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Bear Brown
February 20 at 10:21pm

I just want to take a second and recognize that in my short period of time playing, that I have met some of the most welcoming, kind, and supportive people in this league. Even though we are technically competing I hear applause for every good ball, and sympathy for every bad drain. Never have met such a universally awesome group of folks.

Every week playing with you all is a major highlight and I can’t wait to meet and high five every single one of you.

Keep being righteous.

That’s all.

Taking the Plunge into a Pinball League

Story By: Matt Boschert published January 17th, 2014.

I joined my first League Wednesday night. Doors opened at 6:30 and we were to start at 7:00. When I arrived people were just mulling about playing the different machines that were available, and being my first night I didn’t know anyone. I was so nervous I almost left before the darn thing even began! Similar story.. my sister went for a root canal or something, more than just a filling, the dentist was running late and my sister is hypochondriac with her mouth.. weird.. and her husband finally chased someone down and said she is so nervous, and waiting is making it worse, if you don’t get her in a chair now she is going to literally run out the door. That was me.

The Connecticut faction of the NEPL meets at The Pinball Store in Orange, CT.(Now meets at the Sanctum).  I have been there a handful of times, so the surroundings were not too intimidating. I have never played competitive sports in a classical sense (baseball, basketball football, etc). I was in an APA (American Poolplayers Association) league several years back, so competition is not foreign to me but I am much more secure in my billiard prowess than in pinball. Even owning 9 games, I still get my arse kicked regularly by these mechanical machines of mayhem. Now I don’t mean that occasionally I have a bad ball here and there, I mean like 6 million on MM on a regular basis, with a rare 50-70mil.

I am learning to control the ball more, and that has been a process. Especially coming from a “hit the ball when it gets to the flippers regardless of trajectory and speed” type of player. I can’t tell you the number of times that I attempt to catch the ball, I stop the momentum, and inadvertently drop the flipper too soon and the ball falls helplessly to the drain, I can’t tell you how many times! Here ball… don’t bounce free, rather, fall silently to your resting place as I stare at an 8million hurry up award on the castle gate literally go down the drain, but I digress.

Entering the The Pinball Store… after playing a game on a Tron LE that was turned on, I was greeted by Jim. He explained the ins and outs of the league and that we were just waiting for the rest before we started.

Once all the players showed up, we randomly drew names to form groups. We were fourteen so we had two groups of four and two groups of three. I was in a group of three with Rob and Nick. Typically each player gets to choose a machine to compete on, and the rotation of who goes first, second, third, fourth is pretty straight forward… 1,2,3,4 then 2,3,4,1 and so on for a total of four rounds. The person going first in any particular round, got to choose the machine. With a three member group the first person chooses a machine twice, essentially filling the role of the fourth person. The scoring typically 5 points, 3 points, 2 points, 1 point is a little different as the 2 point third place score is removed so 5,3,1.

The first game we played was TSPP, Robs choice. As we approach the game Nick tells us that he owns the game, and gave us a quick run down of scoring and things to potentially avoid.

Now as an aside, this is something I didn’t even think about. Is it snarky, bad form, poor sportsmanship to choose a game that you own? Also do you have to tell the group that you own the machine even if you didn’t choose it? What’s protocol here?

“And now on with the show…”

TSPP was first, I cant tell you flip by flip, but lets just say that I was less than spectacular, scoring only (round figures here) 600,000. A whopping 1 point for the round. (is it time to go home yet?)

Nick chose next and we played Sterns latest, a ST, pro version. They have a LE available but was not turned on this night. I was second up this round and can I say I had an awesome first ball, scoring over 20million. Ended the round with just under 30 million, initials on a machine I didn’t own and 5 points for first place in the second round.

My turn to choose, I chose TRON LE, now I was going to pick X-Men, which I own, and I would have certainly mentioned it, but playing so well on ST I was okay, if the pinball Gods so determined, getting only one point the rest of the night.

You have to understand I am so afraid of looking like a fool or being made fun of. I had my confidence shattered when I moved to Connecticut. With-in a span of about 7 months, I blew the engine in my 4-Runner, my wife left me, I was laid-off from my job, was basically sued by the people that bought my house in Texas because I left paint in the garage and my 8 year old daughter went through major surgery (she’s fine and attending SCSU now). Ridiculous time of my life to say the least. (sounds like a country song!! lol) I am re-married, and my kids live with me, all three (wife 2 kids) were excited for me when I told them about the league. Things are looking up! Therapy session over, thanks for that.

TRON LE was my choice, and again I ended with the best score 11 million and change.

The final game was Rob’s choice again, and we were going to play WOZ. Rob owns this game and when we approached the game, someone had left a 4 player game started and not plunged the ball. He decided to move on and chose Stern Batman. This time I ended with 1 point.

So when we tallied up the points for all the rounds, it was pretty funny, all ended with 12 points. Holy crap! Seriously!

As I sit here writing this, thinking about the league;What a great moment that we all cheered each other on. I realize that unlike the APA, we are in a pinball league not to compete against each other, but rather to compete against any given pinball machine for that particular round. During match play at APA if you don’t have a shot, you intentionally try to snooker your opponent so they have less of a chance succeeding. We aren’t doing that here. We are all just trying to do our best against a shiny silver ball. That’s going to be my take on it anyway!

Find a league in your area, don’t be afraid, we all love it regardless of skill level. Meet some new people, make some new friends and best of all you get to bash a little silver ball!

Thanks to Jim for taking care of all the organizing that goes on, I honestly can’t imagine the time it must take. Thanks to Mike for allowing us the use of The Pinball Store.

Happy flipping everyone!


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