Snake Sits Down with the Poynter Brothers

By Jared “Snake” Thomas

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Woodsball does not get the respect it deserves. Despite the fact paintball was born in the woods and is still mostly played in the woods, woodsball plays second string to airball in the media. Some old school players have told me it all went downhill after the 1996 NPPL World Cup. Back then, World Cup was not only played in the woods, it was televised on ESPN. (Chew on that for a minute.) But it has been postulated that by its very nature paintball in the woods is not spectator friendly, so airball was created to bring the sport out into the arena where hopefully it might attract outside money. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know, but I do know this: I don’t care about spectators. I like to play paintball. Airball is fun, but woodsball is, too, and I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Enter Tom Cole and the Ultimate Woodsball League. The UWL is a 3- , 5-, and 10-man tournament series played on large, natural fields. Events are held every year across the U.S. as well as the U.K., Belgium, Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The matches are brutal, 30-minute long gunfights to control 2 flags, 2 bases, and a center objective. Every year, there is also a UWL World Cup Open that coincides with the PSP event at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, FL. Over the years, numerous current and former pros have played UWL, such as Bob Long, Todd Martinez, and Dave Bains. But when it comes to dominating the woods and sending fear through the hearts of men, there is but one unstoppable duo, the legendary Poynter brothers. Their 5-man team, VIGILANTE, has gone undefeated for two years in a row, racking up 26 unanswered wins and two World Cup trophies. If there was a paintball Hall of Fame, Kyle and Karl Poynter would be shoo-ins. Add their long history in the sport and innumerable other awards and it surprises—no, bothers—me that not everyone knows who they are. Let’s fix that.

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Snake: Kyle, you’re the older brother and the original paintball fanatic, while your younger brother, Karl, is a pro BMX rider and your right-hand man on the field. When and where did you first begin playing paintball, what did you first love about it, and what changes have you experienced through your many years in the sport?

Kyle: During the mid to late 80’s, I was into weapons and martial arts and found out about paintball from an ad in the back of a Ninja magazine around 1988. I, along with most teenagers in the 80’s, was a Ninja, but that is to remain classified—ha-ha! My first game was 1 v 1 with a close friend using slingshots (we couldn’t wait until we saved up money for guns). After game one I was all in! My first gun was a Nelspot 007 bolt action (no pump handle). It leaked straight out of the box. The gun was crap, but I still had fun with upgrading it and everything having to do with the sport. We would play anytime and anywhere we could, no matter the weather or location. When it was near time for a new magazine to come out, I would hit up the bookstore every day until I had it in my hands. At the time, this was the only link to other players and anything going on in the paintball world. I was always so psyched to see that new cover (good or bad) on the shelf! Although magazines sometime have inaccurate info and biased writers, I still miss them a lot today. I could go on forever about the old days but I don’t want to bore the new players.

Over the next 10+ years I played and guested for many different teams but was never truly satisfied unless I was in control of how the team was run. I was very picky about who played under my team name (I still am), and it was very difficult to find players that I wanted. So I usually just had smaller teams (4-6 players). My teams won or made the finals in just about every tournament we entered in an era in paintball where you would go to a regional 3-player event and there would be 30-50 teams in attendance. It was always a struggle to find quality or dedicated players and near impossible to find both.

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Snake: Karl, despite being really good at it, paintball was not your first love. Did your brother force you to get off your bike once in a while and shoot people with him, or was that something you wanted to do?

Karl: Oh definitely. My brother and I have a 15-year age gap, so Kyle’s earliest years of playing was when I was too young to play. I think back then most fields you had to be at least 13 years old. However, I did first start playing around the age of 8 or 9. I played my first tournament when I was 10 years old. This was a one-on-one tournament in the woods. I remember the side feed-neck snapped off the mechanical autococker I was using in the middle of the event, and I had to finish my games with a borrowed Tippmann 98 with CO2 and all. Believe it or not…I walked away with first place. I will forever keep that trophy on the shelf.

I actually started riding BMX around the same time I first started playing paintball. Again, at the time I was too young to fully be able to compete and travel around with my brother and his teams. Also, my heart and focus went first to BMX as it was an individual sport. I really liked that, and so did my brother. Even at a young age, I witnessed the struggles he would have finding dedicated players, running a team, and so on. I did get to go to some tournaments with his teams to watch, and I loved it. There are plenty of games I remember vividly of Kyle completely shredding guys. I would always daydream about being on the field with him. I also remember always crying and begging to go with him to these tournaments and he would feel bad telling me no. I felt it didn’t matter that I was just a 9-year-old kid. I wanted to go! I think it was kind of a dream Kyle had for the both of us to someday get to truly play and compete together when I became older. I had the same dream. That dream came true and now we’ve accomplished so much together in paintball. It’s been a fun ride and some of the best times of my life!

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Snake: What’s the story behind your team, VIGILANTE?

Kyle: There was a time where I took a break from competitive paintball for several reasons. We lost our mother to cancer and it was a very difficult time for Karl and I, as well as being burned out on the local scene and not finding the players I wanted to play with. Another big factor was that Karl wanted to get into playing but was too young at the time and most fields you had to be 13 to even play rec. Although I loved the game, I didn’t want to see him waste his time, dedication, and drive on a team-based sport. Over the next several years we focused on BMX and the start of our shop (www.hardcoresportz.com) but still played on a semi-regular basis. In 2004, Karl was a teenager and was able to play in tournaments, so I decided to form VIGILANTE.

