I would love to hear some thoughts on ball counts. Hopefully everyone who wants to will join in. Let me first tell you where my questions spring from...
I have been in the hobby for over a year and (of course!) one table has already turned into two. My first table was a Williams Space Odyssey which came to me set on 5 ball play. I left it that way and it has worked out well on 5 ball play. In June I picked up table two, a Stern Flight 2000. I took it home set on 5 ball play but pretty much immediately switched it out to 3 ball play. I can score in multiples of millions frequently with 3 ball play, so I like it at 3. Also, Flight 2000 was the table that once and for all hooked me on pinball growing up and I feel like I remember it being set on 3 ball play at our local arcade in Warren, Michigan - Walker's Pinball Palace. Shout out to Walker's for making me a Pinball Junkie!
Lately, I have been getting a pretty big push from my casual playing friends who visit to switch F2K back to a 5 ball game. It is mostly down to the multiball being a tough get for casual players at a 3 ball count. I understand this and I am somewhat inclined to make the change, but I would love to hear people's thoughts on the two main questions I have:
1. Is there an easy and reliable timeframe regarding how games shipped. In other words, can any of you older folks with good knowledge of the biz end say "pins were shipped on 5 ball until around 1980 (or whatever) and then the companies switched over to 3" or is it not that simple? I guess I am curious as to whether Stern shipped out F2K as a 5 or 3 ball game. I feel confident that Williams would have shipped Space Odyssey as a 5 ball game in 1976. Let me know if I am wrong about this. Also, how much of this was in variance back in the day due to operator discretion? This question arises from the more rigid, historical accuracy-loving part of me.
2. As a pinball fan/owner, what is your personal philosophy regarding ball counts and what dictates how you set up a table when you take possession of it? Do you prefer the toughness and pain of the 3 ball count or do you like setting tables on 5 balls to give people more of a chance to get further into a rule set or whatever? I am a huge fan of the rough nature of 3 ball play and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the "just one more" factor in pinball. I also worry about more modern games being set on 5 ball counts because I feel like ball times and - of course - game times will increase during group play and decrease people's chances of playing more. This question arises from the more philosophical part of me.
No, I'm not losing sleep. No, I'm not frozen in a state of indecision. I'm just a geek who loves talking about pinball. Hopefully some of you are as well.
SilverBallKid in Motown