Preferred finals practice: PAPA or IFPA?

One of the biggest differences I noticed in the 2 tournaments was the practice. IFPA- 30 seconds before each game. PAPA 15 min of free-for-all.

pros- You get to try games before picking.
cons- You are not guaranteed to get to try them all. Especially when lines are 3-4 deep on popular titles

pros- guaranteed practice time
cons- no practice before making picks

Curious which people prefer?

IFPA did have a general free-for-all practice session on Monday evening prior to the Epstein Cup. I prefer the overall IFPA scheme with a general “get the feel for” session and then 30 seconds before each game to both try out games you didn’t get to in the general session and to recheck things on the games you tried before.

There’s one other feature, practice on games displayed on the TV monitors. For those, you can pick up additional info from other people’s practice during the general session, e.g. how the kickouts behave.

The IFPA practice format is excellent. I value 30 seconds before my game starts over a general free-for-all where the tilt bob never stops swinging.

The practice before papa finals was much worse this year. The free for all never works well imo, and didnt there either. I’d rather have the 30 secs per player per game rotation back as frustrating as that was.


If I could choose, I’d take rotation over the free-for-all - - less messy keeping things orderly, no long lines on people’s favorite machines. [I gave up trying out a few machines during IFPA due to the lines.] Since it’s rotation is fairly efficient, they could extend it to 60 seconds per game for the session prior to general competition. For PAPA, that’s still only 24 minutes [24 players]. For IFPA, it’s still within the current hour and a half used [64 players]. I’d still want a 30 second warm-up before each game in IFPA since it will be a day or two or three between the practice session and when I play the game.

I’ve never fully understood why we’re entitled to practice in the first place. Maybe someone can more clearly explain this to me.

Every pinball machine is different, and even though (for this example) you and I might both own a Williams Indiana Jones, we could have two completely different machines. My machine could have the left orbit feed the left sling, while yours might feed the flipper nicely. Conversely your machine might give a screwy feed from the Mode Start scoop, where mine nicely falls to a flipper. Now imagine you have to walk up to my machine during the finals of a tournament, and you don’t know the quirks of the machine. Having that practice time allows tournament players to skip past the guesswork of each machine’s quirks and allows them to adapt and focus on the high scores and gameplay.

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That’s exactly why I mention kickouts. On TAF, from the chair, should you dead bounce across? Hold up to cradle left? Do you get a nice feed that allows you the option to do either successfully? From grave, same questions in reverse. Where’s the skill shot? If you hold up the thing flipper, does the ball drop safely to the left flipper? Is it a rare TAF where you can just leave the thing flipper alone and the ball feeds the return lane? Is the chair shot an immediate flip or micro delay? If you backhand the greed target, does it set up the upper ramp shot cleanly? If you half-ramp the bear, does it go SDTM if you don’t nudge it or can you confidently let it dead bounce off a flipper? If one player knows the answers and the other doesn’t, it can make a big difference.

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What happened to Belsito is exactly why you practice. If the game wasn’t having slam tilt issues during practice then who knows how that ruling would have gone.



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good call, didn’t even think of that. Thanks pinball family :slight_smile:

Right! And that illustrates another difference between the PAPA and the IFPA practice. For the PAPA playoffs practice “free for all,” most of the machines used have been in one of the competition banks all weekend, so any issues with them should have already come to light. For the IFPA practice, many of the games are coming in cold off the floor. In that first “free for all” session, Josh puts sticky notes on all of the games for the players to jot down issues we observe. If a problem is found, either it gets fixed, the game is pulled and replaced, or the issue noted is kept in mind for just such situations as Belsito’s.

I vastly prefer the IFPA style of practice (30 seconds immediately prior to playing that particular pin) over the PAPA 30-second assembly line.

But it’s not necessarily feasible to do IFPA-style practice and keep your finals on schedule. IFPA-style practice would mean approx 4 minutes added per game per round, or 12 minutes more per PAPA-style finals round. (assuming, per player, 30 seconds of practice, and 30 seconds of the next player waiting for the tilt bob to settle)

Regardless of practice format, I think we should all change when we test the tilt during practice: instead of waiting until the very end of the 30 seconds to see how tight the tilt is set, we should test the tilt at the beginning of the 30 seconds. Then play the remainder of your 30 secs. without aggressive nudging, so hopefully the tilt bob will settle some prior to the next player getting their 30-second session.

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How about eliminate PAPA practice and have 4 game finals with a mandatory “old” game required :slight_smile:

The new “free for all” style is far too valuable from a tech perspective (after moving 60+ games the evening before finals) for me to ever switch it back. I am, however, considering doubling it to an hour, or possibly even tripling it, to give players more time to self-sort. Hopefully that will reduce the log-jam.

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Oh…since I wasn’t at PAPA for the weekend, I didn’t realize PAPA finals had a free for all practice instead of the assembly line practice. During the free for all, what was the expectation on how long a player could stay on a single pin before letting the next person in line practice?

There wasn’t one. If the players thought someone wasn’t being reasonable, they were supposed to mention it to a TD.