Official Critical Hit Thread

I have to say I agree with this 100%. Until you actually play in a Critical Hit Tournament, you have no idea what you are in for. If you are a better player and are doing well, you can count on a lot of cards being played your way, knocking you down. I agree that it can be a fun format if you know what to expect going into it. But I really don’t think it should be used or allowed for IFPA sanctioned tournaments.

Side note: We had a local tournament where somebody made their own cards with similar good/bad ramifications.(mostly bad). One player was dominating and almost ALL cards were being thrown his way. He got so mad he left and said he was never coming back. He did make his way back there several months later.

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Strongly agree and I was surprised when Josh allowed it to be used. It’s great fun and a nice equalizer, but has no business being considered for ranking or SCS purposes. I think IFPA should revisit this. The “but it’s only a small number of events” excuse doesn’t matter, an improper format is an improper format. Can you see College Football allowing “local rules” games where a team plays the “drop the next pass” card? Or a golf tournament with “swap ball lies after first or second shot”?

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I’m surprised we had a “swap scores” card allowed in the sanctioned deck. I know that @kdeangelo worked with myself and @PressStart to get as close to the line as he could to create a sanctioned deck without going over that line.

Is it possible the tournament was accidentally played with a ‘non-sanctioned’ deck? I thought those existed as well.

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Fortune and Mega Fortune are cards that swap positions on the game, scores and all. It was approved:

I guess it is no different than having a game like Back to the Future or DE Simpsons in a tournament with the score catch up feature.

That card was also @BMU’s idea. Thanks, Bob.


As a person who has run and played in 7 of these tournaments using the knockout ( think 2), rest using the matchplay deck. The best players are still almost always the ones who make finals and ultimately end up winning.


I’ve basically been *&$%ed every time I’ve played in one of these events, and I love it. :man_shrugging:

The problem with this description of all the lost points is that it fails to account for everyone else’s potentially lost points, and how it affected their results. So without that very specific data there’s no way to say I got *&$%ed more and should have finished ahead of Jane Doe and Joe Blow and the results are invalid. And generally speaking, from my experience (but no concrete data) all the top players get screwed plenty and all the top players still finish at the top in some order.


It was my idea for use in a FUN event, and I think it’s one of the most successful cards in that context for exactly the reasons illustrated above - - as an equalizer, but not a totally-lost-cause one. The player getting hosed still has a chance to come back. After playing in several of these, I’m not a big fan of using it for sanctioned events. I think this was an “if you don’t like this format, you don’t have to play in this event” call as to why it got in. Karl, wasn’t the original Critical Hit event at your house done without regard to whether or not Josh would accept it? I still love the format, love the fact that these cards are in it, and will play it again, I just prefer it to be for fun rather than for points. Not everything has to be for WPPRs.

Looking at the deck with some experience behind us, I’d say the two fortune cards, the two heal cards and the desistance card would be ones I’d rather not see used in an IFPA deck. I’d be more than happy to concoct some substitute cards. I have an idea for one now - - Crossover - - player of your choosing in your group must play their next ball cross-handed. Could also have Double-Cross and Triple-Cross where 2 or all 3 other players in your group must do so. I’m looking here for somewhat handicapping the better players while not actually gifting the lesser ones.

Well, I think I’ve actually only played in one of these. I went back and looked and sorted the results by ranked order. 18 players total. The highest ranked player finished tied for 13th. Here are the finishing positions in order of highest ranked player to lowest ranked player.
Tied 13th
Tied 13th

Pretty solid proof that the cream almost always rises regardless, minus my results which can be explained a lot by the fact I also ran it.


Hot take: It is more balanced than a flip frenzy.


From what you wrote, it appears your tournament didn’t have a “finals”. I think its imperative to have that next phase, so that the “best” players don’t get completely hosed. I personally love the format and wish there were events with this format. At the end of the day you know the famous pinball saying, play better!

I’ll start off by saying I absolutely love the Critical Hit format. I’ve run one every year and the general feedback is that people love it.

Some of the feedback above indicates a belief that the format is unfair and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to be IFPA sanctioned. To that I’d say that no tournament provides a completely level playfield ensuring that all players have an equal chance of success. If I enter a flip frenzy tournament or a standard tournament with random player pairings, I may play Karl, Jim, Jay and Bob all day and someone else may play against new players all day. I certainly would have a much harder time doing well in that tournament than someone who played easier competition, but no one would ever say events can only be sanctioned if they are run with Swiss pairing.

Yes the deck contains a couple of powerful cards, that can have a dramatic effect on games, but there are no cards that prevent a player from winning. You’re upset because you had a high score going in a game after ball 2 and someone played a card that nullified that? Yep, I feel ya, but the same thing can happen in any event if there is a major malfunction on a game and the game must be restarted. That’s pinball!

