New King of the Hill Pinball Format

I am excited about a new tournament format I created, and wanted to get your thoughts. I am looking for any potential problems with such a format, and would like to answer any questions you may have.My thought behind this format is a format where you have control of what games you play in real time.

Here is a link to the IFPA page for this tournament:

Overview : King of the Hill Pinball is a unique freeform format where qualification is a 2 hour round where players can choose any of the tables in play, called hills, to try to become king of. One becomes the king of the hill by getting the highest score in the qualifying round on that machine. At the end of qualification, all players on top of a hill will have a single elimination best of 3 series to determine the champion.


<31 players= 8 Machines in play

32 players= 16 Machines in play

To start, players will randomly be put on a game, making the groups as even as possible for an initial game. This will establish the initial kings of each hill.

After this first game, players have complete control which hill they want to attack. In the front of the room there will be a table with all the king high scores listed. A player who finishes a game will come up to the table and decide which hill to attack next. If the hill has no one playing on it currently, he plays it seeking to beat the current king score. If someone else is currently playing that game, that player joins a queue to play that game.

A single player can be at the top of 2 hills at any one time. If a player does reach the top of 2 hills, he can still play, but if he reaches the top of a third hill, he then must choose which of the other hills to come off of, where his score is removed and the previous high score becomes king. If this causes a new player to become king of 3 hills, the decision is repeated by the new king and so on.

Players may quit a game early if they choose to. At the end of every game the player to go to the front table.

When the qualification time ends, no new games can begin freestyle. It is now sudden death period. If a player is knocked off his hill during this time, he is immediately allowed to play one game to attempt to retake that hill. If successful, the other player gets one game to attempt to retake that hill. This repeats until a player fails to retake the hill.

After all games are complete, any player who occupies the top of 2 hills must choose which one to leave. That hill is taken over by whoever has the next highest score on that machine. If this person now is on two or more hills, he must choose which hill to remain on. This is done until each hill has a unique player on it. It is these players who make finals.


The finals will be a head to head single elimination bracket randomly drawn up, either a bracket of 8 or 16 dependent on the number of players. Each match will consist of 3 games. The first game will be randomly chosen from all games except the two hill they stand on, position is chosen by coin flip. The 2nd game if played on the hill on the game of the loser of game 1, who gets choice of position. Game 3, if necessary, is played on the hill of the other player, who gets choice of position.


Having a player be able to declare which other person makes finals is not ideal. When you have players deciding which of 2 games to stay leader on, the choice should probably be random or decided by some other measure (greatest % lead perhaps).

You’ll need tracking of at least the top 3-5 scores on each machine, but that’s fine.

I hear your point, but I don’t want to hurt great players by making it a better option not to play as opposed to playing. I believe that someone who choose which game to fall off of the hill primarily on 1) how likely they will be leading at the end and 2) which game they are better at. The issue of who will take their space on the vacated hill would be of lesser importance I believe.

I will be tracking all of the high scores the entire event and any score that would be good enough for 2nd or 3rd when it is done.

I don’t think this is so bad. Top players are often sitting out during qualifying once they are in a great position. It levels the playfield a bit (because less skilled players are taking more attempts at the games).

Additionally, if I already had 2 king of the hill scores, I would be interested in playing the other games since I wouldn’t be able to choose my king games in the finals. I could play those other machines and then drain before reaching the highest score.

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I think the math works out so that a possible alternative to giving up a hill is that having two hills gives you a bye.

16 hills. Three different players have two hills. That leaves 10 players on single hills. The three get a bye, the 10 play five heads up matches as you’ve described, with five players advancing to meet the three who waited out the last round.

I think the sudden death part sounds exciting, but it could also be terrible for everyone to sit around for an hour waiting for a resolution if things get too heated. You have a nice timed format but then the final game resolving plus an unlimited sudden death period means the players don’t know when finals will actually start.

