The unstuck - Stuck ball in Multiball conundrum.

So I had an interesting situation recently that seemed to pit two different rules against what I would believe is their intended spirit, and created an interesting situation:

A player was in a multiball with 2 balls in play. 1 of the balls came to rest high on the playfield in a small divot (Scared stiff near left exit from the pops). The player then proceeded to play a “1 ball” multiball while the other ball sat in that divot. While never intentionally trying to free the ball, shots to the pops would not free the divot ball (though, maybe they might have after many many attempts).

Now on the surface, this seems just fine - the “stuck” ball is right on the playfield, and could be knocked out any time with the right hit from the other ball - it seems a lot like a ball trapped under the flipper, or behind the afm visor, or trapped in a purba - the rules say this is fine and I’m cool with that as player action or a ball search will free the stuck ball.

However, in this situation, when down to 1 ball in play, ball searches would not free this ball in the divot (and this was clear they would not during the multiball) - The player would have to call an official to free the stuck ball.

Per the rules this seems acceptable.

But, I think, It seems like double dipping in this case.

Normally a player would not be able to continue single-ball-multiball-play with a true stuck ball that cannot be freed by player action. However in this case, the player is allowed to continue, but then when they are back to 1 ball they need an official to free the ball? Does the mere possibility (not guarantee) that the ball could become unstuck warrant the ability to have 1 ball multiball time?

I feel like a similar rule to the “ball comes to rest on inlane-outlane post” rule could be made here.
Something like: “If during a multiball a ball(s) come to rest on the playfield surface, such that the player may play the multiball with less than all balls in motion, upon entering single ball play the ball(s) which have come to rest must be freed by the player or placed in the drain by an official”

Or maybe that sucks, I dunno. But I think its lame to get the benefit of a trapped ball in multiball, that once the multiball is over is actually a true stuck ball that requires an official to free.


Grey area to say the least. One thing is how any individual TD would rule this and this and this situation. Another thing is to put it in writing as official rules that covers any thinkable situation.

As a TD I would simply say, that any case where all balls are not in motion during multiball play is an exploitable situation that you are not allowed to exploit. Except for timed game featues that hold the ball such as The Snake. And timed game features that keeps serving drained ball to (manual) plunger lane such as World Cup Final or Genie Battle.

Any other case you must try to shoot a stuck ball free or trap up and ask for glass off and ball replaced on a flipper. Not at once, but before your play can be deemed an exploit of the situation. And the penelty I would lean on is deducting points. It is not super easy to carry out as exact math and ruling. But a simple rule to explain and understand.

So balls that fly to the plunger lane must be plunged by the player.

Same rules for a ball stuck on inlane/outlane post with a lean out. Yes, you are obliged to trap up and ask for the ball to be drained. Or play for a little longer and try/hope to tip it out as a normal cause of the game.

Keep it simple. That’s what I will prefer.

Stuck ball, trap up, the end.

AFM dirty pool is NOT a stuck ball per the papa/IFPA rules. Ball touching a flipper is also NOT a stuck ball.

This one is stuck (and I’ve had it stuck in a similar spot on my Stiff back in the day)


The old-school rule regarding stuck balls during multiball was this: you’re allowed to exploit it but if you do, it’s YOUR responsibility to free the ball afterwards. In this case, the player should’ve been forced to attempt to save the ball by tilting.

There is NO WAY he should get both 1-ball multiball and play on without peril.


That’s the old school ruling for a reason :slight_smile:

A stuck ball is a stuck ball whether it’s in multiball or single ball play, that stuck ball has to be dealt with using the same rules.

Ball stuck on an inlane/outlane post during multiball? Trap up and then we can either drain that ball for you or you can shake it out. The fact you’re in multiball doesn’t change the ruling at all.

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I wholly agree this is how it should be.

however, the current set of ifpa/papa rules don’t seem to be handling it this way, and last I checked are not so cut and dry. Might be worth an edit.

In the current rules, say if a player was on Family Guy in multiball and a ball came to rest on top of the dropped drops in the target bank, I’ve seen that ruled as “play on” as eventually one of the other balls, or a ball search will get the ball out.

The scared stiff game in the original post would pass the test from the PAPA rules imo:

“In situations where a ball is trapped in a way that it can be released through player action other than shaking or bumping – for example, a ball at rest underneath a flipper which the player controls – this is not deemed to be a stuck ball. Balls trapped in this fashion during multiball modes are not generally considered to be a rules violation, although the ruling will depend on the exact machine and situation.”

I guess what constitutes “player action” is debatable, but shooting the other ball with another ball is a type of player action.

