Tuesday, July 31, 2012

And The Winner Is ..

Tired of hearing about the SplatMaster yet? Hard cheese, Chester, 'cus here comes another post on the subject. My initial take focused less on the new guns and more on the reintroduction of the 50 cal paintball. From a competitive paintball perspective that remains my focus--and concern. One we'll get back to shortly.
On the other hand I can imagine there is some curiosity about the SplatMaster and how well it works--or doesn't. It works as advertised. The small balls break consistently. Within its range limits it's more accurate than I expected but also as one would expect that range is limited by the weight of the paintball, the force applied to it and drag. I can report the sting factor exists--at point blank range. In the interests of science and my VFTD commentary I shot myself in the hand holding it about a foot from the tip of the barrel and it wasn't pleasant. (Nor was it a traumatizing experience but it wasn't pain free. I'll try some more at recommended ranges this weekend.) The instructions that come with the gun and the website make it clear--if not to the new user--to anyone already familiar with paintball that a significant part of the intent is plainly to open a new path to paintball beginning with younger players. The guns are sturdy enough, easy enough to use (and clean) and provide enough performance to the new, youthful player to be a lot of fun. Assuming the sting factor really is gone or greatly diminished it's ideal for kid's parties or even mixed gender corporate groups. While the (brightly colored) plastic construction may seem to be a downside I'm inclined to think it makes the game and the guns more accessible to Moms who will see them as more toy and less gun. If all that sounds like an endorsement of the SplatMaster I suppose it is, but it's a grudging one at present. Because of the 50 cal paintball.
The factor I was most interested in was paintball pricing. If it was too low I was (am) prepared to judge that a sign of an aggressive push favoring 50 cal paintballs. It's not loss leader low. Available to supplement SplatMaster play paintballs come in volumes of 50 ($8), 200 ($12), 500 ($16) or 1000 ($20). Depending on sales volumes at the different increments the pricing may show an excellent return but it appears to me to be hedged toward lower profits and the transition to higher volume (dare I say regular paintball?) play. Which would be in keeping with the presumed core SplatMaster goal but doesn't address additional stages downstream. Like moving the SplatMaster generation into other 50 cal oriented products. Or delivering new state-of-the-art tech using the 50 cal platform. Remember the E-volt? Big, bulky, slow it was a truly electronic gun that didn't need an air source. The downsides weren't overcome by its performance envelope shooting 68 cal paint but what might be the potential of a newer more refined E-volt shooting small balls? (H/T Janek) Of course regular air-sourced markers could operate with smaller tanks & hoppers in ultra-light packages.
Remember the old 'Highlander' movie(s) and TV series? There can be only one. I am inclined to think the same thing about paintballs. Even if the transition took years--and it probably would--my concern is that the outcome would compromise competitive paintball or alter it in less than satisfactory ways. I realize most of you aren't buying into my Chicken Little 'The Sky is Falling' fears and even if it were to happen just as I suggest it might it doesn't necessarily mean ruination. Nor am I suggesting there's a nefarious plot or conspiracy being set in motion. But the one thing you can rely on is that change always has some unintended consequences. The current competitive game is a collection of counter-balancing elements (in relative harmony) that includes marker performance and a move across the board to 50 cal would shift that balance. I'll visit the possible ramifications in the future if it appears we may in fact be headed that direction.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Monday Poll

Got another goofy poll for y'all this week. Oh yes I do. Best Stand Alone World Cup Addition. You make the call. In yesterday's Not In The PB News I mentioned that Lane of the PSP has threatened to offer 10-man at WC this year if there's sufficient willingness to play--something like what, 6, 8, 10 teams? I don't know but probably something in that range. Anyway, that's not the point. If Lane is thinking (hoping?) there's a market for one off (maybe more?) 10-man play what is it you'd like to see available at World Cup. I have graciously given you a few choices to select from and after the voting period is complete the only sure thing is that the PSP won't pay us any mind at all. Nor should they as this is a totally unscientific and purely frivolous exercise. But good fun nonetheless if only you, yes you, are willing to participate.
Besides 10-man you will be able to choose traditional 7-man play, switching Masters to R2-2 (making it cheaper and less demanding for the oldsters), 1 on 1 event, Hyperball, Play w/ a Pro 3-man Streetball, an all mechanical division (been there nobody wanted to do that) & JT SplatMaster Refs Challenge. Sponsored by JT 3-man teams of working refs will compete (and cheat?) for prizes and our amusement. Speaking of the SplatMaster the kids at KEE sent me one even after I told them I didn't review guns or gear--which was nice of them--and has engendered another post--probably coming tomorrow.
While you wait for that with baited breath--and as long as you're here anyway--you might as well vote. So go on. Vote.

