Lafayette Pinball League Rules

Summer 2018

Revised Finals section on 7/7/2018

1. Introduction

The Lafayette Pinball League (LPL) rules are based on the Toronto Pinball League (TOPL), Free State Pinball Association (FSPA) and Bay Area Pinball Association (BAPA) league rules, with some modifications. These rules are designed for leagues consisting of three people up to an unlimited number of players, playing on five machines at a single location. Scoring is based on how well one does relative to other players in the league. The nature of the LPL league system allows players of all skill levels to play in a single league that 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 President, League Vice President, League Statistician, and other designated person(s).

Summer 2018 Officials
President: Tommy Skinner                                                                            VP: Tom Vandenberg                                                                           Consultant: Matt Peace

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.

1.3. Season

A single season of league play consists of 8 weeks, which may be non-continuous due to holidays or expected large-scale absenteeism. At the end of 8 weeks, a playoff date will be selected and league members will compete for the title of Playoffs Winner.

2. Attendance and Lateness

The SLO must designate a specific day and start time for league play. League players are expected to attend all matches of the season.  The lowest two scoring weeks are dropped, a league player could miss up to two weeks without significant loss of points. In order to participate in the Playoffs, a player must have played in at least half of the weeks of the regular season.

2.1. Start Time

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

2.2.  Lateness

If a player arrives late the player may join an open group if possible. If that is not possible (e.g., all groups have four players), the player may play their games as single player games. No scores obtained after the establishment closes on the date of a league match will be recorded.

2.3. Guests

Non-LPL members may play as a guest in the league at the SLO’s discretion. A guest’s scores are recorded on the score sheet, and guest players are treated as regular league members in score calculations.

3. Machine Play Rules —General

3.1. Extra Balls

Extra balls must be plunged and not played normally. These are referred to as “unallowable” or “plunged” balls in this document.  On a certain few machines, the extra ball will be allowed as this is integral to the game’s rule set.  These machines will be pre-announced.

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 not shake or nudge the machine or touch the flipper buttons.

3.1.1. Ball Save

If the extra 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. Some machines will give infinite ball saves (e.g. Tales of the Arabian Nights). In that case, the player is forced to flip once in order to hit any switch and end the cycle. The choice of aim and timing is up to the player.

3.1.2. Stuck Extra Balls

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 Playing Opponent’s Ball and Interference.

3.1.3. 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 the Ball Save section.

3.2. 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 a major machine malfunction can affect league play. A major malfunction is one that results in a loss of ball in play that is not a normal part of the game (i.e. premature loss of turn). 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 Ball Save).
  • A turn ends prematurely (i.e. with 1 or more balls in play).
  • A ball is auto-plunged or otherwise shot into play prematurely.

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.

If a major malfunction occurs to a player during the course of a game, the player has two options: at the end of the ball on which the malfunction occurred, he may either continue the game as is, or request that all players in his group end the current game and replay the entire round. The player must request a decision from the SLO prior to any players in the group start playing their next ball. The requesting player is responsible for ensuring that the next player does not begin play before a decision is announced. If he allows the game to continue, then it is presumed that he wishes to continue playing the game. If the game is replayed, the second (replay) score becomes his score on that game, regardless of whether it is better or worse than his previous effort.

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. If the first ball played by all players result in major malfunctions, or if play cannot be continued on a machine for any reason, the machine is automatically declared unplayable for the rest of the meet, or until the machine is repaired. In these cases, the entire game is replayed immediately on a machine designated by the SLO.

Catastrophic malfunctions such total machine failure, fire due to overheated components, main processor halts, and similar events are handled on a case by case basis, using the malfunction rules described above if possible. Frequently, catastrophic malfunctions will invalidate all scores for that group on that machine. However, depending on when the malfunction occurs, the scores as played may stand if so decided by the SLO (e.g. catastrophic malfunctions on the last ball of the game). 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.

3.3. 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. It is the responsibility of all members of a group to ensure that positive malfunctions are not abused.

Note that a one ball “multiball” is not considered to be an exceptionally unfair advantage.

