Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Baca Addendum Explained

You didn't ask for it--but then you didn't need to 'cus you knew it was coming, eventually. We got some field time in yesterday playing with the BA rules and to be honest the jury is still out. I'll explain in a minute but first I'ma outline the rules.
It's very simple. There are two flags. Each team begins with a flag at their start position. Anyone (live player) can possess the flag to begin the point. Only a live player possessing their team flag can score a point. If the flag carrier is eliminated the flag is placed where visible nearest the elimination position and a different live player from that team can regain possession--but only if there is at least one live player opponent on the field. Once the opposing team has been eliminated an unpossessed flag is out of play and no point is scored by either team.
The two flags provide visual info for following the strategy and implementation of each team's effort and the live player possession rule means a team either must protect the flag possessor or be prepared at a moment's notice to regain possession. Theoretically it allows for an offensive or defensive game plan but field layouts will, as they presently do, tend to dictate the preferred strategy.

The jury is still out because we didn't really get to play enough points or complete a match and as the concept was a foreign one to everybody but me the players were still adapting and trying to figure out what they wanted to do. Did they want the flag further upfield or not if the original carrier was eliminated? And as often as not they forgot about the necessity of having the flag to score either until it was too late or they were left scrambling to get across the field to try and reach their flag. The mindset was the game they are used to playing.
It needs more play to determine its real potential and it needs players adjusted to the way live flags potentially alter the tactics and strategy of a match--which is a big change for experienced players used to doing things a particular way. Who knows, it may also need fine tuning as well.

If anyone wishes to give it a go feel free to do so--and let us know how it goes. If you just want to argue about it hypothetically, or throw out suggestions or whatever that's fine too--you know where to find the comments.


Anonymous said...

You should probably mention the objective...

What are people supposed to do with said flags? :)

Baca Loco said...

Hang the flag? :)

Nick Brockdorff said...

Oh Now, Baca has jumped on the scenario bandwaggon too :D

Another overly complicated format, with flags ;)

Baca Loco said...

I'm sure a German could explain it to you, Nick.

raehl said...

What is the point of the live-opponent flag possession rule?

It seems like that's going to be the big issue... If I'm down 3 on 1, I'll just shoot myself in the foot, no score for you.

It would also be impossible to "test drive" this with the information provided - is it just RaceTo-7 or XBall except the difference in the flag rules?

Dave said...

^ Came to say what Raehl said. If I'm up on points, I'd have my last player shoot himself in the foot. Let's say you make regulations against forfeiting your last player. Then the other team has no motivation to shoot him if they are down points, because they cannot score. My last player can sit on the back line and shoot anyone who tries to score while they would still need him alive.

nickgibson said...

from what I understand you just have to maintain possession while there last player is alive. So if your flag carrier dies and no other player takes possession of your flag before eliminating their final player no point will be scored. But if you shoot the last player and have live possession of the flag then you would score.

I could have it all dicked up though.

Dave said...

You're right, Nick. That makes much more sense now that I've read it correctly.

Baca Loco said...

The core format doesn't matter particularly but it's clearly a better option if the format plays multiple points.

They don't need him alive if one of them possesses the flag.

Even so, there may be situations where self-elimination was the tactical play--and there may need to be a rule against it--or not.

Reiner Schafer said...

You can just call yourself out, you don't need to shoot yourself in the foot. I don't think I would have the gonads to shoot myself. I'm too squeamish. I'd probably just run into the open and dance around yelling "Neener, neener, neener!".

raehl said...

I'm still not understanding what the purpose of the must-have-one-player alive rule is. It just seems arbitrary.

I like the two flags concept and you advance your own team's flag. I would even go so far as you score just by getting the flag across the end-line.

But I think you're still back to Brockdorf's criticism from the PbN thread - 99% of the time you're still playing elimination.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Paintball will always be about elimination, it's the core nature of the game.

Everything else is artificial and unnecessary, and just helps to complicate a game that ought to be simple, for players and spectators alike.

2 teams, start at a base at each end of the field, kill the other team - end of story ;)

Reiner Schafer said...

Nick's right, unless you make fields very large, paintball will always be about elimination and any objective is just icing on the cake (or mud in the water, depending on how you want to look at it).

Nick Brockdorff said...

Well, if you are talking about a field size where you can sneak past the opponents unseen, or run by them out of effective shooting range, then yes.

But in terms of being a "sport" and creating a format that works for all levels of the sport.... I don't think very large field size is a viable option.

Anyway, I don't get the preoccupation so many have with "creating a focal point".

Our lack of success as a televised sport has very little to do with that IMHO - and all to do with very few people having tried what was televised.

