austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Little old lady welcome

Back to Pinburgh, to the convention center. There'd be two more rounds of qualifying. The first two rounds we were seeded at random; now we were being put in groups that roughly matched our total won-loss record. My 0-12 round three dropped me from 390th seed (out of 684) down to 617th.

I got put into Set 31, ``Taurus''. The modern game was Metallica, which you can find at every pinball venue these days. There's two approaches to take on this: shoot for the electric chair (``Sparky'') or shoot for the snake (``Snake''). Sparky's easier but risks center-draining. The snake's harder but less likely to ping out of play. Doesn't matter; we all put up lousy games on it. I didn't do badly, though; I think I got out of it in second place.

Stars was the early solid-state game. It's one I know from playing in Flint contests. It's got an easy objective: knock down the drop targets, then shoot the spinners. It played different from the one I knew. I didn't dare risk a slick move we'd learned for this game: it's possible to bounce the ball from one flipper to another by letting it bounce off the center post. If it's going fast enough and if the rubber on the post is bouncy enough. No, not daring that.

Space Station was the late-solid-state game. Again a pretty familiar one; it's also on Pinball Arcade. And it too treated my kindly, as I resorted to just trying to hit all the standing targets. Mars Trek was the early-solid-state game, another one made by a Spanish company and one none of us had ever heard of before. It's got this fun little pair of spinners connected by a horseshoe and I heard warnings that the scoop in the middle of this kicked the ball down the center. It didn't for me. I had a fantastic ball one and didn't humiliate myself on balls two or three.

So I got out of the round with 10 wins and 2 losses, almost a perfect reversal of my round three catastrophe. I'd bounce up from 617th-seed to 505-th seed. Meanwhile bunny_hugger, on the bank ``Miaplacidus'', would have almost as good a round and get her second 9-3 set.

The electromechanical game for this round was to be Williams's 1977 Argosy, which even by then everyone was calling ``Aaargh-osy''. Bit of a rough one. But my recollection is that the game was taken out and replaced and now I don't know what it was replaced by. Maybe I'm mis-remembering.

The late-solid-state game, stretching the definition a bit, was Williams's 1993 Bram Stoker's Dracula. It's also on Pinball Arcade. It also noted there was some glitch with the Mist Multiball; a magnet's supposed to drag the ball across the playfield and it wasn't doing that. Maybe that was to keep the highly skilled players from dominating their bank. Several games were nerfed in one way or another to keep down ball times. I played this a fair bit back at Rutgers, trying to find the good parts, but it always struck me as a dark, muddy mess back then. When I've played it lately I've ... not had reason to change my opinion.

I had some serious glory in the early-solid-state game, Williams's 1980 Algar. It's got a nice cheery theme and some giant lion-man art to it. And I kept finding the way up to the pop bumpers and at one point a tremendous bonus. Felt really good.

And then the modern game, another that's on Pinball Arcade: Sega's 1997 Starship Troopers. I mentioned going in, this was a game I'd never played before, based on a movie I never saw, based on a book I never read, ``so I'm expecting great things here!'' I allowed that I did know its flame war. And then having ritually disclaimed my skills I would have one of those Beginner's Luck games. You know, the ones where everything just goes right. Where you keep hitting jackpots. Keep finding multiballs. Keep restarting multiballs somehow. I'll never have a game like that again. But here I had just the game I needed to dominate our quartet. One of the folks from my 0-12 round happened to be nearby and mentioned how glad he was I hadn't been crushed.

As good as that round felt, and it did feel very good, it wasn't actually that triumphant for me. I came out with 7 wins, 5 losses. That would bring my first-day total to 28 wins, 32 losses.

bunny_hugger had a disheartening round in her bank, ``Columba'': 4 wins, 8 losses. But then she'd started the round as 193rd seed, and held her own well in that tough field. She ended the first day of qualifying with 31 wins, 29 losses. This may not sound like very much better than I did, but then she was tied with CST --- best player in Lansing league every season so far --- and that's not nothing.

Overnight all 684 players would be sorted into four divisions. Friday would see everyone compete to make the finals --- the top 40 --- of their group.

Trivia: The word ``drivel'' first appears in English as the verb, ``to drivel'', meaning to let saliva flow from the mouth or nose. By 1362 the verb had moved to mean ``to talk childishly or idiotically''. It would not appear in print as a noun until 1852. Source: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: DC Showcase Presents: Metal Men, Volume 1 Editor Peter Hamboussi. And they visit a lifeless planet where they conclude everyone was killed by an evil amusement park. While the park is certainly evil it seems like that requires some collaboration on the part of patrons to kill everyone in the world.

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