Monday Poll in Review
Proved to be very popular--at least once the word was passed around the KEE offices in New Jersey Friday afternoon that everyone should take a minute and vote in the VFTD Monday Poll about the new JT SplatMaster. Did they really do that? I don't know for a fact, though I can probably find out digging around in the analytics, but let me explain. Mid-afternoon Friday there were around 80 votes (lazy slackers) and 90 minutes later there were nearly 130 votes and nearly all the votes cast in that time frame were for number 5. You see, last week's poll asked you to rate the future impact of the new SplatMaster toys on paintball. 1 being no impact and 5 being major impact. The poll itself was predicated on my musings about what the intro of the SplatMaster and re-intro of the 50 cal paintball might mean. Prior to the big run of votes 1 & 2 were leading the poll results and afterwards--not so much. So did the kids at KEE try to help the poll achieve a result more to their liking? Maybe so. Could also be the Small Ball Fan Club of Modesto just happened to discover the poll Friday afternoon and a few phone calls later their members were swamping the poll in support. Either way it's kinda of intriguing and definitely good fun.
For the record the final tally showed that 29% of the voters chose #1. 22% chose #2. 6% went for #3 (your typical middle-of-the-road wishy washy moderate types.) 4% picked #4 and 39% see big things on the horizon with the intro of the small ball shooting SplatMaster. Time will tell.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Not In The Paintball News

Actually some of the items today are in the paintball news. Seriously, who would notice if this stuff wasn't posted someplace, right?
What has two Home bunkers at each end of the field, a wide open snake side and wire 50s that don't deliver any sure eliminations? If you said the PSP MAO layout award yourself an imaginary gold star 'cus you is correct. If you don't want to get mired in a series of low scoring contests best figure out how to close points out. On the plus side the snake plays, well, like a snake. Go figure.
A new store based in Minnesota has opened serving the online paintball community called Mecca Paintball. It is (as it turns out) the brainchild of a guy I know, like and would identify as a smart, resourceful and enterprising individual but I am wondering about the name, Mecca Paintball. While it's true that Mecca has English meaning apart from the name of the holy city of Islam what's the first thing most people are likely to associate Mecca with? Okay, you have a point. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the ignorance or stupidity of the public but even so. At best it's just a name but at worst it may put some people off. Or am I reading too much into it?
Lane Wright of the PSP is threatening to set-up an Old Skool 10-man field. Make sure you tell him what you think of that idea. I'm guessing it's unlikely to be one of those if he builds it he expects y'all to come kinda dealios. More like if you wanna play be prepared to pony up an entry fee. Sure it sounds cool but I suspect it'll work out about as well as the UWL. (Ouch, that was harsh.)
Speaking of the UWL--which I like (conceptually) nearly as much as the idea of resuscitating 10-man, even if only for a weekend--is anybody ever really gonna play? Kudos to Tom Cole for all the time and effort he's put into the league but it doesn't seem like it's growing. Which is, I suppose, okay as long as Tom wants to keep doing it and there are a few teams that want to play. But I can't help wondering why not? It seems like it draws mostly former (or current) tourney players but not all that many. Do you like the idea of the UWL? Have you ever played an event? What's it gonna take to make the UWL truly popular?
HydroTec (the water paintball) is making some noise--again. Supposedly this past Thursday there was an opportunity for the public to test a grade of HydroTec paintballs called Element. HydroTec is also claiming that after spending July in testing they will be ramping up limited production in August. (If I recall correctly they made a similar announcement last year.) Limited distribution appears to be targeting commercial paintball fields. Has the future of the paintball finally arrived and does anybody care?

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Latest from Mr. Curious: NPPL Edition

Are you shocked your Facebook stock has face planted? Concerned you'll soon be reduced to Twitter to maintain your global social network? Devastated that Kristen Stewart slept around on teeny bopper beta fantasy superstud Robert Pattinson? Unaware that the U.S. Senate hasn't passed a budget in over 3 years or that the prez hasn't met with his jobs council in nearly 200 days while real unemployment continues to rise? (Don't be fooled by the U3 data kids, look at the U6) Unconcerned that the ECB (European Central Bank) is on the verge of fracturing over exploding (Or is that imploding?) Spanish bond rates or that the clock is literally ticking on the coming Greek default? Closer to home perhaps you noticed that in the weak and likely to be revised down Q2 GDP numbers that debt accumulation outpaced real growth better than 2:1? Whatever. Don't worry, be happy.

And to help you be happy Mr. Curious has some deep dish rumorlogy concerning NPPL plans for next season. None of this has been officially confirmed but does have multiple sources. And of course plans could change. Disclaimer out of the way the NPPL is contemplating 8 events next season. Count 'em, 8! 4 would be considered major or national events and 4 would be considered regional events. The regionals would feature reduced entry fees. No word on whether or not the league will expect Pro teams to compete in any event other than the national ones--but it seems unlikely. Pev's DC event would be demoted to regional status and along with HB, Vegas and probably Chicago the fourth major is projected to be Tampa. Vancouver has also been resurrected as a regional event venue.

Did you miss Mr. C's previous release on VFTD-FB? (It was more NPPL rumorology.) Keep up or get left behind. Just saying.