Relatability is key.

Talk to any random rental group, and their stories are never about "did you see me grab the flag?" - but always about "did you see me shoot that guy?"

They don't care about flags, and neither do most tournament players... except when we are forced to, to win under the particular format.

All we need, is to make tournament paintball a viable business model for field owners, and we'll be fine - and all that takes, is being able to run tournament style play at low ROF... all the flags, offense, defense, etc. are really just unnecessary complications.

Reiner Schafer said...

I'm not suggesting that competitive play change to huge fields. I was just making the observation that it would take that to change the game from something other than elimination being the main focus. But for competitive paintball, huge fields are not a viable option.

You are totally right on the mark about paintball being all about shooting people (and on the flip side, not getting shot). That's why just about all heated discussions in paintball are about shooting, like modes, bps, or limiting ammo. There are not nearly as many discussions about field size, bunker placements and such. Players don't care as much about all that, it's all about the shooting.

I'm not convinced that paintball would have huge viewership even with relatability, although I'm sure it would be considerably higher. Almost all those that tune into paintball now are players, so it does make sense if there are more people with at least some connection to the game, viewership would go up. That's what the whole argument about getting paintball out of the woods and onto small fields was all about in the first place, wasn't it? And that might have worked OK, IF technology (and paint prices) hadn't evolved to make the game as intense as it is, alienating most of the population. Because of that intensity, many (most) players still choose to stay on the larger, wooded fields, where they can get away from the intensity.

So there are basically two choices, make the game less intense (and as a by product, cheaper) with less paintballs to include those people, or keep the intensity level as is and be happy with the number of people willing to take part.

raehl said...

Audience is the key issue. But participation isn't the only way to create an audience - Shawn White makes a killing endorsing stuff as the top snow boarder in the world, and he doesn't get that compensation just for influencing people who actually snowboard.

I've always thought that if we really wanted paintball to make it big-time as something that influences purchase behavior (and that's ultimately what we'd want if we're after out-of-industry dollars), what we really need to do is take some of our personable Pro players and pay publicity folks to get them on dates with famous people, on reality shows, etc.

Being a DJ got to be a whole lot cooler when it gave you a shot at dating an actress/model.

If kids see paintball as a path to "being someone", that'll drive interest/participation in paintball.

There's a point where you get into a feedback loop - it's sponsored because it's popular, but it's popular because it's sponsored. Every commercial Shawn White does makes him more famous and more valuable. He's not just a snowboarder anymore, he's the guy who tells people what's "hip" to use.

Regardless, the takeaway is format is immaterial.

Nick Brockdorff said...


On your own field... do you see it as a viable business, to run rental groups on an airball field, with guns capped at - say 6 BPS?

Granted, you would need to drop your paint price, but then, your volume would go up considerably...

Nick Brockdorff said...

You found your niche Raehl:

"The dating game, hosted by Chris Raehl - Oliver Lang chooses which of these 10 models he wants to date" :P

Nick Brockdorff said...

"Next episode: Old School baller Nick Brockdorff chooses amongst 10 MILFs" :D:D:D

Instant hit dude! :P

raehl said...


The sad part is how easy it would be to find 10 fame-whores who would desperately compete to win the affections of virtually any paintball player we put on the show.

Now that I think about how easy it would be, I'm calling my TV producer.

And no, Reiner would not consider it a valid business model. Lowering paint price/increasing paint volume is never a good idea for a field owner; all you're doing is increasing your costs/killing your margins.

Nick Brockdorff said...


You are not looking at the whole picture dude :)

OFCOURSE it's not a good idea to lower prices and increase cost, if that is all you do (how stupid do you actually think I am? :D)

The whole point of it, it to create:

1. More frequent repeat business
2. More equipment sales
3. More "field-teams" that show up weekly for walk on play

If you do not add those 3 to the mix, there is absolutely no reason for changing away from running scenario type games, with low paint volume at high cost per ball.

The whole object of the exercise, is to make paintball "a sport" for your customers - sports is something you do regularly - not something you do twice a year, at a bachelor party and a company outing.

raehl said...

Sorry Nick, I should have explained myself better. I didn't mean high cost per ball. I meant high cost per player.

Let's say right now Reiner's players shoot 400 paintballs per day. That means his marginal cost is about $10 per player - $6 for the paintballs, $4 for insurance, check-in staff, whatever. (His effective marginal cost is probably higher if you try and factor in ref wages.)

If Reiner switches to a format where his players now shoot 1,000 rounds a day, his marginal cost-per-player just went up $9, nearly doubling.

