Complete Rules


FSPA League Organization and Competition Rules

Last updated: 5/14/2024

Index: IntroductionAttendance & TardinessRules of PlayIllegal ActionsGroup SizingDuesSpecial RulingsRevision Log

These are the comprehensive league rules. If you’re a player just trying to become familiar with the league, our Players Guide summarizes the most important things you need to know.

1. Introduction

The Free State Pinball Association (FSPA) provides multiple formats for running a friendly league competition for pinball players of all skill levels. These rules are designed for leagues with six or more players, playing on four or more machines at a single location. Scoring is based on how well one does relative to players of similar ability. Competition is designed to be exciting down to the last ball of every game, and playoff spots are often not decided until the final ball has drained. The nature of the FSPA league system allows players of all skill levels to play in a single league which is fun and competitive for everyone.

1.1 League Officials

In these rules, SLO stands for Senior League Official. For situations requiring an immediate decision or rule interpretation, this refers to the highest-ranking league official present who is not directly affected by the decision. In particular, rulings of malfunctions or interference should be deferred to an uninvolved official. In other cases, it refers to any appropriate league officer.

The order of rank for league officers is: League Commissioner, League Deputy Commissioner, League Treasurer, League Statistician, other designated person(s).

1.2 Discretion of League Officials

These rules are a guide. At times situations will arise that aren’t specifically covered by these rules. In these cases, the SLO should make a decision in the spirit of the rules. This decision shall be documented for later reference, and be applied consistently should the situation arise again.

Additionally, the SLO of a league may choose to override specific rules in this guide if he/she deems that such modifications are beneficial for that particular league. Any such modifications shall be made prior to the start of the season, and announced to players at the league location and on the FSPA Web site.

1.3 League Location Specific Formats and Rule Deviations

FSPA individual league locations determine their own FSPA format in use, along with other variations such as how to handle player absences, inclement weather policies, prizes, etc. View the league locations for those specifics.

2. Attendance and Tardiness

The SLO must designate a specific day and start time for the league, as well as length of season. League players are expected to attend all matches of the season.

2.1 Start Time

Any games in progress by league players at league start time are immediately halted. Players join their assigned group and begin league play immediately.

2.2 Announced Tardiness

If the SLO is notified before league start time that a player will be late, then players in the affected group will wait up to 15 minutes before beginning play.

2.3 Unannounced Tardiness

If a player arrives after their group begins play, the player may join the game in progress if possible. Joining the game is permitted if the machine permits it, and the last player of the group has not started ball 1.

2.4 Forfeits

If a player is not present and eligible to play a game, and does not have preplay scores for that game, a forfeit will be recorded for that player. The forfeiting player will receive zero (0) points for that game. The remaining players in the group will still play the game, and game points will be assigned based on the number of eligible (non-forfeiting) scores recorded.

If only one player in a group is present and eligible to play (or has preplay scores for) a game, that player earns a win by forfeit and receives three (3) game points. That player still plays the game and their score will be recorded for statistical purposes.

If a player wins all four games of a match by forfeit, they will be awarded two (2) match bonus points.

Players who join a league after the first game of a season will accumulate forfeits for the games they did not play. It is left to the SLO‘s discretion to determine if these forfeits are “countable forfeits“; that is, if they count towards possible forfeiture of the season for that player. Unless designated by the SLO, all forfeits are considered to be “countable”.

General guidelines to SLO’s are that illnesses, including COVID, will be considered “non-countable forfeits” as well-being of all players is more important than an ill player attending league.  Religious holidays also are considered “non-countable forfeits.”

2.5 Forfeit of Season

Players that are forfeited out of the season, may not play in the league again until the next season begins.

For preplay leagues with 12 allowable preplays, if a player accumulates a total of nine (9) countable forfeits during a season, that player automatically forfeits the season.

For hybrid drop 2/preplay leagues with 12 allowable preplays, if a player accumulates a total of nine (9) countable forfeits during a season, that player automatically forfeits the season.

For drop 2 leagues with no preplays, if a player accumulates a total of nine (13) countable forfeits during a season, that player automatically forfeits the season.

If a player does not participate in at least half of the season, including all countable and non-countable forfeits, the player will be forfeited out of the league.

2.6 Inclement Conditions

The SLO may cancel a league match, or institute Liberal Leave Policy, due to inclement weather or other inclement conditions, particularly if travel conditions are deemed unsafe for players. The SLO is encouraged to set conditions under which league play will automatically be cancelled and/or under liberal leave, such as the closing of a local university or government office, and advise all players of this condition prior to the start of the season.

2.7 Liberal Leave Policy

When the league is operating under the liberal leave policy, league play will go on as scheduled, but players may miss league if travel conditions are unsafe for them. These absent players may post-play league games for the affected match using the rules for preplays. Players in attendance for league record their scores normally.

