Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Poll

I'ma cross my fingers this week and hope some of y'all actually read this section before you vote in this week's Monday Poll 'cus it's gonna be a bit tricky. In recent years the subject of how to improve tourney paintball or, alternatively, make it more appealing and/or get more peeps playing has been a nearly endless topic for nearly endless conversations. I was reminded of this over the weekend by the thread hijack perpetrated by raehl and Brockdorff--Have you been injured in a slip & fall? Call raehl & Brockdorff, they'll sue somebody--over in the PBN News thread on the new NPL. And I thought it might make a good poll topic. The question is: Which of the following choices is the best option for improving tournament paintball? Note that the goal isn't more players, it's improving the game. If you think more players is the best possible improvement that's fine but I wanted to open up the possibilities. The poll will certainly not contain every possible option so feel free to add your favorite in comments but should have a good selection of choices based on various (often recurring) proposals that have been discussed in the past.
As is the norm you will get one vote and one vote only. Cast it wisely. (Not like usual.)

Monday Poll in Review
Out of concern for the delicate sensibilities of some readers I won't be going over the results in detail this week. Last week's question concerned format preference between the PSP, NPPL & MS and, not surprisingly, the PSP was the winner. The margin was what was unexpected given it was essentially 3:1 over both the other leagues combined with the PSP garnering approx. 75% of the votes. (NPPL got 15% & MS got 10%.) The MS began with the disadvantage that VFTD has fewer regulars from Euroland than North America so unless a voter preferred fewer matches played while sharing the field with two other teams it wasn't an unexpected outcome. And with the lack of experience most voters have with the Millennium style format it's also no surprise it didn't receive a significant number of votes regardless of the league presenting it. And finally it was no great surprise that majorities in each category favored the option that provided the longest game, the most points--and perhaps reflects the continuing dream of many to play at the highest level.


nickgibson said...

Im curious as to how limiting paint would Improve tourney play? I see how it could make it more affordable but I do not necessarily think that would improve it.

Baca Loco said...

Whatever you do Nick don't say "raehl" three times.
On a slightly more serious note I will be discussing some of the elements of this week's poll in greater detail soon. Limited paint is one of those topics because in fact paint is already limited so what guys like Chris mean is more limited, or, more accurately, restricted paint use.
In the meantime I'm curious to see how the poll turns out.

Anonymous said...

The most fun I ever had playing was when I played full xball, no matter the ROF rules. I've played both semi and ramping wiith different caps. Unfortunately nothing has quite compared to that level of fun and excitement. Just to note, my experiences with full xball were within the NCPA and at a regional level.

Anonymous said...

idk if less paint will 'improve' tourney play, more so change how it is played.

besides new strategy being put into the game and maybe some outdated old strategy, wouldn't the possibility of more young people getting into the sport in the long run improve tournaments? as in, more people attending means more people to buy things from vendors, more spectators and overall more money into the sport.

also in a top down sort of way, it wont be as 'cool' to sling 10 pods at recreational play. people will change their views and say that you are wasting paint. they will tell you that the pro's only need a hopper or two to get the same job done

Kine said...

Limiting paint will not reduce cost since organizers have a set profit they need to make in order to run the event. If they're not getting it from volume of paint sold, they'll bump up their revenue elsewhere.

There's still merit in capping paint though. Less volume of paint in the air means more movement and possibly an incresed emphasis on field strategy since people are less likely to get shot out behind their bunkers.

But personally, I'd like to see a change in format in the long run. This game we play is shallow like F1. It's a contest of who makes the least amount of mistakes through repetition. It works in motorsports for reasons that speedball do not share.

Team sports like football or soccer has depth in strategy and plays that are integral to the game which makes watching as much fun as playing. And tournament paintball sorely needs that.

I'm not saying strategy does not exist in tournament paintball. It's just isn't enough right now. There are plays and counterplays that you can bother yourself to use but there are teams who're getting away with the minimum simply by shooting enough paint to make up for it.

Baca Loco said...

"Anon #2"
Really? You think not putting your name on this makes you anonymous? :)

Well then, stay tuned. If the Baca Addendum works as I expect it to I may have an answer for you--and in the meantime we can discuss the relative merits of taking different courses to "improve" the game.

Missy Q said...

