WCS - You make the ruling

Four player game
Ball 3
Player 4
Down by 200M
Final Draw lit

Missed shot, strong nudge to save a drain for one warning, ball comes to rest on the left flipper.
While trapped, player turned around to take a breath and let the tilt settle.
After about 10 seconds, ball search activated including a magnet pulse. The player turned around in time to see the ball had drained. Game over.

It was already noticed during the match that pressing both flipper buttons was not canceling the buy-in countdown at the end of ball 3 for the other players.

How would you rule on this?

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Even though it’s something that should never happen if the machine is working 100%, the ruling for me would be its still a drain.

The problem was turning around. If he never turns around this probably wouldnt have happened or at least he would have had a chance to avoid this.


I’m sorry, does holding both flippers normally disable the ball search on this kind of game?

Can you feel the slipperyness of this slope?

What if the ball search triggered the magnet and threw the ball SDTM for an unavoidable drain even if the player was watching? I would rule that a major malfunction and the player would get 1 compensation ball at the end.

The part about noticing the buy-in cancellation not working adds an extra layer here. Or does it? IMO, the failure of the left upper flipper opto here is a major malfunction in the case of the drain, but not a major malfunction in the case of the buy-in cancel, or entering HSTD initials, or other similar problems that are not significant to game play.

Slope getting more slippery here…

I’d rule major malfunction for this player and tell the player that, on the compensation ball, any cradling on the left flipper for more than a few seconds is done at the player’s peril and a similar faulty ball search will not be cause for a catastrophic malfunction ruling.


Either flipper, yes.

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Wasn’t there 1 more issue occurring in the game? Namely, weren’t the players unable to control the upper saucer?

There is no way I would give the player the ball back here, but it would definitely be a ‘that’s pinball, sorry it happened to you’ situation. The reason would be, what if you got skill searched and the same thing happened? I wouldn’t want to add a ball in that situation, and it is no different from this situation - ball in play lost due to ball search.

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Control of the upper saucer was working fine. I’m unclear whether that’s activated by one or both flippers because I’ve always pressed both together for that shot.

I think you just gave Pat Lawlor an idea for his next game to combat ball control freaks :wink:


Ha - me too. So, apparently you only have to use 1?

In theory one flipper held should prevent ball search. Someone’s switches aren’t properly adjusted. Regardless the result is the same: game over sorry.


This is an extremely game specific drain. I’d be surprised if this issue has never come up before on another wcs. Is there another situation in any game you can compare this to?

I got curious.

World Cup Soccer…

Normal operation:

Either flipper switch activate saucer kicker.

Either flipper switch held prevent ball search.

Both flipper switches at same time cancels buy-in.

Malfunction operation:

Secondary “upper” flipper switches control the flippers.

Secondary “upper” flipper switches does not control other functions.


Primary “lower” left flipper switch was out on this game.

And “saucer kicker malfunction” experience was for players using the left flipper button only.


This exact thing has happened to me on two different WCS’s. Both times, though, I blamed myself for looking away. I did have some words for the tech though. :wink:

This is similar to the situations where a busted shooter lane switch causes a ball search and the ball autolaunches (or locked balls are kicked out).


Well, yes and no. We had that exact thing occur at a tourney in Nashville(Congo, shooter lane switch broken). The player is allowed 5 minutes from the time his turn comes up. In this case the player went to the restroom. The game ball searched and auto plunged his ball and it was determined the player got a compensation ball at the end of the game.

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This is not the exact same thing as the WCS magnet firing at all. The magnet firing is unfortunate but the player had control. An auto launch prevented the player from playing their turn, that is different.

Another scenario, this happened at 24 hour battle to Johnny Mnemodica. He shot the center lock to start multiball, animation, everything, suddenly he finds his turn is over! How? The magnet didn’t send the ball all the way into the lock, and rolled back down the middle; multiball not awarded. No compensation was the correct ruling there and here.

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Johnny Mnemonic has so many software bugs, it deserves its own “Malfunctions” category. :frowning: Multiballs not starting as promised, ball savers not working as promised, the infamous Hold Bonus exploit, weirdness with the glove, etc etc… makes it hard to recommend its use in competition IMHO.

(However, +1 for “Johnny Mnemodica” :wink: )

I had something similar to this happen at GOT launch tournament at expo. I hit the mystery shot. All GI goes out and DMD goes into award selection. Unfortunately, the post failed to catch the ball, and while the lights where out and I couldn’t see the ball drained.

The issue with WCS is the magnet firing. One cannot really blame insufficient faulty switch handling. As this is additional time and test time in developement. And not trivial for edge triggered functions.

The magnet firing in ball search slipped in design. As it is unnecessary and disturbs the player. It inspired a ROM fix:


On which game, if I may?

No game should go: ball in play->ball search with the ball in shooter lane at start of ball. No matter how flaky the shooter lane switch may act. It must be a case of multible malfunctions.

This is by software design. To survive malfunctions in the wild. Not great in competion play. If only it had been custom to have stuff like this refined when games selected for competition play, As with valid playfield rules, which I have brought up previously.

Player is SOL and the scores stand.

Players do not get compensation for when a “regular” ball search results in a drain. There is no way to prove this drain was a malfunction.

Can the TD be 100% certain that:

  • The player didn’t accidentally just let go of the flipper or rattled the ball for a second and drop the ball in the drain?
  • The ball was actually trapped, and not still settling and perhaps just rolled off the flipper?
  • The player had not bricked enough shots already that a ball search was imminent regardless of trapping?

Heres an interesting question to think about: Say the ball search did cause the ball to move - how can you be sure the ball search was 100% responsible for the drain? If the ball search puts the ball in jeopardy, is the player %100 absolved of all responsibility for keeping the ball in play? Like, if the ball moves 2mm, can the player just let go of the flipper and dump the ball in the drain and say “hey I got an unexpected ball search and I drained becuase it moved the ball - I want my ball back now, and free skill shot.” There is no way to determine that the game caused a drain in this scenario.