Ruling: Shadow confused with Hotel Monolith

The same Shadow got confused multiple times during back to back SCS games. Has anyone else seen similar behavior before on games of The Shadow?
** For reference for any that don’t know Shadow modes, Hotel Monolith mode is a 2-ball multiball, with special scoring by hitting the center Sanctum lock shot 3 times, and then all other shots lit for mode shots. It is untimed, and the mode scoring ends when you drain down to one ball remaining in play. **

Game 1: During ball 1, P1 started Hotel Monolith. 2-ball multiball being played. Both balls end up simultaneous draining with the ball-save still running. Game kicks out one ball due to the ball-save, but fails to serve up the second. This would be fine if the game exited the multiball mode. But instead, only one ball is in play, and Hotel Monolith scoring features are still running (center Sanctum shot still lit for mode shots, and DMD still showing Hotel Monolith display).
Ruling: beneficial malfunction. P1 must drain the ball in play to end the Hotel Monolith mode, and if it ends the ball (it did), then it will become a Major malfunction, and P1 will be allowed to play one additional ball on new game to add to their score.

Game 2: (the compensation ball, as P2 had a higher score than P1 after the original game)… P1 starts Hotel Monolith again on their only ball, which is ball 1. This time, P1 is making mode shots, when suddenly, the game thinks that Hotel Monolith mode/multiball has ended – the DMD diplays end sequence of Monolith, and the lit inserts for Hotel Monolith shots go away – all while both balls remain in play. P1 traps up with a ball cradled on each flipper, asking for a ruling.
Ruling: Sorry, P1, you’re screwed that you don’t get the benefit of your scoring opportunities during Monolith multiball, but you did legitimately earn the opportunity to play in a multiball state. Play on, and if when one of the two balls drain, the game goes to end of ball sequence while the remaining ball is in play, then it will be Major Malfunction, and P1 will get another compensation ball to add to the score. P1 didn’t play long with two balls, and when one ball drained, the game did NOT end the ball, and normal single ball play continued.

There were no other losing-track-of-balls-during-multiball errors in either P1 or P2’s other balls with Shadow or Kahn multiballs.

In both rulings, the players agreed with the rulings – no disagreement or complaining (other than getting screwed by the Shadow).

Thoughts on the rulings?
And thoughts on the cause of the malfunctions? Bad trough switch? Only the Shadow knows?


I’ve seen situation #1 multiple times when instantly double draining out of Hotel. Has to be a software bug.

I know it’s not the right way to handle it in competition, but I’ve been able to get out of the mode by completing the 3 center shots and entering the hotel. At that point the game goes back into normal play.


In Game 2, even though the multiball was earned, I would have ruled that the player needed to drain one of the two balls. Playing with multiple balls while the game is in single ball state is a beneficial malfunction.


Both rulings are correct, I believe.

Never ever seen this as a software bug. A ball trough opto or divot issue, yes.

My guess would be the trough needs service.


Are there enough balls in the game? STTNG last night at our tournament only had 5 balls in it and I started Borg multiball, drained down to one ball, but multiball kept going. I trapped up and called the group over, and just dumped my ball.

It was ball three and I didn’t need a comp ball for a win, but we found out right after that game there’s were one too few balls in the game. Double check that.

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That is correct, except it happens when a ball drains in the trough at the same exact moment the ball save goes out. Leaving one ball play until you enter the hotel. I told Brian Eddy and Mike Boon about it back in the day and they never fixed it. They did fix the mode bonus bug where it would only give you credit for one mode and not two if you were to complete the same mode on one ball. Another one is 255 hits to open Battlefield. I never seen that #2 scenario so must be a trough issue.


What’s the “more important” factor in determining if you’re allowed to have more than one ball on the playfield? Does current game state take precedence. or is it based on what the player has done up to that point?

I’ve often wondered about this, because in this combination of events, a machine malfunction (dropping out of multiball unexpectedly) could cause the player to have to lose a ball in play through no fault of their own. Contrast that with the game kicking out a second ball unexpectedly, which gives the same end result but isn’t earned.

I interpret the rules to always go by game state. There’s no mention of an “earned” beneficial malfunction. If you’re in a single ball state with multiple balls in play, then that is a beneficial malfunction. It also has the benefit of being easier to be consistent in rulings, since you aren’t trying to determine what is earned and what is not.

I disagree. There are a few games that have multiball play while in a single ball state (“state” here meaning: no additional rules, scoring opportunities, etc due to being in the multiball). Stern Star Trek’s post-Kobayashi Maru is one of them. So is Warp 9.9. In both cases, the player has certainly earned the multiball play. Should we all be forced to drain down to one ball after we complete ST’s KM mini-wizard mode, or down to one ball after the 2x scoring of Warp 9.9 runs out? I say we should not.

And you are able to be consistent with your rulings: Did the player earn the multiball state? (“state” meaning: there should be more than one ball on the table in play) If so, then play on. If not, then it’s a beneficial malfunction, and treated as such.

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If the game is supposed to have multiple balls on the playfield in that game state, then it is not a malfunction. Star Trek is supposed to have multiple balls on the playfield in those cases, so it can’t be a beneficial malfunction. The Shadow is not supposed to have multiple balls on the playfield in that state, so it is a beneficial malfunction.


This makes me think of the poor novice who doesn’t really understand the intricacies of game state or maybe doesn’t know about modes or whatnot. We all know what we’re doing, and we can still have discussions like this about what is or is not a problem that needs to be trapped up and ruled on. I’d hate to be that novice who might get DQ’d and not have any idea about it - someone who is just trying to not drain and doesn’t know that the game wasn’t supposed to do what it did.

I often wonder if we can simplify the rules somehow to protect the novice while still protecting the game against expert exploitation.

A TD shouldn’t worry about DQ’ing a player for being unaware of something. The penalty in those cases is simply voiding the score and making the player replay.

DQ’s come from player conduct, based on players trying to take advantage of something they are aware of.


In the case provided, The Shadow was indeed supposed to have multiple balls in play on the playfield. The player earned them by starting Hotel Monolith. It’s not the player’s fault that the pin screwed up and thought the scoring associated with multiball was over.

Besides, Hotel Monolith or no Hotel Monolith scoring – who’s going to shoot for those shots anyway when there are Shadow loop combos to be had? :wink:

I stand corrected then; I thought the rules were supposed to be mostly objective. Like, can you really be sure a player isn’t aware that they are having a beneficial malfunction and just playing dumb? Maybe the “void and replay” part covers players trying to be sneaky about it, but I still fear for the novice who’s having a great game and gets it voided like that. That just feels like it sucks all around.

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Thanks for cutting up the quote to make it look like I said something that I didn’t :grin:

The player is certainly being screwed here if you ask them to drain a ball, but having two balls on the playfield in this state is a beneficial malfunction. The player has features available to them (lighting locks, playing additional modes, Khan MB, the battlefield), that were never intended to be available besides with a single ball on the playfield. I consider that to be a beneficial malfunction.

If this is the case, the ruling should be play on. It is a software feature available to all players and not a malfunction. If someone wants to cradle up wait until the ball save if about to go out and double drain, then so be it. They earned the “secret monolith” mode.


Yep . . . when I ask them if they were intentionally trying to take advantage of the situation, I would expect them to answer honestly.

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So then the Creature 9bil Snackbar bonus should be “play on” as well since it’s available to all players and not a malfunction? :slight_smile:

This is a multiball available to all players, right?