Ruling: When is your ball officially over

Game: Supersonic
Ball: 2
Player: 4 (4 player game)
Situation: Known game malfunction

Details -

Player 4 was playing ball two on Supersonic - this game was on stream at the time so all scores and switch hits were verified. The ball was going into the right outlane - the player shook the game in an attempt to save the ball from the outlane. The ball rolled over the right outlane switch and awarded points - between the time that the ball hit the switch and the ball reaching the trough the machine resets itself starting a one player game. No bonus was awarded as the ball had, again, never triggered a trough switch.

Some important notes -

  • this particular game was known to do this in tournaments past, the malfunction had not occurred after an entire weekend of playing the game - the shake was not intended to try and reset the game.

  • The gate on the right outlane was not open

  • All scores at the time of the malfunction were available

I am leaving all scores/tournament situations out of the description as they should not impact a ruling.

The TD was called over to make a ruling on the game - and that ruling will remain hidden to keep any minds from being swayed while looking for the appropriate IFPA ruling. As a whole we are just curious what the IFPA ruling would be.

The possible outcomes:

  1. Seeing as how all scores were available - player 4’s ball is considered over and all players start a new game with 1 ball remaining. Scores from that one ball are added to the scores tracked down from the stream and player 4 loses any bonus count

  2. Player 4’s ball was not over as the ball never registered in the trough and the ball never registered as over, therefor he is awarded a compensation ball - a new game is started where players 1-3 play one ball and player 4 plays 2 ball. The scores are added to those found on stream.


For Option 1 -

*the ball had rolled over the outlane (OL) switch (verified) and player 4 could not of made any legal move at that point in order to save the ball

*This makes the assumption the ball is either over when the ball rolls over an outlane switch or there is no human available maneuver that would keep that ball in play

For Option 2 -

*It seems obvious that the ball should be over - but many games do not end ball when an outlane switch is triggered - think Kickbacks/Ballsaves/gates/etc. Supersonic does have a gate in the outlane that can save a ball after an OL switch is hit. Other games, like shallow troughed gottliebs, have a natural ‘bangback’ that can occur to kick the ball back into play

*An argument can be made that in the case of a ball resting between an IL/OL post that the player can choose to forfeit their ball as the ball is deemed ‘in the OL’. A counter argument can be made saying that even if a player chooses to forfeit their ball that ball is not technically over until the TD has rolled it over the OL switch and the bonus counts and the game moves to the next player.

IFPA rules are very black and white - they rarely ever take game state into account (outside of determining how to proceed with the remainder of the game) - so even saying that the gate was not open should not have any impact on the final ruling. If the gate had been open - would that change the ruling after the OL switch had been triggered? What if the ball did bang back into the playfield - odds may be 1 in a million - but IFPA rules don’t allow you to play odds (you can’t consider what ‘likely’ would happen)

We know you cannot add points to any game manually - so there is no option to ‘add bonus’ and play on - so I do not see any other outcomes, since it was on stream, to this event. Granted had this not been on stream the entire game would of been played over.

So - I posit the question - when is a ball officially over?


IMO, option 1. Player 4s ball was over as any result other than a drain is beyond reasonable assumption. 1 compensation ball for all 4 players and P4 gets shafted on bonus because “that’s pinball.”

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I predict that you’re going to get several responses which will misunderstand the important points.

For example, people will comment that you shouldn’t play a game with a known malfunction. This is irrelevant to the question you’re asking. To people who can’t get over that, ask them to imagine instead a power outage in the middle of the game.

People will probably also get stuck on the choice of game you picked for your example: Supersonic, which is bonus heavy, but certainly has other significant scoring features. To people who can’t get over that, ask them to imagine instead a game that is almost exclusively scored in bonus: eg, Star Pool or (perhaps less so) Black Pyramid.

I think the right answer depends on how important the bonus is to the game. A game that is “mostly” bonus requires special handling in the ruling, even though it is not addressed in the IFPA/PAPA ruleset. But where is that line? 50%?

Remember that other games have special handling in rulings, too. For example, a Game of Thrones machine with a dodgy shooter switch – an error which causes a House choice to be locked in before the player chooses. In this case, it’s not simply a “play on” ruling. It requires special handling, even though this is not addressed in the IFPA/PAPA ruleset.

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You do not specifically mention what ruleset your event is abiding by, although you allude to it being the standard PAPA/IFPA rules.

