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  • Ball control

    Hey guys, I'm a rookie at pinball but I'm thoroughly enjoying Zen's games. It's cool being able to relive your youth by playing old-school games in the midst of all the high-priced, over-hyped FPS games out there. Thanks Zen!

    Anyway, I'm trying to learn basic ball control and would love some advice as to the best way to practice. I've studied http://www.ipdb.org/playing/skills.html and watched the Pinball 101 video and I started practicing the individual skills this way:

    The first skill I practiced was the Cradle (aka Hold Trap). I made it a goal to stop the ball and cradle it as often as possible. I thought that the easiest way to do this would be to simply trap the ball coming down the inlane. I learned very quickly, though, that the ball usually had too much momentum to be cradled by the first flipper. So, I started doing a Flipper Pass (aka Hold Pass) to get the ball over the first flipper and cradle it in the other one. The ball doesn't usually have enough momentum to get over to the other flipper and be cradled, though, so I had to flip it immediately with the other flipper to prevent it from draining. Is this preferable over just flipping the fast-moving ball with the first flipper? If the goal is slowing down the ball to control it, maybe this is the best way to go? Or should I just flip it with the first flipper even though it's going fast and don't worry about slowing it down in this case?

    I also started practicing the Bounce Pass, since the video mentions this as "the most important ball control skill." I found that there don't seem to be as many opportunities to utilize this skill as I would have thought, given that it's "the most important ball control skill." I am getting better at judging when I can use it though. If the ball doesn't have enough momentum to bounce over to the other flipper, or if it hits the flipper too close to the tip, then it drains. I guess I'll get better judging when I can use this skill over time.

    The video posits that the second most important ball control skill is the Drop Catch. I haven't found much opportunity to use this one yet, since I've been focusing on the Bounce Pass, but I'm surprised that this one is used that much. How often do you use this skill? Maybe I should focus on practicing this one instead of worrying so much about stopping the ball?

    Thanks for the help!

  • #2
    Ball control is probably the most important aspect, along with patience and you are going the right way by trying to catch or "cradle" the ball. Try to do this as much as possible but don't always try because like you said sometimes there is too much momentum and its not possible. Learning to hit the ball on the run is just as important.

    One of the best ways of controlling the ball is to lose the instinct of always "hitting" at the ball when it is near the flipper and instead just let it drop onto the flipper and bounce across to the other for an easy cradle. To test what I am saying so you can have an example, go onto Ironman and hit the orbits. After you hit the shot (left or right) just leave the flippers down and the ball will just bounce over nicely. This is one basic one but once you have intricate knowledge of a table you are alot better able to judge exactly where the ball will land and be able to have control over it.

    For passing between the flippers I either use the bounce pass (just a little up tilt) or flick the ball into the corner of the sling shot. The latter is a little risky and can go wrong at times so i only use it as a last resort. As for the "drop stop/catch", I have done it, so it is possible but its not something I really try and do. Really just table knowledge and knowing where the ball is going to go most of the time is the best way to go. Obsessing over constantly controlling the ball can be just as bad as just flicking the ball around randomly.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by bwhitenb5e View Post
      The ball doesn't usually have enough momentum to get over to the other flipper and be cradled, though, so I had to flip it immediately with the other flipper to prevent it from draining. Is this preferable over just flipping the fast-moving ball with the first flipper? If the goal is slowing down the ball to control it, maybe this is the best way to go? Or should I just flip it with the first flipper even though it's going fast and don't worry about slowing it down in this case?
      I'm not sure there is a right answer to this for every situation. It depends on your goal. In general, I would recommend that if you judge the ball to be rolling at a speed where you can't control it, then aim and shoot and something that isn't risky. But really, whatever you find to work for you I think is the right answer.

