I am not really suprised to see little discussion about PAPA on Pinside, but still wanted to share.
I was pretty vocal about some things last year that I felt needed improvement so it is only right that I should share when I feel there were many positives from this year's changes.
PAPA 17 was a blast and in particular from my perspective the change to put an IFPA limit on those allowed to play in C division (over 400 only for C) was great combined with the decision to allow in 24 to qualifying. It seemed to be a vast improvement from last year and from my analysis of scores and the people playing in each respective division it seemed almost perfect. I did not see any complete blow outs or people that clearly were misalligned in to the dividion they were playing in.
This is a great thing for competitive pinball and provided a much improved atmosphere and comraderie in C division. I really do think it was anyones tournament to win in C. I saw lots of people with a ticket that was seriously one slightly better game away from making it to qualifying and some great evenly matched competition >> which IMO makes for FUN pinball. These small changes resulted in huge improvements in the competition and experience of many people I spoke with.
There was a pretty good selection of games this year (I would like to have seen more GTBs in each bank) and that made for a more even qualifying round which allowed someone to always find atleast 1 strength while still challenging C players to strecth their limits/skills.
There is always room for improvement and if I were to comment on a few things in hopes of continuing the discussion towards future changes then the main thing to me would be to spend a little more time finely tuning the C bank games for greater consistency. PAPA obviously has a phenomenal technical staff so this is not a dig on them. Games were clean but IMO needed a little more attention to detail of ball flow and physics which could result in a more consistently playing game and in particular ball feeds. I think the 5 game ticket format especially needs games that play consistent to reward skill and further decrease random luck.
Keep in mind that tough-playing is fine and what I am talking about is increasing consistentcy of ball physics and movement. I can give the examples of TAF and AFM which had inconsistent kickouts from scoops; sometimes shooting as far as center drain all the way to sling. This is not just a difficult game to play but what I would call a poorly tuned game. Mostly likely the result of beat up weldmelts as it all too common on these games.
My other suggestion is to kill the superbands. They are very inconsistent and play poorly. If you must use superbands then pick a single durometer/color and put them on everything. This is just opinion but I find them to be very inconsistent in play depending on the game they are on. My opinion is that a consistent playing game helps to actually allow the best players to rise to the top and removes more randomness.
Overall PAPA was amazing and I highly suggest that any competitive player make the pilgrimage to Pittsburg to play in the event. Amazing place, great people (even that Bowen guy was pretty cool ), and really fun competition.
It is a unique experience and if you enjoy playing pinball there is NO better place to be! I am still exhausted from the weekend but looking forward to the next time I can visit.