Match Multi-Play format? (NWPAS satellite) How did it go?

@dbs… I stumbled upon your format description for some of your NWPAS satellite events. I’m curious how it went.
Seems like it was ripe for chaos and confusion. A veritable minefield for playing out of turn?

Also, for those of you that played in it: opinions?
Renton Rumble, Castle Crush, Georgetown Flipoffs: Match Multi-Play

Welcome to a new tournament format that will (hopefully!) be tons of fun and will provide 100% IFPA tournament grading to maximize the number of WPPR points you can earn, to improve both your state and world player ranking.
… and to maximize the IFPA WPPR points available for this tournament.

All players will be guaranteed a minimum two rounds of play, for a minimum of six games played.

Round 1 will group players into 3-player groups. Those three players will simultaneously start 3 games on a randomly selected bank of 3-machines. Since there may be more groups than there are banks, some groups may need to wait till a prior group is done to play their games.

When a group begins, each player starts on the machine as stated on the scoresheet. All play ball 1. When their ball ends, they wait near that machine (to guard and from random people walking up to it and plunging a player’s ball mid-progress) until the other players in the group also finish ball 1. When all players in the group are done with ball 1, they rotate right, and play their ball 1 on the next machine as the 2nd player. When that is done, they rotate right and play ball 1 as 3rd player on the next machine. Once ball 1 is done, they rotate again and play ball 2 the same way. Thus in the typical time to play one tournament game, players will have played three games on three different machines. Points are earned for each game, as 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd, 1 point for 3rd.

Note that it is the responsibility of the player who just finished their ball to guard that machine from random people walking up to it and playing. As a result, if anyone other than the next player plunges the ball of the next player, it is the person who just ended their ball and didn’t properly guard the machine who will be disqualified for playing out of turn.

I played out very well, it does require some good explanation at the beginning of the tournament and making sure people take their time in the couple first round but I do not remember any major issues. Having the groups playing on adjacent game and people waiting for everyone to finish their balls before rotating greatly help avoiding playing out of turn or random people playing an ongoing game.

The format itself is different and lots of fun. You have a completely different perspective of having to adjust between 3 different games for every balls you play. Good practice for your “adaptive” skills for sure :slight_smile: The one key benefit is the fact that you do not have to sit and wait for 3 people to play before you get to touch the machine again… More playing less waiting!

It is a winner for me, I have started using these for our Superleague finals as an alternative to standard PAPA Finals format. This helps providing our top 16 players with 4 games per round and still be able to finish before midnight.
We are also running a monthly Match Play qualifier (5 rounds) with top 8 moving into Multi Play finals.

It is still important to chose the right bank and machine, BOP2.0 and LOTR in a bank would make for a very long group :slight_smile:

I’ve had experience with it in two of hisokajp’s Super League finals, keeping the order straight is actually easier than you would think as you just rotate clockwise through the machines. I think it would be harder to pull off on a weekend night due to the amount of guarding players would have to do of the games but hisokajp has been smart and hosted the tourneys on slower nights. It also really dominates the games of a place in the first round so it would just be bad karma to try and host it on a busy night anyway.

Regarding confusion it seemed like everybody picked it up right away without problems.

The cycling through machines does make for an interesting playing experience. A big plus is that it’s easy to forget about a bad ball (or the 11 out of 12 I had on Monday) and approach every turn with the ‘it only takes one ball’ mentality.

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  1. I love it! Less waiting to play.
  2. Why didn’t I think of this?
  3. Are you using pen and paper to run this or some software?
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Those are my thoughts, too. For local, more casual, weeknight events where there’s a concerted effort to try to finish in a reasonable time, I think this makes sense if the goal is to get in as many games in as short a period as possible.

But my biggest fear with such a format is: does it kill the social aspect of 3/4-player groups? One of my favorite things about league / weeknight events is getting to chat and hang with the other 2-3 people in my group that aren’t on the pin while we watch the one person playing.
@hisokajp: what’s been the feedback from your players?

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IMO this format is not bad if you need to mash out 100% TGP for an event that is time constrained but holy $%&@ I hope we never see it at a major / regional. Total cluster-f that removes any sense of coherence from a pinball match. Less waiting around is nice I guess but I actually enjoy watching my opponents play to get a feel for the game.


Is it actually less waiting? It seems like it would be super-common for two people to be hung up while the third is playing a monster ball. Even if it does save time, I am with @KCB on this one. It just ruins any sense of flow of cohesiveness. Not a fan.

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Both but mainly with each group having a paper sheet for their group which show all 4 machines and each player orders. Then enter the info into the software

KCB may not be a fan of this format, yet the Northwest Pinball Championship that he’s TD for is using it in six of their 8 pre-tournaments. :slight_smile:

Yes, there is significantly less waiting. In the handful of tournaments in this area that used the format, we’ve been seeing under an hour for a round with 4 games. In contrast, in the more traditional serial play, it takes between 1.5 and 2 hours for 3 games.

Nevertheless, I am not advocating to use this tournament all the time. However, feedback that I am getting is that players do enjoy it; it’s different, and brings another dimension to pinball. It’s similar to how a lot of players play for fun by “double dipping” as they call it locally; well here you get “quad dipping”. The format is primarily geared for a location with lots of machines and limited time. E.g. with 20 machines, tourney should not have more than 40 players. I would not even attempt this format in a location with less than 18 machines.

there are different format which address different needs. 4 player matchplay is good for the experience of having 3 players to socialize with while the 4th is playing but can also be painful for group finishing quickly waiting for 30+ minutes for the top group to play. This maybe more adapted to a social environement like a league night.
We ran mix event as well with MatchPlay qualifier and Multiplay finals, that provide a certain middle ground.

