Scenario paintball is a type of paintball game in which players participate in a scenario, or story; and may include historical re-enactments, futuristic or video game simulations. Games tend to last in the range of hours or days, and may include a large group of players. The largest paintball scenario games are the Skirmish Invasion of Normandy (ION) scenario & Oklahoma D-DAY, both of which attract upwards of 4,000 players annually.
Scenario games are almost always objective-driven in regards to scoring. Each team must complete a series of missions to score points. These may be simple "capture the flag at this location" missions to elaborate missions involving props, multiple locations, interactive non-player characters and more.
To further enhance the theme of a game, field locations may be named for important story locations, and props of various sorts are added to the game. These may be objects that players collect for points, or even vehicles that take part in the fighting, like paintball tanks. Players may don costumes specific to the theme, such as historic military uniforms or other costumes.
Scenario events are usually planned far in advance, both by the event "producers" or fields, and by the players themselves. Players may form large, lasting networks of players and teams that play together year after year in a specific scenario. These organizations help plan game strategy and direct their groups on the field and offer a level of organization beyond the basic two-sided team play.
Like all forms of paintball, scenario paintball has a very good per-capita safety record. Due to longer play times, heat-related injuries are one of the more common injuries in scenario paintball. Many players often carry 1- to 3-liter water bladders, allowing players to drink water without removing their safety masks, to combat heat and dehydration.
Scenario paintball games allows paintball players (who may be divided into teams) to participate in a scenario, or story; which can include historical re-enactments, or fictional simulations. Because of the addition of a storyline to the game, and a larger contingent of players, scenario games tend to run over the course of hours or even days. Because of the potential size and length of matches, players tagged by paintballs, and hence eliminated, might be able to return to the playing field after a set time. The scenario itself may be punctuated by smaller rounds, in which teams may need to complete a simple objective such as holding a location while another team attacks.
A paintball scenario will have often have pre-planning by a director or producer and incorporate a theme - with popular simulations possibly drawn from action movies, military events, science fiction, historical events, or television shows. Games are generally designed for either single day play, which are run over an eight to twelve hour timespan during the daylight hours, or 24 hour play, which last for much longer and are more intricate. The entire game itself can be either one continuous match, or divided into smaller skirmishes and missions; with scoring for individual matches contributing to an overall score.
Many scenario games add special roles to the paintball game. Some are strictly for the story line, describing the player as part of the group he or she is portraying. A player may be almost anything to fit the storyline, such as a rebel, an angry villager, a scientist or more. These roles have no effect on how the player plays.
Some roles have special game abilities that assist their team. For example, a player could be a demolitions expert, medic, pilot or spy. These roles offer the player a chance to perform additional tasks on top of shooting opposing players. For example, a medic player may be able to "heal" a certain number of teammates that have been hit by a paintball, returning them to the action that much faster.
When a player starts the game he/she is in some games issued an identification card. Some cards also indicate the player's role in the scenario. Often, players enter scenario games purely for this role-playing aspect. Players are not required to play a role in the game, but those that accept a role may be provided with specific goals to accomplish in the game.
An important aspect of role-playing scenario games is that while missions win games, role-players develop information about those missions that gain more points.
This role-playing aspect extends off the field as well, and it is common for players to be "in character" both on and off the field for the duration of the game. Role-players often negotiate with other teams for props and information, and even attempt to get opposing players to defect. For role-players, the event may start before the game as they talk with other players on internet BBS/forums, perform character research, make phone calls between teams, and assemble costumes. These pre-game activities may start weeks or months before the first paintball is fired.
Fields are normally much bigger than standard paintball fields and can even have a combined total of many paintball fields. Fields can range from a small 3 vs 3 square, to a few acres, to over 100 acres (0.40 km2). Fields are generally an entire venue with every field put into use simultaneously and an out-of-bounds tape strung around it. This includes speed ball fields, castles, wooded areas, urban environments, and more.
In most scenarios, props are incorporated to enhance the fun and role-playing aspects of the game. Typically these props are small, simple in make and design, clearly identifiable, and serve a specific purpose. Conventional examples would be a small wooden box, labeled “EXPLOSIVES,” or fake money used as currency between different sides during the game.
