Pinball FX2

Pinball FX2

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Improve Your Game! - A General Pinball FX2 Guide
By Chewable C++
So, you want to improve your game? Great! Pinball is even more fun when you know what you're doing!

This guide covers everything from the basics to very advanced skills.
 
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Introduction
This guide will cover everything from pinball fundamentals to advanced skills.

The goal of the guide is to serve as a compendium of general Pinball FX2 knowledge for players of all skill levels.

Since FX2 has many tables with unique features, specific tables will only be mentioned as examples of general concepts.

This guide is specific to Pinball FX2. Although there will be some mentions of "real pinball", real pinball concepts that do not have much direct application in FX2 are outside the scope of this guide.

I will continue to update this guide as new information or corrections come in, or If I think of any improvements to presentation of existing content. Please post any suggestions in the comments or add and IM me.


The Basics

Pinball is played by propelling a steel ball around the playfield with flippers.

Each game of pinball provides 3 balls (attempts) by default (extra balls may be earned during play).

Each ball must first be launched from the launch lane (typically).

Hitting specific shots earns points and advances the state/progress of the game.

After first becoming familiar with this general idea, the experience can be improved by practicing Ball Control techniques, focusing on Survivability and endeavoring to understanding each table's Rules (e.g. what shots do what/when/why).

The goals of the game, besides the engaging experience of propelling steel balls around and watching interesting things happen, include:

* Playing for high score
* Reaching Wizard Mode
* Unlocking Steam Achievements (2 per table, varying difficulty)
* Increasing play time by improving survivability skills.
-- Particularly important in real pinball, which typically cost several quarters per attempt! Not so important in FX2, but this ability is a step towards all of the other goals.


Tips for Beginners

Control the ball. Use one flipper at a time. Don't mash the flipper buttons.

Trap the ball by raising a flipper. Attempt aimed shots from a trapped position.

Try to start modes by completing words on the playfield (e.g. one shot lights one letter). Try focusing on specific modes each time to learn them all.

Multiball can add a layer of protection because you are provided additional balls that can be drained before you lose your turn.

At the beginning of each ball, a free Ball Save is provided for about 15-30 seconds. If you drain the ball during this time (while Ball Save / Shoot Again is blinking), the drain will not count against you and the the ball will be re-launched automatically (but this will turn off the Ball Save).

A Ball Save is also provided during the first 15-30 seconds of a Multiball mode, but this one is not used up if you drain, so Instead focus on making the indicated (lit) shots to progress and/or score big points.


Main Playfield Elements
The Super League Football table is used here to illustrate the different parts of a typical pinball table's Main Playfield.

There are very many possible components of a pinball table, and every table is different. This section will describe some of the more common elements.

Thanks to Blinky for providing the Portrait orientation screenshot!

Starting from the bottom and moving clockwise:
1. Flippers
2. Slingshots
3. Left Inlane
4. Left Outlane
5. A (sink)hole
6. A Vari-Target
7. Bumpers
8. VUK (Vertical Up Kicker)
9. Left Ramp
A. Cross Ramp
B. Center Ramp
C. Left Orbit
D. DMD (Dot Matrix Display)
E. A Saucer
F. Upper Mini-Playfield
G. Right Ramp
H. Right Orbit
I. A Habitrail
J. Right Upper Flipper
K. Right Outlane
L. Right Inlane
M. Bonus Multipliers
N. A (One Way) Gate
O. Launch Lane
P. Outlane Flipper
Q. Launcher (a.k.a. Plunger)

R. Spinner (Table: The Walking Dead)
S. Stationary Targets (Table: Deadpool)
T. Captive Ball (Table: Excalibur)
U. Drop Targets (Table: Earth Defense)
V. Upper Lanes (Table: Mars)
W. Rollover Target (Table: Mars)




Detailed Explanation of the Parts:
1. Flippers (lowered/resting position) - you use these to move the ball around.
2. Slingshots - these will aggressively bounce the ball sideways.
3. Left Inlane - feeds the Left Flipper (1).
4. Left Outlane - leads to the drain.
5. A (sink)hole (specifically, a Reverse Scoop) - this one spits the ball back out.
6. A Vari-Target - this kind of target can be pushed backward varying amounts based on how hard it is hit.
7. Bumpers (a.k.a. Pop Bumpers or Jet Bumpers)
8. VUK (Vertical Up Kicker) - propels the ball upward into the habitrail that feeds the Left Inlane (3).
9. Left Ramp - drops ball down onto Right Orbit (H), setting up a shot from the Right Upper Flipper (J).
A. Cross Ramp - accessed from the Right Upper Flipper (J), it feeds either the Upper Mini-Playfield (F) or the Right Inlane (L). The decision is controlled by a Diverter mechanism.
B. Center Ramp - feeds the Left Inlane (3).
C. Left Orbit (a.k.a. Loop) - connects to the Right Orbit (H). Note: typically the Left Orbit is placed where the Left Ramp (9) is on this table. This layout is unusual.
D. DMD (Dot Matrix Display) - useful information is shown here.
E. A Saucer - this particular saucer ejects the ball back onto the main playfield.
F. Upper Mini-Playfield - as usual, this includes a full set of flippers. Drains feed the Right Inlane (L)
G. Right Ramp - feeds into Upper Mini-Playfield (F) or the Right Inlane (L). The decision is controlled by a Diverter mechanism.
H. Right Orbit (a.k.a. Loop) - connects to Left Orbit (C).
I. A Habitrail - this one feeds the Right Inlane.
J. Right Upper Flipper - many tables, like this one, have additional flippers you can control.
K. Right Outlane - leads to the drain.
L. Right Inlane - feeds the Right Flipper (1).
M. Bonus Multipliers - most tables will show the current bonus multiplier somewhere on the playfield. This table shows them on top of the Launch Lane (O).
N. A (One Way) Gate - the ball can move up through the gate, but not down through the gate.
O. Launch Lane (a.k.a. Plunger Lane) - the ball is propelled upward through this lane by the Launcher (Q), and into the main playfield.
P. Outlane Flipper - this unique feature replaces a more standard Kickback mechanism - a way of saving the ball from an outlane drain.
Q. Launcher (a.k.a. Plunger) - on this table, the standard mechanical spring plunger is replaced with a 3D character that kicks the ball into play.
R. Spinner - Each spin registers for points, and sometimes counts as progress towards something (e.g. lighting a Kickback on The Walking Dead)
S. Stationary Targets - These can appear alone or in banks. Often accompanied by a light or letter. When grouped in a bank, completing the bank is typically rewarded.
T. Captive Ball - Striking the captive ball with another ball will push it away, allowing it to interact with playfield elements in its own area (typically targets or saucers).
U. Drop Targets - Drop targets will drop down under the playfield when struck. Sometimes multiple drop targets form a kind of Drop Bank that only drops down after every target in the bank is hit (e.g. the Mission Drop Bank on the Iron Man table).
V. Upper Lanes - These lanes frequently appear at the top of a playfield. Each lanes has some kind of light, typically a letter. Lighting every lane confers some a reward, such as raising the Bonus Multiplier (M). Usually these lanes are fed directly from the Launch Lane (O). If they are present, one of the lanes will typically be lit for a Skill Shot.
W. Rollover Target/Switch - These mechanisms are seen all over a typical playfield, most often on Lanes. This is often how the game knows when the ball rolls past a particular point (however, other mechanisms exist that are less visually obvious).

NOTE: Ramps, holes, and some other shots can also be referred to by a more specific name (often something written on or near them). For example, the Left Ramp (9) on this table can be referred to as the Dribble Ramp.


Rules
Although at first it may seem that pinball is merely about bouncing the ball around randomly and watching interesting things happen, pinball is actually a very structured game.

Although there is some inherent randomness in the physics, shots can generally be very well controlled with practice and focus on Ball Control skills (discussed in Ball Control section).

Similarly, although there are some random events and rewards during the game, every "shot" in a game does something specific, often advancing progress towards various modes.

Understanding the rules of a table is important to "doing well" on the table and unlocking all of the table's many features.


Modes



Each table has a variety of modes which are activated in different ways.

Typically a mode is activated by repeating specific shots and/or lighting (a.k.a. "spotting") letters or targets on the playfield.

Some modes, when active, override/disable many of the default rules of the table. Other modes can be stacked together. Stacking certain modes can be very useful on many tables (see Case Study: Empire Strikes Back for an example).

Some modes depend on other modes (e.g. must be activated in order).

Most modes will somehow indicate which shots the player should make in order to advance the mode. This is usually done by flashing lights on the playfield and/or by instructions shown on the DMD (Dot Matrix Display).

Thus, it should be possible to understand the table rules by simply playing the table and paying attention to the DMD and the playfield. However, it can be difficult to learn all of the rules this way.

Modes can also be split into the following categories based on how they end:

* Multiball - a multiball mode ends when there is only one ball left in play.
* Timed (a.k.a. Hurry Up) - timed modes are typically referred to as a "Hurry Up". Some Hurry Up timers can be increased by completing certain shots. Some multiball modes are also timed, and the additional balls may disappear when the timer runs out.
* Untimed - some modes are untimed and will end only when the mode objectives are completed or at the end of a ball (last ball in play drains). These modes are primarily "mission" modes used to advance progress towards the table's Wizard Mode (final mode).
* Off Main Playfield - Video Modes, mini-playfield modes, and mini-games all take place apart from the main playfield. This means that there is no risk of ending the current ball during these modes! These modes can additionally fall into any of the 3 categories above.

