Monday, July 22, 2013

(Some More) Hammer Time!

I've already written 90% of the final Hammer Time! post and had planned to post it today. Before I got the post finished I had a brief conversation with a guy heavily involved in divisional paintball and decided to take one more stab at convincing y'all of the value of rethinking (and changing) the penalty structure. Oh, I know, you're open to change but if that's true you ain't been contributing much to the comments 'cus most of those betray, intentionally or not, the difficulty it seems many are having thinking outside the box.
But first, for those who missed it, a past series (or two) of posts focused on penalties and officiating, here, here, herehere & here that are on point and relevant to this conversation. If you didn't see them and you're really interested in this subject give them a quick once over. (Go ahead. Take your time. I'll wait. Done? Cool.)
Like in the 'Name That Penalty' series I want to highlight actual outcomes to illustrate the weaknesses (unfairness?) (inadequacy) of the current system. Since divisional no longer has a penalty box minor and major penalties result in pulling bodies, 1 and 2 respectively. In the case of a major the timing of the call impacts the penalized team to varying degrees. If it occurs early in the point the result likely leaves live players still on the field and capable of contesting the point--though the odds are stacked against pulling out such points. Same penalty called after the offending team has dropped a couple of bodies results in defacto loss of point as there's no one left to contest opponent. Finally, the same penalty is called against the last player on field which results in a point for the opponent and the penalized team starting down two bodies, 3 on 5 the next point. (Which, most of the time, results in the opponent winning the follow on point as well.) The same penalty call results in varying levels of impact based on the number of live players. (To my mind that is a problem on its face.) Now imagine you're playing RT2 or RT4 and consider the potential impact from that one penalty. Is this really the best option? And if it isn't how does one go about reconsidering?
Let's take a look at some other sports for clues. Hockey for instance has penalty boxes, time-based penalties and even extra chances to score. Basketball has fouls which lead eventually to added scoring opportunities but even with the greater number of points scored doesn't award points for penalties. And football penalties are largely predicated on field position, yards plus or minus. The real difference regardless of the sport is a proportionality to the penalties they assess that paintball has yet to replicate. And that needs to change.
Next time, I promise, will be the last one--for now.


Nick Brockdorff said...

I don't quite understand, why you want the penalty to vary, depending on how many live bodies are on the field.

It shouldn't matter - the penalty should always be the same, for the same action, irrespective of the game situation.

If not, we are basically saying that the fewer are left on your team in game, the more you will be allowed to "cheat" (for lack of a better word).

Btw, one thing I like from Basketball: 5 penalties, and you are out of the game.... I think that could be easily implementet in paintball, with good effect.

Nick Brockdorff said...

(though, for race to 7 purposes, it should probably be "3 and you are out", and "2 and out" in divisional race to 5)

Baca Loco said...

That's not my point, Nick. Nor did I suggest or even hint at the notion I thought the penalty should vary. My point is that the impact of the penalty varies based upon game situation and where in one case it might seem "fair" it is completely over the top in other situations.

Anonymous said...

I'm more concerned about the ambiguity in whether or not a penalty should be assessed as well as the variation in severity that we're seeing.

The concept of penalties needs to be reworked to make them either more rare or more frequent (with a less destructive effect).

I don't think the goal should be deterrence as punishment, but rather deterrence as futility. Stopping the clock, combined with a penalty limit per team/player, combined with a less severe penalty would allow for reduced refs.

This saves costs and removes the "bad ref" syndrome where one guy is consistently screwing things up for the whole event.

Would you consistently play on if every-time you did a whistle blew, game play stopped and some infraction counted against your team? The pace of the game would be disrupted.

You'd have to deal with circumstances of a play/elimination in progress of the clock stopping that would basically be reinserting that player.

Teams would strategically use penalties in paintball just like fouls in basketball. But at some point that works against you with the benching and free throws.

Paintball needs a similar concept. I'm certain clock stopping is now what's hoped for by anyone in paintball but it might actually work out.

Slick said...

My take on this is very simple, have basic rules that everyone understands, especially the ref's.

