Monday, November 8, 2010

The Monday Poll

Why does a chicken coop only have two doors? Because if it had four doors it would be a chicken sedan. (Badum-bum!)Hey, now that's comedy when you--actually I--include sound effects. (Or would have been except I can't get it to work.)

Keeping with the idea that the off season is the best time to talk about changes that might be worth considering The Monday Poll this week wants to know what you think about releasing tournament field layouts. Regulars will know VFTD has long supported the idea that not releasing field layouts in advance would restore an element of competition lost in recent years and would, more importantly, substantially reduce paint usage in practice prior to events. However, what may sound good on a blog and what you, your team or other teams you know would really want to see happen may be two different things. Is that much change too much? How many teams would have any idea how to practice if it wasn't based on scrimmaging points? There's potentially a lot of ways this could go so what could be a better barometer of what y'all are thinking than a Monday Poll? Well sure, a professional survey would probably be better. As would a professionally run poll targeting only competition ballers but this is what there is so we're gonna have to make do.
Vote early, vote often and influence the future of competitive paintball. (It could happen.)


Don Saavedra said...

The idea being not having the layout would force teams to forgo scrimmages in favor of drills or other forms of practice. Well, that doesn't hold true if teams scrimmage anyway, spend the same amount of paint... and win. Losers will adopt the methods of winners, and if the winners are still spending the same or more on paint at practice, others will follow suit and your idea has had zero affect on the cost of competitive paintball.

However, your point about a missing skill from the game is valid. But is it enough of a reason?

Baca Loco said...

You ignorant slut.
How many players and teams have we lost because they couldn't afford to keep up? If you look at the numbers the weakest divisions are the upper divisions and it isn't lack of players to fill roster spots--it's inability to compete monetarily--the higher you get the more you've got to spend--in the current environment.
Is your scenario possible? I suppose.
The truth is most teams don't go to events expecting to win, they expect to be competitive. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren't but when the bar to even showing up is so high--current practice practices (heh!)--how many teams never consider playing MLP today?
Besides, scrimmaging points on a different layout doesn't and will not prepare teams to play something else.
Is something that simple and easy worth discounting because you imagine it might not work?

abc said...

So let's handicap everyone to keep the playing field clear? I'm somewhat partial to the idea of releasing 7 layouts at the start of the season. There will be a lot of uncertainty at first about which field to practice. But teams could make some basic plans for each. Fields around the country can post a practice schedule so teams could come back frequently to try out each of the fields. Teams would have to make the gamble of deciding how to practice. And as the season progresses, the element of chance reduces.

It would be kind of fun. There would be too many fields for someone to seriously "own" a field. And the layout wouldn't be decided (randomly) until the eve of the event setup day so no one would know what to expect. Whatcha think?

Reiner Schafer said...

abc, I would assume that would cost players even more money and make paintball more expensive. If that's not a concern, than it's a fine idea.

Mark790.06 said...

"If you look at the numbers the weakest divisions are the upper divisions and it isn't lack of players to fill roster spots--it's inability to compete monetarily--the higher you get the more you've got to spend--in the current environment."
I've tried to demonstrate that these divisions, (we're really only talking D1, and ok 3/4 of the pro teams) are weak due to natural causes. Money is always an issue for a player/team/team owner at the cross roads of: "Do I play or grow up?" Yes, it is more expensive there too, but in the end the decision to hold 'em or fold 'em comes more from (I believe) the heart rather than the head.
Besides it's double edge sword: Cheaper for player/teams results in less revenue for the field they (USED to) practice at.
Times are tough, and the timing of a decision like this could be critical (if not catastrophic), but there are still people out there that can afford the game as it is now. Make it so they don't need to spend as much to be competitive and what would that do to the field they practice at?

papa chad said...

loving the results so far. you should win because of your talent, not ability to buy paintballs.

Baca Loco said...

I understand your concern and I don't mean to discount it, however--
What we have seen in recent years is nearly annual format/rule changes intended to make it cheaper and easier to compete and in every instance the result is less on field competition time. At some point that will have to stop because nobody will find the remaining game worth the entry fee much less all the related costs. My suggestion leaves the game intact and only suggests we go back to the way things used to be done. Did teams not practice when they didn't know the layout(s) in advance? We both know they did. And will teams still scrim each other? They will because they always have and because some won't know how else to go about preparing.
The only thing that will be "lost" is the mandatory nature of practice where everyone must train to prepare for a specific layout.

bronc said...