The lowest-ranked player present in each group will have the first machine selection for their group. All players not in attendance for normal league play have until 12:01 AM on the day before the next scheduled match to complete and report their post-play scores to a league officer. Post-play scores do not count against the preplay allowance. Alternatively, players may inform the SLO, after the announcement of liberal leave but before the scheduled start of play for the affected match, that they wish their undated preplay scores to be used. Preplay scores used under these conditions do not count against the preplay allowance (but the preplay scores will no longer be available for future use).

Scores properly submitted prior to the next scheduled league match will be used to assign game and match points without penalty, as if players were in attendance for scheduled league play. A player who is unable to submit post-play scores for any games on time will receive a forfeit for those missed games.

2.8 League Cancellation

If a location should close down during league play, if less than two games have been played by any group, the match shall be cancelled and not recorded. If two or more games have been played by all groups, then scores will be recorded only for those games played by all groups. (Other games will be recorded as forfeits; these forfeits will not count toward individual player forfeit totals.)

If a league match is cancelled for any reason, the SLO must announce prior to the next scheduled meet whether the cancelled match will be dropped (shortening the season) or made up.

2.9 Guests

Non-FSPA members may play as a guest in the league at the SLO‘s discretion. A guest’s scores are recorded on the score sheet, but game points and match bonus points are assigned as if the guest player were not present.

2.10 Absences

League formats allow for player absences to diminish impact to their overall scores for the season. There are multiple methods such as dropping lowest scores for the season, allowing players to pre-play games and record their scores for use during an absence, and hybrid versions that combine these two methods. These formats to handle absences are discussed in Format – Absences.

3. Machine Play Rules – General

3.1 Extra Balls

On machines set to four (4) or more balls per game, extra balls must be plunged and not played. On machines set to three (3) or less balls per game, one (1) extra ball may be played per player per game. Other extra balls must be plunged and not played. Extra balls that must be plunged and not played are referred to as “unallowable” or “plunged” balls in this document.

When a player is required to plunge an extra ball, the player may touch the machine to set up a skill shot before launching the ball. Once the ball is set into motion, the player may no longer touch the machine. If the ball is returned to a launcher lane that requires a manual plunge (e.g. by a ball saver), the player may re-plunge the ball.

If a plunged extra ball becomes stuck somewhere on the machine, the player may attempt to nudge the machine to free the ball. If nudging fails to free the ball, and there is no operator present to free the ball, the player (or SLO) will be required to tilt the game in an attempt to free the ball. No compensation is provided in this event, nor is it considered a major malfunction.

Buy-ins for extra balls are not allowed, except as noted in sections 4.2 and 4.3.

3.2 Replays and Specials

No award is given for credits earned by replays or specials during league play. If a machine awards extra balls for replays or specials, they are played as prescribed in section 3.1.

3.3 Malfunctions

Pinball machines are complex assemblies that can exhibit many unintended behaviors during play. To keep league play on track and prevent excessive focus on minor glitches, only serious machine malfunctions can affect league play. Serious machine malfunctions are broken down into two categories: major malfunctions and catastrophic malfunctions.

A major malfunction is one that results in a loss of a playable turn that is not a normal part of the game (i.e. premature loss of turn). A “playable turn” includes the player’s current turn at play, and any other balls that the player is entitled to play. This does not include “unallowable” extra balls. Note that an active multiball is part of the “current turn at play” and therefore a major malfunction during multiball is only counted once. In disputed situations, the SLO shall decide whether or not a malfunction is considered major.

The following are examples of major malfunctions:

  • A player is forced to tilt the ball in an attempt to dislodge a stuck ball (unless it is an unallowable extra ball; see section 3.1).
  • A turn ends prematurely (i.e. with 1 or more balls in play).
  • A ball is auto-plunged or otherwise shot into play without the player’s involvement, resulting in loss of ball.

The following examples would not be considered major malfunctions:

  • A player tilts away a stuck ball when it was not clearly necessary.
  • A multiball round ends prematurely but does not result in loss of turn.
  • A ball goes airborne and drains.
  • A lit kickback fails to kick the ball back into play.
  • A ball saver fails to work.
  • A player tilts another player’s ball. (This is Interference.)
  • If a problem with a machine is announced to league players by the SLO before league play is started, then that problem is not considered a major malfunction even if the result is loss of ball in play.

Catastrophic malfunctions deny a player a playable turn without that player having any opportunity to play the ball. As with major malfunctions, this does not include “unallowable” extra balls. The following are examples of catastrophic malfunctions:

  • Slam tilt
  • Total machine failure / reset
  • Loss of electrical power
  • Fire due to overheated components

Note that these events are not considered catastrophic for the ball the player is currently playing, provided the ball was put into play before the malfunction occurred. That player receives a major malfunction, not a catastrophic malfunction. In disputed situations, the SLO shall decide whether or not a malfunction is considered catastrophic.