Most tables have a final mode called Wizard Mode that typically scores very high and results in a reset of the completion status of associated main modes needed to reach the Wizard Mode. Wizard Modes in FX2 are usually timed or untimed multiball modes.

NOTE: Common historical usage of the term "Mode" does not include Multiball and primarily refers to timed, exclusive modes. But for this guide, we will use "Mode" to encompass all of the above categories.


Table Guides



FX2 provides some visual instructions for each of their tables. This is accessed by pausing a game and selecting Table Guide. This built in Table Guide is a good first stop to learn the table. This guide is not thorough and generally does not discuss scoring strategy.

Currently the best way to learn about the scoring (and other mechanics) of a table is to read ShoryukenToTheChin's table guides. You can find them by simply Googling for "<table name> table guide" or here:

https://forum.zenstudios.com/showthread.php?4006-Official-Pinball-Table-Guides

While his guides are quite comprehensive, they do not cover 100% of the table's rules and quirks and they do not always point out good scoring strategies. While there is no single centralized resource for optimal scoring strategies on specific tables, here are some ways to find them:

* Steam Guides - there are a few table specific optimal scoring strategy guides.
* YouTube videos - some top scoring players have uploaded their runs.
* Ask the experts - try posting a question in the FX2 forums. Alternatively:

Many active FX2 players, including many of the top players have each other friended on Steam. This serves a variety of purposes, including being able to comparing high score progress in real time during gameplay. We're a pretty friendly bunch. If you have a question, try asking one of us directly. We will also sometimes have conversations in the comments sections of screenshots we post - in essence making a sort of ad hoc forum out of the Activity Feed.


Advanced Table Knowledge



Table knowledge in general underpins all aspects of pinball performance.

Every table has many intricacies about its rules and the playfield layout that are important to master in order to improve performance on the particular table.

While there are relatively few consolidated resources available now for advanced table knowledge beyond the basic table rule set, some expert players have posted videos and in various places provided commentary in forum posts, screenshot and video comments, etc.

An astute player should attempt to learn all of the table intricacies first hand, but a wise player will also seek to learn from others.

Various examples of advanced table knowledge will be mentioned throughout this guide.


Controls - Part 1


There are 3 basic controls in FX2 pinball:

* Launch
* Flippers
* Nudging

The launch and nudge controls can be analog (if using an Xbox 360 controller).

Controls for both keyboard and controller inputs can be remapped under Options -> Controls. Note that it is possible to achieve considerable variety of mappings for the 360 controller, but controls and axes are only available while editing a control as long as they are unmapped. For example, the triggers (LT or RT) can be mapped to launch the ball if first unmapped from flippers, and the nudge can be mapped to either analog stick.


Launching the Ball

To begin a game, you must first launch the ball.

Most tables have a spring mechanism (pictured) which allows you to choose the force of the ball.

If you are using the keyboard, pressing Enter will quickly pull the plunger all the way back, and then slowly move the plunger forward, allowing you to release the Enter key at the right moment to select the launch strength.

Alternatively, left click and drag downward with the mouse to set the launch strength. Release to launch. The mouse is the most accurate launch control.

On a controller, pull the right analog stick down to the desired level and let go. Alternatively, the A button can be used in the same way as the Enter key. Using a button may in some cases allow for a more precise shot.

NOTE: The first time you pull the analog stick back to launch, the game will behave as if you pushed the launch button instead. To work around this, quickly pull the stick back slightly and release, then continue normally.

All tables have a skill shot, which is a particular shot right off of the plunger. Common examples of skill shots include:

* Putting the ball into a specific lane on the upper part of the main playfield. (e.g. Droids, Epic Quest)
* Hitting a specific target (e.g. Super League Football)
* A specific low strength shot within the launch lane itself (e.g. V12, Boba Fett)
* A full strength timed shot (e.g. Empire Strikes Back)

In many of these cases, the left flipper button can be used to zoom to the skill shot area, showing which target/lane you need to hit. This control will be announced on the DMD if applicable.

Many tables have a Super Skill Shot, which is only available upon successful completion of the regular skill shot and must be done with the flipper controls rather than the launcher.

Some tables have a Hidden Skill Shot which is not documented in the table guide or otherwise indicated. For example, on Wild West Rampage, the ball must fall backward into the Jail Hole.

Some tables (e.g. Earth Defense and Guardians of the Galaxy) have an "auto-plunger". On those tables, simply pressing the launch button will launch the ball. The velocity cannot be altered. On those tables, the skill shot involves pressing the launch button at the correct time, typically based on a moving crosshair on the DMD.


Flippers



Flippers (pictured) in FX2 can be either up or down (i.e. raised or lowered). Pressing the appropriate control will raise the flippers. Holding down those buttons will keep the flippers raised.

If a ball is contacted while raising a flipper, this will propel the ball forward.

Keeping a flipper raised can be used to Trap the ball (see Ball Control section).

Note that many tables have more than two flippers on the main playfield. These additional flippers are typically referred to as upper flippers.

Some tables have mini-playfields that have their own flippers. Sometimes these mini-playfields are visible on the main playfield directly (e.g. Infnity Gauntlet, Excalibur). Sometimes they are hidden or separate and not visible until activated (e.g. Boba Fett, Guardians of the Galaxy, Masters of the Force).

On some tables, when using controller triggers to control flippers, upper flippers activate at a different point on the trigger axis than the lower flippers. This can be advantageous in certain situations (see Half-Flip). Some tables allow for this asynchronous control, but it must first be enabled in the Extra Adjustments operator menu (see Configuration).


Pausing

You can pause the game by pressing Start on a controller or Esc on your keyboard.

You can complete exit the game and your progress will be saved.

When you resume, if balls are in motion, you will be shown a 3 second countdown before motion resumes.

If you had the balls trapped when you paused, remember to elevate the flipper controls BEFORE unpausing!


Controls - Part 2
Other Uses of the Launch Button



On some tables, the launch button (Enter Key or A on controller) has other uses during play. Pay attention to table guides and on screen instructions to learn them all. Here are some examples:

* Paranormal - Launch activates a charged Magna Save (see Survivability - Ball Save)
* Return of the Jedi (pictured) - Launch button activates R2-D2's arm, if there are charges, which pulls the ball back into the R2-D2 bumper area for another change to save the ball from a left outlane drain by lighting all of the targets.
* Boba Fett - Launch button fires a missile if a missile is available, which automatically completes a shot during some modes.
* World War Hulk - Pressing launch at the right time when the ball is rolling down a habitrail will drop the ball down onto the playfield from the habitrail in front of the upper right flipper, allowing a cross ramp shot to be made.


Video Modes and Mini Games

Real pinball machines often have Video Modes, which are played entirely on the DMD. FX2 has Video Modes, but it also has mini-games that entirely separate (basic) 3D games with their own controls. In these cases, both the flipper buttons and launch button are used to control the action.


Camera Angles



FX2 offers a variety of preset camera angles ("Views").

The current camera angle can be changed with the C button on the keyboard or the X button on the controller.

There are two types of camera angles - static and dynamic. Dynamic camera angles show less of the playfield at once and will follow the ball.

A few tables, such as Boba Fett and Super League Football have non-standard View options.

The most popular camera angle may be View 2 from what I can tell. This is also the view I personally use. Experienced players tend to prefer more top down perspectives, and View 2 is the most top down of the standard landscape views.

The most top down perspective is possible only in a Portrait orientation. This is also preferred by many experienced players. It is also the View used in a "cabinet" (a physical machine with a PC or tablet inside it made to emulate the experience of playing a real pinball machine).

The camera button can also be held down at any time to pause the game and zoom in, allowing you to study a part of the table up close, or to perhaps take a close up screenshot.


Status Report (a.k.a. Instant Info)



Holding a flipper button during for several seconds during play brings up the Status Report on the DMD.

The Status Report shows a variety of useful information about the state of the game, such as:

* Number of Extra Balls (all tables)
* Which Extra Balls are not yet obtained (on tables such as S.L.F.)
* Jackpot Values (on tables where jackpot values can be increased)
* Number of balls locked
* Mode progress
* Various counters and timers

Pressing the other flipper button will cycle through the data available in the Status Report.


Ball Search / Call Attendant

Sometimes a ball will become stuck in a place where nudging will not dislodge it. In such cases, the best thing to do is nothing. After some time passes, the game will realize that the ball is stuck and reset it.


Controls - Nudging


Nudging is the least intuitive pinball control, but is critical to mastering the game.


Uses of Nudging

In FX2 (but less so on real tables), the Nudge Pass is an easy and effective ball control technique that even beginners should seek to learn (see Ball Control section for full explanation).

The other primary use of nudging is to save the ball from a drain. Nudging can be used to save the ball from both outlanes and center drains in a variety of ways. This is covered in detail in Survivability - Advanced.

