Pinburgh Rule Changes

I figured the general Pinburgh hype thread was probably not the appropriate place, and wanted to start a new thread to discuss the rule changes for Pinburgh this year, as some of it seems a pretty sudden.

I’m very curious of a few things:

  1. Who’s making the decisions on these rule changes? What’s the process for these rule changes?
  2. Specifically doing away with tie-breakers: what’s the goal in implementing this, and how will this rule change work towards that goal?
  3. Pace-of-play/declared automatic winners: has something like this ever been implemented? What factors will need to be taken into account for this to happen? What’s the game state that must be reached in order for it to happen?

I have a fairly strong fear that instead of a few people (out of 800) walking away with stories about how they got screwed at pinburgh, we’re going to end up with A TON more of those. Let’s call them “parking lot stories” - you know, the classic “oh man you won’t believe what happened to me at Pinburgh” that gets re-told through the ages.

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The only purpose for the change must be to save time. I would have preferred an earlier start time but if this was deemed necessary I strongly prefer winning percentage of opponents as used in Magic the Gathering - this also is the same concept as strength of schedule in sports. It actually does a fair job of deciding who had accomplished something more challenging. This method of cumulative record does mean you had a harder round 9 probably but it also punishes the clutch comeback and favors the total collapse; which seems anti climatic in almost every way. It’s also sure to breed anger in those who did awesome to reach a tie and not make it. Overall winning percentage of opponent would seem to be a better metric in every way. It even accounts for those who has to deal with unlucky early rounds where they play super hard pro players.

I am not a mathematician but have known in past pinburgh when someone played in a three person group there was always the .5 score Have seen where the .5 was the cutoff and made a huge difference.

I don’t know but maybe give a person a .5 bonus or a 1.5 bonus if they make a perfect score in a round . Maybe that might make a difference . This could be a dumb idea but throwing it out there for discussion

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Site’s been offline most of the day; curious to see the changes when it’s back up

The ReplayFX foundation, which is multiple people who spend a lot of time going over… pretty much everything. Any decision they make is typically one that they didn’t first discuss at length.

To save time and headaches, if I had to guess. There’s gonna be five divisions all with finals this year. Have you ever had to figure out who is on the cut line, round all those people up, and get them to play a tiebreaker? Even if only 5 people tied in each division that’s 25 people that you have to wrangle up. Folks that think they’re already out make themselves scarce sometimes, too. So then you could waste time looking for somebody that already left.

The settling of tiebreakers in this manner isn’t very different than the automatic tiebreaking I use with Matchplay. It’s all merit based, so even though there’s not a specific game to split it, one’s performance will speak for the outcome itself.

The third one… I can imagine a scenario but I bet there’s someone on this forum with an anecdote. :slightly_smiling_face:

While I appreciate your enthusiasm to jump in with a guess at a response, I’m much more interested in the details from those making the decision, which have a long history of thoughtful, in-depth responses on this forum.

So, the first thing on the FAQ PLUS

This is Elizabeth Cromwell, a member of the ReplayFX family. Believe me, when she says it was born from MONTHS of research and discussion, that she means it. (This is about pinburgh payouts from a year or two ago but my point stands.)

It’s two months out til ReplayFX. They’ve got their hands full preparing for the largest pinball event, which isn’t even the main feature of it! Cut 'em some slack, maybe. :upside_down_face:

Lots of people ask lots of questions around here. Usually seems to do with payouts but I don’t think questions like this are out of line.

I’m not really a rules guy so I don’t really yet fully understand the impact these changes might have on us. I am interested in the motivation - to save time? More anti-sandbagging measures? Just time to shake it up a little?

It’s defintelty gonna suck not getting a chance to tiebreak my way in if I end up on the line. Guess I’ll just have to stay above it.

The Pinburgh rules are mostly decided by Mark, Kevin, Bowen, and myself. We all have years of experience running top level tournaments. We have been discussing Pinburgh rules changes and debating the merits of such changes since Pinburgh 2017 ended.

It’s mostly about timing and logistics. As the tournament grows and grows it is no longer feasible to try and round up 20+ players per division for a one game tiebreak. As we get bigger, this problem will only become worse.