Karl: The first tournament under the VIGILANTE name was at Badlandz in Crete, IL. We decided to jump straight into a 3-man series that had already been going. The players were my brother, a 14-year-old kid who had been helping at our shop, and me at 16 years old. This event was on an airball field and the famous zipper hyperball field. It felt great beating out 28 teams being the only team using all mechanical guns and the only team who had a player using CO2.

Kyle: Although our first event was successful and a lot of fun, the tournament style of paintball was focusing on guns with high rates of fire and shooting lots of paint and not focusing on everything the sport had to offer. So I decided to start playing with pumps. Not only to cut down on playing costs, but mainly to develop the team’s skills and overall game. Over the next five years we would exclusively be a pump team traveling to national events and racking up a pretty solid list of wins. Some of these wins being many 2- and 3-player events throughout the Midwest, OSC events, back to back NPPL DC Cup champions, USPL Eastern Conference champions, winners of the last Chicago NPPL event which had a reputable amount of teams with 16, and more.

At this point, several years of playing mainly airball was getting too repetitious for me. This is where the team getting back into the woods started to happen. A couple of us guested for a team at a UWL event and had a blast. Thankfully, the rest of the guys were ready to get on board and we as a team started focusing on competing in the woods. Today our current line of players is Tom Boyer, Devin Scheitlin, Brian Burris, John Dresser, Karl, and I. I couldn’t ask for a better group of friends and teammates. Each one of these guys brings their own individual talents and dedication to progressing the team as a whole. We’ve been competing in the UWL 5-Man since its inception and have stayed undefeated. VIGILANTE means a lot more to us than just a group of friends on a paintball team, but this gives you a basic summary of the history.

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Snake: You are both big proponents of shooting pumps, but I see you shot semis at World Cup this year. Are you still big fans of pumps?

Kyle: We are definitely fans of pump! When I first started playing, I was using a pump because that was what was available, but I never lost interest in pump or stopped playing it. I feel it is the truest form of play. It takes more strategy, movement, and marksmanship to win. I wish there was a tournament series that was on a variety of terrain that was pump only. I’m not sure how many players and teams would actually play it, but we would for sure!

Karl: Although we haven’t been able to focus as much energy as we would like toward it, we still have a lot of ideas in mind for our website and brand devoted to pump at www.artofpump.com. I can’t say too much right now, but we’ll be taking a new approach with AOP. Stay tuned to see what we have in store. Also, we still do things like host our annual Art of Pump Day event, attend events such as SPE, and break out our CCM pumps for some big games.

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Snake: So what about UWL’s “tournament-in-the-woods” format really grabbed you guys?

Kyle: Woods is where it’s at! Larger playing fields give opportunities for a better player to make plays and also have a shot at defying the odds, which makes for a better sport in my opinion. As airball became more prevalent, to me it was fun at first but became way too repetitive. It did make the game more sporting with balanced and easier to set up fields, but most of all much better to referee along with making tournament play spectator- and film-friendly. But I feel it was more money- and industry-driven than anything. Shoot tons of paint on small fields with little actual playing time. It took away from the art of the game. To me, there were several reasons airball took off. Mainly, it was because the industry pushed it. Also, it was just easier for the newer tournament player to learn the basics. It’s not hard to figure out where most, if not all, of your opponents are on an airball field. If not, the sidelines can and will tell you. That game is more based on firepower, gun battling and attrition. It takes years to become a solid competitive woods player and some players never get it. The UWL is awesome! It is in the woods but is much more difficult to win than just your basic flag-based games. So many variables that keep the games unique and usually unpredictable, i.e. you can be the lone player alive near your opponent’s base and all ten of the opposing team are re-breaking 50ft in front of you. That will get your adrenaline going no matter how long you have been playing! With 4 flags (2 home and 2 swing), the center objective, and 30-minute games a lot of crazy things happen that I have never seen in tournament paintball. There is a lot of area to cover. If you play hard and want to win, it is very challenging.

Karl: I say this in confidence that the UWL is the most challenging type of paintball I’ve played and competed in. Playing in the woods involves it all, from the athleticism, gun-fighting skills, crawling, speed, the sneaky, sneaky variety of strategies, planning, and much, much more. The field walking in the woods is an art and skill in itself. Now apply the UWL format to what already exists in a tournament in the woods with the flags, point systems, and more, and you have quite a challenging game in front of you. To stay at the top in the UWL you have to apply many different skill sets to win, not just what you need to get by on the airball field. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed a team that mainly focuses playing airball come out to a UWL event and be completely lost on what to do in the woods, losing every prelim game. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take away from the skills it takes to be competitive and win on airball. I still play airball myself, but I just prefer to be in the woods. What a lot of players who play the league and some that just play airball don’t realize is that there are many players and teams in the competitive woods scene that are very high caliber players (old and new) including multiple World Champions (woods and airball). Sometimes they are playing under new team names or guesting for others, but the experience is still there. Also, everyone is giving it their all just to win a trophy or banner but most of all, respect. And respect from my fellow competitors is what Kyle and I are after. It’s harder to see games in the woods and understand the amazing moves and plays that are made, but the top teams and players know and see what is happening on the field. Some of my most memorable games ever have been at a UWL event. The league is growing every year. Please feel free to get in touch with my brother and me if there’s anything you may have a question on with the UWL or how it operates. We’d be glad to help!

