When must a ruling be made?


I’m so f*cked. I always place the scoresheet on the game that’s about to be played so I can record what player positions get selected. I then move the scoresheet to the game next to it (also touching that machine).

I’m looking forward to being DQ’d 40 times next week :slight_smile:


I think what is being referred to recently is on one player ems, a player can start a game, tilt, then plunge off and their game will begin on ball one.


As long as the paper is the only thing touching the machine, you should be fine :slight_smile:

New EM mod request: device to electrify the rails/lockdown bar while the game over relay is engaged…


Is it “practicing” to feel if the game is wobbly before starting a match?


Actually, I was talking about EMs where you can test the tilt without even starting a game. When the previous game is over. You can still shake the machine and the tilt lamp will light.


Cayle mentions my case, but I have heard of your’s as well. It’s a pretty grey area and I think the rules should address it.

Assuming a player can tilt ball one after starting and get their ball back, it seems covered by the game’s design?


If they are intentionally (yes intent is hard to judge) tilting, to gain advantage (e.g. knowledge of where the tilt is), then this is a violation of the unified rules.


but is a tilt really a tilt if a game has not been started? By definition a tilt is a punishment for action taken, and that punishment is loss of ball or game. If there is no punishment, then is what we’re talking about really a tilt in any meaningful sense of the word?


The player’s intentions are quite clear… the advantage to gain from it is quite clear… I believe everyone would agree it’s against the SPIRIT of the rules with regard to practicing. I mean, why do we practice? To gain knowledge about how the game will play… so testing the tilt mechanism is attempting to gain simliar knowledge.

I mean… we all know the player wasn’t simply testing the validity of Newton’s laws… or trying to get a workout in before the finals.

Much of this has been about academic interpretation of the words… while closing your eyes to the obvious clash between the player’s intention and the spirit of the rule.

You want to codify things to ensure people know the expectations… but this has delved into splitting hairs.


The tournament would have to have a house rule banning such behavior, as I don’t think there’s an official rule about touching games before competition starts. If you do ban touching the games, you run into issues like Josh described. The closest applicable rule is practicing, which was indeed invoked but with controversy.

Personally, I try to avoid touching competition games prior to play, but I’ve leaned on them at Pinburgh while inspecting the playfield for tourney modifications. Since we’re discussing, what is the penalty, if any, for accidentally leaning on/butt-starting a Pinburgh game (say, while waiting for all 4 competitors to show up)?


Considering there is no penalty for starting a game with the incorrect number of players… why should there be one?

Game not started properly… game is void… restart. Here, you just restart when everyone is actually ready.


An even better one (which I’m sure has been covered elsewhere) is… manipulating the game’s start state intentionally for your own advantage… vs established tournament rules for the game.


(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻


That tilt test ruling after the tourney ended DQing the winner sounds like among the dumbest things I’ve ever heard as a player or a director I’d expect nothing short of outrage :laughing:. Even though the director does get decision making abilities outside the standard rules etc id hope some level of protest was forced on them!

One thing I started to do at all my events during the preliminary announcements is explain that a ruling needs to happen at the time of the occurrence. I strongly encourage people to get rulings immediately and for anything in question whatsoever. I realized many people thought asking after a game ended was appropriate and just hate disappointing people when I refused to do it in situations where it was clear they played on to their own decision and were annoyed that I wouldn’t change it after that assuming they weren’t trying to exploit just didn’t understand. Look I don’t want people deciding to let player 2 play on after flipping their extra ball but if you ask me on ball 3 15 minutes later when everyone still played and said nothing, of course their game still counts. I also am not a fan of player committee ignoring the rules to be “kind” or anything to that mindset because the rules are in place to be followed and nobody said it was your right to ignore them technically to be nice - that’s a big pet peeve of mine on both sides. So yeah if the ruling isn’t made in my mind it was all players fault not having it made, after the fact is too late. Can’t let a player exploit the rule in hand to win once they consented to playing on without the DQ. Players allowing people to not get served the DQ because of inexperience or low competition level in their mind also opens up collusion issues for people who would do that for their buddy and not a stranger. It makes me feel weird, and I have always rejected the communal just let them play it’s not a big deal sorry if you play out of turn as a player or a TD I want the standard ruling for any group of 4 people. I think one time I did that when everyone insisted that player didn’t have to take a loss really made me look like a jerk but it felt quite right reminding them how they felt about the rule based off non relevant criteria is important not to matter. It helps new players learn the rules even though it feels crummy and it makes sure everyone is treated the same. You’d almost never expect that “kindness” for one of the strongest players or in a scenario that more so effected the outcome of the tourney. In casual settings I’ve seen the option of “as long as all 4 players agree it’s fine”. That’s shitty because the TD isn’t doing their job they are putting possible hidden pressure and guilt on the players. Always ask for a ruling right away and stick to the same standard for everyone in the event.


Let’s say even if you’re going to make the case that tilting the game was unfair advantage it being a DQ without a warning seems harsh, but sure I can back it being a game loss if it was asked to be made when it happened. After the fact changing the outcome of the tourney gave the other player a much bigger advantage than the person who tested the tilt. They free rolled, they got to play on and decide if asking for a ruling later was worth it for them. If the winner was actually reversed after the tourney ended that ruling in hand DQ may be as about as unfair an advantage as possible right? In fact the idea that player 2 that lost played on waited to lose and asked for a ruling in my eyes as a director is far more an act closer to cheating than the tilt test ever was! The first could have been misunderstanding what did and didn’t consituent practice the other clearly knew they decided to try to win via a ruling once they failed to do so the old fashion way. I guess you can’t rule on a request for a ruling as being unfair it’s speculative but it seems obvious in bad competitive spirit to lose and try to win after you’ve lost by means of a DQ to me. Why didn’t they feel it relevant to bring up when it happened? How does one explain the desire to have a ruling only after losing?