Ltd paint introduces another level of strategy, and in most cases teams don't even realy feel that they are 'limited' once they actually play.
In my experience (I ran ltd paint events from 91-96) it will increase the amount of teams playing, and also the amount of times that team plays. LTD paint series can hold an event every month, and have those events be sell-outs. I had to go from 1 division to 4 divisions within the first season. I used to do a round robin with 7 teams per division, with a semi finals and final. Each team is guaranteed 6 games, and if they qualify they are given extra paint (at no additional cost to them) for the semi's and finals. Trophies for 1st to 3rd. The field owner can turn a decent profit, and the teams know exactly what this will ciost them per month. Teams making semi's and up get more than they paid for. I found the strategies refreshing - some games would be played hard and fast to preserve paint for the following games. Sometimes the games go long and you know that those teams will have to make an aggressive move next game. I enjoyed it and thing LTD paint has serious legs.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Beetlejuice - Beetlejuice - Beetlejuice!

(Is Raehl here yet? :P)

I think this debate gets very waried responses, depending on the forum it is held in.

THIS blog, is very high level tournament oriented, and as such, the poll will be scewed towards what players playing national (or International) events want.

At PBN, you get a good deal more punters, that have their own local and regional events to worry about, where they want different things, for different reasons.

Finally, there are the field operators.... who will be the real deciders, as to whether a new format is successful across the board.

I have said it before, and will say it again.... paintballs biggest problem, as a sport, is that VERY few of the public ever get to play our game.... instead they run around in the woods or some scenario, and play war or Star Trek, or whatever..... we should feel lucky we get any transitions into the sport from that.

Thus, to my mind, the "format for the future" HAS to have one main priority:

To be sustainable for the average rental field!

Otherwise our growth will continue being stunted.

Reiner Schafer said...

Sustainability is key for competitive paintball success. We've all seen countless people get into tournament style paintball, only to abandon it after a relatively short while. It doesn't matter how much fun something is if they can't afford to do it as often as is required and for competitive paintball, does require regular participation. I think Missy Q posted some relevant stuff.

If I were the Czar of competitive paintball, I would limit paintballs and increase the limits with each step up in Divisions, with Pros playing unlimited. This makes it affordable for those starting out and also makes the game just a little less intimidating for those starting out as well. As experience and commitment increases, limits are increased. those that don't like playing at lower limits always have the option to step up to a level where the limits are less restricted.

Kine is right that organizers need a certain amount of income and will have to get it one way or another. However, with increased number of players/teams taking part regularly, income will increase without each individual entry necessarily having to increase by an amount equal to what the player will not spend on paint. This will also hold true for local fields. PLUS, if a player spends $50 less on paint, the organizer or field would probably only need to increase entry by about $10 to make up for the same profit (numbers are estimates, not exact). That's a $40 savings for the player, but the same profit for the organizer/field. Throw into the equation an increase in numbers of players/teams because the game is now more affordable, it's a definite win for the organizer/field, as well as more growth in the sport.

Nick is also right in that the field operators are a big factor in whether or not competitive play will be successful. I know this field operator would have been much more likely to offer competitive style paintball if the lower divisions were toned down a bit.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Good post Reiner! (I like it when people say I am right :D)

I understnd the idea of increasing through the divisions, but I think there re some challenges to it.

Where I have my doubts about limiting paint, rather than ROF, is:

- Without a ROF limit, low level players still get lit up like christmas trees

- With a severe paint limit (and yes, if it was not severe, it would not really be effective), we change the nature of the game, from a technical and physical one, into a strategic one... and if we do that at low level, it will be hard to progress to the next level, when the game changes, due to lack of limits at the upper levels.

- A ROF limit, would mean a much broader and chaper gun and loader market, as it is (at least in theory), cheaper to manufacture a gun or loader to work consistently at 6 BPS, than 12.5 BPS.

That is why I prefer a ROF limit across the board... all division would play the same game, with lower cost, and the technical and physical proficiency of the individual, would be what made him/her "Pro" rather than "Amateur"

raehl said...

Limited paint doesn't really allow players to still get lit up. I suppose it's still possible, but it doesn't happen - or at least it doesn't happen in the limited paint events I have been running.