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.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Monday Poll

You people suck. Talk about lazy slackers. Y'all make me feel like a dervish of energy and enterprise. I am, btw, decrying your voting--or non-voting--habit of late. Numbers have been way down and obviously you are to blame. I don't vote but I do make the poll(s). It's your duty as a VFTD reader to click your damn mouse and vote. If you have to close your eyes and guess but vote, dammit. Why should your vote be any more meaningful than anyone else's?
Since I'm currently hung up on this SplatMaster thing that's what this week's poll is about too. (There's a new post below this called 'SplatMaster' as well.) As usual I leave the outcome in your lazy slacker hands and, also as usual, you will once again prove to be a disappointment--unless, you know, more of you actually vote this time. Will the SplatMaster usher in a new paintball revolution? Will it be a bust? If small ball gets a toehold will it ever dominate the paintball scene? It's your call.
Rate the future impact of the SplatMaster on paintball from 1-5. 1 would no impact to 5 which would be a big impact. Impact doesn't address whether it's seen as a good or bad thing, only that it moves the game one way or another.

Monday Poll in Review
Last week's poll was about the move in major league competitive paintball to apply stats to the competitions. Or at least what you (the faithless voter) think of stats. Not surprisingly only 13% of the voters had a generally negative opinion of paintball stats. Much like the webcast it's hard to argue with free especially when somebody else is doing all the work--and yet--there was still some diversity of opinions. Which, besides digging a little deeper into people's opinions may also offer some insights into the voters themselves. (At least I'ma play that game this week 'cus it's gonna be fun.) Topping the poll at 27% was the "Loving 'em" response which was the sheeples answer. Next at 17% with "Great, but poor execution so far" is the answer of the Know-It-Alls who could do better but can't be bothered. Tied at 16% was "Fun but not really very informative" along with "Needs to be timely." The former answer comes from the nit-pickers in the audience while the latter is the choice of the forever impatient. (Even if they maybe have a point.) Dropping into single digits at 8% was "Good but too many different stats" from those with a public school education. And at 6% with just "Too many stats" were the highschool dropouts. 5% chose "What stats?" 'cus they're smart alecks who thought it was funny and closing out the voting at 2% were the haters who thought paintball stats were a waste of time and money.


You didn't think I was gonna let y'all off that easy, did you? One post on the new JT SplatMaster small ball (50 cal) spewing, plastic spring-actuated not-a-paintball-gun revolution was not enough. The only thing the SplatMaster is--besides a likely winner for KEE (depending on their projections)--is a gateway for small ball to establish its viability in paintball. The more success SplatMaster has with the field rental crowd in pushing the boundaries of the age limits lower and in potentially expanding the youth group play opportunities the greater its potential to remake paintball--not act as a gateway into "real" paintball. Until the SplatMaster's introduction (assuming the basic claims about the gun & paint are true) the dividing line between paintball players and not-paintball players was first contact with a paintball traveling at speed. If a potential paintball player survives first contact and isn't bothered by the sting the majority will want to play some more--and again--and again. If the pain is too distracting or off putting more paintball is out of the question. And as long as paintball relies on a 68 caliber paintball shot at velocities in excess of 250 fps the principle dividing line between player and not-a-player will remain the same. And SplatMaster won't change that. It might get more young players interested in checking out "real" paintball than might otherwise have tried it, though given paintball's ubiquity these days I'm not sure I buy into that argument, but even if it does the threshold remains the same.
Now depending on the overall success of the SplatMaster there will be a young generation of SplatMaster players who will want more at some point--which is where the whole gateway idea comes into play. But why rely on the SplatMaster generation potentially choosing to follow a paintball path (that already exists or lose them to Airsoft) when you can provide them with upgrades built around their previous experience--low impact small ball--and alter the threshold for paintball play and make it more inclusive of a wider percentage of the general population? None of the objections current paintball players have with the 50 cal paintball would be a deterrent to a generation of SplatMaster players. Before you know the 50 cal marker is back and its the basis for a youth movement in paintball and the prospect of more girls playing enters to picture.
At what point, how many generations raised on the SplatMaster will it take to convert the majority to a game based on the small ball instead of the current 68 caliber paintball?
The history of change in paintball is the history of changing technology & profits. If the SplatMaster is an enormous success it will signal the next great change to the future of paintball.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Gateway to What?

KEE is about to launch JT SplatMaster. They began some early info releases a few days ago. The new SplatMasters are plastic spring-loaded 50 cal markers. The target market looks to be the pre-teen crowd from 9 years old and up. The result is low impact, low velocity, reduced range quasi-paintball fun--although it appears JT is intentionally avoiding a direct association with paintball. Whatever. Meanwhile, the paintball crowd is jumping on the gateway to paintball notion. Paintball Lite for kids with cheap guns are the perfect introduction to "real" paintball later on. Well, maybe. Frankly I don't see why it couldn't as easily be a gateway to Airsoft. More realistic SplatMaster without any mess. I'm not really interested in that aspect anyway and I doubt KEE are either. JT SplatMaster will need to be profitable independent of whatever other follow on effects it may or may not have. And given the target market it will need to be economical. So what I really want to know is how much paint is going to cost.

