- Woodsball strategy
"The term 'woodsball commander' links here. Aside from command duties, woodsball commanders usually fulfill the combat position of rifleman. See
Player positions (paintball)for more information."
Woodsball strategy is the concept and application of
strategyin woodsball, a game type of the sport of paintball. Woodsball strategy is quite various, a consequence of the numerous factors which may influence it. The factors that are most relevant are usually natural factors, although several main issues should always be considered. Woodsball commanders are expected to know every aspect of woodsball strategy, and keep an extensive, if not immediately complete, repertoire of prefabricated strategies and tactics. [(2006): SpecOPS Paintball [http://www.specialopspaintball.com/positions/sco.asp] URL accessed on 28 Dec, 2006]
Woodsball strategy may also be applied in scenario games, although usually the game's objectives call for more elaborate thought than those in woodsball. Usage in scenario events of such strategy, and the team discipline required to execute it, is often what gives scenario teams their stereotypical reputation of organization and efficiency, [(2006): About.com [http://paintball.about.com/od/strategy/a/squadtactics.htm] URL accessed on 28 Dec, 2006] despite large team sizes and large fields that could otherwise prove extremely cumbersome.
Woodsball strategy comes in two different kinds: 'basic' woodsball strategy, and advanced woodsball strategy. Basic woodsball strategy is used by simple recreational woodsball teams and teams that have been arbitrarily assembled of walk-on paintball players by field officials. Basic woodsball strategy is very simple, and often is little more than simple tips for the appointed team commander.
* If the enemy is advancing and one's squad element or group is in danger of being outflanked, one's element or group should fall back.
* If one is attempting to fall back and regroup or retreat to a secondary position, while under heavy fire, a staggered retreat should be employed.
These are generally used only after the two teams (or however many teams or sides are playing in the event) have met and engaged each other in battle lines. This proves for highly static play, and often teams under such commanders are annihilated quickly by more dynamic commanders.
Advanced woodsball is much more complex than such simple guidelines. It revolves almost completely around the natural and artificial factors involved in a woodsball game. These factors include natural factors such as terrain, vegetation, the quality of the forces available to a commander, the weather, time of day, and numerous other factors. It may be argued that advanced woodsball strategy may be closer to the true concept of
strategyas proportionate to paintball, while basic woodsball strategy is often more related to tactics.
However, this may be taken to mean that advanced woodsball strategy is overly complicated and too fixated on small details. This is untrue, as while there are many details, the true art of strategy is not fixating on "all" the details, but knowing which details are the most important—the ones that should influence command decisions. Unfortunately, this knowledge not only comes about from much experience in the field, but is mostly intuitive as well.
Aside from details, there is one general strategic theme throughout advanced woodsball and scenarioball alike, to say nothing of genuine war: utilize one's strengths, and exploit the opposition's weaknesses.
Elements of woodsball strategy
"Note: This must not be considered a complete overview, due to the complexity of these elements."
In deciding what strategy to use, a commander must always consider certain factors. These are: the weather; the shape of the land; the structure, strengths and weaknesses of a commander's team; the structure, strengths, and quality of the enemy team(s), and finally, the objective(s).
Arguably, the weather should be the first issue of consideration. Woodsball strategy is very reactive in that it must suit the weather that is experienced during the period of play. Depending on the weather and the dynamics of a commander's team (i.e. strength in long-ranged combat, strength in speed, but weaknesses in assaults, weakness in defense, et cetera), it may be most advantageous for a team commander to play a fast attack or to play the opposite and try a harrying action, such as a hit-and-run defense (hit-and-run elements supplementing a slowly-withdrawing strong defense). Additionally, the lay of the land is very important in selecting a commander's general strategy. If the terrain is marshy, then the commander probably would do better trying to provide a solid staggered attack, which is the usage of first the solid attack, to get through the marsh, and a quickly-assumed staggered attack formation upon exit from the marsh.
The weather is highly variable, as one should expect. Some of the consequences of frequent weather variables are poor accuracy from high wind, poor visibility due to cloud coverage or fog, CO2 difficulties due to cold temperatures, et cetera. Each factor is highly important in an advanced woodsball game.
For example, if the weather is windy, then players who use greater firepower should be employed with greater importance and/or in greater concentrations. The more paintballs in the air, the more likely the target will be hit. However, the greater a team element's firepower, the less stealthy that team element will be. The team element will have to have either an advantage in force (i.e. even greater firepower or numbers), or team elements in support. The team element's position will always be known to an experienced and trained enemy commander, for he will ensure that skirmishers are always in contact with the friendly team element. Simply enough, the very sound of the shooting will be adequate to keep virtually everyone on the field aware of the friendly team element's position.
