Ruling question (from pinside)

Saw this on Pinside:

Basically, P3 drains and walks away from JB, P4 approaches game and finds ball coming down PF. P4 traps ball and calls for TD, turns out it’s still P3 ball (eye unlock after failed restart?).

I assume P4 is DQd (unfortunately).

Given a hypothetical situation where the player preceding you “finishes” and walks away from the game and you approach the machine to find a ball in play and aren’t sure whose it is (display not showing player up), is there any situation where you should touch the machine? Flakey switch + autolaunch could put your ball in play… is the player always entitled to a compensation ball if they do not get a chance to launch their own ball and they let it drain? Tough decision if you have a great ball 3 setup and do not want compensation instead…

Nope. If it’s not your turn, touch nothing. Haha

Yeah would be unfortunate to lose a potential massive ball three, but you’ll get a comp ball.

If you see an auto launch malfunction and you know its your ball that’s been launched, grab the game at your own risk. Cause if you don’t catch the ball, you’re dead. No comp ball.


This problem never happens if P4 is watching P3 play. I see so many players disappear when it’s not their turn, and I’ll never understand this. If you are actively involved in a match, it’s always beneficial to be paying attention to what’s going on.


Totally agree, but sometimes things happen like needing to quickly answer a sudden call of nature. Picture yourself hurrying back to the machine after a quick trip to the loo with people shouting its your turn and the ball is in play… maybe this will help save a DQ down the road.

Happened all the time at AL when we had SST with a flaky auto launch. We started to just tell people to make sure if you were playing it to stand there ready to play in case it fired off when it was your turn. That way we didn’t have to have all kinds of comp balls and DQs.

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Wow. If it’s a known issue, then the simpler (and much more appropriate) solution is: remove the pin from the tourney until the malfunction is fixed.


Weekly barcade tourney, not always a ton of machines to choose from. Sometimes its better to just roll with it rather than play repeats on other games, as long as everyone knows about the issue.


We have a location or two where they have flipper button launch enabled. That’s caused some panic lunges to the cabinet from time to time or some confusion.

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Ah, true. Thanks for context. Yeah, in that case, probably best to make do.

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Another good tip along these same lines is… when you walk up to a game don’t touch anything until you are sure it’s your turn. I once walked up to a GB. Hit the flippers to select my skill shot and noticed it wasn’t working, just then the ball auto launched. I wasn’t sure if it was my ball or p3’s ball. So I tried to trap up and drained. Turns out it was my ball.

What I should have done is looked at the DMD before touching the game. I would have noticed the game was not in the correct state and when it auto launched I should have just let it drain.

Now like others have said if I’d been paying better attention I could have possibly knew it was my ball and jumped up and played it OR I could have chosen to let it drain and play a compensation ball. Would have required some fast thinking. What modes have I played? Do I have any balls locks? etc.

And really if I was in the situation again and thought it might not be my ball but I’d already touched the machine… might as well play it until someone tells you otherwise or you can glance up and figure out if it’s your ball. If it’s not your ball you are DQ’d anyways. It’s not like I could trap up and hand the ball off to the correct player.

I guess it’d be wrong to the letter of the rule?, but I’d just tell P4 to drop the ball and we can just finish out the game as if it never happened. P3 abandoned the game, and their ball would have ended had P4 not stepped up. No impact was made on scores or the state of the game.

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Sure, but the (local) cases I’m thinking of are people disappearing to go to the bar, or to go outside to get high, or to run off to socialize and completely forget they are in a match… I seriously wonder what the point is of even joining the tournament at that point.

Totally fine to do that too. Would you rule the same way had I plunged the ball and realized it wasn’t my turn, and trapped up immediately? No points were scored and there is no skill shot on the game. Would you let me pass it off to the correct player without penalty?

I don’t know. To have fun?

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Context matters. P4 was only trying to help… not cover their mistake.

Drop the ball or accept P4 helped P3 and just move on. DQ’ing P4 here is to the letter of the law, but completely unnecessary.


I think the largest difference is autofire vs plunging. If you’re plunging you’re assuming it’s your turn. By the time you or anyone else realizes the error, it’s already a DQ.

Autofire is something people react to reflexively, and whether it was P3 or P4’s ball, all that was done was an attempt to save the ball and then assess the situation.


The player taking control made a mistake in both cases. No harm was done in either case. I can see it both ways.

Yeah, I think I would. I mean, if no points were scored, you could just drop it into the trough on most games and get the ball back in the shooter lane.

For the player who got their ball plunged…if it didn’t ruin anything from them, then I think they should be happy to get the ball on the flipper for free. (Of course, they might be even happier to get someone DQ’d so they get free points).

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For some reason this stands out to me as a key difference as well. In a game with autoplunge, you’re almost certainly not going to be able to tell the state of the game (which player it is) in time to decide if this is your ball or not. And on those types of games, there is almost certainly some kind of saved game state that you’ve worked towards which will be completely reset if you let it drain and your compensation ball happens to be Ball 1 of a newly started game.

Edit: Also…what if you were auto plunged and there is a ball saver? Is it okay to just stand there and let the ball drain twice and then ask for a compensation ball? What if it’s Congo? This could take a while…


This may be true, but if you talk to a lot of top players they’ll tell you they don’t want to sit there and watch their opponents. I think it’s wrong to build active watching into the rules in any context. Yes, I know we already have with the everybody is responsible for making sure that the game is started with the correct number of players, but I think this rule is a positive one because nobody gets DQ’d. I tend to watch here and there, less than I used to, because the benefit I would get from seeing something happen is outweighed by the benefit I get from not watching someone destroy a game which might get into my head.

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