Choose Your House: How to Play Stern's Game of Thrones Pinball

Choose Your House: How to Play Stern's Game of Thrones Pinball
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Choose Your House: How to Play Stern's Game of Thrones Pinball
Published on
September 5, 2023
Updated on
September 5, 2023
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Editors note: Special thank you to Jason Knapp of Knapp Arcade for providing the excellent photography for this tutorial!

Fortunately, Stern's pinball machine based on the formerly iconic TV series, Game of Thrones, only incorporates elements up to the fifth season. While that, unfortunately, means we don’t get any mention of Ramsay Bolton - my personal choice for the greatest villain in TV history - it does mean we can enjoy the machine without being reminded of how the series ended. This is a pretty complex table which is much more about multiplying points than it is about adding them. It’s also a table where a little bit of understanding will go a long way - someone without any rules knowledge is borderline guaranteed to lose against someone who even somewhat understands the game. So, let’s go over how to take on this monster.

james says game of thrones tutorial

About Game of Thrones Pinball

Game of Thrones is a pinball game manufactured by Stern Pinball Inc. in 2015. The game is based on the first few seasons of the hit HBO TV show of the same name. It was also one of the final DMD games from Stern before transitioning to LCD screens shortly after this games release.

Game of Thrones Playfield Overview

Game of Thrones has two different versions - a Pro and a Premium/LE. The biggest difference between the two is that the Premium features a mini-playfield in the upper left-hand corner that the Pro lacks. Many players will argue they like the Pro more, though I’m indifferent. I think the mini-playfield is fun, even if it doesn’t add too much, but the Premium’s full RGB lighting is very, very cool. Not only does the multi-colored lighting make rules easier to follow, it also enables some very cool effects. We’ll cover the major differences as we go, but the rules for each version are borderline identical, so there aren’t that many to go over.

Thrones features five major playfield shots: two orbits that loop around to one another, or feed three pop bumpers up top, two ramps (one center and one right), and the infamous “Dragon” shot in between the center ramp and the left orbit. In the Pro, the Dragon can grab your ball, but in the Premium, it’ll kick the ball back at you (a la Yagov from F-14 Tomcat). Get comfortable making all the shots - they’re all important for jackpots. The more shots you can backhand, the better: you can often backhand the right ramp from the right flipper, and the spinner/left orbit from the left flipper. Beware the center ramp, though: despite it looking easy to make from the left flipper, attempting that is likely to brick and throw the ball straight down the middle. Just leave that shot to the right flipper. The Premium also adds a drop target in front of the right ramp which does a great job at powering balls down the left outlane - best to gently backhand this, or graze it on the way to the right orbit.

Other than that, there’s a “battering ram” between the two ramps. Get comfortable with repeatedly backhanding this from the right flipper - this is a repeatable super jackpot during the main multiball, so the more rapidly you can hit it, the better. There’s also two banks of targets - a 3-bank on the left, and a 2-bank on the right - the 2-bank is more important, as that lights locks. You usually can hit this from either flipper, but be careful since it’s right over the right inlane.

As far as scoring is concerned, it depends on how much you know what you’re doing. If you’re not sure what’s going on, putting up 50,000,000 is pretty solid. But if you do know what’s going on, you should be able to put up 500,000,000 - 1,000,000,000 without too much trouble.

Abridged Game of Thrones Pinball Tutorial

Game of Thrones features two types of scoring multipliers:

1. Playfield multipliers are started by repeatedly hitting the Battering Ram. Playfield X can be increased up to 3X, 4X with one sword (lit by completing modes), or 5X with two swords.

2. Combo multipliers are lit by making shots as combos. In a three-way combo to three unique shots, the second shot will be doubled, and the third will be tripled. Combo multiplier maxes out at 5X.

  • What constitutes a “combo” and what doesn’t can be very obtuse. Broadly speaking, if a shot is flashing red, it’s lit for a combo. You can see the current combo multiplier on the display for each shot.
  • The two multipliers multiply each other. A 3X combo with 3X playfield will be worth 9X.

Most huge scores on Game of Thrones are usually composed of one or two monster jackpots, instead of a multitude of smaller ones. It’s very hard to reach a billion if you don’t score one or two jackpots worth several hundred million.

At the start of the game, you get to choose your house. The easiest house (and one of the best) is Martell, which lets you press the Action button once per ball to add-a-ball during a multiball. (Press the button as you’re about to drain out of multiball to keep the multiball alive!)

Blackwater is the game’s main multiball. Locks are lit at the green targets on the right and collected at the center ramp. During Blackwater, collecting all green jackpots lights a timed frenzy of Super Jackpots which can be collected on repeated hits to the Battering Ram.

There are seven houses, each with their own affiliated shot and mode. Shooting a shot enough times during single-ball play will light that house’s mode. When mode start is lit (“Choose Your Battle”), you can shoot the center ramp to start one or two modes of your choosing.