How would you feel about the situation where it was exposed a competitor cheated during a game… but it wasn’t found until after the player completed the game? For instance… a player restarts their game… or plays extra balls… but the TDs don’t see it until after the match (video, evidence, etc).

Does the game result stand because the TD wasn’t able to catch them in the act?

This is different from the discussion of “keeping it to pull out later…” but just to the point about rulings can’t be retroactive.

I agree game play rulings need to happen live, and during the game… but there are other cases where I think it’s valid to come back and dq a player or their match result.

What if a player were exposed for unauthorized coaching during the match by having live stuff through their headphones. Do their results stand?


So true and right. I think people really discount how heavily this persuasion happens. I think it’s ultra important that TDs build and encourage a culture of “it’s ok to ask for a ruling”… and support those questions ina very positive manner. People should not get dirty looks for being odd man out and wanting a ruling or not just going with the flow.

It should also help to have a formalized escalation tree written out up front and well understood by all. This helps people feel comfortable in knowing when and who to turn to if things don’t feel right.

In my kids horse club stuff… the inquiry process is actually heavily encouraged and is part of the maturity and independence elements they try to instill into the kids. The process is used all the time, and includes written explain at taken before a ground jury at the 2nd level and up to make the kids SUPPORT their case… and not just whine about being singled out or whatever.

Look at page 30 of this pdf for an outline - https://www.ponyclub.org/ContentDocs/Activities/Rulebooks/2018%20HM%20Rules%20for%20Rallies%20print.pdf

What I think is interesting in part for people to see is the guidance where they call out what level judge can execute what kind of discipline (who can dq a result, who can eliminate a competitor, etc).

This can be streamlined and formalized pretty easily and used uniformly. I think most majors already have similar flows… but the idea of making it well understood, and encouraged… helps the overall attitude towards judgements.


Someone discovering someone cheating during game play with headphones or something nobody knew in the moment but found after the fact is entirely different than all the players consenting to playing on after a violation of a rule happens knowingly and isn’t brought to TD attention. I’ve never had someone do something like that but that’s more judgement and evidence based than something as cut and dry as the examples above. If someone claims they saw someone restart a game and the TD didn’t see it while it becomes a tough issue no TD likes to be in, yeah it should be reported as soon as discovered like other rulings when possible. The reason normal rulings are so important to happen at time of occurrence is otherwise the TD can’t ask all players what happened, gather the info and make a decision to the best of their ability before the game play continued and changed it often changes how effective or fair the ruling was. Simple basic stuff like a DQ for playing your extra ball or having a malfunction lead to ball loss getting a compensation ball that’s nobody ever disagrees with, aren’t fair when asked to be made by 2 balls 8 turns 20 minutes and entirely different game State later. This request after the fact often implies logically it’s being made because one or more players are now impacted differently in their mind by the ruling now that game state changed; which I agree with Cayle 100% it’s bullshit.

the examples given 3 specific things happened :

  1. rule is broken that could be a game loss ruling
  2. all of the opponents play on not saying anything or getting the rule resulting from the thing that happened enforced
  3. an opponent requests a ruling after consenting to playing on because of the outcome not being what they wanted, exploiting a rule in hand type concept

As a player and a TD I would want simple known game play issues like playing out turn, playing an extra ball or practicing when told not to; to be accepted by all that they enforce the same to everyone and regardless of outcome etc. TDs arent mind readers as refs we can only enforce what you tell us and the info you provide. Magic the gathering changed the rules about retroactive rulings and using the recorded games when twitch blew up, but cheating in a way that’s caught on camera and hard to see otherwise is much more prevalent in cards than pinball or physical games or sports. If a TD catches something on twitch because a commentator saw something foul the players didn’t I agree with retroactive rulings but again not the same as examples above. new players need to learn this stuff by seeing the rules play out, and experienced players should know better than to only want to opt in to the rule being enforced if it helps them win when they weren’t going to. I would never feel okay asking for a DQ after I played out a game and lost. That should be obvious. In the tilt test scenario it doesn’t need to be a DQ without warning IMO, but if the concept of no practice was so strict that a player needs to not even touch the game without it being competition certainly that needs to be specified it’s a Dq level offense before enforced let alone done to reverse the outcome after the game was consentually played out by both parties and finished. Seems obviously silly. Surprised it would be debatable lol. The losing player was allowed to try to win by winning and then win anyways when they failed? How is that not more unfair then testing the tilt?


I just thought of another scenario I began to specify during prelim announcements that is hard to rule on fairly if not followed:

If the ball autoplunges OR someone plunged your ball out of turn and they became aware before the ball drains (regardless of whether the rule is to DQ them or not) there should be only two choices: let the ball go and get a comp ball, or touch the game and assume you tried to play meaning draining is on you.

If someone sees the ball autoplunged or was plunged by someone else tries to play fumbles the ball loses it and asks for a ruling the TD needs to determine intention where The player really only had a chance to benefit themselves liking the result of doing so before asking for a comp ball. I’m assuming as a player and a TD that person would have been fine with a live catch or a made shot and played on so why do they get to fumble drain and ask for a comp ball?

Letting the ball go and getting a comp ball comes with advantages like security you didn’t lose a ball like that, you get extra points from unearned shots skill shot bonus etc but that’s part of competition. Choosing to play to avoid game state loss and risking losing the ball matters in many games where progress is crucial. Say it was ball 3 and you had a mb lit that could win you the game maybe you try to catch the ball and play. That’s why players should have the choice to do either but whichever is made needs to be respected.