How long to wait after a tilt?

I’m curious how long people think is reasonable to wait to play a ball after the player before you has tilted? How long do you usually wait? Do you specify in your event rules how long people are allowed to wait? If so, what is your rule?

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I wait 1 minute or 90 seconds if it’s a big shove. Two minutes if it’s a bigger tournament and the machine is really tilty (like Stern Trek at CAX this year).

I actually thought the PAPA/IFPA ruleset had language around waiting, but all I could find was language about being absent:

Any player who is absent when he or she has a ball to play, whether in qualifying or final rounds, will be given a maximum of three minutes to return. After that time, a tournament official will plunge the player’s remaining ball(s) in play, until such time as the player returns. Any player who has an emergency should notify a tournament official, so that accommodations may be made.

Yeah, I looked there too. :slight_smile:

If it’s a tight sneeze tilt I wait 2 minutes. Better to be safe than sorry.

1-2 minutes is the most common waiting time, but there’s no official maximum. Most tilt bobs settle down as much as they’re going to in the first minute. From what I’ve observed on occasions when the coin door was opened to check on it, some tilt bobs settle down really fast even after a hard slide, while others are still moving after 3 or more minutes. I suspect someone here can explain why; maybe it depends on how tightly the tilt bob top is mounted and how smooth or sticky the metal there is?

A long time ago, I watched a video of a tilt bob that showed it calming down after two minutes, and that’s stuck with me very clearly, so I typically set a timer (yeah, I’m one of those jerks) and am willing to start playing after I’ve given it one minute. I’d love to wait 90 seconds or a full 2 minutes, but I start worrying about delaying the game/inconveniencing my opponent (thanks, socialization!).

Our tournaments in Portland don’t have specific rules for this situation. When we can’t find someone at the beginning of a game, we put them on the clock for five minutes, so if a player was approaching five minutes of waiting for a tilt bob to settle, as a director, I’d probably tell them they were at risk of running afoul of that rule.

None, the waiting psychs me out too much and messes with my eagerness to DESTROY

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Starting at Pinburgh last year, if I’m the next player up after a tilt out I will get out my phone and start a timer for 1 minute. I usually explain what I’m doing because if I don’t do the timer thing I always think a lot more time has passed than it really has.

I always thought it would be cool to put a plexiglass window on the cabinet for the tilt bob.
Maybe they can put in on the new Batmang machine at Stern.
Would be neat to see it. be like ‘hey its still rockin!’ 'im not plunging just yet folks!'
or ‘wow that’s a real tight tilt… I better be careful’ …Might save a lot of time with players play testing machines before a
huge tourney or whatnot. :fearful:

Someone pointed something interesting out on the weekend. After a big move I made, they were waiting and said the key on the coin door is still moving, I am going to wait.

It never occurred to me to use the key as a proxy. I now wonder how correlated it is. I know some gottleib EMs I use the rattle of the coin return cover as my tilt warning.

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This makes me want to install a tilt bob (un-wired) on the outside of a cabinet at Euclid Tavern just so our local players can get an idea of how long it can actually keep swinging!

In general though, having a visible tilt-bob seems a like a good way to make tournaments go longer. Ask the guys who had a tilt-cam available for all to see! (Someone please chime in on what tournament that actually was)


The thing with tilt bobs is that there is no simple formula for what is or isn’t a tilt. It’s not like, time playing adds movement to the tilt bob and time waiting subtracts it. What’s way more important imo for the tilt bob is seeing what kind of movement you put on the bob in your playing style, and to adjust your style if you are having problems with too many or too few tilts. Right now I am working on tilting more often because I am playing too conservatively, especially on early SS and EM games. It’s never really going to be still because even the person with the softest fingers is still pressing the button with some sense of urgency.

Whenever i hear people say like “oh it takes a full 3 minutes to stop” I’m not saying they are wrong but like… does it need to stop? You’re just going to start it back up again, right? And it’s almost impossible to know exactly how every move you put on the game will affect the bob’s amplitude because you don’t get to see it.

Anyhow I guess my point is if you naturally play by slapping the cabinet every time you take a shot, waiting an extra 45 seconds isn’t going to change anything. You should be able to get a feel for what you can and can’t get away with on games, and even more important that you should know when it’s worth it for you to make a move that could tilt and when it’s not, and I think it’s easier to think about what types of moves you can “get away with” on a game rather than what an invisible tilt bob is doing.


That was at CAX 2015. We were broadcasting the livestream on a wall behind the players, and they would trap up and turn around to watch the tilt cam until the bob settled. This was a reasonably lively Star Trek and the tilt didn’t settle particularly quickly. We turned off the tilt cam on the stream after that.

“reasonably lively” is quite the understatement!


Also had it at INDISC 2015 on Walking Dead where it was not abused by the players as it was at CAX.

In a league event or more social competition, I’ll usually give it from 10 to 20 seconds. People usually think it’s a bit weird if you take a league too seriously. A common saying here is ‘we aren’t playing for sheep stations!’.

In a more serious tournament, I’ll give it 30 seconds to a minute - everyone knows it’s a rule and you are entitled to wait as long as you are allowed.

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Typically I’ll just go right up to a machine, and feel the side of the cabinet by where the tilt bob is. If it was a danger DANGER TILT kind of move, the bob can usually be felt swinging around in there. Once I can’t feel it moving as rapidly I’ll play my ball. Like @timballs was saying, the bob is gonna keep moving when you play anyway. Might as well just wait until it’s done being violent and just go for it, we’re all just gonna set it in motion again anyways.