Doubling your cost-per-customer is virtually never a good idea.

raehl said...

Another way to look at it is right now, Reiner charges $160/case for paint, and each player buys about $40 of paint on a $20 entry. So Reiner is in for $8 of paint and clears $52 per player.

If he goes the speedball route and lowers his paint price to make that work, let's say to even $80/case (still high for speedball), in order to make the same $52 per player he needs to have players buy 2/3rds of a case on average, pushing their cost to play up to $73 from $60 for Reiner to make the same money-per-player. But now his service is more expensive to the player, so he'll necessarily lose some customers, so to stay margin-neutral he's going to need to raise his prices somewhere to compensate for the lost customers.

And that's just looking at the speedball customers - how is Reiner going to charge rec ball and speedball customers different paint prices? I don't think there is a good way to do so, so now everyone is paying $80/case, Reiner needs them all to shoot 3x as much paint to break even on the change, and not lose any customers as a result of the new higher costs.

Switching to (high volumne) speedball would be a disastrous business decision.

Neal said...

Baca we talked about this! Flag runner can't have a gun. Only one team has flag rotating per point. I think it warrants another experiment.

Ole-Henrik Aker said...

If you would want to change the game. Try this....

Play race 2 (something) and at certain intervalls players eliminated can respawn at the "penalty box". Like 1 minute into the game one eliminated player can respawn at the back center. This would make team want to get the point fast. Or if you are getting low on players you would try to hang in there while a team mate spawns into the game....

Going to try this when snow is gone :D

Nick Brockdorff said...


You are exemplary of the same good old linear thinking in paintball, which has landed us where we are now :)

Reiner Schafer said...

To change over from what I'm doing now? No, definitely not. You are making an assumption that there would be increase in traffic.

As soon as the paint prices get dropped, intensity level goes up. The two go hand in hand, even 6 bps. If the intensity level goes up, the number of overall customers would drop for us.

Looking at it from a competitive paintball standpoint (which you obviously are), the number of competitive players would increase dramatically. Basically there would be a switch from recreational players to competitive players, with an overall drop in number of players. So from a business standpoint, it would be an unwise move.

If I were to go into a competitive paintball business, I would go the limited paintball route at a location separate from my recreational business (not what you would like to see, I know). I'm not sure what the paint prices would be, but it would be more or less irrelevant as the cost for the players would be more or less a fixed price including paint and entry/air. One could go so far as making the paintballs free, a certain number (enough to play the limited paint format) included with entry. If it's a tournament situation, extra paint given to those that make the finals.

In all honesty, I probably would have done this already, but our geographical area, real estate costs, and zoning laws make it very difficult/expensive to start a business like this.

Blackout (jason) said...

Having been one of the test subjects this past weekend. I can say that this game was pretty fun. But I think a few of you are a little confused about the flag. In order to score a point someone on your team has to have the flag and be alive in order to score a point. Example. We had a game where I was the last player on my team against two opposing players. Neither myself or my opposition had our respective flags. My flag was at the X and my oppositions flag was in the Dorrito corner. After eliminating one opposing player and forcing a
1v1 both me and the opposing player realized that shooting each other would result in a stalemate so we abandoned our gun battle and made a mad dash for our flags. After we both had our flags it became a 1v1 to see who would score. Flag position can have a huge impact on scoring points. Instead of trying to win the 1v1 I could have just gone gun up and made a dash to the start box to score a point, but instead lost the 1v1. It was extremely fun and added a cool element to the game. Is it better to advance the flag up field or better to have it stay with your player that will most likely be alive at the end of the game. I'll be interested in trying it again with whatever changes Baca decides to make. :)

ctrlaltdel said...

I think the game is wrong for a simple reason. You are putting arbitrary "things" into the game. You already have those... they are called guns. You shoot the other guys to win.

You can't add more stuff to the game and expect it to work.

The most, the absolute most, we can do to paintball is have some kind of "serve" concept. Where like in volleyball or tennis, one team starts out an exchange first. I'm not exactly sure what that would be. But in a multipoint exchange format, maybe it's as simple as one team actually decides when the game starts (similar I suppose to a quarterback receiving the ball). And then the teams alternate back and forth.

What do we think about that... ? Both teams have to hurry up and be ready at their flag stations, and the offense team decides when to start. You could do a couple things based on that concept. The offense gets to start a certain number of downs until they score a point, or just alternate it back and forth.

It's a tiny advantage, but it does give somewhat of an element of surprise to the starting team and it requires the "defense" to be in the situation of reacting to the start.

Baca Loco said...

Btw, I'm responding in order of comment and only reading them one at a time.

