Thursday, July 26, 2012

Basic Tactics #1: The Foundation

Is really strategy basics and since this is a back-to-basics series I'm going to begin at the very beginning. Most (Everybody) will already have a working understanding of basic strategy but I'm going to put it in the same context as basic tactics so that it will (hopefully) be readily apparent how the one flows from the other. Basic strategy will provide the foundation for the brick wall of tactics to be built in future posts.
Before I get started keep in mind that strategy is the overarching concept and not the how-to. Tactics is the how-to so in this post a lot of ideas we all normally begin to tack onto the basic strategy isn't strategy but is, in fact, tactics. That means this post is going to be done in very broad strokes. (We will fill in the details as we go through the series.) Even so the boundary between strategy and tactics is frequently blurry. It doesn't matter. What does matter is to see how the pieces all begin to fit together.
All strategy in competitive paintball is derived from the necessity to win points. Yes, even defense. This is true because in the game as it is currently played there is no pure defense; defense is merely a delaying tactic used to create (when it works) actionable situations for offense. For example, Team A knows Team B is aggressive. Therefore Team A's strategy is to set up in a defensive formation that minimizes their risk with overlapping fields of fire and hope to eliminate members of Team B trying to force the action. If successful that strategy will create a situation, say two eliminations, on the field wherein Team A shifts to offense in order to finish out the point. This is the very common counterstrike or conditional offense almost all teams employ much of the time. Some teams are more defensive (or less) than others but the strategy is the same.
The dominant feature of all current game strategy can be summed up as Gain the wire, Anchor the wire and Control the wire. The reason this is so should be obvious to anyone who has played or even watched a few games; corners are the most defensible positions on the field. They can only be attacked from an increasingly open angle from one side of the field. Thus, reduced risk. This factor alone creates advantages for the player or team that can take, hold and use a wire to engage their opponent. (Even when corners are intentionally inset or reduced to tiny props it only lessens, not negates, their strategic value.) The flipside is equally important. To ignore or lose a wire gives your opponent a clear field of attack from which you can't ultimately hide.
The occasional complaint about the repetitiousness of multi-point field layouts should instead be understood as the fundamental strategic reality of the competitive game as it is presently played.
Let's return to Gain, Anchor & Control for a moment. Given the point begins with all live players at the center point of each end of the field the first requirement is to get a player out to the wire alive. Whenever and however that is accomplished that is Gain. Anchor usually begins with a player established in the corner. (This can change as a point plays out. The anchor can--and frequently should--move. More on this another time.) Worst case scenario Control means that even when contested a team (players) can use a wire to some advantage and best case scenario it means dominate a wire.
Strategy is formalized in the game plan. It defines the initial method(s) the team will utilize to open game play. The game plan can also define player roles. (These frequently shift during play.) Given that paintball allows for free player movement at all times the game plan cannot blueprint each point from beginning to end. Young teams tend not to use or rely on formal game plans and the result is sometimes readily apparent but others times not. This is because of the broader range of talent (or lack thereof) & skills in the lower divisions. Native talent, better developed individual skills and on field unit execution can all overcome the game plan but as the margins narrow and the players become more equal the game plan asserts its value. Better to get into the habit early on than try to incorporate it later. (More about the game plan next time.)
Expect the coming posts to cover stuff like the Beginners game, Basic Defensive, Rudimentary Offense and then apply those ideas to the Breakout, Mid-game and End-game.
Next time we really will begin Basic Tactics. We will examine the Beginners Game and build from there. In the meantime if you have any questions about basic strategy I encourage you to ask and I'll see what I can do to answer.


Nick Brockdorff said...

Would you say layout or personnel is most important in choosing the strategy for the team?


1) Layout dictates long breakouts and fast secondaries.... or alternatively, the layout dictates conservative/defensive gameplay until kills have been made.


2) Team is lacking speed but is full of great shooters.... or alternatively, the team has a lot of speed, but lack laning capabilities.

I obviously know teams are seldom that one dimensional (and never at highest echelons of the game), but for the purpose of clarity, let's say they are ;)

Personally, I have always felt you need to play the field to your teams strengths, rather than letting the layout dictate your strategy....

Baca Loco said...

If I had to choose I would say personnel dictates play--'cus it does. However, instead I'm gonna double down and say A) layout tells you what you'd like to do, B) personnel dictates what you will do, C) and knowledge of your opponent will shape match strategy.

Nick Brockdorff said...

C is the biggest difference between Pro and lower levels IMHO.

Not least in Europe, where the first two divisions below Pro have 32 teams competing at each event.

Below Pro teams are, to a greater degree, forced to play to their own strengths, rather than to their opponents deficiencies, for lack of information - at least in terms of strategy (tactically it's ofcourse different, and very much a question of how good you are at analyzing and play calling during a match).

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for starting this series of posts. My son will be traveling to world cup with his d5 team. I know this information will prove to be ofgrat value.

Michael Brozak said...

I see one glaring problem with this series of posts. That's having to wait for what seems like an eternity for the next installment. I feel that for those of us that really want to take our games to the next level, this information and your insight into the game is priceless. Thanks Paul!

P.S. Hope you will still give some thought to the coaching forum at Cup.

Baca Loco said...

Wouldn't disagree. And the short match Race 2 4 plays a huge role. Compared to the old days of timed halves even Race 2 7 needs to be aware of every momentum shift and point lost. If were still playing to time I think superior coaching could really shine.

Will make every effort to be as timely as possible and not drag it too long. That said expect the whole series to cover a few weeks.

Mike said...

There's this league in Canada called CXBL Baca... go put yourself and your coaching to the test ;)

Baca Loco said...

Canadians apparently prefer to pay ring, er, players to play.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Yeah, miss the days where you could be down 10-2 at halftime, and come back and win :)

However, as long as ROF is as high as it is, it would be financially impossible for anyone but top Pro teams to play old school X-ball these days.

Not to mention entry fees rising significantly, to cover the cost of additional fields and refs.

Troy Purdue/WFC2 said...

Love the beginning of the series, keep 'em comin. A coaching forum at Cup would be awesome.