Just reducing BPS still has us in a situation where players can decide to be shooting paintballs nearly constantly. Reiner has hit on this before - it's not really the peak BPS that intimidates players, it's the sustained amount of paint coming at them. 12 bps a couple times a game is much different than 6 bps all the time.

And, even in the best case, cutting bps down to 6 bps can only get you a 50% reduction in paint use. Hopperball can get you down 75%.

Reiner Schafer said...

Fine Nick, lower ROF as well if you think that new players will still get lit up. Personally, I just like the idea of not needing to police the gear (other than fps). It makes things a whole lot easier for everyone. I would not restrict modes whatsoever.

Increasing limits with each division turns the transition to higher level play into stepping stones. Yes, the difference between the lowest level and highest (unlimited) is huge, but no one would ever make that step in one go, so not having developed the skill in the lowest level is irrelevant. Most players will take one step at a time, with changes in game strategy along the way being fairly minor.

This is not uncommon in other technology based sports. No one sits in a Formula 1 car for his first ever car ride for instance.

Nick Brockdorff said...


I run limited paint games all the time, with high end gear. We do it 5 days a week at our indoor reball arena.

At 10 BPS ramping (standard European setting), people are still getting hit 4-7 times, when they get hit, they are still getting hit, 4-7 times when they get bunkered.

Lowering the BPS to 5 (I think that is slightly too low, I prefer 6 - but just to make this mathematically easy), they are hit half as much, in exactly the same situations.

If you stick a ramping high end gun in the hands of a noob, they do not think of their consumption, they shoot till they run out... and they run out frequently, at first.

Later in their outing, they start to "budget" their shooting a little better, but whenever they see a target, they still get on the trigger hard.

That, in essence, is my issue with limited paint.

Nick Brockdorff said...


I don't quite understand the need for steppingstones?

Why not just play the same game across the board, from rental field to PSP Pro?

If you agree lowering ROF lowers paint consumption, why would we need to increase it at the highest level?

Why not make the game at top level, exactly the same as at entry level, so that it is completely relatable?

As for policing gear, you would still need to, unless you are actually advocating 30 BPS full auto is ok..... keeping in mind, that if it is legal at the lowest level, it will also at the highest level... to not have to police equipment? ;)

raehl said...

What is your paint limit?

None of my players shoot ramping (well, they use "enhanced semi-auto") because they don't want to waste the extra shots shooting their own bunker.

I suspect that the problem isn't that limited paint doesn't stop overshooting, it's that your paint limit is too high to encourage players to switch out of semi-auto mode.

raehl said...

Damnit, switch out of ramping mode.

Nick Brockdorff said...

We play hopper ball :)

- I live in ramping mode dude :P

Nick Brockdorff said...

Did you mean "your paint limit is too high to encourage players to swith into semi-auto mode"?

We are talking rentals here, they do not get to decide.

The tournament players play under the Millennium rules, as all tournaments locally and Internationally, are run under those rules.

10 BPS
Ramp activation at 5 pulls
No paint limit

raehl said...

You have me confused. Are you running limited paint tournaments or not? If you are, what is the paint limit, and what is the firing mode being used?

Nick Brockdorff said...

I am talking limited paint games - not tournaments.

Our tournaments are run under the Millennium rules.

Our entry level is rentals, playing with high end gear.... we do not subscribe to Tippmanns (or similar) being the right entry into the sport of paintball.

I would love if we could play the same game across the board, but playing MS shooting mode, with rentals, gives a lot of people a bad first experience.... so we don't

raehl said...

Gotcha. So what is your setup for the rentals? Hopperball and ... rate of fire? What are they playing on, airball? Woods? Both?

Reiner Schafer said...

Limited paint recreation (especially rental) games cannot be compared to limited paint tournaments. The recreational games have nothing at stake. Renters want to shoot their guns. They can't hit things very often but they want to go bang, bang. Alot.

In tournament play, paint budgeting becomes part of the strategy. Understanding that your opponent also needs to budget paint becomes part of the strategy as well.

Baca Loco said...

"Why not just play the same game across the board, from rental field to PSP Pro?"

Nick, you were doing well until this. Not gonna happen given the game as it currently exists unless you mean this in a very broad sense of "the same game."

What?! The two of you haven't wasted enough cyberink over at PBN?

Nick Brockdorff said...


Hopper ball
8 BPS (guns won't go lower)

Nick Brockdorff said...