  • You should always try and start two modes if you can help it. While knowing what modes stack well with one another is very useful, the general idea of “pick two modes when you can” will often suffice.
  • You can pass instead (as you should, if two modes aren’t lit), but you’ll have to light a mode before Choose Your Battle will light again.

Some other things to be aware of so you’re not confused:

  • Wall Multiball is available after hitting the top lanes (Pro) or Dragon (Premium/LE)
  • Winter is Coming sucks and can be completely ignored
  • Beating four houses lights a mini-wizard mode called Hand of the King - when you’ve beaten three houses, drop everything to beat the fourth

Playfield & Combo Multipliers

I think that before we get to anything else, it's super important to understand how Game of Thrones' scoring works. As I mentioned, Thrones is much more about multiplying points than it is about adding them. This might sound like I'm jumping ahead a bit, but if you want to break a billion, you need to know how the scoring multipliers work.

First off, there are playfield multipliers. Playfield multipliers are lit by smashing the Battering Ram, which will eventually start double scoring for a brief period of time - indicated by a flashing "2X Playfield Values" insert. Bashing the Battering Ram a few more times will start 3X scoring. Despite the inserts saying you can go up to 5X, you're capped at 3X until you collect some Swords. Swords can be collected on the right ramp after completing modes or getting one from a mystery award. Collecting a Sword will increase the cap by 1X, so if one is lit, pick it off at your earliest convenience.

Second, there are combo multipliers. If you’re familiar with some Sterns of this era - such as Kiss or Star Trek - they often have a rule where combo shots are worth double. Game of Thrones shares an amplified version of this rule: while a 2X combo is worth double, a 3X combo is worth triple, and so on. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but the idea is that each shot you make will add +1X to all valid combos, and then making a shot resets the combo X back to 1X. What constitutes a “valid combo” is very confusing to me, but that’s not as important as understanding that making shots as combos is how you can multiply them to be worth huge value. If you’re ever curious, a flashing red insert means the shot has a combo multiplier on it, and the display will always show the multiplier on each shot at any given moment.

Combo multipliers cap at 5X, but combo multipliers and playfield multipliers multiply each other. So, a 4X combo multiplier with 3X playfield will be worth 12X. Like I said, Game of Thrones isn’t about adding points, it’s about multiplying them. You can put up a solid score by collecting a ton of jackpots, but generally, it’s better to collect one huge jackpot than it is to collect a bunch of smaller ones. Those multi-billion point scores are often composed of just a couple of monster collects - I recently put up 1,920,000,000 points in a tournament, 800,000,000 of which came from two jackpots.

So, why am I going over this now? Simple - it’s the most important scoring rule in the game. This is a philosophy that will apply to literally everything else in the guide and I want to avoid repeating myself by saying "you should multiply this if you can" every five seconds. If you're getting a whole bunch of good stuff going, then try to get a playfield multiplier running. If a shot is worth a lot, be sure to build up your combo X before you collect it. That said, the battering ram is dangerous, and making extra shots puts the ball more at risk. Don’t get too greedy. A 10X shot isn’t that much different than an 8X shot, and for features which have lots of smaller jackpots, it’s better to collect some of them without any multipliers than to miss out entirely, especially in lower-caliber competitions where 200,000,000 is a dominant score.

Getting Started with Game of Thrones Pinball

getting started with game of thrones pinball

The first thing you’ll get to do is choose your house. You have seven options, with each one having their own special abilities and advantages. You pick your house with the flipper buttons, and lock in your choice by either plunging the ball or pressing the action button (which launches the ball automatically). Now I could go over each house in detail here, but none of it will make sense anyway without explaining the rest of the game first. At the very bottom of this guide, there’s a detailed description of each house and why you’d want to pick them, but the choice is (mostly) subjective. 

Since we’re going to cover the houses later, I’m not going to be detailing the differences in house strategies as we go. This will be a pretty broad-spectrum guide to cover what you should focus on, regardless of your house. For now, though, the easiest house to play - as well as one of the best - is Martell, which lets you press the action button once per ball to add-a-ball during a multiball. So, as your multiball is about to end, press the button to prolong it.

house martell game of thrones pinball

Now that we have our house, we’re on to the table. Game of Thrones’ skill shot is different for the Pro and Premium. We’ll go over the Premium later, but the Pro has a pretty conventional top lane skill shot. In either case, ignore it. Instead, we want to get control without validating the playfield. For the unfamiliar: Hitting a switch on modern pinball machines “validates” the playfield, meaning the ball is officially “in play,” your ball save timer will start, and a drain will use up your ball save. If you drain without hitting a switch, you get your ball back for free. So, if you can get control without hitting anything, you can prolong your ball save! 

