can TD dictate strategy (playfield validation)?


It’s a strategy the TD doesn’t employ but some of the better players do. I believe the rule is simply to cut down game times, especially for those players.

We’ve discussed it further and are now hoping there’s a way to set that mb to a higher difficulty so it takes more hits to light locks.

I think we’re all in agreement that it’s within the TDs power to set a rule like this, but not necessarily that it’s the best way to handle the situation. Yes?

I need to pull out a manual and see if our difficulty option will work.


I don’t think it will work on sopranos. Every time you dump you re-set the switch valid count back to 3.

If you make the multiball harder, it will actually just make things take longer, because instead of ~2 shots to start multiball with valid playfield exploit, the player will be working even more shots to get to that multiball.



Huh. Hadn’t thought of this. I suppose that could work, but that’s pretty hilarious to go so far as removing/disabling a manual plunger.


Hm. Crap.


“The TGP only considers games of 3 or more balls in the game count, with the exception of the Pin-Golf format where players can possibly hit their target score in fewer than 3 balls. 1 ball games or any timed games will not be included in the TGP calculation.”

What I would like is verbiage that says “games played for high score where the tournament director prohibits specific strategies to be used outside what can be adjusted via software/hardware will not be included in the TGP calculation”

Obviously the verbiage can be tweaked but I think this is a good middle ground?


The issue is still that I don’t support the proposal :slightly_smiling:

Telling players to plunge their extra balls would now not allow that game to be included in TGP (assuming that EB can’t be disabled in software/hardware).

I’m perfectly fine with a TD prohibiting certain strategies, as long as they are willing to put in the effort to enforce and monitor that.

The reason we no longer do the “plunge extra balls” rule for IFPA tournaments is that I have no interest in monitoring and enforcing players to do that.

The verbiage from that paragraph will end up being rewritten anyway for v5.3 :wink:


I understand the distaste for this sort of “rule” at the highest levels of competition, but what you’re proposing is way over the top as a blanket statement to be applied to all events. It feels like there can only be a few people in the world that really care about this…they just all happen to be in this thread. :slightly_smiling:

To me, the situation described with Sopranos is an exploit, not a strategy. I’m not sure I see the difference between this and a death save. It’s perfectly okay to say “no death saves”…and doesn’t cause people to get all huffy about it, and suggest things like wiring the outlane switch to the outhole to prevent it.

One of the largest tourneys in my area last year had a “no crystal ball exploit” rule added to WOZ. I didn’t hear a single person complain, and no one posted on the internet about it trying to invalidate the game or the tournament, or call into question the decision making of the tournament director.

Hey, it’s only pinball. :slightly_smiling:


@ryanwanger & @pinwizj , good points, thanks for the friendly dialog… :slightly_smiling:


Gentlemen, if I may. Valid playfield exploit is not strategy. It is passive play. The ball is in motion, yes, and you may do it as normal modes of playing. But doing it constantly for any extended period of time is passive play. A TD has every right to expose rules and to sanction this in my book. That goes for short plunge back to shooter stuff like on White Water as well.

“This is passive play. I will grant you three more attempts at this. Then you must full plunge and start your ball or you will be marked zero points for the game.”

The valid playfield - or start-of-ball event - is not game design.

Unless someone can do me wrong, it is made to ensure players on location not feeling being robbed from their ball in play on an unstable game. Nagging the staff for a refund or vandalising the game.

When the norm for this was changed from 1 to 3 switch transistions out of trough/shooter lane, it was poison for expert play and competition usage. Let alone when resetting the counter upon a ball returning to trough.

I wish the norm is and always had been to keeps it classic first switch and go, when games are set for competition.


I don’t want to live in a pinball world where that Jackbot game between Cayle and Daniele doesn’t exist. If that’s poison, call me a doctor!


That would take a lot of TDs or scorekeepers to enforce :dizzy_face:


It varies game to game, and I totally disagree about “passive play” for this game. On Sopranos, you short plunge, hit the lock target, and the ball may drain. If it does, you may get it back because the playfield wasn’t validated. Then you short plunge, lock a ball, and are served a new one.

In no way is that passive since you’re clearly advancing game state. The fact that you can do it by only hitting one switch seems like awfully skillful play.


Valid playfield abuse is passive play? I’d say it takes a lot of skill and accuracy to actually abuse it on games where it’s applicable, and the skills required (flipping, plunging) are literally the same as the skills required for everything else in pinball. If you make a mistake you lose your ball and if you don’t, you don’t…just like in regular gameplay.


Allow me to retrieve the poison remark. Sometimes what you write is read more literally than intended. What I mean is that 3 switch opened for exploits by expert players, that has rendered some games lesser viable to competion usage - with expert players.


This, I will agree with. I don’t expect to see a Soprano’s at a PAPA finals any time soon. :slight_smile:


Yeah, definitely that is true for sure. I guess I just worry that setting a rule like that in many places would start to set a precedent where invalid playfield strategy in general is seen as a bad thing even for games where invalid playfield state makes the game way better (Jackbot comes to mind).


I completely agree regarding skillful play. Sopranos was in the Inland Empire league last summer and most of the better players were using this strategy. It never lead to excessively long games that I can recall, and it’s pretty hard to execute consistently. Making the live catch first of all, and then hitting the drop target and not having the ball not fall back into a sling on the way down is no sure thing. There was the odd blow up game that might have taken awhile but I don’t seem to remember a single instance where it held up the progress on the evening, especially compared to AFM, IJ, Who Dunnit, or whatever else we were playing. And once you’ve played your first boat multiball, the validation strategy is even less likely to get you back.

It seems to me the TD in this case is trying to solve a problem (software exploit causes excessively long game times) that doesn’t really exist, or is using the playfield validation as an excuse to eliminate a strategy that they have a personal distaste for (scrub type behavior). I would personally choose not to play in an event that placed these sorts of restrictions on players. Also, in my opinion, if you’re trying to impose restrictions on players to not use a particular game strategy (don’t exploit crystal ball on woz, don’t short plunge to MB on sopranos) then don’t use the game in the first place.


I 100% disagree with this.

It’s only more recently, on certain games, that skilled players have been taking advantage of valid playfield states. It takes an incredible amount of skill to achieve a large amount of success exploiting valid playfield.

imo, it in fact makes many games much much more interesting in competition. It adds new skills, and strategies to many games. On many games there is a real risk-reward choice when choosing to try some valid playfield trickery or not. Jackbot is a prime example as was mentioned.

I actually found it amusing that Mark went to such great lengths to nerf CSI in papa A qualifying that one year. There is such a short list of players in the world who could be successful at the valid playfield tricks on that game, and it requires such a high level of skill and at such a great risk. Removing it did nothing but eliminate a great skill based strategy.



Sorry, don’t mean to bring this thread back to life, but I was just reading through Papa’s tournament game notes and found this:

"Consider adding a red plunger spring to potentially reduce the valid switch exploit. Increase slingshot sensitivity to reduce long ball times.

Like many Sterns, Sopranos suffers from the valid-playfield switch exploit. The effect on gameplay is minimal for all but the most skilled players."

tl;dr Try a red plunger spring!


Nice find!