If you choose to break the rules you know the penalty and the effect it will have on your team, this is called "Personal Accountability"

For serious offenses the penalty must be strong enough to outweigh any gain, other wise you have players taking the penalty for the gain.

I believe most of the issue is really with over-zealous ref's that don't fully understand the consequences of there call's. A full and complete training of Ref's with regular refresher training are a must, as well as a proficiency test to keep your Ref Card.

You could also modify the rules so that a penalty could not remove the entire opposing team, but you will run into the issue of "If I cheat and take out player X and get a penalty my team will still be better off than if I don't" and that is were the biggest problem lies, if the punishment is not great enough to make committing the offense unbearable you will have players choosing to take the penalty because they still benefit from it.

Looking forward to your solution. :)

Nick Brockdorff said...

I don't like the idea of game stoppages.

We tried that, back in the day where every paintcheck froze the game, because on the "modern" arena style fields, you could get shot from anywhere, so the ref froze the entire game to stand you up and check you.

It made paintball slow and boring to watch TBH :)

I generally dislike the idea that we take ideas from large teams sports, like football and soccer.... both have a very different balance, because of the far greater number of players.

We should look to sports with 5-6 players on-field for inspiration.

raehl said...

Finally, the same penalty is called against the last player on field which results in a point for the opponent and the penalized team starting down two bodies, 3 on 5 the next point. (Which, most of the time, results in the opponent winning the follow on point as well.)

That's at best a very poor way of explaining it and I would say just wrong.

The only way for a team to start a point down two bodies is if they receive a major penalty the previous point when EVERYONE IS ALREADY DEAD.

So, if there is NO major penalty called, everyone is dead and the opponent gets the point. If there IS a major penalty called, everyone is still dead, the opponents still get the point, and the penalty is the penalized team starting down two bodies the next point.

The penalty does not result in a point *AND* two bodies, the point was happening anyway.

Anonymous said...

@ raehl - so if a major penalty is called on the last player alive, the penalized team only loses the point being played & starts the next game with all five players? If so, what is the point of even calling a penalty? Why wouldn't you just call the player out & move on to the next point?

Dave Painter said...


I feel your example is a bit of a one sided view. Meaning that when you call the penalty does not really have a different affect on the points awarded. In the last two examples the point wasn’t given to the opposing team as much as the player’s cheating action caused a situation that made it easier for them to score the point (no one left to defend).

The difference between this game and the ones you’ve referenced is that we play an elimination game while those other sports always have equal forces on the field. Never do you see a basketball team or football team with less than the regulation amount (5/11) on the field.

Basketball stops the clock to assess penalties – we know from the past that this makes paintball boring to watch. Football tends to let the play run its course (with a few exceptions) and then assess penalties after the play, typically resulting in a “Do over” with some additional advantage/disadvantage tacked on – more/less yards to complete a first down.

Maybe we should just make the system “easy” – any penalty causes the clock to stop, the opposing team is awarded a point and everyone starts the next point with 5 players. Oh…But that’s not “fair” – what if I didn’t know I was hit on the pack? Then maybe Minor penalties cause the clock to stop – no point is awarded and the penalized team starts the next points 1 player down (5 v 4) and for majors a point is awarded and they resume play 5 v 5. Oh..But you don’t like awarding points to teams. Ok – clock stops for any penalty, for a minor the penalized team starts the next point 1 man down and for a major they start the next point 2 men down. This could get complicated as what happens when that same team has a major in that next point? Do they start the following point 4 men down?

If you don’t want to eliminate additional players and/or award points based on penalties then the only other thing left is to play with the available time remaining. Maybe each penalty takes time off the clock. This would discourage the teams trying to fight their way back into a match from committing more penalties, but would potentially encourage teams that are up on points to commit penalties to reduce the available time.

Again – the problem/difference with our sport is the goal of eliminating opposing players to make it easier to score goals. We’re fairly unique in that aspect. Imagine what would happen if non penalized players never left the field?

Anonymous said...

You could do it like Grid-fighters in Canada. There are always 10 live players as when a player leaves the field another can enter. Points are scored from the 50 by hitting 5 targets at the end of the field in a timed game.

