austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

So the other way the plan to have a nice easy low-key July at our local pinball venue went wrong was the Stern Army. This is a promotional plan Stern Pinball's cooked up. Venues sign up to be part of the Stern Army, hold events at least once a month, and get merchandise and contests and stuff like that to stir up pinball interest. Pinball Pete's, who routes the games in our hipster bar, wanted to be part of this. They underwrote bunny_hugger filling out the paperwork to run a Stern Army location.

And so we got weird stuff delivered to our door. The standee for an Uncle Sam-type picture of pinball magnate Gary Stern, wanting you to join the Stern Army. Rolled-up translites, the pictures for the back of pinball machines where the scoring display is, for several games. Iron Maiden. Ghostbusters. ... Roller Coaster Tycoon. That sort of thing. They're meant to be given out over the year as prizes to get people excited about pinball. They even sent a plaque to award whoever won the launch party for the Iron Maiden pinball game.

A launch party is what you might think, a tournament whose focus is playing Stern's newest pinball game. We have one at the hipster bar. It was a bit outside the normal window for holding an Iron Maiden launch party, but they had extra plaques, I guess, and sent one along. We've been to these and they've usually been little side tournaments to a normal night of pinball. Usually, everyone who wants to plays the launched game, in free time during the main event. The four highest entry scores then play off to see who wins first, second, third, and fourth places. First place gets the Stern-supplied plaque.

But we didn't have any events running in the near future that this could be a side tournament to. And it would have demanded time at Rocket Robin that people didn't have. And nobody would come out for a meager little one-game tournament for a game that's been out several months and is in all the big venues. But, bunny_hugger had a plan. Our hipster bar now had four games that could be called music-themed: Iron Maiden, Metallica, AC/DC, and Elvis. Five, if you include Monster Bash, but the other four are all Stern games and for the inaugural Stern Army event it seemed appropriate to use Stern pinball games.

So bunny_hugger set up the ``Battle of the Bands'' launch party. It was done Herb-style, a tournament format called that because, I dunno, someone called Herb did it? You play each game as you like. The highest score on a table earns its player 100 points. The second-highest earns its player 99 points. The third-highest earns 98 points, and so on. For each player add together their scores on all four tables and drop the lowest score. This gives standings to go into finals. The eight highest-point-scorers go on to playoffs. Those are done in groups of four, playing three games each. Two rounds of this and you have a tournament that lasts a fair while and earns a nice juicy prize of ranking points, ever needed in the race to get to state championships.

Going wrong with this: well, there's making plaques for second, third, and fourth place. That took time that never quite seemed to be there. But also, the only time that made sense to do this would be July, and the only chance for that would be the day before Grand Rapids Pinball League's regularly scheduled league night, again risking saturating the player base. We drew sixteen players in all, although two of them were former Lansing League regulars who happened to be there and who had to be coaxed, at great length, into putting in entries. (It made a difference because with 16 players, eight could go to the playoffs; with only 14 players, at most seven would be allowed, because rules.)

And in the quest for the top four games --- well, I got into the playoffs. But I only made it through the first round, ending up in fifth place. Also it ended up being a crazy long playoffs. The playoffs were scored PAPA-style. (PAPA here is 'Professional and Amateur Pinball Association', one of the organizing bodies.) You play in groups of four, with the winner earning four points, second place getting two points, third place one, and fourth place zero. Three games in a round. It's possible to get ties. We got ties in every group. Both of the two semifinalist groups; the top two people in each group were supposed to move on. And then there was a tie game again in the finals. And the finals tie was for first place, the one position that must be tiebroken.

And anyone would expect some of these games to go on long. Games like Metallica have been out for years and have pretty well-understood rules, and everyone in the playoffs knew that particular table well. What we did not expect was that everyone was going to play Elvis forever. Elvis had been in the venue for whole weeks at that point and most of the players had only a dim idea of the rules. Somehow everyone unlocked some secret super-duper mode and put up impossibly long games. Normally, a score of about 20 million is a solid, group-winning game. In one of the playoff groups, one of the players put up 68 million. And came in last.

What was supposed to be the final game of the final found, Iron Maiden, ended up not being. CST and KRG ended up tied for first. Had to play that out. The randomly selected game to award first place was ... Elvis. Of course it was. This was not a crazy long impossibly drawn-out game, mercifully. But it did mean this amusing little launch party went on to about 7:30 am three days after it started. Whew.

Trivia: Saint-Pierre de Montmartre, the oldest church in Paris (begun 1133) was also the first relay station for the (flag) telegraph relay line, established 1794, connecting the Louvre to Saint Catherine's church in Lille. Source: The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, Graham Robb.

Currently Reading: Fuelling the Empire: South Africa's Gold and the Road to War, John J Stephens.

PS: Monday in Omena started with some leisurely bunnywalking.


Columbo exploring the deck on the house we rented in Omena. He's already satisfied his curiosity about the purse situation.


Columbo considering making a donation to bunny_hugger's busking hobby. He'd surely be doing better if he set up at the subway station, but, eh.


bunny_hugger giving a lift to some of the local insects!

Tags: pinball, traverse bay 2017

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