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Thread: Basic Advice For a New Zen Pinball Player?

  1. #1
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    Default Basic Advice For a New Zen Pinball Player?

    I never played physical pinball even though I'm old enough that pinball tables were still common when I was a kid. I also never played anything on my son's PS3 until I discovered Zen Pinball. Now, it's pretty much the only game I play. I find that Zen pinball provides a perfect balance of excitement, challenge and relaxation. It's a wonderful change from the PC games I'm used to where you run around frantically shooting and killing and desperately trying to stay alive.

    The only trouble is that I'm a fantastically poor player. If I break into the top 10,000 on a given table it's a personal victory! So I had a couple of questions for the more experienced pinball masters on this forum.

    Do the good players try to always keep the kickbacks and the ball save activated? Or do they just mostly hit the shots they aim for and avoid shots that would lead to drains? As a weak player, if I try to keep kickbacks and ball saves activated it tends to be almost all I do since I will often lose the ball in the process of trying to activate the protections.

    Do good players use the nudge feature regularly to keep the ball in play? Given the speed of the ball, by the time I figure out that the ball is heading straight down the middle or about to bounce down the side drains and tell myself "hit nudge" it's too late.

    It seems to me that there is a lot of subtle variance in ball speed and table angle and flipper control between the tables. Since it seems that these tables were designed over many years is this a chronological change? Do older tables play one way and newer tables play with a different feel? Or is it just a random variance?

    Finally I feel like I need to pick a couple of tables and concentrate on them instead of bouncing around from table to table like I'm doing now because it's all such fun. Out of the 13 Marvel themed tables which would be the easiest for a newbie to start working with to develop his skills.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for any advice.

  2. #2
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    Welcome Binko to the forums. I have been playing Pinball FX 2 since it came out and my story is pretty much the same as yours. Since I started playing it, I haven't really played anything else. I also started from no pinball skills but was able to become a much better player to where I am now able to beat wizard modes and consistently score in the top 20 of tables. I'm not so involved on the forums as I was but have posted quite a bit in the past on various aspects including some advice for new players. If you follow my signature you will go to a thread I started to keep my posts together. I suggest that you start with the "New Player Tips" lower down in the first post.

    Good luck and have fun!

    PS: Some of the advice is Pinball FX 2 specific and some things will be slightly different but similar (e.g. views). Some of the threads I refer to is also in the Pinball FX 2 section of the forum.
    Last edited by Cloda; 10-10-2012 at 06:17 PM.

  3. #3
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    like Cloda I'm by no means a pinball wiz but have done pretty well in getting scores in the top 10-20 on most of the tables. Some table elude me or I'm not a big fan of them but that is always personal opinion.

    I would suggest you learn about ball control and aiming shots. Best way to learn is to practice trapping the ball and shooting at flashing targets as necessary. Trapping is done by holding the flippers up so the ball can settle and then aim your shots. And yes the link that cloda mentioned is a great source.

    The best thing about pinball is that each table does have subtle variance and that's what makes Pinball so much fun. The concept is the same but the tables vary enough where it does change from table to table. That includes ball speed angle and flipper control. Also learn the table as much as you can. The rule sheet explains some of the aspect of the tables and there is a great resource for each of the tables and excellent guides for each table explaining them in much more detail. You'll find them here

    Ball saves and kickbacks are a necessity IMO. That said certain tables have riskier shots trying to get ball saves. Tables like Iron Man can be unforgiving in that aspect as Ball Saves are much harder to get on that table. Most kickbacks are easy to get as most of the tables you can light kickbacks through the in-lanes (the lanes to the left of the out-lane areas where balls can drain but you probably know that)

    The nudge feature IMO does not really alter the ball while in motion but when in contact with a lane or bumber it can change. Otherwise I use it mostly to transfer the ball over to the other flipper or what we call 'Death saves'.
    If the ball has gone through the right outlane then the ball may be retrieved if the player nudges the machine firmly and as quickly as possible to avoid a tilt and also holds up the right flipper. The nudge will cause the ball to come off the wall leading the ball to the center drain and go in between the right flipper.
    It's a skill I use many times and have been pretty consistent.

