The unstuck - Stuck ball in Multiball conundrum.


I think you are on the old rules. This is the updated “ROM”

Sorry, maybe a little too PS. Joking aside, thanks for considering this. Also, “Affirmative” nicely passes 10 character limit.


I deeply hate the “inelegance” of this rule. Enumerating 100 variations that differ across machines sucks for explaining the rules to noobs and (worse) invites non-noobs to lawyer bad behavior with “but it’s OK when I do it on AFM, how is this different?”. What will we do when we encounter the first variation across software versions on the same machine? For instance, what if WOZ 5.17 awards you animation/points for getting the ball trapped above the Winkie target, but you’re playing 5.16 in this tourney? “Honest, I didn’t know we were playing 5.16?!”

As a player and scorekeeper, there is elegance in “if a ball is trapped ANYWHERE other than under a flipper, the player must free it themselves or trap up and have a TD free the ball.” In AFM you get a free city and points for freeing it yourself because Lyman likes you being skillful. In Fireball, you get the juicy skill shot. Spiderman, don’t give a $%#^ about your skill but if the VE updates the software this simple rule still covers it.


I honestly had no clue that the Fireball shooter lane hold, Phurba “locks”, and Pinbot single ball multiballs were banned. I’ve had them occur a few times in match play and no one has ever told me they were banned. Maybe this should be made clearer in various rulesets as I think the majority of people out there don’t know this.


I can agree with you on perhaps the Phurba stuff needing an explicit explanation, but those other two instances are already IN THE RULES :slightly_smiling:

“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.”

Pinbot - playing multiball, the ball ends up in the plunger lane during multiball, follow the written rule

Fireball - playing multiball, the ball ends up in the plunger lane during multiball, follow the written rule

If nobody brought it up to you, that’s on the other players or the TD for not following the rules either.


I guess I just assumed that “ends up” meant “shouldn’t be there but gets there somehow”, but you know what they say about assuming… :wink: Fair enough. :smiley:


Can I ask why the stuck ball rules are the way they are? Why does the TD open the game and give you the ball on a flipper? Why does a ball in the shooter lane in multiball in a non-autoplunger game count as a stuck ball? This isn’t at all how games work ‘in the wild’, why do they work that way in Tournaments.

Here’s another option:

Balls on the playfield are the player’s responsibility. If a ball becomes irrevocably stuck, the TD can be called to open the game and put the ball in the trough.

Delete all verbiage about stuck balls and multiball and so on.

Why is this a bad rule? (I assume it is, but I don’t understand why)

I find it totally weird that games designed to put a ball in the plunger lane during multiball are ruled to be a ‘stuck ball’. The player skillfully obtained that ball there, just like the snake on Metallica or an AFM Dirty Pool. Why is that the ruling?


While I do not agree with every single instance it takes the pressure off the TD to come up with a scenario for all 2000 machines used in tournaments. Unless stated otherwise on the machine itself you gotta go with the blanket statement. If there is enough feedback from the players then look into it for future tournaments (Such as what Josh said about Fireball) Same thing happens when people are nudging an older game and it slam tilts. How is the TD who wasn’t even there able to determine what was excessive and what was not? This happened in my group at Pinburgh. The guy was nudging the game a bit and it slammed out. The player was insisting he wasn’t nudging it that hard while the others said “Yeah, he was going to town a bit”. Doug came over, checked out the tilt during play, couldn’t get it to do it under normal nudging. Ruled DQ.


IMO Kevin’s initial paragraph of the PAPA rules that we use for the IFPA/PAPA unified rules represents why we do what we do. The experiences that we have had over the years has made these rules a constantly evolving set of rules, to try and make rulings that are as fair as possible for the player(s) impacted.

“The unique charm of pinball lies, in large part, in the physical nature of the game. Unfortunately, this means that unusual events and outright malfunctions cannot be prevented, nor can they be perfectly compensated for. PAPA attempts to strike a balance between compensating for malfunctions and accepting the physical nature of the game.”