If a major malfunction or catastrophic malfunction occur to a player during the course of a game, the player will be allowed to play as many balls on a new game of the same machine as were affected by malfunction on the original game. After those balls are played, the displayed score from the new game is added to the displayed score from the original game to calculate the player’s final overall score for the game. Affected balls include any balls prematurely ended by major malfunction and any balls never launched into play, including collected allowable extra balls, but not uncollected or unallowable extra balls. At the SLO‘s discretion, balls to be played on the new game may start with other than ball 1, in which case the leading ball(s) must be plunged and the displayed score from those ball(s) subtracted from the player’s final score. At the SLO‘s discretion, game features may be set on the new game to match the known state of the original game, subtracting any incidental points required to establish this state from the player’s final score. The rest of the group waits for the player to finish the compensatory game before starting their next game.

The SLO can declare a machine unplayable at any time if it is not functioning properly and the resulting malfunction(s) will, in his estimation, impair the ability of players to obtain fair scores. In these cases, the entire game is replayed immediately on a machine designated by the SLO. Any recorded scores on the machine at the time of failure will be used if the machine is brought back into service and affected players replay, or players accept agreed-upon scores.

It is recommended that the league prepare a maintenance sheet on which is noted any malfunctions that are found on the various machines during league play. This list should be passed on to the site’s management to assist in the proper maintenance of the machines.

3.4 Positive Malfunctions

If a malfunction causes a player to receive an exceptionally unfair advantage over the other players, and there is no reasonable way to avoid it, then the game is stopped and a new game is started either on the same or a different machine at the SLO‘s discretion. If a positive malfunction can be avoided (such as the awarding of extra points by repeated tapping of a flipper button), then this behavior shall be reported to the SLO and shall be avoided during subsequent league play. At the discretion of the SLO, the game may be replayed if it is felt that an unfair advantage was already gained by one or more players due to the malfunction. In this situation, the SLO may also rule that completed scores on the game are to be discarded. It is the responsibility of all members of a group to ensure that positive malfunctions are not abused.

The following are not automatically considered to be “exceptionally unfair advantages”:

  • A one ball “multiball” or stuck ball during multiball
  • A ball that drains so forcefully that it works its way back to the plunger lane (“trough passthrough”)

3.5 Gameplay Promptness

When a player’s turn comes up in a league match, the player is expected to begin play promptly. If a league player does not begin play in a reasonable amount of time, the SLO may plunge the ball, and the player may not play the ball.

3.6 Practice Games

Once league play starts, a player may not practice games that they are scheduled to play later in that match. Practice games are allowed on machines that a player is not scheduled to play during that match if it does not interfere with league play. Practice games must be ended immediately if a league group is ready to begin a scheduled game on that machine.

3.7 Distractions

In general, random distractions that occur during league play (including minor physical bumps) are considered normal play conditions and no allowances are made for the effects of such distractions on a player’s game.

3.8 Non-League Players

League players do not take precedence over other customers at the establishment. Having a non-league customer play your ball is considered a distraction and not interference; control of the ball should be regained as quickly and politely as possible. Close attention should be paid by league players to their game in progress to guard against this situation.

4. Illegal actions

4.1 Playing Own Unallowable Extra Ball

If a player nudges, flips, or otherwise plays their own unallowable extra ball, the player must stop as soon as the error is recognized, and must plunge their next “allowable” ball without playing. If the error occurs on or after the player’s last “allowable” ball, the player’s final machine score is reduced by 25%.

4.2 Playing Opponent’s Ball

The violator shall attempt to trap the ball(s) on a flipper as soon as the error is realized. This is Interference, and the violator will receive a machine score of zero for the game.

If the affected ball was an unallowable extra ball, and the victim has no more allowable balls, there is no additional compensation for the victim. Otherwise, the victim may choose one of three options: continue playing the erroneously plunged ball (if control can be recovered), drain the plunged ball and play an additional ball through a buy-in or (normally unallowable) earned extra ball, or replay the entire game. The player must announce a decision to all players in the group before play resumes. The deciding player is responsible for ensuring that the next player does not begin play before a decision is announced. If the player continues play without announcing a decision, then no other compensation will be provided. If the game is replayed, the second (replay) score becomes the player’s score on that game, regardless of whether it is better or worse than their previous effort. The rest of the group waits for the player to finish the replayed game before starting their next game.

