Last Saturday I was out with the team at our regular practice field, CFP, preparing for Cup. We already know how we want to play the World Cup layout when we're in control of a point so my focus on Saturday was addressing the ways an opponent can attempt to take us out of our game and take control for themselves. As it turned out our practice opponent's strategy was exactly what we needed. And what I expect a number of our potential opponents at Cup to employ to one degree or another.
A few former teammates (and old friends) were also out at the field on Saturday playing paintball and during a couple of breaks in our practice session I walked over to the players area for the rec ball fields. Both times the guys were on the field in the middle of what seemed like endless games. Both times I had to return to our field before they finished their game(s) and/or got eliminated. A number of the guys I used to play with who are still active have gone to playing predominantly pump paintball, rec & tourney. It's certainly more economical and it seems like pump may also be the current home of the inveterate tinker & customizer. Back when I started playing creating a unique marker was all the rage as there were lots of aftermarket parts makers while the truly enterprising no-lifers made their own parts. To look over the selection of markers the local pump crowd was playing with was almost like going back to the future without the Delorean or Doc Brown. (Thankfully no crazed Libyans wielding RPGs showed up either although they could make an appearance at Wayne Dollack's Grand Finale. You never know.) There was also a limited paint tournament event last Saturday that was of some interest. In watching some of the competition I was reminded of a bit of Faction propaganda and one statement in particular, "A slight adjustment to the rules would remove the advantage of shooting more paint and totally change the economics of tournament paintball." This particular version of the limited paint mantra is in the HydroTec thread over on the Nation. More on that shortly.
After we finished practice I hung around for a while to shoot the breeze. My friends and I walked over to check out the tournament. Turned out it was a 2-on-2 event on an approximately xball-sized field (with a few additional bunkers). The paint limit was 10 paintballs. Yeah, 10. It was a pump event. And, no, it wasn't restricted to stock class guns. More interesting was how the majority of games (points?) played out. With never more than four players on the field at a time and enough bunkers to hide half a scenario team and, dare I say, damn little paint flying around the set-up practically promised wide open, crazy action. Which never materialized. In fact 90% of the games used the same half dozen bunkers with the players one balling at each other until somebody was eliminated--at which point the remaining two player team would attempt to pinch out the single player. It was perhaps the most hilariously tedious tourney ball I've ever witnessed. I mention it because I find it instructive on a few levels and because it really was amazingly bizarro paintball. As a real world game played using Faction's limitation to the extreme it demonstrated that the controlling variable in any paintball game is the human one.
Now it's time to take a closer look at Faction's statement. He is asserting a couple of things; that some measure of restricting paint use in tournament play will 'totally change the economics of tournament paintball' and be 'a slight adjustment.' He is also claiming that any disparity in the amount of paint shot between two competing teams amounts to some sort of unfair advantage and competition by wallet. For starters all tournament paintball is already limited paint; limited to the amount of paint each player carries to begin a game or point. What Faction is really advocating is restricted paint--and if it is actually going to have a real economic impact it will need to be a severe restriction. Really, a severe restriction? Let's say a D1 team shoots as much paint per point as my pro team does, around a case and a half. Is a full hopper and three pods per player a severe restriction? Not so much 'cus three pods and a hopper is the case and half they average shooting per point. Now if that's all they had would they likely end up shooting less? Probably, but would it be enough less to really matter? How much less do they have to shoot before it makes a big enough economic difference? Or let's put it another way. The same D1 team averages 7 points played per match (MAO was between 6.75 and 7.5 points per match in the prelims) and makes the cut so they play a total of 6 matches to place somewhere in the top 4. At a case and a half a point that's approx. 65 cases per event. With the three pod restriction let's say their usage drops to one case per point, or around 42. Compare that to the D1 coach who said in response to my recent suggestion the leagues stop revealing the event layouts that his team would likely shoot half as much practice paint or less. They currently shoot 200 cases in practice between events so by his calculation they would save 100 cases. Is it the tournaments teams can't afford because of the volume of paint or is it the preparation for tournaments?
Nor will the result be 'a slight adjustment.' What Faction fails to understand is that paint is neutral; it is offensive & defensive. It is the means by which the struggle for control is contested in any and every game of paintball played. And as the competitive game has evolved it is the high volume environment that defines and displays the skill level of the individual players.
Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying limited (restricted) paint is bad. I think it's a perfectly acceptable option for tournament play particularly where the majority of the players are young and learning the game. But I'm also saying that as the universal answer it leaves a lot to be desired because it would not be a slight adjustment, it would be the first in a chain reaction of then necessary changes to make the resulting format/game playable by the most skilled players. Without sufficient paint to contest control of the field a restricted paint game between highly skilled teams will result in either a bunkerfest bloodbath or revert to a predominantly defensive match in an effort to keep enough room between the players to avoid the bloodbath. In either case it would dumb down the skill level required to compete. More on this next time when I talk about skills.