IMO it’s a bad rule because I don’t feel like getting punched in the face by players for situations like this:

Player - “Hey Josh, I plunged to the top of the KISS lanes up on CFTBL and it’s stuck on the gate at the exit of the plunger lane”

Me - “Well Player, that’s too bad, here are your options, you can shake it out yourself and tilt, or I can drain your ball for you”

Player - “Expletive, expletive you expletive expletive.” :slightly_smiling:

This ruling doesn’t follow the nature of: “attempting to strike a balance between compensating for malfunctions and accepting the physical nature of the game.”

Most rulings try to get the game back into as close of a state as it was in pre-malfunction (within reason - resetting game state features, etc). Penalizing a player with a loss of ball for a ball being stuck isn’t even close to getting the game back into the state it was pre-malfunction.

The snake on Metallica is a timed feature, so that’s a non-issue.

In looking back at my notes when we chose to allow Dirty Pool on AFM to be ‘play on’, was that there is a specific software feature in the game that recognizes when the game is in exactly this state.

Back in the rgp2 debate Cayle brought up Suitcase MB on 24 as a similar example. The game has the potential to put the player into a 1-ball multiball situation, with the goal of needing to make a shot to get back into ‘multiple balls in play’. In 24 you’re welcome to avoid the right ramp at your leisure and shoot anything else you want. In AFM you are welcome to do the same . . . for now . . . until we change it . . . then you can’t . . . then we’ll change it back . . . so you can . . .


That’s not the question: the question is `why is a ball in the plunger lane a stuck ball’, categorically? It seems a lot like those other things that aren’t stuck balls, especially on games that put the ball in the plunger lane upon making some shot like in Fireball or *bot.

( I’m at work right now, I’ll respond more to the other stuff later.)


I was in this group. I remember it more as if he gave one quick strike to the lockdown bar and it slam tilted. It wasn’t deserved, and I thought I had communicated to Doug more of a “Yeah he hit it, but it shouldn’t have been a slam tilt”.

Also, the DQ’d guy eventually got Bowen to come over, who messed around with it and ruled that it wasn’t a DQ. He then asked where the rest of the group was, and we were already halfway into the next game…then wondered aloud why his time had been wasted when he found out a ruling had already been made. :slightly_smiling:


More specifically, I called over a tech to check the slam switch, and the tech judged that the slam switch was tight. Doug, as a TD with tech capabilities, was able to make his own determination; I trust both Doug’s and the tech’s judgment, which happened to be different on that game. Doug was there first :slight_smile:

It was definitely frustrating to be asked to rule on something that’s already been decided, with the player failing to tell me they’ve already been given a ruling from a different TD. When that happens, and it has happened multiple times at Pinburgh, it is one of my least favorite things and an easy way for someone to lose my respect.


The rule is set up the way it is so its as clean as can be to cover the most ground acceptably. On the majority of games, the ball should never enter the shooter lane during normal play. There are games, where the ball is intended to get to the shooter lane like you describe, but then even other games its not so cut and dry.

Take Jackbot for example. There are times in the game where ball is supposed to get to the shooter lane, and times when it is not. In multiball, the ramp state changes such that the ball should never enter the shooter lane, However, with an airball or random ramp asshattery it can happen sometimes. So then, you end up with really weird specific rules “The ball in the shooterlane is OK unless the game has entered a mode where it is not OK”

Its much cleaner to have a rule that says: Ball in plunger lane = you have to plunge it out of there immediately.

IMO, sacrificing a few specific cases in a few games where it would be nice to allow ball-in-shooter lane is worth it to have a blanket rule that covers all cases and ones we may not have yet thought of.


When Mom says no, the kid always runs and asks Dad too. :smiley:


Until it’s NOT a clean rule because the player (perhaps legitimately) didn’t know the ball was there, and then you get into a totally subjective he-said-she-said about what was or wasn’t known by who, when. Even if the player plunges it promptly upon being notified by an opponent or TD, that ball might’ve been there for 5 minutes, who knows? Is the player not responsible until they’re notified by someone else? Am I, as an opponent, expected to hover my opponent’s shoulder while they play, keeping an eye out for balls sneaking into the shooter lane?