The farther we go down the rabbit hole, the closer we get to what paintball was like during the 10-man days.

Don't release the field layouts. Let teams show up and walk them. Sounds familiar :)

I'd like to see different field layouts too, and slightly larger bunkers so people other the midgets can get back on the field. This also brings me back to 10-man days.

Anonymous said...

If you're interested in building skills and saving money for the entry level tournament players (by changing the nature of practice)...then why not try 2 different layouts. One for the pros that is released and one for everyone else that is not released.

Missy Q said...

I think teams should be blind-folded before they are led out onto the field, and they only have the blindfolds taken off at the 10 second warning. I also think the refs should randomly move bumkers around to keep things interesting.
Sometimes all of the bunkers should be deflated, and 30 photographers have to stand still and act as bunkers for that point.

Not only does my idea save money, it also decreases the amount of 'photographers' asking for press-passes to get on the field, which is also an issue often lamented.

bruce said...

It is an idea with a great deal of merit. It rewards quick thinking and takes a distinct advantage away from teams that rely on practice time prior to an event.

Baca, you are pretty clever. You know that a change like this would make it easier for your team to win events.

abc said...

Ya, but Reiner if we have 7 layouts to choose form in advance they can call it the Super 7 Layouts. That's gotta be worth something.

I think attributing cost to team attrition is not any more substantiated than rof. Something about the old statement that the plural of anecdote is not data.

raehl said...

So how much paint is this going to save?

Wouldn't it be easier to just ban pods?

Doesn't impact play time, saves a bunch of money. Seems to meet the criteria.

Missy Q said...

Chris, you crack me up. Were you abused by an ugly gang of street-pods when you were little, or perhaps you have a patent pending on 'hopper-ball'?

Pat said...

How about one layout the entire season? Less time spent learning the layout over the whole season means more time drilling. Right?

Or are we operating on the assumption that the lure of scrimmages(comparatively ineffective and expensive) is greater then the average paintball team's self control?

If you look at any other mainstream sport they have one field to compete on. The novices and amateurs spend an excess of their time running around in scrimmages learning very little and analyzing less while the more competitive and professionals spend time doing focussed workouts, drills, and analysis that help them fine tune and learn at an advanced rate.

In this run towards affordable/understandable/and entertaining sport does it make sense to continually make the field layout a variable? It doesn't make monetary sense for the team that has to spend that much more time and money learning new layouts. And the layman viewer at home probably doesn't care. They just want to see people win and lose and all the action that comes with it.

And I can hear the arguments now, "one field layout for the entire years will make a slower game that is going to be boring to watch and play"

A) people watch curling, golf, nascar, soccer etc All LONG low action sports that participants make gobs of money doing.

B) One field layout for the entire year means more specialized play making and player making. If the viewing audience can be told that a bunker has been nearly impossible to get to off the break and yet one player consistently makes it, it specializes and values that player in some manner. Same goes for players; the harder the play/position(think snake corners in original xball) the more accomplished/valuable the player that can make it/utilize it.

bruce said...

Too many dead grass spots on fields...

Missy-Q said...

I like Pats idea and he makes a good case for it. It would also be useful/more efficient to the people who sell fields. You would have a 2011 field, and have that product to sell for the whole year.

raehl said...

You can't compare "one field" for other sports with "one field" for paintball, because the other sports the obstacles ARE the players and they can occupy infinite combinations of locations on the field at any time and the position of the obstacles (players) is constantly changing.

With paintball, positions are greatly limited by the requirement that you have to spend most of your time somewhere where you can't get shot.

One way I could see one layout working is if we abandoned the current way we do obstacles and had a grid of trees or some such where depending on your position and the position of opponents you'd be hidden or not and the changing positions of the opponents changes whether your cover is effective or not.

Mark790.06 said...


Of course the 4 to 6 10-man teams from our area back in the day scrimmaged in the pre-pre-released layouts era, about every other weekend at one of the 3 or 4 fields in our state that had the right dimensions for it. Roughly about 1/2 to 3/4 as much scrimmaging as today's 12 to 14 teams do when the layout is known.

Drills are fine but teams usually want to do that by themselves, so there you have a $5K supair field that, on a good day, used to contain 6 to 8 teams rotating games, now only containing 1 dork at a time "running and gunning" to the corner every 3 seconds.

