Would like feedback on a Batman 66 ruling

Hey all,

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.


I don’t have any Spike games, but my understanding is that this is not true for them.

Assuming you could open the coin door, would a magnetic pickup tool have helped? Something like this:

I don’t believe so. The rotisserie was rotated to the left from the 12 o’clock position where it accepts locked balls, but was not far enough around so that the ball could come back onto the playfield, and the white post that holds the balls in the lock was up. I would have had to be able to manually force the white post down (don’t know if this works), and rotate the rotisserie another 30 degrees or so counter clockwise to free the ball.

You didn’t try pushing the post down? I would have assumed it’d be freely pushable, with just a spring holding it up

So one problem with their story is that the ball search will never happen during multiball if a player trapped up. So something else must have happened.


Ball search does not happen during multiball. This is where you need to check the game state to see if it’s actually in multiball or the player is confused.

There is an issue with Batman 66 where a ball can become stuck in the toy while it is rotating. The motor will not be able to rotate, and until a power cycle the motor will be disabled. This means that any balls up in this area will no longer be released. In a situation like this it really helps to have experienced players around who can figure out what the game state should be, what the game thinks the state is, and how to resolve these things. I think it’s very possible that something like this happened here, which would have been a game state that none of the players understood without paying extremely careful attention.

There are a lot of strange things in the story, so I can’t be sure what happened, but I think that it would have been best to do a sanity check here. You have the 1 ball in the lock, and 1 ball on a flipper. Batman has 6 balls. If you counted 4 balls in the trough. I’ve opened the game up and shined a flashlight up into the trough to see that I can count the correct number of balls in there. Checking this is much more reliable than checking that the players were correct about seeing a ball missing message.

My advice for you as a TD would be to first listen to the players, then verify all the parts of the story yourself with what you can tell from the game. A lot of rulings come down to situatoins where you need to be sure you have the facts yourself, and to flat-out ignore the players if they’re trying to influence your decision or agree to a compromise. That is not their responsibility.


I don’t allow anyone to knowingly play a 1-ball multiball. I try to avoid it by disabling interlock switches when practical (especially on known ball-hang offenders). In situations with interlocks not disabled, the solution is generally for the player to attempt to shoot a scoop so I can quickly open the coin door and free the stuck ball. They know that their failure will mean the end of the multiball. They generally don’t fail. :slight_smile:

I did not, because a) the rotisserie was not in a position where it seemed the ball would clear the sides and come out - the opening was at roughly 8 o’clock, and b) I was pretty sure the flippers would die if I opened the coin door.

So, you think I should have harder tried to free that ball. I don’t disagree necessarily, but how should I have proceeded if the flippers did die, and I either could or could not get the ball out? Player 2 was on ball 2. Does he get 2 compensation balls? Or do I write down the scores at that point, and if I can’t get the ball out, reset the game and continue from where they were (as happened to me in a different location on PBR the following day)?

If the flippers die and the multiball ends, but you free the stuck ball (and presumably place it in the shooter lane), the player gets zero compensation. There are probably too many variables for the “you can’t get the ball out” scenario for me to chime in. For example, how would you ever get the machine to advance to the next player? Or would you produce a brand new pinball and place it in the machine? (Pretty bad idea, at least if you’re as forgetful as I am.)

As stated above, I don’t think the flippers would have died if you opened the coin door.

This is no longer something that is acceptable. You can’t allow a player to attempt to shoot ‘something’ where they can “on accident” miss it and perhaps hit the highest value shot in the game.

The stuck ball has to be dealt with at that moment, and most often that involves opening the coin door, losing the balls on the flippers, and then freeing the stuck ball from there.

If you have coindoor ballsaver on, then you should get those balls back.

For games that don’t have them, you end up with the player losing their multiball, which is a minor malfunction.


I am pretty certain that the game state was multi-ball, because I believe I remember hearing the multi-ball music playing when I was looking for the ball. But I suppose I could be mistaken there. It never occurred to me that the players might be confused, as all three of them are good attentive players (final 3), and they agreed that there was an issue as described.

I’m coming at this from the perspective of a TD who does not have game keys (we use multiple public locations/operators). If balls become stuck during multiball, I tell the player to drain the ball(s) they have control of. If the subsequent ball search dislodges the stuck ball(s), play on as normal, whether that means you’re still in multiball (because more than one ball was stuck) or now in single play (drained out of multiball to dislodge the ball). If the player’s ball ends due to the fact that they drained their non-stuck balls, they get to add Ball 1 of a new game to their final score.

This is based on the IFPA interpretation that “loss of all but one ball during multiball” is a minor malfunction and “considered normal course of play”, while “premature loss of ball” is considered a major malfunction that requires player restitution.


Good to know for the ~1x/year when I wander out of my interlock-disabled comfort zone and run an event elsewhere. :slight_smile:

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I understand why you did this, but in general, try to avoid involving the active players on the game in discussions about what to do. It worked out this time, but you could have just as easily run into someone angling for a ruling favorable to them.


This is the same for our league. Sometimes we can get keys quickly but many times we can’t. BM66 suffers badly from stuck balls in the rotisserie. In a recent match we had to intentionally drain a ball during MB 3 times in a four player game. You loose your MB but not your turn. It sounds like the BM66 in the OPs post was also having a ball trough issue since it counted off the bonus in the middle of single ball play.

Thinking this over in my head more, trying to figure out what happened.

Ball search should have been rotating the turntable. Ball search in multiball is still confusing, but ball search during single-ball play always rotates the toy around. The only situation I’ve seen where the toy didn’t rotate was when I got the ball jammed for a period of time and it went into a state where it wouldn’t rotate. I’m guessing this is to prevent the motor from destroying itself.

I’m guessing you’re saying it was something between these 2 positions?

In theory, it wouldn’t get stuck in a position where the balls couldn’t be freed, but in practice it’s pinball.

I really wonder if the toy was working at all after this. The game was continued you say. What happened to the ball in the lock? Were other players able to start modes and shoot for locks?

Agree with Josh here.

For the first malfunction, you have to deal with the stuck ball. Open the game up, deal with it, if the game goes to end of ball, then treat it as a major and give a compensation. Under no circumstance let a player play a 1 ball Multiball. (On location with no keys is a different discussion, but in that event I would have the player drain the 1 ball that was in play.)

The second malfunction is independent from the first one. You chose correctly to not let what happened earlier influence your decision on the second ruling. Game went to end of ball while ball was in play? major malfunction, compensation ball time.

Rulings should never consider things like “well, you got away with murder earlier, so this time i’ll throw you in jail with no evidence.”

…Also, this is weird AF with the game saying “pinball missing” during a multiball. I’m inclined to say there was a lot more going on malfunction wise than a stuck ball in multiball.


Thanks Dave, that is good advice. I like to think I did that only because I am good friends with all 3 players. Funny thing was, they were actually unhelpful, but in the opposite way you would think. They all deferred to each other!

But yes, I agree, and I won’t do that in future.

Yes. It looked like even if I pushed the white post down, the ball would not have cleared.

I was incorrect in my OP about what ball this happened on. It was ball 3, player 2. After player 2 lost his ball to malfunction and was awarded a compensation ball, I did not watch player 3. I turned back to my laptop to disable Batman in the tourney software, and then got distracted by something else. When I looked again, player 3 was done. We then noted the scores and player 3 started a new game for the compensation ball. I believe the ball stayed up in the rotisserie for that compensation ball, which I realize now was another error on my part.

Thank you Cayle! That was an excellent summary, and I will handle this properly next time.

Thank you to everyone else that responded! I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond and level me up.

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