1. toThe Short Version

    The league costs $5 per week plus the coin drop, the money goes toward finals prize money, and awards.  All you have to do is show up for league at any one of the available dates and play three games of head-to-head pinball in 3- and 4-player groups to earn points. (Plunge extra balls / bonus balls to save time!)

    Each player’s worst 2 sessions are thrown out. At the end of week 7, the top 12 players will compete in league finals to be held on week 8.

    End-of-season league results will be submitted to the IFPA, and all players are eligible to earn WPPR points for their participation.

    Want to know more?  Read on…

    HFX Pinball League Rules – Rules v0.1 (March 19, 2018)

    1. Introduction

    The HFX Pinball League (HFXPL) 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 three or more machines at a single location. The nature of the league system allows players of all skill levels to play while being fun and competitive for everyone.

    The schedule consists of 7 weekly sessions, and a playoff final.

    A player’s overall league score is the total of their five highest session scores. This allows any player to miss two sessions without impacting his or her score, while players who attend all sessions may drop their weakest results. Any missed week receives a score of zero.

    These rules allow maximum flexibility to fit some competitive pinball in around everyone’s schedule!

    Special thanks to the Pittsburgh Pinball League, the Free State Pinball Association, the IFPA and the Professional and Amateur Pinball Association, and the NEPL as these rules are modified from their originals.

    1.1 League Officials/Site Admins

    League officials make decisions on rule interpretation.  If possible, rulings of malfunctions or interference should be deferred to an official that is not directly involved in a game.  League officials collect dues and score sheets, and are responsible for starting league nights on time. At least one league official must be present at each league meeting.  League officials are eligible to play in the league.

    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, league officials will make decisions in the spirit of the rules. These decisions will be documented for later reference, and applied consistently should the situation arise again in the same season.

    2. Attendance

    League officials will set a schedule before league play begins. League players are encouraged to attend every week, but 100% attendance is not required.

    2.1 Start Time

    A specific start time for league will be announced in advance. Any games in progress by league players at league start time are immediately halted. Players join their assigned group and begin league play immediately.

    2.3 Tardiness

    Players who arrive after play has begun may still enter play for the week, providing there are three-player groups with games left to be played.  The tardy player will be assigned to the group containing the fewest amount of players that has the most games remaining. The tardy player will receive a last-place finish for all missed games.

    A tardy player may not enter into a game already in progress (the first ball has been plunged).

    2.4 Early leaving

    Players who leave before play has finished will receive a last-place finish for all missed games.

    2.5 Forfeits

    If a player does not show up to any location for league night in a given week, that player will be given a score of zero for the week.

    2.6 Inclement Conditions

    League officials may cancel a league night, due to inclement weather or other conditions, particularly if travel may be unsafe for players. League officials are 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.

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

    3. Machine Play Rules

    3.1 Extra Balls / Bonus Balls

    Extra balls & bonus balls are not allowed in league play unless declared otherwise by a league official before league play begins.

    An earned extra ball will be plunged, not played.  When a player plunges an extra ball, they 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, non-valid playfield), the player may re-plunge the ball.

    If you plunge 3 times and the playfield doesn’t validate due to a switch not being hit, you may give a single flipper hit (no aiming / trapping), just to hit a switch to validate the playfield and complete the extra ball.

    If the machine awards a timed bonus ball, you must plunge to allow the timer to start, and then let the bonus ball time out with no further action until the time expires.
    Ball saves are allowed. In some cases, a machine may state “extra ball” or “shoot again” for a ball save; these ball saves (such as F-14 Tomcat’s Flight Insurance) are allowed. The simplest way to tell if a ball has ended is whether or not an end-of-ball bonus has been awarded.

    Players should be aware of whether they have earned an extra ball and not walk away from a machine until it has been plunged.

    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 plunged.

    3.3 Disabled Machines

    In the event of a machine breakdown, a new machine shall be chosen.  If a machine keeps having either catastrophic, or major malfunctions, it will be considered broken down for the event.

    It will be repaired by the location when they can attend to it.

    3.4 Machine play promptness

    If a league player does not begin their turn in a reasonable amount of time (two minutes), other players may plunge the ball for them, and the player may not play the ball.  If a machine has an auto-plunge, and it activates, no other player may attempt to save the ball.

