Woodsball, also known as woods paintball or Bushball, is a popular form of paintball. Unlike its counterpart, Speedball, Woodsball is played in any natural setting. Sometimes, Woodsball is used in conjunction with Scenario paintball, which is played with a predetermined story, or setting.
Woodsball is a common style of paintball. Woodsball is often, but not always, played in wooded areas, hence the name. Another characteristic of woodsball is that its playing field generally has large boundaries, or perhaps no boundaries at all. Woodsball has many popular variants, giving the game very flexible variety. Players who live in an urban setting tend to have more access to smaller indoor arenas, which typically offer Speedball instead.
There are levels of play in woodsball, ranging from basic recreational play (sometimes known as recball), and advanced play.In basic recreational play, most players tend to be walk-ons. Advanced play relies on established fundamentals of woodsball strategy, and is distinguished from basic play by its level of organization. Advanced woodsballers are known for team coordination and fluidity on the field, rapid maneuvers, cooperation in movement, extensive training, proper usage of equipment, and application of defined team tactics.
Normal equipment can include anything that the military uses which is available to the public, such as BDU forms of camouflage, army boots, ghillie suits, and so on. Additionally, one’s personal equipment can vary greatly depending upon one’s style of play, or position.
Woodsball markers are generally known to be universal in play, as a player can fill many roles while using the same marker throughout. For example, a telescopic sight, stock, and more accurate barrel can be added to the marker, increasing the expected accuracy of the player to that of a sniper. The same equipment can be later replaced by full-auto grips and/or circuit boards, which enable the player to play as a gunner. Because of the wide range of possibilities, woodsball markers often come out of the box with relatively basic configurations, leaving most modifications to be purchased subsequently. The popular and classic woodsball marker company is Tippmann, mainly because of their relatively low cost and high reliability. Another popular brand is the Spyder marker, known for their deadly accuracy and all-round abilities. These markers are also renowned for their ability to be ‘modded’, or modified, for many functions. Another type of marker is the military-simulation (or “Mil-Sim”) marker. Some player will put aesthetics modification on the marker to make it more realistic or similar to real firearms. Some companies like RAP, Ariakon, Tippmann and Tactmark specialise in making out off the box marker looking exactly like real firearm. Almost any type of marker works for woodsball, so many players opt for low-end mechanical markers for woodsball and the higher end electronic markers for Speedball or Hyperball.
Camouflage can be very useful if employed properly. It’s used for the same purpose as modern soldiers, to blend in to the surrounding environment, making it harder for the opposing team to spot the player. Various military (Flecktarn, MARPAT) and hunting .
Some players that want to stay hidden, even up close, use “sasquatch” or “ghillie” suits. Basic camouflage is inexpensive, and is an excellent alternative to most other colors often used in paintball, albeit inadvertently — for example, bright color Speedball clothing which are made to impress and represent a team than to blend are more easily spotted in a forest environment rather than the greens and browns of a camouflage designed for that setting.
Masks, Vests, Belts and Other Gear
There are numerous other products available for purchase which are marketed as “woodsball” products. In reality, a large number of the items used in other paintball game types, such as Speedball, may be used in woodsball. The only unique features that a “woodsball” item typically possesses are reliability in harsh condition and a lack of vibrant logos or colors (to reduce individual visibility). Paintball masks are an obvious necessity, as any paintball game type requires masks designed and manufactured specifically for the sport of paintball. Pod packs, which carry additional ammunition, are popular among players who shoot more than their hopper’s complement of paintballs in a single game. Pod packs can be integrated into a number of platforms, including vests, belts, and leg packs. Gloves, pads and armor may also be used, they are especially useful in more rugged playing environments, such as canyons and rocky areas where one may easily come into sharp contact with rocks, tree roots or other hard surfaces. Armor is rare amongst experienced players, who discard it in favor of speed and maneuverability.
There are many forms of strategy in woodsball. Examples include solid and staggered attacks, flanking maneuvers, attrition, ambushes, charging, cover fire, “Blitzkrieg”, and base defense. Woodsball tactics strongly depend on flanking maneuvers. The usage of cover is an essential element of paintball.
There are numerous different styles of playing woodsball. Some of the most popular are summarized here. Each style is known as a player position, and will often require different individual tactics, equipment, and even different mindsets. Player positions usually suit different kinds of people, and are often chosen for a player by the player’s personality. Normally, player positions are only useful if one is playing on a coordinated woodsball team. This is because of the likelihood of having a disproportionate number of player positions in walk-on games. For example, there could be too many scouts to riflemen, or anti-armor specialists to scouts, etc.Special Ops Paintball has an overview of their recommended player positions, including pictures, gear recommendations, and roles here. While the site does describe several good strategies, it is a commercial site, so product recommendations should be viewed very carefully. A broader set of established positions are identified below.
