Speedball is the most publicized variation in the sport of paintball today. The game is played in a small field consisting of a symmetrical layout of bunkers on each side of the field. This balances the game for the competing teams and gives an enhanced configuration to competitive paintball for players and spectators.
Speedball has also evolved into the most formalized and rapidly growing style of paintball and is one of the most popular extreme sports. This is possible because of the expanding amount of professional level leagues and support from sponsors. The developed formality and organization within this style has turned speedball into a true sport rather than its formal title as a recreational activity. Each league also provides a unique format, although the competitive nature between the teams is still remarkable. In order to become a professional speedball player, rigorous training and athleticism are required. Teams are also characterized by corporate sponsorships, dedicated fan followings and the typical requirements of any pro sport; coaching and team practices.
The typical characteristics of a speedball game consist of a smaller playing, inflatable bunkers, and a short game time. Tournament speedball also involves a point system set by individual leagues. Penalties are also detailed by each league and typically consequences are a loss of points determined by the infraction.
An example of one league is the NPPL. In this league there are opposingflags and points are awarded for staying in the game for the rounds duration, eliminating an opponent, capturing the flag, and hanging the flag. PSP is a center flag format, which has one flag located in the center of the field. Points are awarded in this format when a team captures the flag and hangs it on the oppositions start box.
The style of paintball gun is also becoming more and more critical in professional leagues. Some may still believe that any type of paintball marker is eligible for speedball. However, the dominant markers are electronic trigger/firing systems that are capable of fire rates in excess of 30 balls per second with assistance from electronically assisted firing modes. Thinner and lighter paintball markers are also demanded by speedball players to enhance their game play as much as possible. This has also led to rapid innovation and competition between companies to provide the best marker.
Woodsball is game style played in a natural setting. There are many game modes and woodsball may also be used in combination with scenario paintball.
A popular style of paintball is Woodsball, which is generally played outdoors in a wooded area; giving it it’s name. Woodsball playing fields typically have large to no boundaries at all and can be played all year round. This style of paintball is more popular in rural areas where more land is available, whereas players in urban areas have more access to smaller indoor arenas which usually offer speedball and scenario ball instead.
Two levels of woodsball are recball and advanced play. Players in basic recreational woodsball tend to be “walk-ons”, which usually have basic paintball guns and equipment. The second level of woodsball is advanced play. This style utilizes established fundamentals and strategies which distinguish it from the basic recball playing level. Advanced woodsballers develop strong team coordination and formations on the field. This requires cooperation in movement, rapid manoeuvring, rigorous training, proper operation of available equipment and terrain, and the use of developed team tactics.
Basic Game Modes
- Capture the Flag – The most popular game mode in paintball; capture the flag. In this mode a team must obtain the flag from the opponent’s flag station located on the other side of the field are return it to their station to win the game. A popular alternative for the flag position is in the center of the field.
- Elimination or Slayer – Also known as team deathmatch, the objective for either team is to eliminate all of their opponents. Usually teams are split up evenly, but teams may also be divided unevenly to create unique challenges.
- King of the Hill – This game mode involves raising and defending a flag in a given location.
- Zombie – Also commonly called “Aliens”. One or more players are selected to be the designated zombies and can “infect” opponents by shooting them; making them zombies as well. The only way to eliminate a zombie is with a headshot. The game ends when everyone is turned into a zombie or all zombies are eliminated.
- Tag – Just like the childhood game tag, but with paintball guns. One or more players start as “it” (usually one player) and must hit other players in order to be free from the “it” status thus making the hit target “it”.
- Ironman – This mode demands a high endurance in being able to sustain multiple hits from incoming fire as well as resources. A chosen team is given the task to defend a fortified position on the field and are only out when they either surrender or run out of air or paint. Alternatively, one player may be selected as the Ironman and goes around the field until all opponents are eliminated unless the Ironman forfeits or runs out of paint or air.
- Ambush – Consisting of two teams, ambushers and the caravan. The ambush team usually consists of a smaller force and must capture the target or flag from the larger force and return it to its starting location. The caravan, which is the larger force must move through a set area and deliver the flag to the determined safe zone. Hostage The popular game of hostage is where one team must free a group or individual from the opposing team, usually designated as terrorists. The rescue team is commonly called SWAT, Special Forces, or counter terrorists. Hostages typically are unarmed and are freed by being tapped by a member of the rescue team. At this point depending on the determined rules the rescue team may have to accompany the hostage to the designated evacuation zone. Depending on rules, hostages may also be allowed to use a secondary weapon provided by a rescue member.