Reiner & Baca:

Why can't the format be the same in both instances?

In most other sports, when people try it out, they play the same game "the Pros" do.... and that is what creates a high transition rate, from recreational to sport.

What we are doing currently, at 95 % of the fields, is put people in a scenario or woodland setting, playing "war" and then we act all surprised when they don't go buy tournament gear and start playing tournaments (well not US... but many people :D)

For field owners, there are two major obstacles to running tournament style at some of their fields:

1. Customers getting overshot and having a bad experience

2. Paint consumption going through the roof, making it too expensive for the customers.

Many field owners will tell you there is no demand. But I argue they have no idea, because they have never tried.... and they are scared of change affecting their business.

I am actually starting a project locally to experiment with all this soon, so I'll let you know if my theories are correct, later in the year - if I am correct, we will have created a whole new way of running rental groups, which would have a much greater transition rate AND generate sales at our field Pro shop, that most other fields will look at with envy :)

raehl said...

I think your average customer likes the idea of running around in the woods and putting them on an airball field doesn't provide them with one of the things they are looking for.

Or at least, there are a lot more punters who like the idea of defending a fort in the woods than like hiding behind inflatable obstacles.

Where I think you can win on the inflatable obstacles is it doesn't require driving to woods, but then you have other problems.

Reiner Schafer said...

Nick, there are a lot of places that do play virtually the same game from renters to pro. Most of them are in higher density areas where larger woodsball type setups aren't available. These areas also tend to be hotspots for producing tournament teams, so I think your theory is relatively sound. They play the same as the pros do as it's still high ROF and unlimited paint consumption. Sounds like you are actually doing things a little different and limiting your rental groups paint usage.

Nick Brockdorff said...


What do you base that assumption on? :)

In my area, the fields I have seen close down during the recession, have all been ones focussed solely on scenario type game.

All the ones offering both, are still doing business.

I think the scenario rental game is great, if people have not tried paintball before, but with 25 years of operation behind us, we are well past the time, where we see a lot of first timers.

I think scenario rental, is viewed as something you might do every year or two, with your company, or for a bachelor party, or something similar... and it has a lot of competition from other entertainment industries.

I think tournament style play, allows people to view paintball as a sport, that they return to frequently.

I am not saying one is better than the other... I am just saying that - by far most - field owners, are completely missing a large market, by only offering scenario type games.

Nick Brockdorff said...


Well, Copenhagen is an urban area - around 2 million people in our local market.

But I know of fields in the middle of the woods in Sweden, that do the same thing we do, and do it well... and people readily drive 100 miles there, to get the experience they can't get at their local woodland field.

Our only problem with running the format, is that the "official European format", is too high ROF.

Sure, we turn it down ourselves... but then we get people in every group, having watched the DVDs running in the hang out area, asking "why can't our guns shoot as fast as theirs?".

I would like to be able to offer the official format, to rental groups, without the timid ones amongst them, getting scared away ;)

Reiner Schafer said...

Nick, that seems to be a big problem in North America. Fields offering speedball, offer it in much the same fashion as it's offered at high level play. I hang out in the field owners section on PBN and there are field owners looking for rental markers that will reliably shoot 12 or more bps. They want to offer renters the same (or similar) equipment the big boys have. They also want to sell lots of paintballs. And yes, it hurts the industry, it hurts future participation in competitive paintball (in my opinion) and it even hurts those field owners' businesses in the long run.

Anonymous said...

"Anon #2
Really? You think not putting your name on this makes you anonymous? :)"

was that at me for real?

This is shock2k3 from pbn. I dont have a name thing on here but I read it sometimes and this format topic is interesting (possibly less annoying people in here than on pbn, a bit biased towards competitive pb but I like your blog or whatever it is)idk what you think of limited paint but I assume people in here would not be overly accepting? hopper ball anyone?

Nick Brockdorff said...

I agree with part of that.

I do not believe it hurts the industry or participation, to offer rental groups tournament style play - quite the contrary.

I think it hurts the industry and future participation, when that type of rental game, ends up costing the customer double, what a "normal" rental outing would.

Most field owners are way too concerned with how much they earn per ball, when they should instead be concerned with creating repeat business with a much greater frequency, and then their margin on paint may be a lowly 200 %, instead of the usual 400 %

I ran a test group a few weeks back, that we equipped in full tournament gear, and had play airball, divided into teams - their own little company tournament.

