Rulings that affect other rulings

Scenario - 4 player game on AC/DC
Player 1, ball 1 - game goes to bonus unexpectedly in the middle of play. Ruling = compensation ball.
Player 2, ball 1 - notices 2 balls in shooter lane before plunging. Several attempts to get machine back in normal state failed - it kept putting two balls in shooter lane. Decision = restart the game to get back to a normal state and continue play on the same game.

So… does the fact that the game had to be restarted to get in to a normal state negate the initial ruling of a compensation ball or does player 1 get to play all 3 balls and add the original ball 1 score on top? I usually move people to a new game after two problems (so the earlier ruling wouldn’t matter) but hadn’t been in this specific situation before with restarting the same game.

I see the following under major malfunctions in the IFPAPA rules - while the 2 balls in shooter lane is a minor malfunction, it did require restarting the machine and occurred after a major malfunction. This below seems to read that player one could play all 3 balls and add their original ball one score but it’s not a perfect fit to the wording so I want to be clear about what other tournament directors would do.

“If the major malfunction cannot be fixed without resetting the machine, the player’s score will be recorded and their game will be terminated and restarted. The affected player will continue their remaining balls on the restarted game and their score from the aborted game will be added to their total. For example, if such a malfunction occurs on Ball 2 of a 3-ball game, the player will be given two new balls on a restarted game. In multiplayer games, all players will receive the same compensation.”

interesting scenario…

I would think player 1 score before its malfunction should not be getting voided (good or bad) and he would get to add his score to his ball 1 on the fresh game.


Remaining balls to me would read that they only get two balls on the new game, but then they also do need a compensation ball since they lost their first ball mid-way.

Another interesting note is that – in my experience – for nearly every modern Stern where malfunction #1 happened, malfunction #2 also happened immediately on the next ball (whether in a multi-player game or single-player game).


That’s because it’s a trough switch (opto) issue. For player one the opto triggers causing the game to think the ball has drained (so goes to bonus count)

For player two even though they have a ball in the shooter, the flaky opto says the ball is still in the trough, so it kicks another ball out.

I’d agree with hisokajp. Fix the issue if possible, then restart the game and let player 1 add his score on to the new game.


Whatever your ruling is, before proceeding, open coin door (if you have a key) and reseat both connectors of the trough opto boards. More vibration more often there than anywhere else in the game.

Had Pirates add a ball when it shouldn’t have during league recently when I was playing ball 1 as player 1. Cradled up and called official over. I suggested reseating opto boards and restarting and everyone agreed. Didn’t act up the rest of the night after reseating the connectors.


We had so many problems with this on our Tron that I cut out the connectors and soldered the wires right to the onto board,


This near exact issue happened in the recent PLAY EXPO Pinball Battle on Iron Man.

3 player game.
Player 1 Ball 1, during play went to bonus count.
Kicked 2 balls into play for player 2.

I decided that the most likely issue was a trough opto.

Initial ruling was to fix issue (by disconnecting and then reconnecting trough - works in 99% of cases) and give Player 1 a compensation ball.
Put 1 of the balls back into trough while disconnected and allow Player 2 (and Player 3) to continue as normal.
However, when shutting coin door ball auto launched into play for Player 2.

As machine was now working correctly, but Player 2 had their game messed up, and Player 1 had made little progress before the issue, and Player 3 hadn’t even started, decided simplest (and fairest) decision was to restart the whole game from scratch.

So it occurs to me that I’d also like to confirm what would happen if this same scenario was player 4, ball 2. Player 4 would get a compensation ball from the first malfunction but then when the game couldn’t be set to normal state and was restarted, would players 1-3 play one ball on the new game with their original scores added in and player 4 play 2 balls since they were to receive a compensation ball?

I appreciate the feedback!

At least for this specific malfunction, try to avoid restarting the game. Try the in-game fixes mentioned in this thread first, and if it’s a modern Stern, change the game to 4-ball, so none of the affected players lose their progress toward features that carry from ball to ball.

If it is a game reset malfunction, this is correct. The one caveat I’d throw in there is that I would either tilt out or plunge away P1-3 first ball of the new game (subtracting any scoring from these) to allow P4 to play their first of two balls prior to P1-3’s effective third ball. This avoids giving P4 the benefit of getting to play both balls 2 and 3 already knowing the final scores of P1-3.