    All I can say is practice practice practice once you get the gist of tables you're scores will be much better. Like any game with more experience you become a better player.

    As far as the easiest table. Matter of opinion but I find World War hulk the easiest of the marvel tables you can do pretty well. Some say spiderman is the easiest to learn but I don't play that table much. If you ever get Plants vs zombies for ZP2 that is by far the easiest table to get used to and work on ball control/aiming. You can also learn the aspects of multiball as it is easy to get to.

    Good Luck, have fun
    Tenorhero
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    Last edited by tenorhero; 10-10-2012 at 06:40 PM.

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    Senior Member shogun00's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forums.

    Do the good players try to always keep the kickbacks and the ball save activated? Or do they just mostly hit the shots they aim for and avoid shots that would lead to drains?
    It depends on the table and how difficult is it to activate them. On some tables they are very easy to activate, while others are a PITA.

    The most important thing is ball control, such as taking advantage of the elastics. With proper ball control you're able to make shots pretty easily without worrying about draining.

    Do good players use the nudge feature regularly to keep the ball in play?
    Always! I especially use nudging for Nudge Passes and Bang Backs (AKA Death Saves). Keep in mind, that you only get three tilt warnings in ZP2 before the actual tilt. The tilt warnings reset after 15 seconds, so you can nudge often.

    It seems to me that there is a lot of subtle variance in ball speed and table angle and flipper control between the tables. Since it seems that these tables were designed over many years is this a chronological change? Do older tables play one way and newer tables play with a different feel? Or is it just a random variance?
    It varies from table to table and it's a little of both. This is mostly because of the table designs themselves. Each one is different and the physics will be different because of it.

    Out of the 13 Marvel themed tables which would be the easiest for a newbie to start working with to develop his skills.
    Out of the Marvel tables, Captain America, Spider Man and World War Hulk are the easiest in my opinion.

    Personally, I recommend trying out Sorcerer's Lair or Plants vs Zombies. Both tables are very suitable for beginners.
    Last edited by shogun00; 10-17-2012 at 04:34 PM. Reason: typos

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    Question 1: For the vast majority of tables, you'll want to activate both kickbacks as soon as possible. Getting Ball save active helps too, but for a few tables activating the ball save sometimes mean attempting a few risky shots. Iron Man springs to mind in that sense, so for those I specifically wouldn't go out of your way to get it active.

    I think the best advice I can give to a beginner player wanting to get better is firstly learn how to control the ball. That way you will be able to aim your shots better. Try to avoid hitting the flipper as soon as the ball reaches it, or it could ricochet anywhere. Instead let the ball hit the flipper, and most of the time it will bounce off and land on the other flipper, making it easier to aim the shot.

    Secondly if the ball is travelling slow enough, try to hold the flipper up so that you can trap the ball, then release it to let the ball roll down the flipper to make the shot. There is a bit of skill on when to do this, as attempting to trap the ball that it going too fast may cause it to trickle over the flipper and drain, but with practice, you should master it.

    Finally if the ball is rolling down the undesired flipper, you can slightly nudge the table upwards to cause the ball to jump onto the other flipper. Light nudges of the table doesn't trigger warnings.

    Question 2: All tables have been recently modified and had a physics engine boost since ZP1 so the difference between is not as great as it once was. There is some minor variance between tables but that may occur between real life tables too.

    Question 3: While no tables are easy, there are a couple of tables that flow easier and are less likely to drain than others. I'd say the three "easier" tables are Spider-man, Plants vs. Zombies (I'm not a fan of that table though) and Paranormal. Some people here say that Sorcerer's Lair is the easiest to get to the final game mode (or "Wizard mode"), I personally don't agree, but that's the general consensus.

    EDIT: Heh, just noticed that nobody said Paranormal is an easy table. Maybe it's just me.
    Last edited by Jeppo99; 10-10-2012 at 06:48 PM.
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    Welcome to the forums.

    I'm just a good casual player myself so don't think that everyone here on ZEN forums is a pro or a wizard.

    The guys pretty much explained everything for you in the above posts.
    I just want to add that a key element for becoming better is to try keep your yourself cool and be calm.
    Don't be so anxious and overwhelmed and try to just focus on having fun first.

