Was this a death save?

I think the intent here was not to save the ball and it would be hard to argue otherwise without the player intentionally agreeing to such, so I agree that this is “play on”.

Nudging below the flippers isn’t explicitly a death save anyways as the player might need to make a move in Multiball/there is a trough post/the player followed through on a save attempt.

Arguing whether this is a “death save” or not is missing the point here. As noted, this is an undefined term in IFPA’s rules, colloquially known to be a variety of things (significant bump? raised flipper or not? etc). The correct question to ask is: “Was this an illegal action?”

It’s clear to me that there was deliberate player action here. Probably wasn’t necessary, but it did happen, and there’s no way to know whether the ball would have fully come back into play on its own.

My verdict: The player got away with one here.


To me it looks like the move happens after the ball has already bounced off the apron. On some games it is possible to perform a death save with very little force even with a ball much slower than this one, that’s how I learned to do it.

I agree, doesn’t look like there was any move to try to get the ball back, looks like the move was more in surprise that it bounced back into play. You can watch at .25x or .5x and see the machine moves only after the ball is back above the flippers. My view is that there was no deliberate action by the player.

Regardless, the TD ruled play on, so play on.

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Probably correct, but that’s the entire problem. For questionable cases like this, what do you do? A hard-line “any move after the ball has drained” rule makes this a DQ, but a softer rule leaves room for abuse. Or, as has been mentioned before, allow these moves and let the machine tilt be the arbiter.

Watching the video, I see a “death save move”. However small, it was there and in the correct direction to influence the ball. I do think that I would find it hard to DQ the guy watching this live and in the moment. I would probably give him a warning and announce to all players that any movement of the machine to try to influence the ball back into play after it is clearly a drain would be frowned upon and dealt with accordingly.

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For comparison, the same thing happened in a game I was in at Pinball at the Lake 2 or 3 years ago. The ball screamed through the outlane on AS and bounced back through lowered flippers. @kdeangelo asked the player if they had nudged the machine at all, and they said that they had reflexively, although it probably didn’t have a significant effect. Since the player had an impact on the ball, it was ruled a death save. Whether it would have lazarused anyway was irrelevant. (Hopefully I am relaying this accurately, and this wasn’t caught on video).


^ Hah. I was in that game too. :stuck_out_tongue: Sounds accurate.

are we watching the same video? watch at .25x and look where the ball is when the machine moves.

I see what you are saying, and even at 0.25x it’s pretty close. I can’t imagine anyone being able to distinguish this in real time.

So it’s the age-old question once again: If the ball is drained down the outlanes and you move the machine at all, is it an illegal move? I also would have a really hard time applying a DQ here. It should be noted that plenty of other sports apply penalties regardless of intent.

Until pinball either develops video replay or has actual referees (or fixes the rule), this sort of discussion is going to keep happening.

The key here is stop practicing death saves so you don’t try to do one reflexively.


If it’s a lazarus (as it was here, imo) then aren’t you allowed to move the machine?

I seem to recall this discussion in another thread – don’t have time to search. But one key element to this is at what point is it a “drain” down the outlane that you can no longer move the machine – because you have TX-Sector, WOZ, JJPOTC, etc that have potential skillful nudges to save your ball, by design, after it’s already past the post separating the outlane from the inlane.

Further, if we go all strict on this, then any rage tilt/dangers also now face the same consequences?

I think a rage tilt/danger could be a DQ-able offense under current rules

Section 9, Player Errors: “Any player who deliberately tilts or slam tilts a machine in order to derive some benefit to his or her own play, or the play of others, under these rules, will receive a score of zero.”

If that rage tilt is used to get a feel for the tilt sensitivity, is that “benefit”?

Here’s the thread in question: Gottlieb Trough Post Save

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My point was toward “and you move the machine at all…”
And dangers and tilts being an obvious tangible way to determine if someone had moved the machine at all.

The rule you quoted is for a different aspect – not in trying to save the ball.
In the section you reference, it’s simple… TD: “Did you try to derive some benefit for yourself or others in rage tilting?”
Player: “No.”
No consequence given.

If the TD decides that rage tilting is unsportsmanlike, then that’s a different rule application.

Thanks, @zvrabes!!
To the OP and everyone else, if you’re looking to align with @pinwizj and @PAPA_Doug on this “Was this a death save?” ruling, see this link to post #17: Gottlieb Trough Post Save

Pertinent quote from Josh after consulting with Doug: “Outlane drains are not allowed to be actively saved from a center post. If it goes down an outlane and the player actively tries to nudge it back into play, then it is a death save.”

I would say the same applies to aprons to get the ball back up between the flippers, whether you raise a flipper or not.

Back to the instance that started this post, if the TD didn’t witness the nudge to get it back in play, and the player says they didn’t actively try to nudge it back into play, then play on. I wouldn’t use video review.




I said this back in November of last year, and I still believe it:

“My biggest personal argument against death saves is that unless you have the ability for the game to make a 360 degree turn all the way around, you will run into games being slid into other games, other people, walls, etc. Since the game is always slid to the right there’s no going back. That leads to interference issues, delay of game issues, games becoming unlevel, etc.”

YMMV as a TD of wanting to deal with these kinds of issues. No thanks for events that I run.


Right exactly. So it quickly gets really complicated what you can do, when you can do it, etc.

Just set the tilt accordingly and let that decide, I say. If you make the move non-survivable it sort of takes care of itself.

I’ve always thought of a Lazarus as one that drains through the flippers, and returns back through the flippers. I guess it could apply to a power outlane as well. But to your question - my understanding is that it’s out of bounds to try to induce the ball back into play “once it has drained.” If it’s on its way back up through the flippers and you nudge-bat it away on a reflex, no problem there as far as I’m concerned.

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