I like to plunge the ball softly so that it doesn’t hit any switches - namely, the switch on the right orbit. As the ball rolls out of the orbit, give the table a small slap on the right side to get it off of the wall a little bit and avoid the top of the right slingshot. (We want to avoid this post since the ball will often bounce into the right outlane or into the left slingshot from this post.) Then, live catch on the right flipper (or dead bounce it over to the left flipper) and shoot the two-bank of targets on the lower right side of the table. This lights locks, and is dangerous to shoot normally, so take advantage of your ball save here if possible.

game of thrones pinball opening strategy

But, you don’t want to get into starting a multiball right away. Lighting locks is important, but before we get into a multiball, we want to get some modes going.

Starting Battles in Game of Thrones

game of thrones pinball tutorial house shots

Battles are Game of Thrones’ main modes. There are seven of them, one for each house, and they’re very unusual in how you start them. Basically, each house has a shot associated with it: House Baratheon is the three-bank on the left, House Greyjoy is the left orbit, House Targaryen is the Dragon, House Lannister is the center ramp, House Stark is the right ramp, House Martell is the right orbit, and House Tyrell is the two-bank on the right. These shots are fixed and never change; e.g. the Greyjoy house mode will always be lit by shots to the left orbit. Shooting a house’s shot three times lights that house’s mode, which is started at the center ramp. (In case you forget which shot is which, the shields are color-coded. For instance, Greyjoy’s main insert is purple, so the purple shot lights Greyjoy.)

Here’s where things get a little funky. When a mode is lit, “Choose Your Battle” will light at the center ramp. Shooting the ramp when lit will let you start one or two modes from among what you have lit. You get to pick whichever modes you want, which is very nice. You can also elect to “pass for now” and not start any modes. Why would you want to do this? Well, you can only progress to, light, and start modes during single-ball play with no other modes or features running. So, if you start a mode, you won’t be able to light another mode until that mode is completed or the timer expires. If you want to start a different mode, or (more likely) you only have one mode lit and want to start two, you should pass so you can light the other mode you want. Note that if you choose to pass, Choose Your Battle will turn off until you light another mode.

You do not want to start just one mode on its own. Starting two modes is almost always preferable. If you only have one mode available, you should pass and try to light another mode first. Keep this in mind, as whatever house you pick at the start of the game will also light that house’s mode for free, so you’ll have a battle ready from the start. I advise against starting it alone. Light another battle first.

game of thrones pinball by stern

The progress you make during most battles is saved if you fail, so you'll get to pick up where you left off. Also, modes never un-light - even if you fail to finish a mode, or if you light one and don't start it, once a battle is lit, it'll be lit until you finish it. Similarly, Choose Your Battle will be lit so long as you have a mode lit and haven’t passed since lighting the last mode. So, if you fail a mode, you’ll be able to start it again without any real hassle.

The biggest snag you'll run into is that aside from starting battles, the center ramp is also the lock shot for Blackwater Multiball, the main multiball of the game. Pay close attention to your locks - if lock is lit, and you have two locks already, don't pass on a mode (even if you're only playing one) since there's no reason to. On top of that, the center ramp also lights Lannister - one of the battles - and the shot that lights Lannister will also let you pick your battle. Personally, I try to take advantage of this. I try to avoid all shots to the center ramp until Lannister is lit unless they'll also get me a lock. If every shot made to the center ramp at the start of the game collects you a lock (and you don't play any battles beforehand), that means that you'll light Lannister at the same time you're playing a multiball, guaranteeing that you'll have a battle ready to go for your first Blackwater.

In summary: light two battles by shooting major shots, start them up the middle ramp. Pass on starting one battle if you can help it. Avoid the center ramp unless it's lit for lock to guarantee a mode with Blackwater. Try to run your modes alongside multiballs, but be careful: if you pass on a mode, you have to light another mode before you can start one.

Blackwater Multiball

blackwater multiball got pinball

Okay, now that we've gone over the general idea of modes, let's talk about Blackwater. As I said, this is kind of the main multiball of the game. You light locks at the two-bank on the right, and collect them at the center ramp. Note you can't stack locks, so you have to collect a lock before you can light another one. Three locks begin Blackwater, and as you might expect, it’s a three-ball multiball. As a warning, the Premium/LE begins Blackwater by blinding you with a ridiculous lightshow. Consider covering your eyes as you hear the “Blackwater Multiball!” callout.