However, if all teams simply followed this example when in situations with high winds, then advanced woodsball games would simply amount to two masses of guys fighting tooth-and-nail for the same patches of ground. However, since this is obviously always not the case, there are a number of other options for windy circumstances. One such is refraining from engaging the enemy in huge firefights, but funneling the enemy through a gap in one's lines, where his forces can envelop them. (This last is particularly useful against aggressive enemy teams, especially
Field shape and terrain
Field shape and terrain is normally the second issue of consideration. Terrain is often the issue that most heavily affects a commander's decision of movement routes and the his/her plan of battle, based on the deductions from the weather about the general atmosphere of play (i.e. which set of strategies would be appropriate: stealth operations, fast assaults, et cetera).
There are several field variables that usually influence command decisions. These are
topography, vegetation, water, and the field's seasonal changes, or seasonal variability.
Topography is important because it has many effects on woodsball play. High ground almost always has advantage over low ground, due to the inherent difficulties of scaling the rise while fighting. These difficulties are at the maximum when the enemy at the top of the ridge are elite and have experience in how to keep their opponents trying to scale the rise, without allowing them to the top. (This is also a tactic of attrition.) A feel of a field's topography typically grants a commander the ability to, with an understanding of other elements of strategy, see how the game will play out and a feel for its general struggle.
The specific details of topography as a factor in strategy is difficult, as it is one of the more intuitive and instinctive areas of a commander's expertise. The main issues with topography are related to movement and concealment. In some areas, movement can be fast and easy, such as over flat ground or down a slope. Movement may be more difficult, such as movement up a slope. Ease of movement, or more exactly, the lack thereof, is attempted to be influenced by commanders who wish to provide their opponents a more difficult passage. Often, ground is chosen particularly if it is difficult for one's enemy, or if those difficulties may be compounded by specific force placements. If one's enemy may be halted by a combination of properly utilized terrain and a deftly deployed team, then this provides an opportunistic commander with a pause in which to operate (sometimes called an 'extra turn', in reference to turn-based games), giving him or her a strategic advantage. In essence, manipulation of topography is choosing for one's enemy where he or she can move without sustaining heavy losses or other such disadvantages. A commander choosing for his/her enemy in this way has a clear advantage, not only in strategy, but in morale as well, as being forced to move in a particular direction by a team's enemy will hardly inspire confidence in members of that team.
Concealment is the second issue of consideration. A commander may elect to try to hide his or her forces behind a hill or over a ridge or the like, for a number of reasons. Most prominent of these is to allow the commander to initiate a sneak attack.
Vegetation is key in woodsball strategy. Vegetation will almost always be present in woodsball games, so commanders need to have a working understanding of how it can be applied in the field, both to the benefit of commanders' own teams, and to their opponents' loss.
Vegetation's main use is concealment. A clever commander in a heavily wooded environment can maneuver his or her entire team through the woods, using trees and bushes to conceal movement. A concealed team can be a very dangerous team if handled correctly by its commander.
Vegetation's potential for concealment is not only beneficial for advancing or attacking teams. Marksmen and ambushes are renowned for their usages of vegetation and camouflage to keep themselves concealed. Marksmen especially are well known to use vegetation in conjunction with their camouflage to ghost through the woods. A defensive force can use vegetation to more efficiently employ a horseshoe ambush, as concealment within bushes allows the prongs of the ambush to better hold silent until the enemy are well within the horseshoe.
Another factor to consider is that vegetation can obstruct mobility. Some fast paced strategies may not be possible, because of a great deal of vegetation. In such situations, a slower, more methodical strategy will be required, most likely relying upon stealth and heavily upon ambushes and marksmen.
It should be noted that vegetation is highly affected by seasonal variability, as is discussed in its respective topic below.
A very important factor to remember is water. Water may be placed strategically by the field operators, or may be a natural occurrence, as can be found in areas such as private land, and in state forests, wildlife preserves, and other government-owned land. In any case, water can be very important indeed to a commander's overall strategy and the general atmosphere of the game.
The first issue with water is movement impediment. Sometimes it may be faster to try and avoid water; other times, it will be faster to go through it. Sometimes water is navigable and the possibility of water travel must be taken into account. Travelling down rivers and across lakes can save a lot of time, and in the heat of a battle, such speed could be the difference between victory and defeat. Even if the water is not navigable, a shallow stream running through the woods will like as not provide an easier path than directly through the woods. Most woodsballers, especially recballers, are generally not willing to get themselves wet, and this can be used with advantage against them.
