Weekly League: 1820 Lounge

Space City Pinball League is back at the original home, Eighteen Twenty Lounge! Join us Wednesday nights at 7pm for 6 weeks with a playoff on week 7 starting on the 9th of February. Each night groups of 3 or 4 will play 5 pinball machines, earning points (7,5,3,1) for how each person finishes in the group (1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th). Points will accumulate throughout the season, climaxing on the last night for playoffs for the top finishers. In accordance with the new IFPA rules for leagues, a player must play in at least 4 of the weeks to be eligible for playoffs and to qualify for WPPR points. We will only count the the top 4 weeks scores to determine playoff standings. Cost for the season is $20.00 per person, payable by week 2. Funds will be used for trophies and prize money.

NOTE: All dates are subject to change. We will cancel any meeting in the event of extreme weather, or if the meeting conflicts with a major event at Minute Maid Park. Notifications will be communicated on facebook and via the email subscription. 

This document will cover the general overview of the Space City Pinball League to be held at Joystix. Special thanks to Joystix, who has graciously volunteered to host the league and provide the pinball machines. Also, thanks to the CPL, FSPA and PPL as these rules are modified from their originals.  Any rulings not covered in this document will refer to the PAPA World Champion Official Rules, available at http://papa.org/learning-center/players-guide/?target=competition-rules

Quick Reference for rulings: http://www.spacecitypinball.com/downloads/quick_rules.pdf

Current standings can be viewed at here.

1. Introduction

The Space City Pinball League (SCPL) rules provide a format for running a friendly league competition for pinball players of all skill levels. These rules are designed for leagues of any number of players, playing on five machines at a single location. 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 SCPL league system allows players of all skill levels to play in a single league which is fun and competitive for everyone.

The schedule currently consists of a 6 week schedule and one playoff date. Please refer to the calendar for upcoming meets. During each meet, players will be placed in groups and play multiplayer games. Players will earn points based on their finishing position on each game (i.e., 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th). Points accumulated throughout the season will determine qualification/seeding in the playoffs.  A players 4 best week scores will determine their seeding.  Only players that compete in 4 regular season meets will be eligible to play in the playoffs. 

1.1 League Officials

In these rules, TD stands for Tournament Director, a SCP 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.

These rules are a guide. At times situations will arise that aren’t specifically covered by these rules. In these cases, the TD 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 TD 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.

League officials will perform all league tasks such as scheduling, collecting dues, communications to league members, making rule changes and scorekeeping.

Current TD: Marc Gammons

1.2 Tournament Software

Match Play Events will be used to organize tournaments. The software will assign groups and arenas for each round. Players may submit results at the conclusion of a round after verifying with a fellow competitor that the submission information is correct.

2. Attendance, Tardiness, and Personal Conduct

The League Officers must set a complete schedule before league play begins. Dates will be decided upon, however locations may change. League players are encouraged to attend every week, but 100% attendance is not required. You can miss two weeks of the season without any penalty to your score (see the scoring section for details.)

2.1 Start Time & Placement of Tardy Players

At league start time, players must immediately halt any non-league games and join their assigned group.

A tardy player may not be allowed to play. However, we recognize that Houston is not the easiest city to travel in. If you are planning to attend but may be a few minutes late, please contact the TD.  A score of 0 will be taken for any missed games.

2.2 Personal Conduct & Under 21

All players are expected to conduct themselves in a polite and sensitive manner.  SCPL is first and foremost an inclusive organization.  Players should behave in the spirit of community, which makes competitive play more enjoyable for everyone. Outbursts and offensive language are not acceptable.  Derogatory speech towards any age/race/gender/person is not acceptable.  Any overtly aggressive behavior that any TD determines to be inappropriate is not acceptable.  Expressed or implied threats or actions of violence are not acceptable.

Players who exhibit any of the above behavior may be subject to a warning by a TD.  If a player receives two warnings in a night, they will receive zeros on all games for that night and will be asked to leave. Any further infraction will result in that player being banned from that season of league.  Further infractions will result in a permanent ban

Serious violations are those so designated in these rules, as well as any conduct by a player that the TD determines to be exceptionally detrimental to the league.Serious violations are cumulative over an entire season, not just one match.

While the league nights are open to players under 21, SCPL recognizes that 1820 Lounge serves an adult population. Therefore, the league asks those under 21 to not approach the bar, to remain inside the lounge, not stand outside the establishment, and to behave in a manner that does not call attention to or distract from the atmosphere of the lounge. Underage players should also leave 1820 Lounge after league play is complete.

