“We Are Venom”: A Guide to Brian Eddy’s Latest Creation

“We Are Venom”: A Guide to Brian Eddy’s Latest Creation
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“We Are Venom”: A Guide to Brian Eddy’s Latest Creation
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“We Are Venom”: A Guide to Brian Eddy’s Latest Creation
Published on
September 16, 2023
Updated on
October 21, 2023
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Note: guide is based on code version 0.93.0

In 2019, Stern announced the return of prolific pinball designer Brian Eddy. Eddy had worked for Williams in the 90s, designing iconic titles such as Attack from Mars and Medieval Madness and contributing to more experimental releases like The Shadow and Black Rose. His output for Stern followed suit, with Venom arguably his most experimental title to date – introducing more of the video game experience to pinball.

Based on Marvel comics featuring the eponymous anti-hero, Venom places players in the role of the symbiote, which can take over anyone, corrupting them for better or worse. Venom seeks revenge on the primordial creator of the symbiotes, Knull, who has lost connection with the symbiote hive-mind. All the while, Venom, in his many forms, must take on Carnage and other villainous symbiotes that have taken to terrorizing the city.

stern venom pinball rules

About Stern's Venom Pinball

Venom is a pinball game manufactured by Stern Pinball Inc. in 2023. The game features an LCD, four players, seven multiballs, two ramps (3 on the Prem / LE model), and two flippers.

Venom can be quite difficult to figure out at first glance, but the game is built on a sturdy foundation of choosing hosts, completing mini-modes by shooting colored shots, and then battling the symbiotes. Players will be able to reach Mayhem Multiball by doing this, the quickest way to score well. 

This guide is written using tournament regulation rules for the game on a Pro model, meaning all Insider Connected features (such as the additional Venomized hosts and progress carryover) will not be discussed in this guide; and the Premium-exclusive diverters and Doppelganger Multiball rule will not be included either. Insider Connected features are disabled in tournaments to prevent unfair advantages between players.

Venom Playfield Overview

venom pinball playfield overview

The lower half of the playfield, in the tradition of Attack from Mars, is wide open and gives the player a lot of room to recover from the game’s very fast, flowing layout. The rubbers below the two infected standup targets can be surprisingly dangerous due to their positions directly above the outlanes; keep an eye out and give the game a nudge if the ball ever enters these areas.

In stark contrast to the lower half of the playfield, the upper half is packed with shots to make and dangerous angles to recover from. Alongside a large orbit that either sends the ball all the way around to the flippers or into the hideout near the top lanes, the game features two steep ramp shots and a horseshoe loop with a scoop in between the two entrances, with a few infected standup targets placed between each shot.

Two important targets are also present on the upper playfield. Carnage is located atop the game’s captive ball; with enough shots the player will be able to send him back to Ravencroft and qualify Carnage Multiball. At the dead center of the playfield is the bell tower, used to increase playfield multipliers once qualified by looping the center ramp.

The game’s standout feature is the two tanks (aka Symbiote containment vessels) on the lower half of the playfield, each holding up to 3 balls for Mayhem Multiball (for a maximum of 6-ball multiball). Balls will release out of these tanks even before balls entering the tanks reach them, so be on guard and prepare to make a quick shot decision.

Scoring on Venom is typical for its era, but scores can blow up quickly if the player is in the right circumstances. 100M is a great starting point, but players can expect to reach a billion if they make enough progress through the game and play out their modes to completion.

Dwight's Tips

Venom's full rulesheet (PDF) includes a brief summary of what to do for the best scores, which is especially useful if you're new to the game and have never played it before. Provided here are Dwight's introductory tips for the game, copied verbatim from the guide:

New to the game

  • Choose Eddie and shoot flashing shots.
  • When the game says “BALL 2 LOCKED”, quickly hold the action button. This will delay the start of Mayhem Multiball till your 3rd lock.
  • During Mayhem Multiball, hit Carnage all the way back and shoot the Police Station (center ramp) to stack Carnage Multiball with it.

Want to beat the game

  • Work on getting 6 Grid lights by shooting flashing shots. Choose a host, get their path of Grid lights. Then choose a new host that is adjacent to your first. Complete the 2nd path too.
  • Get to level 10. Everything in the game adds Experience Points (XP) and therefore levels. The best place to get XP is in any combat.
  • Beat one of the 4 Minor Bosses then beat Grendel then beat Knull!
  • Having trouble during a mode? Hold the action button to use your Spider-Sense and quickly shoot the lit hurry-up shot for big points and mode progress!

