To Multiball or Not to Multiball

Multiballs in modern games tend to have a variety of lit shots for jackpots. Usually if you get enough jackpots, a super jackpot becomes available for even bigger points. For a lot of people just getting into a multiball and making a few shots is a successful game, and sometimes a good multiball is enough to even win a free game.

So multiballs can offer good points, but they also create more chaos. More than one ball makes it more difficult to accurately make shots and harder to get control of the balls. The flying balls also become obstacles that block shots, and hitting another ball creates ricochets in unanticipated angles.

With all of the chaos that goes with a multiball, you might want to use a little strategy to decide if you are going to start your multiball.

  • If you are at a point in your game that requires accurate shots, you might want to stay out of multiball.
  • If you are at a point where you need to make dangerous shots or lots of switch hits, you might want to focus on getting into multiball.
  • If your goals are the same as the multiball jackpot shots, definitely get into multiball.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a great example, because it shows three of these situations:

Sibling Rivalry and Pod Chase are ramp modes, and both shots are fairly tight. By comboing the ramps back and forth the modes can be worth great points, and upon completing them be huge additions to your end of ball bonus. I find both ramps to be much more difficult to make during multiball, and almost never hit them in combination. I try not to play multiball during these two modes.

But the Antiquities and Yaka Arrow modes are both switch hit based modes. Antiquities will spot you shot completions after a certain number of switch hits, and Yaka Arrow qualifies additional shots from pop bumper hits. And upon completion, both modes have switch hit 2nd levels. So starting a multiball during either mode works great, and I will often start the Quill’s Quest mode right after a completion to get a quick multiball for the 2nd level switch hits.

Finally, if you upgrade (hit the scoop during a mode) either Pod Chase or Knowhere, all major shots become lit for mode shots. This means starting either Groot or Orb multiball will double the value/usefulness of each shot.

Both Medieval Madness (MM) and Attack from Mars (AFM) are great examples of using multiballs for dangerous shots. On MM the gate shots after the drawbridge has been lowered are dangerous shots, and on AFM the saucer shot (opened or closed) are hazardous. Starting a multiball after the drawbridge is down or the saucer is open allows safe shots at what would otherwise be a risky shot. This is especially helpful on later castles and saucers that take a ton of hits. But make sure you open the saucer first, because you can’t open the saucer during multiball!

On Iron Maiden, there are a number of shots that get more difficult to make when you are playing multiball. The two ramps, the inner loops, and even the upper spinner/orbit shot (because the left upper flipper blocks it) can all be difficult when balls are flying around. Flight of Icarus and loop jackpots can be worth a ton of points, so I actively avoid getting into multiball when either of them are running. I also find Fear of the Dark to be easier to complete (and get better points) when I play it without multiball, because the left upper flipper blocks the upper spinner.

I hope these examples show that there can be strategy when choosing to start or not start a multiball. When you get deep into a game, the timing of multiballs can be just as important as the multiball itself.


If you watch pinball tutorials or competitions, you will hear players talk about always bringing a mode into a multiball or always try to be in multiball. But they may be in the realms of the gods. They minimize the negatives of multiballs by trapping as many balls as possible on one flipper, and then take controlled shots with the other flipper. They use cradle separations and flick passes to keep as many balls safely trapped as possible, while freeing one ball to the other flipper to continue to make shots. With those skills you can minimize the negatives of multiball, and always be playing “safe” with at least one ball cradled. And if you can master them, you may be walking the path to godhood!

About David Lee

I play in the East Bay, mostly in Alameda, Oakland and Emeryville. Oakland Pinball Warriors is my main monthly tournament, and only occasionally make it to San Francisco for tournaments. My IFPA ranking bounces around 500, depending on how many tournaments I get to. I am DavidLee on Pindigo and LEE on scoreboards

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