Quoted from Gattiman:
The only time I really have is on my days off so long games wouldn’t bother me. Where are you seeing TWD or Maiden for 3500? Lol. And I know this is going to sound lame but the details really make the experience for me so I’d probably enjoy one really nice pin more than two that I want to mess with to get looking up to what I want. Pros are usually missing the nice touches I really like.
I believe there is a TWD pro in my area on the marketplace right now for $4600. Maiden might be a few hundred more. I'm guessing in TX you should have some pretty solid options on the used market and the ability to wheel and deal a bit.
That leaves you another ~$2000-2500 to get something else older and solid - or some time to save a few more bucks to get into the $3000-4000 tier of pins which will open your options up a bit more.
I agree that the mechs and toys on a JJP are light years beyond anything on a stern pro... but that doesn't mean that the games themselves aren't just as fun (or even more fun). The Hobbit is downright stunning out of the box. But TWD can be a pretty good looking game too. Especially if you put in a few mods yourself once you get the pin.
I guess its all about the core goal of getting the game. Is it a piece of functional art and entertainment for your house? Is it entertainment with the goal of getting really good a pinball too?
And the 'long game' syndrome can be hard to understand until you get to that point with a game yourself. When I first started out playing the longer the ball time... the better. LOTR, Hobbit, etc. I always viewed it as better value for my quarters.
But now that I've gotten a little better at pinball I can see the beauty in games that give you all the goods in a solid 10-15 minute play session... but leave you wanting to come right back because the hill isn't so big to climb. Basically anything that Lyman codes these days seems to be a home run in this regard.