2.3 Inclement Conditions

The TD may cancel a league night, due to inclement weather or other inclement conditions, particularly if travel conditions are deemed unsafe for players. The TD is responsible to notify all players if it is deemed that a league night cannot be held as scheduled. A makeup date will be scheduled for all players affected by the League Officials.

Extra time may be allotted for tardiness in the event of inclement conditions at the TD’s discretion.

3. Machine Play Rules – General

3.1 Extra Balls

When you are awarded an extra ball, you must plunge it. You cannot touch the flipper buttons before plunging. You may try ONCE for a soft skill shot. If the ball does not make it out of the shooter lane on your first attempt, you must plunge the second time at full strength. It is the player’s responsibility to ensure they do not play extra balls by accident. If a player plays an extra ball by accident, they must take a 0 for the game.

3.2 Promptness

When a player’s turn comes up in a league match, he/she is expected to begin play promptly. If a league player does not begin play in a reasonable amount of time (usually but not always two minutes), the TD may plunge the ball for him/her, and the player may not play the ball.

3.3 Practice Games

Once league play starts, a player may not play or practice games that he/she 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.

3.4 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.

3.5 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.

3.6 Machine Abuse

Tilt sensors are employed to determine what constitutes unduly rough handling of each machine, within the parameters of normal play. Abusive handling such as punching, kicking, lifting, tipping, or rocking a machine, or hitting the glass in any way, is grounds for a warning and possible disqualification of game or ejection from the league, at the discretion of TD.

3.7 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 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 TD 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).
    • A turn ends prematurely (i.e. with 1 or more balls in play as in multi-ball). 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 TD before league play is started, then that problem is not considered a major malfunction even if the result is loss of ball in play.
    • A game kicks 2 balls into the shooter lane and the turn ends when one drains.  
    • A switch intermittently not registering.

When a major malfunction occurs, it is the player’s responsibility to notify the TD, calmly and promptly. If the TD agrees that the incident is a major malfunction, the player will be provided with one additional ball of play at the beginning of a new game, after the current game has been completed. No attempt will be made to re-establish the state of the machine at the time of the major malfunction. The player’s total score on the additional ball of play will be added to his or her previous score, and the new game will be terminated.

At the request of the player, if and only if a tournament official approves, the major malfunction may instead be handled as follows. The current game will be terminated and the score recorded. A new game will be started, and after the appropriate number of balls have been played in the new game, the new score will be added to the old score to determine the player’s total score, and the new game will be terminated. This approach is functionally similar to the previous paragraph, but may afford different strategic opportunities to the player. In no event will a player be allowed to abuse this rule through intentionally seeking a major malfunction.

If a major malfunction occurs early in the play of the first ball by the first player, tournament officials may rule that the current game is voided and the score discarded. Machine repairs may be attempted and the player(s) will restart their play without needing to track the previous score.

In the event that two or more major malfunctions take place during the same game the game may be declared unplayable by the TD.  

Under certain specific conditions, a major malfunction may be declined by the player. This must be approved by the tournament official, and must not result in a situation which provides an unfair advantage to the player.

The TD 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 TD who is not involved in the affected match.

Catastrophic malfunctions such as slam tilt, 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 TD (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.

3.8 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 TD‘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 TD and shall be avoided during subsequent league play. At the discretion of the TD, 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 TD 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.

Note that a one ball “multiball” is not considered to be an exceptionally unfair advantage nor is a missing tilt assembly.

4. Illegal actions

4.1 Playing Opponent’s Ball

The violator shall attempt to trap the ball(s) on a flipper as soon as the error is realized. The violator is punished by receiving a zero score for that game. It is your responsibility to know what player you are.

If the affected ball was an unallowable extra ball, there is no additional compensation for the victim. Otherwise, the victim may choose one of two options: continue playing the erroneously plunged ball (if control can be recovered) or drain the plunged ball and play an additional ball through a new 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 he allows the game to continue without announcing a decision, then it is presumed that he wishes to continue the game and play an additional ball

If a player does get disqualified from a game, their position in the game is considered open. Any interference caused by player error (for example, tilt throughs or accidentally playing out of turn) in that position will have no additional consequences to the offending player. Any activity played in that open position will be considered void.

4.2 Not Starting the Proper Number of Games

It is the responsibility of all players to ensure the correct number of games are started.

  • If too many games are started, 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, the game is ended immediately and a new game is started.

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

A slam tilt is one caused by an aggressive and excessive shove of the machine, or by an attempted bang back or death save, and is considered illegal. The violator will receive a zero score for that game.

4.5 Cheating

Pinball can often be frustrating, especially during competition. The SCPL 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. Penalty for cheating will be determined by league officials based on the severity of the offense.

