It's time to eliminate death saves

With online scoring in the very near future, it’s time to put an end to death saves. Nothing else affects location scores as much as death saves. More operators are also hobbyist these days and overall settings are fair to generous in my area. It’s great for the overall pinball community, but fair tilt settings mean easy death saves for experienced players. Most every new Stern with a plastic apron can easily be death saved.

So how do we fix it? Stern seems to set on using plastic aprons. What if the bottom edge of the apron was concave? The ball wouldn’t be as visible once it got past the outlane switch, but that’s no big deal in my book. Drop dead foam would do it, but that doesn’t last. I’d like to see a design change that will permanently discourage death saves. Any other suggestions?

For the record, I can death save, but I never got good at it, so I gave up doing them years ago. Never became a reflex, like I see in other players. It’s slightly frustrating to not get as many GC scores because of death saves, but it’s also more satisfying when I do get one and it sticks for a while. Would be awesome to know that all the high scores on a game weren’t done using death saves. I’m sure operators would welcome this change as it would definitely increase their earnings.

Biff bars that are very low profile and sit perpendicular to the apron on each side.

Time for them to bring back death save “awards”… in the negative billions?

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I’d debate that. Does it have an effect? Sure you get the ball back. How a game is set up pitch wise, outlanes, or amount of rubbers I think effects it even more. I also get the ball back due to legal nudging when someone has rubbers.

I’m not sold on online scores. Maybe I’m wrong. I consider myself mad decent. I think how the game is set up changes everything and the only fair way to find out who’s better is head to head on the same machine. Otherwise there are too many factors for it to be a competitive thing or even fair.

That’s why I like pinball. You have to show up to play. You have to have that real life pressure, it’s part of the game. I’m sure most golfers shoot better when there isn’t a tournament going on. That’s the other half of pinball.


Just make the outlane switch kill the flippers, easy


As I mentioned above, with more ops being hobbyist these days, overall settings are more generous. Very rare to find that single game with a ridiculously tight tilt these days, which was a lot more common ten years ago. The players I battle with regularly for high scores all do death saves. They’re also excellent players and would continue to get high scores if they didn’t death save, just not as many. I have no doubt death saves are currently the biggest exploit in location play.

Not sure if Biff bars would work with those super bouncy plastic aprons. Shutting off the flippers electronically would definitely work, but I can think of at least one veteran programmer who’s not a fan of doing that. Leaves the door open for bugs to shut off the flippers when they should be working. Would hate to lose the increase in Lazarus balls the plastic aprons have brought, but if it meant ending death saves, I’ll live with it.

Where I am at (Cleveland,OH) id say location would be a bigger factor than death saves for us. I would also say things like a ball being stuck in the pops during multiball would be more deadly then a death save.

But I’ll keep it strictly on what you’re saying with death saves even though I think there’s worse things. Yea I’d say the only option would be a kill flippers on Outlane setting. Not hard to add, can be added or removed.

And Lazarus riseth no more.

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Presumably in single ball play only.

And hopefully your outlane switches are adjusted properly.

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Or, hear me out, legalize them.
Death saves are awesome.

I can definitely do them but very rarely do. Something I specifically avoid doing a lot because I don’t want to develop that reflex.

Why don’t outlane switches kill the flipper power? Is there a real concern about malfunction or is there some other reasoning, other than, that’s just how it’s been done?

Id just say “just dont fucking do them”. as the old infamous movie pre-pre d goes: “You wouldnt steal a car”.

if the ball goes below the flippers and dont bounce up by itself…you fucked up :slight_smile: deal with it!


If they are legalized we are going to go back to games that tilt when you look at them.

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This just isn’t a problem Stern or others need to solve. A tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of players know what death saves are and can do them. Most good operators would set tilts tight enough to tilt out a death save.

That said the best way to solve it is in software. In single ball play, if an outlane switch is triggered, before any other switch thereafter is triggered, any nudge or danger should insta tilt. That solves the issue of legitimate bounce back into play or extra power outlanes and ricochets.

Software? Nah. Wire forms on any solid state bally were pretty effective.

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Ah snap a fatal flaw in my plan


Easy code thing.


I got a D in programming 101

Some locations in these parts use a clear rubber nub between the flippers and outhole. It has adhesive backing and they seem to hold up to a lot of use.

Eliminates death saves.


Online scoring is for fun/casual. I think we have numerous other threads that capture why online score comparisons don’t work for Pinball, which is physical and mechanical.

Due to the above being true, then outside of competition, death saves are AWESOME. For your machines you own or operate, adjust your tilt Bob accordingly to reduce ability to death save.


I personally don’t see how it’s much different than a sizeable slide save; a ball going sdtm fast enough is practically out, and requires a large shove to save it. The way I see it, it’s just another skill in your arsenal. The only reason I’d think for it being frowned upon is that it’s particularly rude to the machine. I’ve also been a bit curious why they’re illegal, because in IFPA-level competition, you’re not gonna be able to death save without tilting, unless I’m doing them wrong. But that’s just my B-division opinion.