Season 3 is in the final stretch, as Tuesday was meeting 7 of 8. Due to snow out west, the GR crowd did not make it out and will be doing a makeup session in the coming week. Russell also did not return (no word on whether it was due to yoga this time) and everyone is starting to wonder whatever happened to Amanda, too. As a result of the low attendance, some of the groups ended up as pairs or trios this time. We were scheduled to play Junk Yard, World Cup Soccer, Lord of the Rings, and The Simpsons. As usual, events made a mockery of my League Night Preview. I don’t think we have once managed to play all of the games that were actually on the list.
Joseph and I arrived fairly close to the start time, but most people had yet to arrive, so we decided to play a practice game. My personal rule is that I will not warm up on a game we are going to play for league. This is because I have had too many experiences of playing a fantastic warmup game and then an awful league game. Somehow an awful league game, though terrible enough, is made so much worse by following a great warmup game.
We chose to warm up on Tales of the Arabian Nights, and I finished with a score in the 8 millions somewhere, which I was very happy with. Joseph got to battle the genie, his first time doing so on a physical machine, though I was over getting a beer when it happened. Chris tried to summon me to watch but by the time I got back Joseph had unfortunately lost.
During practice, I heard some commotion in the vicinity of Junk Yard and looked over to see that someone had slam tilted it again. My immediate reaction was to scold Mike, but he proclaimed innocence and pointed the finger at Chris. “If I’m King Kong Stewart,” Mike said, “then he’s Tyrannosaurus Tabaka!” Matt came by and sternly informed everyone that we were going to play Junk Yard this time regardless, so we would all just have to be gentle with it.
Then Matt held out the Sorting Hat for us to draw our starting machines. I drew a little slip that read… “TotAN”?! What? Well, it turned out that as World Cup Soccer was down, Arabian Nights was to be its replacement, and worse, I was going to start my night on it. Greg also drew TotAN, making us league buddies for the night.
I tried not to let my superstition psych me out, but it was to no avail. I finished with something like 750K. Greg had a miserable game too and we both went upstairs in defeat to play Addams Family. At this point, Danny and Shila arrived and Shila joined me and Greg. This is also the point when I learned, from listening to Shila spell her name for Greg (as he was the keeper of the scores notebook), that we have been spelling her name in the league results all along. I mentioned this and apologized, and she replied that she and Danny figure that “Shyla” is her secret pinball identity.
Greg and I both had much better Addams Family than TotAN games. I had a particularly thrilling game as the 62 million I earned was a personal best, and by a significant margin. This was the second time I have set a personal best during a league game – two different leagues, but the same game! My previous personal best on Addams Family was set during the last Marvin’s League meeting. I was so excited by my finish that I began dancing around until I noticed that the group on Lord of the Rings were all chuckling at my antics.
Speaking of Lord of the Rings, it was clear my group would not be playing it anytime soon, as the group currently stationed there was loaded with top players. We headed downstairs to play Junk Yard. I’m glad to have that back in league rotation, finally; it’s not a perfect game but it’s fun. At some point Joseph came up to me and told me Chris was destroying the Ring, so I ran back upstairs to join a crowd of people watching. It was a success! I was told that he was still on Ball 1 and my jaw dropped. When he did finally lose his ball, he had to throw away the next one (I presume he had already used his one allowed extra ball) and managed to make some hay of that: he successfully shot the Tower skill shot and thereby set up Return of the King.
That spectacle brought back memories for me. This league night was roughly the anniversary of my first ever league night back in November 2013, which is also when I started getting seriously interested in pinball. At that first league night, I remember seeing a crowd form around a guy I now know as Chris, and hearing that he was “destroying the Ring.” Through Joseph, I was somewhat familiar with the idea that pinball games had something like a final boss battle that amounted to “beating the game,” but I had never actually seen it happen. It did not hurt my rapidly developing interest in competitive pinball that I saw someone achieve such an exciting feat on my first league night!
After a very long time (during which I went ahead and had a side game of Medieval Madness) the word came down that LotR was finally free, and Greg, Shila and I finished up our last game for the night. Greg, Joseph, and I played several just-for-fun games afterward.
Chris stopped by on his way out to give me a good deal of grief about my decision to skip the Arcade League this month in order to go to Silver Bells, Lansing’s annual holiday event that includes an illuminated parade and the lighting of the state tree. Among other arguments against going to Silver Bells, he offered that he had seen the state tree already and it was a “scrawny-ass tree.” I did end up going to Silver Bells, and when I got home, Mike had posted a photo from the Arcade of an empty space where FunHouse used to be, captioned “Heather, have bad news for you.” I wailed and gnashed my teeth on Facebook all evening about this until finally, sometime after 2 a.m., Mike confessed that he and Chris had moved FunHouse to take the picture and it was still there. Never mind King Kong and Tyrannosaurus: their true identities have been revealed as the Left Troll and the Right Troll. I will bide my time until an opportunity for revenge presents itself….
This week’s league play still isn’t over, as the Grand Rapids crew needs to come out and play their games. This means that there aren’t any results to report yet. A little bird told me they will probably be coming Tuesday or Wednesday. I plan to show up for some more league fun when they do and I hope others will too. As usual, you can find more pictures of the night in the Gallery.
To be continued…