    Watch some videos online to get a basic view of how to play.
    When I started playing Marvel Pinball I used to hit the flippers randomly all the time without aiming much.
    My utter failure was of course obvious. lol
    Then I saw some videos of how to keep the ball with your flipper. I immediately improved by far. This is major! Always try to hold the flipper up to keep the ball & then once the ball stops you can aim where you want to send it.
    This is where nudge comes as extremely useful too. Try to learn by any means how to switch the ball by nudging from one flipper to another. It's not that hard if you practice it a little & it's essential especially during (time) missions!

    Everything comes with time & practice. Personally I didn't even know about death save until 18 months after I played the game... lol

    I'll suggest you the following tables for practicing your skills:
    MARVEL: Spider-man, Wolverine, Thor.
    ZEN: Sorcerer's Lair (not the easiest but so much fun!), Plants vs Zombies (the easiest table imo), Epic Quest.

    Above all have fun & your scores will get better in no time!
    PSN: DreamyElf

  7. #7

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    People already posted great tips, so I'll just focus on table selection.

    In my opinion the best tables to learn the game are World War Hulk & The Avengers.

    Both tables are rather easy but they feature a selection of very basic missions. You will find these missions on several other tables. Especially World War Hulk will teach you "mechanical" gameplay in a very easy fashion.

    Epic Quest is also a good table to learn pinball. It's just one mission over and over again. Therefore it's easier to learn. You also don't need to worry about kickbacks since the are awarded randomly. On top of that, every game is rewarding because there's an overarching level up mechanic which carries over from game to game.

    MARS would be another suggestions because it's easy to start missions and that will be a major problem in the beginning. This table constantly throws you into missions with different objectives. It will help you to get used to the adrenaline rush of a time based mission. The table is probably one of the most difficult ones to finish but you should be able to enjoy all those mini missions.

    I have to disagree on some suggestions made in this thread. Paranormal & Sorcerers Lair are easy tables but they don't teach you the game very well. Paranormal is a very very unique table. You won't be able to transfer Paranormal skills to other tables.

    Sorcerers Lair features a lot of mini playfield missions which also doesn't help to improve your general skills.

    Long story short - table recommendations:

    World War Hulk
    Avengers
    Epic Quest
    MARS

    Ps. While you are learning the game one of the most important things to do is:

    Ignore your score!!

    You don't want to improve your scores, you want to improve your skills. I'm playing this game for two years now and just recently my scores exploded. The whole time before I just tried to get trophies and learn tables. Now I can use all I've learned to get good scores. Scores will come naturally once you've mastered the game.

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    Senior Member caper_26's Avatar
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    Here are some tips and videos to show some basic pinball skills which will help you increase your skills greatly: [LINK]
    Hmmm, just realized you may need to register to watch the videos from links on that site, or you can just click the link below to watch the directly.

    I agree with sui99 about paranormal. That is not a standard pinball table at all. El Dorado is a good starter IMO. SFII isn't too bad once you figure out the combos for missions/fights. Wolverine isn't too overwhlming either.
    Last edited by caper_26; 10-12-2012 at 12:34 PM.
    Check out my youtube videos for basic pinball strategies: caperUnderscore26

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    Do a youtube search for hypno74. He has put up a bunch of zen/marvel pinball videos of him playing. He is good and you can pick up quite a few tricks.

    This website is also a great place for info on pinball skills, pinball glossary, and info about real pins.
    http://www.ipdb.org/playing/skills.html

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Binko View Post
    I never played physical pinball even though I'm old enough that pinball tables were still common when I was a kid. I also never played anything on my son's PS3 until I discovered Zen Pinball. Now, it's pretty much the only game I play. I find that Zen pinball provides a perfect balance of excitement, challenge and relaxation.
    Welcome to the hobby.
    I'm curious, what inspired you to first try Zen Pinball? Was your son already playing? Are you a Marvel fan? Were you looking for a 3D tv demo?

    I'm often trying to get my friends interested.