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Snake: Can you take us through what you guys do to prepare for a UWL tournament, and then what the events themselves are like? If I’ve never played UWL before and want to get started, what should I do?

Karl: I can’t give all the secrets away, but we do a variety of things to make sure our game is on point going into an event. The main thing is getting as much time behind our guns as possible. This could be a serious practice with specific drills or even something as simple as going to a big game for fun. In a perfect world we would prefer the good ole team-on-team scrimmage, but it’s hard to find that around our area. Both Kyle and I take things a little further than just what we do on the playing field to prepare. We pay attention to other things such as our diet, for example. I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years now. That’s played a part into both my bike riding and playing paintball. We like staying active and also do things like a lot of cycling on our mountain and road bikes. Kyle is also an avid trail-runner. Endurance can be a big thing, especially in a 10-man UWL game. Being alive in a game and fighting hard for 30 minutes straight is no joke. Endurance is key in a lot of aspects of your game, and I think a lot people don’t realize it, think that far into it, or are just lazy about it. Endurance is not just important with the breakouts at the beginning of the game or sprints from bunker to bunker. It also comes into play with your gun-handling skills along with the mental aspect by helping make wise “in-game” decisions. Without making this super drawn out, let’s just say we pay attention to all the details to perfect our skills. That’s what separates the champions from the rest in just about anything.

As for advice for someone who has never played a UWL before and is wanting to…it’s as simple as driving to an event and checking it out. Bring your gear and play. Unfortunately, as of right now there’s not a lot of quality coverage out there for you to really get a good insight to what a UWL event is like. It’s getting better though, and I’ve tried to contribute to that by doing more photography at events. We get a lot of people wanting to get involved and use the excuse that they don’t have players for a team in their area. We know what that is like, but that’s not enough to stop you. As I say a lot, “Don’t talk about it, be about it!” We’re always down to help players and teams that want to get involved with playing in the woods. We have guested and helped a lot of teams throughout the league and will continue to do so. Don’t hesitate to get in touch and contact us about how we can help you as an individual player or a team as a whole.

Snake: There are numerous UWL events across the U.S. each year, from Chicago to Dallas and Los Angeles to Pittsburgh. Which has been your favorite so far?

Kyle: We like them all! One of the best aspects of competing in the woods is that the terrain always varies. You have to be able to play it all from open fields with long shots that have man-made bunkers to thick brush and vegetation, dirt mounds, rolling hills, etc. The different seasons always play a part in how a certain field is played as well. This is my favorite aspect of competing. Matching our game plan and strategies against our opponents. This past year I would have to say the International Masters event in Chicago would be a favorite. You had teams from all over the United States, Canada, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, and more. The two tournament fields in play were very diverse as well.

Snake: Any last words or thanks?

Thanks to all our family, friends, teammates, and supporters. Also, a thank you to our official sponsors Inception Designs, Virtue Paintball, Enola Gaye, and HK Army. Also, thanks to CCM and PbNation for the support and thanks to Social Paintball for the opportunity to do this interview.

In 2015, we will continue to travel, compete, and promote competitive paintball in the woods and show all the great things this discipline of the sport has to offer. If an individual or team would like any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Keep in touch with us at www.hardcoresportz.com and all our social media outlets: Facebook – www.facebook.com/hardcoresportz, Facebook – www.facebook.com/karlpoynter, and Instagram – @karlqpoynter.

Thanks again everyone!

Source: SocialPaintball.com, Snake Sits Down with the Poynter Brothers

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Can the Survival Game Survive?

By Jared “Snake” Thomas

I remember exactly where I was when Lehman Brothers went up in smoke. I was eating my complimentary continental breakfast at a Super 8 motel in Bowman, North Dakota. The lobby, like the rest of the motel, smelled like mildew and hunting dogs. It was June, 2008, and a late blizzard had my crew stuck indoors for days. That morning, we were hoping to get back across the state line to the Buffalo County Clerk’s office to finish our work so we could get back to civilization. At the time, I was managing several crews across the U.S. doing oil and gas work. Times had been good for years, but as of late there had been signs. Bad signs. The news was filled with stories of banking losses, Wall Street trickery, and credit default scares. Months before, Merrill Lynch had reported huge losses, and the bad news seemed to keep building. All I could do was push ahead, keep my guys working, and hope the clients would keep paying. But I remember watching the news that morning and feeling the coffee eating at my gut. Sure enough, the client called before I’d even warmed up my truck. I drove a couple guys to the airport in Rapid City, and the rest of us started the long drive back to Texas. Within months, the check books were closed, the field offices were empty, and we were headed down the even longer road now known as the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, or the Great Recession.

Every year, Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) releases statistics on sports participation, including paintball. I’ve purchased a few of their reports over the years, though the numbers have been glum lately, to say the least.