If the water is deep enough, one may elect to have a squad sneak downfield by advancing down a river, with the squad members almost entirely submerged in the water so they cannot be spotted. Often this tactic may catch the enemy completely off guard, as very few if any teams expect the opposition to be willing enough to get thoroughly soaked by wading through a river. However, it must be remembered that a paintball gun's operation can be greatly effected if it is filled with water and often will hardly work at all, if recognizably; hence, most squads travelling downriver are very careful to keep their markers above the waterline, even if those markers are not electropneumatic.
Usage of watercraft is normally the best way to utilize navigable water to attain a higher speed of movement. Often in fields that have navigable water, watercraft will be provided for use, although often with a referee piloting the craft in the place of the craft's combatants. However, watercraft are not always designated, although a team with enough determination can without much difficulty create a watercraft from scratch.
Water can be used to impede movement. If water is deep enough, enemy players will not be able to cross it without swimming which will inevitably mean getting their weapons wet, causing reduced functionality in accuracy if not in other fields of the gun (such effects vary from marker to marker). One team may capture all watercraft available and move them out of the reach of the enemy, forcing them either to swim or to try and take a land route. Even if the enemy uses watercraft to try and cross the water, they would in all likelihood be stranded on the embankment for at least five seconds, and a lot of fire can be massed in such a concentrated place so that none of the players within the watercraft are left in the game.
However, there are practical reasons why it can be undesirable to get wet. Being wet can provide a high degree of uncomfortablity for some players, which can negatively affect their performance. It must also be remembered that players with electrical equipment (radios, electropneumatic markers, GPS handhelds, et cetera) should not be deployed in water. Most new model guns are water-resistant, but very few can withstand being submerged completely for long periods. Because of this players with any electric parts in their guns must take special care to not get wet while playing, and commanders should not deploy such players to water areas, especially if such players could be better used elsewhere.
Commanders must also consider what time of year it is. Certain strategies may work best in certain conditions, or possibly not even work at all. For example, summer months may provide less visibility due to vegetation, while winter months may allow you to cross small water features. Some seasons such as summer and autumn can provide more cover than the same terrain in spring or winter.
The change in cover is very important. Concealment is arguably vegetation's greatest use, and without substantial bushes and shadows provided by fully leaved trees, it is much more difficult for stealthy players to advance undetected. Additionally, paintballs freeze in cold weather, causing a host of problems: few actual ball breaks; additional worn protection to guard against dangerous hits, causing reduced maneuverability; and, with some cheaper brands of paint, greater shot-to-shot inconsistency.
Different times of year affect mobility in more ways than clothing-wise. For example, it is harder to move quickly in deep snow than it is on solid ground, just as it's harder to travel through woods clogged with leaf-covered bushes than woods with little if any leafy bushes. Speedy movement is understandably desirable, and often commanders will favor fast-paced maneuvers in winter months. However, such strategies are not employed with the hope of greater speed - in truth, the presence of snow will in all likelihood actually "reduce" the speed of maneuvers. Rather, such strategies are chosen because stealth, which is integral in so many woodsball strategies, is much more difficult during the winter months. Having a 'ghost squad' in enemy territory is nigh impossible, not only because of the camouflage difficulties but also because the enemy can simply see footprints on the ground leading "into" their territory, making them immediately suspicious.
This brings about the issue of camouflage. Different seasons need different camouflage. A commander will want to choose players with better/correct camouflage to perform some of the more stealthy missions. For some smaller or less-established teams, this can be difficult, as few such teams have the means to procure as many different sets of camouflage as the seasons warrant.
Team dynamics for both the commander's own team and the opposing team(s) is generally the third issue of consideration. Contemplation of the team dynamics expected to be in effect in a future woodsball game can yield significant foresight into the kind of game it will evolve into. For example, if one of two teams has heavy strengths on long-ranged combat and maneuvers, then a commander should expect—with the weather cooperating, of course—for that team to employ a strategy such as a ghost advance, also known as a 'butter advance'.