      Originally posted by bwhitenb5e View Post
      I also started practicing the Bounce Pass, since the video mentions this as "the most important ball control skill." I found that there don't seem to be as many opportunities to utilize this skill as I would have thought, given that it's "the most important ball control skill." I am getting better at judging when I can use it though. If the ball doesn't have enough momentum to bounce over to the other flipper, or if it hits the flipper too close to the tip, then it drains. I guess I'll get better judging when I can use this skill over time.
      It is extremely important, and there are opportunities everywhere. Maybe you just think the bounce pass won't work in a lot of cases where it will. Here are a few examples off of the top of my head that are standard times that I find it to work:

      Romulus eject in Rome (when spelling ROMULUS, not during multiball),
      Right orbit exit in BioLab,
      Pasha Left ramp, when the ball doesn't have enough speed to make it to the cave

      The list is endless, and many times it is reactionary, rather than a pre-planned thing.

      Originally posted by bwhitenb5e View Post
      The video posits that the second most important ball control skill is the Drop Catch. I haven't found much opportunity to use this one yet, since I've been focusing on the Bounce Pass, but I'm surprised that this one is used that much. How often do you use this skill? Maybe I should focus on practicing this one instead of worrying so much about stopping the ball?
      In real pinball, I find the drop catch to be very useful. In pinball fx, not so much. It can work, but it is usually unnecessary because in most cases, just holding the flipper up or doing a pseudo "live-catch" will capture the ball just as well, and it is easier.

      HTH

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      • #4
        I have never played real pinball in my life (except for one or two go's maybe along the way - cons of living in rural South Africa) so all the skills I have learned have been on fx 2. I'm steadily getting better (through lots of playing) and there is not much I would like to (or can!!!) add except for the following:

        - camera angle - experiment until you find what works for you. Each of the camera angles has its pro's and con's. I get motion sickness so any of the angles that have a lot of movement in them e.g. 2 and 3 just doesn't work for me - I know some people would prefer those angles. Other people prefer 1/1w but it feels like I'm lying on my back and way far away. 6 also feels too far away. In the end it is between 4 and 5 for me. 4 is my preferred because it has less movement but because of the flatter angle that 5 gives, it is much easier for me to follow the line and judge if it is going to go down the middle or not - thus easier to save the ball from draining (this has been a revelation for me to switch from 4 to 5, made a huge difference in my scoring). Edit: Since view 7 (Ms. Splosion Man) I mostly use 7 or 5 depending on the table
        - In addition to actual playing technique it is very important to learn the basics for each table and how to activate them as soon as possible e.g. kick-backs and extra balls - there is a thread under the guides thread that give all that info for each table. Also worth mentioning that the more you know about the table and scoring opportunities the more controlled you can play... so worth studying the guides before taking on a table. As you get better you will also start figuring things out for your self.
        - Learn the Death Save as it is often very helpful and crucial (especially during multi-ball - e.g. mars pyramid mission).
        - Experiment with shot angle e.g. backhand shot, which will help you to get certain shots from a "safer" angle.
        - Learn how to do the slap save (sometimes you need a bit of a nudge as well on some of the tables e.g. rome right ramp shot).

        Anyways, there are plenty more things that could be said... I'll leave the rest to the real experts. Lots of titbits have been written on this forum and I have learned lots from reading it.

        Good luck and enjoy!!! I never knew that I could ever develop such a passion for a game!!!
        Last edited by Cloda; 09-13-2012, 08:42 AM. Reason: spelling
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        Cloda's somewhat vain and sort of self-indulgent thread

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        • #5
          Thanks for the help, guys. I've started to get more successful with the Bounce Pass. Rome seems to have ample opportunities (thanks ZodiacMunch) and the Iron Man orbit empties into a perfect Bounce Pass as well. Once I stopped obsessing over trying to cradle the ball so much, it stopped draining so often. Like OzV1 said, I'm trying to stop the ball as much as possible but not obsess over it.

          I think my next step is to start learning the tables as Cloda suggested. Off to read that kickbacks/ballsaves thread. I think I need to stop playing around with all the tables, too. I get bored with one table after a while and really enjoy the variety of all the different tables, but it's probably not doing my timing any favors.

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