Playing for points

  • Shoot Police Station (center ramp) over and over until the Bell Tower target lights. Hit the Bell Tower target to increase your Playfield Multipliers.
  • Each time you make a shot, other shots will light their Web Combo lights. The more combos you shoot, the higher your Shot Multiplier will be for the next shot.
  • Big points can be quickly scored during Rampage (for completing 3 Doppelganger hurry-ups), Toxin Team-Up (for playing both Mayhem and Carnage multiballs and defeating Doppelganger), and Blood Lust (the third Carnage mode).

Choosing a Host & Skill Shots

choose your host venom pinball game

The four hosts available by default are:

Eddie Brock (Classic Venom)

Lights 2 locks for Mayhem Multiball right away, and scoring during that multiball is increased. Great choice if you’re brand new to the game and haven’t played it, but for experienced players who can reliably complete mini-modes, there are better.

Flash Thompson (Agent Venom)

If chosen on ball 1, Sleeper team-up is available right away (press the action button during any applicable mode to add time or add-a-ball). Otherwise, shots to the bell tower for playfield multipliers can also be scored at the left loop. Very good choice for high scoring potential.

Gwen Stacy (Gwenom)

Switch to Gwenom and you’ll be able to defeat 2x the amount of infected, and score more during the lucrative doppelganger hurry-ups. Like Flash Thompson this is a great choice before a multiball.

Peter Parker (Black Suit Spider-Man)

Miles team-up is available for big combo multipliers on ball 1, and Carnage modes (including Carnage multiball) are easier to reach and more valuable. Not necessarily a good early-game pick, but very useful in the late game as Carnage becomes tougher to qualify.

The ideal skill shot I go for, as every host, is whichever one will spot a mini-mode. Usually, this will be at the left loop, so use the left flipper to select your skill shot, plunge the ball, and try to live catch or do a loop pass to make the left loop an easy shot.

After playing the Toxin Team-Up mini-wizard mode (more on this below), each host also has a signature combo that can lead to a high-scoring host hurry-up mode at the scoop. These can be viewed on the Tilt Forums rulesheet.

Mini-Modes & The Grid

mini modes and the grid in venom pinball by stern

Each host has a set of three blue, yellow, and white circles on the grid located above the flippers. The goal as each host is to complete all three by shooting the blue, yellow, and white shots around the playfield; the first shot of each is untimed, but the second must be made under a short timer. Once all three combos have been completed, the host’s battle will be qualified at the center ramp, and the player can change hosts at the left ramp if wanted. Note that you can only start a battle by reaching level 10, so prioritize Mayhem or Carnage multiballs to stock up on XP before starting one.

Completing boxes on the grid by switching between hosts and scoring their combos, or from mystery awards, can award certain perks for as long as the boxes are completed. Ones to keep an eye out for include +1x playfield, 2x experience, and 2x web combos.

Battles in Venom Pinball

venom pinball battles

Once the player has reached level 10 by shooting for combos or playing any of the multiball modes listed below, the center ramp will light to start a battle dependent on the host that the player currently has active. The battles are played in phases: a first phase to introduce the unique gimmick of the battle, and a second, tougher phase with more shot restrictions. The higher the player’s level, the more damage they do.

Riot (Eddie Brock)

Red and blue shots move across the playfield from left to right. Shoot any shot blinking both red and blue to light the scoop for special attack.

Agony (Flash Thompson)

Shoot the flashing red shots to light special attack. Prevent the green shots from taking them over by shooting any green shot when lit.

Phage (Gwen Stacy)

Shoot the right orbit followed by the bell tower to light the three center shots. Shoot the three center shots to light special attack.

Lasher (Peter Parker)

Shoot the left and right orbits and keep track of which orbit Lasher jumps to next. Deal enough damage through the orbits to light special attack.

Very difficult major boss battles against Grendel and Knull await players who defeat any of the above battles and reach level 20 or 30, respectively.

Mayhem Multiball

mayhem multiball venom pinball

The other benefit of completing mini-modes is that they will light your locks for Mayhem Multiball at different shots depending on the host. Each ball locked adds a different modifier to the multiball, with +1x playfield and 2x experience awaiting players who lock three balls in either tank (hold the action button to delay the multiball start – it will normally start after only locking 2 balls). It can be fun to focus on 6-ball multiball, but if you’re going for score and haven’t started Mayhem Multiball by ball 3, it would be wise to ignore the risk and play it with the balls you have locked already.

