Sunday, February 21, 2016

Game of Thrones basic strategy guide

Somehow I forgot about blogging. But I think I may get back into it again. In addition to "normal" articles in my "I Always Play a Thief" blog, I want to continue writing in my pinball blog too. For example I think I want to continue my series on Pinball game design and other pinball topics.

So I will start working on those. In the meantime, I thought I would paste in my basic Game of Thrones PRO strategy guide. For safe keeping.

People ask me if if I will write an advanced version. Also they want an LE / Premium version too. I want to do both of those and I plan to someday.

This was originally written because hundreds of people at PINBALL EXPO 2015 were about to see and play the game for the first time. AND it was used in the tournament. I was thinking holy crap! This is a pretty complicated game. So I wrote the basics of what is needed to start to understand the game.

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Game of Thrones PRO Basic Strategy Guide V01.01.15.10.0


Stern’s Game of Thrones pinball machine is based on the hit HBO TV series, Game of Thrones. The most prominent Game of Thrones families or Houses are represented by their Sigils on colored Shields on the lower third of the playfield. The object of the game is to battle and conquer all other families to capture the Iron Throne for your chosen House.

Choose Your House
The game begins with the selection of a House you want to fight for. You will want to choose your House carefully, as you will be making several gameplay decisions with your House selection. Each House has unique properties that are useful for different game play strategies. When you choose a House, you are essentially selecting which way you want to play the game. Do you want to go for the long game, a more satisfying Multiball, large end of ball bonuses or all of the above?

Each House has its own High Score Champion. When you choose a House you will have a chance to be the Champion of that House. You may want to choose a House with a Champion score you have a good chance of beating.

The House you select will give you special attributes:
HOUSE STARK -          Increased Winter is Coming values. Winter is Coming is a series of Hurry Ups.
HOUSE BARATHEON -  Advance to Wall Multiball faster.
HOUSE LANNISTER -   Win more Gold throughout the game.
HOUSE GREYJOY -       Pay the Iron Price. As you complete Houses you will gain their attributes.
HOUSE TYRELL -         One return lane is lit for Increased Combo Multipliers. Use Lane Change wisely.
HOUSE MARTELL -       Add-A-Ball to Multiball by using the Action Button.

You cannot fight for House Targaryen. Daenerys Targaryen, her army, and her dragons are the greatest obstacle on your path to the Iron Throne.

The game will default to House Stark. If you simply push START and then plunge the ball, you will be fighting for House Stark. If you wish to represent a different House, select the House of your choice with the flipper buttons before plunging the ball. The House Stark mode is the most straightforward house to learn, and is offered as default to casual players as a simple starting point.

Strategy Example: Choosing House Lannister

Being a Lannister offers more opportunities to acquire Gold throughout the whole game. Gold is useful in two ways:
  • You can spend your Gold on items available at the Mystery Feature. More Gold will mean you can afford more powerful or more lucrative items.
  • Gold increases the value of End of Ball Bonus. Acquiring Bonus Multipliers increases your bonus even more. Shoot the orbits to get the ball to the top lanes. Completing the top lanes will award +1 Bonus Multiplier and will advance you closer to Wall Multiball by one increment.
One benefit from more gold and Mystery is you can become good at video mode which can be a lucrative sup-plot to the Lannister Strategy.

The Mystery Feature
The Mystery Feature offers 30+ items you can buy with Gold. These items can be very valuable in awarding advances to many areas of the game. The Mystery Feature is also the only place you can buy and play the Video Mode. Three levels of Video Mode are available: 1X, 2X and 3X. If you have earned enough Gold, you will be able to play the 3X Video Mode more often. You never have to play the Video Mode if you don’t want to.

Instead of offering a random mystery item the game feels you need at the moment, the Mystery Feature gives you the opportunity and choice to spend, or not spend some of the Gold you have collected for stuff.