In this strategy, the team's attacking elements advance toward the objective, heavily stacked with marksmen. Every time they hit the enemy, every member of each squad element opens up with ferocious fire, then ceases, falls back, and with the rest of the squad, attempts to find a way around the enemy silently. The marksmen, however, stay. When the enemy attempt to advance, they are pinned down and inhibited by the marksmen, who gradually withdraw. Those marksmen start phasing out their fire, so that eventually they stop shooting altogether, even though they haven't withdrawn completely. Nearly invisible through the use of camouflage, they let the enemy come out in the open, thinking that the marksmen have withdrawn. They hold their fire until they have a number of sure shots, then all take them simultaneously. Radio cooperation is a necessity in this situation; or, should complete silence be required, practiced hand signals will be used instead. The marksmen then withdraw as quickly as they can without revealing their position, and then follow along the route taken by the rest of their squad.
If executed properly, the effect will be that one's attack elements will be scattered throughout the field, known to their commander but completely unknown to the enemy commander, who will hesitate in his decisions because of his self-acknowledged poor understanding of the situation. These hesitations, coupled with the obvious advantage already in place, will complete the power swing in heavy favor of the team using the ghost advance.
Studies of team dynamics can lead commanders to predict the kind of game that his/her enemies will play. In this example, the commander should expect that team with skills in long-ranged combat and maneuvers to play paintball that allows those skills to be employed to the advantage. Since he expects it, he may decide to have his forces arrayed in a wedge formation that spans a large portion of the field, so that once contact is made, the branches of the wedge can advance and envelop the enemy forces who were trying to sneak by. The enemy commander's team is then scattered throughout the field, with no substantial support and no battle line.
Player positions are an important aspect of woodsball strategy. Since player positions reflect the kinds of woodsballers who play them, study of a team's strengths in different positions can be very helpful in understanding team dynamics. For example, in the example of the previous section, a particular team was strong with maneuvers and long-ranged combat. This was probably inferred by the singularly high amount of marksmen on that team. Similarly, if a team has a high number of scouts, a commander can predict that team to play very fast and movement-filled games, with the enemy seeking a close-ranged gridlock in which his/her large amount of light and fast players can swarm over the opposition quickly and overwhelmingly. The obvious counter to this strategy is to keep the enemy at arm's distance, trying to keep one's forces moving quickly and never letting them settle into positions.
One way that a commander can prevent his general strategy being guessed this way, a commander can try and conceal his or her team's position by frequently switching the team members between similar positions. An example of this is concealing players of various positions, namely marksmen and scouts, within the riflemen category. Often, when this is done, the marksmen and scouts are distinguished by codes. For example, marksmen may be called alpha riflemen, and scouts beta riflemen. This way, when a commander experiences a sudden and important need for marksmen or scouts, all he or she needs to do is call for "alpha riflemen" or "beta riflemen".
Team structure and organization
Team structure and organization is also an important factor in woodsball strategy. Fortunately, it is not one that usually needs extensive thought each time a strategy is worked out, but it is important nevertheless.
Organization is often one of the defining characteristics of advanced woodsball play and scenarioball alike. [(2006): SpecOPS Paintball [http://www.specialopspaintball.com/positions/why_teams_rock.asp] URL accessed on 28 Dec, 2006] In general, teams are based on a hierarchical system, beginning with overall team command and proceeding down to the commanders of individual
squads or even fireteams. Depending upon team and field size, there can be many hierarchical tiers of command. In an example, in a large team (100+ members) on a large field (20+ acres) may have an OP hierarchy that is similar to this: team command (commander, assistants, communications assistants, etc.), OP command (OP commander and possibly assistants), theater command, squad command, and fireteam command (probably the most experienced member of the fireteam, and not a designated 'officer').
In a team of such size, the OP and D commanders, commanding their respective fractions of the team, are always directly beneath the team commander. Beneath them are theater commanders, who each command elements of the team operating within their theaters (a specific string of hills, the defense of a specific fortress, et cetera). Beneath them are squad commanders, who command their respective fireteams.
In a team of the common size of about 20 members, an organization of five four-man squads is most efficient. Three squads (squads Alpha, Beta, and Delta) form the OP force, commanded by either the team commander or an appointed senior squad commander. The remaining two squads (Epsilon and Gamma) are commanded by the team commander, if he is not with the OP force, or in his place, the most senior squad commander. In order to counter the static defense used de-facto in almost every game, Gamma is the only squad that actually remains within the team's defensive fortifications, while Epsilon advances with the OP force until a front line is established (if one ever is). This allows Epsilon to hold territory, but does not force them to occupy a single position (such as the fortifications around a flag station). Free to maneuver, Epsilon can make itself far more useful than simply being so many more guns behind a bunker, especially when used in cooperation with the team's garrison defenders (Gamma). For this purpose of hit-and-run attrition attacks against a force often three or four times larger, the team commander will often place his or her best paintballers in Epsilon.