We have never had to do this, and probably never will, but wanted to have the option available to us in the rules. Pinburgh has a fairly strong schedule requirement for the qualifying rounds and if it looks like a game will seriously jeopardize the timing of the remainder of the event due to unforeseen circumstances (maybe and unknown glitch or exploit) then we want to have the ability to make those decisions and not ruin the tournament for the other 836 players.


Seems to be loading fine.

I don’t understand all of the hoopla. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong in my understanding of this…

Instead of the tiebreaker, your qualification into finals will be based on your overall win-loss ratio throughout the tournament. It is performance based and it does not change the overall goal/strategy of Pinburgh which is: play your best in every round.

There’s now even less incentive to sandbag which is a plus, in my opinion.


I’ll add that yes, the key people [Doug, Mark, Kevin and Bowen] make the calls, but they do not do it in a vacuum. They reach out to other players and TDs with experience or expertise in these matters for input. Some of them read this and other forums where they can get ideas and feedback which they may or may not choose to use. But I believe they keep their feedback list small to make it manageable and avoid “too many cooks” and “take forever to come to consensus” issues. I don’t see it as desirable to post an idea here, on Pinside, fb, or anywhere else for a “vote” - - not everyone understands all the issues in running large events. Personally, I like the changes and think they’ll keep things moving, plus avoiding up-too-late tiebreakers. [FWIW, I have been in a tiebreaker 2 of the past 3 years, so I’m well aware of the issues].


The tiebreakers are such a big deal to pinburgh in particular since the points spread is so tiny over the event. My brain circles around how you break that pattern…

I do find it facinating that .500-.600 over a large sample of games still is the bell in the curve when looking at these events or even our leagues. Are we that consistent in skill level, or is pinball that equally brutal? :smiley:

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I think you are misunderstanding. Qualification into finals is based on your round 4 or round 9 win-loss ratio. Obviously if you are in a tie then your overall win-loss ratio throughout the tournament is… well a tie.

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THIS exactly.
I’m certain, or would like to think, that all decisions are based on years of experience and discussion rather than just public opinion.
That’s not to say that public opinion shouldn’t be listened to, but a lot of public opinion could very well come from a position of ignorance


This doesn’t change the incentive to sandbag at all, which usually is chasing finals and money in a lower division versus finishing at the back of a higher division for nothing. What it does do is shift the potential avenues for abuse. A player wanting to sandbag could now do it in round 4, to ensure placement in a lower division should a tiebreak happen.

There’s also the possibility of round 9 abuse - say there’s a player with no realistic chance to qualify and that player is corruptible. The other players could convince them to lose on purpose, inflating others’ round 9 scores and giving them the edge in any potential finals tiebreak.

These are unlikely scenarios, but possible ones.

I think it’s unlikely I’ll be qualifying for finals at Pinburgh. As a quick sidenote to everyone on Tiltforums, I accept Venmo, Paypal, and maybe a couple of tubs of G-Fuel.


Tiebreakers are decided based on the cumulative win-loss record after Round 4 or Round 9, so there is no extra weight on those particular rounds.

If anything, saving the sandbagging to Round 4 might backfire because if they need to go back to Round 3 (or further) for the tiebreaker, those poor results will get dropped. Additionally, there’s always the Division restrictions that will prevent someone for dropping too low (hopefully).

I think you’re even less likely to run into Round 9 abuse because of the way the seeding is done (1-4-5-8, 2-3-6-7, …, 161-164-165-168, 162-163-166-167). Everyone who is far from qualifying will be playing other people who are far from qualifying and those who are on the bubble or higher will be fighting to qualify. Sorry, @nudgey, looks like you might need to bring your own G-Fuel. :wink:


Ah, I misread the discussion on that. I read it as “… higher record in session 4,” not “after session 4.” Thanks for the correction.

I still maintain the incentive to sandbag is still there, it’s just harder now :slight_smile:

I just noticed this on the schedule. Return of the tiebreaker games or just a scheduled time for the software to officially crush dreams? :thinking:

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