4.3 Interference

Interference in another player’s game is not tolerated. Interference includes (but isn’t limited to) intentional slam tilts, tilting an opponent’s ball, or nudging the machine during another player’s ball, even if the action does not cause the victim to lose the ball. It also includes intentional distraction of a player during his play. Talking or coaching is not considered interference, unless the player at the machine specifically requests that he not be talked to during play.

If a player interferes with another player, causing a drain and/or loss of turn, the victim of the interference may either replay the entire game, or continue the game and play one (1) additional ball to replace the interfered ball (using either an earned, normally unallowable extra ball or a buy-in ball). If the next player starts play with no decision announced, the victim is presumed to wish to continue his game. The interfering player is required to pay for the replayed game or the buy-in ball, even if there are credits on the machine.

Interference is a serious violation of league play rules, and a penalty will be assessed on the violator.

4.4 Slam Tilts

An intentional slam tilt is one caused by an aggressive and excessive shove of the machine, or by an attempted bangback or deathsave, and is considered interference. Any other slam tilt is considered accidental. All slam tilts are handled as catastrophic malfunctions.

4.5 Serious Violations of League Rules

Serious violations are those so designated in these rules, as well as any conduct by a player that the SLO determines to be exceptionally detrimental to the league.

Serious violations are cumulative over an entire season, not just one match. For these violations, the following penalties are assessed:

    • First and second offense: Forfeit the current game with a machine score of zero.

If the violator’s group does not have a “current” game in progress, this penalty will be assessed against the game of the current match for which the violator has the highest league points. If there is more than one such game, the last such game of the match will be penalized.

    • Third offense: Forfeit of all games in the current match with machine scores of zero.

Behavior which causes a player to be ejected from the establishment by the management will be penalized as an automatic third offense, even if it occurs before or after league play.
If the violator’s group does not have a “current” match in progress, the match chronologically closest to the violation will be penalized.

    • Fourth offense: Forfeit of season. The player’s scores are wiped, and the player will be suspended from the league.

Violence of any kind against fellow players, vandalism of pinball machines or other property will be penalized as an automatic fourth offense.

4.6 Not Starting the Proper Number of Games

If too many games are started inadvertently, balls for the extra games are plunged but not played. If too few games are started, additional games are started, if possible, so that the number of games on the machine matches the number of players in the group. In these cases, no further action is required.

If the proper number of games cannot be started by the above means, the game is ended immediately, voiding all players’ scores. A new game is started on the same machine with the correct number of players. The player responsible for the wrong number of games being started should also pay the cost of restarting the game for all players.

4.7 Deathsaves and Bangbacks

Deathsaves and bangbacks (“biffs”) are techniques used by some players to return a ball back into play that has already gone down an outlane or otherwise drained. These techniques are not allowed in FSPA league play. A player that successfully performs a deathsave or bangback will receive a machine score of zero on that game, and must plunge any remaining balls without playing them. However, it is allowable for the ball to bounce back into play of its own accord (most common on Gottlieb games).

Since these maneuvers do not interfere with any other player’s game, performing a deathsave or bangback is not considered a serious violation of league rules.

4.8 Intentional Tilting

A player who deliberately tilts a machine in order to derive some benefit to their own play, or the play of others, will receive a machine score of zero.

4.9 Cheating

Pinball can often be frustrating, especially during competition. The FSPA rules are designed to deal fairly with this fact, to encourage people to control themselves, and to compensate for various mishaps that might occur during play. On the other hand, violation of any rules with the clear intent of preventing another player from fairly playing the machine or of unfairly increasing one’s own score can only be described as cheating, and is not tolerated. Cheating will result in the player’s immediate suspension from the league.

6. Group Sizing – Non-Playoff Matches

Players are arranged into groups of three or four, so that players of similar ability are playing against each other during any given match. A match consists of four games, played on four different machines (if possible) during a single meet. All games are played in multiplayer mode (players alternate turns and scores are displayed simultaneously on the machine). At the end of each match, players move between groups based on their performance in the current match.

6.1 Group Size

Locations may be configured to maximize three player groups, or four player groups, depending on how many machines and players the league has at their location.  There will almost always be a mix of 3 and 4 player groups based during a meet.  The following table shows suggested group sizes for a given number of players in the league.