Should player action be changed to “pressing and releasing the flippers”?

That Family Guy ruling was just handled incorrectly.

I can get with MHS on clarifying some verbiage that a stuck ball is a stuck ball whether in single ball play or multiball play, and that stuck needs to be dealt with IMMEDIATELY (using the same rules).

Allowing a player to shoot another ball is not acceptable if you can safely trap up and go in and get the ball. This actually came up at IFPA12 with Jorian on Star Trek. He had 3 balls trapped on the left flipper with a ball stuck in the jets. He asked if he could shoot the orbit with one of the balls so he could maintain control of the others, and we improperly allowed him to do that. The only solution should have been, you can try and shake it out yourself, or we will free it, but that will result in all your balls draining and being re-kicked back into play (i.e. he loses his controlled situation).

Obviously things get more messy if you’re playing a game that you don’t have the keys to get into . . . what if the interlocks aren’t disabled (now you’re telling the player to shoot it anywhere connected to a high voltage coil - kickout hole, etc).

Is the thinking here that since there is a shot designed to utilize the gate lock it is a feature that holds the ball (like snake), but same rule doesn’t apply to SM since such code doesn’t exist there, despite being mechanically equivalent situation?

What if the stuck ball gets freed by the other ball only to get stuck itself? I’ve seen this happen on the whitewater divot at the top. Shooting the ball up the ramp would merely change places with the stuck ball. Just make sure you do it every 30 seconds? :wink:

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Yep (stupid 10 character minimum)

The only solution here is to end that game and move the group to Out of Sight :slightly_smiling:

I’m struggling to understand how an exception to stuck ball rule is made for AFM’s designed location for skillfully placing a ball out of play, but that in your opinion, Fireball’s designed gate return to skillfully put a ball out of play (back in the shooter lane) is not also a similar exception to the stuck ball in multiball rule.

Can you help me understand the thinking/logic?

This is easy . . . AFM is explicitly pointed out in the rules as something that isn’t a stuck ball.

Fireball is not :slightly_smiling:

With no explicit verbiage related to Fireball, the default stuck ball rule applies:

“Please note specifically that a ball ending up in the plunger lane during multiball on a machine where there is no autoplunger (or where the autoplunger for some reason refuses to fire) counts as a stuck ball. and the ball must be plunged by the player.”

Fireball has no autoplunger, so it counts as a stuck ball. That stuck ball must be plunged by the player.

Understood. Do you think it’s appropriate to add a similar exception for Fireball (and Fireball Classic)?

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That depends . . . is this “highly debated” :slightly_smiling:

I’ll shoot a message to the PAPA boys to see what they think.

What about Phurba “locks”? :slight_smile:

That falls under ‘don’t do that shit’ or I’ll kick you out of the tournament :slightly_smiling:

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In all seriousness, I thought this was allowed. It seems to be the exact reason the rules would say its ok to trap a ball somewhere on the playfield that requires player action to free it. I feel like MHS has said in the past purbas are ok at papa. Though ifpa can do what it likes :slight_smile:

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IIRC doesn’t attempting this move have the potential to really damage those mechs? I’d have to search through rgp2 to find the disucssion, but I thought this was similar to bangbacks/deathsaves in that it was simply an illegal move, full stop.

LOL just checked the rgp2 archives and it unfolded into “It’s a skill to do, so it should be allowed” debate . . . which then brought in the deathsaves/bangbacks are a skill too, and off we went into the weeds of hell :slightly_smiling:

It looks like it comes up every couple of years on rgp2.

From Brian Bannon:

“This is off topic, but I have to speak up here on behalf of all Shadow owners and say that use of the “phurba trap” technique on Shadow WILL harm the machine. In particular, the welds can and do break and it is a PITA to change those parts and realign the phurba, not to mention the expense. This is also the main reason I will not bring my tough
as nails super sweet Shadow to any more tournament venues:)”

Steinman’s comments from 2013 as ‘not official PAPA comments - just his personal opinion’:

“The phurba test also does not pass the bullshit test with me, but I bring it up because it feels more “debatable” than the afm dirty pool IMO. With AFM, the player is parking a ball somewhere and doing absolutely nothing to move it or control it. With the phurba, the player at least has the potential to directly control it, so it’s slightly more gray area for me. My gut tells me it’s b/s and a one-ball multiball, but it still bothers me slightly for some reason.”

I’d be far more likely to explictly include the Phurba Trap on the list of banned moves wherever we mention Bangbacks and Death Saves . . . I’ll ask the PAPA boys what they think and we’ll put something in.