Woodsball scout in combat. Camouflage is essential for concealment, and is often used in woodsball. This image shows how an experienced woodsballer can merge with his environment with the right camouflage. In action, the moments between the woodsballer spotting an opponent and being spotted himself may prove to be the deciding factor of the game.
The infantry are the most commonly seen players on the field. Usually, woodsball teams will consist of up to 75-90% infantry, with the remaining percentage distributed amongst specialists.
Scouts are always lightly armed and fast. Usually, they are counted on by team command to ‘take point’ in front of a squad. In numbers, they can also act as a team’s quick response force, hovering behind their team’s front line and filling in the gaps as friendly players are eliminated. However, scouts’ primary responsibilities lie in finding units of the opposing team, and then leading elements of the scouts’ own team to destroy those opponents. Scouts are also frequently used to draw fire from opposing teams for sn
ipers, and to perform flanking maneuvers when two sides come to a ‘paint trading’ stand still. Scouts tend to be chosen for their speed, lightweight gear, intelligence, and their initiative on the field (most ‘adrenaline junkies’ are assigned as scouts).
Rifleman or Basic Infantry
The bulk of a team’s forces are riflemen. They are generally grouped with squads, and rarely play individually unless as a last resort. Most ‘newbies’ will start out as riflemen, due to the general nature of the position, and because they operate in groups. New players are known to keep together in their first games, forming what are colloquially known as ‘newbie clumps’. Being automatically assigned as riflemen gives strategic meaning to this trait. Conversely, an experienced rifleman is the ‘jack of all trades,’ and is expected to fill in when a specialized player has been eliminated. Accordingly, they tend to be competent in virtually every style of paintball play. There are three types of riflemen, Light, Medium, and Heavy Riflemen. Light Riflemen have a playing style similar to scouts, but usually carry a gun that has more firepower. Medium Riflemen prefer a balanced kit, usually with 4 pods, and a 200 round hopper. Heavies are second only to gunners in terms of firepower. They carry plenty of paint and plenty of air, but not so much that it makes it hard to move.
There are a number of different specialties that can develop in woodsball and scenarioball, due to the wide range of possible equipment configurations and the different needs that come about in play. Thus, specialists are quite often more diverse than general player positions. Specialists are usually integral to a team’s strategy, especially if there are a large number of specialists present within that team. This effect is doubly apparent in scenario games, when a particular class of specialists may be assigned to a team to better forward that team’s designed purpose. For example, a given scenario has team Alpha playing as guerrilla insurgents, and team Beta as a mechanized force attempting to destroy them. It is probable that Alpha will have a concentration of accomplished ambush players, often marksmen (see below), and anti-armor infantry. Beta will probably have a concentration of riflemen, perhaps gunners, and mech pilots to operate the tanks, armored personnel carriers, etc.
Players with the fastest-shooting markers are usually assigned as gunners. They tend to hang back and ‘longball’ the opposition, letting scouts and riflemen move up alongside the other team. Gunners are responsible for providing heavy suppressive fire from long range, and they will often rush up and down the front line, providing cover for other elements of the team as they advance. They carry much more paint than other players, for they are used for ‘keeping heads down’ while the riflemen move up on the opposing position.
Heavy Weapons or Anti-Armor
Advanced teams will often have heavy weapons to combat opposing tanks, boats, and aircraft. However, such players will rarely be seen anywhere except large Scenario games. Heavy weapons specialists may carry paintball grenade launchers, paintball rocket launchers, paintball mortars, and operate mounted paintball machine markers. If there is a tank assigned to a team, heavy weapons specialists may instead take up the role of tank pilot (also referred to as mech pilot), as their knowledge of heavy weaponry tactics provides them with an advantage.