6 to 8 players: 2 groups

  • 6: 3 3
  • 7: 3 4
  • 8: 4 4

9 to 12 players: 3 groups

  • 9: 3 3 3
  • 10: 3 3 4
  • 11: 3 4 4
  • 12: 3 3 3 3

13 to 15 players: 4 groups

  • 13: 3 3 3 4
  • 14: 3 3 4 4
  • 15: 3 4 4 4

16 to 18 players: 5 groups

  • 16: 3 3 3 3 4
  • 17: 3 3 3 4 4
  • 18: 3 3 4 4 4

19 to 21 players: 6 groups

  • 19: 3 3 3 3 3 4
  • 20: 3 3 3 3 4 4
  • 21: 3 3 3 4 4 4

22 to 24 players: 7 groups

  • 22: 3 3 3 3 3 3 4
  • 23: 3 3 3 3 3 4 4
  • 24: 3 3 3 3 4 4 4

25 to 32 players: 8 groups

  • 25: 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4
  • 26: 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 4
  • 27: 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4
  • 28: 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4
  • 29: 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4
  • 30: 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 31: 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 32: 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

33 to 36 players: 9 groups

  • 33: 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 34: 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 35: 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 36: 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

37 to 40 players: 10 groups

  • 37: 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 38: 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 39: 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
  • 40: 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

These suggested groupings may be altered by the SLO if other groupings are deemed more appropriate for a league location. In particular, four-player groups may be replaced by three-player groups (e.g. in leagues with 15, 18, 21, etc. players) at locations with a large number of machines. However, mid-season regrouping should be avoided if at all possible.

8. Dues

The league treasurer may collect dues from every league player at each meet. Players will also pay for games played. Dues are currently $30, with $1 going towards the IFPA player fee, unless otherwise paid for by operators, venues, or other means. Each individual league page’s Rules Variations will disclose whether the $1 IFPA dues are taken from the player dues.

The remaining amount will go to the prize pool. At this time, there are no dues towards the FSPA treasury for end-of-season party.

Appendix A – Special Rulings

The following section lists rulings on game-specific malfunctions and other situations that have occurred during FSPA league play. These rulings detail our ideas on what does or does not count as a major malfunction on the games, as well as special cases (bugs) that call for a special ruling. This section is intended to be a dynamic document, subject to expansion and modification as new and unforeseen special circumstances occur.

Under no circumstances will the SLO modify a player’s score to account for points unearned due to a machine software bug or hardware malfunction, unless there is a Special Ruling already on the books. If an unexpected glitch causes a player to be cheated, the score displayed on the machine stands, and the SLO will attempt to discern if a Special Ruling is necessary for future occurrences. In order for a Special Ruling to be made, the glitch must be reproducible and the cause and effect must be clearly understood. If these conditions are not met, no Special Ruling will be made.

A.1 The Addams Family

Not a Malfunction – Ball falls off habitrail into outlane; fast shots to the staircase ramp sometimes result in a ball falling off the metal habitrail above the playfield; Thing flips ball into outlane or drain; Thing sometimes does not
flip accurately; Things flips doesn’t activate and the ball drains as a result.

A.2 Demolition Man

Not a Malfunction – After dropping out of ramp habitrail into inlane, ball spins/bounces into outlane; Not getting ball saver after hitting car crash target.

A.3 Flintstones

Not a Malfunction – After dropping out of ramp habitrail into inlane, ball spins/bounces into outlane.

Major Malfunction – If the ball drops off the plastic ‘loop-over’ over the center drain and drops into the drain without the ball saver returning the ball to play.

A.4 Hook

Not a Malfunction – After dropping out of ramp habitrail into inlane, ball spins/bounces into outlane.

A.5 Judge Dredd

Special Ruling – Due to the way the ball saver works on this game, you may choose one and only one flipper button for use during unallowable Extra Balls. You may play with this flipper button until the ball drains. Once a button is chosen, you may not use the other buttons for the duration of the ball. (Hint: Choose the left flipper button!)

A.6 NBA Fastbreak

Special Ruling – Championship Rings are awarded a point value of 50. The displayed score is increased by 50 points for each ring earned. Earning a ring must be witnessed.

A.7 Scared Stiff

Special Ruling – When plunging an unallowable Extra Ball, if you make the Spin the Spider shot, you may not use the flippers to choose an item on the Spider. This feature will time out and select a random award after a few spins.

A.8 Stargate

Major Malfunction – A shot to the Sarcophagus gets kicked up to the habitrail and rolls down to the outlane where a gate is expected to open to allow the ball to pass into the kickback. If a switch gets triggered (through faulty hardware) before the ball clears the gate, the gate will close, draining the ball.

Special Rulings – During the “Eye of Ra” mode each shot to the right target adds a ball, for up to four balls in play. After this the center pyramid is lit for 50 million. If the game is missing a ball, a software bug will keep this mode running as a one-ball multiball, provided the player reached the second half of the mode (50M-point pyramid). When this happens (one-ball multiball) the player must drain the ball and may use an extra ball or buy an extra ball at league expense. This is done both to bypass an unfair advantage of this mode and to prevent a player from being stuck in this mode for the remainder of the ball.