Nudging is disabled in some mini-playfields. Some mini-playfields that are used for multiple modes may allow nudge during one mode, but not another, so be sure to test out each one!

Here is a video of various nudging techniques (all of which are explained in this guide):



Mechanics of Nudging

Nudging refers to pushing the pinball table itself. Pushing the table has the effect of moving the ball relative to the table because the ball stays more or less stationary in space while the table is shifted under it. Because of this inversion, the ball will actually move in the opposite direction of the nudge. It may be useful to think of this as moving the table against the ball rather than the other way around.

Nudging in FX2 can be performed sideways, upward, or diagonally (but not downward).


Controls

On a controller, the left analog stick will nudge in the specified direction (including diagonally).

Alternatively, the controller can be configured in the game's settings to nudge with the D-Pad instead:



On a keyboard, the Ctrl buttons will nudge left and right, and the space bar will nudge upward. Press two buttons at the same time to nudge diagonally.

After performing a nudge, you cannot perform another nudge for about half of a second.


Tilts and Warnings



Just like real pinball machines, FX2 tables will only tolerate a limited amount of such "abuse" (don't worry, real tables are designed to withstand a significant amount of nudging too - it's OK to nudge!).

If you nudge the table too much, the table will TILT. When this happens, the table will typically go dark, TILT will be displayed on the DMD, you will lose control of the flippers, and the ball will drain. Also, you will forfeit the End of Ball Bonus (see Scoring).

FX2 will typically provide two Tilt Warnings (some tables, e.g. Wolverine, have three). A tilt warning is only activated after a sufficiently hard nudge. Tilt warning indicator (typically displayed as "DANGER") will appear on the DMD (pictured), typically accompanied by some sort of sound effect as well (at least for the second warning). Nudging hard a third time will Tilt the table.

In FX2 (but not on real tables), tilt warnings will "expire" one at a time after a set amount of time (10 seconds on tables I've tested, but some tables may be different)., but this needs to be verified). Each warning activated resets the timer of previous warnings if they have not expired (i.e. 20 seconds for second warning to reset both warnings). There is no indication in game that a tilt warning has expired. However, the last tilt warning appears in larger letters, so you can tell how many warnings you have left when you trip one.

A sufficiently soft nudge will not trigger a tilt warning. Soft nudges are an advanced skill that is difficult to use, but with practice can be used to perform a variety of techniques such as the Nudge Pass.

NOTE: It is impossible to trigger warnings or tilt before a ball is launched. Also, nudging is possible after a tilt, but is pointless other than for playing around with the physics and nudge controls.


Controls - Nudging Part 2
MOST OF THIS SECTION NO LONGER APPLIES DUE TO CHANGES TO THE ENGINE MADE BY ZEN. REFER TO FORUM FOR MORE INFO: http://steamcommunity.com/app/226980/discussions/0/523898291494557684/

Digital vs. Analog
Digital refers to simple on/off controls (keyboard and controller buttons (e.g. D-Pad).
Analog refers to controls that transmit a continuous value between 0 and 1 (i.e. via the analog sticks on a controller).

Digital nudging always provides the maximum force allowed by the game's physics engine. The force is provided immediately upon pressing the button.

Analog nudge strength depends on a variety of factors. These are explained in Analog Details below.

Strong diagonal nudges are normally only possible with digital controls! The following video demonstrates the difference in strength:


If you want access to the strongest digital nudging (necessary for consistent bang backs) but still have access to nudges of varying strengths, you have several options:

* Physically use the keyboard controls
* Use a third party input remapping application such as JoyToKey or GlovePIE to map the keyboard nudge controls to buttons (e.g. d-pad) to your controller.
* Use the third party program XInput Plus to map the circular analog space to a square space by increasing the Rect Correction slider.

NOTE: JoyToKey only supports left Shift/Cntrl, so you must remap your right nudge in FX2.

NOTE: You can also use inputting remapping to map your Steam screenshot hotkey to a controller button, which can be quite handy.


Analog Details

Analog nudge strength and responsiveness depends on a variety of factors:
* How quickly you flick and release the analog stick
* How far you push the analog stick from the center
* Your frame rate
* Your input delay
* The external calibration of your analog axes (e.g. via Windows Control Panel)
* The game's internal calibration of the axes.
* The direction of the nudge

Frame rate seems to affect the strength of an analog nudge on the frame rate (and possibly also Vsync). Higher frame rates will result in proportionately weaker nudges. I play at 120fps, which makes strong nudges more difficult, but on the other hand makes soft nudges easier to execute. It seems that frame rates higher than 120fps may cause nudges to fail completely.

Any input delay you may have may result in stronger than intended nudges.

See Configuration - Input Lag below for instructions on limiting your frame rate and decreasing input delay.

Calibration defines the limits of the analog controls. Most notably, calibration impacts how far you have to push the stick to produce a certain level of input. On Windows, you can calibrate your analog stick via the Control Panel (search "controllers"). When it asks you to move the stick to the corners, you are supposed to move the stick only diagonally. If you instead move the stick to the farthest extents vertically and horizontally (or in a circle), the amount of diagonal movement you can send will be decreased.

In the image below, the red circle represents a "bad" calibration, where the corners outside of the red circle are unreachable. When properly calibrated, the areas outside of the square within the green circle will be "unused".



Unfortunately the game seems to perform its own internal, automatic calibration that forces the input into a "red circle". This means that no matter what you do, you will not have access to the corner of the full input range. Strong diagonal nudges are therefore only possible with digital controls.

But, it is possible to map the circle space to the square space and avoid this problem by using the Rect Correction setting of the XInput Plus program.

Also, due to the automatic internal calibration, it is recommend to move the nudge stick in various directions before performing any actual nudging. The automatic calibration seems to kick in if the analog stick is moved around in the menus (or the launcher).


Configuration
There are a variety of settings available via the main Options as well as the individual tables' Operators Menus, but this guide will only focus on particularly interesting or not so obvious aspects.


Input Lag

Many users will experience some "input lag".

This lag is not the fault of the developer but rather that typical system configurations assume that some input lag is tolerable for most users. Pinball is such a game where input lag can make a big difference.

It is highly recommended that everyone take a look at this sticky thread in the FX2 forums and try following the instructions:

http://steamcommunity.com/app/226980/discussions/0/666827315349070543/

Even if you have not noticed input lag, you may notice after trying these modifications that your game has improved!


"Classic" Settings

Some players will prefer a more classic look and will wish to disable the following default features in the Options -> Video settings:

* Score Pop-Ups
* Ball Trails
* Challenge Pop-Ups


Slow Motion

FX2 has a slow motion feature. This can be enabled by binding Slow Motion to a key/button in the Controls menu under Help & Options.

Slow motion can be helpful in understanding the game's physics, as well as learning tables in some cases.

WARNING: Using slow motion during a game will disqualify you from earning achievements and reporting high scores.


Operators Menu



The Operators Menu, which can be accessed by pausing a game in progress, can be used to change a variety of table settings. The user interface may seem awkward, but it is deliberately made to look like the operators menu on a real pinball table for a more authentic feel.

The difficulty of most (maybe all?) tables can be altered in the menu. The simplest way to do this is by adjusting the Preset (found under Utilities) - which adjusts the game's rules in a variety of ways, making the table easier or harder.



There are typically many other individual settings that can be adjusted as well.

WARNING: Changing most settings in the operator menu will disqualify you from earning achievements or logging high scores.

Some settings, however, do not result in the above disqualification. These special settings are located under Utilities -> Extra Adjustments. For example, the intro sequence in Guardians of the Galaxy can be safely disabled through the Operators Menu. Also, on many newer tables, character voiceovers can be reduced without penalty (e.g. South Park). Some tables allow control over the trigger sensitivity of individual bumper sets (see Half-Flip).

Another example of a setting that will not disqualify you and would be of particular interest to color blind players is the ability to change the DMD Color.

The menu can also be used to infer certain table rules that may not be mentioned in the in-game Table Guide, such as the maximum amount of Extra Balls. This is done by simply browsing the different settings available.


Survivability - Basic
The longer you can keep the ball alive, the more points you will score.

One of the design philosophies that distinguishes FX2 from real pinball machines is that it is designed for longer play. The physics in general and the playfield designs make ball drains far less common in FX2.

Additionally, almost every FX2 table has a Kickback (or equivalent outlane save) mechanism, and most have a way to activate a Ball Save during the game. Some tables have a manually activated Magna Save.

There are 3 ways you can lose the ball:

1. Left Outlane
2. Right Outlane
3. Between Flippers (a.k.a. Center Drain; SDTM - Straight Down the Middle)

Kickbacks protect specific outlanes.

A Ball Save or manual Magna Save will protect from any drain.

Additionally, nudging can save the ball from most kinds of drains.

The rules for activating kickbacks and ball saves differ between tables.

Lighting the Kickbacks should be the top priority during play on most FX2 tables.

Ball Saves, on the other hand, tend to be too difficult to light to be worthwhile for their short duration (Tesla is an exception). However, on some tables, lighting a ball save before attempting particularly dangerous shots is a good strategy. The duration of a manually lit ball save can vary from table to table, but is typically short.


