Official Rule Updates

In all cases, we will attempt to explain why any rule changes were made. Also, we encourage tournaments and leagues to keep their own rules up to date so less confusion exists among the competitive player-base.


2018.4.17: Stuck Ball Update:
Updated the stuck ball language so that when a ball is stuck on an outlane post and a player requests a TD drain the ball rather than attempt to shake it out, the TD can then trigger the outlane switch prior to draining the ball, the same as if the ball would have rolled off of the post into the drain. The previous verbiage did not allow the TD to trigger the outlane switch.

2018.4: Catastrophic Malfunctions / Version Naming:
The Catastrophic Malfunction rules were updated to mirror the Major Malfunction rules. Specifically, Catastrophic Malfunctions did not previously permit tournament directors to start players on balls 3 or 5 of a game when a prominent feature is available. The updated rule allows for this scenario when it may have a material impact on the game. Also, the PAPA rules will now follow a version scheme based on year and month.

20.8: Intentional Delay:
The intentional delay time period was increased to 60 seconds, and a note was added to specify this rule also applies to players who are waiting for a tile mechanism to settle prior to starting their ball in a multiplayer game.

20.7: Special Score Handling:
Section F was added to the special score handling section and is intended to minimize the impact of unexpected or rarely known software bugs and / or mechanical game issues.

20.6: Stuck Balls:
Clarified verbiage regarding center posts and stuck balls.

20.5: Stuck Balls:
Clarification was made that a ball sitting on a game’s apron below the flippers was considered in the outlane and not a stuck ball.

20.4: Grammatical fixes and Absences:
Several adjustments were made to the specific verbiage used in PAPA World Championship-specific sections to reflect PAPA 20 changes, and the language of the Absences section was updated to reflect use of the updated software queue system. Also, players are now specifically given three minutes during final rounds if they are absent, after which their score will be recorded as a zero, rather than their balls plunged.

20.3: Beneficial Malfunctions:
Adjusted the examples given in the beneficial malfunctions section.

20.2: Tilt Warnings:
Added language to allow tournament directors to adjust tilt warnings, if necessary during a ruling, if the specific game in question permits doing so via software.

20.1: Stuck Balls:
Clarified language in the stuck balls section to address why some instances of dirty pool were allowed and some weren’t. If the game has software specifically written for the situation, it is not considered a stuck ball (Addams Family, AFM). If the game does not have software specifically written for the situation, it is considered stuck (Medieval Madness).

20: Tournament Format:
Updated multiple areas to reflect the most recent changes in tournament format between PAPA’s 19 & 20.

19.1: Player Errors:
Two sentences were added to clarify that points scored while a player is playing out of turn count for the original player. It is the responsibility of all players to pay attention to the match in progress and ensure the correct player is on the machine at all times.

19: Warmup & Divisions:
A womens division was added, and the warmup period prior to finals was changed to a general 30-minute warmup, rather than the 60-seconds on each machine.

18.4: Tiebreaking Procedure:
Added verbiage to clarify that the qualifying tiebreaking procedure should be used when necessary to determine byes or other meaningful tiebreakers prior to the final rounds beginning. The previous version of the rules was not 100% clear in this area.

18.3: Disqualified Players:
Added verbiage to clarify a previously disqualified player’s position in the game is entirely void, including if an opponent plunges their ball to progress the game forward and similar situations.

18.2: Stuck Balls:
The following paragraph was clarified so that balls on outlane posts will not be considered stuck.

Any ball that comes to rest in an outlane, where any portion of the ball is below the outlane post, is not deemed a stuck ball. In these instances, players will have the option of attempting to free the ball themselves or to ask a tournament official to place the ball in the drain for them without triggering any additional switches. Please note that when this happens in multiball, in no way will a player be allowed to take advantage of this situation by continuing to play any other balls currently available. The situation of this ball that has come to rest needs to be dealt with immediately by either the player or tournament director.

18.1: Special Score Handling:
The following paragraph has been added to handle verbal concessions.

e. If a player verbally concedes for any reason, the concession will only be considered valid if it is witnessed by a scorekeeper, tournament director, or all members of a four-player group. If a player attempts to use an invalid verbal concession to interfere with an opponent, the issue and resolution will be treated on a case-by-case basis, and the offending player risks receiving a score of zero for the game in question.

18: Multiple Updates:
Excess verbiage has been stripped from multiple areas.

