I’m relatively new to directing (< 20 tournaments), and had a situation come up with Batman 66 that I want some feedback on. One ruling seemingly led directly to another ruling, and in the end I am not entirely satisfied that I handled it perfectly.
We were down to the Top 3 players in a 2-strike (4 player groups), and every player had one strike. So the loser of the game gets knocked out, and the remaining two players would play one more game to decide the overall winner. The game was Batman 66.
I got called over during Player 2, ball 2. Player 2 had a multi-ball going, but only 1 ball was in play. So, a stuck ball during multi-ball situation. Player 2 had trapped up, and (I was told) had waited through several ball search cycles hoping the stuck/missing ball would reappear. It never did, and I was told they saw a message flash on the LCD about a “missing pinball”.
I noticed there was a ball locked into the usual ball lock area up in the rotisserie, the rotisserie had rotated around to the left (so the ball lock area was visible but inaccessible), AND the little white post that comes up to trap the balls there was up. I thought this was probably the missing ball, but, I had no idea how to get that ball out of there without cycling the game power. I mean, even with the glass off and a screwdriver in hand, I don’t think I could have gotten it out unless the white post would have recessed with some pressure. Also, I believe Batman is one of the games that will cut the high voltage when the door gets opened, killing the flippers.
I didn’t see any way to unstick the ball without the player losing his multi-ball. I consulted with all 3 players (because 2 of them have been playing competitive pinball for many years and I was looking for ideas). Nobody had any hard convictions on how to proceed, so I reluctantly ruled “play on” with the one ball multi-ball.
About 2 minutes later, I was called back over. I was told that after another moment of one ball multi-ball play, the game just ended the ball and awarded the bonus while the one ball was still being played. Another player confirmed they saw this happen.
Well hells bells, now what? I thought that maybe losing that ball was the other side of the advantage you get from playing a 1 ball multi-ball. Live by the malfunction, die by the malfunction kind of thing. But I really wanted to get this right, so I stepped outside and made a couple of phone calls until I got someone on the line with more Directing experience than I have. I explained the situation, we talked it over, and came to the conclusion that the ball drain like that was indeed a Major malfunction. I ruled that player 2 would get a compensation ball at the end of the game.
All of the players involved were incredibly chill about the whole thing, and I received compliments for putting any ego aside enough to “use a lifeline” and call another Director to discuss. But I can’t help thinking I could have done better.
What would you more experienced TDs have done in that situation? I feel like the first ruling was the shakier of the two (what ARE you supposed to do with a one ball multi-ball / stuck ball situation when the ball cannot be found or freed?), but I’ll listen and learn from any feedback.