Each time you shoot the Mystery Feature you will have 3 options:
  • Keep the Gold you have and save it for something bigger or better, risking that you may or may not have another opportunity to buy something.
  • Spend Gold for the most expensive item you can afford.
  • Spend Gold for something less than the most expensive item and different in nature.
If you choose to spend your Gold, the game will deduct it from your current amount of Gold.

Some of the features you can buy with your Gold:
  • Light Targaryen
  • Award +3X Bonus Multipliers
  • Start 2X Video Mode
  • Light Lock
  • Award +10 Wildfire.
  • Light Extra Ball
  • Light 3X Super Jackpot

Early Main Play
Your first goals will be to light one or more Houses, collect Gold, lock balls for Blackwater Multiball, and build up your stock of Wildfire, while keeping a watchful eye on your playfield and combo multipliers.

Multipliers
Multipliers are a major strategy in the game. The game is designed to allow the player to build up large awards in various places and to build up multipliers. The magic is putting the two together as often as you can.

Combo Multipliers: Each time you shoot one of the 5 major shots you will increase some of the other combo multipliers. You can increase them to a max of 5X. There are 5 Red Arrows, 1 per major shot. These arrows will blink and time out to indicate which combo shots are greater than 1X. If they timeout all combo multipliers will return to 1X.

Playfield Multipliers: Shooting the Battering Ram will light and then later collect a playfield multiplier. Playfield multipliers timeout and eventually turn off. Shooting the Battering Ram will prolong the time out, adding back a few seconds. The higher valued multipliers timeout faster than the lower valued multipliers. Playfield multipliers multiply ALL scores awarded to the player.

Multiplied Multipliers: Each time you collect an award from a major shot, the game will combine the multipliers. For example if you have 2X playfield and 3X combo on the shot, awards collected from that shot will be worth 6X. The bottom of the display keeps track of the level of the 5 shots; showing the combined multipliers for each shot.

All multipliers start at 1X at the beginning of each ball.

Iron Bank: If you have multipliers that are greater than 1X, the Action Button will pulse in your House color. Once per ball you may press the Action Button to cash in all of your multipliers for points and your multipliers will all go to 1X. The scoring of points is exponential. High level multipliers are very lucrative.

Sometimes you will have to make tough decisions. Ideally, you will cash in when your multipliers are huge, but you might want to think about it. Your next 20X Jackpot may be very valuable also. If the very large multipliers are close to timing out, you may want to cash in your Iron Bank multiplied points before the timer runs out.

Tip: Hit the Action Button as the ball drains just in case you have Iron Bank points available. Since you can only cash in once per ball, you will leave some points on the table if you don’t.

Pop Bumpers

Each of the three pop bumpers when hit will change which award it wants the collective set to award. When two of the bumpers agree they will lock in and wait for the third to match the first two. When all three pop bumper awards match, they will award that feature.

Some of the features the Pop Bumpers can award:
  • +200 Gold
  • +5 Wildfire
  • Light Extra Ball
  • Advance Wall Multiball
  • Increase Winter is Coming
  • Award Special

Often, the Pop Bumpers will issue several awards in a row.

Tip: If the pop bumpers are about to award something interesting, for example LIGHT EXTRA BALL, shoot the ball back to the top lanes and collect it!


House Modes
To reach the Iron Throne you need to complete all 7 houses, including your own.
Lighting Houses: At the start of the game, each House that is not currently lit has a corresponding shot that will light it. After completing the shot 3 times, the House will be lit. You know a house is lit because their Shield will be blinking. The shots are color coded and are the same color as the House Shield. The Blue shot will light the Blue House, (Targaryen); the Red shot will light the Red House, (Lannister); and so on.

After you light a House, it will Ice-Over and change its color to Ice Blue. See Icing-Over & Winter is Coming, below.

Lighting Houses is lucrative. The points you receive build with each shot, regardless of the House you are advancing. Also, the faster you advance those Houses the higher the value builds.

Each time you light a house, CHOOSE YOUR BATTLE will light.