Maybe something can be taken from this new format? It's certainly a very different way of doing things that may merit discussion...

Grant said...

Stopping the clock just isn't going to work in a game where hiding your field position is very important.

Implementing a points scoring system that awarded points for kills and games won / points deducted for fouls received could be a better solution than a race-to-format and pulling extra players for minors/majors.

A points scoring system would only see the offending player pulled but their team would lose 1 or 2 points depending on the severity of the foul. Scoring points would be based on players shot out and extra 1 bonus points for pushing the buzzer at the other end (get rid of center flags) and maybe and extra bonus point for 5 alive?

Having points deducted for fouls means that there is still adequate deterrents in place to play by the rules, but by not pulling additional players, the remaining players still have a chance to pull points back and the audience still gets to watch some decent paintball.

Here's an example:
Team A gets two major fouls (-4 points)
Team B shoots 2 additional players (+2 points)
Last player on team B ends up shooting all team A players (+5 points) and presses the end buzzer (+1) point

First game ends up a draw 2 points each...

I don't know how this will effect game play and it may be hard for scorers to keep up during games but something to ponder.

Baca Loco said...

Thanks to all for taking a minute or three ro play the game.

The point I was making poorly was that penalties in paintball have an outsized impact on the outcome, IMO, particularly at the divisional level where the PSP simplified the penalty structure when it returned to pulling bodies instead of putting peeps in the box.

I'm not a fan of stoppages and you are correct in that there are very limited ways to attack the problem particularly within the context of existing formats.

It is an interesting idea but not really practical within the context of existing formats. Doesn't mean it doesn't have merit, only that it's the sort of change that would demand more changes across the board.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe each penalty takes time off the clock. This would discourage the teams trying to fight their way back into a match from committing more penalties, but would potentially encourage teams that are up on points to commit penalties to reduce the available time."


As in football, you could allow the team to 'decline' the penalty. Or even give them the option of ADDING time if they are behind. That would prevent the winning team from strategically trying to run down the clock with penalties.

raehl said...

There's also the logistics of running a tournament.

You don't care too much how much real time a football game or basketball game or baseball game takes - you're likely only playing one of them.

Paintball tournaments have a certain number of matches that need to be finished in a day. As long as we're running tournaments instead of single-match-at-a-time seasons, anything that involves making matches longer creates its own problems.

Pete said...

Anon 545 has the right idea I think, because regardless of the sport penalty severity varies by time on the clock and scoring position at least. Basketball those penalties at the end of the game start adding more points to the opposing team, and even have to be perpetrated by varying players to ensure none of them "foul out." Likewise in football the same penalty with yardage and or a repeat of down has wildly different effects on the first down on your own side of the field as opposed to 3rd down in the red zone. Heck even soccer penalties if you're playing defense are less bad when you're in overage because the time isn't re-added to the clock.

Anonymous said...

@raehl - The major when "everyone is dead" is an interesting point to make. For example in divisional play, if the last player on the field receives a major they are eliminated and two strikes assessed that will be enforced at the beginning of the next point. The roughness of getting a major on the last body is when the major was the incorrect call. At MAO our team had this happen when our last player had a major called on them for a spinning penalty when he was bunkered out of the snake at the end of the point. Thing was, he was never shot and this was proven with video footage. Even watching the point live would make you question if he was ever hit because it was a slow controlled deliberate "spin". Yknow one of those where you're like, did he really just miss me and then you shoot him.

Point is the bad call then resulted in us playing a 5-3 next point. Playing a 5-3 is very difficult at the divisional level. You can't burn the penalty clock to get your guy back and I wonder what the stats are on a 5-3 point - meaning what team wins the majority of the time.

Overall my biggest gripe is the loss of two bodies for a major. Assess a penalty, but the resulting swing in the game feels mostly unfair.

Regardless of what one may think of my opinion, I think a thorough review of the penalty structure as Baca has stated is necessary. A few old souls opposed to change and good at arguing shouldn't stop players from progressing the game and leading change.