Mayhem Multiball opens with a sequence where the left ramp and scoop alternate as lit “quick jackpots” for a short time. Quickly alternate the shots to score points and build your base jackpots. A decent amount of XP is also awarded for each “quick jackpot” shot.

Once time runs out or enough shots are missed, the tanks will release the balls, and Mayhem Multiball will properly begin. Complete every major shot to score a jackpot and light the scoop for a super jackpot, instantly defeating one of the villainous symbiotes brought into the multiball with the prior locks. The process then repeats but with twice the shots needed for double jackpots, then 3x the shots needed for triple jackpots, etc.

Carnage Multiball

carnage multiball venom pinball machine tutuorial

The captive ball is a very dangerous shot to recover from but is well worth shooting for, especially during Mayhem Multiball, as shooting it enough times will light the center ramp for Carnage Multiball. Thismultiball mode lights various shots blue for jackpots, but the super jackpot is where the big points are at and can be scored by sending Carnage all the way back to Ravencroft again and then shooting the scoop.

Carnage Multiball is also a great time to use your Spider-Sense by holding the action button until all shots flash white; this will instantly count as sending Carnage all the way back and light your super jackpot!


doppelganger venom pinball stern pro

The flashing red targets around the playfield all defeat Infected when flashing: shoot a target once to cause it to flash, and then shoot it again to defeat an Infected. At random amounts of Infected (averaging around 5 or so defeated), Doppelganger will be summoned, and the left loop will rapidly flash red/blue.

Quickly shoot the left loop before time runs out to defeat Doppelganger and score the hurry-up value, which can ideally be multiplied by making combos prior to shooting the left loop. If Doppelganger is about to escape, a sound will play to alert you; don’t delay, and quickly make that loop shot!

Defeating 3 Doppelgangers during a game lights the center ramp for Rampage mode. Shoot the blue shots to build the value of the rampage jackpot, which can be collected with repeated shots to the left loop and increase in value with every shot made. A great Rampage mode can be worth upwards of 300M!

Toxin Team-Up

Play Mayhem Multiball, Carnage Multiball, and defeat 1 Doppelganger to light the scoop for this wizard mode where the player’s host teams up with Carnage to defeat Toxin.

doppelganger venom pinball

The player must make six yellow flashing shots to light the scoop to defeat Toxin for the super jackpot, primarily on the right side of the playfield. Their value can be boosted with direct shots to Carnage at the captive ball, indicated by either orange or red inserts. Once the super jackpot is scored, the mode will continue as a 2-ball multiball and another super jackpot can be collected in the same method. Toxin Team-Up ends if the player drains during the first phase or if the multiball ends.

Playfield Multipliers

playfield x venom pinball

As is usual for Dwight Sullivan-coded games, playfield multipliers play a large part in scoring strategy. The main method of increasing the multiplier is by repeatedly looping the center ramp and then quickly shooting the bell tower target directly right of it. You can get up to 7x multiplier by doing this, and you can also get +1x multiplier through a certain grid box or as one of the many modifiers to Mayhem Multiball (just lock 3 balls in the left tank).


Just like in Brian Eddy’s previous game, The Mandalorian, the action button serves a unique and useful purpose that no other game uses. Holding the action button will light a variety of white shots. Release the button to light one randomly determined shot for a hurry-up and make a ton of progress on the currently active feature.

Some great times to use this are during Mayhem and Carnage Multiballs (and Toxin Team-Up) to instantly light the super jackpots and during any battle to instantly complete the phase. Players skillful enough to time their Spider-Sense will score big points every time they use it, though they only get one chance at using it per ball, so view your opportunities wisely!

My Preferred Venom Pinball Strategies

I almost always play Flash Thompson first for ball 1 Sleeper. After scoring the “spot mini-mode” skill shot, I’ll focus entirely on Mayhem Multiball locks and mini-modes. Once change host is lit, I’ll move over to Gwenom, start Mayhem Multiball, ideally with 4 balls locked, then focus on Carnage Multiball and Doppelganger during it. This is the quickest way I’ve found to get to Toxin Team-Up, but newer players might benefit from Eddie Brock, and Peter Parker also has his uses.

Remember to recover from shots to the left loop by giving the game a good nudge and attempting to live catch on the right flipper.

Don’t forget your action button! I’ve been in several situations where I’ve gotten to a battle and completely forgot that I had Spider-Sense ready. There’s no reason not to use it if the ball save has run out and you haven’t made much progress!