And that’s one of the reasons why it’s a bad rule: it’s extremely difficult to enforce properly.


That really sucks. I’m assuming no one told you because they were already involved in watching the next game since they thought it had been decided and didn’t realize you were even there trying to rule on a already-ruled situation.

The only way you could ever prevent something like that is like a live ruling log, which I can’t imagine the tournament has any time to actually implement and use. It’s almost like each judge needs their own court reporter and report the record and check for previous rulings.

It’d be nice, though, if people just accepted their fate and moved on. Things go both ways in Pinburgh ALLLLLLL the time, whether it invovles rulings, bad bounces, or something else. I sincerely believe it all basically adds up to approximately even for almost everybody. I know, personally, I’ve been ruled against way more than I’ve been rule for, but you’re not going to be successful in Pinburgh unless you can shake that crap off and keep going. Sure, some rulings sting more than others, but what can you do other than keep trying your best?

And for God’s sake, DON’T ARGUE YOUR FUCKING RULING. It’s just going to make you feel worse because a) they’re not going to change their mind and b) you’re going to start pissing them off. Just be respectful and trust to pinball karma.

Final thought: Extreme parallel to poker. Everyone remembers the shit (to them) rulings, but no one remembers the ones that came out highly to their advantage.


Rulings 101:
To paraphrase @pinwizj: “Basically, you’re f*cked.”


Legitimately not knowing the ball was there isn’t an excuse for not following what IMO is a very clean rule.

ALL pinball rules have issues with players following them appropriately . …

I got an extra ball on this game, do I play on? do I plunge with no flips? do I plunge with only pre-flips? do I plunge with one flip? do I only get to play one extra ball per game? Is it on the other players to keep track of this situation?

Ball flies through the trough and back into the shooter lane? Do I just play on? Was this an extra ball that I didn’t know I earned?

Was that a death save or a lazarus? Well I didn’t really touch the game, well yes you did, well no I didn’t.

If the idea that a rule can’t be good if it’s difficult to enforce properly, then this would be the extent of the IFPA/PAPA rules:



No no no josh, see, you didn’t earn 2x the score of the combined totals of players 1 and 2 divided by the square root of the current moon cycle, so I get a bonus point and win.



I actually am coming around to your side re: fireball etc and feel the rule is good, but that every TD with a fireball should put up a sign overriding it. Sounds like this follows the intent of the blanket rule.

However, I have a real problem with a rule that is not followable by unskilled players. Someone new walking in off the street cannot be expected to follow the state of all the balls in the machine. Most don’t even know how they got into multiball and feel like there is 100 balls in the game. I remember the guy in our office with over 1B on spiderman, having beat superhero and he thought there were 5 balls in the machine.

Knowing the rule set of a game should not be a prerequisite to play without cheating. If someone makes it to alien invasion for the first time, good like distinguishing correct locks from stuck balls.

Playing your first competitive event is really intimidating. Rules like extra balls, don’t play another player’s balls are easier because there is a pause where you can ask and make sure. Things that happen when balls are in motion are much harder when your only focus is don’t loose the ball.

Heck I consider myself a pretty informed middle of the pack player and I accidentally played a 1 ball multiball on the weekend. Ball was stuck UNDER the autolaunch on champions pub. Hard to see, didn’t know the game rules well enough to know my mode had not ended. On games I know, it would be clear something was wrong (ST autolaunch bug for example).

Now I want to see a stuck on on Apollo 13. I am sorry you need to craddle the 12 remaining balls while I dislodge that :slight_smile:


Josh, could you please elaborate on what you mean by this with respect to how you would make a ruling.

Take this example:
A player plays a five-minute multi-ball and then double drains out of it, only to be surprised when he doesn’t see the bonus countdown. At this point he discovers to his surprise a ball in the shooter lane. No witnesses. No one knows how or when the ball arrived there. You are called over. How do you rule?