5. Scoring

5.1 Points

Points available are based on the size of your group:

3 player group

1st – 7 points
2nd – 4 points
3rd – 1 points

4 player group

1st – 7 points
2nd – 5 points
3rd – 3 point
4th – 1 points

If a player does not compete in a match, either due to showing up late or leaving early, that player will receive a score of 0 for that game and the game will be scored by the number of people who played in the game.

5.2 Entering Scores

It is each player’s responsibility to be sure that their machine scores are recorded correctly as each game is finished. Local etiquette suggests the player who took first in the round volunteer to enter the scores.

Any possible scoring errors should be brought to the attention of the scorekeeper or TD as soon as possible. Once notified, the scorekeeper 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 recorded shall stand.

5.3 League Standings and Dropped Scores

Points accumulate over the course of the season, which can be viewed on Matchplay.events under the series name. Only the top 4 weeks will count toward the final standings.

6. Machine Selection and Play Order

After the machines and player order are published on Matchplay.events, the group should begin play on any of the available machine assigned to the group.  

Pay attention to the order of play as listed in Matchplay.events. If you play someone else’s ball, you must take a 0 for the game.

The tournament will be set up using rotating player order. For example, the first game of a match the first player (A) plays first, the second player (B) plays second, and so one.  For the second game of the match, the second player plays 1st, the third players plays second, and so on.  This rotation continues for each player. It is easy to remember that player A is always followed by player B no matter the position. 

7. Playoffs

7.1 Playoff Divisions

To provide a fair chance for players of all skill levels to compete in the playoffs, the league is separated into playoff divisions based on league size. The chart following this section explains division breakdowns.

7.2 Awarding Playoff Spots

All league players that participate in at least 4 of the matches are eligible to play in the playoffs. The number of players grouped into each division will depend on the number of eligible players (see chart below). 

Players per division
Eligible League Players A qualifiers B qualifiers
8 – 11 4 0
12 – 15 4 4
16 – 23 8 4
24 – 31 12 8
32 – 39 16 8
40 – 47 16 12
48+ 16 16

The winner of each final match is named Division Champion for the season. Note that B Division finals are for prizes only! Final rank for B-division players will be determined by points earned during the regular season.  

7.3 Playoff Format

Any division consisting of 8 or more players will be split into two groups and have one semi final round before the finals.

Any division consisting of 12 or more players will have two semi final rounds before the finals.

Any division consisting of 16 or more players will have two semi final rounds before the finals.

2 players from each group will advance to the next round. Playoff seeding is determined by the final season standings throughout the playoffs. The top seeded player will have choice of order for all games. 

7.4 Ties in Playoff Qualification

If there is a tie in divisional standings based on total league points, the tie is first broken by using a metric known as the “Liz factor”, which is simply the highest score from the tied players dropped weeks. If the tie is still unresolved, the next tiebreaker will be the highest single week score. The third tie breaker will be the 2nd highest single week score attained by the player. Tiebreaking will continue in this fashion (3rd highest week score, 4th highest, and so on) until all weeks have been exhausted or rank has been determined.

7.5 Playoff Scoring

Playoff scoring will be 4 points for 1st, 2 for 2nd, 1 for 3rd and 0 for 4th place.

In each round, two players with the highest point totals from that round in each 4 player group, will advance to the next round.

7.6 Playoff Machine Selection

For playoffs, each group will be randomly assigned to a bank of 3 games. Games must be played in order.

7.7 Ties in Playoff Results

If two or more players are tied in points after the semi final or final has been played, then a one game playoff has to occur to break the tie. The machine choice, or order, will be given to the highest regular season ranked player followed by 2nd, 3rd, etc. The tie-breaking game cannot be played on a game that was chosen in that round.

7.8 Tardy or Missing from Playoffs

Players are required to sign in for playoffs at a designated time. The TD may choose to delay playoffs for a reasonable amount of time if a player is tardy.  

7.9 Attendance Restrictions

Players who have attended less than four of the regular season meets are not eligible for playoffs.

8. Dues

8.1 Cost

It costs $20 to play in the league, due on the second week. The TD or any League Officer may collect dues from any league player. 

8.2 Payouts & Use of Funds

All league dues will be spent on league activities and supplies.

The expenditures for league per season are listed below. Percentages are approximate.

First, IFPA fees ($1.00 per player) will be subtracted from the pot. If needed, we will subtract $35 to cover basic league operations (website hosting, poster printing, software subscription fees, etc.). Next, we will subtract the cost of trophies. Total cost of trophies can vary based on vendor, but we will make all attempts to minimize these costs. The number of players awarded trophies will determined at the TD’s discretion.

The remaining pot will be spent on payouts.

70% to A Division

30% to B Division

Within divisions 40% – 30% – 20% – 10% will be the payouts for positions 1-4.