3.5 Practice Games

Once league play starts, a player may not play or practice games.  They should remain with their group. If they must leave they should inform another player in their group.

3.6 Non-League Players

League players do not take precedence over other pinball players. A non-league player may accidentally play your ball: this is considered a distraction, not interference or a malfunction. If this happens, regain control of the ball as quickly and politely as possible. Pay attention to your game and this won’t happen.

3.7 Rulings

Rulings shall be made by league officials, which include event coordinators and any person(s) designated as officials by the coordinators. Any designated official or event coordinator is excluded from ruling on any play situation that directly affects his or her actual or potential standing as a player. Such persons may also be recused where their decision affects a close friend or family member, at the discretion of other league officials.  If a ruling can’t be made from rules here within, admins can refer to PAPA/IFPA official rules for clarification. The acting HFXPL official will always act in the best interest, and in the spirit of pinball.

4. Bad Stuff / Player errors

A player error is any player action, purposeful or accidental, which affects the normal play or outcome of a game in progress.

4.1 Playing An Extra Ball

Don’t do this! If a player nudges, flips, or otherwise plays an extra ball, they receive a score of zero for the game. However, a player may use the flippers to set up a skill shot, once the ball has been plunged a player may not touch the machine.

4.2 Playing An Opponent’s Ball

Don’t do this! If you play someone else’s ball, trap the ball on a flipper as soon as you realize the mistake. The penalty for playing an opponent’s ball is a zero score for the game. It is your responsibility to know when it’s your turn and when it isn’t.

The victim may choose one of two options: continue playing the ball (if control can be recovered), or drain the ball and play an additional ball, either through an extra ball or in a new game. The player must decide immediately. If the player allows the ball to drain without deciding, then it is presumed that he wishes to continue the game and play an additional ball.

4.3 Interference

Definitely don’t do this!! Interference includes (but isn’t limited to) tilting an opponent’s ball or nudging the machine during another player’s ball. It also includes intentional distraction of a player during his play.

Talking to or coaching of any player at the machine during a game, in any round, is not allowed. Informing player 1 too many or too few games have been entered into the machine will not be penalized as coaching.

If a player interferes with another player, causing a drain and/or loss of turn, this is treated as a major malfunction.

Intentional interference is a serious violation of league play rules and could result in expulsion from the league.

Accidental interference is regrettable but can happen. Any player or non-player who accidentally interferes with the play of any league game will be warned. If the interference was sufficient to cause the loss of ball, this will be treated as a major malfunction. If the interference terminated play for all players (for example, tripping over a power cord and pulling it from the wall), this will be treated as a catastrophic malfunction.

League officials will be the sole determiners of what constitutes interference and whether or not it is accidental or deliberate.

4.4 Slam Tilts / Overly Aggressive tilting

Please don’t do this! A slam tilt is 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.  For other players whose games are incomplete, this is considered a catastrophic malfunction.

4.5 Not Starting the Proper Number of Players

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 players on the machine must complete their entire game, at which time the remaining players will play their entire game.

4.6 Death Saves and Bang Backs

Techniques known as “Death saves” and “Bang backs” are sometimes employed by certain advanced players. Because of the effectiveness of these techniques varies from machine to machine, and because of the risk of injury to either player or machine, these techniques are banned from play. In the event that a drained ball bounces back into play without deliberate player action, such as in the case of a “lazarus”, this is considered the mechanical nature of pinball and the ball may be played. If this situation occurs repeatedly, and there is question as to whether the lazarus ball was naturally occurring or induced by the player, league officials may end the game in progress and award a score of zero.

4.7 Cheating

Pinball can often be frustrating, especially during competition. 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. The penalty for cheating will be determined by league officials based on the severity of the offense, and could result in expulsion but is not limited to it.

4.8 Waiting your turn

When playing at an arcade / barcade / or other commercial location, league players DO NOT take precedence over other customers.  If they are playing a game we do not have the right to kick them off. Simply wait (within reason), or pick a new game.

4.9 Serious Violations of League Rules

Serious violations such as slam tilts, interference, and other “bad stuff” listed above 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 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 session with machine scores of zero.

Behavior which causes a player to be ejected from the location hosting any league session 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 for the season.

