Target Alpha technical question/tourney ruling

Background: One ball playoff on TA. Ball is launched and manages to drain to the right outlane which is lit for 5000. Score is 5000, nothing else was hit. Ball served back into shooter lane with Ball 1 still lit. TD rules ball is over. Player argues he is still on Ball 1 similar to a playfield not being validated. TD says no, ball is over.

After all is said and done, we could replicate that scenario every time by hand. Score a 5000 only, drain and ball count remains the same. Any other score hit, ball count advances. Only happened with thousands.

It was a fluke drain, there was really no way we could actually do it again.

We later talked to a very experienced EM tech and he said that is the way the game behaves. It is not a game malfunction.

So, that being said, here are the questions:

Tech: What other EMs behave like this?

Tourney: Assuming the above scenario is proper game behavior, when is the ball considered over in a case like this?

If the ball is kicked back into the shooter lane and you do not know if it is a malfunction (skipping the outhole switch) or a feature (unvalidated playfield) you should open the machine and place the ball in the drain. If the machine again kicks the ball back out the ball has not ended and the player may continue play.


Assuming this is the machine’s intended behavior and not a malfunction, the ball is over when the machine advances to ball two in this case.

Even if it had been a beneficial malfunction, that’s allowed once per game.


I am the TD in question! And in retrospect I could have alleviated any doubt by simply resetting the entire game and reproducing the situation. That would have cleared any questions about whether or not the game was malfunctioning. In the end, I believe I made a fair call because this was not a full-game playoff, only one ball. And each player did, in fact, get only one ball.

A handful of the Gottlieb multiplayer EMs behaved like this. Scoring any tens or hundreds would trip the First Ball relay but the thousands would not. This basically saved some wire, pins on a connector and a switch. This might have been a cost saver or possibly a game like TA is so complex, there was no extra room on the playfield to cabinet connector? Either way, this is the way the game was designed and not a problem or malfunction.

Anyway, this is expected from this game and to me the player should have played on. The suggestion by Gammagoat above also works well. In this case putting the ball back in the exit hole would have caused it to kick right out into the shooter lane and the player would have continued playing.

Another actual problem with TA is the long drains possible from all the way at the top of the playfield by the drop targets can get up so much speed the ball can ricochet and bounce over the exit switch back into the shooter lane. In this case the ball should be placed back into the exit hole per the Gammagoat suggestion and the game will properly count down the bonus and advance the ball/player.