Borås Pinball Open 2014 - Borås - 19-21/09/2014

Missing the Classics open this spring I had already made sure the autumn event was booked in my calendar. As I really try to avoid too hasty tournament trips, I took couple of extra days off the work and decided to drive to Borås. After arriving to Stockholm in the thickest fog I’ve ever seen, I went to hunt for a pre-paid SIM card for my iPad. Getting one was quite easy task, unlike in some other countries (I’m looking at you, Italy!)

After the fog cleared, the Stockholm-Gothenburg highway was relaxing 5 hour drive with clear skies and dry roads with minimal traffic. The only snag was when the hotel's garage was blocked by a local marathon or something, so we had to find an alternative place to park.

Driving somewhere around Jönköping. That's lake Vattern out there.
I last visited INKen’s place last summer when we drove across the Europe, visiting old and new pinball scene friends. The place itself hadn’t changed much, save getting some of the latest games. The main tournament was to be played on 4 different machines, each player group got different machines. Mine were X-Men, Road Show, Mousin’ Around and 6 Million Dollar Man. All of them were familiar machines for me, with at least some kind of tournament strategy for them. The side tournament again was to be played on a single machine, mine was Stern’s Avatar. Not bad choice either for me.

In addition to those, modern set high score was on Stern’s Star Trek, classic set high score on Hot Doggin, Single handed tournament on Pirates of the Caribbean and kill switch on No Good Gofers. I was a bit curious about the kill switch competition and I had to play couple of rounds on NGG just to see what happens! The center playfield captive ball was rigged to the slam tilt switch, so it was an instant game over and no chance to enter your high score. Pretty inventive! In the end I got only a bit over million on it, but left it alone after a rather frustratingly good game which ended on the first ball.

According to the INKen’s post on Svenska flippersällskapet Thursday and Friday were aimed for the local players, but I wanted to play at least one entry on each machine, and more if I got my game going as Saturdays tend to get crowded. When we arrived around 20:00 on Friday the place was already more than just a bit warm, so I could only wonder what happened when the majority of players arrived on Saturday!

I started out with X-Men. I’ve yet to come up with a proper tournament strategy for the game, but for most of the time playing the multiballs gets me far enough. The game ended at 13.9M, which wasn’t that good, but watching the others play I saw only one guy going over that, so I left X-Men be for now.

While Mousin’ Around is one of my all time System 11 favorites, lately I’ve been leaning towards it not being that great tournament game, mostly because of its easily repeated center loop making the whole hard to cash multiball pretty much pointless. I was wondering what kind of changes were made on the machine to prevent this, and the very first game on it revealed the center ramp switch didn’t work. It’s supposed to re-lite the kickback after 3 shots and then score 100k after that. No kickback and no 100k, which kind of threw my original strategy out of the window. I was already on my last ball and had quickly start the multiball which I did, but couldn’t collect the jackpot. I guess it was a rather moot point anyway as I hadn’t grown the jackpot to any meaningful value.

Road show was on the opposing side of the corridor, so that was my next pick. The machine was way slower than the one I used to have at home, but still rather challenging. I found the lock shot quite fast and started the multiball. The balls were ejected from the lock with a rather nasty bounces, and I lost two of them right from the start. Good thing this game has a multiball restart, so I hit the lock again. Much to my surprise the machine slam tilted! Looking around I wasn’t the only one surprised by this. INKen checked the machine, but all the slam tilt switches were bent so there was absolutely no way of them contacting accidentally. I played another game, but it was way less energetic and the 249M I got was way less than what I had on my previous game’s first ball. Well, shit happens.

Last I played the 6 million dollar man. I had nothing else for this machine, except trying to collect all targets needed to light the “50000” on the mid-playfield for 50k. I got it once, but other than that the game was more about seeing different variations on how the ball can get to the outlanes.

This wasn’t obviously a good day to play, so I saved rest of my entries for the Saturday, risking the place would be crowded. Before leaving we signed up to the split tournament with Pilvi, as team WTF. Our qualification games were White Water and Roller Disco. Both of them were actually pretty good split games. We played one game on each, getting 180k on Roller Disco and a bit over 70M on White Water. I guess that leaves something to work on tomorrow.


I woke up early in the morning when someone started to shout “HEJ HEJ HEJ!” over the PA system right under our window. If that wasn’t enough, they started to play some music. A quick look out the window revealed that they were building the city marathon’s goal area right next to our hotel. I had high hopes that I could have at least one night’s sleep on this trip, but no.

After the breakfast (where we got the local Best Western’s delicacy - salt with some scrambled eggs in it) we returned to INKen’s place which during the morning hours was still relatively empty and cool.

I returned to the Road Show, which made a complete fool out of me - my second attempt gave me 130M and the third 67M. I get a better bonus on my average game on it! I left it alone for the time being.

