I haven’t checked it out in a while to see if it’s gotten any better, but I probably should now that I have a new iPad. (Yes, I bought a new ipad solely to play Civ VI).

My favorite table of all time is Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was at this skeevy bar that my friends and I used to hang out at in college. One of those bars that no one went to because it wasn’t cool. We didn’t go there all the time, but we did to get away from the crowds and bar scene every now and then, and I’d spend my time dumping quarters into that table. Love it, and kickstarted it when they were trying to get it into Pinball Arcade.

I also love Bride of Pinbot and Twilight Zone (one of the guys in my game group has a pristine working Twilight Zone table in his basement). I generally enjoy tables with a good story and missions that you can figure out without panicking and that have some connection to the theme other than “hit this target for no reason”. I want to try and figure out the missions and find the end game rather than searching for a quick-hit high score combo. Thus, I should like a lot of the Zen tables…I played the Thor one a bunch and enjoyed it quite a bit, but it fell to the wayside once PA got ST:TNG.

Oh, and I suck at pinball, by the way. Not sure a tournament is my thing only because I’d be out of it in such laughably short order. That said, I do enjoy playing it, so I’d be willing to try whatever you can think of.


I suck, too. That doesn’t diminish my love for it, though. One thing that I’ve found to help for some reason is making it a personal goal to fill the entire local leaderboard for every table with my initials. The repeated plays with certain gaps in mind help me learn tables faster than just “taking it out for a test run,” if that makes any sense.

As for Pinball Arcade vs Zen, I used to be a purist and looked down on digital boards, but I’ve changed my mind over the years. I feel that traditional pinball has drains that are designed to be cheap enough to make you feed a machine quarters all day long and I’ve grown tired of that design. I feel like most Zen tables are challenging but forgiving enough to keep the ball alive longer and experience the story better. I suppose one way to read that is that I’m not good enough for traditional tables, but I prefer to think that Zen’s tables aren’t designed to steal my money so they lead to better and more prolonged experiences. I do prefer the Pinball Arcade physics but Zen’s are good enough - and consistent enough - that I can play the game comfortably.

Fun fact: My all-time most-played table was Space Jam…


I hear you about the cheap draining, and how digital tables can move away from that money grubbing feeling. I’ve got a half formed thought that may be related though which is I hardly ever nudge in digital tables, but I’m very physical with the machines in real life. Maybe it’s because my hands are already on the table ready to smack the crap out of it. Maybe the digital conversions are made to be nudged and I’m just not wired to do that on a digital table.

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I don’t nudge on digital, either. I can’t remember ever doing it once.

I’m on the low end of the scale with real tables. I don’t beat on them, but I definitely nudge. A buddy of mine who is a tournament-level player is like four times as physical with them than I am.

As far as Pinball Arcade goes, what a case of good/bad. I love the re-creation of actual tables that I’ve played, but the app itself is atrocious. Terrible UI, weird organization, bad Facebook weirdness, and it’s a money-pit.

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Mark me down for never nudging on digital, either. I’m my case, though, it is simply a matter of UI; if nudging didn’t real my concentration or physical grip, I may do it more.

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Does anyone have any recommendations on how we can set up challenges. My thought was that we could do something very casual, like a time-based high score challenge. Because of the many systems pinball is available on, we could simply do an honor system score report. I’m game for buying tables if necessary, but ownership is another issue. Would it work if each month we chose a table and scores need to be reported by the end of the month? Is a month too long? My one concern is that with shorter time frames, table purchases would be more necessary more often.


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I’m fine with picking up tables. I could use a good excuse for buying more and more of them.

I think a high score challenge would be cool. Like post your best score for the week on Friday by 5pm EST or something to that effect. Then we can mock the losers (me) and pick a new table on the following monday?

I never nudge on digital as well. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

The problem with weekly is that’s 52 tables a year unless we repeat tables. With an informal challenge, people can play or not if they choose, but weekly might be too frequent? I don’t know, just spit balling.

That’s why I suggested either monthly, or maybe every two weeks. Weekly is the cleanest as far as start/end times, but that may be too long to hold peoples’ interests.

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Oh sure, monthly works for me too. Yeah, 52 tables might be a little much.

Maybe do monthly, but with weekly updates on a leaderboard showing who’s currently in the lead and what a top score for that table looks like and what you need to aim for?

Ok, for a test-run, why don’t we pick a table for the remainder of the month. I’m almost sure I’ll claim executive privilege and simply proclaim that March’s table will be one of Zen’s Jurassic Park tables, but for a starter table, we could go with either of the two main starters on iOS - Zen’s Sorcerer’s Lair or Pinball Arcade’s Tales of the Arabian Nights. Or has everyone played these to death? I’m open to suggestions.

I think what I will do is post a big, bold text post with current players and scores and update it as scores are reported. If you are participating, you can simply edit your posts with your current high score for the month, as seen below:

February 2018

Table: Sorcerer’s Lair (Zen/Pinball FX)


@Mirefox: 0

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Enjoy a ridiculous trailer for my favourite physical pinball game.

The frankenstein multiball was an event of epic proportion.

When I lived in San Francisco, there was a pinball museum across the bay in Alameda. Every Saturday afternoon through evening you could go there, fork over $10, and play as long as you want on any of the machines (they had rooms themed by era, with machines from the 50s all the way to the 2000s and about 10 machines or so per room).

Haven’t found a decent replacement for that place over here in London yet.

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Hahaha…“Let me mesmerize you with my semi-circular movement…bleh.”

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Monster Bash is a great table. Never played the physical version, but played it a ton on Pinball Arcade.

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Those are fine for me. Whichever you decide. Probably a good idea to have a free table for the first month, and I believe both of those are free?

I believe Arabian Nights is .99, but I could be wrong. I’d be up for that one since I plan on a Zen table next week, but does anyone else have any input? I’ll let the question stand for a day or two.

I’ll join under whatever format you guys decide. And I don’t mind buying a few tables.

(But we have to play Black Knight soonish … )

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