3.4. Gameplay Promptness

When a player’s turn comes up in a league match, he 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 for him, and the player may not play the ball.

3.5. Practice Games

Once league play starts, a player may not practice games that he is 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 by his own or other groups. Practice games must be ended immediately if a league group is ready to begin a scheduled game on that machine.

3.6. 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.

3.7. 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 his own unallowable extra ball, he must stop as soon as the error is recognized. The other group members may request a game restart if the amount of play time and scoring of said ball is deemed excessive by the SLO.

This does not apply in cases where a player must flip once to avoid “infinite ball saves.” (See Ball Save)

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. On the second or greater offense (per meet), the violator receives a machine score of zero (0) for the game.

If the affected ball was an unallowable extra ball, 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) or replay the entire game. The player must request a decision from all players in the group before play resumes. The requesting player is responsible for ensuring that the next player does not begin play before a decision is announced. If he allows the game to continue without announcing his request, then it is presumed that he wishes to continue the game and play an additional ball. If the game is replayed, the second (replay) score becomes his score on that game, regardless of whether it is better or worse than his 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 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.

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

If a player interferes with another player, causing a drain and/or loss of turn, the victim of the interference may request to replay the entire game. 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, even if there are credits on the machine.

Interference is considered a serious violation of league play rules, and a penalty is attached. 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 (0).

Third offense: Forfeit of all games in the current match with machine scores of zero (0).

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.

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.

4.4. 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. If the proper number of games cannot be started by the above means for some reason, the game is ended immediately and a replay of the machine by all players commences. The player responsible for the wrong number of games being credited (who pressed the credit button) pays the cost of the restart.

4.5. Out of Order Playing

Players must take their turn on all machines in the correct player order as determined by the scoresheet. If a player’s turn is incorrectly played by another group member, the group may take one of two actions: the incorrect order can be maintained for the remaining duration of the game if the order sequence occurs from the beginning of the game, or all play must halt and the game restarted with all players in the correct order based on the scoresheet. If the group decides to continue play, the order must be corrected on the scoresheet to avoid confusion later while recording the totals.

4.6. 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 LPL league play. A player that successfully performs a deathsave or bangback will receive a machine score of zero (0) 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).

4.7. Cheating

Pinball can often be frustrating, especially during competition. The LPL 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.

5. Player Grouping—Non-Playoff Matches

Players are arranged into groups of three or four, so that each group will contain a range of player abilities, and so that players will play new players each week. A match consists of five games, played on five different machines 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, scores are recorded for the purpose of awarding an overall season winner, and seed position in the playoffs.

5.1. Group Size

If the number of players is a multiple of 4, players will be arranged in groups of 4.

If the number of players is not a multiple of 4, players are arranged into as many groups of 4 players as possible, with remaining groups having 3 players.

5.2. Playing Order

Player order is determined by the players in the group. While not required, groups should change player order on each machine so that each player will have a chance of playing first, second, third, and fourth.

6. Scoring

It is each player’s responsibility to be sure that their machine scores are recorded correctly on the scoresheet as each game is finished. In order to avoid errors, scores must include commas to separate thousands, millions, etc. Any possible scoring errors should be brought to the attention of the SLO as soon as possible. Once notified of a possible error, the SLO shall contact all the players in the affected group to determine their recollection of the scoring. If all players are in agreement, then the scoring will be corrected. However, if all players in the group do not concur with the reported error, then the scores as written on the scoresheet shall stand.

6.1. Game Points

For each machine, players will be ranked from highest score to lowest. The highest ranked player will receive 25 points, the second –24, third –23, and so on until 0. If the number of players present for the week is greater than 25, some players may receive 0 points for a machine. The player with the highest score on a machine will receive a 5 point bonus. Thus, a perfect score for a week is 150.

Any ties in machine score will be resolved by a one-ball playoff between the affected players on the same machine. If this playoff does not resolve the tie, additional balls will be played until the tie is broken.

Game points are one measure of a player’s ability, one that depends both on their ability and their attendance record: of two equally-able players, the one attending the most weeks will have a higher score. This serves as an incentive to attend league nights as regularly as possible.

