Rulings Questions: 3 Scenarios

I’m fairly new TO running tourneys at the local arcade. These are not major events, and attract between 10-16 people each time. They are done on locations machines that I do not have the keys to so I have to make rulings in regards to that. They often have issues but I’ve dealt with most of them. Last week had some unique scenarios though…

I’m curious what the community thinks the “correct” rulings would be (I know most tourneys say they are “IFPA style” but don’t actually follow the printed rules 100%…)

Scenario #1

Player 1 drains ball 3 on GoT. They walk away from machine while Bonus is being calculated.

Player 2 steps up to the machine and taps the flipper buttons. Machine registers a tilt, Player 1 loses their bonus.

I have never seen this happen on GoT at the location until last night. In fact I’ve done the same thing and not had the machine tilt.

  1. Player 1 simply be given a compensation ball?

  2. Should Player 2 auto-lose the match?

(Player 2 didn’t come back so Player 1 won regardless thank goodness haha)

Scenario #2:

WCS, Player 1 starts multiball. 2 balls placed in the shooter lane. (I have no keys)

  1. Drain both balls, compensation ball at end of game.

  2. Plunge both balls, drain one on purpose (sort of hard to keep tracking during mball).

  3. Try to plunge only one ball (meh), leave the other one in the shooter lane…drain it after player loses last ball in mball.

Scenario #3:

TWD, Player 1 starts Well Walker Multiball. Ball gets stuck in the barn in the middle.

I instructed player 1 to trap up and see if ball search find the ball…he didn’t, but he also drained like 30 sec after I told him so whatever I guess.

If he had trapped up, and the ball search failed to initiate (because of trapping) and thus the other ball would still be stuck…what happens? You can’t play a 1ball mball so I assume you have to drain and get a compensation ball even though your comp ball won’t be in mball mode? Or just drain out of the mball? (Ball search would find the trapped barn ball because ball search in TWD triggers the barn doors…)

As someone who used to run keyless tournaments, I have had to make rulings similar to #2 and #3. In #2, I would rule “drain one ball” and in #3, sad but true, I would rule (and have ruled, which did not make me popular) that the player must drain down to one ball then wait for a ball search. No compensation ball, because loss of multiball isn’t a compensated malfunction. If a ball search doesn’t free the stuck ball that’s another issue. As you might know, trapping isn’t going to allow for a ball search, since a held up flipper tells the game not to bother searching.

I’m not confident about #1 but I think the way I’ve seen it ruled is that player 2 is DQ’d, but player 1 gets no compensation.


This is my experience from situations in tournaments (2+ years) but not as a TD:

#1 If Player 1 had 2 dangers, it’s possible the tilt bob was still swinging and it would have tilted no matter what. Bad luck, Player 2 stepped in. You could dequeue Player 2 as he interfered with Player 1’s game, but I’d rather check if Player 1 was on 2 dangers and nudged right before draining. If that was the case, it’s not really Players 2’s fault, just bad luck, I would say play on. If there was no danger at all, I’d consider this a machine malfunction, play on too, but no compensation in any case.

#2 Anything but 3. You should have a ball save at the start of the MB so it’s safe to try to drain one ball. If both drain, one should come back. No compensation.

#3 Ball search will never happen when trapped so you need to instruct the player to try and dislodge the ball with the other one(s). If the player can’t dislodge it although trying hard, it could be seen as an advantage but you don’t have the keys so draining the MB and giving a compensation ball wouldn’t be fair either. Since the focus will be on dislodging the stuck ball, the player is not able to take advantage of this one ball MB anyway.

I’d say you’re not screwing the player enough.

1 DQ player 2
2 Drain 1 ball, which is easy to track on WCS, because there is no ball save
3 trap up, as td you can nudge machine or player can, if it fails, drain out with no compensation.


No ball save on WCS. But I agree. Try to drain one, whatever happens, happens.

We’ve discussed this one before too. The player cannot try and shoot the stuck ball loose. What if they “accidentally” hit the double triple super duper mega jackpot in the process? It’s best to have them dump the ball on the flipper and wait for ball search to clear the other one. No compensation ball

1 - DQ player 2. Unfortunate, and impossible to really know who is responsible for the tilt, but you shouldn’t touch the game until it’s your turn, period.
2 - Drain ball 1.
3 - Good faith attempt to trap up, takes longer for some than others, depending on skill. If ball search not initiated after trapped, drain + compensation ball I would say.

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  1. Unfortunately, player 2 gets the loss.
  2. This depends on how the game responds, but i would try to plunge and drain only one.
  3. Simple: stuck ball in multiball is just a play on scenario. If you have keys, rules become easier to decide and enforce. When you don’t, you need to adapt and allow for basic scenarios without unfairly penalizing a player (imo).

If you do not have keys to the machines, you might want to evaluate FSPA rules instead of IFPA/PAPA rules.


Never do this. Player two played out of turn and is disqualified. The amount of dangers in play beforehand is irrelevant. In my league, giving player one or two a chance to explain this away would be viewed as favoritism.


The way I would suggest the rulings should be applied.

Scenario #1
Player 2 DQ’d - ‘interfering’ with another players game. Harsh but fair.

In reality I probably wouldn’t DQ player 2, in this instance as it wasn’t a genuine attempt to impact Player 1, plus bonus on GoT is usually not substantial. If the game finished that close that the bonus may have made a difference I’d have made them replay. Although this isn’t ‘official rules’ I think it is using common sense for a small, no keys, bar comp.

Scenario #2
Need to get to a ‘false’ 4 ball multiball to a ‘correct’ 3 ball multiball.
With or without a ballsave intentionally draining 1 ball will restore this.
Specifically on WCS plunge 1 ball, let run off flipper, plunge 2nd ball straight away. If done quickly enough other 2 balls on playfield won’t have come active yet. No harm, no foul.