The objective or objectives of a woodsball game is generally the fourth item a commander will think about in developing his or her strategy and counter-strategies. At this point, it is important to consider common woodsball game variants.
Depending upon the game variant, a commander may consider a number of different strategy sets. Whatever the specific strategy, there are two basic goals that almost always must be considered in making the decision. Most important, a commander must work toward gaining the objective. To illustrate, we will assume a standard two flag CTF game. Depending on the rest of the game variables and overall situation, a commander may choose a careful, methodical assault, or a fast hit-and-run attack to seize the flag. In his or her attempts to seize the enemy flag, the commander will usually want to either avoid enemy forces or obliterate them utterly without much loss. This leaves one's OP force at full capacity, allowing greater odds of success when attacking the enemy's flag defense.
In most games, a team will send the bulk of its numbers in the OP force to attack the enemy, while leaving behind a fraction of the team's full strength to guard the flag. Usually that fraction is about a third to about a fifth of the team's full complement, but this figure understandably changes and fluctuates with respect to individual strategies. If the two opposing teams are roughly even in numbers and both maintain this pattern of large OP forces and proportionately small D forces, then a commander's OP force will outnumber the enemy D force.
As always, here should be applied the general woodsball strategy of utilizing one's advantages while exploiting the enemy's weaknesses. The OP force's advantages include superior numbers, although there are possibly others. Thus, the plan of battle should include this advantage. In order to do so, the team commander will probably order an enveloping action or flanking action, so that more of that commander's forces can come into play and his or her superior numbers utilized. Similarly, if he or she had fewer paintballers than the enemy defenses by whatever circumstances, then that commander would do better to order a sharp, pinpoint strike in the defenses, where his or her meager forces can do the most damage most efficiently.
Once the flag is in friendly hands, it usually must be returned to one's flag station. Depending upon the situation and the commander's own strategy, it may be best to simply send the flag off with a runner and a small, fleet-footed escort, freeing the remainder of the OP force to hold the enemy base against the enemy's return with one's own flag. If the enemy is likely to catch the flag-bearer, or if one's own base has been seized, then the OP force may leave a skeleton force to guard the enemy base and escort the flag-bearer home while simultaneously sweeping the field for enemy flag-bearers. Once the enemy flag is hung beside one's own flag, usually at one's own flag station, victory may be claimed.
Victory is seldom brought by the hands of the OP force alone. At the same time as the main attack, the commander must keep his or her own flag from the enemy. The most common way of doing this is to leave a defense at one's flag station. Usually, objective defense (in this scenario, flag defense) is given to a well-seasoned squad commander who oversees all squads and other elements placed on 'D', allowing the commander to concentrate on the 'big picture' or command the OP force personally. Appointment of a D commander is especially common in large teams, when team commanders have a lot more work on their hands and need such subordinates as D commanders and OP commanders.
Defense forces are usually outnumbered by the enemy OP force, creating an almost instantaneous disadvantage. Additionally, the traditional D force cannot maneuver in battle like an OP force can (hence the fluid defence force discussed above). As a result, defense forces almost always have paintballers garrisoning the flag base, which often has extensive fortifications surrounding it.
The goals of the defense force should be two things, both relying heavily upon the attrition strategy: first, the flag must be kept from the enemy. Second, the enemy must be worn down as much as possible before the defense force is destroyed or circumvented.
The flag must be kept from the enemy for obvious reasons, and usually this simply boils down to not letting the enemy break through the D force's lines. As casualties occur, the D force should withdraw into successively tighter perimeters around the flag station to close any gaps that might have been made. This is imperative, as opposing players can stream through such gaps and suddenly their superior numbers can be felt on yet another angle.
Attrition should be used by the D force against the enemy attackers, to wear down their numbers and numb their fighting spirit. When the OP force returns from having captured the enemy flag, they will be facing a numerically inferior enemy with weary bones. If indeed the D force is defeated or the flag captured, then the remnants of the D force should pursue the flag-bearer and his escort and wear them down as much as possible so that the OP force has a greater chance of success against them.
Common strategies and tactics
The following are examples of common strategies with attending tactics and general tactics used in various scenarios. These are some of the "prefabricated strategies and tactics" alluded to in this article's introduction. These are only some of the most common, and should by no means be taken as a complete list, for there are as many strategies and tactics as are possible scenarios.
trategies and attending tactics
The following are basic strategies and tactics that are the basis for many more complicated manauvers. By modifying these strategies to suit their team, commanders can have a very effective array of strategies and tactics.