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Thanks ryan, I like your bye idea. I think I am going to stay with what I have this time, but I like it.

I have similar concerns on my sudden death part. I didn’t want someone to be knocked off a single hill and have no recourse. I thought of something that would limit the length of the sudden death round. That is have both players play 1 game. If either player beats the current high score, that person advances. If neither does, then the last score holds.

If someone beats a score in sudden death, why not just have a head to head “battle” between the previous king and the new king to determine the true king, high score in the battle wins

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I don’t like the “loser of game one plays game two on their hill, game three if needed is on the other player’s hill.” That essentially gives the match to the winner of game 1 in most cases. If you’re going to lock out “owned” hills, locked them out for all three games, not just one.

Another concern I see is that once someone “blows up” a game, that game may sit idle for the entire remainder of the qualifying period, making the lines on all other games longer. In traditional Herb scoring, getting a #2 or even top 10 score is still valuable, so people will continue to play all games. Here it’s not. Something to keep in mind.

This would be an interesting format for qualifying for a launch party head-to-head playoffs format. In that case, all finals games are on the same machine, the new one, and you’re using the king of the hill phase to decide which players get into the bracket. Maybe I’ll suggest it to Shane for the next Ayce Gogi event.

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How is TGP graded for this format? Seems like you could just play one machine to qualify as the shortest possible path. So would qualifying only count at 1 game toward TGP?

Then playoffs would be 2.5 games per round.

  • 8 players - 7.5 (rounded to 8) games played toward TGP
  • 16 players - 10 games played toward TGP

Plus 2% for the two hours of open qualifying time.

Looks like a max of 46% event value unless I’m misunderstanding how the qualifying portion would be graded out.

Obviously this isn’t a critique of the how playable the format is, but could be an issue with player interest / satisfaction if they’re looking for WPPRs.

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Yea I e-mail the IFPA about this and you are exactly correct. I was a little bummed that the qualifying portion is essentially only worth 6%. I thought about making the bracket best of 5 for this exact purpose of upping WPPR points but I just decided I rather have the format be brisk like I wanted and just take the WPPR hit.

I know you suggested to me having a more typical qualifying format and then a King of Hill Final, I just don’t like that as much. You could do for example 5 rounds match playing qualifying, cut to top 8. Those 8 only then do a 2 hr king of the hill on 4 machines. The 4 Kings then play a 4 game PAPA style scoring

There should be a rule preventing players from playing a game that they currently have the high score on to prevent others from playing that game


This is a rule in my head I will make it clear in writing though. Thanks!

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Yep, I still like that general idea better!

In any qualifying format, players are knocked out at the last minute all the time. The difference is that in your format, it’s just one game that gets you in, so it is potentially very vulnerable.

The way to avoid being bumped out at the list minute is to be the king of two hills. :slight_smile:

So if the qualifying period is nearing the end and I have a top score going, I’ll just keep doing something safe and repeatable for small points to monopolize the machine :slight_smile:

But then the time runs out and the previous King still has a chance at redemption.

I also am trying to determine which games to use. As someone stated early a game can be “blown up” and it would be silly for most people to try to overtake that. I do’t see this as a problem but something cool that makes the whole qualifying portion dynamic. That said I do prefer games where a higher number of players feel they have a chance of topping a great score and quicker playing games. For example Deadpool will be a bad choice because I know two of the best players in the area would go right to it, put up well over 1B and no one else even has a chance. Here are my current choices

Rocky & Bullwinkle
AFM- CGC Remake
Elvira HoH- LE
Game of Throne- Premium
Ghostbusters- Pre
Guardians- Pro
Metallica- Pro
Monster Bash- Remake
No Fear
Party Zone
Pirates- JJP
Roller Coaster Tycoon
Spirit of 76
Star Trek
Super Mario Bros
Twilight Zone
Wipe Out

and what happens if an game stops working and needs to be taken out?
Long repair delay?

some the games in your list really need custom roms to make them fair.