Ruling: Scoleri bros. Malfunction

Player 2, Ball 1 on Ghostbusters

Player 2 called me over for a ruling during his ball stating that the right Scoleri Target was not working, I am not a rules expert on this machine but evidently that situation puts you completely in jail until you can flail about long enough for the mode to time out. You can not merely trap up as the timer pauses with inactivity.
As I was brainstorming options I mentioned potentially disabling the right drop target at which point player 1 informed me that they had played under the same circumstance and should be allowed the same compensation.
Ultimately I ruled that player 2 must play on but I did disable the R Scoleri target after ball 1. I was not quite sure about forcing player 1 to play the game in a bricked state. I did not find guidance from the rule book.

2 general questions to the group here:
“Should a malfunction ever be corrected mid-ball?”
“Should an oblivious (or perhaps aware but chose not to notify the TD) player receive a retroactive ‘benefit of the doubt’ compensation?”

In my situation if the answer to the first question is “no”, the second question is irrelevant.


#2 Absolutely no retroactive compensation ball. That’s not a thing. If something malfunctions to the point that they expect compensation, the player needs to bring it up during their ball.

#1 Personally I would consider a non-registering Scoleri brother to be a minor malfunction - play on.

However I believe that you might be able to disable them via software mid-ball. Can anyone confirm? (So yes, you can absolutely correct something mid ball. I understand the urge to not correct it since the other player had to deal with it, but the other player didn’t notify you, so they gave up their opportunity to have it corrected).


Hey Ryan. “Play on” or correct the issue mid game?

I wasn’t suggesting a compensation ball for player one. Clearly this would be a minor malfunction. Merely that the compensation would be to disallow player 2 from benefiting from a correction mid ball to make it even for both players .

Given that it is a minor malfunction, the tournament officials MAY decide to treat it as a major malfunction since it’s markedly affecting play.

A major malfunction is defined as one that causes loss of ball (not just one or more during multi-ball). This malfunction didn’t do that.

My ruling would be play on. I would disable the target between games.

For clarity, they do not block all software progression, all scoring opportunities are still available. However they will physically block a lot, and always reset if one of them is not registering.

Minor, play on.

Don’t use GB in competition with Scoleri brothers enabled. Ever.
Problem solved.

Option #2: don’t use Ghostbusters.


Paging @BonusLord. Just want to get your take on this since I’m sure you thought it out before using GB with active Scolaris yesterday.

I didn’t realize that it was a common issue for Scolari targets to not register, so I never really gave much thought to disabling them. Like many GBs, the targets on mine will often refuse to drop from a full strength forehand shot, but will always go down to a backhand or a weaker shot. It does make things tougher, but I think it’s pretty fun to have to route your shots/angles based on that behavior.

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Once you’ve seen Escher get 3 billion on GB every. single. game. without ever starting a mode, you will be even less inclined to ever consider using it in a tournament ever again!

Quick question about this statement. Is that in the IFPA / PAPA rules somewhere?

I looked a week or so ago when we were revising our league rules and couldn’t find anything.

We ended up adding a line in our rules that require a player to notify a TD and request a ruling before relinquishing control of the machine to the following player. Any player that allows the following player to take control of the machine forfeits his or her right to request a ruling.

It is not specified but I do agree with @ryanwanger a ruling needs to be asked for when the malfunction occurs, within reason.

I did find this nugget at the end of section 11. “Complaints will be taken seriously, ruled upon, and considered resolved. ​There is to be no whining”

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Any chance of knowing how this is done? I’d guess it has something to do with the left ramp, get multipliers, collect gear values. I can see zero modes getting started like that, but I’d flail into the ghost target and that starts the path.

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Play on this ball.

If I knew that changing it in the software between balls would work and not disrupt the game any further (even something like the threat of the game auto-plunging a ball when the coin door is closed in a game like GB where skill shot is important), then I’d change it between balls.

Otherwise, wait till the game is over.

Perhaps me saying “that’s not a thing” is too strong because if you couldn’t find anything about it in the rules, then it’s probably not there.

Maybe it’s a policy that I read somewhere or invented, but I think it’s a pretty good one. To get a compensation ball, you need to talk to me the moment when something goes wrong. If another player has an issue, and it is brought to my attention, and I award them a compensation ball…no other player gets to swoop in and say “that happened to me too, I just didn’t tell you about it”.

I mean, they’re welcome to say that, but I’m not giving them a compensation ball for their trouble.

Maybe there is some example of a scenario where it makes sense to award a retroactive compensation ball, but I can’t think of it, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one awarded in competition before.

I ended up just focusing on juicing book stacks to get Gozer and Terror Dog Hurry Ups, though I wasn’t sure if that’d progress me at the time with being stuck in Scoleri Brothers purgatory. The combined multipliers the following ball ended up jetting the score up around from 8m starting ball 2 to around 400m after ball 2.

You are correct: This should probably be explicitly stated in league/tournament rulesets. I’ll look into doing this for the FSPA ruleset.

That said, a ruleset’s purpose should be to administer fair and equitable play for everyone involved. Allowing a player to claim a malfunction arbitrarily long after the problem happens poses all sorts of problems:

  • The longer ago the purported event, the fuzzier memories for everyone involved. The odds are as good as they’re gonna be if you, as the TD/SLO, hears a complaint about something that happened 30 seconds ago with no intervening play. If the supposed malfunction happened 5 minutes ago and there have been 4 balls played since? Who knows what bits and pieces the reporter is blending in their head, whether intentionally or not.

  • The longer ago the purported event, the less likely that a failure case can be reproduced. Your flipper button stuck? If no one has flipped since then, maybe the TD/SLO can reproduce the problem right then, and confidently award a compensatory ball. If a bunch of people have flipped since then, maybe the gook worked loose from the button, and we can no longer repro the problem… this makes it much harder to justify awarding a compensatory ball.

  • If the intended resolution of a malfunction is to give the victim an added ball, their opponents deserve to know that ASAP, since it may affect their strategies. It’s not fair to those opponents to let them play out their games, and only then be told “hey, we decided that P1 had a major malfunction and is getting an extra ball”.

  • While pinball is certainly a different beast from other sports, it doesn’t hurt to at least consider what other refereed events do. Think of something like the NFL: teams or officials can challenge/review the immediately preceding play, but once a new play starts, the opportunity to challenge or review is gone.

The easiest and most fair solution to all of the above: malfunction complaints must be reported immediately when they happen. If not, sorry, you missed your chance.


Hi Joe. That’s why we added it to ours. I’ve always been a huge advocate of making everyone aware of the rules and having them written down. That way, right or wrong, the ruling is black and white. If it needs to be revised later, that’s fine, but when it occurs, it’s cut and dry.

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Out of curiosity, in the case described by the original post, in what way was the target “not working”? (ie, not dropping at all? dropping but not “counting”? some other malfunction?)

The right target was down but not registering as down.

I tend to have a bit of angst in such rulings where I feel that I am ruling against a novice player who doesn’t have complete knowledge of the game code. I instinctively want to support them, which is not an ideal trait for a TD;)

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