Jacks Open (Gottlieb, 1977)
Up top until you have collected three of the four top lanes, then drop targets all day. Go-To Flipper: Balanced.
This is another game where the drop target value increases as you do other things, in this case, complete more lanes at the top. Drops are worth 1000 + 1000 per completed suit lane. Thus, like on Card Whiz, you want to defer hitting the drops until you’ve raised their value. In this case, though, completing all four suits doesn’t raise the value but lowers it! You get 5000 points for finishing the four suits and the lanes reset and relight. So, the ideal situation for shooting drops is to have three of the four suits completed.
Skill shot: get one of the four suit lanes at the top. Uncollected lanes are the ones lit, and are worth 5000; already-collected lanes are unlit and worth 500. Given a choice on the plunge, take one of the center ones since it’s easier to get one of the side ones during game play.
One you have at least two suits, go ahead and start shooting drop targets. Which ones to shoot, though, are actually the opposite of what game’s playfield suggests! You do get 5000 points for completing the next “hand,” e.g. the two jacks, then the three queens, then the kings-queens full house, then the royal flush, but you want to “milk” the target bank for a while before you complete it. Be careful once you’ve shot some drops, though: it exposes bare rubber behind them. Shots into bare rubber, especially behind the center three drops, are more likely to drain than shots to the targets.
Plan on not getting the “hand” drops right away anyway. On this game, you need to think “flow” and “dead bounce” a lot. When the ball rolls down a return lane, it will be going to slow to transfer across, but may also be too fast to cradle. You’ll need to be able to shoot on the fly. And since the ball will drain if you hold up the flipper to get it to roll up the wire guide, cradling isn’t as easy as on modern games. Dead bouncing is the best way to get to a cradle. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to do dead bounces off of shots to the drops, but be careful: a too-fast dead bounce will also roll up and out the gap above the flippers.
Note the suit lanes also light corresponding lanes at the bottom; more lights, more points.
When the ball is headed out on of the side lanes, you can often still save it with a well-timed nudge as it gets to the post below the outer edge of the bottom of the lane. Don’t nudge too soon!