Game Buzz: Super Skill Pinball 4-Cade (again)

Back in May, I did a write-up on the PNP version of today’s game. But now that it’s out in its full version, let’s once again look at

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade is a roll-and-write pinball simulation designed by Geoff Engelstein and published by WizKids. The game is for 1-4 players, though you could probably play it with as many people as had boards. You’re basically trying to get the highest score on one of four tables – Carniball, Cyberhack, Dragon Slayer, and Dance Fever.

There are some different rules for each table, but I’ll start with the basic rules that apply to everything. Each player gets a board and backglass, which should be the same set for everyone. You also take two ball tokens, placing one on the start arrow for that board. You’ll take a dry erase marker, mark that you’re in round one, and it’s time to play.

There are two dice in the game, and in each round, someone will roll them. All players will use the same roll, but can choose either die. You fill in one of the spaces on your board based on the number you chose. Once everyone has done this, you roll again and continue doing this until the game ends.

In a little more detail, you begin at the start arrow, and in each subsequent round, you begin from the zone you ended in the previous turn. You always need to move down at least one zone, unless there are special rules for the zone you’re in. As you go, you will be scoring points, which are marked in stars on your backglass. If you want to hit a specific spot, die values can be nudged to a different value, but doing this increases your chance that you might tilt, which will end your round.

When your ball reaches the bottom of the board, it has gotten to the flippers. These can hit a ball back up to a zone that matches the color of the flipper used. Of course, if you roll the wrong number, you could lose your ball. Which is no problem – you just mark off the next round and move your ball back to the start arrow and erase any dotted boxes you’ve filled in on your board. Of course, if that was your third round, your game is over.

There are various bonuses you could get through the game – multiball, multipliers, and so on – but let’s look at the boards themselves.

image by BGG user WizKidsJessa

CARNIBALL is the board that was released through PNP, and is listed as the easiest board to play. The top zone is the Ferris Wheel. There are three spaces: 1-2, 3-4, and 5-6. When all three are filled, you get a Skill Shot, which is basically a number you can use at any time in place of a rolled number.

The next zone down is the Bumpers. Each of the three bumpers has two sets of numbers: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6. Each time you hit a bumper, you get a point and cross that number off. On the next turn, if you get a number from the next bumper clockwise, you can stay in the bumpers.

The next zone is the Drop Targets – duckies and balloons. You can cross off each one, and when you’ve completed a set, you get a bonus.

From the red flipper, you can also reach the Feat of Strength. Use the roll to go up the track in sequence. This means you have to hit the 1 space first, then the 2, and so on. You can get a lot of points for filling this up.

image by BGG user WizKidsJessa

CYBERHACK is a moderate difficulty table. You start in the Alleys, which if filled in get you a Skill Shot. The next zone is the Bumpers, which work just like the Bumpers in Carniball, except filling in a Bumper completely gets you a Hack (more on those in a bit). There are also Drop Targets – Hacker and Backdoor. Completing these get you bonuses.

The Cache can be reached from the red flipper. Unlike the Feat of Strength, the ball always goes straight through this to the Alleys. You mark the number of the die you did not use for the flippers and score that many points.

All this stuff is sort of similar to Carniball. However, this board adds the R-U-N mini-bumpers, which can be reached with the yellow flipper. When all three bumpers are filled, you begin the RUN minigame. Keep your ball on the RUN bumpers, and start using the die results to fill in spots on the backglass. The sum of the dice increases your RUN Data, and the difference between them increases your TRACE value. A run ends if you Crash (the TRACE value reaches the bottom), if you choose to end the run, or if you fill up the Data track. If you Crash, you get nothing, but you do get points for the other two. Hacks collected in the game can help you in the run by allowing you to ignore a roll. When your run is completed, you go to the main bumpers on your next turn (or a lower zone).

image by BGG user WizKidsJessa

DRAGONSLAYER is another moderate difficulty table. The first zone you hit here is a pair of Bumpers. These are located next to some EXP Drop targets that you can bounce into from the Bumpers. Filling all three in levels you up. Also, you can either get points or a hoard from hitting the Bumpers – a hoard allows you to fill in a spot on the Hoard track. More on that in a bit.

The next zone has a Scroll area and two Drop Target areas – Rat and Goblins. If you fill in the Scroll area, you get a Hoard mark and can learn a new Spell (more on Spells later as well). If you knock down the Rat target with a 1, you score a point. If you knock down both Goblin targets with a 5 and 6, you score three points.

In the next zone, there are two more Drop Target areas, Rest and Cast. If you fill in the four Rest targets, you can get back the ability to cast spells you’ve already cast. If you knock down both Cast targets, you can learn a Purple spell. Both of these get more Hoard marks as well.

From the red flipper, you can reach the Dragon drop targets. When these are all filled, you score the entire value of your Hoard. Which is why it’s nice to get a lot of Hoard points.

Spells are tracked on your backglass. You start the game with one, but all others must be learned before you can cast them. Once cast, they are not available to you again until you rest. Spells can change die values, increase points, give you ball saves, give you a multiball, increase your Hoard, or fill in spaces on your board. Some Spells are unlocked as you level up.

image by WizKidsJessa

DANCE FEVER is the last, and is listed as the most complex of the boards. The top zone is a red and yellow disco ball that you can bounce between (they are Bumpers). Filling both gives you a Skill Shot. From there, you go down to the Disco Pinferno area. The yellow disco ball goes down to the 2-3 space, and the red goes down to the 4-5 space. If you don’t have the correct number, you continue down to the Hot Stuff zone, but if you do, you can start the Disco Pinferno multiball. This is a minigame on the backglass using your second ball token, and consists of drop targets and flippers. Filling the Hot Stuff zone doubles the points you can earn in Disco Pinferno.

The next zone consists of two Drop Target areas – Groove and Boogie. Filling the Groove targets gets you a bonus. Filling the Boogie targets allows you to score the Boogie track, which increases overtime doubles is rolled.

One of the things that really appeals to me about this game (other than it being pinball, which I love) is the variety between the boards. Carniball is pretty straight forward, but the others add new twists and things to think about. Timing seems to be really important for Dance Fever, while Dragonslayer is almost a roll-and-write RPG and Cyberhack puts some extra push-your-luck elements in. The whole thing is very much multiplayer solitaire as there is nothing you can do to affect anyone else. You’re just trying to get the best score you can. Still, it looks like fun, and has some great production. I’m looking forward to trying it out, though it looks like it’s out of stock right now – the game has proved to be quite popular.

That’s it for today. Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!

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