Dangerous Shots and Modes

Certain shots and modes are inherently "dangerous".

For example: using the upper right flipper to hit the zombie near the mission hole on The Walking Dead table will frequently cause the ball to rebound into the right outlane.

It is worth noting and avoiding such shots, and if they must be performed to advance, such shots should only be attempted when a ball save or appropriate kickback is lit.

An example of a dangerous mode is the Dark Side Hurry Up on the Return of the Jedi table, which activates a magnet that will hurl and spin the ball in unpredictable ways in exchange for only modest points.


KickBack

A Kickback, if active, will kick the ball back out of an outlane on most tables



The most common mechanism for lighting a kickback is to light the letters on the lanes. On all tables, the currently lit letters can be rotated with the flipper controls.

A demonstration of lighting both kickbacks on the Darth Vader table:

On tables such as Darth Vader as shown above, lighting all of the lane letters again after already having lit both kickbacks will typically award a modest point value. It is often smarter to intentionally avoid completing all of the letters and leaving one lane unlit. This way, when a kickback is activated and used up, it can be re-lit much more quickly.


Ball Save

A Ball Save typically lasts for a short amount of time (e.g. 15-30 seconds) and will protect from any kind of drain. Usually a ball save is indicated by a blinking "Ball Save", "Shoot Again", or some other kind of light between the flippers.

A blinking goalie portrait indicates an active ball save on the Super League Football tables:



An active Ball Save is good for only one activation.

There is always a free Ball Save at the beginning of a ball.

There is also a free Ball Save at the start of a multi-ball mode. In this case, the ball-save will not deactivate when a ball drains. It will last for the full duration of its timer. This can be used to your advantage! (known as the Intentional Drain technique)

* For 3 or 4 ball modes, letting balls intentionally drain during the ball save duration will help you aim shots properly and avoid collisions.
* Sometimes the ball launch itself confers a useful benefit that can be exploited. For example, lighting kickbacks on Portal:

NOTE: If the "Ball Save" is lit solid, it means you have at least one Extra Ball (but no active ball save).


Magna Save

A Magna Save is a very strong magnet that will pull the ball out of the drain back into the playfield.

Some tables (e.g. Paranormal) have a manually activated Magna Save mechanic.

To use such a manual Magna Save, use the launch button when the ball is about to drain.

NOTE: Sometimes you need to hold down the launch button for the magna save to pull the ball all the way out of a drain!

On some tables, the Magna Save may be stacked. That is, more than one charge/use can be accumulated.

Beware that under certain circumstances a Magna Save may fail. Try to activate the Magna Save as early as possible when you know that the ball will drain. If the ball needs to go through the center to go back to the playfield, elevate the appropriate flipper so that the ball does not become stuck.

In this video, MuddyWolf demonstrates the use of the Magna Save on Fear Itself. Many of the activations in this video merely show off the mechanism but are not needed to save the ball from a drain. But, there is an example of an activation when the ball is falling straight down the middle here near the middle of the video. The last use in the video saves the ball from an outlane drain. Notice how he raises the flipper to allow the ball back through:


Extra Balls

You are given 3 balls to play. However, in FX2, you can earn up to 5 extra balls per game on most tables (see note below)!

Obviously, the more balls you have, the longer the game will last, and the higher your score will be.

The rules for earning extra balls differ on every table (consult table guides). However, there are some common patterns:

* Maxing out the bonus multiplier (e.g. Mars)
* Completing some amount of main missions (e.g. Empire Strikes Back)
* Completing certain modes (e.g. Empire Strikes Back)
* Reaching a high combo (e.g. Sorcerer's Lair)

In some cases extra balls are awarded immediately. In other cases they must be collected by shooting a specific shot (e.g. the Force sinkhole in Empire Strikes Back).

NOTE: Some tables allow fewer than 5 extra balls. A sure way to find out how many are allowed, look under Standard Adjustments in Operator Settings.


Survivability - Advanced
Center Drain Nudge Save

The physics and layout of FX2 allow the ball to be saved from a Center Drain in nearly any situation using a well timed nudge.

To perform a center drain nudge save, elevate the flipper that you think the ball is closest to, then nudge the table in the opposite direction just before the ball passes the flipper. (e.g. raise right flipper and nudge left). The nudge will shift the table, but not the ball, in effect moving the ball in front of the flipper so that it will bounce off it!

If this seems counterintuitive (which direction to nudge), think of it as nudging the flipper towards the ball.

A demonstration of a center drain nudge on the Deadpool table (single flipper technique):


NOTE: The Ghost Rider table has a mode which shoots the ball directly down the middle and awards you if you successfully save the ball. You can choose to play it with or without a ball save (greater reward for greater risk). A double flipper demonstration by MuddyWolf:


Outlane Drain Nudge Save

On some tables, it is feasible to avoid an outlane drain by nudging right as the ball approaches an outlane. This will generally bounce the ball away from the outlane.

This video demonstrates two outlane nudges on Empire Strikes Back:


The Chill Maneuver

Many real pinball tables have a center post between the flippers. FX2 tables do not.

However, several FX2 mini-playfields do have a center post. In some cases, the post is always present (e.g. Sorcerer's Lair). In other cases, the post can be activated or deactivated (e.g. Dr. Strange).

These posts can vary in width. Posts that are always present tend to be very narrow, while those that are activated temporarily are wide.




Bang Back

The Bang Back is an advanced technique that can be used in many cases to save the ball from an outlane drain.

A Bang Back can dramatically prolong play time as it provides a benefit similar to an extra ball, except that no bonuses are collected and the table state does not (partially) reset as it would after a ball drain. However, unlike extra balls, the amount of bang backs that can be performed during one game is unlimited.

NOTE: In real life pinball, the Bang Back is illegal as it can cause damage to the machine as well as the player's wrists due to the exceptionally strong and sharp nudge required. Luckily, this is not a concern in FX2.

It is performed by elevating the flipper on the side the ball is draining on and performing a hard diagonal (or upward) nudge at the right time such that the ball is pushed back out from under the flipper, onto the opposite, resting flipper. To complete the maneuver, immediately lower the raised flipper, and flip the flipper that the ball just landed on.

NOTE: Analog stick nudging produces weaker diagonal nudges than digital nudging (see Controls - Nudging)

Here is a demonstration, including slow motion, of a Bang Back on the Clone Wars table by MuddyWolf:

The Fear Itself table has unique outlane geometry that makes Bang Backs particularly easy, as demonstrated here by MuddyWolf:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6DaMvXRhx0

One of the achievements for the Avengers table is for successfully performing a Bang Back with a specific ball (on this table, you can choose from a variety of Avengers character balls to play).

Video of two ways of earning the Avenger's Bang Back achievement by Kinkimono:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvrOwmubl7w

NOTE: The term "Death Save" is sometimes confused with "Bang Back". A Death Save is a similar technique that takes advantage of asymmetric drain geometry which does not exist in FX2 tables.


Slap Save

The slap save is a standard pinball technique for saving the ball from a center drain. It is similar to the Center Drain Nudge Save described above, except that it always requires two flippers and can be performed without a (strong) nudge in some cases.

The slap save does not work very well in the FX2 engine and is typically unnecessary as the Nudge Save tends to be easier and more reliable in most cases.

The slap save is applied by elevating both flippers, but one slightly earlier than the other, with the flipper closest to the ball elevated first. The effect is that the first flipper pushes the ball slightly to the side, allowing the second flipper to flip the ball upward.

Demonstration by MuddyWolf (the nudge at the end is superfluous):


Active Slingshots

Until the release of the Deadpool table, slingshots in FX2 were very weak compared to slingshots on real pins. These weak slingshots never presented any real danger.

But with the release of Deadpool, and on all tables made afterward so far, the new "active slingshots" have a high probability of kicking the ball into the outlanes.

Luckily, aside from outlane nudging and bang backs, and avoiding the slingshots entirely (a good idea also), there is one other technique that is useful both in FX2 and on real pins: nudging upward on slingshots. Whenever the ball approaches a slingshot at an angle that is likely to send it to an outlane, nudge up just as (or right before) the ball activates the slingshot. This will redirect the ball much higher on the playfield.

The following video demonstrates the general effect of active slingshots (no actual drain shown here) and the nudge:

Ball Control - Basic
The most important skill to learn in FX2 and pinball in general is how to control the ball.

Ball control typically refers to the ability to get the ball to a particular flipper to set up a particular shot.

Aim

Ball trajectory may seem random at first, but it is directly correlated with where the ball is on the flipper when the flipper is raised and how fast the ball is moving.

Consistent aim can be achieved with practice.

It is harder to make a well aimed shot when the ball is moving quickly.


Trapping



The best way to control a shot is to start with the ball trapped on a flipper. Luckily, this is very easy to do in FX2 (compared to real tables) due to the high angle and high friction of the flippers in FX2.

In most cases, the ball can be trapped by raising the flipper as the ball approaches the flipper.

However, if the ball is coming down an inlane too quickly, simply raising the flipper may not be sufficient. In such cases, however, a Nudge Pass can transfer the ball to the opposite flipper, where it can then safely be trapped, and, if necessary, passed back to the original flipper.



