NW Pinball - Malfunction...?

So the ball had a power outlane during a Ball Save, and still had enough speed to hop back into play without nudging.

Ummm…I don’t know what to think about this.

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Looks like it’s “play on” to me. Not that different from a lazarus. It just so happened that another ball got ejected because the ball saver was still going. So it’s two balls in play now.

Even if ruled a beneficial malfunction, this part of the rules seems to apply:

Any beneficial malfunction which results in a player being able to continue play of a ball that normally should have ended is normally allowed once per game. Examples of this would include an unexpected software ball save […]

Enjoy playing with two balls without being in multi-ball. That’s pinball :slight_smile:

As an aside, there is a minor grammatical error in that rule. It should be “Any beneficial malfunction that results in a player…” because “results in a player being able to continue play of a ball that normally should have ended” is a defining clause.

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Paging @heyrocker :grinning:

Josh’s ruling was the same as mine in every case related to this: You can not play multiple balls when the game is in single ball state. Done. (I’m assuming this will soon be explicitly codified.)


Yes, this is correct. This isn’t multiball, so you’d treat it as though 2 balls were incidentally cleared from a lock at once. Must drain one, or trap up and then be asked to drain one :slight_smile:

I agree this could definitely be more codified.

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Oh, sorry, I didn’t see the ruling and the OP seems to imply the ruling was play on.

If the ruling is that having more than one ball in play without having started a multi-ball is illegal, then a single blanket rule that requires the player to drain the excess balls would cover it all.

I wonder though… With the situation in the video, is it possible that the machine will conclude that there is only a single ball in play when, in fact, there are two, and draining one of the two balls would end the player’s turn?

I’ve seen this sort of thing happen on various machines when, for example, two balls are ejected by mistake and played. Even though the trough switches should indicate how many balls are in play, it seems that at least some software doesn’t pay attention to that?

That does happen, rarely, in which case the player gets a compensation ball. This typically happens when the game thinks a ball has gone missing after many ball searches, so it would definitely not apply here.

This isn’t really a problem with any games I know of from around the later WPC period on.

The one situation that will cause problems is when a ball gets stuck, the game ball searches several times, concludes a ball is missing, and then ejects a compensation ball. In this scenario, if the stuck ball is then consequently freed, the game will be confused about the number of balls in play until the next game when it sorts itself out. THAT situation exists in all modern Stern games, and it is why I always turn chase balls off for tournaments.


And people complain about plastic aprons. Hell, I’d like to see someone make plastic aprons for WPC games. Lazarus is our friend.

One game with a metal apron where something similar can happen is WOF. Ball goes under a raised flipper moving fast, rolls over lit free spin, which kicks another ball into play, then keeps rolling up the outlane and ends up going down the inlane or back onto the playfield. Instant unintentional multiball. Seen that one a few times.

Was that game waxed prior to the event? That ball was screaming. Maybe leave the wax off the outlanes next time?

Except when you can. Warp 9.9 in Star Trek allows you to play multiple balls in “single ball state”. So how about “Free Spin Mb” in WoF when a draining ball triggers not one, but two lit free spin awards and sends two balls into “single ball play”. On CSI, if you hit the scoop to add-a-ball in Skull MB (as an side, many people who don’t play CSI much think that this lit scoop will add-a-ball for any of the three MBs, but that is not the case. It’s only Skull MB where this works…), but you hit the scoop during the “grace period” of when you’re down to one ball, the game will add-a-ball, but Skull MB will finish and you will now have two balls to play in “single ball play”. These are the three examples off the top of my head in the first 30 seconds of this “event” occurring (whatever to call this ? I nominate “The Lazarus with Benefits”!). My point is a “blanket” rule about having more than one ball in play in “single ball” play is not as cut and dry as you might first think. Also, Clearly, the rules already take care of this situation when it occurs via “malfunction” (bad trough switch, ball falls out of a lock, etc.). These malfunctions are pretty clearly defined. But the LWB (Lazarus With Benefits) isn’t really a malfunction - it’s “unexpected” programming - and I understand why it is this way - you don’t want to wait for a ball to settle in the trough during ball saver to server another ball into play because a novice player is likely to have walked away by then. So as soon as that outlane switch is triggered, you serve another one up quickly so play can continue, and that’s great. But if the other one Lazarus’ on it’s own, I don’t see any current rule that would indicate you would have to drain the ball. Modern games (SAM on) are completely capable of managing “single ball state” will multiple balls in play. The only time the game becomes “confused” or otherwise do the wrong thing is when (a) a trough or other relevant switch is bad or (b) the game has already adjusted/compensated for a “missing ball”. Again. None of these things happened, and given the current rules, I would have ruled “play on”. As soon as the next MB in Tron started, the advantage would go away.

I’m quite happy if a new rule is introduced to address this situation, but I would need clarification on “Free Spin MB”, “CSI late add-a-ball”, and Warp 9.9.

And congrats, btw, to Raymond, and Chris Chin (and Lonnie and Robert, too) for making the final 4 at NWPC such an interesting finals to watch and enjoy and with a fantastic, down-to-the-wire ending! And great streaming, as always, from KevinDDR(s)!


