Running through the bushes, your heart is racing; you can hear markers going off in the distance, perhaps some big battle is going on. You think it is time to move, you stand up and BAM, the splat of a paintball coats the lens of your mask. Some of us enjoy playing and others want to play it. Paintball as a recreational sport has a long history and has had its ups and downs, but is there room for a new game?

In 1976, Hayes Noel, a stock trader, Bob Gurnsey, and author Charles Gaines were walking home and chatting about Gaines’ recent trip to Africa and his experiences hunting buffalo. Eager to recreate the adrenaline rush that came with the thrill of the hunt, and inspired by Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game, the three friends came up with the idea to create a game where they could stalk and hunt each other. In 1981 in New Hampshire, the group used a “Nel-spot 007” pistol (normally used by farmers and ranchers for marking trees and livestock) to fire balls of paint. Twelve people participated in this first game, which was a “capture the flag” scenario between two teams. The winner captured all flags without firing a shot.

Since then, the commercialization of paintball took hold and official, regulated playing fields were created. Sponsored teams were created; speed ball leagues then followed and then full out speed ball competitions. The equipment became light and fast. Aggressive tactics seem to fit this style of game. It was fast, under fifteen minutes and required a team effort. The important factor is that it is a capture the flag based game in a fixed environment.

At the same time, woods ball was slowly favoring those that didn’t want to fit into the highly regulated and colorful game of speedball. As the name sounds, woods ball is played outdoors. The equipment was cheaper which meant a bit heavier. Low level to high level tactics could be used during the game. There are teams that train together but on the average, a woods ball game is made up of a variety of people with many different experiences and ages. Games could last up to 30 minutes or so. The game is still capture the flag, but not in a controlled environment like speedball. Many MILSIM teams fall into this category because of the type of training and game play they favor. Many woods ball competitions also fall into this category because their core game is still capture the flag.

What people disliked the most about woods ball is that there is a lack of team training. Not to say there are no teams who train together, but on an average day, when someone shows up to play woods ball, there are usually a group of 20 or so people who just met playing against another group of 20 who just met. Speed ball offers the control and the team play but the game seems too quick and for those that enjoy a little bit longer, more strategic game play, speedball just doesn’t offer it. In both cases, people are getting tired of just spraying paint at 17 wsm ammo each other for the fun of it. Scenario ball was then born.

Unlike Speedball and woods ball games, scenario ball doesn’t have a “capture the flag” as its core game. In fact, scenario ball doesn’t focus on shooting anyone. Some games actually penalize you for shooting other players. So what is the hype of scenario ball?

The goal of most scenario games is focused on achieving multiple/different/real world objectives without being shot at in a fixed or natural environment. Scenario ball usually has two teams, an opposing force, OPFOR and an attacking team, SPECOPS. In one game there could be one, two or three objectives for the attacking team and up to three different missions for the opposing team. The missions could be the same, or they could be different. A high level of “strategic and methodical” tactics that reflect military training is required for these missions due to restrictions in game play such as ammunition limits and the blending of OPFOR and SPECOP missions so they end up in the same place at the same time. The missions could be as simple as blowing up a bridge (fake of course but the bomb looks real), capturing a high level target and/or clearing a mock hotel. It is best to complete the missions within the time frame given without losing any members of your team.

The equipment can vary from being heavy to very light. The speed can be fast but the game time can be over 2 hours. Like in a real military exercise, teams are given orders and missions secretly after the clock has started. It is unknown to the two teams what each other will be doing, where they will be and what time frame each team has. This adds an additional variable to the game and ensures the focus is on completing missions and not just shooting everyone. Ironically enough intercept an OPFOR team and eliminating them could also be a mission!

The problem with scenario ball and the reason why it has not caught on is because there is usually an ammunition restriction in these games. An ammo cap creates a real limitation of how many rounds you can bring and prevents you from spraying people with paint. It causes the team to think about their actions before using up their limited paintball supply. Since fields make money from the sales of paintballs, scenario ball is not their first choice for making money. But I think as time progresses, money can be made in other areas such as entry fees or increase price for air and by allowing scenario ball players to play on slow days of the week. If fields are willing to build real world environments like CQB in Toronto has, then it would be reasonable to charge more without driving away customers.

By admin

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