A solid attack is the concept of attacking with essentially the commander's entire team in a slow, methodical advance toward enemy positions (hence 'solid', which implies density and slowness of movement). Solid attacks are best employed if the commander has ambush elements out to either flank, such as marksmen, due to the vulnerability of solid attacks to enemy flanking maneuvers.
Solid attacks are useful in games where the objective is stationary and close at hand. This is because solid attacks force one's team to clump up. In all but the most disciplined and elite teams, the commander loses each squad's congruity as the squad members mingle during firefights. To re-form, the commander must call each squad back singly, via radio or shouted callsigns, and then re-deploy them accordingly.
Solid attacks can be countered by fast and mobile strike elements that mill around the slow-moving formation, striking randomly and harassing the enemy. Once the formation is somewhat disorganized (sometimes a difficult feat, as most elite teams resemble a rock in this fashion), then a large attack element attacks the formation's weakest point and, ideally, breaks it.
Due to the solid attack's cumbersome nature, it is often combined with other strategies, such as the staggered attack or multi-prong attack, to get into a position where the solid attack may be employed with benefit. the best for this job is small people that are stronger because they are harder to hit
A staggered attack is the concept of attacking with one's team spread out in groups, somewhat larger than a typical squad, normally called echelons. The actual size of each echelon may vary, but in a team of about fifty players (such large teams are used almost exclusively as components in scenario events, as smaller teams are preferred for woodsball games limited to about two or three teams, usually with a field population max of sixty), in such a large team, each echelon will be eight to ten players each. However, this number will vary further depending on the lay of the ground and intensity of enemy opposition in specific points up or down the line.
The shape of the staggered attack varies for each situation, but the overall concept stays the same. The echelons, usually number about three to five, although sometimes as many as seven echelons are used (it should be remembered that the number of players in each echelon varies). In cases with large numbers of players for use in the echelons, the team commander may also designate a quick-response team of four or five players, often specialists (especially marksmen), to support echelons that find themselves in difficult situations.
Once the line of battle has been defined by the rank of echelons, then every other echelon, starting with the first, pushes up into enemy territory, normally about fifty feet in front of the echelons which remain on the line. Between each of the advanced echelons is a distance of about fifty to a hundred feet. This staggered formation is where the attack got its name. Any enemy forces that attempt to flank the advanced echelons walk into this U-shape, within which they are cut down almost immediately by fire from three of four sides.
Once this system is attained, the formation advances in a leap-frog fashion. The advanced echelons lay down a heavy suppressive fire, while the remaining echelons rapidly advance and force the enemy back and becoming the new 'advanced echelons'. If executed properly, the median of the new formation should be approximately fifty feet ahead of the previous median, although this distance varies, of course, depending upon how far up the advanced echelons were able to push.
Staggered attacks are very popular, especially in scenario events, because they are very versatile and maneuverable. However, they are usually slow, and any echelon or other team element that breaks off for whatever reason usually cannot be aided by the rest of the team, due to the involvement that the team is forced to invest in the line. If an element of the staggered formation is attacked by enemy forces in strength, then the entire line is threatened. If the line attempts to move up and attack the enemy, then it exposes its side and rear to the enemy, which is frequently the team's doom. It normally does one of two things: falls back and withdraws into a protective circle, or falls back to a new position entirely, where it will probably assume a different formation as the commander decides upon a different strategy to adapt to the new threat.
Staggered attacks are well-applied in situations with heavy enemy activity, because the enemy forces get chewed to pieces as they throw themselves into the echelons' formation.
A staggered retreat is similar to the staggered attack reviewed above. Staggered retreats are very useful because, among other things, they are attritive, meaning they wear down the enemy (see below).
A staggered retreat is the concept of essentially a staggered attack working backwards. The team is distributed into echelons, usually consisting of about one squad each, but can be progressively larger depending on the overall size of the team. Echelons in the staggered retreats work backwards, with every other echelon withdrawing fifty feet or so and set up positions. The echelons remaining on the old line then withdraw a hundred feet, passing the echelons of the new line and setting up about fifty feet beyond them. A staggered retreat can continue in this fashion for a long time, as the enemy will usually hesitate to attack such a formation headlong for the reasons described in the staggered attack section.