During Blackwater, the goal is to hit all of the flashing lime green lights for jackpots. After collecting all lit jackpots, the battering ram will be lit for super jackpots. Yes, plural - bottomless supers are lit on a timer, so collect as many of them as you can while they're available. You seriously need to get comfortable with just repeatedly backhanding that ram. You can get a monster score doing this, plus, it advances towards playfield multipliers!

battering ram closeup got pinball machine

As mentioned above, you absolutely want to bring modes into Blackwater if you can help it. Since we haven't gone over modes yet, the best pair of modes to run during Blackwater are Greyjoy and Lannister. They both favor the same shots you’re aiming at for jackpots, anyway, and benefit from random bounces. In any case, run whatever modes you can when Blackwater starts. After all, Blackwater will stop you from lighting more modes, and the only real reason to pass on modes is to light more modes, so there’s no reason to pass now. When supers are ready, drop everything else and wail on that battering ram.

game of thrones pinball machine by stern

The jackpot value in Blackwater is determined by how much wildfire you have. You light Wildfire at the battering ram by completing the two-bank (which is a bit weird because that's Tyrell's shot, and house Tyrell doesn't really have a good history with the stuff), though it can be collected by a random award from the bumpers, too. Personally, I don't really shoot for wildfire - like the substance itself, collecting it is dangerous. But, if you're really good at Blackwater, that's how you can make it more valuable.

The biggest catch with Blackwater is that it requires hitting the dangerous two-bank to light locks. I usually just go for one Blackwater intentionally, starting others if I happen to light the locks by accident. Of course, that's probably just because I tend to struggle with keeping multiballs under control. If you're good at that, and are good at scoring a crapload of supers, then try to get back into Blackwater. Just be careful with those standups!

Detailed Battle Descriptions

Okay, let's go over the battles a bit more. They're all timed modes that require some sequence of shots to complete. As mentioned above, if you fail to complete a mode (either by draining or running out of time), starting the mode again will pick up where you last left off. There's also not really any penalty to failing a mode - the mode isn't harder or anything the second time you start it. The only exception to this is that a couple of the modes have jackpots associated which you can build up, failing those modes will reset their jackpot value. Here are the detailed descriptions of the modes. If you don’t want to learn all these rules, feel free to skip this list and just remember the good pairings mentioned afterwards.

House Stark

Best for single-ball play

house stark game of thrones pinball

Hitting either ramp will add one member to Arya's "kill list" and will increase the value of the final shot. Making three ramps lights the final shot to either orbit, making it finishes the mode. However, you can increase the value of the final shot by continually shooting ramps - ideally by looping one over and over again - although it will reset if you time out or drain. Also, if you fail to complete this mode, you'll have to make at least one ramp shot before you can collect the final shot again. This is probably the most lucrative mode, provided you can combine the final shot with a decent multiplier, it can be worth several hundred million points, and can be one of those monster jackpots that make up those billion+ scores.

House Baratheon

Best with Battle for the Wall

house baratheon game of thrones pinball

This one is a bit weird. First you shoot the left orbit to light the Dragon, and each shot you hit will light the shot to the right of it. Ripping the spinner and/or making lit shots increases the final shot value, which is collected at the three-bank. I'll be honest, I don't really understand this mode. The easiest way to beat it is just left orbit, dragon, three-bank, though you can build up the final shot value much higher. It's good if combined with Battle for the Wall since that favors orbit shots, but we'll cover that later. This mode is also weird in that it completely resets if you fail it.

House Lannister

Best with Blackwater

house lannister game of thrones pinball

Hitting the five "gold" standups will light major shots for big points, hitting enough lit major shots will complete the mode. It's great for a multiball since shooting for those gold targets in single-ball play is extremely dangerous, and you're shooting at all of the major shots erratically anyway.

House Greyjoy

Also best with Blackwater

house greyjoy game of thrones pinball

Hit all five major shots. The catch is that you have very little time to do this, but you get more time from each successful shot you make. Again, great for multiball since you're trying to hit everything anyway.

House Tyrell

Second best with Blackwater

house tyrell game of thrones pinball

The three center shots - i.e. the dragon, center ramp, and right ramp - will be lit. Hit one of them, then hit the two-bank on the right. Repeat three times, except each time, one less center shot will be lit.

House Martell

Pair with multiplied final shot

house martell game of thrones pinball guide

This is kind of like Stark, except it's reversed: you hit the orbits, then hit either ramp. The difference is that you're capped at three shots, the value is determined by a hurry-up, and the final shot is not required to finish the mode, but you're kidding yourself if you're planning on ignoring that. The final shot is worth the sum of the rest of the mode. It’s practically screaming "multiply me," just like the final Stark shot.

House Targaryen


house targaryen game of thrones pinball

Shoot all lit shots, then shoot the dragon. These values are hurry-ups, so hit them faster for more points. Targaryen is unique in that it has to be beaten three times - once for each dragon - in order to complete it. That makes Targaryen the hardest mode by a pretty considerable margin, although you save progress on whatever dragon you're currently fighting.