The Backhand

Shots on the left or right side of the playfield are typically aligned with one in particular flipper. But some side shots are possible to hit successfully with an early flip, in a multi-trap situation during multiball, or when the ball is rolling backward down a flipper.

Although many backhands shots are inherently more difficult and dangerous, some backhanded shots in FX2 are actually quite safe. It is good to know how to shoot each shot from either flipper, if possible.

Here is a multi-trap backhand demonstration by MuddyWolf:


Passing (a.k.a. Transfering)

Certain shots are best performed or can only be performed from a particular flipper.

It is almost always possible to place the ball onto the flipper of choice. There are a variety of techniques for passing:


Ramp Feeds and Other Transfers

One of the simplest ways to transfer a ball from one flipper to another is to note which ramps feed which inlane.

On many tables, it is possible to transfer the ball from one flipper to another by shooting a ramp.

Feeding inlanes in this manner is a very effective way to light inlane letters, as there is typically plenty of advance notice to allow for the lamp lights to be rotated using the flipper buttons, setting up the current inlane to an unlit letter (or to a lit letter - see Survivability: Kickbacks).

Sometimes ramps have a diverter, which means that their destination can vary. It is important to know where ramps connect to.

By extension, other shots such as orbits, sinkholes, and saucers tend to have a specific exit path. Knowing the exit path can help plan shots as well as simply being prepared for ball recovery after the shot is made.

Some sinkholes will transfer the ball to another location. Sometimes this is random, other times it is predictable. Knowing the transfer behavior can help plan shots.


Dead Pass (a.k.a. Bounce Pass or Dead Bounce)

The Dead Pass is the simplest type of flipper pass as it requires you to do absolutely nothing.

If the ball is approaching the wrong flipper at a mostly vertical angle, simply doing nothing will cause the ball to bounce from one flipper to the other.


Depending on the speed and angle of the ball, and where it hits the flipper, you may not be able to subsequently trap the ball. It is useful to be able to judge beforehand whether a trap on the opposite flipper is possible. If a trap is not possible, the ball should first be caught on the current flipper, and then transferred to the other flipper using another technique (such as a Nudge Pass or a Post Pass).

WARNING: if the ball has spin, it may roll off the flipper instead of bouncing! It can be difficult to calculate spin, but typically this depends on how much rolling around the ball has done before approaching the flipper. If the ball was merely ejected from a hole, or bounced off of a target, it's probably not going to have significant spin.


Nudge Pass

A Nudge Pass, once mastered, is generally the easiest and safest way to pass the ball between flippers in FX2. The downside is that you will typically use up a tilt warning. However, it is possible, although difficult, to avoid tilt warning with a soft nudge using the analog stick on a controller.

To perform a Nudge Pass, simply nudge diagonally in the direction that you want the ball to bounce (an upward nudge should also work) as the ball is rolling down the flipper. If you start the nudge pass with the ball trapped and stationary, you should wait a little longer for the ball to gain momentum before nudging it so that it moves far enough toward the opposite inlane to allow a trap.

(See Post Pass section below for video example)


Post Pass (a.k.a. Slingshot Pass)

The Post Pass is a passing technique that can transfer the ball from a trapped position without using a tilt warning. However, it is tricky to pull off safely.

To perform a Post Pass from a trapped position, release the trapping flipper and almost immediately raise the flipper again. If executed correctly, this should cause the ball to bounce off of the Slingshot's lower post and onto the opposite flipper.

MuddyWolf demonstrates a Trap, several Post Passes, a Ramp Transfer and a Nudge Pass in the following video on the World War Hulk table:


Hold Pass

On some tables, it is possible to perform a Hold Pass.

A hold pass can be performed if a ball is rolling down an inlane at high speed. Then, raising both flippers will cause the ball to roll from one flipper to the other.

Video demonstrating the Hold Pass on Boba Fett:


Upper Flipper Stop/Deflect

On most tables, keeping the upper flipper raised as the balls rolls toward it will deflect the ball.

The angle of deflection may have the following uses:

* Divert the ball to the opposite flipper
* Avoid a center drain (Blade)
* Hit targets or feed in-lanes that are otherwise difficult to reach (Droids)

Here is a video by demonstrating Deflection on Droids:

On some tables (e.g. Pasha, Ghost Rider), this technique essentially stops the ball's motion on the flipper, allowing for a controlled shot.

Here is a video demonstration of the Stop technique on Pasha:


Ball Control - Advanced
The skills in this section are considerably hader to use than those in the first section.

Other Uses of Nudging

In real pinball, nudging is frequently used to control the ball in a variety of situations beyond the ones covered in this guide. Those other techniques do not all apply very to the FX2 engine and tables, but here are a few that are useful:

Nudging the ball against bumpers will prolong the activation of the bumpers. There are a few situations in FX2 where this can be useful (in particular, certain timed modes).

Nudging against the wall of an orbit can alter the ball's trajectory. Most commonly, if a ball is exiting an orbit, nudging away from the wall will direct the ball closer to the center, away from the slingshots. This can be done simply to avoid the slingshot, or to hit a target in the middle of the playfield (e.g. Mars).

On newer tables (since Deadpool) with "active slingshots", nudging upward when a slingshot is about to send a ball to horizontally towards an outlane will alter the ball's trajectory in an upward direction, avoiding the outlane.

On some tables, nudging upward while the ball is orbiting above rollover lanes will break the ball's orbit and cause the ball to fall through the rollovers (e.g. Iron Man). (Contributed by stray_pengo)

On some tables, such as Portal, nudging upward as the ball rolls back towards the upper flipper after a failed cross ramp shot will allow you a second chance at the shot.

Video demonstration of rollover orbit nudge on Iron Man:

Drop Catch

The Drop Catch is a skill that is very useful in real pinball, but has limited application in FX2.

The Drop Catch is performed by first elevating a flipper, then dropping it right as the ball falls onto the flipper. Ideally, the ball should stop on the flipper, allowing you to quickly make a controlled shot.

Beware, that this only works if the ball is approaching the flipper vertically or angled away from the center drain. If the ball is approaching at an angle toward the center, performing this technique will likely cause a drain!

Since the normal trapping technique is so effective in FX2, the Drop Catch technique is only useful in FX2 when wanting (or needing) to save time.

In real pinball, the Drop Catch is one of the more reliably trapping techniques, as the FX2 style trap is rarely effective due to lower friction and flipper angles.

This technique is easier to perform when the ball is moving slowly. Several tables have sinkholes that eject the ball in an ideal trajectory for this technique to work.

Here is a video demonstration on the Clone Wars table by MuddyWolf:


Multiball Skills - Intermediate
Multiball modes, where there are 2-4 balls in play at a time, are essentially a juggling act.

Juggling requires skills to execute well. If you don't believe me, go and try to juggle something ;)

Much of the information in this section is attributed to MuddyWolf. I would not have been able to complete this section without his expert advice (and his videos!). Thank you!


Controlled Shots

During multiball, the goal is to control your shots and avoid ball drains, the same as for one ball play.

This primary goal is important to keep in mind as all multiball skills essentially work toward it.

An overall multiball technique is to set up clear shots. That means:

(NOTE: this terminology is my own)
* One Flipper, One Ball - Having one ball on a flipper such that a well aimed shot can be executed.
* Clear Playfield - Not having any balls flying around that get in the way of your well aimed shots.
* Ball Daycare - Not having to worry about what the other balls are doing while you are trying to aim a shot.

Keep these 3 goals and note how the following techniques apply to them.


Intentional Drain

Every multiball mode in FX2 provides a short duration (15-30 second) Ball Save when the mode begins.

This Ball Save does not deplete when used. It stays on for the full duration regardless of how many balls are drained.

Use this to your advantage to make clear shots without worrying too much about trapping balls and keeping the playfield clear.


Mode Stacking

Many multiball modes can be stacked.

Activating another multiball mode while one is already active will increase the total number of balls you have at once (e.g. 2 2-ball modes = 3 balls, etc, up to 4). It will also enable jackpots from both modes simultaneously.

In some cases, stacking modes also increases the ability to detain balls (see below and also the Empire Strikes Back Case Study at the end of the guide for example).

Stacking a multi-ball mode with a hurry-up can increase the amount of hurry-up jackpots for hurry-ups that allow scoring of multiple jackpots.

Stacking with a single ball mode (especially a main mission mode) can make the mode easier and safer.


Single Ball Skills Still Apply

Everything you've learned in the preceeding sections still applies during multiball:

Keep Balls Alive - even though multiball is a sort of safety net against losing your turn, because you can drain some balls "for free", you still want to avoid draining any balls - this prolongs the multiball mode, which is frequently the best way to earn points on a table.

Continue to avoid dangerous shots (however, use table knowledge to determine risk/reward - if a dangerous shot has a jackpot associated with it during a multiball mode, it may be worth it).

Continue to use nudging to prevent ball drains. Try to keep track of all balls, but focus your attention on drain areas and be ready to nudge. But remember, you only have two (or three) tilt warnings. The more balls there are, the faster you will go through your tilt warnings!

Trapping - the fundamental ball control skill still applies during multiball.

Passing - although passing may be more difficult, it is still very useful to set up shots and manage multiple balls (more on this later).


