Playing Out of Turn on Ball 1

We use the PAPA/IFPA ruleset at our local tournaments. Yesterday, in a four-player group I played out of turn on ball 1 of a game (was supposed to be player 3, played player 2’s ball). Ideally, someone would notice early on that this happened and it wouldn’t affect the game much. Unfortunately, no one noticed until after I played the entire ball and put up a pretty good score. Under PAPA/IFPA rules, I was DQ’d and player 2 gets to keep all the points I scored as well as get an additional compensation ball. Since Player 3 was DQ’d, it’s now an open player with a score of 0. We’re considering having local addendum to the rules for this specific situation. The affected player would just play in the open slot instead of keeping the points and getting a compensation ball. It seems like this is a better solution for this scenario. The affected player gets to play a full 3-ball game starting from a fresh state and the original player order is preserved (minus the DQ’d player). Is there anything I’m overlooking as to why this would not be a better option?


What if it’s a game where playing second might be advantageous? Say you were playing Rollergames and player 1 loaded two balls. You would be REALLY protesting if player 3 took your spot and started multiball if you were supposed to be player 2.

It does seem like a heavy-handed penalty to play out of order on ball 1, but there are scenarios where someone could exploit it.

My biggest rub with many rules is that it’s to prevent scummy behavior, not generally to make things most fair. I wish we could just seek fairness, but unfortunately there will always be enough people to exploit situations that we have to lean towards scummy behavior prevention than fairness in many cases. I’ve been burned by these sorts of rules as well.

Sorry if I was not clear. The player that played out of order would still be DQ’d. In the above scenario the player that played P2’s ball (original P3) would be DQ’d. Original P2 would then play the fresh game as P3 for that game. Original P3 is DQ’d and the P2 that they played the ball on would be plunged out the rest of the game.

Original P1: Still P1
Original P2: Plays as P3 on game
Original P3: DQ’d (played as P2 on game, this score doesn’t count and should be plunged out)
Original P4: Still P4

It’s an interesting point and a logical solution.
But… my opinion is that it’s additional complexity that is unnecessary under the current rules: “Any points scored when a ball is being played out of turn count. It is the responsibility of all players to ensure the correct player is on the machine at all times.”

I like the simplicity of the current rule, and that it highlights the responsibility of all players to pay attention, even when they’re not playing.

I like what you’re proposing, for Ball 1 only…in games where there is no lock stealing.

Even the current rule, as is, could be exploited. For example, someone is guaranteed to go through to the next round, so they play out of turn to give their friend free points.


On Kiss yesterday, ball 1, P3 played in P2 position. No one noticed until P3 had completed P2’s ball three. P2 had been playing P3’s position.

We just played on since there was no advantage gained.

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In super casual play, this is typically fine.

If you are Walter in The Big Lebowski, this is not fine. Rules are rules, Donny, and they ain’t always fair.

I made an incorrect ruling in a match play setting recently. A player came up to verify the order of the group. He was sure he was player 2, but someone else wasn’t sure and pushed the issue. The problem was they were playing X’s & O’s, which has a timed skill shot. By coming to check the order, he’d missed the only real chance to score points on that ball. I thought this was unfair and ruled the player 2 position would be plunged off, and that he’d get a 1 player game after they finished.

This was 100% the wrong ruling to make. The correct ruling is that it’s your job to know your position and if that other guy had doubts send HIM up to ask about it. Leaving the game to check your position in the group is no different than if you were in the bathroom and missed the timed skill shot. In this scenario it just didn’t feel fair, but that’s beside the point. The rule is the rule.

So, my bad.

As to your specific scenario, @jmg, @PAPA_Doug or @pinwizj will know if there’s a specific reason why the IFPAPA ruleset doesn’t have an “unless it’s ball 1” clause, but I assume it’s because there’s no need to add complexity where a blanket rule works fine.


Nailed it :slight_smile:

(We play X’s and O’s as a player 1/player 3 game so we get to avoid this nuance)


So just to be clear.
Player 2 keeps all the points player 3 put up AND gets to play a compensation ball?

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There ware two options.

  1. Player 3 realizes what happened while the ball is in play. They trap up and player 2 is given the option of taking over right then, and keeping all the points thus far. Player 3 is disqualified.
  2. Player 2 can choose to have it treated as a major malfunction. They keep all the points scored by player 3 and also get a compensation ball.