The PAPA/IFPA rules, under section 5 “Catastrophic Malfunctions”, do not make any comment about whether the ball is “unrecoverable” at the time of the malfunction. In the situation described, the system reset with a ball in play, and so I believe the player up is entitled to a compensation ball for that lost ball, plus the additional ball 3… i.e. the score of two balls added on from another game. (Your option 2.) This solution naturally provides some relief for the loss of bonus that should have been earned by the player up when the system reset, as well as the slight but non-zero chance of a Lazarus, etc.

Of course, if your event was operating under different rules, you should adhere to the remedy prescribed under those rules.


BTW, I have to heartily disagree with @MayoMan119. Unless the event rules in force explicitly state otherwise, any perception of “how important the bonus is to the game” is irrelevant. The player up at the time of the malfunction might have made many shots that accrued no bonus (say, spinner rips); conversely, they might have made lots of bonus / bonus X shots. We have not been given any information about this, nor context about how that might affect a ruling at this event. Lacking specific event rules about bonus value at the time of a system reset, any such judgment is void IMHO. Whether this turns out to be advantageous or disadvantageous for P4 in this case is also irrelevant, as long as the published rules are followed consistently.


I would go even further and say even if the reset occurred half way through the bonus countdown, I would still go back to the recoverable score from the stream and give then the compensation ball for that ball. The ball is over when the player up light moves to the next player (although at the same time there are situations where you are not allowed to keep playing without a ruling, e.g. trough pass through)


“I agree with Joe Schober”

(It doesn’t happen often so I like to make sure I bring up those times where we share the same opinion.) :slight_smile:


I’d say a ball is over when it moves to the next player and the game is indicating they are up.

Why does this require special handling? New code is out baby! Every house is amazing now.

So, just a bit of devils advocate here, not sure how I’d actually rule:

  1. Josh has stated in the past he would use every tool available to him to get a ruling right.

  2. This game was streamed.

  3. The bonus on Supersonic is visible looking at the game.

  4. A bonus can be added to the score manually (This game is over anyhow, so the ‘scoreboard’ will be wiped regardless).

  5. Rulings regarding stuck balls on the outlane do not take into account a lazarus. They do take into account a gate/kickback.

  6. This game was streamed so we can tell if the gate was open (and we are told in the first post that the gate was not open).

It is possible to make this player whole before going to the fresh game and ball 3.

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Yeah I’m for keeping the game integrity, but comp balls are coming in this case no matter what, and player 4 is getting 2 more balls on a new game no matter what right? Because he had the gate, drained out the right outlane.

The first post says the gate in the right outlane was not open.

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It is possible. I think the challenge is determining that they deserve the bonus. They shook the machine in an attempt to save the ball, there is no way to tell if in absence of the malfunction wether the player would have tilted or not. This doesn’t even need improbable scenarios like another player running up and tilting the machine before bonus.


Well, if the question is if they tilted or not, why would it be okay to give a comp ball, but not okay to get accurate bonus?

New rule: “If a catastrophic malfunction occurs while the ball is in the process of draining (e.g. below an outlane switch or under the flippers), a compensation ball shall be provided but only in the same spot as the prior ball was when the malfunction occurred”

Give P4 two compensation balls, but first one gets placed below the right outlane switch.

If there are no cameras or such to determine when the malfunction occurred, fall back to the old rules.

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Didn’t see the reset happened. I should not read posts when at work.

They have not yet tilted, or earned their bonus, the ball ended early so we will never know. If you want to argue they should get the bonus on the compensation ball, feel free to argue that the “we do not recreate game state except when we do” rule is bad.

Joe is correct here.


Now that it’s been discussed, how was it ruled?

The hypothetical I am now interested in, so letter of the rule people, and those answering (like myself) the ball is over when it advances to the next player. Who is willing to give a compensation ball to a post-tilt reset before ball advance?

The point I was making was, if it was a malfunction it was a malfunction. It had nothing to do with tilt / not tilt. We have clear rules about how balls stuck above an outlane are treated, here is a ball in an outlane when a malfunction occurs. As I stated above, these are 2 sets of arguments that could offer another solution, but my personal preference is not to defer to streams for information, because you end up getting two different rulings.

What I’d really like to do is recreate this without a stream, and see how the ruling goes. Player makes move with ball in limbo. Game resets as ball drifts down the outlane. Player calls for a ruling.

What happened? “The game reset when I made a move. Like it’s been doing.”

Did you drain? “It went into the outlane then I looked up and the game had reset.”

Did you get your bonus? “I don’t think so.”

Did anyone else see anything? “Not really. From back here it’s hard to tell what happened.”

What were the scores? “I have no idea.”

New game.