As I mentioned above, you want to make sure that you're playing two modes whenever you can help it. There are a few really good mode stacks: Lannister/Greyjoy/Tyrell are all great to run in conjunction with each other (especially the first two) since they just require hits to everything and don't require much thinking otherwise. Tyrell is just a hair below since it requires hits to the two-bank, but in multiball you can expect some bounces to go that way anyway. Martell is great to run with Baratheon since both favor orbit shots. Targaryen is good with basically anything since it lights everything anyway. That leaves Stark. No other mode really benefits repeated ramp shots, so it's kind of a lone wolf (or direwolf, I guess), but I feel it has the highest potential. That's not to say you should play it alone - but don't play Stark unless you're about to loop a whole bunch of ramps to build up that value fast. The best case scenario is having a mode that's almost done (especially if that mode requires a shot other than the dragon) to play with Stark. That way, you can capitalize on a double battle and the huge potential of Stark.

When you've completed a mode, you light Swords at the right ramp, and the mode cannot be completed again. Completing four modes lights a mini-wizard mode, and completing all seven lights the final mode of the game, both of which we'll cover later.

One other thing to quickly note: Game of Thrones has a nice little feature where if you hold a ball for an extended period of time, all of the game’s timers will stop until you hit something. Presumably, this is so that if a ball were to get stuck, your mode doesn’t time out while someone’s unsticking it. This also has the incredibly annoying side effect that it’s pretty much impossible to time any modes out, so if you deliberately wanted to end a mode, there’s no real easy way to do that. Sorry!

Battle for the Wall Multiball

battle for the wall multiball game of thrones

This is the second major multiball which is accessed in different ways depending on the version you're playing. On the Pro, you need to shoot the top lanes to advance towards Wall. After enough hits, it'll be lit at the dragon. On the Premium, you have to hit the dragon to advance towards Wall, starting it at the right orbit. Battle for the Wall is a three-ball multiball during which the ramps are lit for jackpots. Three jackpots lights a super at the Dragon, then the loops are lit for jackpots. So, it’s ramps, dragon, loops, dragon, repeat.

Battle for the Wall is worth solid value, and an average Battle for the Wall will be worth more than an average Blackwater. However, since there's no loopable super jackpot, I feel that Blackwater has much more potential. On the Premium, Battle for the Wall is significantly harder to start since it requires deadly shots to that dragon, but it's pretty easy on the Pro considering that the top lanes are not very hard to complete - note that the ball will drop into the lanes on a shot to either orbit if it's not lit for a combo, but it'll fly the whole way around if it is lit for one.

Winter is Coming

During single-ball, non-mode play, shooting a shot that you’ve already lit or completed the battle for will advance toward Winter is Coming. This is a hurry-up which is really not worth anything, collected at whatever shot you made to start it. Completed Winter is Coming hurry-ups will light that shot’s shield up with whatever color house you picked. Winter is Coming is incredibly obnoxious because it technically counts as a “mode” for the purposes of locking you out of progressing to/starting battles. Also, the hurry-up timer counts as a timer, so you can’t even time it out by trapping up. In other words, when this is going, you’re totally locked out of doing anything you wanted to do.

Winter is Coming extra sucks if you get it on the center ramp, since starting Winter is Coming on the center ramp overrides Choose Your Battle (even if it’s lit!), but doesn’t override Blackwater. So, if you have both lit on the center ramp, and you start Winter is Coming there, you’ll start multiball but you won’t be able to choose a mode. Isn’t that wonderful? To avoid this, either get the Winter is Coming hurry-up on the center ramp done ASAP or pay careful attention to how many shots you still need.

I’ll concede that it’s supposedly possible to build Winter is Coming up to be worth appreciable value, but I really don’t think it’s worth any effort required to get there when modes and Blackwater are worth a ton of points and are much easier to reach. Does this mean you should ignore Winter is Coming shots? Not really. Even though it gets in the way, if you manage to collect four Winter is Coming hurry-ups, you start a multiball called “Winter Has Come” which is worth solid value, I just don’t know too much about how it works. Sorry about that.

Other Things to Note

game of thrones pinball backbox

There’s not really much else to note before we get into the wizard modes. The five stand-ups between the major shots, when completed, light a Mystery award, either at the Dragon shot on the Pro, or at the right orbit on the Premium/LE. Each mystery award lets you pick one of two options, with each option costing a different amount of gold (also collected at the standups), or you can pass on taking anything and just save your gold for later. Don’t do that. Whatever options are available, I assure you, they’re better than just saving your gold. The awards vary greatly, though most of them either light various playfield features (such as Wildfire, Swords, or a specific mode), or they’ll award something immediately (like a special, extra ball, or a pile of points). The most significant awards, however, let you buy another house’s button ability. This is useful, but it removes whatever button ability you currently have. See the “detailed house descriptions” section for a bit more detail on that.

There’s another “mystery” award that’s granted through the bumpers. You might have some familiarity with this, basically each bumper hit will change one of three “panels” in a slot machine-esque fashion. Matching all three will give you some award, usually these are pretty minor (like “big points” of 5,000,000!!!!), but during a multiball, one of the awards is an add-a-ball which makes going after the bumpers a very good strategy.

game of thrones pinball strategy lord of light

The only other thing worth noting is the “Lord of Light” outlane save which is lit after clearing the drop targets on the left a few times. Personally I don’t recommend going after this since that three-bank is very dangerous to shoot for, and usually when I light Lord of Light, I use it up immediately. I’d say it’s best to ignore it.

