Different competition formats

What quirky, or unusual, formats have people experienced in competitions, which don’t require multiple additions of the same machine available?

I want to trial something different from the usual - score more than your opponent, but not something which is as likely to create ties, as in pingolf formats.

Namely only the score you achieve on your last ball counts. You spend the first 2 balls setting up the max scoring opportunity before trying to execute it on the third.

Good examples of machines to use, which would all require different strategies, could include:
Flash Gordon- spend your first 2 balls trying to get building the bonus multiplier (which holds for the last ball)
Eight Ball Deluxe - complete a rack to get the super bonus
Metallica- have a CIU mode, or multiball ready to start
Ghostbusters - get a big score on your first 2 balls, with bonus hold so that the skill shot is worth loads
White Water - have 5x times scoring and multiball lined up.
etc. etc.

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Sounds interesting.

Personally, I find it annoying when I have to do math and calculate scores (in this case subtracting the score of ball 1 and 2 from the final).

How about this revision?

Each player can only flip X times on ball 1 and 2 and then must drain, ball 3, they can flip as much as they want?

All the score still counts, and you get the same risk and reward.


Logistically score keeping would be difficult for that format - if it were only one game and the score keeper is hovering around and paying close attention it could work. It may or may not make the games play shorter since you could set up the stuff quickly on first 2 balls but it could take a long time as well.

I could see it as a side game format but an entire tournament… probably not. You’re probably also shutting the casual/semi casual player out as they aren’t going to know the depth of rules needed to set this type of stuff up. You might also get people depending on the game (Tommy, for instance) just plunging their first 2 balls and walking away since multiball will be set up automatically on ball 3. (Dracula mist… etc)

Interesting idea.
But in my opinion, I don’t like the thought of having a ball where draining it is better than playing it. For instance, I highly dislike the GOT situation where HOTK is qualified on ball 1 or 2, but you’ve already used your add-a-ball, so all you’re left with is chopping wood at the spinner or intentionally draining. Also see: Swinger.

I realize I’m comparing specific pin rules/logic situations to your format idea, but the overall concept would be encountered in your format: you’re better off draining your ball 1 or 2 of MET once you’ve qualified your CIU.

I believe you will also run into an issue of having your tourney’s TGP value divided by three because you’re effectively only counting the score of one ball. (the set up on balls 1 & 2 just increase/decrease the probability of getting a better one-ball score on ball 3).

If you’re looking for less ties on pin-golf, I’d suggest trying the Pin-masters style of scoring, where you can get significant worse-than-bogey scores based on how far you fell short of the target score.

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I’ve already noted that it would be slightly more labour intensive, basically having to have 2 scores recorded per game.
However, most of the league tournaments in the UK rely on the player recording their own scores with the next in line countersigning, and that works well and doesn’t cause delays due to waiting for an official scorer.

No need to do mental maths, the score after ball 2 and the score after ball 3 would both be recorded and this would produce your ‘actual recorded’ score when entered into the spreadsheet.

My thinking was not to have it as a stand alone tournament, but at the lock-in at one of the major shows for a bit of fun and a naff trophy. So no worries about newbies not understanding the rules.

Have 5 games and you basically play a league format across all 5 games, highest total wins.

The picking of the 5 games will be important, so that you have to choose different strategies for each game.
Would you want to rely on just playing the ‘consolation’ mist on the last ball or try and set up the triple multiball stack?
Would you drain as soon as CIU is lit, for fear of accidentally starting it, or try and setup Fuel, Lady of Justice, Seek and Destroy as well?

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I wasn’t even thinking of having it as a IFPA comp, would hate to have to try and work out the TGP.

We did once run a tournament with 5 AcDc’s 5 players all start at once choosing the same song and whoever kept the ball going the longest went through to the next round, no trapping allowed.
The winner in the head-to-head final actually won because he drained instantly, got the ball back from a ball save and spent the rest of the timer in the pops, the loser had made 4 or 5 consecutive ramp shots but then hit a standup and drained SDTM, but his ball save had ran out.
The winner got a unicorn cuddly toy.
It was a bit of a nonsense comp, but it did sound great having all 5 machines blasting out the same song at once.


If you are concerned about ties in a PinGolf format, I would suggest using a 10 point scoring system where you use percentage towards goal to determine your score for that hole (game).

