Paintball is not war, simply because you can get eliminated in a game of paintball and keep playing. Also things like range, ROF, and ammo weight stop paintball from being realistic. Now don’t get me wrong, I like it this way and I do not want paintball to get to the point where paintball becomes war if for nothing else because many people fight war to win at all costs. However the one part of modern warfare that can translate directly into paintball is the principles of war and basic strategy. Now for those of you who may not have studied war closely I’ll give a very over simplified lesson. First of all you have Strategic, Operational and Tactical levels of war. For a paintball game the levels would apply in the following ways.
Strategic – your overall game plan, how you are choosing to win a WHOLE scenario. For example one game we decided our grand strategy was to divide into two fronts, hold one and push the other. We would move units from one front to the other depending on mission location however we did not want the enemy to get past a certain point on our left side.
Operational – This would be a specific mission plan. Say your mission is to capture a building and hold it. Are you going to go from the front? Flank it? Or simply just stop the other team from getting the building.
Tactical – how your units fight on the field. Are you going to send paintball player one into the building, or have his unit flank at that time? While tactical and operational can be confusing think of operational as applying to a large group of people and tactical applying to individuals and squads.
Once you understand the basic levels of planning the game it’s easier to go along. For example I usually play a General in the games I run, so I concentrate more on the Strategic and Operational plans while leaving some of the operational and tactical objectives to my squad leaders. It’s important to give everyone an idea of what you want but also make sure NOT to micro-manage. If you have 40+ people on your team telling all of them your plan is smart at the beginning however is can get time consuming and cost you valuable time in a game.
When making my strategy I like to keep the principles of war in mind. Many people will tell you they originate from Sun Tzu’s Art of War but to be honest I know of them from my military classes. How I always remember them is using the acronym MOUSEMOSS
M - Mobility
O - Objective
U - Unity of Command
S - Surprise
E - Economy of Force
M - Mass
O - Offensive
S - Security
S – Simplicity
Believe it or not each of these does play a role in paintball and should have something to do with your main strategy. One of my most successful games to date was the Saint Valentines day Massacre where the score was 5400, to 2000, and while I still remain undefeated (knock on wood) I like to use this game as an example of the elements success. So let’s go through them one by one…
Mobility – In paintball mobility defines how well and how fast you can move through an area not only by foot but also by fire fight. A lightly wooded area of the woods will be harder to move though yet easier to stop the enemy from moving through. With the lack of cover it is easy for players to bog down in one position and firefight playing 50/50 for the whole game. However an area with more bunkers allows players to quickly leap frog from bunker to bunker. When making your plan try to think about which areas of the field will take longer to go though, as what may seem like the longer route on foot may be quicker.
Objective – This one is short and sweet, always make sure your team knows what they are doing. If it’s something as simple as “shoot the other team” or “capture the flags in this order, fire off a rocket, and turn around three times” they need to know. Chain of command can really help out for the bigger games where you may have 100 or more people on your team.
Unity of Command – can mean many different things, quite simply it should mean someone should be the supreme commander. However it also applies to games especially when you have more than one team, on a team. For example if you have alpha unit and bravo squad on your “red” team you need to make sure that there is one individual who everyone agrees to listen to and follow. If you have everyone trying to use their own team in their own way the teamwork will fall apart.
Surprise – Nothing can turn the tides of a game quicker than doing something unexpected. Surprise can come from someone camping in a path, spies, or even special weapons. I know I was playing a game where I saw a “sniper” watch an entire squad walk past him and take them all out. If he had started firing immediately he would have lost the element of surprise and probably have been eliminated himself. If you’re always thinking outside of the box you will eventually get a huge break. But keep in mind, the bum rush is usually a bad idea!
Economy of Force – is tough to explain and even tougher to execute. Heck, I might even argue it’s impossible to truly understand economy of force in a scenario game until the end if you’re playing with walkons. Economy of Force is basically using what you need to complete and objective or mission. If you need 5 people to accomplish something don’t send 10 and you could have those other 5 doing something else. The reason economy of force is such a hard concept to use is that the player who is usually an all-star may have a bad day and the little chubby kid who might seem worthless can really save the day. I remember back in the SVM day game a kid who I sent on what I deemed a “distraction” mission to attack the other teams base with 4 other people ended up pushing their way through and holding the fort versus many players. Anyways, the final thorn is just when you’re starting to figure out your teams abilities people get tired, maybe leave, and run out of paint, air, or time. So I hope someone can master this one and teach me how to better use it!
Mass - Is like economy of force but different at the same time. You always want to have the advantage of power on the opposing team. Sometimes that’s in the form of firepower and sometimes it’s in the form of just how many players are on your team. Most paintball games are set up to limit Mass advantages strategically so focus on operational and tactical mass.
Offensive - Whenever possible be on the offensive. If you’re running a defensive mission take it to the enemy. Place some defenders further outside the fort and send a separate squad on a “discretion” mission to attack the enemy and make them lose focus. Many paintball players hate to move when being shot at, so by taking the offensive and shooting at them you can literally stop them from going anywhere.
Security - In most games the general being eliminated is worth a very large sum of points. As the general not only do you have to worry about protecting yourself but also your assets. When settings up security for yourself try to use only players you really know. I usually have a detail of 4 people all of whom I am related by blood. Any other player coming close to me needs to put down there gun or we shoot them. Anyone who is actually on your team shouldn’t be mad as your death is worth 1000 points and theirs might be worth 10. Nevertheless it is also important to know the rules of the game, if there are no spies you should focus more on setting up a perimeter around the base, rather than around yourself. Also if you have some objectives or VIP’s make sure to keep them safe. Its always important to have a few people defending objectives regardless of how much they are or aren’t worth currently as that can all change in a few seconds.
Simplicity – Finally KISS (keep it simple stupid) Sometimes I find myself making elaborate plans. But to be honest the simpler things are the easier they are to understand and execute. If you’re operational directives are easy to understand then people know what they are doing and it’s easier to tactically manage them on the field.
These principles have been the same for thousands of years and are still being used today by modern militaries across the globe. That would be back to the days where we were using swords to now days where we have B-2’s and nuclear subs. So while I think I still have much to learn, I hope that my knowledge and the principles of war will be able to help you somewhere along the line in your paintball career. Just remember when you are out on the middle of the field engaged in a fire fight two simple words… MOUSE MOSS