I took a second attempt at Mousin’ Around, although this time I aimed for the multiball. Much to my surprise the center ramp switch now worked and while I didn’t get the multiball jackpot, I looped the center ramp around 20 or so times and ended up with 3.5M, which I gladly took after the last score.

6 Million Dollar Man was also one machine where I took another approach. Instead of trying to collect the 50000, I took TTV’s advice to only aim for the orbits and then the upper center saucer. The orbit shots were easy, pretty riskless compared to the 50000-shot’s stand-up targets and after advancing bonus to 5X (during which I already had 100k bonus!) I could continue repeating the shot and get 10k from the saucer. I got 365k, which towards the end fit in the top-5 after being 2nd best for best part of the day.
After watching TTV to grind away the kill switch game and setting the high score for now, I returned for my last attempt at Road Show. That game must have really hated me, as at the beginning of my 3rd ball I had less than 50M. With absolutely nothing interesting lit, I pounded the bulldozer until I got the locks lit and started the multiball. For once something went right and after the multiball I had reached my previous best entry. The game didn’t last much longer, but I still got 375M, which was better than nothing, I guess.

TTV grinding NGG
Next it was time for team WTF to make another attempt. Breaking the 180k on Roller Disco was our first goal, and when we got to over 150k on our first ball I had high hopes for a decent score. But then things crapped out and the rest 4 balls were mostly house balls, and even when we did beat the previous score with by 19k. I don’t know what’s the official best approach to Roller Disco, but we found getting the drop target banks down raised the drop target value to 1k, after which we just kept sweeping them down. It also scored 1k of bonus for each drop target, and with bonus multipliers the racking up points was rather effortless.

We also gave White Water another shot. We almost didn’t get off the ground with the game, but on the last ball we finally managed to start the multiball. As an odd detail, the game said “Ball 3 locked” when we locked the first ball. I’ve never seen that one before! Usually the game plays the multiball start animation after the 3rd lock. Anyway, I played the right side flippers and comboed 2 jackpots and then kept pounding in more as Pilvi made the lock shots. We went way past our previous score and for a second there team WTF was 4th in the competition. Had we managed to double our score at Roller Disco, we might actually have a chance. Oh well, I guess this went still a lot better than anticipated, I can’t remember if I’ve actually ever played with Pilvi in a tournament.

Last there was the side tournament, which for me was 2 tries at Stern’s Avatar.  The tournament was a 50:50 style, which means half of the players are eliminated on each round until only the winner remains.

My first try at the Avatar
Avatar is a rather straightforward game, with virtually not much carrying over to the next ball. My usual strategy is to lock one ball in the link, then concentrate on amp suit. If the amp suit isn’t working out, I can hit the link captive ball twice and get an emergency multiball to help starting the amp suit multiball. After that it’s just wild flailing for anything that’s lit. I got 14M on my first attempt, and 34M on my second, which I believe was in the top 50%.

The crowd waiting for the final scores.
We kept the score monitors on eye for the better part of the day. First I dropped under the qualification line in the main tournament (which didn’t come as a surprise), then team WTF was out in the splits. What remained was my 2nd place in the side tournament, and in the end only 2 others went past me, leaving me 4th. As there were over 120 players, I think 4th was pretty good shot considering some of the world’s top IFPA ranked players were present.
On the second round I did pretty much the same as on the first one. I found it a bit unforgiving that we only had one entry per round after the qualification. Fortunately I got 32M on my second round entry and was easily still in the game.
On round 3 I hit the crap luck as I just couldn’t get the amp suit shot to sink in while I had the link multiball going on. I did get the amp suit later on, but I’ve found stacking the two multiballs being the only fast and sure way of racking points.

Much to my surprise the resulting 10M was still enough and I got to round 4. After getting two house balls I gave up on the amp suit and tried to start the link instead first. That failed, so no multiballs and 2M score. Apparently I was finally in the losing 50% and finally out of the game.

The outcome

In the end I was 54/125 in the main and 14/121 in the side tournament, taking almost 12 WPPR points home from this trip. While being a bit bummed about how the main tournament went, the 14th place in the side tournament helped a lot, and once again raised me to over 200 WPPR points, hopefully ensuring my place in 2015’s IFPA12.

Chilling out with Evel Knievel
Driving back home we hit probably the worst storm I’ve seen in a while. At times it rained so hard the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the rain and the high winds really did a number on the fuel economy. The ferry we took from Stockholm to Helsinki also got its part of the storm. It’s rare to see a ship that big to tilt over 5 degrees.

Anyway, I hope to see you guys at the next league tournament, which is at our arcade this time. Until then, and welcome to my pinblog, by the way!

Tourism PR done right

One last thing that really deserves noting. While I was waiting for our ferry at Helsinki, I tweeted this:
Much to my surprise, it was responded by Borås' city Twitter account:
Now that is effective marketing and way to make someone feel welcome. Looking at my home town's reaction to tourist it often feels like we're giving the finger to them.

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