When layouts were released 2 weeks then went up to a month in advance, fields were like ghost towns before hand, no one was doing drills or scrimmages before the layout was released. They all waited until the layout was known of course. Why waste the paint? Once the layout was released all hell broke loose, established teams were clamoring for room to get their games in. God forbid if you were a team just starting out, despite the best efforts these poor souls, more times than not, got crushed in the stampede. Growing the sport? Not so much.

The 1,2,3 weeks/month/weekend before is the worst voting option in my opinion.

It's just that over the past 4+ years the PSP, due to early layout releases, created a demand for teams around the country to emphasize scrimmages only, since serious teams GO where the serious teams ARE, certain fields around the country reaped (or were cursed with ;-) ) a large team practice clientele, and some invested in their infrastructure to better serve them. When players realize that playing as many different teams as possible would give you the best chance to see what other imaginations came up with from a particular layout the gravitation of teams increased that much more. Changing this dynamic may have many unforeseen circumstances. For some fields the question may arise: Just how much is a supair field worth to me versus say a plywood mock-up of Fallujah?

Baca Loco said...

Fair points all, Mark, and certainly part of thinking that will hesitate to make any change in early field release.
At the same time the team rush of 2010 to get ready isn't what it was in 2009 which isn't what it was in 2008 ...
Will the status quo see anybody through this tough stretch?

Baca Loco said...

I actually thought about that but unfortunately the first time I suggested this to the PSP was when they decided on the 3 week early release date and then again later when they decided on the current strategy.

There is also a big difference between knowledge and execution. :-)

I don't see how 7 fields, some which won't be used, would alter the practice picture except to up the ante on being familiar with all the fields, just in case.

I quite take your point regarding data but I think a case can be made for the cost factor--which I will do tomorrrow.

Your grid of trees notion is already accounted for in every layout that comes out.

The concept is to save paint where it can be saved. One D1 team owner thought he could save over 100 cases with the suggested change and at the pro level, even with cutbacks last season, practice paint usage for us was a bit less than 3:1 compared to tourney paint and we played 8 events. If we cut our practice paint usage in half it would be more paint saved than if we never shot a ball in competition.

Pat said...

Raehl - In golf you tee off from the tee and try to land in the fairway or green. In any racing you have a preferred line which is the most efficient and you either lead using this line or draft. In Football you position yourself to block or run. Your argument that players are the obstacles is operating under an assumption that limiting things is a bad thing. Funny coming from a huge proponent of limited paint.

PS the players are still the obstacles. Their constantly changing zones of fire and positions are a dynamic puzzle with millions of combinations regardless of the layout. Just because a single layout per year increases the usage of certain zones of fire doesn't stop other teams from using unique methods to counter those common moves.

My proffered solution is based on the fact that it is more expensive to learn a field layout four times a year then once.

It is also more confusing to the potential layman audience(that out of industry advertisers PAY CASH to reach) if they not only have to follow players but figure out the challenges of different layouts in order to understand where to watch for action.

raehl said...


So you argued that lots of sports use the same field all the time, so paintball doesn't need to change fields. I argued that those sports are not like paintball. You countered by citing golf and racing leagues?

Golf and racing leagues that use a different course each week?

Pat said...


"because the other sports the obstacles ARE the players and they can occupy infinite combinations of locations on the field at any time and the position of the obstacles (players) is constantly changing."

I can do that too. You made one argument about players positioning being the differences, then critiqued my examples, of player positioning always following constraints regardless of sport, as flawed because the "field" changes in each sport. Missed my point entirely and deflected my argument. You should run for political office.

Are we focussed on making an attraction out of the field layout or the skill of the player?

Do we want to save money or follow the status quo with only slight adjustments till death do us part?

None of the solutions offered in the monday poll were acceptable to me, sorry baca, so I offered something outside the box.

Any field layout is going to incur expenses by teams or leagues or both. Do you think one or four will be more expensive? Even the "don't release the layout" option is somewhat flawed because you will find those teams that start later in the tournament are going to get ahold of the setup and find some way to practice it before. And if I have learned anything in life it is that doing things in a rush is EXPENSIVE. If the league wants to withhold layouts then all divisions must start on the same day and roughly the same time to prevent any prepractice expenses. That is impractical.

Don Saavedra said...

I think Pat's idea has legs. Well, bloody stumps. When someone powerful like Lane thinks about it, then it'll have legs.

bruce said...

Release of the layout the night before gives all the teams about the same time to study the layout and come up with game plans.

Watching how other teams play it on the day of the tournament does provide some info on how they play (and how the field plays) - however it also certainly would allow for misdirection and other subtle strategies.

Walking the field now has been replaced by weeks of $practice$.