It's the 50 cal part I'm interested in. Small Ball was a failure the first time despite the industry paint giants preparing to produce small balls. And despite some of the gun makers producing marker lines to shoot the 50 cal paintball. There was early and widespread resistance from the paintball community at large and a small group of home testers who demonstrated the performance drawbacks of the small ball compared to the standard 68 (despite the initial hyperbolic rhetoric.) The original brouhaha was followed with a quiet effort to promote small ball to large rental operations as a friendlier paintball option for birthday parties and group play, etc. Part of that promotion was the less intense less potentially painful first impression paintball experience available with 50 cal. It has seemingly failed to catch on.
Another part of the early promotion of small ball claimed it would be cheaper--a claim that gained the attention and support of a minority--at least briefly--but didn't pan out as advertised. (There was, as I recall, a modest price difference per case but it wasn't sufficiently cheaper that it encouraged players to transition to the small ball or take up small ball directly.) And now 50 cal is back.
I can't help wondering if part of the SplatMaster plan is to reintroduce small ball in a benign way, a positive way even, a way that doesn't trouble anyone currently and actively involved in the game today. Which is why I'm curious to know how much replacement paint is going to cost. Paintball prices are largely a product of the economies of scale--particularly domestic production with its rising materiel costs--so how many small balls is KEE gonna produce to support the JT SplatMaster? And how much can they reasonably charge for replacement paint for a game aimed at 10 year olds?
The resistance to small ball was all about lost performance but if you create a generation(s) with vastly lowered expectations maybe the ultimate limitations of small ball don't look so bad after all. It would be a long view strategy but from a business perspective it has a lot of upside.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fitting the Frame

This is not an O/T crime noir study–alas. Just another competitive paintball post in what has become a mighty long list of VFTD posts. This is the prologue for the Basic Tactics series. Something to keep in mind when the series starts. In thinking about how to proceed with Basic Tactics I’ve decided to try and set the table, or the stage (insert the commonplace metaphor of your choice here) about the mental frame necessary to keeping all the tactical elements in their proper place. (If you’re already a little confused, join the club.) My concern is that the tactics of the game can remain bland and uninspiring if they are simply words in a post or lines on a diagram. The tactics don’t fulfill their potential until they are played out in the game by players who understand their import and their individual roles.
Ever watched a team close out a point with seeming telepathic precision without saying a word and wondered at how they achieved that level of teamwork? Or the converse, a team up on bodies struggle and fail to take advantage of the their numbers despite a lot of yelling and wasted time? Part of the difference between the two is tactics and part is executing those tactics as a unit. When a team shares the same fundamental understanding of how the game should be played and what their role is the pieces fall into place. When a team doesn’t, they don’t.
Those of you who are football fans (real football) will know what special teams are. (If you don’t know anything about ‘special teams’ phone a friend or use a lifeline or if all else fails Wiki it.) In kick coverage almost everyone on a special teams unit has one fundamental job. As you run down field stay in your assigned coverage lane. Get down field fast. Avoid contact and blockers as best you can. Find the football. Tackle the ball carrier. As a player you can fail at all the elements of the play after stay in your assigned lane and be part of a successful play. More big plays are given up because one guy failed to maintain his lane than because of all the strength, speed and athleticism on display combined.
Are you familiar with the game checkers? (If not you know the drill.) Checkers is usually considered a child’s game. The rules are simple. To begin all the pieces are alike. The object is to take your opponents pieces while preserving yours–which is bit more difficult than you might imagine given they all move the same way and are identical. A piece is removed from the board when the opponent jumps an opposing piece. Pieces can only be jumped when they share adjacent squares and the square in line on the other side of the piece to be jumped is an open square. And should your jump land your piece in a position to make another jump over an opponent’s piece you may jump as many pieces as possible. One of the common strategies is to move your pieces into positions that ultimately force your opponent into moves where they lose pieces. Inexperienced or youthful players often fail to recognize the risks created by the relationships of all their pieces across the board.
A fast food burger joint is an assembly line of workers. The person working the fryer is responsible for keeping fresh hot fries ready to go. That person isn’t in charge of taking orders. Or cooking burgers. Or getting drinks. Or adding condiments. Or unpacking bags of buns. Or working the cash register. Or putting the orders together. Or ordering inventory. Or writing the payroll checks. Not the Fry Guy’s responsibility. But what happens to everyone in the whole restaurant if Fry Guy can’t keep the fries coming?
There are applications to be gleaned from the examples above. I am not spelling them out for you because we are talking about your mental frame of reference. It is something you (and your teammates) need to internalize and I cannot do that for you. Think about the examples and see if you can’t apply them to playing team paintball.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mailbag Extra: Teams needing help

