Royal Guard / Palace Guard (Gottlieb, 1968)
This is a fine example of a “deferred UTAD” game. There are 5 lettered lanes at the top, A-E. Each lights an outlane for 500 points [base value is 50], corresponding to the outlane positions from left to right, e.g. the “A” lights the far left outlane [of the two on that side], C lights the center drain. Ideally, you want to get the C first so you’re covered while using the flippers, then get a different letter each ball after that. When draining out the side, remember to nudge to get a lit 500 lane if only one of the two outlanes on that side is lit.
Note, like most early EMs, once you light something, i.e. a letter, target or bumper, it stays lit for the remainder of the game.
The primary feature here is the moving center rail of four colored disk targets, blue, red, yellow and green. Each disk lights a feature of the same color in the upper playfield when hit. When the rail is on the left side, the hit target lights a standup target above; when the rail is to the right, it lights a bumper. Once lit, any of these stay lit for the rest of the game.
Strategy: hit as many of the rail disk targets as you can to light upper playfield features. Once you’ve got most of the features lit, especially the standup targets, go UTAD. Nudge the ball when in the bumpers to try to direct it into any lit standups. And if the opportunity arises to nudge to get the ball to go up a not-yet-lit top lane [A-E], by all means do it.
The ball will rarely drain directly from the upper playfield; it’s a tight angle to the sides, and a relatively small portion of the drop-downs from above go clean down the center without a chance to bounce them off a flipper or post. Most drains happen because you are unable to get control of the ball and it deflects around the lower playfield until going down the center or sides.
This is another back-loaded game as far as scoring, i.e. most of your score will come on balls 4 and 5 since you’ll have the most features lit then. Don’t let a bad ball 1 or 2 get to you; if you can get enough things lit later on, you can make a good come back.