TD's - Do you "install" competition mode or not?

Most of you are probably already aware of this, but after 16 months of TD’ing I was never full aware of “installing” competition mode. On another thread there was discussion about Iron Maiden and the secret skill shots. Several people were under the impression that if you were in “tournament mode”, that these skill shots were disabled. I believe some of the confusion comes from the words “tournament” and “competition”, as I was confused by this myself.

Here is a snippet from Josh Sharpe:

So, last night I checked my Iron Maiden and sure enough, Competition Mode was “enabled” but this did not disable the skill shots. Instead, you have to go into the Install menu in order to “install competition”. As I mentioned initially, my guess is most of you already know this, but I was clueless. With that said, is the setting “install competition” mode under utilities only on newer games?

My follow up question is does everyone “install competition” for the tournaments they direct?

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I learned from Lyman how to set up my games at home …

Go to installs menu. Install Novelty. Install Competition.

Go to adjustments menu. Turn ball saver to OFF.

Bon appetit!


Specifically for Iron Maiden why is there any reason to turn off the secret skill shots?

Not 100% sure. However, when I got into TD’ing I was told to turn on “tournament mode” for every machine. In order for me to do that on IMDN the correct way, you have to “install” competition mode, which then disables the secret skill shots. Kind of makes sense since they are “secret” and it gives an unfair advantage to players.

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Here is the problem I run into as a player on IMDN:

I can’t tell if the secret skill shots are on or not. There isn’t any indication on the playfield or the display. So if I plunge for the left inlane/outlane and they are off (and if Josh has turned off the ballsave too this gets worse) I have wasted my skill shot attempt and possibly my ballsave. Just figure out a way that the player can decipher if they are on or not, and it’s fine.


I have an IMDN, and I’m not sure the answer to the following question:
Do we have Instant Info available with the ball in the shooter lane?

We should, and, IMO, it should include “Secret Skill Shots Enabled/Disabled”. Plenty of room on these LCDs, @sk8ball. :slight_smile:

Dialed In is a positive example: Tilt warnings per ball/per game are displayed in Instant Info.


Any good TD would/should clearly note the settings on the backglass for their players.


I agree with that. TD should make it clear to players the software setup via a post it note or announcement.

@djreddog In addition to the other reason mentioned above, my opinion for turning it off is because the 20M in one skill shot is too unbalanced for a Maiden that is set up difficult, particularly for novice players.

Outside of a tourney, playing dollar games on Maiden (on free play) for # of left Outlane skill shots is a blast.

For all: it should also be noted that TWD has a very important aspect to INSTALLING competition settings vs competition mode ADJUSTMENT: the Install initiates the more difficult Mode-Start rules where you can’t qualify a mode after a MB has begun. It creates a lot more strategic decision-making and will reduce average game scores by quite a bit as well.


This I do for all my tournaments, however when I thought tournament mode was ON for IMDN, I clearly was mistaken. Moving forward I’ll be installing competition mode.

How far back does this setting go? Like what year was this introduced?

My recommendation is to never install competition unless you’re 100% certain of all the changes and can communicate those to the players if they ask.


I agree. One hint on Maiden is what mode is selected at the beginning of the game (which I assume if lit before plunging). You cannot know for sure, but if it is not FOTD, probably secret skill shots are on. If it is FOI, it probably is tournament mode. If it is something else it is probably factory default.

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I have it on WWF Royal Rumble.

I thought you could adjust which mode would be lit at game-start for all players (when you have competition installed)?

You can. My point is install competition sets it to FOTD, and factory derandomized will be FOI.

In my opinion, I don’t think competition is install should ever be used in a tournament for a few reasons:

  1. Players know and expect games to behave a certain way and sometimes this fundamentally changes the way you play a game

  2. The competition install settings are often less “fun”. Pinball competitions are supposed to be FUN not miserable (“oh look I started multiball on accident and now I can’t bring in modes. So fun” swears loudly)

  3. It doesn’t accomplish anything that simply enabling tournament mode doesn’t accomplish with regard to random awards and such


This is starting to get confusing, haha! To install or to not install, lol.

I may be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure there is no “tournament” mode setting in IMDN. Therefore you either install competition or you go through and manually adjust a ton of individual settings.

@raydaypinball - I totally get your point of view. Especially with TWD. I had no idea that if you installed competition that it changes how modes and MB work. So yes, if a player walks up and is uneducated about “install competition” even though the game is labeled that way, they are going to expect the game to act one way, when in fact it’s going to act the opposite way.

Agree. Super annoying when this stuff isn’t clearly marked, or even worse, asking a TD who’s like :man_shrugging:

When has FUN ever been a determining factor for tournament game setups? There are a million reasons why different “less fun” methods are used in game setups for events, so I don’t think this is a valid gripe. Using TWD for example, I actually think it’s more fun to plan out a mode start before multiball than losing a match to a bunch of sloppy flailing against someone who had no plan and lucked into bringing Riot into BB or whatever.


I won’t pretend to speak for Lyman, but IMO this is precisely the reason for the mode setup on the competition install. It gives an added layer of strategy for a player to choose to be greedy or not, trying to get modes lit before starting a MB (and then bringing in something incredibly valuable within the safety of multiple balls in play), versus being able to start that potentially very lucrative mode risk free.

The Competition INSTALL also lights modes after EVERY target bank completion, rather than every other one on ‘normal’ install settings.

I do agree it’s probably best for the competition ADJUSTMENT to have that same change as the competition INSTALL, but that’s up to the programmers that present those options. Personally I find the strategic element of the competition INSTALL setting to make the game far more fun for top tier players . . .YMMV.

The Maiden team could just as easily turn off all the super skill shots if the Competition ADJUSTMENT is set to YES, rather than just the INSTALL being set to YES.

For anyone prepping for IFPA Pin-Masters, or Nationals, or World’s, or Heads-Up, or ANYTHING we run, we’re Competition INSTALL people. If that’s worth starting a wiki on the rules changes for games with this INSTALL option selected, that’s probably not the worst asset to have for players to reference.


Do you guys know what these installs do on all these games or do you just do it?

Like what does competition installl do on GOT or ACDC?

Having a wiki for all this would be awesome for not only players, but TDs as well.


We just do it. The benefit of the competition INSTALL is taking care of all those ‘good adjustments’ like Coin Door Ball Saver, disabling chase ball, disabling tilt when coin door is open, etc (rather than having to go through those adjustments manually).

Couldn’t tell you. Outside of TWD and Maiden, I don’t know of any game features that get changed via the INSTALL option. Perhaps someone like Timballs can chime in and clarify.