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Monday, May 1, 2006

Assaulting the Flag: Get the Flag and Win the Game, Every Time

It's the easiest part of a woodsball game, if it's done right
By Bruce 'Charon' Johnston

originally published in the May 2006 issue of Paintball Sports Magazine

"They had paint raining down on us from every direction. There was no way we could get anywhere near the flag."

Does that sound familiar? It is fun to run around in the woods shooting paint but capturing the flag is the name of the game. I constantly hear people complain about how hard it is to attack the other team's base and capture the flag. Assaulting the flag might very well be the easiest part of a woodsball game, if it's done right. Unfortunately too many players and teams go about the assaulting the flag all wrong.
Why do I believe assaulting the flag is the easiest part of the game? Let's think about it for a second. When you are in the woods, paint can come at you from any direction. The defenders at the other team's base, however, will always be near the flag. This is a huge advantage because you know approximately where the other players are, you can see what they are defending and they can't move out to flank you or counter attack because they need to protect the flag. The advantage is on your side.

The key to an assault on the flag is "Fire and Move". Tippinator teammate, Scott Knowles, and I eliminated 21 players one Sunday in one game by using this one tactic. Scott fired to keep their heads down while I rushed in. Once I had the new position I would fire to keep their heads down while Scott rushed it. At one point Scott managed to pin five players from the other team long enough for me to dash 60 feet to surrender the lot of them. This tactic is extremely simple, extremely effective and extremely easy for you and your team to duplicate on any field anywhere.

In order to effectively launch and successfully complete an assault you should ideally have a numerical superiority of three to one. In other words there should be three of you for every defender. If you attack the other team's base directly, you will need eight or ten players just to have a two to one advantage. Bad odds. At best, a direct assault will turn into a 50/50 fight with the advantage going to the defender. At worst you will walk into a cross fire and be eliminated without having had the chance to shoot a single paintball. What then is the best course of action? Don't perform a direct assault. Flank them. Move around to one side of their defenses where there is a lower concentration of defenders. From there you can isolate and eliminate the defenders one by one.

The plan and its execution are very simple. As soon as the base is discovered you begin the flanking assault by sweeping as quickly and quietly as possible to one side or the other. It is vital that you don't let the defenders know which way you are going or they will shift their defenses and you will be right back where you started in a 50/50 fight. Get half of your team members to set up a base of fire. Once the suppressing fire starts, the other half of your team moves in for the elimination. It sounds simple, and it is, but you would be surprised how many players will not do this during a game. If you execute the maneuver properly you can achieve a numerical superiority of four to one or more. With odds like that, the job is easy.

Speed is critical. Once your team members have set up the base of fire to provide cover for the assault team, the assault team must move as quickly as possible before the defender knows what is going on. Your assault team must move in before the defender can get his head up to shoot back or call for help. When the other defenders hear the shooting they may come over to support their comrade. This is another reason to quickly occupy the defender's position. If you can take over the defender's old position quickly enough, any opponents rushing in to help will be caught totally by surprise by paintballs coming at them from where they thought their teammate should be.

As soon as the first defender is eliminated the assault team now becomes the fire team and sets up a base of fire on the next defender's position. Once the suppressing fire has started, the former fire team now becomes the assault team. The assault team moves past the fire team swooping in to eliminate the next defender. Continue this "Leap Frogging" effect until all of the defenders are eliminated. The flag is all yours.

As the other team's base begins to be overrun, members of the other team may come back to support the now eliminated defenders and protect the flag. The assault team now in possession of the flag pulls out of the position in the same direction they came in. The fire team must linger behind to give covering fire, thereby allowing the assault team time to make their escape with the flag and suppress any enemy reinforcements.

This entire procedure sounds simple, and it is. But even the simplest of plans can go terribly wrong if you do not practice. Without practice you might not know when to move, when to start firing, when to stop firing, or worst of all - hesitate.. Get the guys together and practice this assault maneuver whenever you can. Practice will pay off when you get on the field.

If every player on your team is trained to do the job of every other player, there is no limit to what your group will be able to accomplish on the paintball field. Think about what you need to do, talk about it, practice it a few times with no paint and practice it a few times with paint. Once you are ready, go play and enjoy look on the other players' faces as you and your friends become a wrecking crew on the paintball field. People will start asking, "How do you manage to get the flag every game?" You can smile and truthfully say, "It's the easiest part of a woodsball game, if it's done right."

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