G is for Games

Or to be more precise, game formats.

Paintball is such a wonderfully diverse world of playing environments that it’s virtually impossible to NOT find a field or park that you will enjoy. But across this varied landscape there are a few basic ‘types’ of games you can play–each with many variations within–but we’ll stick to the most common terms to get you started.

Woodsball / Woodlands.
This is possibly the most recognised paintball format around, providing the backdrop for everything from birthday parties, bachelor parties to full-blown tournaments with the common theme being–,you guessed it–they’re played in the woods. For some, woodsball is where it all begins. A place to get to grips with paintball, grow in confidence, have fun and slowly, but surely, plant the seeds of your new obsession.

Image: Bradlo Photography

It’s a low pressure place to play (for the most part) and there are endless parks to seek out and play. And for the more experienced — and dare we say ‘serious’ — paintballers out there, there are more woodsball tournaments popping up everywhere, where things can really heat up.

Big Game.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Large playing landscapes with two (or more) teams battling it out across varied terrain. It’s common to see multiple fields connecting over one huge playing area to mix things up. Woodsball, villages, airball, mound fields… you name it, you may play it. With hundreds of other big game ballers. Chaos. Carnage. And usually a few days of playing.

That said, a Big Game may just be a slightly larger than normal game, it isn’t always about huge numbers. But, if you want to meet more players, mix things up a bit and experience something more than just a regular game of paintball then a Big Game may be everything you need.

Image: Erik Chateau

Sometimes these games can be similar to Big Games, with larger numbers of payers involved but will follow a more structured theme. A common objective, a cool theme, a movie tie-in, etc are used to theme the whole event.

Scenario games can often be found at abandoned military bases, airfields, industrial facilities, or anywhere that lends itself to a large format organised ‘themed’ scenario event.

Image: Erik Chateau

Mound Field.
Ok, this isn’t a game format as such like Big Game or Scenario, but it’s a style of field that you’ll see a lot of, particularly if you play a lot of large woodsball oriented parks. Mound fields are typically large field spaces with deep trenches dug out to form a maze-like warren of cool places to battle it out. They can also be above ground, with large mounds of earth formed to create a raised collection of trenches and tunnels. A moonscape of sorts. Great fun.

This format slides into MilSim (Military Simulation) territory, kinda. Rather than shooting paintball markers with loaders/hoppers they use markers specifically designed to replicate real guns. Similar to the airsoft crowd, MagFedders play out scenarios that give them more of a military vibe. Paintball markers are usually replicas, or very close, to actual guns. The paintballs are fed into the gun using a mag, just like the real thing and typically hold 10 or 20 paintballs, depending on the mag size.

MagFed events can also fall into the Scenario category to provide a whole world of fun.

The previous game formats are what most people would typically associate with paintball. Airball, on the other hand, could be seen as paintball’s extreme sport alter-ego. Played across multiple fields made from large, brightly coloured inflatable bunkers that are setup symmetrically - airball was created to bring a much faster-paced version to paintball. Built as a spectator sport, airball is usually played by those who want more excitement from their paintball. To get more of an adrenalin rush, to feel the panic and the excitement on a much more intense level. It’s fun, accessible, more popular nowadays than ever so most large paintball parks will have some form of airball field available. Competitive airball tournaments are seen as the very pinnacle of the sport, with large sums of money available for those reaching the highest echelons (see XBall).

Image: Nitro Paintball

This is airball at its most intense. Two teams of 5 players on the field, amidst a sea of inflatable bunkers, playing within a set time limit to win a set number of points to win the match. Imagine paintball and ice-hockey spawned a love-child. Competitive fields have two pit areas (for the home and away team), a large scoreboard and digital clock which counts down the remaining time, pausing when a point is scored. Teams look more like mainstream sports teams with brightly coloured, heavily sponsored kit, top-of-the-range gear (a paintball marker at this level is worth over $1200) and have a level of athleticism that is astounding.

As with all sports, this higher level costs more money to play, especially if you form a team and decide to compete. But the rewards are worth it. It may be paintball at its most advanced, but it taps into the most basic human emotions.

Image: Michael Hoffman

So there’s you’re basic overview of what you can expect to play if you become fully immersed in the paintball world. From the most casual player, through to most dedicated and obsessed paintball fanatic, there really is something for everyone.

Which will take your fancy?

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