7. Machine Selection and Play Order

Machines are selected by the SLO’s prior to game play.  If possible, the league games will be announced in advance to allow for practice during the week prior to the meet.

7.1. Machine Play Order

After machines are selected, each group picks an available machine of their choice. When a group finishes a game, they move to the next available machine. Games do not have to be played in the order indicated on the scoresheet.

7.2. Machine Replacement Selection

If a machine should become unplayable during league play, a replacement machine must be designated by the SLO, subject to as many of the following constraints as possible.

8. Finals

The LPL Finals system consists of a combination of two-player matches in a double-elimination format. Finals seeding is based on total points during the regular season. The SLO may revise the rules for finals as necessary.

8.1. Finals Date and Time

Finals will start at 7:30 P.M. on Tuesday 5/23. Ideally we will finish by 11 P.M., but it is possible the finals may run a little bit over. The official league after-party is at DT Kirby’s.

8.2. Finals Requirements and Divisions

You need to have played in the league a minimum of half of the weeks weeks in order to qualify for the finals. Your league ranking (after lowest 2 weeks removed) will be used for seeding at the finals. The top 8 players from the league ranking (after lowest 2 weeks removed) that show up for finals will qualify for the A division, everyone else (who played 3 weeks minimum) will qualify for B division. A bye will be given to the highest ranked B division player if there are an odd number of players in B division. We will play both A and B division at the same time on Tuesday. If there are ties in the league rankings, we will play a tiebreaker game on a random game before the finals start.

8.3. IFPA Points

Everyone who played in the league will receive IFPA points, starting with the finals results, and then the league rankings for members who did not participate in the finals. We will not be playing any tiebrieker games for ties due to the finals results.

8.4. Entry Fee, Plaques and Payouts

Entry fee for finals is $10 payable at the start of finals (no dough, no show). Please bring tens, fives, ones if you can (hard to make change for everyone). As always, coin drop is required and seperate from the entry fee. 100% of entry fees will be paid back minus the cost of plaques (roughly $40 total for the plaques). There will be a 1st place and 2nd place plaque. % payouts (minus cost of plaques) will be as follows:

1st place – 70%
2nd place – 30%

8.5. Brackets, Machines and Player Order

There will be one (1) sixteen person bracket with seeding based on the final league standings. If there are less than 16 people for finals, then bye’s will be given to high seeds to create a 16 person bracket. Finals will be head-to-head brackets, best 2 out 3, double elimination. Top seed will get choice to either pick the machine or player order for 1st and 3rd games. Person who doesn’t pick the machine will pick the order. When choosing a machine, if there is already a group waiting to play a machine, another machine must be chosen. A specific machine may only be played once within a head-to-head match-up, regardless of who picked the machine. Your seeding at the start of the finals will continue all the way through the finals (even into the “losers” bracket).

8.6. Available Machines

Tentatively, all of the machines on the MSA floor will be available for the finals which people can choose from. There are some possible exceptions which may include (but are not limited to):
Any machines with known reoccurring malfunctions.
Any machines not owned by MSA.

Again, this is tentative and subject to change as needed.

8.7. Extra Balls and Machine Specifics

We will drain extra balls on all machines (even classic machines) in order to keep the tournament short and simple. Player will plunge the extra ball but will not be allowed to flip. If the extra ball does not go into play after one plunge, then the other player will plunge the ball into play by pulling the plunger all the way back (e.g. hard plunge). We will disclose other machine specific rules before the start of the tournament, but you can pretty much count on the following:

Rolling Stones (posts will be turned off)
Avatar, Twilight Zone and other special ball games (the special balls will be left in / turned on)

9. Dues

There is no cost to play in the LPL. However, there will be a $10 fee to play in the finals. This fee will go towards trophies and payout to the winners.

9.1. Regular Season Play

Players will pay for all games played with the exception of games set to Free Play or that have existing credits.

2 thoughts on “Rules

  1. Pingback: Updated rules for Finals Tuesday 4/8 7:30 P.M. | Lafayette Pinball League

  2. Pingback: Reminder – league finals Tuesday 12/2 at 7:30 PM. | Lafayette Pinball League

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s