I have recently received both my Smaug and GBLE within a few weeks of each other. I paid $7500 preorder for the Smaug and $8000 for GBLE. Only games I'm playing right now are those two. Here are a few thoughts on my personal comparison:
Out of box issues:
- Smaug: 1. I tightened down all screws under the playfield before ball one was played. All seemed 1/4 to 1/2 turn too loose. I've had no issues. 2. I've had the issue where the glass is a little too wide for the channel. JJP has already sent me a fix for this but I have yet to install. 3. Backlight too bright so I put in a 1/2 NPO filter as suggested in other threads. 4. My left habitrail came with the new design which works 100%. 5. My popups did not come with the fix but I've only had one ball ever stuck so no issues there.
-GBLE 1. Crazy airballs as everyone knows so getting plastic for left ramp standups. 2. Cheap ball hop drains on outlanes so need to buy fix-it kit. 3. Slimer rubs and even gets stuck when trying to go to his "home" position 4. Flaky left ramp switch which needs adjusting as it only registers about 1 in 3 hits. 5. NO insert ghosting for me (yet) 6. Scolari targets spring needs to possibly be changed out due to bricked direct hits not dropping the target. 7. My slings hardly ever work. Must need to adjust the leaf switches. As such, so far I'm underwhelmed with the Magna Slings. Hopefully some adjustments change my thoughts. If not, I'd rather have normal slings.
Game play thoughts:
- Smaug: Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! Game is in no way, shape of form floaty (my pitch currently at 6.9 degrees and flippers at 25 right and 26 left). One potential downside to so many modes is that you almost need a "spotter" to play with to tell you what the heck is going on. Game is very immersive with the light show and sounds. With this title I don't know how anyone can get a good feel for the game at an expo type setting as you need many, many games and good sounds to really appreciate. That said, this is not an in-your-face speed demon and can certainly play longer (though my high score is still only around 750k). I can get numerous games of GBLE in the span of one or two good games on Smaug (not all games lasting long of course)
- GBLE: Again, awesome light show and sounds. Way better than I expected. Game is a little frustrating currently until I get above issues fixed. The flipper gap is real but I don't necessarily feel cheated with it. I may try out the post with the Pinball Life kit and see but currently I feel I might just use the outlane fix. My high score so far is only 27million so I have yet to get any depth in the game. Still trying to figure it out a lot but harder to do with the very short games I'm experiencing. Flow is pretty good and I think this game will really challenge me to get better. Ecto-goggles are WAY cool. Much cooler than I thought they'd be. Subway ramp also neat but those goggles are awesome and very fun.
Overall: At this point I'd give the nod to Smaug as the better purchase. For less money what you get is far advanced compared to GBLE. I think premium GB owners will be very happy (never tried a pro so can't comment). Actually I think these two pins complement each other very well and I'm very happy to have them in my lineup. Heck, right now nothing else is even being turned on.
What say you?