Tournament Ruling - Auto Launch

League tournament, 4 player match play on Mustang. Player 4 plays drag race and knocks down the drop targets on ball 1 then drains - multiball does not start. On ball 2, player 3 tilts and the machine immediately auto launches 2 balls for player 4 beginning drag race multiball. Player 3 is still at the machine as he just tilted and manages to catch one of player 4’s balls but the other drains. Player 4 arrives and plays the turn. I ruled it as a minor malfunction since player 4 still played their normal turn though he lost his multiball and opportunity at a skill shot. My quick reference guide didn’t seem to help me on this one but the rules on the IFPA website gave me the following that seems to agree with my ruling. I think one of my struggles was the fact that it was another player who caught/saved the ball, trying to help. I could have given player 4 an additional ball at the end of the game if both balls had drained after the auto launch.

Minor Malfunctions
A minor malfunction is any incident without external cause which deviates from the normal course of gameplay, without directly causing a player’s loss of turn and without providing any player a significant advantage over others. A minor malfunction is considered part of normal play.

and later it says:
Any malfunction that results in the loss of one or more balls during multiball play, without losing all balls so as to end the player’s turn, will only be considered a minor malfunction. Loss of Tilt warnings, without loss of ball, shall not be considered a major malfunction. Loss of any lit feature, running mode, or other gameplay specifics, shall not be considered a major malfunction.


Here are my thoughts, feel free to disregard.

It sounds mean, but P3 is disqualified for playing another player’s ball regardless of good or bad intentions. P4 does not get compensated for P3 interference since they choose to take over control of the game.

As for malfunction, I think in the case they took over and it did not cause loss of ball, your ruling was correct. If they had lost both balls, I would want to know something like why were they so far away from the machine that during ballsave of multiball the were not able to take over. Did they try? Compensation is certainly an option, and probably warranted, but I could see situations I might use discretion.

In general, I don’t know how autolaunch issues are suppose to be handled. I have been in tournamnents where ball search happens after 30 seconds because shooter lane switch was not working. It was expected that each player was ready to go, like playing XOs. But there is a accepted practice especially among good players to walk away between balls.

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I’d rather search for threads dedicated to specific rulings than have to dig through one thread that would eventually be thousands and thousands of posts long. Even some of the rgp2 posts that are dedicated to just one ruling are hard to get through!

As far as this ruling goes:
Player 4 could have chosen to not take control, and played a consolation ball at end of game if necessary. Since they did take control, no consolation.

Ninja edit: After re-reading, I absolutely would have DQ’d player 3 since it was clear that their ball had ended.


Good call - hadn’t thought about just how long this could get. Changed it to just my specific situation - thank you!


If P4’s ball gets auto-launched:

  • If they don’t attempt to take control of the ball, then they get a compensation ball.
  • If they attempt to take control of the ball(s), then it’s game on – they play the auto-plunged ball in whatever state the game is in.

If there is some switch that registers on the pin, negating a skill shot or choice of song, choice of mode, (or choice of house?), there is no compensation for this. At least this is how Pinburgh specifically handled this situation on ACDC, when a switch registered prior to my ball 1 launch, and I was locked into Back in Black as my first song mode. I believe there was something even documented in advance for this exact situation, so the ruling was appropriate and fair according to the rules. As bad as that was, it would be REALLY bad if this happened on GOT and you got locked into a sub-par House choice for your entire GAME.


Maybe a message board section for “Tournament Rulings” to keep them all in one place?


Tournament rulings are pretty much my favorite thing to read here (call me weird if you must) so I’d love to have them all in one spot for my rules-nerd reading pleasure!


@heyrocker any chance of creating a new Category to tag posts called Tournament Rulings or Competition or something of that nature?

Agree %100, and in the case in this thread, Player 3 is DQ’d.

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It is player choice if they want to try and take over - they don’t have to try. In your scenario, maybe that rule would be adjusted - stand by the machine and be ready (or maybe the machine should be removed?

P3 should of walked away and not interfered with P4 ball/s so they get a dq for that?

P4 gained control of atleast one ball so its game on?

Correct. P3 is DQ’d for interference – as a TD, you don’t want to deal with interpreting whether P3 was trying to help P4. Did P3 play the pin during another player’s ball? Yes? Then DQ.

P4 is game on because they started to play their ball, and not because they gained control – it just happened to be while the ball was cradled. If the ball(s) were bouncing around, and P4 starts to play the ball, it’s game on regardless of whether they get control. As a TD, you don’t want to deal with the subjectivity of whether P4 SHOULD have or COULD have gotten control

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Thank you all for the feedback! I’m going to take advantage of this one to educate my weekly leagues next week since we’ve had a periodic auto-launch situation.

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This precise situation for GOT happened in our tourney last night. A flaky switch locked them into Stark. Ruling I made was minor malfunction, tough luck, play on.

I was just searching prior topics before posting whether or not this was the best ruling in this case and found this posting. Seems like my ruling was consistent with precedent. Needless to say the person was pissed. Do we all agree despite screwing a player, this is best approach, at least in a multi-player game? (In single-player qualifier, as long as they don’t launch ball, I presume power-cycling game is an acceptable option.)

Funny, the same thing happened at the pingolf tournament last Sunday. We as a group ruled the player could just play a game by themselves after us, since we all agreed no one should get screwed that hard by a malfunction.

It was probably the exact same machine!

On most machines, like AC/DC with songs, Mustang with first car, SternTrek with first mode, you can at least end the mode and choose what you want on the next one. GOT is definitely an exception. Hence my checking what other TDs think about this; should there be a special ruling in case this happens on GOT, due to the tremendous difference in point scoring with different starting modes that has been proven?

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I would just try to cash in hurry ups for 100-150 million a pop and hope I don’t drain out of my mutilball quickly. Haha. At least Dwight makes you start with stark on a faulty autolaunch and not lanniturd. I think you did the right thing.


Correct call. In the PPL our general rule is announcing “here’s the issue with the game, play at your own risk” before any event one of these games is included in. If they come up first in tournament play, the ruling is always a minor malfunction.

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