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In the early- and mid-2000’s, paintball experienced a storm surge of participation, peaking out in 2007 with an estimated 5.5 million total participants (people who play at least once per year). But timed almost precisely with the melt-down of Merrill Lynch in October of 2007, things began to go south. Players fell off. Companies and fields began to disappear or get bought out. By December 2008, even the mighty National Paintball Players League (NPPL) had filed for bankruptcy, never quite regaining its strength and eventually withering away. By 2012, paintball had lost almost 32% of its regular and casual players, and people began to wonder, “Is this the end?”

What happened to cause such a meteoric crash in a once promising sport? To quote James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid!” When paintball peaked in 2007, unemployment was at its lowest in years. It’s no surprise that as jobs dried up, there was less money spent on expensive past times like paintball. In 2008, unemployment skyrocketed, and though people are getting back to work little by little, working America still hasn’t fully recovered.

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But what’s particularly brutal about recessions is not just the actual decrease in Gross Domestic Product, but fear. Even people not immediately facing a pink slip or foreclosure watch the news and feel the terror. Consequently, they tighten up on all nonessential spending, like, you guessed it, paintball. In 2008, the Consumer Confidence Index hit its lowest point since the Conference Board first released their data in 1967. Simply put, a family afraid of losing their home is not buying birthday party packages at the local paintball field.

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Paintball is not truly comparable to any other sport. Certain traditional sports, like baseball, football, and basketball, are subsidized with school tax dollars, so children are able to participate regardless of their household income. Other amateur sports, like jogging and tennis, are exceptionally cheap compared to paintball. If tennis players destroyed and replaced tennis balls at the rate of 12.5 balls per second, there would be a higher barrier to climb in tennis as well, but such is not the case, so tennis doesn’t feel the same pain. Paintball is practically built on waste, so when the bear comes to devour the market fat, paintball goes first as an appetizer, not as dessert.

But is the economy the whole story? Perhaps not, but it’s the only one I can back-up with statistics and reasonable theory. If you’ll allow me a little speculation, I also propose that the rise of airsoft has taken a big bite out of paintball’s market share. First off, airsoft has much lower operating costs than paintball. 5,000 airsoft bb’s can be purchased for $10.00, while the same number of paintballs costs easily 10 times that much. While a Polar Star PR-15 CQBR rifle, considered a ridiculously high-end rifle in the airsoft world, costs about $600, paintballers think nothing of buying Luxes, Geos, and GSLs at more than twice that price. Plus, airsoft arrived at the same time as an explosion in first person shooter (FPS) video gaming. The ability to role play the part of a “Call of Duty” character in the flesh is hugely attractive to many people. Throw in less pain, less filth, and less danger, and airsoft is an undeniable contender in the action sports ring.

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So what’s the solution? Time, mainly. Paintball is cyclical; it rides the ebb and flow of the overall economy, just like the oil and gas business. I read the 2014 SFIA Single Sport Report-Paintball today and there is good news: 2013 saw a 1.9% increase in paintball participation over the previous year, making it the first year paintball has seen positive growth in 5 years. That’s mostly due to the slow but steady strengthening of the U.S. economy. But will paintball climb all the way back to its peak, especially with airsoft and video gaming fighting for their share of the same demographic? Frankly, that’s up to paintball. The sport has not changed much in years. Small changes to rules like field sizes and ramping are like wake against the hull of a battleship. When an idea has been around for a long time, you can bet that anybody who wants to subscribe to it probably already does, and from there it will either grow at the same rate as the population or fade away as something shinier and newer comes along. To really change course takes bold innovation. To facilitate my return to the oil patch, I had to morph from a field guy to a corporate consultant, despite all my disdain for offices and staff meetings. As of now, there is some hope in magazine fed (mag-fed) paintball, which has found its legs in the last two years. With its realism and lower operating costs, mag-fed is paintball’s best answer to airsoft. As employment and consumer confidence recover, our old survival game may very well battle its way back up the hill with a tac vest full of 18-round mags.

Source: SocialPaintball.com, Can the Survival Game Survive?

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Living Legends 7 Scenario Game Recap

By Jared “Snake” Thomas

Paintball scenario or rock concert? That’s what kept running through my mind as I browsed the vendor area at Living Legends 7. The bright, neon colors of the Virtue booth, dance music booming from the HK Army tent, paintballers laughing, shouting, clapping old friends on the back. Greg Hastings, Mr. H, Wolf, Sarge Morin, Damian Ryan, even Bud Orr, creator of the Autococker, all there, laughing and posing for snapshots. Paintball scenario or rock concert?

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But that’s the yin and yang of Living Legends, the fusion that generates the power. It’s where paintball meets fame. It’s the Lollapalooza of the scene, and players travel thousands of miles just for the spectacle of it all. Expectations were high going into this 7th episode of the annual series, and, oh boy, did it deliver. Here are some box office stats for you movie lovers: 2,219 registered players. 94 staff members. 4,960 cases of paint shot. Trivial Pursuit, Living Legends Edition: How many full medic cards did the Horde turn in? 78. That’s over 1,560 players healed, just on one side. It’s like a big-budget summer blockbuster, which fits, considering most of the features at CPX Sports in Joliet, Illinois, were created by actual Hollywood set designers.