It is fun to have mix of format to play, I am glad the new WPPR force people to think beyond head to head 3 strike

Initial feedback was mixed. “I like it … I think … I don’t know”. They try it again. Yeah, they do like it. After getting about 45 players in the first two, the third one was capped at 63 players, and we had to turn away about a dozen players as it filled up. That alone shows the general consensus that people are enjoying it.

It’s actually not as confusing as I expected once someone gets past the first round. By making sure machines are adjacent and rotation is well defined (always to the right) players get the hang of it quickly. Now that many players have experienced the format, thanks to Seattle Super League and 8-bit Match play adopting it for their finals, it’s almost second nature.

I do caution, this is not a format to be used by a rookie tournament director. What I found the trickiest part of this is when making rulings, especially due to a machine malfunction or playing out of turn, that’s when it gets confusing to get people on track to play the right game. As for playing out of turn, I’ve only had 3 incidents in four tourneys that I ran using this format. @hisokajp, how often did you see playing out of turn? Accommodating for a major malfunction or catastrophic malfunction has happened more often. Usually I’ve just had players play the other three games, then add balls as needed at the end. Or if catastrophic and need to move them to a different machine, pick a fast-playing machine and do it afterwards.

Running it using Excel with paper score sheets worked fine for me. @hisokajp has been using matchplay by manually assigning play order. But even then, having paper score sheets is helpful.

Ultimately though, you’ll need to ask the players; not many of them are reading Tilt Forums … you’d get better feedback in some of the Facebook groups where most Seattle pinball players hang out.


  1. Get home before 1am.
  2. Get home before 1am.
  3. Playing pinball for ~75%+ of the time during a match instead of 25% or 50%.
  4. More games played per unit of time(Obviously related to above). Yes, that means more points, but more importantly it makes the outcome of the event correlate better with skill.
  5. Nice that there’s another type of event floating around, the usual formats can get stale for sure.
  6. Less need to socialize with people you don’t like.
  7. Keeping track of where you are in all 4 games is fun to me, at least. Also more challenging to try to keep the muscle memory of where shots are across 4 games all in your head.


  1. When your groups are waiting on you, they have to be waiting at the machine to prevent someone from walking up and playing, so they’re just standing right next to you watching. Little bit weird the first couple times. I know in normal play people are always waiting while you play, but in this format you tend to notice and think about when people are waiting on you more.
  2. (Some) opponents are more likely to want to talk to you while playing, since they’re standing next to you.
  3. Less opportunities for strategic thinking around where your opponents are in their game. Yes you know their score, but you generally don’t know if they have multiball lit, etc.
  4. Less opportunity to socialize with people you do like(generally the time between rounds and before the tourney is enough for me, but I’m fairly anti-social)

As far as this being used in regional/bigger tournaments, IMO the interesting question is: Would you rather play two sets of 4 games in multi-play per round, or one set of 3/4 in traditional PAPA format? Since they’d be about the same amount of time.

I personally liked format. I liked the fast pace & getting done early. I like the I like that players had to stay by their machines because it meant that they were going off and smoking and delaying the tournament. At first didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t keep track of where I was in each of the 3 games, but that soon became something that didn’t really bother me. Yeah sometimes you’re waiting for one person to finish his/her ball, but, if you were playing a 3 person game, aren’t you going to have to wait for, and watch that person play their ball? I didn’t experience anyone playing out of turn in my groups.

wait wait… I have a name in mind… S… :slight_smile:

I would probably never use this format solely because there is no social aspect to it at all. But it does seem to be a good option for faster, more valuable tournaments.

Love the ‘getting done before 1’ thing too, but it’s not a given. Last 8 bit event I went to the semi-finals didn’t start until past midnight. Knowing how long it’d be before the whole thing wrapped up, I kinda half-played the semis cause I was pretty much ready to call it a night. That round didn’t end till 12:45. To be fair, there were some mistake games included in the early rounds that just dragged the whole thing down (they were removed from the tourney after the first rounds). So, game selection does still matter.

Another con, in my opinion, is a lot less of a sense of what one needs to do to advance/win. It can be pretty difficult to follow each players’ current status, both in the round and in the game, to get a sense of standing. I do think that could even be seen as a pro by many as they can just play and not worry, so to each their own.

I like it, but in moderation.

Regarding the lack of socializing, it’s not true.

There ends up being plenty of time to talk to group-mates, in my experience.

The lack of any supervision of play makes this a no-go for regional or bigger tournaments, in my opinion.

The main reason of the delay during our monthly "mixed Match Play qualifier with Multi Play finals is… the Match play portion and not the Multi Play. If I recall correctly, it relates to one of my previous comment, when we got a “random” group of 4 “strong” Players on a slow machine (BK2K…). Their one game (weren’t you on that group @MikeCP?) nearly took a whole hour, twice as much as most of the other group…
Random group players matchup and assigned machines have a HUGE impact on MatchPlay. We are lucky that this location had enough machines so the “slower” one could get removed but it isn’t always the case.

Fire and BK2K should definitely have not been in the line up for this format, on an evening night. They will not be again, this was our longest and latest event but to be fair this still finished earlier than the usual Wednesday 3 strikes :slight_smile:

To far off the beaten path for my tastes. This would be like MLB announcing a new rule that batters would only face one pitch at a time from the pitcher, then sit down (if they didn’t get a hit) so that the next two batters can take a pitch. Ruins continuity and rhythm. I might try it for fun, but not for money.