In every CH tournament I have attended or run, it is still the best players who end up in the top spots. It’s not like weak players are randomly winning and getting points they don’t deserve.

Josh - If there are certain cards that should be removed, let’s figure that out. Throwing out the whole format would be a terrible outcome.


Here are a couple more data points on results from the last two I ran:

As you can see, the players you’d expect to be at the top are. Skill prevails.

We won’t be throwing out the format. This did have me go back through my emails with Karl when he would send proposed new cards for the deck.

My response back then was:
“Anything outside of ‘normal pinball playing’ and unfortunately we can’t endorse it. Moving groups, adding balls, losing balls, adding strikes, all ‘fun’ and ‘fine’ because the actual pinball play consists of normal skillful play.”

Some of the cards we turned down were:
Insanity - Your entire group, including you, must play cross-handed for the entire game.
Mist - Obstruct the playfield view for the entire game.
Scoring Glitch : Select an opponent prior to the start of the game. When the game ends, your opponent will roll a d20 to determine which digit in their score is changed to zero.

There were other score manipulation cards beyond that as well that we denied, like simply earning 3 points for the round regardless of how you actually played.

It looks like we deemed the Switcheroo card right on the hairy edge of ‘fine’ because the player still has a chance to play themselves back into the game with the remaining balls. Games featuring catch-up scores are fine for sanctioning (we don’t recommend them, but nothing is stopping anyone from using them). IMO those games are far worse than this card.


I wanted to bring this up as well. If you run a Flip Frenzy, or even a Critical Hit, please include some type of finals. Matchplay, Head to Head, Ladder, whatever. Just something that would give players who qualified 8th or 16th, etc. a chance to play their way back to the top.

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Totally agree. All of my tournaments include a finals. While I primarily run match play events, I still sprinkle in frenzies, pingolf, and critical hit tournaments and ALL of them include a finals.

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With the switch card, 2/3 of your game is “stolen” from you to the benefit of another player, leaving you only 1/3 of your game to try and recover.
It is absolutely nothing like a major malfunction as everyone restarts from an equal footing.
Maybe a compromise would be switch after 1st ball.

The card allowing you to play an extra ball to add to your score is potentially more beneficial than a standard extra ball (which are turned off normally anyway), due to the fact that there is often a simple to reach multiball, with further MBs being progressively harder to reach.

There is absolutely no doubt that 1 of the players I tied with had a 12 pt shift in his favour, by him scoring 7 rather than 1 and me the opposite.
Another player had an 8pt shift against me for exactly the same reason.
Another player benefitted by me having to step away from my MB.
And the final player benefitted by removing me from their group on a machine they believed that they had no chance of beating me on.
Arguably none of those players merited finishing tied on pts with me.

The top players were generally near the top of the rankings, but not necessarily in the order that their PINBALL PLAY ON THE DAY merited. The difference between 1st and 2nd for WPPR pts is significant (compared to if the pts were allocated linearly).

I am stunned that this was actually discussed and then sanctioned by the IFPA for WPPR pts.

I can’t prove this, but it does leave open the potential if P1 has had a great first 2 balls, P4 has had a poor first ball, then it would be in their interest to deliberately drain their 2nd ball and then switch scores - which would bring the “trying your best” rule in to play.

Can you imagine the uproar if JJP PotC was used in a major comp with steal balls turned on, and players 1, 2 & 3 all stole P4s ball before they even got to plunge, or Bugs Bunny BB swap scores?

(The argument comparing to Flip Frenzy format is extremely weak as well. It is easy to mitigate against playing the same machines or players throughout the comp.)

My point was simply that pinball competition is inherently unfair. Balls jump over flippers, games malfunction, weird stuff happens. There is always a mix of skill and luck involved in your tournament outcome.

There are a wide variety of tournament formats. Some formats are designed in a way that makes it more likely skill is the ultimate deciding factor. These tournaments tend to have much longer qualifying periods, have Swiss pairing and have separate finals. Other tournaments, for a variety of reasons, allow for greater volatility.

I wouldn’t recommend that anyone run a Critical Hit or Flip Frenzy tournament to decide a State Championship of other major title.

That said, we have enough data from the tournament results to see that skill still appears to be the major determining outcome in Critical Hit tournaments. Does that mean that someone isn’t going to walk away feeling like they deserved to place better? Of course not, but that’s a pretty common sentiment in most tournaments.

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Did this tournament have a finals?

But that is pinball, not the drawing or cards at the start of a tournament - that is not pinball. The point being that the cards have too great an impact on the result.