I don't know what it is but VFTD has recently received a spate (which is more than a few and less than a bunch) of requests from teams looking for help literally from around the globe. (Normally it's the off season that sees the most requests coming in.) Typically I respond to each request by recommending they do an archive search (as there are a dozen or more practical posts of drills, practice routines, etc.) and if they still have a question to send me something specific. Lately, many of the questions have been about the fundamentals of the game, basic tactics and so on that here at VFTD I normally simply assume is shared knowledge possessed by both the serious competitor and the competitive up-and-comer. Which apparently isn't always so. And I was reminded of a recent conversation where it was agreed that the way the game is presently played it was possible to play the game without learning much of what used to be basic knowledge--even though it all still applies, even if in slightly different capacities.
Anyway, to make a long story longer I bring all this up for a couple of reasons. I'm going to put up a 'Help' page with all the archive links and content descriptions in place and am asking that anyone looking for some help go there first. (Nor do I want to hear about it if it takes a while, 'cus it will.) In addition I'm considering doing a few posts on fundamentals and rudimentary tactics since it seems to be a growing area of interest and need and am looking for some feedback from you people. What do you think? Good idea or waste of time? Finally if there are any other aspects or elements of the game that you would like to see covered post them up in comments or drop me a line.
And of course I am always available for private parties if the price is right--weekends booked in advance. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Monday Poll

After last week's change of venue for the PSP I was going to do a poll on what gets paid for first when planning on playing a major league event but while putting a list together I thought better of it. I remembered what it was like. It's nice to pay the entry early to save a few bucks but it ain't essential--not unless there's the chance you may not get to compete at all--and unless you're playing in the MS (with the rest of the Eurosheep) that's no concern at all most of the time. So of course you pay for other stuff first. Besides you're either collecting entry from intransigent (broke ass) teammates or somebody (foolishly) pays up front and tries to collect everyone's shares later. Divorced from the way paying to play big time tourneys actually happens it seems silly to not pay entries first but as a practical matter it ends up down the list.
So instead VFTD wants to know your take on the "success" to date of the stats revolution. While most agree it's a cool, maybe even good idea, how's it really going? Other than to add some extra prima to the donna of the pro class of players, I mean. You know the drill. I give you some options to choose from and you choose--one, this time--and in a week we see what the paintball collective cognoscenti thinks about stats. Or something close enough for the purposes of The Monday Poll.

Monday Poll in Review
Okay, so superhero movies franchises was the wrong way to go. (Y'all were more apathetic than normal.) In my defense I was desperate and it's not like I know (or care) what y'all think or like. Probably would have done better with an O/T poll on smart phones or video games but I couldn't--'cus I don't have a clue where to begin with either of those topics. My cell phone of choice is no phone at all but since that's impossible it's as close to a rotary as technology will allow. (Not kidding.) And my PS3 is just a large dust collector. I like the idea of playing video games a lot more than I actually end up playing. Go figure.
At least the majority of the voting minority got it right choosing Batman/Dark Knight with an overwhelming 47% of the vote. Ironman got 15% and the currently in theaters The Avengers got 13% (from tha bandwagon jumping crowd) while X-Men pulled 11%. Nobody else got more than 2% of the vote so I'm not even gonna bother mentioning them all.
Next time there's an O/T poll it will about your favorite book genres--and, no, 'coloring' won't be on the list. Fair chance it won't get any votes at all from the likes of you people.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Baca's Mailbag: The PBN Trademark Sale

The question was asked by the kids at 'This Is Paintball Canada' (thisispaintball.ca) over on the VFTD-FB page--and answered there--but was "hidden" so that it wasn't readily apparent I had responded. (And no, I didn't know how to change that or even if it's possible.) So here it is:
What are your thoughts on the PBNation trademarks being up for sale? Can we assume that this is going to end up in the hands of some ppl who shouldn't have this type of control over the industry or will VFTD just buy it to redirect PBNation.com visitors to your website? Haaa

It is a pig in a poke and I doubt anyone will buy it. As I read the offering it does not convey ownership of the URL (or domain name) only the trademarks--which the Crowdgather/PBN peeps would simply change. (Though I'm kinda surprised it wasn't part of the original sale agreement, but hey.) Trademark is largely about how the words, letters and/or image is designed and any established associations with specific products and/or services. They could go ahead and continue to use PBNation in a different design form in all likelihood and their right (or lack of a right) to do so would have to be litigated if they did. There might also be a case to be made claiming PBNation and the website are indivisibly linked but that seems a long shot and hardly worthwhile--but then I'm not a lawyer.
Regardless, without the website you'd have to sell a lot of T-shirts or jerseys to get your money back and I suspect everybody would continue to use the "real" PBN whatever it ended up being called.

UPDATE: A statement from Sanjay at Crowdgather. More interesting is that the ebay offering appears to have been initiated by Ed Reiker, former owner of PBNation. I asked a PBN rep about that but haven't received a response. Yet?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ask the Coach: The Tryout

Lil' Baller is back when things don't work out quite like he expected in the aftermath of "The Grass is Greener."