Choose Your Battle
Shoot the Left Ramp when Choose Your Battle is lit. The ball will stop at the Sword of Multiball and give you a few moments to select which House Mode(s) you would like to play. You can battle one House alone or two Houses simultaneously.

HOUSE TARGARYEN Defeat all three dragons one at a time.
HOUSE STARK Help Arya train to be an assassin.
HOUSE BARATHEON Help Stannis fight the wildlings.
HOUSE LANNISTER Help Jaime rescue Myrcella
HOUSE GREYJOY Help Theon Greyjoy take Winterfell
HOUSE TYRELL Help Lord Loras joust against The Mountain
HOUSE MARTELL Help the Viper defeat The Mountain in a trial by combat

The game will allow you to play any House Mode you have lit or you can choose to pass and not play any at that moment. Since you can play zero, one, or two House Modes at once, there are interesting decisions to be made; choosing which houses to play together, which to play alone, and when to pass. This choice often enters into the realm of personal play style.

Why Pass on a Battle?
These are the main reasons to Pass on a Battle:
  • You don’t want to play the mode because it is better stacked with other modes.
  • You want to continue to play the main-play features like lighting other Modes because you are on a roll and you want to continue.
  • You don’t want to play now because you want to play another mode first and it is not lit yet.
  • You want to stack the mode(s) with Blackwater Multiball but you need to lock more balls first.

If a House Mode is not complete when the time runs out or when the ball drains the game will remember your progress most of the time. Some House Modes, because of their nature, start over from the beginning when you start them again. Often, the best strategy is to pair modes that use the same shots. You will kill two birds with each shot.

Remember: Some House Modes change the shots needed to complete the House Mode on your progression within the Mode.

House Modes must be completed before their Shield will light solid (not blinking), marking them complete. Completing modes will eventually light extra ball. Completing 4 House Modes starts Hand of the King Mini Wizard mode. Completing all 7 House Modes are required to start the Iron Throne Wizard Mode. Each House Mode you complete will light Swords.

Swords: When Swords is lit, shoot the right ramp to collect a random Sword. Swords are needed to unlock higher levels of combo and playfield multipliers.

Achieving your first few House Modes may be less lucrative than your next few. For some players, this will be a reason to carefully select the order you play the house modes. An example of a reason to Pass would be that you don’t want to Battle a certain House because you want to play a different House Mode first, and it isn’t lit yet.

Midgame Main Play

By now, you have played but maybe not completed one or more House Modes, collected some Gold, locked some balls, and advanced the Wall Multiball.

Icing-Over and Winter is Coming

Shooting shots that are ice blue in color will grow the Winter is Coming Hurry-Up value. Any ice blue shot will grow the value and advance you to the Hurry Up. The faster you shoot them the higher the value will grow. After shooting the third ice blue shot, the Hurry Up will start for that shot. When you complete it, the shot will then turn the color of your house. You have now conquered that shot.

Completing Hurry Ups will eventually start the Winter Has Come Wizard Mode.

Blackwater Multiball

This is the main Multiball of the game. To start this you need to lock three balls. To do well you need to build up your wildfire first. The right two bank will light lock and it will light wildfire. When lock is lit, shoot the left ramp to lock a ball.

Wildfire: The more Wildfire you have, the larger your jackpot and super jackpot awards will be. You can collect Wildfire from many places, but Wildfire Mini Mode is the best place to get more Wildfire, quicker.

Hit the battering ram when Wildfire is lit. This will start a Wildfire Mini Mode. For the next few seconds the Battering Ram will award +10 Wildfire each time you hit it.

At the start of Blackwater Multiball, your Wildfire is cashed in to build your jackpot value.


Battle at the Wall Multiball

Completing the top lanes moves the clock one step closer to the inevitable Battle against the wildings. When the clock counts down, the multiball will be ready at the Dragon Shot. Shoot the Dragon Shot to start. The jackpot value for this Multiball can be increased by choosing and collecting Mystery Feature and Pop Bumpers awards.





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