Compensation balls : 4th ball vs. New game ball

We had a malfunction on Gaurdians at a matchplay tournament this past weekend. Player 1 on ball 2 starts a new mode and has 3 physical locks towards the second groot multiball. 4th ball is immediately locked and Groot MB starts, but all 4 balls are stuck in groot and won’t eject. Balls continue to try to eject for the majority of modes time and game eventually just ends the MB and the ball ends.

Balls were removed from groot after this happened while the game was still going and groots mouth was disabled and we would play on with a compensation ball for player 1.

The IFPA rules say to add a 4th ball if possible. Which in this case would force the player to have to restart progress on a 3rd Groot MB.

The choice was hesitantly made to give the player a new game compensation ball instead of a added 4th ball to the current game.

It would seem that loosing an excessive amount of progress on a ball putting a player in “Jail” should warrant a new game compensation ball or at least the option to take a fresh game ball or a 4th ball added.

Thoughts on this?

There are trade offs either way, particularly in a game like GOTG which has potentially massive bonus. The player would get the next harder tier of Groot, but they would get a fourth bonus collect.

It would be interesting to let the player decide.

It’s probably cleanest to add a fourth ball if possible. If not, compensation ball. Otherwise there are a lot of factors that can sway the TD or player depending on the particular game and the state of their progress.

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Follow the written rule. In this case, the written rule is unambiguous and does not require your interpretation as a TD. This is a great thing, it avoids bais.

How do you trade off progress towards Groot from progress towards cherry bomb, or bonus for that matter. Every time you interpret a rule to be more advantageous to one player, you are making something less advantageous to another. How do you decide who to help?


Agree with adding a fourth ball because of the big bonus.

But if you have the keys, better to disable locks on Groot. Apparently there is now a settings that allows balls to lock in Groot’s mouth, but only one at a time and they immedietly eject. Same happens during Groot MB. Ball shot in Groot’s mouth only stays there briefly, so Groot MB doesn’t last as long. The Groot lock mech isn’t reliable. This setting still allows Groot"s mouth to open and balls to enter, but only one and only briefly.

We have this on our Guardians in league, and I hate it. Our Groot mouth is a bit wonky and sometimes doesn’t open fully, which totally bricks the shot. I’d rather just leave his mouth closed permanently.

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Cherry Bomb super requires the mouth to open and close. Don’t want to lose that.

It doesn’t require it. An opening and closing mouth is just a hell of a lot harder to hit.

(Maybe too hard IMO…it’s hard enough hitting every shot twice with so many balls on the playfield).


I think the choice should be given to the player or at least lean towards benefiting the player. In this case the player had 3 uncompleted modes, so bonus was nothing. The majority of pinball machines don’t have the option to add a ball anyway, so it seems that a fresh ball would be the consistant rule IMO. GOTG is probably the one game that has such a heavy bonus carryover, so it’s sort of an anomaly for this situation. Might need its own amendment :slight_smile:

Cool, if that is your opinion, add that to your rules. Add an override that states option will be given to the player whether to switch to 4 ball or get a compensation ball on a fresh game. Always read and follow your rules.


I got one yesterday on my first game of the day with the settings I mentioned above. Save your smart bombs until only one or two shots aren’t completed and finish them with the smart bombs. I haven’t gotten two supers in one MB yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

The IFPA/PAPA rules list out a priority list of how to handle a Major Malfunction:

"When a major malfunction occurs, it is the player’s responsibility to notify the Scorekeeper, calmly and promptly. The Scorekeeper will request advice from a Tournament Official. If the Official(s) agree that the incident is a major malfunction, one of the following steps will be taken, in order of priority:

● If the machine’s software supports adding balls to a game already in progress, a Tournament Official will add a ball to the game in progress and the affected player will complete their game. All other players will continue to play their game as normal, without skipping a ball.

● If the major malfunction cannot be fixed without resetting the machine, the player’s score will be recorded and their game will be terminated and restarted. The affected player will continue their remaining balls on the restarted game and their score from the aborted game will be added to their total. For example, if such a malfunction occurs on Ball 2 of a 3-ball game, the player will be given two new balls on a restarted game. In multiplayer games, all players will receive the same compensation.

● If the major malfunction can be fixed without resetting the machine, the player will be provided with one additional ball of play at the beginning of a new game, after the current game has been completed. The player’s total score on the additional ball will be added to his or her previous score, and the new game will be terminated."

Pretty clear to me that if a game has the capability of adding balls to the current game in progress, that’s the ruling that should be made. Anything regarding the player’s state of that game in progress should have no influence whatsoever on what to do here.


The only other thing I would note is that there are zero instances in the IFPA/PAPA rules where “Ask the player” is the correct answer. You’re the TD, make rulings. The player’s opinion isn’t and shouldn’t ever be part of the equation.


That’s not exactly true:

A player who plays out of turn in a multiplayer game will receive a score of zero. The affected player may choose to take over the ball in play, if possible, or he or she may choose to have the incident treated as a major malfunction.


I feel like thats an outlier because it involves one player impacting a second player, which is a special circumstance.

Well playing devils advocate here he may lose groot if he started a new game, but in theory wouldn’t he be able to play a second Quills just for starting the new game? I’d say stick to rules here.


This rule of adding a 4th ball mid game is a little unfair. If player 4, ball 3 has a major malfunction, loses the ball and the game ends, then a 4th ball can no longer be added, so they get 1 ball on a new game. Any other player would get/have to play a 4th ball on the current game.

Depending on the game this could benefit or hurt player 4. If you have choice of order you may not want to choose 4th just in case the unlikely event of a major malfunction on ball 3 happens.

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Sounds like a strategic decision that players can weigh against other factors when making choice of player order.


True (ish)

I disagree here. The player has gotten a major detriment (losing their ball, dealing with malfunction, etc). Arbitrarily following a rule that could have as easily been written the other way makes little sense. (If the rule was always you played a new game then this thread would still end up getting made eventually). Having a rule stating one way or another as a solid base rule is good but depending on the tournament, allowing the player to choose how to readvantage themselves after they get a disadvantage shouldn’t necessarily be out of the question

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Actually it makes perfect sense. Arbitrary means “based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.” Using a system of rules is the opposite of that. Allowing a player’s “personal whim” would be arbitrary.

Rules exist to protect from TDs and players from situational bias. Use them.