During the “Battle” mode, each shot to one of the ‘guards’ upkicker awards a progressive amount of points and adds time to the mode timer. Sometimes the upkicker fires repeatedly, unable to get the ball to the habitrail to return to the playfield. If this happens the player must hold the ball 2 seconds, as displayed on the mode timer, for each such ‘free’ award given.

If the auto-plunger is consistently too weak to plunge the ball for multiball, the player must plunge the ball himself before hitting his second major shot for the multiball mode. The ball may not be left “in reserve” in the plunger lane during multiball.

A.9 Starship Troopers

Major Malfunction – The automatic ball plunger does not always clear the outlane, resulting in the ball draining immediately down the right outlane; If the automatic re-plunge fails to clear the outlane, the ball will drain, and the machine will retry several times. If none of these retries make it into play, the machine will give up, resulting in loss of turn.

Not a Malfunction – The above case (failure of autoplunger to clear the outlane) will not be considered a malfunction on the second and subsequent times that it happens to the same player during the course of one game. A player can override this particular malfunction by quickly manually plunging the ball into play, which he will be expected to do if he has already been a victim of this malfunction once during the game.

A.10 Star Trek: The Next Generation

Major Malfunction – Hitting lock results in end of ball – The lock (top right lane) sometimes results in immediate bonus tallying (often from choosing Light Lock at launch).

Special Ruling – Final Frontier Kickout: At the start of Final Frontier the game sometimes prematurely kicks out one ball. If this ball drains before Final Frontier starts, the ball ends, Final Frontier is not played, and none of the displayed points are added to the player’s score. This is a software bug, and the point value of the artifacts (100M per artifact + 1B per complete set) shall be manually added to the player’s score. This also counts as a major malfunction.

A.11 Twilight Zone

Major Malfunction – Ball gets stuck on skill shot rollover, and cannot be freed without tilting.

Special Rulings – A player may not plunge the ball while a previous player’s buy-in count down sequence is in progress. If the previous player forgets to cancel the buy-in sequence, you must wait for the sequence to end before plunging your ball. (If a player plunges a ball into the slot machine during the previous player’s buy-in countdown sequence, and then cancels the buy-in sequence, a door panel is awarded via a bug in the game rom.)

If balls are getting stuck on the skill shot rollovers, attempting skill shots with the Powerball is not permitted. This lighter ball gets stuck much more easily and is nearly impossible to unstick without tilting. If it is sticking very badly, skill shots may be allowed only when the 10M Door Panel is unlit and for Super Skill Shot, or not at all.

A.12 Cyclopes

Special Ruling – Players must record their machine score prior to playing the “bonus ball” which is offered to the winning player in a multiplayer game. Failure to do so will be penalized as playing an unallowable extra ball (see 4.1 Playing Own Unallowable Extra Ball).

Appendix B – Revision Log

This section lists summaries of changes made to this document.

May 2024

  • Added league format pages and removed that information from c.
  • [2.4] Updated illness/COVID and religious holidays as “non-countable forfeits”.
  • [2.5] Updated number of forfeits to forfeit out of a season, and by league type: preplay, hybrid drop 2 preplay, and drop 2.
  • [6.2] Added Qualifying Round Groups to describe weeks 1 through 4 grouping mechanism.
  • [6.3] Updated Ladder section to describe how players are seeded to ladder after week 4.
  • [8.3] Updated playoff format table.
  • [8.4] Updated playoff tie for qualifying to tie breaker game.
  • [8.5] Updated playoff tie for finals to tie breaker game.
  • [8.6] Updated missing from playoff rules for moving players up divisions to ensure A division has enough finalists.

December 2023

  • [8.3] Fixed typo suggesting that playoffs topped out at 4 players.

May 2023

  • [8.2] Updated semi-finals/finals player numbers for A division, and finals results affect IFPA results.

July 2022

  • [8.1] Removed outdated and confusing information about player counts per division.

January 2022

  • [9] Reverted to May 2006 rule requiring that preplays must be recorded with another active league player. (01/04/2022)

February 2020

  • [3.4] Noted that a trough passthrough is not automatically considered an “exceptionally unfair advantage”. (01/15/2020)
  • [8.2] Tweaked the table of playoff qualifiers per division to have 4 people qualify in leagues of 37-39 players. (01/15/2020)

November 2019

  • [9.4] Changed wording to make Banking the default preplay policy if not otherwise specified. (08/28/2019)
  • [5.1] Added rule that a tie in machine scores between multiple absent players will be resolved by random choice. (08/28/2019)

September 2018

  • [4.8] Added a rule prohibiting intentional tilting done in order to gain an advantage. (09/05/2018)
  • [8.2] Revised division rules to avoid two-match (semifinal/final) playoffs for leagues with less than 56 players. (09/05/2018)
  • [8.3] Players who are absent for their playoff machine selections are now dropped immediately to the lowest seed in the division, instead of being dropped one seed at a time. (09/05/2018)
  • [8.3] If a machine is declared unplayable due to malfunction, the player who originally selected that machine will be allowed to select a replacement, subject to normal playoff machine selection rules, unless this selection is impractical for league scheduling reasons. (09/05/2018)

March 2018

  • [8.2] Fixed textual summary of playoff divisions: table had been updated long ago (see February 2015 and June 2013 revision notes) but by oversight, the summary paragraph had not reflected those changes.