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Normally, mid-May in Illinois is hot, and in past years heat has taken its toll on the players. This year, a cold front brought rain. Morning temperatures were in the low 40’s, and the ground was a sopping sponge. But paintballers are a tough breed, and the camp grounds began filling 2 days prior to the event. Registration opened Thursday with multiple lines and each day after the lines grew a little longer, but after years of experience, the staff was able to move players through efficiently. Teams poured in at all hours, pitched their tents, and then dispersed to sight-see in Chicago or stuff themselves with thick slices of Giordano’s pizza.

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By Saturday morning, the sky had cleared and by 6:00AM the entire 140-acre park was booming. The parking lot and fields were filled, and cars were lined down the road. Everywhere, legion commanders shouted into radios and bullhorns while teams geared-up under a sea of canopies. At 10:00AM, the players gathered to the main stage for Viper’s pre-game briefing. Mike Phillips of TechPB, General for the New Empire, and Kevin “Buckshot” Buchaniec of the Hellions, General for the Horde, were introduced on-stage. The crowd whooped with chants, cheers, and battle cries. Referees at the chrono stations moved players through the lines with gruff shouts: “If the man in front isn’t moving, go around him! Let’s go!” Cases of paint were heaved from the backs of semi-trailers, and the roaring fleet of compressors drove a constant 4,500 psi through banks of fill stations.

Game-on at Viper events is always Saturday, 12:00 noon, sharp, don’t be late. Players began massing at their bases, ignoring the ankle deep mud. The New Empire began at the West Base, while the Horde took the East. Commanders shouted orders to their legions. Months of planning all led to this moment. Recruiting drives, strategies, communication schemes, dreams, hopes, and fears—all about to face the pitiless test of combat. Referees resumed chrono’ing players at their bases; the Horde had a line of several hundred still needing their cards punched before entering play. Buckshot was frantically trying to organize his war machine when, in the distance, the bird banger fired, and with a “Go! Go! Go!” Living Legends 7 exploded into life.

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But here we must pause to sketch-out just how Living Legends works. Each side, red and blue, has a commanding officer and an executive officer. Both sides are further divided into five legions each, with Roman era names like “Praetorian Guard” and “Visigoths”, and each legion has its own commander. The game itself can be divided into two distinct parts: the main game and the skirmishes. The main game, played on the big, 40-acre main field, is part scenario and part “big game”, the difference being that the goal in scenario is to complete missions, while the goal of big games is to take and hold ground. Every hour, each side received an attack mission worth 100 points, wherein they needed to assault a specific area of the field, flip a slap stick to their color, and hold it for at least 15 minutes. They also received a defend mission, wherein they were required to hold a slap stick against an enemy attack without losing control of the slap stick for more than 15 minutes within a 45-minute span. These attack and defend missions were issued 30 minutes prior to their start times, thus giving the commanders ample time to maneuver their legions.

Interestingly, each of these mission cards had not only the friendly side’s objective for that hour, but the enemy’s objectives as well. This way, both sides knew exactly where to attack and where to defend. At the same time, on the hour, each side received four, two-part mission cards of the more-or-less standard variety (observe-and-report here, demolish there, and so on.) These scenario-style mission cards had unknown point values, though one could assume the more difficult the mission the more points to be earned. The second part of Living Legends, the skirmishes, were essentially miniature final battles played on a smaller, separate field. Every hour, one legion from each side would send players to square off on a field of junk cars (Wastelands). Three slap sticks were placed across the center 50. The matches were 40 minutes with one reinsertion after 20 minutes. The goal was simply to flip the slap sticks to your side’s color and hold them. The referees counted the sticks every 10 minutes, with control of each stick worth 4 points, for a total of 48 possible points per skirmish. The purpose of the skirmishes, as decided by the Living Legends game committee, was to move players off the main field for safety and to thin the battle line, thus allowing more dynamic game flow.

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Now that we understand the mechanics, let’s talk strategy. Planning, strategy, tactics, logistics—this is the realm of the commander, and it is important that we understand the strategies of our opposing generals to understand Living Legends 7. Buckshot, the Horde commander, is of the “no plan survives the first shot” school of thought. He wanted a simple, flexible plan. By recruiting experienced legion commanders and running a robust communications net, he planned to nimbly react to opportunities while maintaining pressure across the battle front. Each legion would have an assigned cross section of the front line, and each would shift to strengthen their flanks when needed. His analysis of the skirmish rules and point structure led him to determine that skirmishes were of secondary value, so he would only allocate minimal troops to each match. So, for example, when it was time for the Vandal’s skirmish, perhaps one-third of the legion would leave the frontline and proceed to the skirmish field. A flanking legion would then shift, or “lean over”, to help reinforce the weakened Vandals until their skirmishers returned. In Buckshot’s analysis, the rules did not say that skirmishes were mandatory, and removing 200 or more players from the main game for a chance at 48 points was not worthwhile. As captain of the Hellions, a team well-known for their armor, Buckshot also recruited 3 additional tanks to complement their own Grindhouse, for a total of 4 Horde tanks.

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While Buckshot favored simplicity, Mike Philips, General of the New Empire, designed a veritable logistical machine. Utilizing a system of 70 radios, 9 modified watches, 7 bullhorns, and 2,000 printed schedule cards, Mike devised an intricate plan to rotate entire legions off the main field for their respective skirmishes. As a legion’s skirmish time drew near, his forces would shift south towards the skirmish field, therefore placing the skirmish legion closest to the insertion, allowing them a quick exit from the main field. Commanders using mechanical tally counters would count both sides at the skirmish field to insure the New Empire always had a body advantage. Also, in a bold move, Mike established his headquarters off-field in his hospital rather than at his designated base. In stark contrast to the Horde’s collection of armor, the New Empire did not recruit any tanks.