Chris, the point of the live player rule in order to reacquire possession forces both tactical and strategic game play changes that, among other things, could (and would) allow in some situations for very fluid shifts of control. And without that rule there's no point having two flags, it's just the same kill everybody and hang the flag game we play now.

Okay, Nick, tell me why in the Mills you press a buzzer. By your reasoning it's unnecessary, isn't it?

Nick, what's to relate to? If the key is simply shooting people everybody who plays any sort of paintball shoots people. Watching other people shoot people up close and personal should be a no-brainer if that's all there was to it.

If I were a player and told I can't shoot at anybody it's losing some appeal immediately. You could conceivably add a sixth guy with the flag but what happens when the flag carrier is eliminated? If everyone has a gun everyone can be a flag carrier.
I'm also not a fan of offense and defense. I'm gonna do a post this week on the NPL idea and I'll include your ideas as well as they share some similarities.

That's one of the features of my Bacaball format concept. (See Archives if you're interested.) If you do try something like it out let us know how it goes.

Does that mean the "offense" can start before the other team gets on the field? If not I don't see the point. And if yes, it's artificial or non-game play eliminations and that's no good. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding.

ctrlaltdel said...

I was just trying to think of a concept similar to serving in tennis where one side starts the "volley" and the other has to respond, but after that initial serve, they are on equal footing. Dunno if the breakouts is the best option.

But imagine you have 90seconds (or 2min) breaks between points. And the team whose turn it is to serve can determine the exact second when they start. Think hurry-up offense Buffalo Bills style. The defense now has to hang around on the field, not reloading, etc. etc. because the offense gets to determine when they will start (within a 90sec/2minute time frame).

The defense is also waiting, not for a clock to tick to 0, but for the opposing team to start shooting or running. The defense can't breakout until the offense starts shooting or breaking out. So there is a slight advantage to offense, with that initial serve, but it can be negated as the game goes on.

Just an idea. One thing that I like about it... it puts control of the game in the players hands. Not in an arbitrary ref's hands telling you to "go". There would be a different strategy for different situations and teams... sometimes you'd want to turn a point right away and really pressure the other team to get ready. Other times you could take your time, but still have the briefest element of surprise.

The defense would really feel the pressure, because they'd have to be ready to go all out at any given moment.

There is a bit of a coaching strategy that comes in here, and it puts the ball in one teams court, and makes the other team react immediately to them.

I'm not saying it's a huge revolution in the game like adding second flag. But that's the idea, it's just a small tweak anyone can do and understand, and it adds a pretty unique dynamic to the game.

Nick Brockdorff said...


"Okay, Nick, tell me why in the Mills you press a buzzer. By your reasoning it's unnecessary, isn't it?"

When taking my views to the extreme, yes.

However, I - as much as anyone - recognise the need for an easy way to end game time and score the point.

I actually think the MS solution is perfect - not least because it was my idea when I wrote the rules :P

I just don't see the need for complicating matters further, by introducing weird rules on movement, scoring, flags, etc....

It's not why most people play paintball, so why do we try to change that?

"Nick, what's to relate to? If the key is simply shooting people everybody who plays any sort of paintball shoots people. Watching other people shoot people up close and personal should be a no-brainer if that's all there was to it."

Think you are playing devils advocate now :D

But, ok, I'll go along, for the sake of argument:

I think field, equipment, and game rules has to be very similar, to create relatability.... otherwise it's like saying volleyball is a good vehicle for creating basketball players, because both involve a ball.

What people try at most fields, give them a better chance at relating to a Vietnam war movie, than to paintball sport.

But, you knew that already, and you knew what I meant ;)

Nick Brockdorff said...


That sounds like a LOT of fun - I like the idea a great deal - in terms of wanting to play it myself!

- You have to work out who get's to be on the offensive when though, and why?

However, if I have to stick with my mantra, about wanting a simple format for all levels of paintball, it won't work, because it puts a lot of pressure on the organisation at local events, and the need for coaching staff is far too great.

ctrlaltdel said...

Offense could be decided by a coin toss at the beginning of the game. Then they just switch back and forth. After halftime, the other team would get to start, similar to American football. (so a team could decide at the coin toss if they won the toss, if it's more important for them to start the offense after half time or at the beginning of the game)

Or do a similar procedure with a coin toss at the beginning and a team is on offense until they score a point. If they lose their first point, they are still on offense until they score.

Or tweak that a little so a team is on offense as long as they are scoring points. Once they don't win the point, the other team is on offense.

To make the game more exciting to the kids on pbn we'd have smoke machines on the sidelines with cheerleaders holding mirrors.