Staggered retreats are frequently preferable to standard retreats, because staggered retreats find it harder to devolve into a rout. A column in steady retreat whose rearguard is struck suddenly with great force and is annihilated is suddenly very vulnerable to attack until either a new rearguard can be formed or a delaying action organized—things which even the most elite and experienced teams can find extremely challenging; pulling out from an all-out retreat, forming up in a battle line or in a recognizable rearguard formation, and turning to face a strong enemy force flushed from the recent victory over the old rearguard, is a difficult thing to do without being broken and annihilated piecemeal. While a staggered retreat can be slower than a full columnal retreat, it is certainly safer and harder to break.
Attrition is an interesting issue: while it is an applicable strategy, it is also a "type" of strategy, in that its fundamental principles can be applied to many other applicable strategies.
Attrition maneuvers are an important issue of woodsball strategy. Attrition maneuvers are designed to physically weary the enemy's players as well as wear down their numbers, ammunition, fuel (if a mechanized force), and other such aspects. A team with more energetic players will almost always be victorious over a team with tired players, just as an outnumbered team with little supplies is just as vulnerable to a superior team. Attrition may be achieved in any number of ways and tactics. An example is the so-called 'one-up, one-back' maneuver.
In a classic woodsball game, two opposing teams engage each other in a battle line, also sometimes called the front line. This line is rarely straight, as battle lines generally take form around areas that contain good fortifications, desirable positions, objectives, et cetera. Most battle lines curve and sweep across the field. Once the battle line is established, a commander wishing to use the 'one-up, one-back' tactic will order his or her forces to pool into two large groups on the battle line, while maintaining the battle line- no easy trick. These groups should preferably be out of sight and knowledge of the enemy team, and spaced approximately a hundred or two hundred feet apart. Once the two groups have been assembled, a single group will suddenly make a very fast, very strong assault on the enemy line opposite. If this is done near a point of heavy contention, such as near an objective, then the enemy commander will like as not rush troops to the area, probably stripping away troops from the rest of the line. Once the enemy reinforcements have arrived, then the group withdraws.
A few minutes later (the pause gives the illusion of troop movement), the second group attacks their immediate opponents, equally fast and equally hard as the first group. The enemy, thinking that the first group had just sprinted down the line, will do one of two things: assault the first group's position, thinking it to be a weak point in the line; or, he or she will sprint those reinforcements over to where the second group is attacking. If it is the first, then the enemy rushes headlong into the open maw of the now-entrenched and waiting first group, who annihilate them. If it is the second, then the enemy must sprint the whole distance in order to prevent a breakthrough, which can be a team's worst nightmare if it is fully engaged in a line of battle operation. In either situation, the enemy's forces are either decimated in numbers, or in ammunition and gas, and possibly fuel, while the resources of one's own team are still well distributed.
The heart of attrition strategies is always to wear down the enemy for whatever reason. In this example, the enemy are weak to assault after all that running and gunning. A weaker enemy will fall more quickly than an enemy fresh from the break with a full load of paint, air and stamina. Defensive actions, especially retreats, take advantage of that. If the enemy can be tricked into wearing out his troops, then they will not want to pursue, they will want to rest - giving one's team time to regroup or rest themselves, or whatever is needed at the moment. Attrition is a strategy that is very open and very useful, and that can be modified and combined with other strategies and tactics in any number of ways, keeping it fresh, unexpected and unpredictable.
It may be argued that attrition is the single most efficient strategy possible because of its wide uses and applicability. Attrition is unlike most other woodsball strategies in that it does not involve direct destruction or inhibition of enemy forces or preservation of one's own forces; every other strategy in this article and many strategies without are designed for direct application with these purposes, such as the solid attack or staggered retreat. Attrition, however, is not based solely upon movement or fire, but on the concept of attacking the enemy on a different level from most paintball play. Indeed, some commanders refuse to apply attrition strategies or tactics, claiming that such strategies and tactics are designed to defeat the enemy in an unsportsmanlike manner not expected of woodsballers, and that defeat of the enemy should be brought about by singular efficiency and skill on the part of one team or another while not inhibiting the enemy's physical or material ability to fight back. This argument is valid and is taken sensitively by many advanced woodsballers, who on the whole regard honor and sportsmanship even more important in the sport than individual skill or even passion for the game.
Proponents of attrition counter that attrition is just as real a strategy as cutting off an enemy's supply or reinforcement lines. Cutting off an enemy's supply lines (some games with large enough teams, especially scenario games, have supply lines to provide combat players with a steady stream of paint and air) prevents one's opponents from fighting back, but instead of wearing the enemy down physically, they are worn down materially. Certainly, if the enemy is cunning enough, then he or she can protect his or her supply and reinforcement lines from attack and severance. As attrition proponents claim, a clever commander can similarly prevent his or her forces from being wearied by attrition strategy used against them.
