Stuck Ball Stern Star Trek Question

Eh, but you will indeed.

If the ball is stuck in an outlane with a lit kickback, above the switch…

Pick up ball.
Activate the switch by hand (kickback now unlit).
Put the ball on a flipper and resume play.

If the ball is stuck in outlane, with a lit ball saver, above the switch…

Push the ball into the outlane.
Catch the autoplunged ball in shooter lane.
Put the ball on a flipper and resume play.

Now this is on me. What I would do. Not something I believe is common practice. Please don’t take it on a TD that may be ruling otherwise!

If the ball is stuck in outlane having multiple paths to drain, above the diversions (switches)…

Let the player decide the path of the ball.
Activate switches by hand and put the ball in the drain.

I would also give the player the priviledge of a manually activated kickback succeeding.

However, not a return nudge.

I do not believe the player should every have a choice, other than the choice to try nudging it free and dealing with the consequences.

If I am TDing, I would either do as Josh said and nudge it myself, or I would take the least favourable path. That is consistent with the inlane/outlane ruling that says it takes outlane.

This get’s me thinking what should be done with games drain multiballs. Drain the balls and put the glass on quickly and hope on is still in play. Put 1 ball on a flipper, let the rest drain. Put all balls on flippers.

I would probably try to close it quickly and if they all drain give compensation.

Best/poorest choice of path is subjective.

It may save his arse. But generally, a stock ball sucks for a player.

I will rather let him come out of it with a little benefit of the unknown, that skill would have earn him the kickback, outlane lane change, outlane path etc. According highly mechanical rules, where a TD is not to make a choice that may favour one or the other. Being suspect to conspiracy. My reasoning.

Actually, with player controlled kickback, he may have the choices: try shake it loose, go outlane or on a flipper.

I also give players free choice of (lower) flipper.

That wouldn’t be an option under IFPAPA rules:

“Player-controlled kickback features, such as mini-flippers, posts, or manually-controlled kickbacks that send the ball back into play, do not count toward establishing stuck ball status in this case, and the player will not be permitted to utilize these features or touch the game until the ball has reached the ball trough.”

Shake it out, tilt if necessary. We have major malfunction rules in place for when a TD tilts the game trying to free a stuck ball.

The other option is for a TD to make a consistent choice in this situation. I’m sure if I were to get together with my crew, we would most likely decide on the most ‘outside’ outlane possible from the center. So for a Royal Guard situation it would be the outer left most outlane for a ball stuck on the outlane/outlane post . . . or it would be the outer right most outlane for a ball stuck on the outlane/outlane post on that side. What 500 point switches were lit would be irrelevant to that decision making process.


I like it. Simple. Consistent. No gray area. And has an equal probability of helping/hurting the player given that there’s a 50/50 chance they get what they want in a dual outlane situation.


This is where I get confused. The kickback activated, created the stuck ball and is now unlit with the ball stuck. So your response is tough luck, that’s pinball, buh bye, drain it, due to the fact that kickbacks are not always going to put the ball in play.

BUT, if the kickback were lit, and the ball stuck in that same position, the ball would be returned to the flipper as if the kickback would save the ball.

Why does the player get credit under the presumption that the kickback would work properly the next time?

I’m guessing it’s because there’s nothing in the rules (appropriately, imho) that factors in how the ball got stuck when determining what to do with a stuck ball. The What to do with a stuck ball is entirely determined by where it is stuck. And in the case of being stuck directly above an outlane, also determined by what ball save feature is clearly indicated as available post-stuck ball… not pre-stuck ball.

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But we 100% know the how, and are the rule assumes it would not happen again.

The ball save feature failed pre-stuck ball, since even though it activated the end result is drain. So I don’t understand why is it assumed the post ballsave feature would not create the same issue.

I am inclined to think in the nature of consistency they are either both drains or both saves.

When a TD arrives to a machine to free a stuck ball, the TD doesn’t 100% know the “how,” and better to not have them rely on player testimony on how it happened.

And even if the TD did know how it happened (ie. because they were observing the game at the time), the ruling still doesn’t change: put it in the outlane. Sometimes kickbacks don’t work as intended and the ball doesn’t clear the outlane and dribbles back down, sometimes (as mentioned) the kickback lobs the ball to the opposite outlane.

If the kickback is still lit because there was a “stacked” kickback feature (I think Dialed In has this, and some Data East games have a Super Kickback where the kickback is lit for the remainder of the ball), then to the player’s good fortune, the rules give the player the benefit of the doubt that the kickback won’t result in a drain the second time around.

Pinball mechs, by their nature, aren’t completely consistent.

