Scenario Tricks of the Trade
Now that scenario has officially hit the big time and every company out there is slapping a digicamo pattern on their gun and calling it mil-sim, there’s a shopping spree’s worth of goodies made for the scenario paintball market. Aside from Dale Price’s grenade chucking tournament stunt, most of this gear has only one place – the Uninflated Land. So here’s my highly biased breakdown of some of my favorite scenariocentric gear.
Who hasn’t, at one time or another, dreamed of taking out that fort full of defenders with one perfect grenade toss? Until recently I had never connected with grenades. Too many unexploded grenades had been chucked back at me to justify their price tag, but my days of wasting cash on unreliable bombs are over now that I’ve found the perfect paint grenade, the Atomic Ordinance Big Boy. Man, these grenades represent 12 ounces of sweet paint delivery pleasure; simply pull off the shrink wrapping and throw. The good folks at Atomic Ordinance have diligently worked for several years to perfect the grenade’s design, which involves a special knot tied to pop at just the right moment, spewing mint scented paint in a deadly spiral pattern. While wrapped, these grenades stay intact. I’ve crawled through the woods with one in my pants pocket and even rolled over it without setting it off, but it easily blew when I unwrapped and threw it. (If only my aim were as true as the product.) To back up my biased opinions, I performed “scientific” testing during which the Big Boys blew on impact from 10-15 feet up 100% of the time, delivering quarter-sized spats at far apart as thirty feet. When the rules say that even one drop of paint from a grenade means elimination, then a thirty foot diameter marking zone looks awfully good. They even come with an attached cord that will clip to a carabineer or a pocket button.
Several companies produce traps - paintball mines that activate by tripwire, pressure plate, or remote control. Normally I wouldn’t carry these onto the field at a scenario game, but recently I’ve discovered that while they’re cumbersome and not always effective, they’re a heck of a lot of fun, and that’s what scenario paintball is all about. It’s one thing to pop someone in the gogs; it’s another level of thrill to do it when they don’t know you’re there, but it’s even better when you can trick your opponent into eliminating himself. I recommend tripwire mines, basically string-triggered grenades, because they’re single-use, disposable traps.
With the refillable mines you have to collect them later, which can be problematic in a scenario game where you might have five hundred players on the field, and the one that gets drenched by your mine may well be the one pissed or unethical enough to take it home with him as revenge. The cooler remote clicker mines might be freakin’ awesome, but they cost more than many scenario guns. The last time I spotted one at an event, some kids were carrying it back to their general, assuming it to be a game prop. Hopefully the owner recovered it, but who knows? No, I’d go with the cheap, effective, grenade type mine. They’re easy to deploy – simply zip tie them to a tree branch or other stationary object, set the trip wire (dark green sewing thread), and walk away. It’s a good idea to alert the ref in the area because they don’t make much noise when they blow, and even the player who sets it off might not know he has a bright blue stripe up his back unless there’s a ref nearby to make the call. Portability, cost, and easy placement make tripwire mines the paintball equivalent of the whoopee cushion.
As the masses join the ranks of the scenario converted, more decide to cross the line into that crazy subclass of scenario player, the tanker. As if there weren’t already enough stuff to tinker with, these nutjobs convert cars, ATVs, and anything else with an engine and wheels into a paintball tank. The more tanks at a game, the more need for tank killers. Depending on the rules of the game, tanks can be destroyed by well-placed shots, grenades, or Nerf rockets.
The breech-loading Nerf rocket LAW is the most portable, accurate tank-popping device I’ve seen, and I haven’t encountered one that has impressed me more than those built by Doug “Frenchie” Salin of the BMF Renegades. In his basement machine shop, Frenchie puts together the best LAW in the sport. These hand-machined aluminum masterpieces run on a compressed air bottle (or CO2 tanks and 12 grams if necessary) and use an autococker style slide trigger. They breech load like a shotgun for easy loading, allow for velocity adjustment, and are so easy to use that an experienced shooter can get off three rounds in about ten seconds – way faster than any homemade paintball bazookas I’ve seen. At most scenario games one or two hits with a LAW-fired Nerf round will bust a tank, and since the Renegade LAW measures half the size of other bazookas, it’s easy to sling on your back until the moment arrives. If all you’ve ever done is run from tanks, then imagine the pure satisfaction of taking one out, all by yourself.
More scenario players out there make for bigger games, which leads to some heroic, massive assaults. Personally, I love setting up in a great location and ripping into a hundred screaming idiots rushing my spot. I don’t find it intimidating, only invigorating, but one smart player who knows how to properly deploy smoke breaks my zone. If you’re going to use smoke, scenario rules require the cold-burning variety – nothing with a fuse is legit since those represent fire hazards.
In the past the most commonly used smoke has been Coast Guard style signal smoke, which comes in canisters about the size of a thermos and costs a good bit. The bright orange smoke cloud can serve several functions. First, you can mask your movements; lay down a smoke screen, have a few players fire through the cloud while the rest of the team flanks unseen, or retreats, depending on the situation. Most players won’t be psyched to charge through a dense smoke wall while shots zip through from the other side. If you need to take a central location, the “50” on a field, then a smoke screen placed just beyond that point can create the opportunity for crawlers to move up while a set of shooters in the back keeps the opposition from coming through.
As the scenario market opens up, more companies have been getting into the smoke game. Now players can get small, high volume smoke canisters such as the pull pin variety Sportsman Signal Smoke from Superior Signal Company. So far it’s the smoke grenade that has impressed me the most in terms of volume, size, and cost.
There’s more to discuss: radios, throat mics, tactical vests, night vision, and the like, but I’ll save those for another issue. If you’re already hooked on scenario paintball and are looking for something to give you an edge, or if you just want something to impress the newbies during the walk-on rec games, try one of the above gadgets for an out-of-the-box paintball thrill.