Tournament ruling: phantom switch hit, valid playfield, autoplunge

I’ve seen seen a couple different GB’s auto plunge for no reason in older code. All were in multiplayer games.


I’ve seen it occur when the game releases any trapped balls in the captive ball area in a multiplayer game of GB.

This is the case that concerns me, it is “play on” because the player elected to take control of the game. If the player had chosen not to touch the machine they get a compensation ball. However at the moment of autolaunch while standing there what is the correct thing to do.

Is it considered poor form to take the compensation ball if it is advantageous, or do your peers respect you more for taking any advantage you can get?


As long as it’s within the rules, I think it’s just sour grapes if you fault a player for not taking that advantage. With how big and important the skill shots are on Ghostbusters, it’s a HUGE disadvantage to accept an auto plunged ball on ball 3. I would hope that most people would opt for the major malfunction ruling rather than rushing to gain control and giving up one of their 3 skill shot chances.


I can see it both ways. That is why if this issue was a repeat offender, I would pull the game, thus making it a non-issue.


You are allowed to trap up to get a ruling, as per some of the other discussions about plunged balls on here. You are not allowed to control the game past that.

I don’t have much to contribute to this discussion, but it interests me because I’ve seen a few non-Ghostbusters machines have faulty switches that go off when you’re not even doing anything (though I think they’ve all since been fixed). While none were tournament games, I played on a Monopoly whose police officer drop target was constantly going off, a WWE Wrestlemania with a pop bumper that was always going off, a Lord of the Rings whose left inlane switch was out causing souls in Path of the Dead to rise way longer than it was supposed to, and a Roller Coaster Tycoon that, for reasons I never figured out, was constantly notifying me that I was gaining 50 more guests.

All of this leads me to believe that hypersensitive switches or stuck drop targets is a pretty common problem, and one that would be super-exploitable simply by trapping a ballon a flipper for however long as it takes for you to overtake the other players.


Yeah, autoplunged balls are definitely a symptom of some potentially more game-breaking issue. We have a Hobbit on location that had a chattering “W” target; You can build score forever in Into the Fire by getting to the 2nd phase and holding balls on the flipper for 1k+ a chatter. This mostly came to the forefront when the chattering drop target autoplunged someone’s ball by crediting them with the DWARF skillshot. Game was pulled, drop was fixed, and game was back for the next weekly.


Pretty much every competitive ruleset has a “positive malfunction” rule that can be used to void scores on a machine if malfunctions generated points that were not fairly earned. Trapping a ball on a flipper and watching the score crank up on its own would be solidly in that category.


Looking for comments on this:

Scared Stiff, 4 players. Player 1 is playing ball 1: soft plunges for the scoop, ball goes through the plunger lane gate but comes up short of the scoop and rolls down towards the flippers. No switches were hit, zero points are on the screen, player 1 lets the ball drain. Ball returns to plunger lane. Player 1 repeats soft plunge, comes up short again. No switches hit, zero points on screen, player 1 again lets ball enters trough, but this time the machine makes a sound as the ball does so and says “bonus collect 25,000.” Game scores bonus, shows total score for player 1 of 25,000 and advances to player 2.

In my experience, you can soft plunge all day if you need to until you make the scoop shot or trip another switch. I also don’t understand where the 25K came from without hitting any switches.

What happened and how would you have ruled? It’s player 1, ball 1. The player’s score is exactly 25,000, i.e. no points were recorded other than the end of ball bonus.

If I’m confident it’s a malfunction, then I award a compensation ball the first time and put a note on the machine that short plunges are validating the playfield, do so at your own risk. After everyone is aware- that’s pinball.

This is usually the result of a closely gapped slingshot, pop bumper, or other other leaf switch activating via vibration.

It’s a minor malfunction that caused a loss of turn, but one that didn’t do so directly. I give zero compensation on these. (And of course I try to make sure my machines don’t do this.)


As always, depends on the ruleset that is in force at the event. FSPA rules say that “a ball saver that fails to work” is NOT a major malfunction; i.e. no compensation given. IMHO that’s a good rule for certain games; one might never escape a Sega if “lit ball saver failed to work” required compensation. :wink:

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Under the PAPA/IFPA rules, ball savers are never guaranteed, no compensation.

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Yep - Get Wrecked ™

Ruling [correct one as I see it] was play on. Follow up I’d forgotten: on player 3’s ball 1, the machine had a switch trigger prior to their plunging - it auto-plunged and they trapped up, but had no chance to attempt their skill shot. Same ruling was made, play on. Agree or not? No, the machine was not pulled, in part due to the limited number of machines in use at the time.

Sure, in most rulesets, loss of skill shot attempt is a minor malfunction and does not warrant any remedy for the player.

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Generally speaking, whether a switch event will award points and/or build bonus and/or count towards validation and/or always make itself noted via sound/lights/… is completely independently defined. A ball tracking switch or an unlit orbit, for instance, could do nothing but build bonus.

Games may also have a bonus starting value a nudge up from zero. I like to believe this is common. And it is a smart move. For not having to present something “zero” to the player, not having to over-engineer fun-with-bonus and to discourage tilting right from the plunge. Doesn’t Earthshaker/Whirlwind start off with one on their counter?
The suspicious matter for this case is that the game never went to ball saver/auto plunge state. I wonder how that happened.

Slings and pops should obey the three switch rule. They should also score.

My guess is it’s the crate entrance opto. That will validate the playfield instantly - no three switch rule. But not sure, because I don’t know if that scores points or not.

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Although common, this is very game specific. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure the auto-firing switch that wrecked an Addams Family ball of mine was just one slingshot firing once.

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