MFP League Rules
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League Rules


1. Introduction

The Monterey Flipper Pinball (MFP) rules provide a format for running a friendly league competition for pinball players of all skill levels. 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. The nature of the MFP league system allows players of all skill levels to play in a single league that is fun and competitive for everyone.  The MFP Ruleset is based on the rules that govern the Free State Pinball Association, edits to their ruleset for MFP are denoted by a Red Colored Superscript 1.

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:

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 the league may choose to override specific rules in this guide if he/she deems that such modifications are beneficial for that particular situation. Any such modifications shall be made prior to the start of the season, and announced to league players and noted in the MFP Ruleset.

2. Attendance and Tardiness

The SLO must designate a specific day and start time for League events, as well as length of Season.

2.1 MFP League Attendance 2

There are 4 Seasons of MFP League Play in each Calendar Year.  Each Season is comprised of 10 Regular Season Nights, held on Mondays.

·        Best 5 Nights are tallied to create the Season Results.

2.2 Start Time 3

League begins at 7pm.  Any games in progress by league players at league start time are immediately ended. Players join their assigned group and begin league play immediately.

2.3 Tardiness 4

If the SLO is notified before league start time that a player will be late, then players in the affected group will wait 15 minutes before beginning play.  If a Player has yet to arrive after 15 minutes, the affected group will plunge that players’ balls until arrival. If the Player misses an entire game, that game will be scored based on the number of eligible (non-forfeiting) scores recorded. If a Player shows up late, and there is an open slot available in a Group, they may join in on the remaining Games for the Night.

2.4 Forfeits 5

If a player is not present and eligible to play an entire 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 a game, that player earns a win by forfeit and receives three (3) game points. That player still plays the game and his score will be recorded for statistical purposes.

2.5 League Cancellation 6

If a location should close down during league play, and 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.

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.

2.6 Guests 7

There is no such thing as a Guest in MFP, because everyone is welcome to play with MFP.

3. Machine Play Rules - General

3.1 Extra Balls 8

On machines that allow Extra Balls (EB), the Player must Plunge the Ball and Not Flip.  During an EB the Player may nudge the machine until their ball is over.  Non Ball-Flipping Shots are allowed during EB play.

Buy-ins for extra balls are not allowed.

3.2 Replays and Specials

No award is given for credits earned by replays or specials during league play. If a machine awards EB 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. 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.

·        A turn ends prematurely, as in 1 or more balls are in play.

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, reference 4.3.)

·        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 two (2) major malfunctions or one (1) catastrophic malfunction occur to a player during the course of a game, the player has two options: he may either continue the game (or accept his displayed score) as is, or abandon his current game and replay it after everyone else in the group has finished their game. The player must announce a decision to all players in the group before the next player starts playing the next ball. 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, 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 rest of the group waits for the player to finish the replayed 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. 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. 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 Router Operator and 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.

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

3.5 Gameplay Promptness 9

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 within 3 minutes, the SLO may plunge the ball for them.  It is expected of the Group to put forth reasonable effort to notify the player of their turn.

3.6 Practice Games 10

Once league play starts, a player may not play other games until their Group has finished. 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 11

· If a player flips during an EB, they must stop as soon as the error is recognized, and must plunge their next ball without playing

· If the error occurs on or after the player's last ball, their final machine score is reduced by 33%

4.2 Playing Opponent's Ball

· The unaffected players will finish out their balls on the game

· The violator and the victim will wait for the completion of the unaffected players’ game, and then start a new game, less one ball in play (ex. play 4 balls on a 5 ball game)

· If the violator and the victim encounter a Section 4.2 Illegal Action, again, then they will each earn a 0 (Zero) for that game

· All players’ scores are recorded as if none of this ever happened

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 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.

Interference is a Serious Violation (reference 4.5) 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 12

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, and replayed, immediately. In this situation, the player responsible for the wrong number of games being credited will pay the cost of restarting the game for all players.

4.7 Deathsaves and Bangbacks

Deathsaves and Bangbacks 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 MFP 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.

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 Cheating

Pinball can often be frustrating, especially during competition. The MFP 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 may result in the player's immediate suspension from the league.

5. Scoring 13

It is each player's responsibility to be sure that their machine scores are recorded correctly on the scoresheet as each game is finished. 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.

5.1 Game Points

In 4 player games:

1st - 7 Points

2nd - 5 Points

3rd - 3 Points

4th - 1 Point

In 3 player games:

1st - 7 Points

2nd - 4 Points

3rd - 1 Point

In 2 player games:

1st - 7 Points

2nd - 1 Point

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.

6. Player Grouping – Season 15

Players are arranged into groups of two, three or four. The players are grouped randomly during the first match of play.  Players are Swiss grouped. A match consists of five games, played on five 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).

6.1 Group Size

Players are arranged into as many groups of three players as possible, but in most cases there should be at least one four-player group for the lowest-ranked players. The following table shows suggested group sizes for a given number of players in the league.

2 to 4 Players: 1 Group

·        2: 2

·        3: 3

·        4: 4

5 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.

7. Machine and Player Order

Machines are randomly, and automatically, selected by MatchPlay software 16

7.1 Machine Play Order

After machines are selected, each group begins play on the machines assigned to it in the order listed on the score sheet. All groups must finish before the next round of games are started.

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.

The replacement machine:

·       Should be in good working order.

·       Should not be already scheduled for play by the affected group.

·       Should not be scheduled to be played by another group in the affected round.

·       Should be chosen to minimize group backlogs.

7.3 Individual Play Order

Order of play is Randomly selected by the MatchPlay app for the 1st round. All subsequent rounds, MatchPlay puts players in order of their current League Night, ranked, position.

8. Playoffs

MFP does not do a Playoffs. Season Standing after the 10 week season is your final ranked position that is submitted to the IFPA.