June 2017

  • [Appendix A] Removed now-invalid comment about needing two major malfunctions to receive compensation.

May 2017

  • [3.3] A single major malfunction now awards a compensatory ball. (05/10/17)
  • [3.3] Removed clause that automatically disqualified a machine if all players experienced a major malfunction on their first ball. SLOs should use good judgment to decide if a machine is not suitable for league play.
  • [5.1] When resolving tied game scores, clarified that if a single ball playoff does not break the tie, the playoff game is to be continued, one ball at a time, until the tie is broken. Also specified that all extra balls are unallowable and must be plunged during the tiebreaker. Finally, clarified that the tiebreaker does not affect the recorded machine scores for the game.

May 2017

  • [8.3] Removed a superfluous sentence that contradicted other statements in this section.

September 2016

  • [4.2] Playing another player’s ball is now always an immediate disqualification with machine score of zero for the violator. Clarified that if the victim has no allowable balls remaining, they are not entitled to any compensation. (09/01/2016)
  • [9 / 9.4] Introduce an alternative preplay system, “banking”. When banking is selected by the SLO for a season, dated preplays are not used: all preplays are undated, and a player’s preplay scores are only removed when used or when that player’s full-season preplay limit is exceeded. (09/01/2016)

September 2015

  • [3.3] Changed the compensation for a catastrophic malfunction or 2+ major malfunctions to be replacement ball(s) on a new game, which are added to the displayed score from the original game. (09/01/2015)
  • [9] Moved the requirement to publish all preplay scores before each meet from 9.1 Dated Preplays into the general 9 Preplays section, since this requirement also holds for Undated Preplays. (09/01/2015)
  • [4.6] If too few players are started on a game, and it’s not possible to add players to make it right, the entire game is now voided and restarted. (09/01/2015)

February 2015

  • [4.6] When restarting a game that had the wrong number of players, giving all players the option of keeping their first ball from the original game, or doing a complete replay. (01/07/15)
  • [8.2] Bumped 29 player leagues to have 4 divisions with 4 qualifiers each, to avoid having A division with 8 players and only 3 playoff slots. (01/07/15)

November 2014

  • [A.5] Clarified that the Judge Dredd ruling applies to flipper BUTTONS, not flippers themselves.

June 2013

  • [8.2] Changed division breakouts to avoid semi-finals as long as possible: 28-29 players are now 4 divisions/3 qualifiers each, and 30-36 players are now 4 divisions/4 qualifiers each. (05/07/14)

March 2013

  • [3.3] Modified catastrophic malfunction rules to indicate that a catastrophic malfunction is any event that denies a player the opportunity to put an allowed ball into play. A player suffering a catastrophic malfunction (or, as before, two major malfunctions) will be given the option of accepting their score or replaying. (09/17/12)
  • [9.3] Wording clarification: multiple preplay scores on a machine must be given a preplay set designation (#1, #2, etc). (01/09/13)
  • [A.10] Wording clarification: points awarded at start of Final Frontier shall be manually added to the displayed score if the ball is lost before Final Frontier actually starts. (02/01/13)

June 2012

  • [6.1] Augmented recommended groupings to allow for up to 40 players in 10 groups. (05/16/12)
  • [8.2] Specified division breakouts for D and E divisions. (05/16/12)
  • [9.1, 9.3] Clarified that dated preplays are only valid for the date they are submitted. Removed the superfluous verbiage about preplay scores being an indivisible unit that will be discarded after used.

September 2011

  • [Appendix A] Added Special Ruling for Cyclopes, requiring players to record their machine scores prior to playing any “bonus ball”. (08/24/11)

May 2011

  • [5.2] Changed effective point rule to consistently assign 2 effective points for any number of games forfeited (no more 3-forfeit exception). (05/09/11)

September 2010

  • [8.1] Added tiebreaker rules for division allocation. (09/01/10)
  • [9, 9.1, 9.2] Renamed “preplay” to “dated preplay”, and “bank” to “undated preplay”. Rearranged the text in these sections to collect all common language under section 9. (09/01/10)

January 2010

  • [7] Clarified that a player with dated pre-plays for the current match is not eligible to have a game pick for their group. (01/06/10)
  • [8.2] Changed the playoff scenario for 18-22 player leagues to A-3/B-3/C-3 (from the prior A-5/B-5 two-round playoff). (01/06/10)
  • [8.3] Changed to require all playoff game picks in a match (not just the head-to-heads) to be on different machines, if possible.