A wiser fellow than me once said: “Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes…sometimes the bar well…he eats you.”

Rulings are done in a way such that some players eat the bar on a ruling and some players get eaten. For the most part, the rules as written screw people the least and most “punishments” or “eating the bar” comes from your/your group’s lack of match awareness.

Yep! Player 1 and Player 4 are at fault for their misery; they should have asked Player 3 to trap and get a ruling for playing out of turn. This is a perfect case of “match awareness.”

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This is the rule, but I have heard players like Bowen and Steve Bowden state that unless they need to watch someone play to learn a feed (or see how a game is behaving) that they won’t watch their opponents play.

This happened in one of my groups in Pinburgh 2017. The ruling was that P3 (in your case) was DQed when they played out of turn. P2 was playing the third player’s balls but that game was void so there was no penalty for doing so. P3 gets a zero, and P2 gets three compensation balls plus the score that was earned by P3’s play. And that an exception to avoid this weird ruling would be added to the rules in the future.

P2 won the match without needing to play a single one of their own [compensation] balls because P3 already warned them enough.

Sure, the other players probably should have been paying attention and said something, but it’s tough to argue that this is more “fair” than the option I suggested. There are certainly arguments against it (added complication, different rules for ball 1 than the rest of the game), but it’s tough to argue that it’s not more “fair” than the other option. I personally think it’s worth the added complication to make thinks more fair. I also think it logically makes more sense have the affected player play on a game starting with 0 score, maintain original play order, and not deal with a compensation ball. I don’t have any data to back it up, but my guess would also be that playing out of order is most common on ball 1 (in games with extra balls off).

Hypothetical scenario:
Pinburgh finals and the game is on Monster Bash. P1 is playing, P2 and P4 are sitting in the chairs off stage, and P3 is sitting on stage. P1 finishes his ball and starts walking off stage. P2 starts walking up the ramp to play her ball, but while she is doing so P3 starts playing. P3 isn’t able to trap up and allow P2 to take control, so P2 gets a compensation ball. P3 is DQ’d. The players remaining in the game all play pretty well. P2 ends up draining ball 3 (her second ball) with Monster Bash lit. After P4 finishes play, she ends up 20M or so behind each of the other players before her compensation ball. She starts the compensation ball with no progress and is unable to catch the other players. This ends up being the difference in who advances in the round.

In this scenario, P2 ends up screwed through no fault of her own. Obviously, this happens all the time in pinball, but usually there is no simple way to fix it. In this case, however, there is. I think that it’s worth some added complication to address this.

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Right, or if there is someone they don’t want to advance and some ready-to-steal locks they could plunge their ball to reduce the chances that they could get those locks. Could happen with or without this ‘Ball 1 Addendum’.

I’d totally be in favor of a special clause for allowing a player to assume the DQ’d player’s position on ball 1.

I had this happen in a group in Pinburgh as well this year on Starship Troopers: P3 played P2’s first ball and didn’t realize it until he had drained after scoring a decent amount of points. (P2 was in the bathroom while his ball was being played)

I wasn’t too familiar with the rules in this scenario so I was pretty surprised at the ruling since it would seem far more logical/fair to just let P2 play out the game as usual as P3 as the OP suggested. I think the “it’s the responsibility of all players to pay attention” line is a tough sell in a scenario like Pinburgh since you probably don’t know the people you’re playing with which can make it more difficult to notice when someone is out of turn (especially on ball 1 when you haven’t actually observed the entire order of play yet).


These scenarios can be fun. Lets change the game to Spiderman, and the player double drains out of black suit and needing 4 doc oc shots for their next multiball.

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Spiderman is always interesting. You have the option of changing the game to 4 balls. That way you screw player 4 out of double bonus, instead of player 2 loosing progress. Spiderman is also interesting because it is a game you might rather play ball 1 to have another bonesaw or battle royal chance.

I guess you could make it five ball, preventing all players from getting double bonus.

One other thing to consider wheb trying to devise a rule that is consistent across all situations: What if someone plays Player 4s Ball 1? Or the situation above where multiple players play out of position.

When the unfortunate or unexpected happens, there will often be competitive advantage gained or lost. Those that make the rules (Hi Josh) have the task of making things as consistent and fair as possible without making the rule book as big as the federal tax code.