Hand of the King

hand of the king mode got pinball guide

After you’ve completed four modes (again, Targaryen has to be beaten three times for it to count), you’ll light Hand of the King at the center ramp. If this sounds easy to do, I can assure you, it isn’t. But it’s very possible to do, even on a high-difficulty competition machine. Hand of the King, like many other things in Game of Thrones, will lock you out of everything else when lit. You start it at the center ramp. A bit of a disclaimer here: I’m not super clear on how Hand of the King works, especially in terms of what determines the value of shots. Game of Thrones is obtuse about those kinds of things. What I am clear on is that it can be worth an absolutely ridiculous number of points.

During Hand of the King, the four shots associated to the four modes you beat to get there will be lit for jackpots. Collecting all four of those shots will light a super jackpot at the Battering Ram, collect it to finish the “set.” Every three sets will light a hurry-up at the battering ram, the value of which (I think) is based on the sum of all the points scored in Hand of the King thus far. In other words, it’s “shoot the lit shots, then shoot the battering ram, and repeat.”

Another weird rule in Hand of the King is that the inlanes will be flashing. Any rollover through an inlane will add +1X to all combo multiplier shots, and will then set the value of all combo multipliers to whatever the current max value is. If that’s not enough, the inlane multipliers can also set the combo multiplier to 6X instead of the traditional cap of 5X, although getting combos through the conventional means will still be capped at 5X.

The house modes you complete will also determine various bonuses going into Hand of the King. I don’t really find myself trying to pick one mode or another since Hand of the King is worth a lot regardless of the modes, but if you’re picky:

  • Stark starts a bonus round after completing any set for 20 seconds where everything is worth points. The best way to kill this is to trap up everything you can and endlessly loop the center ramp.
  • Baratheon makes it so that you need all seven shots, rather than the four of the modes you completed. Sounds bad, but it makes more shots - and more points - available when collecting sets.
  • Lannister increases the hurry-up value by 100,000,000.
  • Greyjoy makes it so you only need two sets for the hurry-up instead of three.
  • Tyrell increases the super jackpot value by 15,000,000.
  • Martell makes all shots require two shots instead of one. Like Baratheon, this sounds bad, until you realize that it means more shots are available for more points.
  • Targaryen increases the value of each shot by 500,000, which is hilarious because this is the worst award by a considerable margin and it’s also the most difficult to accomplish.

Like I said, Hand of the King doesn’t really have a “best” set of four to bring into it. One could argue that Lannister/Greyjoy/Tyrell/Targaryen is the best if you want to just get through as many sets as possible, but you could also argue that Baratheon/Greyjoy/Lannister/Tyrell is the best if you want to score monster supers. It’s pretty subjective, though I don’t really try to get four specific modes completed when trying for Hand of the King. Getting there is much more important - so once you have two or three modes done, start thinking about finishing off the rest.

Iron Throne

iron throne mode game of thrones pinball

This is the final wizard mode of the game. It’s lit after completing all seven modes and is started at the center ramp. Iron Throne is pretty simple. The mode starts as a two-ball multiball, where each major shot and the two banks of targets are all lit to start the mode. Hitting a shot will attack that house’s castle (so you attack Winterfell, the Stark castle, if you shoot the right ramp). When attacking a castle, you have to hit all seven shots again, with the house’s shot being worth more points. After hitting all seven shots, you hit the battering ram to collect a super jackpot, add a ball into play, and you’re back to starting an attack again. You can’t attack the same house twice (so once you start an attack on Winterfell, you can’t attack Stark again once you beat it), and the goal is to beat all seven houses.

Iron Throne is incredibly weird in that even though it’s constantly adding balls into play, it’s not a multiball, per se - it keeps running even with one ball in play. Stranger than that, it’ll continue to play even through the end of your ball. So, if you manage to get to Iron Throne in two balls, you’ll continue where you left off on ball 3. And, in case it needs to be mentioned, Iron Throne will lock you out of everything else. So, if you get there, just try to play it out. The only way for Iron Throne to end is to beat it, at which point you’re back to square one of needing to relight all the modes. Good luck finishing it, though - Iron Throne requires sixty-three shots to complete it.

There’s not really a specific strategy to getting to Iron Throne. You just have to beat all seven modes, which you’re trying to do anyway. There’s also not much strategy to the mode - it’s just “shoot everything flashing until you win.” One thing to note is that Martell’s add-a-ball can be used at any time during Iron Throne, even during single-ball play. So, take advantage of that. Otherwise, just try to finish modes and make flashing shots. Best of luck!

