While I was thinking about guides … it occurred to me that I haven’t seen any guide or set of rules for Stall Ball, so I thought I’d take a crack at it. Consider this a first draft open to improvement. [Someone may want to Wiki this.] If there is such a handbook already, someone might want to put it somewhere visible.
Get [at least] one ball “stalled” in a saucer, scoop, lock or other game feature that briefly holds the ball before releasing it. The next person in line then immediately assumes responsibility for the ball in play. Drain before stalling and you are eliminated from that run.
All players are assigned to a queue for a game [there may be more than one game used, depending on player count]. The first player up starts the game and tries to stall the ball. If successful, their turn is done and they move to the end of the queue. The next player in the queue then immediately assumes control of the ball in play as it is returned from the “stall” feature and likewise tries to stall the ball again in either the same or any other stall feature. Play continues down the line from player to player until the ball is drained. The player who drained before stalling the ball is eliminated from that run. Play then resumes with the next player in the queue beginning a new ball. The last player standing wins that run.
Without playoff phase: rank players by most runs won; tiebreaker can be earliest win or can be played off as a new run between just the tied players.
With playoff phase: run winners are removed from subsequent runs and then have a separate “run winners only” competition after all qualifying runs are complete.
Stallball can be done as a one-player game or a multi-player game. It is recommended to use the maximum number of players available on each machine to minimize the need to restart games. When a multi-player game is used, the player stepping up after someone drains will be playing whichever player number is next up on the machine.
The optimal maximum number of players per machine is usually 13. Observe that if you start a 4-player game, assuming 3 balls per player, that’s 12 drains or outs, leaving one player standing, without having to restart the machine as is necessary with more than 13 players.
- For greater enjoyment, everyone player should get in at least 4 games unless they win a round and move on to a playoff phase.
- Initial player order should be random.
- For equity purposes, you should reverse the initial order each run.
- When more than one machine is being used, players should cycle between machines each game
- If a play queue returns to the same game again, their order of play should be the opposite of the previous run.
- Playoff rounds: first half [or fewer] of qualifiers who win a run move on to next round
- Playoff count could be 4 players per 8-13 participants. Can use byes if desired, with first run winners getting them.
Sample Player Groupings
- 8-13 players, one machine, 4 runs.
- 14-26 players, two machines, split players into two groups, alternate games. Should rearrange so that not in same order on same machine twice, so go 1-N on game A, N-1 on game B, then N-1 on A, 1-N on B. Or, keep on same game for game 3 as game 2, reversing order again, then switch games on game 4.
- 27-39 players, 3 games, rotate 1-2-3-1, use 1-N, N-1, 1-N, N-1 order.
- 40-52 players, 4 games, 1-2-3-4, use 1-N, N-1, 1-N, N-1.
- Could use fewer than 13 players per machine, but probably should use at least 8. So, for instance, 27-31 players always use 3 games, 32-39 players could go with either 3 or 4.
Machines used should have minimum of 3 stall locations.
Ball savers should be turned off to not provide an advantage to players plunging a fresh ball. If ball savers cannot be turned off, consider treating the recovery of a ball by a ball saver as a drain that knocks the player out of that run.
If multiball is started, stalling any ball counts as a stall that moves play to the next person in line. Balls drained [other than the last one] during multiball do not impact player turn one way or the other.
If a ball “should” stall but fails to, what then? For scoops, it either falls into the scoop or it doesn’t, so it should not be an issue. For saucers, a ball is not counted as stalled unless it does actually settle in the saucer and score. For locks, assume the ball is held; if it fails to lock for any reason, play on without player change. [This may require future refinement.]
Example issues: AFM, lock shot instead registers as a city hit – not stalled. City destroyed but feeds left return ramp immediately without holding ball [no animation] – not stalled.
Unseen stalls: use scoring of feature triggered as presumption of successful stall, e.g. hidden hallway on Funhouse.
Stuck balls: do NOT count as stalls under most circumstances.
Option: if a player can trap a ball UNDER an upper [non-drain-below] flipper, does that count as a stall?
Ideally, have an assistant TD standing next to each machine to declare when stall is achieved and thus the next player should take over. As an alternative, have players who won previous runs and are not in the current run but eligible for the playoff phase stand in as officials. Absent either, use the player honor system.
Tilt throughs are not a problem per se, but if one occurred in run 1, it would foul up finishing by end of a standard 4-player game if you had the maximum of 13 players in the group.
- Need suitable spacing around games to both sides and behind in some direction. Suggest at least two unused games to right and one to left.
- Video: one camera at playfield, one at player, with line behind visible if possible. Camera on score screen NOT needed.
- Time allotment: a run should take less time than a standard 4-player game since players are not trying to maximize score; best guess is a 4-run round would be similar to a 3-game papa-style round.
- Players exiting after a successful stall should immediately dash to a pre-specified side of the game. Players failing to stall should exit slowly to the other side.
- The “on deck” player should be able to closely observe the play in progress. Usually, they should stand behind the shoulder of the current player on the side opposite the one to dash to if successful. If the current player succeeds in stalling, they can then exit with less risk of running into the new player. If they drain, there’s no hurry, just exit slowly to other way.