All back episodes of 'Ask the Coach' are now posted on the ViewFromTheDeadbox channel on YouTube. If you missed them first time around or want to see them again you can check them out anytime. Well, except for episode 6, the Lost Episode.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mr. Curious: Anatomy of a Change

Mr. Curious has a number of files in the "in" box, still unresolved and untold. To avoid ongoing harassment he crossed the southern border of the U.S. and re-entered as an anonymous undocumented alien and hasn't been hassled in weeks. (He's learning Spanish watching Univision.) Life was good and then a rumor leaked that a change of venue for the PSP might be in the works. What compelled the late change of venue was an inability to come to agreeable terms for the use of the facility and land at Topgun. What precipitated that crisis was both a late effort to alter the terms the PSP believed had been agreed to and an ultimate inability to get a deal down on paper. Just how this state of affairs came about and who is responsible remains uncertain as the principles aren't discussing the details.
The story begins last year when the Topgun property hosted its first PSP New Jersey Open. The paintball park leases the property it uses and last year the property owner was on board with whatever the terms were for that first event. The only contention was the parking fee the host facility charged.
When the PSP announced a return to Jersey (and Topgun) it was with the understanding the basic arrangement would remain the same. There was no contract signed by either party--nor had there been one the first time. At Chicago [late June 2012] the league was informed that last year's terms were not acceptable. Efforts to negotiate followed.
Here's where it gets a little more complicated. In the preceeding year the property owner divorced and his ex took control of the property in the settlement. It some circles it is being claimed she demanded more money not having been part of the process the year before. It also seems that Topgun is run by two individuals one of whom has little interest in tournament paintball which may have created some friction regarding the PSP's use of the venue. Sometime toward the end of June it became clearer that the Topgun position wasn't a unified one and that a late renegotiation was on the table. As best Mr. Curious can piece the details together it appears that the PSP did not have any direct contact with the new landlord but through the agency of the operators fo Topgun as many as 4 separate offers may have been put forth. There are unconfirmed rumors that various deals included cash payments, quid pro quos like free entries and more debate about parking fees but neither side will confirm or deny the terms of the negotiation. Word is the last straw for the PSP was an inability to get any terms in writing and the only comment Mr. Curious received from a rep of Topgun was, "The property Top Gun sits on is not owned by Top Gun. The PSP and the landlord had some issues they could not come to terms on."
Without the cooperation of the principles it is impossible to know exactly what happened or why. Did a greedy landlord sabotage the deal? Did the partners fall out over the return of the PSP to Topgun? Was it something else? Or perhaps some mix of everything?

Monday, July 9, 2012

PSP Venue Change!

Over at VFTD-FB on Saturday Mr. Curious let it be known he was knee deep in a big story and chances were it was breaking soon. Well, this is it. (Hit the post title for a link to the PSP page and all the available details.) What isn't there is the good stuff. The behind the scenes dirt. And Mr. C is up to his waders in it now. He has a few more details to pin down before he can reveal what precipitated this sudden change that is sure to rile up the PSP faithful--and a few who enjoy being riled up besides. Coming soon.

The Monday Poll: Superheroes Edition

This week's poll let's you pick the best--or your favorite--superhero flick franchise. Which comic book superhero is best on the big screen? Don't lie, you've seen them all and you'd sell your mother, or at least your girlfriend, to see 'The Dark Knight Rises' in IMAX 3D. You have an opinion so you might as well vote. It's free. It's easy and best of all--no embarrassment 'cus it's anonymous. Until you post a comment.
And here's a little summer something special 'cus I'm feeling generous--it's easy when you're giving away other peeps stuff--if, after you vote, you visit the Baddog Facebook page and "like" it you will automatically enter yourself for next week's random drawing in which BD will give away a free T-shirt. Let the Dog Days of Summer give you something cool 'cus I don't know about you but it's mighty hot where I am. (And, no, it's not hell, it's too humid to be hell. Hell is right around the corner and down a few flights of stairs.) On that happy note--you know what to do--vote.

EDIT ADDED: I know what you're gonna say. Forgetaboutit. It isn't comic book characters, it's superheroes. So while the Punisher is great (but not his movies) as is Hellboy they aren't superheroes. Daredevil is but the movie was so bad I left it off the list. Watchmen, Blade & Ghost Rider--comics, yes, superheroes, no. Same goes for the rest. Also no animated versions considered. Get over it and just pick one already.