Trap and Play

Trap and Play is one of the core multiball "skills". The idea behind this skill is to trap all but one ball on one flipper and use the other flipper to control the other ball.

When multiple balls are trapped on the same flipper, this is referred to as a (Multi-Trap).


Cradle Separation

Cradling is another term for holding trapped balls on a flipper. While using Trap and Play, you will frequently run into the situation where every ball is on the same flipper. Since you can't (generally) flip multiple balls and expect to hit something useful, you need to separate the "cradle".

NOTE: Cradle Separation is actually a bit harder in FX2 than on real tables.

The general idea is to briefly release and re-raise the trapping flipper. This should release the ball(s) closer to the tip of the flipper. The next action taken should depend on where those released balls then go. If the released ball is heading for the free flipper, trap it. If not, pass the ball you still have (this is also covered in the next sections).

In this video, MuddyWolf demonstrates a simple two ball cradle separation on World War Hulk:


Cradle Shot

Some backhand shots are well set up from a multi-trap cradle.

See South Park video at end of this section at 0:30 for an example.


Planning Ahead

An important aspect of managing multiball is planning ahead.

Attempt to track where (non-trapped) balls in the playfield are going.

Anticipate when and how each ball will approach the flippers.

Also, why do we care? Aside from the aforementioned nudge saving reasons, remember the first primary goal - One Flipper, One Ball.

In order to continually set up clear shots, it is important to keep one ball per flipper whenever possible. Cradle Separation can be awkward, time consuming (some multiball modes have timed goals!) and dangerous, so it is better to avoid getting into a Multi-Trap situation in the first place (although not at the expense of making sloppy shots).

There are basically two ways to avoid Multi-Trap:

* Play the ball - if a ball is coming towards a flipper which already holds the ball, shoot the held ball.
* Pass the ball - if you do not have a good shot with the held ball already, pass it to the other flipper instead.

NOTE: Multi-Trap, as discussed in the Trap and Play section is not all bad. It is simply a suboptimal situation to be in.


Detaining

Detaining balls is the strategy of sending balls on shots that will take a while to return the ball back to the flipper, and, preferably, the ball will return safely through an inlane.

This practice keeps the playfield clear and reduces the amount of balls that need to be watched and controlled at any given time.

In particular, the following kinds of shots do this best:

* Shots to an Upper Playfield (e.g. Empire Strikes Back).
* Shots where the ball comes down through bumpers.
* Ramps that feed inlanes.
* VUKs that feed an inlane


Passing During Multiball

Again, all of the regular passing techniques still apply during multiball, but are tougher to incorporate.

A Post Pass can be especially useful, as it does not trigger a tilt warning, which can be used up more quickly with more balls in play!

A demonstration of a multiball Post-Pass by MuddyWolf:

The Dead Pass is also useful, but be sure to have enough room for the maneuver.

The Nudge Pass is generally the easiest, but uses up valuable tilt warning.

However, one passing technique unique to multiball, let's call it the Cradle Pass is the occasional ability to let a ball roll off of a cradle (2 or more trapped balls) and onto the opposite flipper. This is very similar to the Dead Pass, but can be used in fewer situations, and most of the time this is something that simply occurs rather than a conscious choice.


A Demonstration

In this video, MuddyWolf demonstrates the techniques mentioned above on Fear Itself. Pay particular attention at around 1:39 when he performs a very impressive double save - a Bang Back that also saves another ball from the right outlane:

Another mix of passes and cradle separations by MuddyWolf:

Multiball Skills - Advanced
The Billiard Block

Another useful techinque during multiball is called The Billiard Block.

If you see a ball running down the middle towards the center drain, and you have another ball trapped or ready to shoot, you can shoot your ready ball against the draining ball to change its trajectory and probably prevent the drain.

This technique is difficult to execute, but is useful in some situations.

A billiard block on South Park by MuddyWolf:


The Billiard Shot

The Billiard Shot (my own term) is simply a generalization of The Billiard Block.

On some tables (e.g. Mars, during the Pyramid Final mode), there are targets on the sides that are difficult or impossible to hit with a direct shot from a flipper. Intentionally shooting a ball into another ball in the middle of the playfield may cause a ball to ricochet in a sideways direction, hitting those difficult to reach targets.

A very fancy billiard shot on Clone Wars by MuddyWolf:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI1B5NdTiVY


The Half-Flip

Like on most real pinball machines, if multiple flippers are bound to the same flipper button, the flippers will not register simultaneously on a button press - they will register one at a time.

It is possible to register only one flipper at a time in FX2 by using the Triggers on a 360 controller on some tables (e.g. Empire Strikes Back). To lower only an upper flipper while keeping the lower flipper(s) raised, release the trigger only part of the way.

There are some situations during multiball modes where this is very useful:

* Lower only the upper flipper while the lower flipper is holding a trapped ball, to clear the way for a shot from a right flipper.
* Lower and re-raise only an upper flipper while holding a ball with the lower flipper to allow for a shot with that flipper without losing the trapped ball.

In this video, MuddyWolf demonstrates the first case. At around 0:35, he lowers the upper left flipper without lowering the lower left flipper to clear the way for a shot from the right flipper, so that he can activate the full Jedi/Sith multiball mode on the Empire Strikes Back table (see Case Study - Empire Strikes Back for additional information about this mode):


Another video example on Fear Itself by MuddyWolf:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGFk3rGFHRY

Scoring
Optimal scoring strategies vary, but there are some general patterns discussed below.

Here is a work in progress listing of the optimal scoring strategies for each table. This list assumes expert play:

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/PinballFamily/discussions/3/624076851138053819/


The Multiball Jackpot

On many tables, the best way to score is during multi-ball modes (modes that provide you with multiple balls to play simultaneously - up to 4).

Most multi-ball modes have specific shots called Jackpots. Depending on the table and the specific mode, these shots may always be the same, or may change during play.

Often there are multiple levels of Jackpots. Most of the time, there is a Super Jackpot possible. Typically this shot is worth double the value of a regular Jackpot, but sometimes it can be worth much more! Usually (but not always) some special sequence of shots is required to activate a Super Jackpot.

Some modes have more than 2 levels of Jackpots.

In many cases, the jackpot value can be raised by specific shots. In some cases, the jackpot value is unlimited, which can lead to some very, very high scores! Sometimes this jackpot upgrade mechanism only applies to the next jackpot. Sometimes it applies for the duration of the mode. Sometimes it persists across modes and even across balls!

Many multiball modes can be stacked together, increasing the duration of the modes and combining the available jackpots for increased scoring opportunities!


Wizard Mode



Every FX2 table has a final mode called a Wizard Mode (although the actual name of the mode is usually different and varies per table).

Wizard Mode is reached by completing the main goals on the table.

In some cases (e.g. Sorcerer's Lair and Guardians of the Galaxy) it is sufficient to merely activate all the modes, although successful completion of said modes will provide additional rewards.

On most tables Wizard Modes are an excellent way to rack up points. On some tables, Wizard Modes are the best way to earn a high score.

TIP: On some tables, stacking multiball modes with difficult modes necessary to advance to the Wizard Mode can help complete those modes.


Bonus Multiplier



Every table awards an End of Ball Bonus. The Bonus amount depends on what you did during the ball and varies with every table. Watch the DMD at the end of the ball to see what contributed to the bonus.

A partial list of bonuses is also posted here:

https://forum.zenstudios.com/showthread.php?5797-End-of-Ball-Bonus-guide

Every table also has a Bonus Multiplier, which can dramatically increase the bonus awarded at the end of the ball.

Typically the multiplier can be increased to 8x or 10x. Some tables, however, allow it to go much higher (e.g. Fear Itself, which goes all the way up to 250x!)

Some tables award an extra ball when the multiplier is increased to the maximum level.

Normally the bonus multiplier resets at the end of a ball. However, many tables allow for a way to hold the multiplier across balls. The rules for this vary. Commonly this is in the form of a random reward from random reward shots/modes.

NOTE: Tilting the table forfeits the End of Ball Bonus.


Combos



Many tables have a combo mechanism. After shooting some shots (typically ramps or orbits), other shots may be lit for a combo for a short time. Shooting a combo awards extra points. The longer the combo, the greater the reward.

Some tables reset the combo point reward, some do not (e.g. V12).

Some tables reward an extra ball for a long combo (e.g. Sorcerer's Lair).

Some tables have achievements associated with combos (e.g. Sorcerer's Lair, Masters of the Force, Deadpool).

Combos may also confer other benefits. A notable example is Super League Football, where combos are central to the table's rules. Scoring combo shots in SLF will drop the moving player targets in the mini-playfield, clearing the way for a goal shot and increasing the goal point reward.


"Hidden" Points (by MuddyWolf)

Almost all the tables have hidden points in them, like the stars in Mario. These are usually not mentioned in individual table guides, so you might score them without even knowing how you did it. Try to think back and recall what you were doing and the next time you’re playing, attempt to repeat the situation consciously. You’ll be surprised how many extra points there are hidden. Of course, some of these hidden points are easier to get to than others.

For one example of hidden points that are very difficult to reach, see Yoda in the Empire Strikes Back Case Study section.