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At the 12:00PM bird banger, Honu, commanding the Vandals legion for the Horde, sent his troops scrambling through Zacapa (Armageddon) towards Guatemala City (Bedlam) in a mad dash to be first across the land bridge between the two ponds, but the New Empire beat him to the punch and were already across the bridge and into the city when the Vandals arrived. The rain had filled the ponds, making the land bridge a critical feature. At the same time, New Empire sent a blitzkrieg of troops in a wide flanking maneuver around the north of the field. They quickly succeeded in making it well past the 50, all the way to Cancun (Gnarley). With the New Empire gaining initiative in the north and the south, the Horde pushed through the center (the Jungle of Doom), capturing their first objective, Tik’al (the temple), at mid-field with no resistance. Luckily for the Horde, there were 200-300 players still working through the chrono line at their base, so Buckshot was able to route immediate reinforcements to the north and block the flanking maneuver. Bolstered by these reinforcements, the Horde’s Gaul legion pushed the New Empire back from Cancun and west along the road, eventually hitting a wall of resistance between Merida and Campeche (around Widow Maker). Meanwhile, at the first skirmish of the day, New Empire’s Pegasus legion showed up with 200 players, while the Gauls, still busy fighting in the north, could only spare about 50. Needless to say, blue took the match with ease, completely blowing out the Horde.

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While battle raged in the north, in the south, though the tanks were delayed, Honu used his 6 Heavy Weapons Specialists (HWS) to clear the front line of buildings, eventually breaking across the land bridge and moving west into an area of picnic tables at the south-center of the field called Tampachula. The picnic tables provided poor cover, however, and the battle lines stagnated in World War I fashion as attrition affected both sides.

At about 1:30 PM, the first of the Horde’s tanks entered the field. Grindhouse, LapuLapu, and one of Team Defiant’s track chairs formed an armored column and began a patrol westerly along the north road. The battle lines began to settle along the New Empire 40, from Campeche down to Tampachula though the wooded center of the field remained relatively quiet, with Horde continuing to hold west of Tik’al. The ravine in the far north hosted some of the most intense battles of the weekend, the fire never letting up and medics scurrying from body to body.

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Early in the game, Mike Phillips began to experience the repercussions of running his HQ from his hospital rather than his base. Missions dropped every half hour, but, per Viper rules, a commander may only receive his mission packet at his designated base. Where the conflict arises is that when anyone leaves the field, they become an eliminated player and can only re-enter the field when the insertion window opens. What this meant for Mike is that his base referee would receive New Empire’s mission packets on time, but Mike could not enter the field to accept them until the insertion window opened. This consistently put Mike 10-25 minutes late in starting his missions. In the meantime, with coordinated help from his XO, Daniel “Hellhound” Massey, in the field and Lani Fox serving as Radio Telephone Operator (RTO), Buckshot was able to launch his missions quickly. Keeping in mind that each general was also told where the other side’s attack and defend missions were, Buckshot was able to position his troops at New Empire’s objectives well ahead of blue forces. In addition to this hindrance, there was some confusion amongst the New Empire about which color to flip their slap sticks. Apparently drawing on experience from another game, they turned many slap sticks to red instead of blue. This error persisted for about 2 hours on Saturday.

At the 1:00PM skirmish, New Empire’s Chiron legion, again with a 4-to-1 body advantage over the Visigoths, annihilated the Horde. About this time, because New Empire was counting bodies at the skirmish field, Mike Phillips realized the Horde was not committing entire legions to the skirmishes. He quickly deduced that pulling entire New Empire legions off the field while Horde was not was hurting them in the main game. With the prior understanding that skirmishes were mandatory, Mike requested a meeting with Viper and Buckshot. In the meantime, when 200 of his Praetorian Guard showed up for their 2:00 skirmish but the Horde only sent 40 Barbarians, Mike made a quick command decision, sending the entire legion back to the main field, effectively forfeiting the skirmish in favor of reinforcing his battle line. Soon after, the generals were summoned to Viper’s central command tent. It was determined in this meeting that, per the written rules, skirmishes were not mandatory, and no foul had been committed by the Horde. Buckshot did, however, agree to give both of the Team Defiant track chairs to the New Empire to help balance the game.

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Around 3:00PM, the Gauls, with other Horde reinforcements, continued their westerly push along the north road, eventually sacking Villa de los Muertos and scoring take-and-hold points. In the south, Honu, who had attended the command meeting with Viper, returned to the field to find the New Empire knocking at the door of the city again. In bitter, knuckle-to-knuckle urban combat, Honu’s Vandals gradually pushed back across the land bridge and into the picnic tables, where they remained stalemated for the rest of the day. While fighting to retake the city, the Vandals sent 70 players to the skirmish field to face about 30 fighters from the Centaur legion. It became clear by then that Mike Phillips had adjusted his strategy and would from then on, like the Horde, only send a minimal force to the skirmishes.