After the event, the owner of the company came up to me and asked "So, do you think we can schedule a monthly date for the company to come play?"

Now THAT is what field owners should be striving for.

And I will bet you, out of those 20 people, 1 or 2 will eventually end up a tournament player, having bought his first set of gear from us, and visiting our field weekly.

Baca Loco said...

Didn't mean anything in particular. Everybody, including the anonymous are always welcome--regardless of their opinion. Btw, VFTD isn't biased towards competitive paintball but it is about competitive paintball. :)

Okay, you meant in a general sense the same game. All I was looking to clarify.

Anonymous said...

I didnt think it was a personal attack, I just thought you were stocking me or something.

'you think I dont know who you are?!"

you didnt say it that way but I was like wtf? made me laugh atleast

Nick Brockdorff said...

I'll take what I can get in that direction.... Rome wasn't built in a day.... but theoretically, I'd like the game to be exactly identical at rental and Pro level.

I think that is key to growing our sport.

The whole attraction to most other sports, is that you can directly relate your own experiences, to what you see the Pros do.

People can talk media, olympics, participation numbers, etc. all they want... until we get that one basic thing in order, paintball is going nowhere.

If the change happened today, and 3.5+ million people tried it every year, in short time paintball would suddenly be a realistic pickup for mainstram media coverage, because so many more potential viewers could relate.

Obviously, it won't happen that fast.... but at least we could be moving towards a brighter future, slowly but surely.

We in the tournament community should be less concerned about what format we like playing amongst the current options, and more concerned about finding a format that can grow the sport, at every level (looking forward to hearing more about Bacaball :D)

Neal said...

For what it's worth, as a non-sponsored casual tourney player I find the speedball attractive for the very reason that I can play a very similar game that is found at the top levels. If one examines other sports, this is a rarity. Want to race Moto Gp? good luck. Football? Unless you're a cop or firefighter, you'll never strap on the shoulder pads after college. Even baseball is mostly offered in the watered down softball version at rec levels, although fast pitch leagues are available. I don't want to spend registration money and paint on a training wheel version of speedball. Hell, I wish we could use NXL full auto and widen the field some more, make those corners even harder to dive in.

nickgibson said...

I agree with neal personally and I'm sure we are probably hugely in the minority. But I like competitive paintball if you made the rof 15 again I wouldnt be mad and I would still work my big ass down the field.

But at the same time I can appreciate that there is slightly more bright minds then my own here. Whose opinions I respect (excepting raehl and his paint hating ways) but I am still not convinced lowering rof or capping paint would solve anything.

Reiner Schafer said...

"I do not believe it hurts the industry or participation, to offer rental groups tournament style play - quite the contrary."

Really Nick? You think we, as an industry, would have just as many participants playing paintball if all rental groups were put on speedball fields with high ROF equipment and no limit paintballs? There are far too many schmucks in this world that get their kicks out of other people's pain and discomfort. At 6 bps, participation might be close to the same, although even then, there are many that would not take part if they were stuck on small speedball fields that are now taking part because there are more places to hide and stay away from the heat.

raehl said...

One place where a high-end gun might fit in the rental market is on a speedball field shooting a fragile paintball at 250 fps.

nickgibson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reiner Schafer said...

Agreed raehl. Technology, if used in the right way, can make life better.

Unlike some, I have never blamed technology, like electronic markers for instance, for any woes that some feel may have been created by high volume or high ROF. They may have helped enable some problems, but are not, in my opinion, the cause.

Anonymous said...

How do you think the leaving of Tony and his gang of super refs will effect the professional division? Could this being a power change in the leagues?

Nick Brockdorff said...


You forgot to read the second part of my reply I guess? ;)

The equipment and format is not killing the sport... the ROF is.... is what I said.

Same equipment, same format + lower ROF = problem solved ;)

Our customers LOVE it when we let them try Xball, they love the intencity, they love the pace, they love the combination of stress and adrenaline..... it's the kick they are there to get.

We just have to do it at a low ROF where their lack of technical ability, does not make the game boring and slow - and where the occasional a..hole does not ruin it for everyone else by overshooting others too much ;)