Marksmen or Snipers
Marksmen are players who are dedicated to unparalleled accuracy on the paintball field. They are often characterized by their cool mentality, and a passion for excellent shots. Woodsball marksmen are best known for their ability to sit back from the front line, safely out of harm’s way, and flank the enemy positions from with effects as great, if not greater than those of the infantry on the front line. Due to their characteristic accuracy and stealth, they are often observed in teams that are known for ambush operations, ghost flanks, and stealth maneuvers in general. Woodsball marksmen are often used as special operations elements in specific situations. While this is seen mostly in scenarioball games, it occurs in woodsball as well, in cases like a hostage extraction operation, a VIP elimination operation (for example, assassinating a ‘general’ or ‘president’), and other such games. Classifying marksmen as special operations elements in such games should be done with hesitation, however, as often players from many other positions are utilized as special operations forces as well.The term ‘paintball sniper’ can be controversial. Critics of paintball snipers argue that the function of a military sniper cannot be carried out by a paintball player, as paintball snipers in general cannot make kills at distances substantially greater than any infantryman. This is partially due to the fact that, unlike firearm weaponry, paintballs cannot be adapted to have more effective range, and due to velocity restrictions, they cannot be fired with
greater force than other markers. This is actually a null point, as most sniper shots are taken well inside the effective range of a standard infantry rifle, albeit with fewer shots than a standard infantryman would use. This also ignores the fact that the primary job of a military sniper is not an assassin, but a forward observer, used to call in strikes by more powerful weapons such as aircraft and artillery, and to report back to the command element enemy movements. It is important to note that being a paintball sniper depends on superior camouflage rather than superior targeting abilities. Being camouflaged in Paintball allows the player to get close enough to the opposition so that they can make one, sure shot. Thus, due to the lack of camouflage that is being used in paintball games today, the less controversial term “Paintball Marksmen” is now making it’s way into players’ vocabulary. Paintball “marksmen” do have an advantage in accuracy in that their concealment tactics allow them to take greater time to aim, allowing shots made with greater accuracy, or at least with less paint used. Proponents of the term counter that the difference is great enough to warrant a class distinction. Their argument is based on the concept that even if a paintball sniper is unable to hit a target at greater range than a standard rifleman, he will expend far less paint in doing so. For example, a riflemen may use 30 or more rounds to hit a target at 100 feet, while a marksman may only use 3 balls to hit the same target, if not less. As a kind of unwritten compromise, the term ‘paintball marksman’ is emerging in various areas throughout the world, which is more widely accepted than the original term.
While many people are well developed in their particular speciality, Lone Wolves are well trained in all aspects and tactics of paintball. Their setup allows them the most flexibility, allowing them to easily start off as a Marksman and then change to a Gunner if needed. They are generally speaking the older players that have been in the sport the longest. While they may not work with a particular squad, hence their name, their skills can be used to augment any small group.
This is a short list of the most commonly played variants. For a more complete list, see Paintball Variations
Elimination — Generally the most common variant of woodsball played, and again mostly among new-comers to the sport. Elimination rules can be played by two or more teams. Essentially, teams engaging in combat until there is only one team left still in play.
Capture the Flag (CTF) — While the primary objective in Elimination is to eliminate as many enemy players as possible, the primary objective in Capture the Flag (sometimes abbreviated to CTF) is to capture the enemy flag instead. This is a very popular game type, second only to Elimination itself. CTF is also not limited to woodsball.Often in CTF, there are two flags – one for each team. Each flag would ideally be situated in a base, bunker or some other such defendable position, which is then called the ‘flag station’. The enemy team must find the opposition’s flag station, seize the flag, and return it to their own flag station. Once the enemy flag is in one’s own flag station and one’s own flag is still there, then victory may be claimed. A one-flag variant has one flag situated in a mutually agreed upon position, and each team attempts to bring it back to their base, or the opponent’s base.
Assault, or Siege — Assault is a fairly common game variant where the players are divided into two equal teams. One team — the ‘defenders’ — must hold a fixed location on the field. The other team — the ‘attackers’ — must attempt to completely eliminate the defenders or touch a flag in the center of the defenders’ base. The defenders, in contrast, must completely eliminate the attackers or hold their flag for a set amount of time.
Protect the President / VIP – Protect the President, or Protect the King, is a completely unique form of paintball. Although not very popular due to being a mostly unknown form of playing, it gives each game a prominent objective; making the game extremely fun. The objective of the game is to protect the president or king (hence the title). At least two teams are formed. Each team chooses a President. From this point on, each team may devise their own strategy, but the objective is always constant. Kill the enemy president while being sure to protect your own. If the president on either team is eliminated, the game is over. Another form of Protect the President is to divide into two teams, a Secret Service and Terrorist Factions. The Secret Service team has an unarmed president, and the terrorist’s job is to kill that one person. The Secret Service is to either eliminate the Terrorists or move to a certain safe-zone or Landing Zone on the map. This is a great way to play if someone runs out of CO2.
Scenarioball and woodsball
Scenario paintball, known colloquially as ‘scenarioball’, is very closely related with woodsball. Scenarioball is, by definition, any paintball game that is played according to a predefined scenario. Most scenarioball simulates military operations, in the kind of scenario presented and often the equipment and ‘costumes’ worn to events as well. Scenarioball has a widely known reputation of being played by organized paintball teams that are usually not found in basic recreational woodsball.