What’s interesting about that is nowhere is the term “death save” or “bangback” actually defined, so we’re left with trying to figure out what the writer meant. There is a generally accepted definition of course.

It might be more clear to eliminate these terms altogether, and simply state that any player action that causes a drained ball to return to play is a violation. Then we can argue about what “drained ball” means :slight_smile:


Either oulane. That’s the only way a death save is possible.


I have always thought that a death save by definition has the ball draining from the right outlane. The bangback is a very different move.


I’m with @keefer. Make death saves legal, subject to arbitration by the tilt bob. Then all of the ambiguities of this discussion magically vanish.

I am not of the belief that a death save is any more damaging to the machine or to the player than a wicked shimmy, slide save, etc – which are all legal techniques.


Death saves are legal for any TD that wants them to be legal. I’m guessing this means that players that want to execute death saves at their convenience can join any FSPA league where the move is already not illegal?

If the request is that the IFPA/PAPA rules be updated to make them legal, I’ll point to the 11 other threads where it’s not gonna happen.


I’ll point out you and @keefer can also make the ambiguity go away by ending the ball on outlane switch.


Very true. I always encourage TD’s to use a good baseline ruleset and then apply any well-considered customizations.

Unfortunately, death saves are also illegal in FSPA rules, a fact that predates my administrative involvement with FSPA (yoinks, a 23-year-old rule! it can drink!). But you make a good point, I’ll add a proposal to change this at our next officers meeting.

I can’t speak for Keefer, but personally, I can’t think of a reason to want to do this. Besides needlessly complicating the code (because of course there are plenty of occasions where an outlane switch firing does not result in end of ball: multiballs, ball save active, etc), I’d feel pretty bad if a player, especially a casual/newbie, got a Lazarus type save after an outlane drain, were overjoyed at their good fortune, and then found their flippers disabled. And who am I to deprive a skilled player of a good death save outside of a competitive setting where this technique is forbidden?

Also, Keith and I have some influence over newly-created games, but no influence over the thousands of games already in the field…


I know, I wasn’t seriously suggesting it, just providing what I thought was an interesting thought experiment.

I also cannot speak for Keefer, but years of reading his responses to people asking for upper playfield flippers to be disabled when the ball is not there makes me pretty sure that he shares your view.


What would be a point of having upper flippers disabled when the ball isn’t there? I suppose the argument is “wear and tear” on the flippers?

That’s ridiculous.


Okay so the geometry of the game doesn’t allow from the left outlane I guess? I’ve never even tried a death save, I’ve just always seen them from the outlane.

Now that I think of it, it’s probably been the right outlane every time.


Basically, yes. Because of the way a standard trough opening is designed, a ball coming from the right at speed will hit the apron and bounce up, while one coming from the left will just roll quickly into the trough. In essence, a death save and bangback are the same thing, just executed differently depending on which side the ball is coming from, which is why I suggested just removing that undefined language from the rules and changing it to any player action that returns the ball to play after draining.

I personally still think intent has to be taken into account, because you’re still making judgement calls about other things anyway. Was there player action, was there significant player action, does a flipper need to be raised or not? If so, for how long? Does the ball returning to play need to come to the right flipper, or is either bad? This quickly gets messy.

Robert Gagno’s infamous right outlane screamer on Tron ( is probably the best example of having all the elements of a death save but without any observable move of the machine. But I worry that a strict “only the results matter, not intent” interpretation, coupled with standard “you’re on the machine, you own what happens” thinking would greatly complicate this.


Okay thanks. I still think in the original example of this, the player clearly did a death save, but more importantly to me, it was a frustration move that was unnecessary.

I would’ve at least pulled the player aside for a verbal warning, possible yellow card. But I doubt I would’ve even witnessed it or had it reported to me. So I doubt anything would’ve been done.


To me, it’s pretty simple, and no discerning intent required: (1) did you noticeably nudge/shove the pin after the ball made the turn from the Outlane to the trough? And (2) did the ball come back up between the flippers?

If the answer to both is yes, you attempted a Death Save, and deserve whatever consequence established by the rules.

If (1) is a yes, but not (2), then you were rage shoving/tilting, and the TD can mete out whatever consequence, if anything.

If (1) is a no, but (2) happens without noticeable or admitted player influence, then it’s a Lazarus. Play on, playa!


I’ll just add for those that think Tilt should be the judge, I think it’s hypocritical to say death saves and fine and bangbacks are illegal.

I would go “all in” and go with anything a player can do to influence the machine with their two hands while not causing the game to tilt is fair game.

The argument of bangbacks causing damage to a game as the excuse for making it illegal falls short for me personally. I’ve been doing bangbacks on my TZ for 25 years and the game has far more damage from me front kicking the coin door out of rage when I was 15.

Bangbacks CAN cause damage to the player and/or game, but so can a bunch of other player conduct actions.

Who’s with me? “One Tilt Bob to Rule Them All!” :slight_smile:


This would probably only lead to super sensitive tilts and make games less fun for everybody. But I have seen machines where death saves can be performed with very little force if the ball has enough speed coming down the outlane.


I’m fine with this, just stop calling it a death save, because that opens up the argument of “but I wasn’t trying to do that.” Just say “any player action” and be done with it; if the player wants to rage tilt and take the chance it’s going to come back up, it’s on them.


As if we don’t have that now :slight_smile:


The tournaments I play (Finland) usually have a tilt that will allow for one big move and give a double danger. I like that and wouldn’t want the tilts to be set with preventing deaths saves in mind.


Not “probably”. More like “absolutely”. A TD must balance the difficulty of the game with how long the game time would be increased in an ‘anything goes’ world.

Seeing elite players turn 3 ball games into 15-20 ball games using death save and bangbacks, there’s no doubt I would make the tilt on the game more sensitive. I would also remove tilt warnings so first instance of tilt bob hitting the ring would be a tilt.

YMMV depending on how long TD’s want the event to run.


I understand that. That’s why I would be against allowing death saves in the first place.


I’m all for death saves, just ask anyone that plays here on a regular basis, you can pretty much death save any game here with a well earned double danger if you’re good.

I see no difference between throwing Congo 6 miles across the room to make a SDTM save, or a less violent left then right pop to get the ball back. Both balls were death with out a big player move to save it.
I’d allow bang backs too if the potential for broken wrists wasn’t so high, I just can’t deal with the liability and I have insurance for all kinds of stuff here that pretty much no tournament is going to have.

If IFPA/PAPA dosen’t want to change the rules I’m fine with that. You guys have spent years figuring all this crap out for the betterment of the game so I’m not going to argue even though I disagree.

All of this being said,I plan on having a Death Save Only side event at next years Bat City Open; In this event your score on a machine will not count UNLESS you make a successful death save during your game. The tilts will get tighter as the rounds progress until the best death saver in the world (or at least Texas) is crowned champion…