Team Defiant’s track chairs, now fighting for New Empire, needed refitting and didn’t enter the field until about 5:00PM. Both attacked through the picnic tables, heading east towards the city but were stopped short by well-placed AT ambushes. Meanwhile, since the New Empire was not using their base, the Horde was able to plant an observation post near New Empire command. This allowed a savvy Horde player to successfully ambush the New Empire runner sent to collect the 5:00PM mission cards and return them to Mike’s off-field HQ. He called “search the body”, thus capturing blue’s entire mission packet for the hour, and delivered it back to Buckshot. On the skirmish field, the most balanced match of the event went down between Pegasus and the Visigoths, with each presenting roughly 40 players. The Visigoths barely eked out a win with a difference of just one slap stick.

In the last 45 minutes of Saturday’s main game, New Empire ran their last missions of the day, which included capturing Belize City (near Fort Courage), which placed them within striking distance of Horde HQ. Troops from the Praetorian Guard overtook the objective just shy of enough time to score the mission points, so they pressed forward sacking Horde base just moments before stand-down. The Horde’s Gauls, with over 100 players versus Centaur legion’s 20-30, won the last skirmish of the day. After a quick resupply, a 30-minute Dinner Battle was held, and at 8:00PM the Saturday portion of the game concluded. Players made their way to the main stage for the popular bikini contest hosted by HK Army, where the crowd was amped, the music was pumping, and the lovely ladies braved the chilly night air.

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Sunday morning the game resumed at 9:00AM, but the decision was made to cancel all skirmishes. Sides were swapped: the New Empire took the East Base, the Horde took the West. New Empire retained both Team Defiant track chairs, while the Horde took the field with just one tank, the Grindhouse, as the LapuLapu tank did not participate Sunday. At kick-off, Honu successfully repeated New Empire’s speedy crossing of the land bridge into the city. Using LAWs and sniper cards, Honu’s Vandals took the city and stopped New Empire at the hill. At one point, while Honu spotted targets, Mike Phillips was just on the other side of the hill personally directing troops with a bull horn. Both commanders tried several times to out-flank the other by sending players into the woods, but their capable command and eager troops proved an even match. The Horde again took the temple at the center of the field, but only at great cost. They were able to keep bodies on the temple mound all morning, but most players had their faces planted in the dirt as paint whipped mere inches over their heads. The battle lines were solid along the 50 from north to south all day, with no clear advantage in ground, yet New Empire continued to struggle with missions.

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After a short few hours of play, it was time for the world famous Living Legends Final Battle. Due to the increased number of players, the Final Battle field was extended to include part of the Jungle of Doom. The New Empire fighters, rallied by their XO, Josh “Orange” Samure of Citrus Connection, proved their mettle, capturing and holding slap sticks despite a shower of Horde paint. Liquid paint literally ran in streams from bunkers, but the New Empire fought furiously. At the end, everyone climbed the hill, blue and red alike, face-to-face after a weekend of intense battle, and shook hands.

The Living Legends closing ceremony is an event unto itself. Tons of giveaways and awards were handed out. To a cheering crowd, a young player who had lost his marker was given a new replacement. Bud Orr personally gave Viper an autographed Autococker to replace his that had been destroyed in a fire. Everywhere were cheerful but exhausted faces. Everyone agreed that the final score—Horde 1,334 to New Empire 143—was a complete surprise as the game was a non-stop slug-fest. At the closing ceremony, we learned that one of the guiding visionaries of Living Legends, Sean Scott, would be stepping down from his director role to be replaced by Honu. One can only hope that next year, with this new freedom, Sean will actually get to play in this amazing rock-fest-of-a-game he helped create.

All images were taken by me, here is a link to a gallery of images from the event: https://www.facebook.com/texaslight.infantry/media_set?set=a.633085530108812.1073741841.100002221129737&type=3

Source: SocialPaintball.com, Living Legends 7 Scenario Game Recap

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Viper’s HALO: 2552 Scenario Game Recap and Gallery

By Jared “Snake” Thomas

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Every year, on the second weekend of April, the largest scenario in Texas goes down at TXR Paintball in Houston—Viper’s Annual Texas Revolution, or T-Rev, for the initiated. This year, starting early Friday morning, colorful players of all ages poured through the gates, honking and waving like a family reunion. Teams spread out to their traditional camping spots under the pines, barbecue pits fired up, and the party began.

Every year brings a different storyline, and nearly 600 players participated in this year’s video game-themed event, called HALO: 2552. The Blue team, or UNSC forces, were under the command of Will “Hot Sauce” Cheatwood of Twisted Militia; while the Red team, or Covenant Empire, was commanded by Joey “Tekk” Begneaud of Type 3, both of whom were veteran players but first time generals. However, with Wes “Raptor” Garza of SAS Houston XO’ing for Hot Sauce and Bryan “Radio” Angelo of Alter Ego backing Tekk, each had a fighting chance.

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T-Rev is no small-time production. It’s more like an amusement park for paintballers, with mini-games, third factions, and off-field entertainment galore. The first paintballs were fired Friday afternoon in a magfed-only mini-game produced by Viper and Carlos Pagan of the Ghosts of Sparta. RAP4 was on-site with a fully stocked booth and an arsenal of magfed, 468 markers to loan out. Off the field, RoadWarrior Games came with a state-of-the-art video game trailer where young and old alike gathered to size each other up in Call of Duty and other games late into the night.