Monday Poll in Review
Last week's poll wanted to know what your major league tourney priorities were. What makes (or breaks) the major league event experience? The poll provided 13 choices and each voter was asked to choose their top three in importance. The poll followed on the PSP Chicago event held at CPX Sports Park and VFTD had remarked on the generally poor condition of the playing surface--which, in fact, inspired the poll. Given the final results that may have also played a role in how the voting went. Although there is also anecdotal evidence that not all poll respondents compete and non-competitors very likely have different priorities. (As might competitors who have limited major league experience.)
Beginning from the least important to the most; stats was chosen by only 3% of the voters. (Probably pro players.) It's not really a measure of what people think of keeping stats generally but rather a reflection that the statistics aren't an integral part of the competition itself. Next was proximity at 9%. For purposes of the poll proximity referred to the distances between the parts of the venues; paint trucks from pits, parking lot to fields, etc. Since this has, on occasion, been a topic of contention I am inclined to think this result reflects the fact that most of the time the leagues do a satisfactory job. Tied with 13% shares are hospitality & vendors. (Hospitality is the availability of food and drinks on site.) The vendor number suggests most current participants have come to terms with a reduced vendor presence and that it isn't a big deal--at least in the overall perception of the event itself.
Here it might be worth mentioning that I think every item listed in the poll contributes something to the overall experience and that low numbers don't mean a particular feature isn't important or worth bothering with--only that in comparison with some of the other features one thing matters less than another.
Next up was profile at 19%; profile referring to the accessibility of the event to the non-paintball playing public. 1 in 5 voters considered it a top 3 choice but how many high profile events are there? Huntington Beach. What else? Vegas is spitting distance from The Strip but it's the northern anonymous part of The Strip and in the convention center parking lot the reality is nobody sees it and nobody, but the players, care. Historically much the same can be said about the NFL parking lots as well.
Accessibility was next with 21%. Accessibility referred to how easy the venue was to get to--typically from the local airport. Do you hop onto the freeway or does your GPS get lost in the backwoods.
Interestingly webcast came in next at 23%. In fact webcast probably shouldn't have been an option--even though it does have a physical presence on site--because it only impacts the event passively at best. But it has a much bigger impact on those who wanted to attend but couldn't or who follow competitive paintball. Consequently I'm inclined to think the votes largely reflects the value associated with the webcast by non-participants. Otherwise there are a lot of players who are very interested in the future of tourney ball--even to the exclusion of their immediate experience.
Taking a leap to 32% is infrastructure. From here on out at least a third of all voters considered the option(s) a top priority. Infrastructure referenced the supporting necessities of nearby hotels, restaurants, etc. Here we reach number 5 on the list with format at 36%. I'm a little surprised by the number in that I think most players make format a primary consideration when deciding what to play but at the same time the differences are closing and one format is clearly dominate--and there are other choices to consider. Like number 4--scheduling /logistics at 37% which references the daily operation of the event; is everything on time, etc. This result suggests my proximity result explanation may be wrong because one of the things all the major leagues do quite well is meet their schedules and maintain understandable well organized events. So if it isn't a problem why did so many peeps vote for it? Coming in at number 3 with 45% was playing surface. I'm nearly convinced Chicago influenced this result as the playing surfaces are frequently poor and nobody routinely complains about playing surface unless it's something extreme like the weather that the league(s) can't control for anyway. In second place with 46% was location. This refers to general area/region where the event is being held; like Galveston, Texas or Phoenix, Arizona. I'm also not sure I buy into the importance this number suggests. (Except when location means it's relatively close and we, as a tema, only play one or two events a year--then maybe location is that important. Otherwise participation numbers might suggest something different.) And numero uno was reffing at 70%. While some of the comments suggested that reffing be taken as a given I think it's a good reminder for the leagues to see how much weight the players put on the reffing relative to the other factors under consideration.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Not in the Paintball News

Is not exactly correct. Some of today's remarks are about items that are in the paintball news. Beginning with Facefull. You may remember the magazine of the same name (although back in the day I preferred calling it 'Rich Telford's Wide World of Paintball') It took a short nap and was reintroduced--last year? Checking out the website it hasn't been updated in months--despite the TonTons winning in Basildon recently--a French first!--and the last time this sorta thing happened ... well, it wasn't so good. Maybe they could publish in China at a slightly smaller scale; a more technical and efficient magazine. Just a thought.
Over at Paintball.com there's the Tiberius Arms press release which was posted as news. All well and good except for the closing editorialization. I know, it's not a big deal. Nobody even notices. Journalism isn't even about the news anymore, it's about shaping others' opinions, it's about what you want it to be. I get that but I'm Old Skool. You wanna editorialize? Cool. Just don't do it in the news.
Speaking of the Tiberius Arms press release--they bought Guerrilla Air--or at least claim they have. For all I know they have, whatever that means. All I really know is somebody (or some committee) sat down and figured out what they wanted to say (and not say) and worked out every detail including the made up quotes in order to convey as little as possible while still getting the message out, which admittedly is how the game is played. I guess the part that really annoys me is that about ten minutes later every moron and know-nothing jumps on the bandwagon like it's the Veteran's Day parade to offer their benedictions and banal happy thoughts. Isn't this the same Guerrilla Air mired in public controversy a few months ago. Does anybody care? No, it's all just fodder for the paintball gossip cycle.
The same goes for the latest presser, the announcement that a certain former All American and current owner of NE Avalanche has bought Vanguard. (I try not to use F the T's name as he doesn't like it when I do.) A sentence or two later the presser says he's purchased the assets of Vanguard. Well, those are potentially two different things. Just saying. The modern press release is designed not to say as much as possible. Which apparently works for all the old ladies on the forums. (Btw, for the comprehension impaired I hope all the business stuff works out for everybody involved. Not my point and I don't really care but I'm a little tired of the hate letter written in crayon about stuff I never actually said--or posted, as the case may be.)
Time for a NPPL & PSP update. Each league's next event is in August. Registration is slow over in NPPL land and uncertain in the PSP. Currently there's around 30 teams signed up for NPPL DC. There's still the better part of six (or seven) weeks so it's not critical just yet but it's also not very encouraging if you are a NPPL fan. PSP Jersey is coming up before that and their registrations are around 95. Here's where the rubber meets the road for the PSP in a return to a 5 event season. (NPPL cancelled Vancouver earlier in the year and remain at 4 events.) Traditionally the 4th event has always had the lowest turnout so it will be interesting to see how close Jersey is to the previous events team totals for 2012.
While I'm at it does anybody in the PSP want to take a guess on when the field layout for Jersey will be released? It's not at the top of prep priority list but it's still kinda important for scheduling practices. So how 'bout it?
There's plenty more but I'll save the rest of the 'Not in the Paintball News' list for next time.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ask the Coach Redux