Detailed Game of Thrones House Descriptions

Now that we’ve gone over the rules, let’s go over the reasons towards picking each house. Historically, several of the houses available for selection have been downright awful, so if you’re confused about strategy guides elsewhere, hopefully this can disambiguate some of that. Things these days are a little bit more interesting, decision-wise. Each house has two abilities - a “button” ability which you can typically use once per ball, and a “passive” ability which is always available to you. Each house (except for Targaryen and Greyjoy) also lights its own battle, but this is absolutely not a reason to pick a house - so don’t take Stark just because you want Stark to be lit.

Here’s a brief description of each power. More elaborate descriptions can be found in the “detailed thoughts” below, but it’s an absolute monster wall of text, so if you need a quicker explanation:

game of thrones house perks chart

House Targaryen

  • Passive: beats Targaryen for free
  • Button: +15 seconds to all timers
  • Good for: reaching Iron Throne

House Stark

  • Passive: increased Winter is Coming
  • Button: instantly completes active mode
  • Good for: nothing

House Baratheon

  • Passive: free advance to Wall Multiball at game start, higher Wall value, and quicker Wall advances
  • Button: outlane ball save for a couple of seconds
  • Good for: fans of Wall multiball

House Lannister

  • Passive: more gold on standup hits
  • Button: spend gold for +1X playfield
  • Good for: uncontrolled players or chronic battering ram missers

House Greyjoy

  • Passive: beats Greyjoy for free, copies all powers of completed houses, restricts to one mode at a time, makes all modes significantly harder
  • Button: copies button ability of last completed house
  • Good for: those who know the game well and are willing to take a risk

House Tyrell

  • Passive: inlane lit for +1X combo multiplier
  • Button: cashes out combo and playfield multipliers for points
  • Good for: combo-makers in single-ball play

House Martell

  • Passive: None
  • Button: add-a-ball during a multiball
  • Good for: multiball players (i.e. everyone)

Here are my detailed thoughts on each house:

Targaryen - In the past, Targaryen wasn’t even selectable! Times have changed, but it’s not a great pick. The button ability is okay, it lets you freeze all mode timers for 15 seconds once per ball, which is solid but I think that it’s pretty tricky to use well. The passive ability is arguably better; it basically just beats Targaryen for free which is nice because it’s the hardest mode. I think that Targaryen is a good choice if you’re interested in reaching Iron Throne since it removes your biggest obstacle, but there are definitely better options for score.

Stark - As the most iconic house from the show, you’d expect this one to be a bit better. Passively, Stark increases the value of the Winter Is Coming hurry-up, but not enough for it to be relevant. The action button lets you instantly complete one mode once per ball, which, again, is nice if you’re interested in reaching Hand of the King or Iron Throne, but it also makes the modes borderline worthless. House Stark was arguably the worst house before and I’d argue it’s still the worst pick still.

Baratheon - This is all about Battle for the Wall. Baratheon grants you one free advance towards Battle for the Wall at the start of the game and also lets you advance towards Battle for the Wall on completion of the three-bank, rather than just the usual shot. I’ve also heard that it makes it more valuable, but even if that were the case, it’s a pretty garbage passive. The button gives you a very brief ball save on the outlane once per ball, which is the real reason to pick it, although I find it to be really tough to time well. Pick Baratheon if you really, really, really want the outlane save, but if you want to keep balls in play, Martell is a better option.

Lannister - In the past, Lannister was arguably the worst house. It makes collecting gold easier, but since gold is pretty pointless, picking Lannister was pointless, too. But, since the addition of the button ability, that’s changed - Lannister lets you buy playfield multipliers for gold using the button, meaning you don’t have to hit the dangerous battering ram. If you know when to use it, this can pay off big time since you’re guaranteed to keep up your multipliers. You can use this ability as many times as you want per ball, although there’s supposedly a limit to how many times you can use it per game. This was my main choice for a bit, and it’s still a favorite of mine. The biggest downside is the removal of the “guaranteed mode into Blackwater” strategy since the center ramp’s mode will already be lit.

Greyjoy - This is the most complicated house of them all, but it’s a good pick if you know what you’re doing. Greyjoy, like Targaryen, beats itself for free but has no other passive or button ability. Instead, beating a house’s mode will steal that house’s power. You keep all passive abilities: if you beat Baratheon and Stark, you’ll have increased Winter is Coming and increased Wall multiball for the rest of the game. As for the button ability, you’ll only have the ability of the house you most recently beat, but it’s still nice. The caveat is the game becomes significantly harder: not only are modes more difficult, but you’re only allowed to play one at a time. Picking Greyjoy is a huge gamble, as the benefits from picking it only really start to show once you’ve finished one or two modes. If you can get that far, though, you have a huge advantage over your opponents. It’s definitely a gamble and one that you should only do with extreme confidence and familiarity with the ruleset.