Paging @keefer. What is your expert opinion about “Free Spin MB” in WoF and the potential for two balls in play during “single ball state” ? Play on or let one of the balls drain (and what if that ball draining triggers yet another Free Spin, lol, let that one die too ??).

Btw, I have gotten three balls into “single ball” play once before with two “double free spins” on the same ball! Which is reason 873 why I love, love, love WoF so much!!! More weird, bizarre, and epically ironic shit happens in that game than any other game I play.

o Four balls draining at once, all through a different lane ? check
o Shoot second Wild card horseshoe to solve puzzle with trip lit, where the follow through grazes the last green target to light MB, and into the slings to “self collect” at the scoop to start it all with ubber Wheel Frenzy ? check
o Ball 3 dying through only unlit Free Spin lane while the other 3 lit ones mock you ? All the friggin time!
o Draining down the middle (unlit, of course) big money lane while all 4 lit Free Spins mock you ? All the friggin time!
o And my very favorite: With MB and Bonus round lit on Ball 3, die through unlit “top” Free Spin" lane, only to correctly nudge the machine just right to “back door” the lower, lit Free Spin (which may or may not be against the IFPAPA rules, who the hell knows on this game!), and subsequently short plunge the returned ball and nail the scoop for a killer Bonus/MB!

But I digress… A Lot… :slight_smile:

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I’m guessing @keefer is on the side of preventing this from happening. Dialed In does not immediately plunge you a new ball when draining via outlanes, it waits until the ball hits the trough. (Maybe this is something that should happen during tournament mode only?)

Also, they’ve slightly changed the design of the apron/outhole area. A lazarus is insanely rare on this game (in 100ish games, I’ve only had 1 lazarus), and I would imagine death saves are more difficult as well.

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I’ve been thinking about this… While I accept that many people here think that the additional ball should be drained, I can’t see where the rules require this to be done. In fact, the rule I quoted seems to directly apply and explicitly state that this is OK and it’s “play on”.

So, which rule requires the additional ball to be drained?

I would have to say the common sense rule. One ball magically turned into two balls. Doesn’t really matter what caused it. Everyone watching knew that the game was supposed to be in single ball play. Yet it was not.


:slight_smile: I agree intuitively. But, there is a rule that seems to explicitly state that two balls in play are OK, and I can’t find a rule to say that two balls shouldn’t be in play. So, as a TD, I’d look at the IFPA rules and conclude that it’s “play on”.

What I’m suggesting here is that requiring the player to drain one of the two balls is in conflict with the IFPA rules as they stand at the moment, unless I’ve missed something in the rules.

It is a malfunction. I.e. “any incident without external cause which deviates from the normal course of gameplay

Now what type of malfunction? Beneficial. “Any malfunction which provides at least one player with a significant advantage over any other player competing on that machine is known as a beneficial malfunction. Tournament officials shall determine what constitutes a significant advantage.” Why, because taking high risk shots without the risk of draining is beneficial.

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Thanks for that! The relevant text in section 1.2 is:

A minor malfunction is any incident without external cause which deviates from the normal course of gameplay, without directly causing a player’s loss of turn and without providing any player a significant advantage over others.

The key phrase here is “… without providing any player a significant advantage…”. In other words, what happened to Robert is not a minor malfunction. (Having two balls instead of one does indeed provide a significant advantage, but the rule says a minor malfunction is a malfunction that does not provide a significant advantage.)

Section 1.2 does not apply, period.

In section 1.6, we have:

Any malfunction which provides at least one player with a significant advantage over any other player competing on that machine is known as a beneficial malfunction. Tournament officials shall determine what constitutes a significant advantage.

We can probably agree that having two balls in play when there would normally be only one ball is a “significant advantage” :slight_smile:

Immediately below that, we find:

Any beneficial malfunction which results in a player being able to continue play of a ball that normally should have ended is normally allowed once per game. Examples of this would include an unexpected software ball save […]

And, in section 3.7:

In the event that a drained ball bounces back into play without deliberate player action, such as in the case of a “lazarus”, this is considered the mechanical nature of pinball and the ball may be played.

I think there is absolutely no doubt that what Robert experienced was a lazarus.

We have two rules that explicitly state that it is OK to have a beneficial malfunction once per game, and that a lazarus is perfectly normal: “play on”.

And I am still short of a rule that would require Robert to drain one of his two balls (section 1.2 is not applicable).

If the intent of the rules is to force Robert to drain one of the balls, the rules have a problem: there is no rule that would require dropping a ball, and there are two rules that allow playing on. (Neither rule mentions anything about the number of balls.)

If the IFPA wants to fix the rules to force dropping the extra ball, the rule about the lazarus is problematic. It says “a lazarus is OK”, but what people here have been arguing is that “a lazarus is OK, except when it’s not”. Well, which is it?

IMO, Robert should have been allowed to continue play with both balls, and the TD made the wrong decision according to the rules as they currently stand. (If someone can point me to a rule that says otherwise, I’d love to see it!)

One other thing: the rules frequently use “which” where they mean “that”. Someone needs to go on a “which hunt” because, as is, the grammar is wrong in many places.


Playing a game with an insurance ball in play that shouldn’t be there represents a significant beneficial malfunction.