Perhaps the plan all along was to take a game that rewarded creativity, risk taking and day-of-event strategery and turn it into a contest of who can buy the best talent and paint.

Baca Loco said...

I'm glad you went another way. Best thing in the world would be to have more participation, not less. Nor is universal agreement very interesting.
And you did hit on the other argument against no release--that somehow, someway some unspecified few will find a crack in the system they can exploit unfairly. Which has some merit but would that imagined unfairness be equal to the current unfairness of some teams being able to spend more and practice more than other teams?
As to a single layout--it's a no go simply because the current playing dimensions and number of bunkers doesn't allow for sufficient complexity. The best teams will discover the optimal way to play a single layout so that events after the first will devolve into highly repititious patterns. Boring.

Pat said...

Would it be the same? Maybe not. Maybe worse. Regardless of the direction it goes(if it goes at all) there will be nay sayers, proponents, and those who make an advantage out of it regardless of the intent and cost. That is the nature of competition and the vicious nature at the highest level.

While I'm not going to beat the horse much more I'm going to say this one more time.

Every professional sport is a series highly repetitious patterns. Professional basketball? Boringly repetitious. Golf? Slow and Repetitious. Baseball? Soccer? Tennis? That repetition, that we as participants could take as boring, makes it that much more digestible for the audiences that will pay money and draw advertisers. At the same time the ability to consistently win under such constrained conditions is also what defines true professional champions.

As you have said yourself, the constant scrimmage schedule for each layout against top tier teams is expensive. If you only had one layout per year do you think you would focus more on refining your player's individual ability with more cost effective training? Would you still scrimmage? Sure. But would you scrimmage as much? Is the repetition really boring or a greater challenge?

raehl said...


You can do that, but you look silly. You argued that other sports use the same fields from event to event. My reply was confined to sports where the field is the same from event to event. You're right, there are sports where players are not obstacles (although racing and football are not included), but those sports DO change the course each event, so including them counters the argument you were trying to make in the first place.

Regardless, no sport uses the same field/course from event to event unless there is free movement of the players on the field. Paintball doesn't have free movement of players on the field, so changing the layout of obstacles is required.


Releasing the layout the night before is not practical, unless Damien is going to set the fields up in the dark. At best you could go maybe two days before, which is going to give local teams a practice advantage (since they won't be on planes), but Baca is right that to an extent you're just trading one advantage for another.

Of course, the practice/paint cost problem could also be solved by banning pods. (Well, pretty much all the problems people keep trying to fix by moving bunkers, making them bigger, not releasing layouts, changing rate of fire, etc, could all be solved by banning pods.)

Baca Loco said...

That horse of yours is hamburger--or horseburger--at this point anyway.

It's an interesting argument. It really is but I'm still not buying. I'm not buying it two counts; one, the examples don't work. Every golf courae is different. The length of the grass matters. As does wind direction and pin placement--which they change overnight during tournament play. And basketball allows teams to be in a constantly shifting flow of offense/defense with tactics applied changed as often as each team runs up and down the court. You can still say they are repititious because they hit a tiny ball over and over or dribble and shoot a larger ball over and over but paintball has similar repitition built in because those things are the nature of the specific games.

In the context of the original post, saving money by altering practice routines, even a single field doesn't do what no released field layout does. No layout forces teams, players, captains, coaches and owners to find new ways to improve and compete. Given a choice most would likely continue to do things the (only) way they know how.
Finally, yes it could be a challenge but wouldn't be for the majority who are monkey see, monkey do.

Don Saavedra said...

I like the "1 Field" hypothesis enough to want to see it tested.

Do I have the chops to run a local series? Hmm...

bruce said...


Setup the day before is not difficult. Public release of the layout that evening (or afternoon if you prefer?) could be done. Local teams have a lot of advantages beyond seeing the layout a few hour earlier.

I honestly think most people are far too lazy to setup a layout just to practice it into the wee hours into the night for the small advantage they might gain.

Restricting paint may be a non-starter at this point. I think that would frustrate people more than it would solve the $$/participation problem.

I still like where Baca is headed with this. Practice routes invariably change because you can't just brute force learn a layout.

Anonymous said...

Moderator; impose a 50 word count limit on postings to ensure non-participant readers can identify and digest logical points of both reference and independent thought; all of these, “you said”, “I said”, “quote”, “un-quote” postings are repetitious and boring. (word count =39)

bruce said...

RE: Anonymous

Slacker. It's not that hard to read everything.