Kind of sounds like it, especially with ball saves on and the machine set up with short expected ball times. :slight_smile:

Agreed. While it won’t eliminate ties entirely, there aren’t likely to be too many and they’re easily broken by giving the tie breaker to the player with the most 1s, then 2s etc. Or you can do as golf does and count backwards for the lowest score on hole 9, then 8 etc.

This sounds awesome.

The quirkiest thing I’ve played in is a monthly I ran using the Pinball Pinball Pinball format: Pinball! Pinball! Pinball! Tournament report and format discussion

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Down Under, that format is known as a “Flip Frenzy”. It’s getting super popular. We have a monthly on in Brisbane, plus it’s become almost de-rigeur to run a flip frenzy as a side-event for major tournaments.

It’s a lot of fun because you don’t spend ages waiting between rounds. (Typical wait times are on the order of three or four minutes, with the right number of machines.)

One thing that’s really good about the format is that it is non-threatening to beginners. No big “semi-final” and “final” rounds, with dozens of people watching, etc. Basically, you play as many games as you can in, say, three hours (or whatever time limit was set) and have fun, trying to win as many games as possible against random opponents on random machines.

For more experienced players, it also is fun. You get to play a lot (instead of sitting around a lot), and there is some strategy involved because getting a game over and done with as quickly as possible is important. If you are unlucky and draw a long-playing machine, your opponent comes first and has a “I just crushed you” first ball, it may be better to just concede the game and get back into the queue, instead of spending another ten minutes trying to beat a likely unbeatable score.

Do you have any numbers on average number of games per hour for classics and modern games using this format?

The Netherworld Flip Frenzy usually runs on 15 or 16 machines. Duration is three hours, 40-45 participants. That seems to be a good ratio of participants vs machines. Queueing time is around 3-5 minutes, sometimes even less; occasionally a bunch of games complete nearly simultaneously, moving the queue on very quickly.

There are no EMs in that comp, but a good mix of SS and DMD games, some long playing (Twilight Zone, Star Wars Episode 1), some short playing (Flash Gordon, Dungeons and Dragons). Other machines include B66, Aerosmith, TAF, GB, WW, FH, The Shadow, CFTBL, SM VE, Metallica, Tron). It’s not always the same line-up.

In the three hours, the winner typically plays 21 to 25 games, so you average 7-8 games per hour. Getting games done with quickly is as important as winning because the most wins is what earns first place. If there is an equal number of first wins, the least number of losses breaks the tie. I don’t know what happens if two or more people have the same maximum number of wins and losses. It hasn’t happened yet. Presumably, there would be some sort of play-off.

That format looked terrible the first time I read about it, and I feel no differently now. :smiley:

That format only makes sense if you use win% to determine the winner / qualifiers. Going by the number of wins sucks because it penalizes players for having longer games.

Then you could just have one or 2 really long playing games and you won - you got 100%.

There’s always pros and cons to any tournament format and you won’t please everyone 100% of the time, though.

That’s an extreme hypothetical and it doesn’t happen. I’ve played this format multiple times and in the 3 hour qualifying period no one is ever under 12 games. People joke about extending their games to protect a win%, but no one actually does it and anyone who did would be called out.

Have you tried it yet? You might be surprised.

It’s not a particularly serious format, meant to be something different that is fun and more social. Good way to get to meet a whole bunch of players at a single event, and it really is a lot of fun. Very popular here, even among the “serious” players.

The best aspect is probably that it allows beginners to participate in a tournament without all the seriousness and waiting around of match play. Good way to get new people into the hobby.


I agree with both you and Cayle. I have played in this format, and yes, it’s fun IF you approach it as what it’s best as - - a social tournament. I would never want to see a serious tournament use it because of its many biases. But for local one-day events where you want to have everyone playing most of the time and not waiting around, have people interacting socially like at Pinburgh, and mix it up between players of different skill levels, it works well. Great for a party atmosphere, lousy for anything with significant $ or WPPRs involved.

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Right. Because there is no finals component, the TPG is only 76%, which rules it out for something serious right away. (Also, the continuous essentially random draw means that the luck factor is larger than usual.) But it’s still fun :slight_smile:

One other advantage: because it’s a timed tournament, I know exactly when I’ll be done. For many people, that’s an advantage. I can safely make an appointment for half an hour after the planned tournament end time and know for certain I won’t get delayed by a slow-playing final or some such.

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