Qualifying bracket verbiage has been expanded to include 24 qualifiers, which is now the standard for Classics and Divisions A, B, and C.

Eligible games in classics divisions have been updated from 1986 to 1990. This increase was made in order to include a handful of specific games created during those years. As a general rule, the vast majority of games used in classics will still come from 1986 or earlier.

The warmup session prior to each division’s final rounds has been increased from 30 seconds to 1 minute.

The tiebreak procedure for non-bubble qualifying spots is now completely random.

Balls passing through the trough no longer constitute a beneficial malfunction.

Verbiage that game state “may” be reinstated after a malfunction has been inserted in order to give other directors the choice of how they would like to proceed in their own venues. This word choice was a compromise between PAPA and IFPA and allows both organizations to continue using and promoting the same set of rules. Please note that this verbiage change still allows directors the choice of not compensating for lost game state, which is how the issue will continue to be handled, as usual, at the PAPA World Championships.

Players who deliberately tilt or slam tilt a machine in order to derive some benefit to their play will receive a score of zero. Previously, the only punishment was ejection from the tournament.

A more specific procedure for dealing with malfunctioning score reels has been put into place.

The stuck ball section has been updated to remove player-choice as an option. Balls will be placed in a location of the tournament director’s choosing, which in PAPA’s case will almost always be one of the lower flippers.

The stuck ball section dealing with balls sitting on a center or outlane post has been updated. Those balls will now be drained at the players request, unless an automatic kickback feature is available in that outlane, in which a stuck ball procedure will be implemented.

16.4: Interference, Collusion, Cheating: Eliminated the final paragraph in this section referencing any prize money splits between players.  Even if all players desire a split, PAPA will only write checks in the amounts appropriate for each finishing position.  PAPA does not endorse private money-splits between players.

16.3:  Player Errors:  The penalty for starting the incorrect number of games has been updated yet again.  Originally, the responsibility fell entirely on player 1.  In the current verbiage, all players are equally responsible for ensuring the correct number of games are started.  If a mistake is made, the entire game is restarted from scratch as soon as the mistake is discovered.  By restarting the game from scratch and eliminating any progress, the rules ensure player 1 cannot gain an advantage by seeking to complete a one player game prior to the other players, such as in a position where playing an entire game alone may be beneficial.  Also, since it is the responsibility of all players to ensure the correct number of players are started, any time player 1 accidentally starts playing without the correct number of players included, and subsequently gains some practice, the fault lies on all players for not paying attention to the start of the game.   At no point will player 1 be allowed to add players to a game in progress.

In the current, and what we believe to be final iteration of the rule, no disqualifications are at stake.  In all cases, the correct number of players will be entered into the machine prior to any ball being plunged, and all players will finish the game as originally intended.

16.2: Catastrophic Malfunctions: Changed “catastrophic failure” in two places to read as “catastrophic malfunction” to clarify wording.

Player Errors: Updated the rules that require player 1 to start the correct number of games.  In the old verbiage, player 1 would be disqualified if he or she started either too few or too many games.  In the new verbiage, player 1 will only be disqualified if he or she starts too few.  In the event too many games are started, a procedure is laid out to plunge the extra balls.  This rule change is less invasive to the competition than a straight disqualification and allows for mechanical issues, such as a stuck start button switch, to be easily resolved.  In the event player 1 intentionally starts too many games in an attempt to gain an advantage, such as trying to gain practice in plunging on a game with a lucrative skillshot, a procedure is clearly laid out so that player 1 is not permitted to plunge these extra balls.  This clarification ensures that player 1 cannot gain an advantage by intentionally starting too many games and utilizing this leniency in the rule.

As a recap, the rule specifying player 1 is responsible for starting the correct number of games was put in place in version 16.1 to ensure player 1 cannot gain an advantage by inducing following players to play out of turn, or by desiring to play a complete game in advance of the other players in the hopes of gaining an advantage, such as having more than one turn to collect a previously built progressive jackpot, to capitalize on a lucrative powerball position, or similar.

Stuck Balls: A paragraph was added to the stuck balls section to clarify that any ball in an outlane will not be returned to play by the tournament director.  For instance, a ball stuck on debris or on an insert in the outlane will be placed in the drain, rather than on a flipper.  This rule applies if any part of the ball is visibly below the game’s outlane post.

16.1.2: Miscellaneous: Lowered Championship Ring scoring on NBA Fast Break from 1000 to 100 in the miscellaneous section.