The actual scenario is never a simple, straight-forward paintball game either. Besides the UNSC and Covenant forces, the third faction in the scenario was the Flood, consisting of heavy hitters from local scenario teams including Odyssey, Honey Badgers, and the Aztec Warriors. Their job was to deal out wholesale pain to whichever side had more “dead” players; that is, more players lounging around staging. The game trailer also served a purpose in the scenario. Players from each side sparred in 4-on-4 team deathmatches on HALO Reach to win supplies, such as C4 and medic cards, for their commanders. Each side also had 14 special characters with powerful abilities.

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Leading up to the game, recruiting was tough for the UNSC. The Covenant seemed to have a who’s-who of established, mission-running teams, like Black List, Alter Ego, and COBRA, while the UNSC had a solid core of veteran teams, such as the Texas Rangers and Outlaw Crew, supplemented with up-and-coming contenders like Bad Company. Odds were already favoring Tekk and the Covenant and the news only got worse as word got around that the Covenant would have as many as 6 tanks, while the UNSC was hoping to maybe have 1. On Friday, the camp ground was buzzing with speculation that Viper would switch teams around and “balance the sides”, but as day turned to night it became clear there would be no switching. As one the Covenant captain mused, “I guess Viper is not as impressed with us as we are with ourselves.” At closed-door captain’s meetings later that night, Covenant commanders were scratching their heads over the suspected imbalance, and began focusing on each side’s special roles, trying to rank the advantages and deduce why Viper felt the sides were even.

The UNSC had several Spartans (players who had to be shot three separate times to be eliminated) and Hell Jumpers, who could insert virtually anywhere on the field, while the Covenant had Elites (same abilities as Spartans), Jackals, and Hunters, who were armored but could only carry pistols or LAWs, respectively. Alien strategists concluded that the Human’s Hell Jumpers added weight to the UNSC side of the scale, but whether the human commanders would use them to best effect was yet to be seen.

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The field at TXR can be divided roughly into thirds, with the northern two-thirds being thick forest and the southern two-thirds consisting of wood and pipe structures peppered across a large, open field casually known as “Speedball”. At the bird banger, the Covenant (red team) took Speedball in a mad rush, blocking the blue teams advance. But their success in the south was short-lived. The UNSC had many young, aggressive players who managed to retake and hold Speedball and its 9 objectives for the rest of the day. Using tanks, to which the UNSC had an answer to in the form of SAS-Houston’s Joshua “AntiCon” Klein’s rapid, accurate rocket fire, the Covenant enjoyed some short-term success in regaining the open ground. Nevertheless, sheer determination prevailed, and no sooner did the alien tanks push the lines than human infantry filled right back in around the motorized meat grinders. At one point, the Texas Light Infantry tank looked like a shark swimming in a school of fish: Blue players gave it a wide, 360-degree berth, but rushed back in around it once passed. During the Saturday day portion, the UNSC pulled slightly ahead, with 475 points to the Covenant’s 460.

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Saturday night came, and out came the night vision goggles and thermal sights. Many night players chose to run with pistols, barrels, or no marker at all, so the battlefield was deceptively quiet. Everywhere, players lurked in the shadows like panthers. Perhaps the top story of the game came out of the night portion, when a squad from COBRA tricked the UNSC base defense into allowing them to run base security, leading to three “all deads” before the intruders accepted a mission card from the unsuspecting commander Hot Sauce and delivered it back to the Alien commander. For these shenanigans, COBRA earned the Most Formidable Opponent award and COBRA’s commander, Seba “Superman” Alvarez, won Most Valuable Player. Despite the Covenant’s deep-cover antics, however, by the end of the night portion, Blue had pulled even farther ahead with a total score of 1,030 to Red’s 905.

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Sunday, bases were swapped, and the Aliens turned up the heat. The tanks rumbled out allowing the red team to complete more missions on speedball, eventually closing the gap in just a few hours to UNSC: 1,490 versus Covenant: 1,455. The main portion of the game concluded at 30-minutes past noon, and Viper gathered the players for Final Battle orientation. In an unusual twist, Viper announced that the spread was a mere 35 points. Backs stiffened, and the crowd buzzed. With 100 points on the line at Final Battle, the game was still up for grabs. To make it even more interesting, Red and Blue discovered that the third faction, the Flood, who had been a thorn in everyone’s side all weekend, would be dug-in at the 50-yard-line.

Straight off the bird banger, agility, aggression, and determination paid off for the UNSC, as they drove shooters all the way to the “Dog Bone”—the pipe structure at the 50 yard line—and captured all five Slap Sticks. Red’s initial push fell well short of the 40-yard line, as players dropped under a barrage of Flood paint. By the time the Flood was dislodged from the center, Blue was entrenched at every Slap Stick from left to right, and Red found themselves stiff-armed and out of the fight. When all was said and done, the UNSC, having won day and night Saturday and dominating the Final Battle, pulled off a close victory with 1,490 points to the Covenant’s 1,455.

Camo Luxe

Child's Play

Source: SocialPaintball.com, Viper’s HALO: 2552 Scenario Game Recap and Gallery

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