Billionaire's Club (by MuddyWolf)

Crossing the one billion points border on a table is of course an awesome feeling and an achievement in its own right. The game acknowledges this achievement. How it is acknowledged depends on the table. Sometimes it’s just a message that flashes by on the Dot Matrix Display, sometimes it goes a little further than that. Below you’ll find a pretty straight forward example recorded on the Ghost Rider table. Hopefully, after reading this guide you’ll come across some of the more exotic ones yourself.

SPOILER WARNING: Don't view the following video of entering the Billionaire's Club on Ghost Rider if you'd rather experience it yourself ;)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z00rTcenhPQ


Case Study - Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
This section is an example of applying the techniques discussed in the guide on a specific table - Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back.

We won't cover the table's rules or main scene progression to Wizard Mode here. That has already been covered very well by Glottis in his video guide:

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=145398648


Survivability

The Empire Strike Back table has several interesting qualities with regard to survivability.

Kickbacks are activated in a two step process: 1. Light LANDO letters and 2. Shoot the appropriate ramp.

This Kickback lighting mechanism is harder than most tables. However, the difficulty can be mitigated by careful study of the table and application of ball control techniques.

The following video by MuddyWolf demonstrates table knowledge to optimize this process - shooting safe shots that feed the lanes directly (left ramp and force hole). Note also the Skill Shot and Super Skill Shot at the beginning, as well as the Nudge Pass.

Note that, on this table, the right ramp can be diverted. If the ramp is currently diverting to the right inlane, then the process shown above could be mirrored or even simplified. It is important to understand where ramps feed and how their diverters are activated in order to optimize play.

Another relatively unique mechanic of this table is the Saber Saver, which acts similarly to a Ball Save, but stays lit until a ball drains and the Saber Saver is activated to save the ball. In essence, the Saber Saver is more valuable than an extra ball, but it is not easy to activate.

Activating Saber Saver requires both Kickbacks to already be lit, then lighting the LANDO letters again, then shooting both ramps in a short amount of time.

Again, using table knowledge and ball control, the process of activating the Saber Saver can be tamed, as MuddyWolf demonstrates in the following video. Notice how he uses the left ramp for the first two shots, because the left ramp reliably and quickly feeds the left inlane, allowing all shots to be completed safely and well within the time limit.

If focusing on the table's main modes, the movie scenes, it is best to focus on keeping the Saber Saver lit and avoiding starting multi-ball modes unless absolutely necessary to complete a scene, because the multi-ball modes will necessarily use up the Saber Saver.

To further increase survivability on the table, it is worth noting several dangerous shots:

* The TIE targets if hit from the middle right flipper can rebound into the left outlane or the center, or even the right outlane in some circumstances. The rebound is very difficult to control.
* The STAR/WARS targets and the mini-orbit behind them can both cause the ball to fall straight down the middle if the magnet in front is off.

It is probably best to avoid these shots unless they are necessary and preferably only attempt them if Kickbacks/Ball Save/Saber Saver are active.

Another noteworthy aspect of the table is the very bouncy pins on the lanes. The physics of the pins on this table in particular are optimal for avoiding outlane drains by nudging when the ball contacts the pins.

Although there is much more to learn about this particular table, the information above should be a solid foundation for attempting to reach the Wizard Mode on the table and consequently to gain one of FX2's more difficult achievements - Family Relations.


Scoring

Although the Wizard Mode on the table is moderately rewarding, it is not the best scoring strategy.

Very high scores can be achieved by focusing on the Balance (Super) Jackpot in the Jedi/Sith multiball mode.

The Balance Jackpot is awarded every time the activation count for both the Jedi and Sith Jackpots (the two ramps) are equalized. The point value is 1 million times the number of individual jackpots. For example:

Shooting the left ramp 3 times, then shooting the right ramp 3 times awards 3 million.
Then, shooting the left ramp once, and the right ramp once will award 4 million.
Repeating this process until both counts are equal to 20 will award 20 million.
And so on. If there is a cap on the jackpot value, I am not aware of it.

Optimizing this process requires employing many techniques together:

Using advanced table knowledge, we observe the following:

* Jedi/Sith multiball modes can be combined with other modes.
* Imperial, and to a lesser extent, Cloud City multiball have a Jump Ramp that can easily be aimed for to shoot the ball onto the upper playfield, from where it will take time to safely return to one of the flippers through an inlane.

From this, we conclude that the best situation is to have Jedi, Sith, and Imperial (or Cloud City) multiball active at once. This allows for maximum Ball Detaining (see Multiball Skills).

Here is an excellent demonstration of how to start the Jedi and Sith multiball modes by MuddyWolf. Notice the use of the Half-Flip for the second activation. Also notice that he is in the perfect survivability situation - both Kickbacks and the Saber Saver and all but one of the LANDO letters are lit (notice how he always rolls the ball through an already lit LANDO letter):

Finally, here is a demonstration of Balance Jackpot scoring by Pinballwiz45b. Here, Pinballwiz45b starts the Imperial Multiball mode first, then starts the Jedi and Sith multiball modes:

Miscellaneous Tips

This case study is not intended as a complete guide to the table, but here are a few more tips related to techniques covered above:

The Bonus Multiplier on this table is advanced by completing the upper rollover lanes. The jump ramp during Imperial and Cloud City multiball is a great opportunity to advance the multiplier. The Bonus can be quite high on this table, and maxing out the multiplier earns you an Extra Ball (only once).

The Half-Flip is also useful on the middle right flipper - it can be lowered while still holding a trapped ball with the lower right flipper to allow a ball to drop down into the kicker for the left mini-orbit shot.


Yoda (by MuddyWolf)



You can visit YODA by lightning the letters of his name on the RIGHT ramp and then shooting it. He will then let you choose a gift that will later help you score big if you manage to survive the Wizard mode (like extra jackpot lanes, additional balls, time bonuses, etc.).

But there’s a limit, of course. You can max him out just like you can max out multipliers because he can only offer you as many extra jackpot lanes as there are lanes on the table. Once you’ve maxed him out, every time you pay him a visit, instead of wizard mode gifts, he will give you points. Big points.

Unfortunately, you have to visit him 25(!) times to max him out (that's 100 shots total) but during very long, high scoring games it’s worth it because he never resets. Not after a ball loss and not after you complete the Wizard mode. All game long he will stay maxed out and thus becoming a terrific cash/points cow.

Here’s a video of maxed out YODA:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zojWQlTJGT0


Leaderboards
Competition is fun!

FX2 has a variety of leaderboards to measure your progress against others.


Local Records



Every table has a "local" record board that records the highest ten scores. This is similar to the local records on real pinball machines - every entry has a set of initials that must be entered using flipper and launch buttons on the DMD. The local record board comes pre-populated with some default.

Although these records are not visible to others unless they are looking at your game on your computer, they are actually not so local as they save on the steam cloud and transfer to everywhere you have the game installed.


Online Leaderboards

Every table has an online leaderboard where each player's highest score appears. Additionally, there is a Superscore and a Wizard Score leaderboard which will be explained later.

When viewing the leaderboards, there are 3 options:

* Overall - this has everybody.
* Friends - only shows you and your Steam friends.
* My Score - same as Overall, but jumps to your entry.

Right clicking on a player's entry on a leaderboard will open their Steam Profile page in the Steam overlay.


In-Game Challenge Display

One fun reason to have Steam friends who play FX2 is that you can see when you approach or beat a friend's score while you're playing the game. This works for the current table's leaderboard as well as Superscore.

For those that for some reason (why?!) do not want to see this, it can be disabled in the Settings Menu.



Table Grid Icons

If you have the highest score on a table among your friends, you'll also see a nice trophy icon in the top left corner of the table's image in the grid.

The small icons on the top denote achievements you have earned on the table. There are two achievements per table.

The icon on the right indicates that a tournament is in progress.


Superscore

Your superscore is simply the sum of your high scores for each table and the sum of your tournament scores, all divided by 1,000,000 (so it's the number of millions you have earned total).

This is intended to be an aggregate measure of how much you've scored in FX2 overall.

However, the scoring opportunities are not the same across tables, and some tables can score very, very high (Spider-Man is an example where a score of over 100 billion is possible). So the superscore isn't necessarily a reliable indicator.


Wizard Score

Your Wizard Score is your Superscore plus the Superscores of all of your friends multiplied by the number of tables you have played.

This is largely a measure of how immersed you are in the FX2 game and community.


References
This section lists sources that were used in the creation of this document or may be useful for further study. This section doesn't list references that were already listed elsewhere in the guide.


FX2 Community Resources

Pinballwiz45b's YouTube Pinball playlist
MuddyWolf's YouTube Channel
Table Difficulty And Rating Survey
Optimal Scoring Strategies


General (real) Pinball References

Glossary of Pinball Terms: http://www.ipdb.org/glossary.php

Pinball Skills Lists:
IPDB: http://www.ipdb.org/playing/skills.html
PAPA: http://papa.org/learning-center/video-resources/techniques/
Infographic: http://www.silveroakcasino.com/blog/entertainment/the-ultimate-pinball-infographic.html


Input Remapping/Calibration Tools

XInput Plus: https://sites.google.com/site/0dd14lab/xinput-plus
JoyToKey: http://joytokey.net/
GlovePIE: http://glovepie.org/


Thanks
Thanks to the following good folks who have contributed to this guide directly or indirectly:

Aesir
Blinky
Glottis
Kinkimono (YouTube)
LastThingYouSee
MuddyWolf
Pinballwiz45b
Razorbak86
stray_pengo
T-wRecks
Viper

Also, thanks to Zen Studios for making and continuing to support this great game, and to the wonderful Steam FX2 player community. The pinball experience is a lot more fun when shared with others!