Boy, it has been a long time. Shame on me. It's been so long a fair-sized minority of readers may not have ever seen an episode of Ask the Coach. For those of you clamoring for another (Mark) a new script is being prepared and a new episode should be released this weekend some time. In the meantime to catch up here's a link to the most recent episode, Grass Is Always Greener. It should be self-explanatory. The new episode is titled, The Tryout, in which Lil' Baller makes a less than triumphant return.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quit Yammering About Heart ...

And demonstrate you got some. No, you can't pack and unpack real heart like the rest of the gear in your gearbag. Or show it by playing maybe 5 points in a match and then collapsing on the grass when it's over win or lose as if you've burned every ounce of energy in your body. Don't get me wrong, nothing wrong with bringing energy to the game but that ain't heart. That's just excess uncontrolled emotion like an old-fashioned tea kettle left on the boil steaming and whistling. Nobody needs heart to play the game. Playing is the fun part. Real heart is about your dedication to being the best you can be. Real heart is about the sacrifices you gladly make to reach your goals. Real heart is about the determination you show day in and day out, on the real grind. Real heart is about the effort you make to be the best player and teammate you can be. Real heart is about the hours and hours of practice you attack like a hungry pit bull. Real heart is about having the motivation to continually demand more and more of yourself. Real heart is about always being open to learn, to improve, burning with an unquenchable desire. Real heart is never satisfied with good enough. Real heart is who you are...not what you do. Get some.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Mondy Poll

In the PSP Chitown wrap-up VFTD had a few unkind words for the CPX fields that had a surface fit only for reenactments of the Great War. It occurred to me at the time that it might be a good poll topic, or rather, what are your priorities for a major league tournament venue? If you go way back with VFTD you might recall I've already done a similar poll but that was then and this is now. Besides there's unlikely to be a (competitive paintball-oriented) poll topic VFTD hasn't done. I've even done a favorite gat poll that left me feeling dirty--but I kinda liked it.
Enough silliness, today's poll will list the features of a tournament and you will choose up to three features, the 3 features you consider most important, to a successful event. This way the leagues will get a sampling of your thoughts on the matter before they ignore you completely. (Just kidding. Or am I?) (I have had a brief convo with the PSP regarding the CPX grounds but I won't spoil your voting choices by filling you in just yet--other than to say the league apparently has not made an extended committment to use CPX as the Chicago venue but it is an option. And I don't know if it's been discussed formally yet or not.)
Many of the options, like "location" are open to fairly broad interpretation as is "accessibility." For the former think general area and take time of year, weather, etc. into your consideration and for the latter it's about how easily and/or quickly you can get to the venue. 10 minutes on a highway versus an hour of stop and go traffic kinda thing. "Public profile" covers an event/venues capacity to attract/interact with the non-paintballing public and choosing "public profile" would indicate you put a lot of stock into venues like HB for their potential to reach the public. "Proximity" refers to the venue design and layout. Preferably one that keeps all the elements relatively close together making it easy and quick to get around, collect paint, drag gearbags to the pits, etc. "Schedule/logistics" is the actual daily operation of the event; on time, with minimal interruptions or confusion, delays, etc. "Infrastructure" is all the off site necessities like decent hotels, restaurants, night spots, and so on all within a reasonable distance of the venue. And "hospitality" refers to on site food and drink availability and prices. I've purposefully left "cost" off the list as everyone would like competing to cost less but what the poll is really about is what matters most for what it does cost.
Remember, pick up to three options and let's see what y'all think is most important to a major league tournament's success.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Sunday Meme

Theft is the sincerest form of flattery. Saw this on FB and couldn't resist. Kudos to whoever made it.