Scenario #3
Unfortunately, it is drain all balls in play to trigger ball search - no compensation.
(What will be a real kick in the teeth is when the ball search opens barn doors and throws the ball SDTM anyway)


If youre talking about a Pro model this is true, but falls flat on a Premium (billion-plus bonuses are obtainable).

For situation 1 this is a clear cut DQ with a less clear cut no compensation ball (as the ball in play had already drained).

Situation 2 should be handled such that the extra ball is drained and no balls are in the shooter lane - however the player opts to do so in a timely manner will suffice.

Situation 3, assuming no keys, is giving the player the option to drain down and wait for ball search or (if its feasible to do so) let the player shoot the ball free. If the player attempts to shoot the ball free, watch them to keep them honest.

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I wanted to add that my league/tournaments use IFPA rules but with officially written addenda/subsitutions, most of which deal with stuck balls happening when we don’t have keys. In our substitutions, we do allow trying to shoot out a ball with TD supervision and at the TD’s discretion (e.g. it is believed it should be relatively easy to accomplish without flailing into a jackpot or whatever). However, it is important to note that this is our local, written substitution and as others have pointed out, IFPA rules do NOT allow shooting out a stuck ball during multiball. So your league probably needs to either stick to IFPA rules and disallow this, or formally write out an exception that does allow it. (Or use a different ruleset such as FSPA, which explicitly allows you to exploit a stuck ball all day long.) I assumed in this case shooting out the stuck ball probably wasn’t an option anyway. So if you’re doing anything like IFPA rules, I’m afraid it’s drain and cry.


P2 is DQd so he or she is out, but what if this is a 4P game and P1’s lost bonus would have been the difference between beating or losing to either P3 or P4? Bit of a loophole, not sure how to fill.

Quick edit, best way to prevent this entirely is to not walk away from the game until it moves to the next player.

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Scenario 1: Player 2 Gets a score of zero, hit flippers and titled P1 ball.
Scenario 2: drain one ball if possible. If both balls drain compensation ball at end of game
Scenario 3:if glass can’t be removed they need to end Multiball.
“ If a ball becomes stuck during a multiball mode, the player should attempt to trap the other ball(s) in play and request assistance. A stuck ball during multiball often represents a significant beneficial malfunction, and intentionally taking advantage may result in a penalty. Please note specifically that a ball ending up in the plunger lane during multiball on a machine where there is no autoplunger (or where the autoplunger for some reason refuses to fire) counts as a stuck ball. and the ball must be plunged by the player. See “Beneficial Malfunctions” for further details.”

Scenario #1 Player is DQd and loses the match. Touching the game is considered “in control”. They tilted the other player’s ball.

Scenario #2 Location and no keys? Plunge both balls and let one drain and continue playing. I would have the TD watch this like a hawk, under threat of DQ if the player doesn’t immediately drain the first ball that can possibly be drained.

Scenario #3 I mean, player is instructed to trap up and does not? DQ.
…But what should have happened is trap up. See if ball search (there won’t be). No keys? Then player has to drain the single ball that is free and loses their multiball. Ball search will free the stuck ball. NO compensation - that’s pinball.

Edit: I honestly can not fathom how some responses here as saying that someone should receive a compensation ball for scenario 3. Really? Someone should be able to play a whole new ball just because they lost a multiball? Good lord sign me up for that please.


To me, these were all pretty cut and dry as to what should have been done and all the confusion comes from TDs not wanting to “screw” a player. Not saying all TDs do this, but a big part of directing is having to be the bearer of bad news during an otherwise fun filled evening. Which can make being a TD a real drag at times. Because of this, i see alot of TDs get pulled back and forth between making an obvious ruling that could ruin a players night, or trying to find some non existing middle ground that would satisfy both the rules and the players. I feel the compensation ball for a “lost multiball” is a perfect example of this.


When TD’s realize they are simply choosing which player to screw with EVERY RULING they make, they then seem to ‘see the light’ on this. Give compensation to the player and you’re simply choosing to screw their opponents on the ruling.


I wish it was that easy. TDs are people too. They play favorites no matter how much we wish they didnt. In our league, players even know which TD to get for what ruling.

Not all TD’s :grinning:. I still feel very green when TDing, I have about 12 events under my belt that I have TD, but I’ve only been playing competitive pinball for 3 years and I just haven’t seen everything or in my case a majority of the issues and rulings that come up so I always defer to Slack, such a lifesaver so thank all of you who provide feedback.

I had an issue in my tournament last week that directly involved me and we were in the finals, group #1. Final game in PAPA format and since 1st place was already determined the remaining 3 players were all still alive and could advance to the final four, myself included. Game was Grand Prix, I was Player 3 and put up 650K on ball 1. Then during either ball 2 or ball 3, when a player drained and after the bonus counted down the game wouldn’t kick out the ball to the shooter lane. We played on by removing glass after every drain and manually kicking it into the shooter lane. I felt uneasy about the situation so I reached out to Slack and the verdict was to keep playing and then afterwards if it couldn’t be repaired to remove the game. After the game was over I pulled all the players aside and told them I didn’t want to make a biased ruling and showed them my Slack conversation. I won the game, advanced to the final 4 and I’m pretty confident everyone was pleased with the ruling. I didn’t get any pushback or complaints over it.


If you have to go get a TD (didn’t see the incident), then the situation should be described without using names. Player one did this, then player two did this. This takes virtually all of the favoritism out of the situation.

I don’t think it’s official policy in the league I play in, but I see more and more people doing it this way and I do it every time. Would be cool if IFPA made this a requirement for leagues to be sanctioned, although exceptions would likely have to be made for noobs.