Props almost always have specific rules written about them by the scenario producers. For example, rules pertaining to the aforementioned box of explosives may specify that only specific role-players (such as demolitions, engineers, etc.) of the game may handle or operate the prop, and that if taken to the enemy base the prop may be used to “blow up” their base thus eliminating any players inside.
Some props are randomly strewn about on fields for players to find, turn in to their base, and earn their side points. Often scenario producers will write missions for each side to retrieve or defend a particular prop from a specified spot on the field. For instance, at EMR’s Castle Conquest XXI big game, in which 200 defenders defended a three story castle against upwards of 800 attackers, the removal of any four (out of ten) props from the castle resulted in victory for the attackers.
Not all, but many scenario players prefer military simulation, or "Mil-Sim" style gear, choosing equipment that emulates real military gear in form and function. It is not uncommon to see elaborate costumes, paintball rocket- and grenade-launchers, radios, electronic bugs, and other props built especially for the game.
Mil-Sim markers are not the only markers used. Standard paintball markers are often used, although some brightly colored models make it more difficult to remain hidden while using them.
Because players are on the field for many hours at a time, they generally pack more gear than they would in a regular woodsball game. Players may carry a large number of items, including maps, ID Cards, smoke and paint grenades, night vision systems, radios, and water. Vests emulating those worn by law enforcement and military personnel may be used. Because scenarios tend to be played in the woods or in a mix of woods and buildings, camouflage jerseys and pants are often worn.
Paintball scenario games may include Armored Tanks the players have to interact with.
Motorized Tanks, (Heavy Armor), have specific rules which vary from field to field. A common rule is that players are not allowed within 10 feet (3.0 m) of a moving tank. Tanks are always limited to a speed of 5 mph (8.0 km/h). Tanks can be constructed from golf carts, ATVs, 6x6s or even utility vehicles that have been converted into auto based tanks which are usually quite large. Some people have even fabricated scale tanks from scratch.
There are many scenario paintball teams that attend various events throughout the world. Teams may be informal, playing for the recreational value of the scenario game, or may be more competitive. Play styles and player types vary greatly, since the pace of scenario games offers opportunities for a wide variety of athletic levels to participate.
- Skirmish USA in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is the largest paintball facility in the U.S., and hosts several games including the Battle of Stalingrad (March), and the Invasion of Normandy (July)
- Skirmish Paintball in the UK host games all year round at 27 venues across Britain.
- DFW Adventure Park in Roanoke, Texas host four major games a year on 250 acres (1.0 km2).
- Operation: Market Garden being the largest in Texas with about 500 players a year.
- D-Day Adventure Park in Oklahoma host three major events every year, including D-Day with 4,000 players.
- Every year Camp Blanding, in Starke Florida has a large scenario game of about 750 players. Camp Blanding is a MOUT facility that is an urban military training site. It has many buildings that show off the high points of scenario paintball.
- Wasaga Beach Paintball Adventure in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada, holds an outdoor scenario game every summer with varying themes, the last game attracting 1,900 participants
- West Point Paintball (US Army) Biannually the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY hosts a big game with the larger spring game pulling 950+ players. Cadets/Active Military provide realistic military smoke and artillery simulation as well as other effects, demos and experiences to create an incredible big game that is completely run by the Cadets at the Army's national academy.
- EMR Paintball in New Milford, Pennsylvania boasts the Largest Castle in Paintball and hosts the Castle Conquest event twice a year.
- Paintball Scenarios in Italy in Milan, Italy, Italian Paintball scenario.
- International Scenario Paintball Games is the largest organizer of big games in Malaysia. Events are held annually, attracting players from all over the country.
- Splat Tag, Inc. brings 400-700 players to the mid-west twice a year. Located in Hudson, WI, players travel from far and wide for some great scenario games.
- Biggame Germany: Big szenario game in Mahlwinkel Germany. 1500 players 2 times a year (June and September)
- "Historic and futuristic storylines fuel scenario paintball". Lopez, Robert.
- "Scenario Paintball Games". Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- Golihew, Bret. "Paintball Scenario Game Operations". WARPIG.com. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
- Norman, Dave. "Castle Conquest XXI" Action Pursuit Games Sept. 2006: 70-72, 104-105.
- "Szenario Biggame 2012". Zöllner, Felix.