Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Woodsball – The Solution for Newbies?

Our newest field at TNT Paintball is in the woods. It’s one of our larger fields and it’s definitely the most dense, as far as foliage goes. There are lots of trees and lots of undergrowth; the type that you can crawl through and might not be seen and is hard to shoot through to eliminate a player even if you do know he/she is there. It has man-made bunkers, but they aren’t densely placed. To survive, and gain real estate, a player pretty well needs to use some of the natural cover.

We were very excited about it during the building process. Our first field was a predominantly woodsball field and it’s what started our ascent to popularity. However, that field never had the amount of natural cover the newer field has. We were excited because we thought this would be a field that players can find cover and not be in the thick of the action right away if they didn’t want to be. Basically we thought this field would be a great field for newer players. I know I’m not the only one that has/had the belief that larger, denser fields were better for newer players.

As it turns out, this field is probably our least popular field of the five fields we currently have at TNT Paintball. It’s the least popular with many of the regulars but it’s also not that popular with the newer players. It hurts a bit to admit that. We put a lot of effort and time into building this field as the bunkers, although only 22 of them, each took quite a while to build (and considerable expense). For the longest time, I wouldn’t admit it and to be honest, couldn’t quite understand it. But I at least think I understand the reasoning a little bit now, after a couple of years watching players play on the field and listening to players that opted to sit out playing on the field.

You see, playing on this field is much more unpredictable. Due to the dense cover, players are constantly being shot at from spots that they had no idea an opponent was occupying. Players don’t like that. Regulars definitely don’t like it, but even new players don’t seem to like being shot from places that to them, made little sense.

Then there is the ground cover. Sure, it’s great that you can use it to hide, but once discovered, a player has no real defence, unless he/she stays cowered on the ground. If the player lifts their head to try to get some shots off, a hail of paintballs come their direction and they are forced to dive for cover again. It’s difficult for even the most experienced player to get out of that situation and nearly impossible for a new player. I could only imagine how much worse this would be at a field where the average player shoots many more paintballs than our TNT customers shoot.

That brings up another issue, that the field lends itself to sucking ammo out of players. Now some field owners might consider that to be in their best interest (sell more paintballs), but that’s not us. We like people to use about 500 rounds in a day, and if they are wasting too many shooting at players in the dense bush that are difficult to eliminate, they have less to play on the other fields, which means their day will be shorter, or worse yet, will feel we tried to suck more money out of them by getting them to shoot high volumes of paintballs.

I think we have no choice, but to clear out some of the undergrowth and add more man-made bunkers, so that this field will become as popular as our other fields, both with our regulars and our newbies.


  1. I've played the field (I forget the field name) you are talking about a few times, and I have enjoyed playing on it. Though I can only play on Sunday and, most of the times I have been at TNT the group size has been too small to use it. Personally I enjoy the challenge of moving through cover while trying to remain unseen, and this is a great field for that with a small to medium group of six to twelve per team.

    The last time I was at TNT it was a fairly busy day and there were two fairly large teams, I don't remember the numbers but it was at least fourteen plus per team, and like very other time we played the VIP scenario on the field. The experience was very different. As you said moving from cover drew a lot of fire. Also I shot a lot more trying to cover moving team mates and keep the opposition pinned down. That mixed with poor accuracy on my part on long range shots used up a few extra balls too. It didn't make me not like the field, but did make me wonder why it's usually only played with larger groups, as I enjoyed it far more with a smaller team. I understand that it is a large field, and too few would mean you could pass each other and not notice. I'm also curious if a capture the flag or bomb run scenario might go well on this field.

    Just my observations.

  2. I played this field at WCPW and I remember this field being quite daunting due to having no bloody idea where anyone was. While I thought this was great because I love woodsball, this caused a big slow down to the usually gung ho group because there were people in every bush and shrubbery. So when everyone just hunkers down and shoots at shadows it becomes a boring game. However, the appeal of this field (to me) is the lack of sheets of plywood to use as cover. It has a certain character. Some undergrowth can be trimmed but I'm not sure if removing every bit of bush is the answer to the field. I'd suggest moving the nearly impenetrable bunkers to slightly less advantageous positions or just add bunkers that can be used as cover against them.

    For example: there are two bunkers on the side closest to the safe zone that dominate a very nice hill with rocks that could be used for natural cover by the opposing team but due to those two bunkers it's impossible to get anywhere near the hill. I tried. I'm not hardcore enough for a full tilt dive into a rock outcropping so I just ate a few paintballs instead.

    If I recall correctly, the middle of the field had quite a few dips and gullies. I'd suggest emphasizing those by adding hard cover to the top of the hills to encourage players to get into the dips, crawl into hard cover unseen and move up that way. A few fallen trees would get the point across while keeping things looking natural and not killing the vibe of the field completely. Actually, what I'd suggest is gathering some dead fall and making the standard log bunker that most people don't know how to hide behind anymore. It's cheap, will keep the field's asthetic and adds a couple more skills to be learned (Such as how to keep your brightly coloured hopper/gun/mask away from the gaps between logs so you don't stand out like... some idiot wearing leopard print in the bush).

    I really enjoyed your field and the people that I played on it with and I just thought I should give you some ideas to play with so I can play on the new and improved TNT field next year. Thanks for the excellent weekend.

    Levon12345 from MCarterBrown
    Aka: the idiot wearing leopard print in the bush.

  3. Well, I'm not rushing into anything. One of the things that we try to do at TNT Paintball is provide a variety of fields. We realize that not everyone likes the same type of field. And if all our fields were very similar, I think players would get bored more easily (although some players it seems would not have a problem playing the same one or two fields all day long).

    I think I will suggest to my business partner that we first try adding a few more strategic bunkers in some of the areas that are difficult to advance through without going into the undergrowth (that is hard to get out of once discovered).

    The bunkers (which resemble pill boxes), are not as impenetrable as some think. With windows and/or doors on all six sides, it's fairly difficult to play the insides without exposing yourself to at least some angles. Relatively few players actually play the insides of the bunkers. Most choose to play behind the bunkers, but with the hexagon shape and the sloped top sections, it's not that difficult to sneak up on a player playing behind a bunker (more difficult of course with larger number of players on the field).

    We'll work on it and see what we come up with. I can see a couple of strategically placed panzers helping quite a bit.