This debate continues on unsolved, often with commanders and players clashing "after" the battle, accusing their opponents of having used dishonorable tactics in an attempt to win. A typical and rather unfair insult heard in such arguments runs along the lines of, "You fight like a speedballer!", often supplemented with expletives. Of course, such an insult relies upon the purely stereotypical assumption that all speedballers are dishonorable, which can obviously be disproved by logic alone.
Hit and run
Hit and run strategy is very simple: it is the concept and application of hitting the enemy hard and fast in a largely unpredictable place and withdraw before substantial resistance or damage to one's own forces can be brought about. Hit and run is also a strategy of attrition, in that it wears down the enemy forces gradually.
Hit and run strategy is generally useful as two things: a delaying action, or one used by a weaker force. As a delaying action it can be very useful, especially if the enemy is hit in crucial points. While stealth is not a necessity for hit and run attacks, it is beneficial to use stealth, as an enemy who is not aware of one's presence is likely to be more surprised when he or she is hit. Consequently, his or her forces will not be marshalled properly and will likely sustain greater damage, and additionally, the enemy will take longer to come about to face the attackers with great strength. Hence, it is generally a good idea to maintain stealth before and directly after an attack.
Attackers withdrawing from the enemy usually withdraw backwards to regroup in a clump before maneuvering to attack again. Most commanders expect this, as it is a fast maneuver, although usually poorly disciplined as paintballers rarely like having to retreat. This is bait most delicious to many commanders. To exploit this, a force retreating from an attack can assume the Farrier tactic, which is to exploit the enemy commander's opportunism and draw the pursuing forces into a U-ambush in which the numerically smaller force can annihilate them. After this, the ambush forces flee to avoid the enemy's retaliation.
As mentioned above, hit and run is also a useful defensive strategy. During a woodsball game, circumstances often force one's attack to, out of necessity, lapse into a defensive force that falls back on friendly territory and/or positions. This is usually for support reasons, either in support for friendlies in one's own territory or positions, or due to an attack's need for further support (if an attack is beaten back with heavy losses, for instance). A defensive force withdrawing slowly has the great advantage of concealed ambushes—in essence, a planted butter advance. Ambushes consisting of well-camouflaged paintballers who excel in extracting from enemy territory, usually marksmen, are set up in the rear of the withdrawing force, while the rest of the withdrawing force stalls the enemy. Once the ambushes are in place, the team withdraws over and through them, leading the enemy into them. After the ambushers are fifty or so feet behind enemy lines, the withdrawing force resumes the attack and the ambushers suddenly come up and attack the enemy from behind, eliminating as many of the enemy as possible in their drive back to the rest of their team. Upon linking up, the team can either continue the withdrawal or execute a different tactic or a different strategy altogether, while facing a much reduced enemy force.
'The Farrier' is a maneuver designed to draw opposing players into a U-shaped ambush, where they are under fire from three sides and often cannot escape without losing 75% of their numbers, if not more. In the precursor to many commanders' strategies, the teams playing the game meet in battle lines, usually one battle line for two teams, two battle lines for three teams, et cetera. Once the line of battle has been established and the team has engaged the enemy, a section of one team's line may withdraw after a particularly heavy bout of fire, feigning a regroup. The forces on the opposing battle line surge into the gap, thinking they are pursuing a weakened enemy who should be further attacked until annihilated. However, they have simply walked into a trap, and come under withering fire from three sides. Normally such firefights end very rapidly, often lasting only twenty seconds if not less. At the end of the firefight, either the remnants of the enemy have retreated, or they have been annihilated completely.
The roll-up is the tactic of either maneuvering past the enemy's flank and attacking it from behind in coordination with friendly forces immediately opposite them, and then speedily proceeding down the enemy's line to attack and destroy as much of the enemy team as possible before a counterattack is executed.
One common counterattack is to sap forces from across the line and form a second, shorter line, perpendicular to the first, which will meet the enemy flankers in a more even situation. To avoid the possibility of this counterattack, commanders may send a portion of their flankers well ahead of the others. These advance flankers continue on stealthily, usually a good distance away from the enemy line, so that when such a counterattack is executed, the advance flankers can swoop down and hit that new line's flank or rear, decimating their numbers and rendering the enemy even more vulnerable.
Player positions (paintball)
* [http://www.specialopspaintball.com SpecOPS Paintball]
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