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    I love seeing you all pitch in to help out when someone asks for it. You guys make me proud to be your CM

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    Thanks very much to everybody who replied. When I discover some new gaming experience it is a wonderful plus to find that my new favorite game is made by such a customer friendly company and also has such a friendly user forum.

    I got a lot of good advice here. It never would have occurred to me that I could pass the ball from flipper to flipper using nudge. But it's actually quite easy.

    I decided on the World War Hulk and Spiderman tables to focus on as far as really trying to learn a table and start to score better. I find that I enjoy tables like these that have wide open spaces and big sweeping ramps. Both seem very newbie friendly. I'm less comfortable with tables that are more congested or have a lot of close in targets. But I'm sure that will change as my skills improve.

    But Zen Pinball, for me, is mostly a game for relaxing and having fun. Much of the time I'll just move randomly from table to table and try to hit various shots or combos. Only once in awhile do I really feel like knuckling down and trying for a high score. I figure it's all good practice and over time the scores will go up naturally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clydebink View Post
    Welcome to the hobby.
    I'm curious, what inspired you to first try Zen Pinball? Was your son already playing? Are you a Marvel fan? Were you looking for a 3D tv demo?

    I'm often trying to get my friends interested.
    For some reason I've always enjoyed pinball on the computer. Back in the earlier days of personal computers there wasn't the vast selection of games like there is now. Back then I'd try games from every genre. One that really stuck in my mind was a shareware pinball game called Epic Pinball. I enjoyed it so much that I've kept my eye out for new pinball games ever since. One day, on my son's PS3, I aimlessly wandered to the Playstation Store and did a search on "pinball"!

    I can't really explain why computer pinball resonates with me the way it does. For me it's almost a perfect combination of action and relaxation, reflex and skill. But I've discovered that other people generally just don't see it. I've shown Zen pinball to a bunch of other people and their reaction is pretty universally that it looks cool but they just aren't interested. Baffles me!

    It's really odd for me to be playing all the Marvel themed tables. I was a kid in the 60s when Marvel first hit the scene. I think I owned Spiderman issues 2 thru 10 and most of the early issues of Fantastic Four and many other Marvel imprints. I read them over and over until they fell apart and ended up throwing them all away when I was in High School. Nobody "collected" comic books in those days. They were just something that kids would read.

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    Thanks for responding, I found that interesting.
    Oddly, it's relieving knowing that I'm not the only one who can't seem to explain how awesome pinball is.

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    Definitely watch the Youtube videos shogun00 linked earlier in the thread. I'm pretty new too, and those videos helped me quickly understand that you can maintain incredible control of the ball and be placing your shots almost all of the time.

    As for nudging balls coming straight down the middle, I do that. On some tables you save a lot of drains that way. And yes on most tables I think it's good to learn how kickback and ball save are activated and get to a point where you're just routinely hitting them... (I too know the pain of losing a ball trying to activate a kickback).

    I started with Plants Vs. Zombies then moved to Mars (much tougher if you want to do all the missions) and now I'm playing Blade, which I love.

    Best advice I have is, stick with a table and learn its rule sheet - more fun and more depth that way, and the variety of specific shots you'll have to make to progress through the objectives systematically is a big part of the experience.

    Also, welcome and good luck.

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    Senior Member skyway73's Avatar
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    I think one of the best tips is knowing when not to flip, if that makes sense. There are many times when the ball is dropping on your flipper and it's tempting just to volley it first time, whereas more often than not it is better to let the ball hit your un-raised flipper and bounce across to your other one. You can then catch it and more accurately hit a placed shot, or nudge it back across to the other flipper.

  17. #17
    Senior Member shogun00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyway73 View Post
    I think one of the best tips is knowing when not to flip, if that makes sense. There are many times when the ball is dropping on your flipper and it's tempting just to volley it first time, whereas more often than not it is better to let the ball hit your un-raised flipper and bounce across to your other one.
    Yep! This is called the Dead Flipper Pass (or Bounce Pass). It's covered in the YouTube video I provided in my previous post (the "ball control" link).

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    Quote Originally Posted by shogun00 View Post
    Yep! This is called the Dead Flipper Pass (or Bounce Pass). It's covered in the YouTube video I provided in my previous post (the "ball control" link).
    wow..thanks
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