Guide Update History
Significant changes made to this guide since initial publication (California dates):

November 11, 2015
* (probably) Final update. Due to events occurring a month prior, I will no longer be playing the game or participating in the community.
* Added note regarding aspects of nudging described in the guide no longer being applicable after October patches.

August 29, 2015
* Added mention of XInput Plus as an alternate solution to the analog bang back strength issue.
* Split up Controls - Nudging into two parts (hit the char limit)
* Added links to the three input tools mentioned to the References section.

August 21, 2015
* Noted that JoyToKey does not support right Control/Shift.

August 9, 2015
* Separated nudging controls section into new section and largely rewrote it:
+ New video showing various nudge techniques
+ Explained differences (strength and responsiveness) between analog and digital nudging (with video and images)
+ Mentioned nudging frequency limitation
+ Mentioned ability to remap nudge controls via third party apps
* Added Slingshot Nudge technique and video to Survivability - Advanced
* Added workaround note for analog stick launching behaving like a button launch the first time (Controls - Part 1).
* Explained pausing and the countdown upon resuming (Controls - Part 1)
* Explained super skill shots and hidden skill shots (Controls - Part 1)
* Mentioned automatic ball reset if a ball is stuck (Controls - Part 2)

July 21, 2015
* Mentioned upward nudging on active slingshots (Advanced Control)
* Mentioned nudging to repeat cross ramp shot (Advanced Control)

June 22, 2015
* Updated table grid icons to include the tournament icon.

June 17, 2015
* Corrected Superscore definition (divide by 1m, not 1k; include effect of tournament scores)

May 30, 2015
* Elaborated intentional drain technique (Basic Controls section) and added a video example.

February 22, 2015
* Added "Classic" Settings to Configuration section
* Mentioned non-standard views in Controls - Camera angles (and improved wording)

February 21, 2015
* Updated Controls Part 1 to explain the full range of 360 controller mapping possibilities
* Updated Controls Part 1 to explain the use of controller triggers to control upper flippers independently.
* Updated Configuration to mention that upper flippers can be desynchronized on some tables via the Extra Adjustments menu.

February 15, 2015
* Added Muddywolf's Slap Save and Billiard Block videos.
* Added MuddyWolf's South Park multiball passing video to Intermediate MB section.
* Added Cradle Shot to Intermediate MB section.
* Light editing/cleanup to Intermediate MB section.

February 1, 2015
* Linked optimal scoring strategy thread in Scoring section.

January 11, 2015
* Added Upper Flipper Stop/Deflect to Ball Control - Basic
* Added Drop Catch to Ball Control - Advanced.

January 5, 2015
* Mentioned ability to reduce character voices in Operators Menu on newer tables.

December 18, 2014
* Added MuddyWolf's Clone Wars bang back video and "demoted" the other two bang back videos.
* Mentioned ability to configure controller to nudge with d-pad.
* Mentioned the ability to hold the camera button down to zoom in.

December 9, 2014
* Added MuddyWolf's Clone Wars Billiard Shot video.

November 26, 2014
* Added link in References section to Difficulty/Ratings survey thread.

September 28, 2014
* Added MuddyWolf's Fear Itself bang back video to Survivability - Advanced.

September 12, 2014
* Added this changelog section
* Added Status Report to Controls - Part 2

September 8, 2014
* Clarified that some tables have fewer than 5 extra balls and added note in EB section about finding out the number in Operator Settings
* Clarified how tilt warning expirations after doing some testing in game. Also noted that some tables have 3 tilt warnings!
* Noted that tilting the table loses the end of ball bonus.
* Removed WIP notice from basic info

September 6, 2014
* Added link to End of Ball Bonus guide on zen forums to Scoring section.

September 4, 2014
* Added Billionaire's Club subsection by MuddyWolf to Scoring section
* Added explanation of table grid image icons to Leaderboards section and a few more images.
* Split up Controls section (hit the char limit)
* Mentioned using nudging to save from drain in Controls - Nudging
* Added Ball Control - Advanced section (other uses of nudging, per stray_pengo's suggestions)

September 3, 2014
* Added Hidden Points subsection to Scoring
* Added Yoda subsection to ESB Case Study
* Plugged Glottis's guide in ESB case study.
* Mentioned diagonal nudging with keyboard
* Added a NEW video by MuddyWolf demonstrating use of Half-Flip on Fear Itself
* Added a note that "Mode" historically had a narrower meaning.
* More mentions of multiball mode stacking

September 2, 2014
* Corrected "Empire Multiball" - there's no such thing, it's actually called Imperial Multiball
* Added video demonstrating outlane nudging
* Added video demonstrating Hold Pass
* Added more images to break up text (Rules, Configuration, Scoring)
* Added Aim to Ball Control
* Added Leaderboards section

September 1, 2014
* Renamed 2 part sections into experience level categories (I know some it isn't a perfect division right now, but it's close)
* Added MuddyWolf's NEW Magna Save video on Fear Itself
* Added Multiball Skills sections (across multiple updates throughout the day)
* Added References section
* Added Main Playfield Elements section
* Explained backhand shots under Ball Control
* Added Tips for Beginners to Introduction (thanks, stray_pengo!)
* Added some images and improved formatting to Introduction
* Added images to Controls section
* Improved spacing between sections and subsections.

August 31, 2014:
* Some clean up of Rules section, and explained basic types of modes
* Added Ramp Transfer under Ball Control
* Talk about preparing kickback lights
* Added MuddyWolf's Post/Ramp/Nudge pass video to Ball Control
* Split Survivability sections (hit the char limit)
* Added Hold Pass under Ball Control
* Added The Chill Maneuver under Survivability
* Cleaned up Operators Menu under Configuration. Added mention of DMD Color setting and ability to infer table rules
* Added Slap Save under Survivability
* Added Introduction section
* Added Case Study: Empire Strikes Back section
* Added specific mention of Table Knowledge in Rules section
* Emphasized utility of bang backs in FX2
* Added MuddyWolf's Ghost Rider center nudge video
* Added Kinkimono's Avengers bang back achievement video.
* Added The Basics section
* Added Configuration (input lag, operator menu, slow mo) and Thanks sections.
* Added Bonus/Multipliers and Combos to Scoring.
* Added Video Modes/Mini-Games to Controls.
* Added Extra Balls to Survivability.
* Cited Ep6 magnet as a dangerous mode in Survivability.
* Mentioned the Ghost Rider mode under center drain nudge save.

August 30, 2014:
* Initial draft


< >
161 Comments
AlexandreMendes Aug 18, 2016 @ 8:00am 
Gostaria muito de traduções em outras linguas, como por exemplo o portugues. Ao menos nos guias.
PinballVirtual.es-Victor Mar 27, 2016 @ 12:21pm 
Excelente trabajo, algunos vídeos tuyos me ayudaron a conseguir algún logro. Lástima que muchos vídeos de esta guia han desaparecido.
Chewable C++  [author] Mar 13, 2016 @ 6:14am 
Some/most of the linked content that was owned by others was removed by them due to disagreements we had with the dev. Although I kept this guide up, I've made the decision to stop updating it. For more about that, see:

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=596388120
Kirika Mar 13, 2016 @ 5:58am 
This thread doesn't exists anymore, input lag

"http://steamcommunity.com/app/226980/discussions/0/666827315349070543/"
Zell Feb 18, 2016 @ 1:11pm 
Most videos are down, just a heads up.
InstantDead Dec 31, 2015 @ 6:25pm 
A lot Text...
Chewable C++  [author] Aug 9, 2015 @ 11:05pm 
Major update! Most importantly, I explain that digital nudging is required for consistent bang backs - something none of us realized until just recently!

* Separated nudging controls section into new section and largely rewrote it:
+ New video showing various nudge techniques
+ Explained differences (strength and responsiveness) between analog and digital nudging (with video and images)
+ Mentioned nudging frequency limitation
+ Mentioned ability to remap nudge controls via third party apps
* Added Slingshot Nudge technique and video to Survivability - Advanced
* Added workaround note for analog stick launching behaving like a button launch the first time (Controls - Part 1).
* Explained pausing and the countdown upon resuming (Controls - Part 1)
* Explained super skill shots and hidden skill shots (Controls - Part 1)
* Mentioned automatic ball reset if a ball is stuck (Controls - Part 2)
BreakingWaves Jun 21, 2015 @ 8:19am 
lots of good information here thanks!
Menin Gate Jun 17, 2015 @ 2:12am 
amazing guide Chewie
[toj.cc]Kendrik May 30, 2015 @ 2:23pm 
Very glad for this guide! Thanks! I feel like a pinball scrub, so I'm excited to learn and improve.