Tyrell - Another one of my favorites. The action button lets you cash out all of your combo and playfield multipliers for a big pile of points, which is not super great but is nice if you have a whole bunch going at once. The big draw is the passive - Tyrell basically gives you the Hand of the King inlane multipliers at all times, except you only have one of them. So, there’s a flashing inlane that you control with the flippers. Rolling over it adds +1X to all combo multipliers, which caps at 6X instead of 5X. If you can control your lanes and make your shots, playing Tyrell is like playing with double-scoring at all times. Certainly a great pick.

Martell - I said it was the easiest, but it’s also a great pick even if you know what you’re doing. Martell has no passive, instead just letting you press the action button once per ball during a multiball to add another ball into play. If you like multiballs, and you’re just gonna focus on Blackwater, there’s really no better option. The only nuance to Martell as far as advanced play is concerned is that you don’t want to use your add-a-ball if you’re going to play a more lucrative multiball down the line. For instance, don’t use an add-a-ball in a Blackwater if you’re about to play Iron Throne or Hand of the King, since those will be more valuable than your Blackwater will be.

As mentioned above, you can sometimes get the opportunity to buy another house’s button ability in the mystery award. This is a good idea to do if the button available is really strong, but bear in mind that it permanently gets rid of your old button ability. I’d say it entirely depends on what house you picked: Lannister and Martell are all about their button ability, so I wouldn’t swap those out. But for Tyrell or Targaryen, which have very bad button abilities, it’s worth making the trade whenever you get the chance.

Mini Playfield (Premium/LE Only)

The Premium and LE versions of Game of Thrones feature a mini playfield in the upper left-hand corner of the table. This has relatively straightforward rules to it, but there are a few nuances to it. Let’s break down the layout, first - there are two inlanes and no outlanes. There’s a loop in the top left corner (the “castle loop,” which is incredibly important), and three standup targets. Between the standups are two lanes which will drop the ball down to the left orbit. The general goal on each trip to the mini playfield is to hit all three standups, and then shoot the ball into either lane. The obvious catch is that if you miss a target and hit a lane, you leave the playfield. The strangest aspect up top is that it plays surprisingly similar to a regular playfield. The flippers are spaced out just like normal flippers, and you can even post-pass between the two flippers.

The mini-playfield is accessed in two ways: first off, you can just shoot the right ramp. Simple enough. Alternatively, the first time that a ball is plunged the full way around, it’ll be ejected up to the mini-playfield, rolling through the right inlane up there. This is actually a skill shot - the first time the ball rolls through that right inlane each ball, the goal is to immediately shoot the castle loop which immediately awards a full advance towards a unique multiball up top. Note that this “skill shot” will be lit regardless of how you get up top - if you shoot the right ramp to get up top, and the ball somehow rolls through the right inlane up there, you can get the skill shot. Also, the “first full plunge” can happen at any time. An autoplunger, such as by a ball save, the start of a multiball, or the lock of a ball, will also feed the upper playfield, so don’t be surprised when you’re suddenly up top!

On the mini-playfield, there are a few things you can do. First off, during single-ball play, hitting all the lit targets, then shooting a lane will award one advance towards Castle Multiball. (As mentioned above, the mini playfield skill shot also advances towards castle multiball.) The advances are indicated by the inserts up top - “Arrows,” “Charge,” “Breach,” and finally, “Castle Multiball.” Castle Multiball is pretty weird and not many people go for it, but my understanding of it is that it’s a switch frenzy multiball with some other jackpots available elsewhere, kind of like Pretzel Multiball from The Simpsons Pinball Party. Note that completing a castle advance will pop up a drop target in front of the right ramp, which is incredibly annoying since the target is angled to perfectly send balls down the left outlane.

The Castle Loop adds multipliers to the mini playfield. Yes, that’s right, there’s a third multiplier that multiplies mini-playfield scoring. Each shot to the castle loop adds +1X to the mini playfield for a brief period of time. It caps at 3X, but this is multiplied by the playfield multiplier, so if you have 5X playfield, you can have 15X mini playfield scoring. This is huge because those castle advances are not worthless. They’re not incredibly valuable, but with some multipliers in effect, they’re certainly worth something.

The most important use of the mini playfield is for mode scoring. When you’re playing a mode, the three targets up top will all add more time to the mode. Completing all three targets will light the castle loop to collect a Castle, which is worth a pretty significant amount of points (especially with some multipliers), so it’s definitely something to go for if you have a mode running. More valuable than that, however, is that each castle you’ve collected is also worth 15,000,000 points in bonus, which is incredibly valuable considering that a good multiball will bring your bonus X up to 10X or 15X pretty easily. Having a castle or two collected will seriously juice your bonus - and this is for every ball for the rest of the game.

The only other real thing of note is that during Blackwater, the targets count as jackpots. You don’t need them to light supers, but they’re there for points.

Otherwise, best of luck on whatever version you’re playing - both of them are great fun, and now that you (hopefully) understand the rules, you’ll have no problem putting up huge scores. Enjoy!