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

5. Scoring

It is each player’s responsibility to be sure that their machine scores are recorded correctly on the score sheet as each game is finished. Any possible scoring errors should be brought to the attention of league officials immediately, and all players in the group must agree before any requested change is accepted.  Please make sure that the name of the game is being captured on your score sheet as well.

5.1 Player Groups

All players who are in attendance at league start time will be randomly assigned to 3- and 4-player groups. A 5-player group will not be used unless there are exactly five players.

Ideally, all groups will have 4 players.  When the number of players is not a multiple of 4, one through three 3-player groups will be assigned.  For example, if there are 15 players, the group sizes will be 4, 4, 4, and 3. If there are 17 players, the group sizes will be 4, 4, 3, 3, and 3. When assigning players to groups, 4-player groups will be assigned first.

5.2 Game Selection and Play Order

All groups will play each machine one (1) time per session. If a machine is out of order, one machine will be played twice and will be chosen by a league official.

The group score sheet will show the play order for each game. Player order will be random for the first game of each session. For the following sessions, the player with the lowest score from the previous game will have first choice of order, followed by the player with the next lowest score until all four players have chosen.

5.3 Scoring

In each game, a player scores points for their finish against their opponents.  The winner of a game gets 10 points, and last place gets 2 points. Specific points available depend on the size of the group:

3-player group:

1st = 10 points
2nd = 5 points
3rd = 2 points

4-player group

1st = 10 points
2nd = 6 points
3rd = 4 points
4th = 2 points

5-player group (rare)

1st = 10 points
2nd = 7 points
3rd = 5 points
4th = 3 points
5th = 2 points

The maximum number of points a player can earn in a session is 40.

5.4 Ties

In the rare case where two or more players have tied for machine score (typically on EMs and NBA Fastbreak) a one ball match will be played on the same machine to break the tie. If after one ball there is still a tie another ball will be played.

5.5 League Standings and Dropped Scores

Each player’s total weekly points are added to their season total every week. All players will have their lowest two scores from the season dropped from their final standings.

League standings will be updated and posted each week.

6. Finals Qualifications / Finals

6.2 Finals Pre-registration

Pre-registration will be used to help determine the intentions of qualified players to see if they are going to finals. If a player qualifies for finals and drops out, the next player in the standings will move into finals.


Players must check in by noon (12:00PM) on finals day in order to play.

Finals will have a firm start time.

6.3 Finals Format

Finals will be played in a group match play bracket format (PAPA style) where players will be grouped according to how many players qualified for finals (4, 8, or 12). In the case of a 12-player final, the top four seeds will receive a first round bye. Groups will play three games per round and points will be awarded based on finishing position in each game. Scoring will be 7/5/3/1. 

For the first game in each round, the highest seed player will receive choice of game or order of play. The next highest seed will then choose game (if highest seed did not choose a game) or order and so on. Subsequent games and order will be chosen by the winner of the previous game. E.g. the winner of game one gets to choose game or order on game two, then second place, then third, then fourth.

In the case of a tie at the end of a round, please see section 6.6.

The top two finishers at the end of a round will move on to the next round and the bottom two players will be eliminated.


6.4 Ties in Finals Qualification

If a tie in total adjusted league points would determine either eligibility for or seeding in finals, these ties will be broken based on each player’s best weeks.  The tie is first broken by the player’s highest single week score. If the tie is still unresolved, the next tiebreaker will be the next highest single week score, and so on. If a tie still exists for finals eligibility, a single randomly-chosen game will be played to break the tie.

6.6 Tiebreakers

If two or more players are tied in points after a playoff round has been played, then a one game playoff is played to break the tie. The machine will be randomly picked by a league official.  The play order will be determined by original seeding.

6.7 Tardy or Missing from Finals

Tardy players (who already informed admins of their lateness), will have all balls in their games plunged until they arrive.  They will not be able re-join their round until the start of a new game. They cannot participate in a game if Player 1’s Ball 1 has been plunged.

6.8 No Practice
Once you are assigned to a group, there will be no further practice on games.  If you are seen playing a game, that game will no longer be available as a game you can choose.

7. Dues and Private Sites

7.1 League Dues

League dues are $5 per session you attend. This money helps funds the finals prize pool as well as the IFPA fees ($1 per player) League officials collect dues from players. Dues must be paid each week, no exceptions.