January 2009

  • [4.6] Changed this rule to require the offending player to add their ball 1 score (from the aborted game) to their displayed score prior to launching their last ball of the restarted game. (01/07/09)
  • [9.1] Improved wording to more closely reflect intended application of the preplay rules and limitations. (01/07/09)

January 2008

  • [4.3] Clarified interference section to note that the listed examples are indeed just examples, not the complete list of possible interference violations. (01/16/08)
  • [4.4] Created new section 4.4, “Slam tilts”, broken out from section 4.3. Bumped section numbers of old 4.4 – 4.7 to accommodate. (01/16/08)

September 2007

  • [8.3] Clarified playoff machine selection rules to note that players not present at machine selection time (15 minutes before match start) will drop one notch in seeding each time they are not present for their machine selections. (08/27/07)
  • [8.6] Removed the “automatic” 15 minute delay for tardy players: players may ask the SLO for a 15 minute delay ahead of time (but this will probably leave them with a bottom seeding). Noted that players may change their machine selections involving dropped players. (08/27/07)

July 2007

  • [9.1] Fixed an overlooked reference suggesting that preplays require another “league” player; this is no longer the case. (04/26/06)

June 2007

  • [7] Clarified that the group pick order table is merely an example. (05/07/07)

September 2006

  • [1.1] League President is now called “Commissioner”, League VP is now called “Deputy Commissioner”, to avoid overloading the terms “President” and “Vice President”, which are used at the Association level. (08/28/06)
  • [5.3] Removed a superfluous and potentially confusing statement describing the “match winner” of each group. (08/28/06)
  • [6.3] Clarified that ties are resolved by the last game commonly played by the tied players. If this fails to resolve the tie, starting ladder order is used as the final tiebreaker. (08/28/06)
  • [8.3] Rewrote the infamous “how to pick games in the playoffs” paragraph — the intention of the rule is unchanged, but the new wording is hopefully easier to understand. (08/28/06)

May 2006

  • [2.4, 2.5] Defined “countable forfeits” as contributing toward forfeiture of season. Specified that players joining a league after week #1 receive forfeits for missed games, and explicitly state that the SLO has the authority to designate such forfeits as either “countable” or not. (04/26/06)
  • [3.3] Clarified “major malfunction” definition to specify that a major malfunction is accumulated for each lost “earned, playable ball”. (04/26/06)
  • [4.5] Expanded “serious violation” definition to give broader authority to the SLO to impose if a player’s actions are “exceptionally detrimental to the league”. Defined “serious violation” penalty for players who are not actively playing a game — penalty applies to latest game for which the player has the highest league points. Similarly, clarified that a third violation penalty will apply to the match chronologically closest to the violation.(04/26/06)
  • [8, 8.3] Shuffled 8.0 text into 8.3, where it makes more sense. Clarified that seeding for the first playoff match is by season league points, while seeding for the second playoff match (finals), if needed, is by league point count from the semi-final round. (04/26/06)
  • [9.1] Clarified that preplays must be done with at least one other player; need not be another league player. (04/26/06)

September 2004

  • [2.4] Codified ruling for forfeit of individual games. The language is loose enough and is intended to include situations where games are voluntarily forfeited. (Section was previously entitled “Win by Forfeit” and technically only described the situation where a player won an entire game and/or match by forfeit.)
  • [3.4] Added language permitting SLO to discard completed scores on a game that has been disqualified due to an excessive/unfair positive malfunction.

February 2004

  • [2.7] Added language permitting banked scores to be used under liberal leave conditions, if requested between declaration of liberal leave and the start of play. (08/27/03)
  • [5.2, 5.3] Changed “effective points” definition: effective points are now only used for grouping, not for match bonus points. (08/27/03)
  • [6.3] Codified that in the event of a full match forfeit, players will be ranked by their incoming ladder orders for that meet.
  • [10] Clarified that leagues “may” (not “will”) charge dues — this is a per-league policy, not an Association policy. (08/27/03)

January 2003

  • [1.2] Added clause noting that an SLO may announce specific overrides to these rules, applicable to that SLO‘s league.
  • [8.3] Specified that playoff contenders must submit game selections by 15 minutes before the scheduled start of play, or they may lose their game picks.
  • [9.2] Tweaked wording to indicate that players must bank scores before *their* third match of the season (e.g. a player who joins in week 2 has until the start of play on week 4 to submit banked scores).
  • [B] Created Appendix B, “Revision Log”.