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Because the rules say so? :slight_smile:

“If an automatically-triggered kickback exists that will send the ball back into play upon draining it in the appropriate outlane, that feature will be manually triggered, and the ball will be treated as a stuck ball from that point and placed on a flipper or other suitable location.”

What Colin says is 100% right on. We don’t care how or why a call is stuck. At the time it’s over the outlane it’s “NOT STUCK” per our rules - which leads to you either shaking it out as a player or us draining you.

The kickback being late magically turns this “NOT STUCK” ball situation into a “STUCK BALL” where getting the ball placed on the flipper is part of those rules.

Again, I get the argument, physical nature of pinball etc.

I find the rule subjective because assumed it ultimately relies on the lit state of the kickback where future response governs over known response.

In scenario 1 the kickback was lit and does NOT mean being saved.

In scenario 2 the kickback being lit DOES mean being saved.

Anyway I’ll have to think on it some more. I just don’t find the rule to be concrete.

And it says the kickback “will send the ball back into play”.

As I said, this seems assumed, since we know a kickback won’t always do it as shown in the photo,

In any event, I am understanding more what would be the ruling. :slight_smile:

Just trying to learn. :slight_smile:

The scenarios are just two completely different things IMO.

Scenario 1 by the time the TD gets over to evaluate the situation is simply “NOT A STUCK BALL”.

Scenario 2 when the TD gets over to evaluate the situation is a “STUCK BALL”.

The state of what the kickback does, has done in the past, will do in the future is completely meaningless. The only thing it does is cause the situation to be evaluated as a stuck ball or not.

It’s definitely one of those weird nuances of the rules when you investigate the how/why the ball ended up where it ended up, but once you take a step back from how something happened, and just deal with the situation of the ball that cannot be freed . . . I find the ruling here to be super concrete.

I agree that it’s concrete in that there’s a deterministic path for each outcome. I still don’t like it. :slight_smile:

As a player I never like losing my turn because of a machine malfunction, minor or major. Kickbacks should always return a ball to play, balls should not fall off habitrails and drain (I’m still looking at you with disgust, 2017 Pinburgh Hobbit), etc. I don’t mind a little subjectivity in rulings as long as the ruling is easily defended and consistent and above all, fair. For example, I would have no problem as the player or that player’s opponent if this was ruled as “ball on flipper” because that makes sense and the ball returning to play is what should have happened here.

Just my two quarters.

What do the rules define as an outlane post? I see this ball as being completely above the outlane (both in the Y and Z axis)

I think what Josh is trying to say is a lot of people are approaching this as a player (seeing as most here are), but you have to approach this as a TD to understand why the rules are the way they are.

If I’m called up to a table with a stuck ball stuck on some feature, as shown in the original picture, I have to make a decision. I don’t know what happened. Maybe the ball got launched by a kickback. Maybe it fell off the habitrail. Maybe Magneto stopped by and put it there just to spite the player. I don’t know. All I can see is the ball is stuck above an outline with no kickback. The rules need to be consistent in such a way that I don’t have to rely on someone telling me what happened in order to make a ruling.

Compare that to walking up to a table with a stuck ball and a lit kickback. How does that affect the assessment? Now I don’t have to rely on anyone telling me that it wasnt a failed kickback, because I can see that there is still a lit kickback already. Or maybe it was a failed kickback, but with stacked kickbacks so it would trigger again if drained down that outlane. You no longer need witnesses for anything to know the ball would theoretically be saved by a kickback.


That’s what I’ve come to realize how rulings are done and essentially what Josh’s response explained.

Mainly how it happens is 100% irrelevant. The ruling is based on the state of the game when the TD walks up.

That was my hangup-I was reconstructing and analyzing the events that lead up to the situation, when it did not matter. I still don’t agree with the ruling based on what I know happened, but now I know the basis for how the rules work. :slight_smile:

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I don’t know about that. There are abuse/screwage cases here. Remember we’re not relying on player information at all:

  1. I play a multiball with a stuck ball, my opponent complains and goes to get a TD, then I drain down to that one stuck ball before the TD arrives, I get it freed and put on a flipper, no penalty? All the TD will see when they get to the game is single ball play, stuck ball.

  2. Trough blow-through on a game with no plunger-lane gate. TD will simply see a ball in the shooter lane and cannot assume how it got there.

  3. Player gets “fun with bonus” due to flaky switch or something that prematurely ends a ball. By the time the TD gets there, all they will see is the next player up, so nothing to rule on.

I think context matters, and I think the TD has to inquire about what happened prior to the malfunction and take that into consideration. It may not be relevant or change the ruling at all, but I do think more information is better than less.

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I should have been more clear: I meant in this case (my first post), not every pinball issue. :slight_smile:

Fair enough, my general point stands though :smiley: