Player positions (paintball)
The idea of player positions in paintball refers to the general mindsets and roles of play assumed by players of the sport. There are various levels of complexity used by players when referring to such positions, and there is no official or universal set of player positions.
Fronts (or "Frontman") - players assigned to the bunkers furthest up the field off the break. The position can also include the Snake player who is assigned to the "snake" bunker specifically. A front man typically doesn't shoot off the break, simply running and diving for the furthermost downfield position. The 'snake' typically is the most influential element on a NPPL & PSP tournament field, with it flanking the field. Speed and agility are two traits that work exceptionally well for a front player. Frontmen typically shoot the most players and use the least amount of paint since they have the most advantageous angles. There are typically not more than one or two front players on a team.
Mid-players - players assigned to the bunkers between the front and back players. They can also be "Insert", players, assigned the role of filling in the spot of key team-mates that are eliminated. The mid is considered one of the most difficult positions to play in tournament paintball because he has to be a jack of all trades. A mid can fire while moving, he can jump into the snake, and he can make lanes. There are typically no more than 2 mid-players on a team.
Floater - The floaters are the roamers. Floaters are very quick and able roam around in the paintball field providing support to his teammates. They are also the ones who will take over in case one of them is hit. Thus, you must be experienced in playing various positions.
Back players (or simply "backs") - players usually assigned to the row of bunkers closest to the starting point (such as the back right or left can, dorito, etc.). The Back players fires 'lanes' that suppress and take opposing players off the break while the mid and front players move. Back players sometimes carry as much as a 2,000 balls in their pod packs so they can consistently suppress opposing players. There are typically no more than 2 back-players on a team.
Insert players (or "inserts")- these are the type of players who can fill in anywhere needed. They can start out as a back player, and as a snake player is eliminated, can rush forward to where the eliminated player was and take control from there.
Scenario-specific roles and classes
In Scenario paintball games, players are often assigned positions which they will then need to fulfill as part of the given scenario. These roles can be seen as different from team positions in that they are generally temporary roles only held by a player for the duration, and purpose, of a single game or event. Examples of some of the rules that a game producer might have:
- Engineer: Engineers have the ability to 'destroy' buildings, tanks, and special scenario targets. Typically this is done by using a faux satchel charge which the player throws and a supervising ref pulls the 'killed' players.
- General: Most common of all scenario games; there is typically at least one General for each side of a scenario. The general commands the scenario teams on his side and dictates orders to anyone on his side. In games where rank is accounted for, a General is typically worth more points.
- Officers: Besides the general, there are lower level officers like lieutenants and majors that are in the general's chain of command.
- Medic: The medic 'heals' players on the field instead of the 'injured' player having to take the long walk back to the insertion point.
- Sniper: A Sniper can point on an enemy player to the Ref, and the Ref will call that player out.
- Tank crewperson: Operates the tank, or fires from it. A tank gunner is typically armed with an ordinary marker firing out of ports of the tank's cannon.
- Tank hunter: Carries a nerf-rocket based 'Bazooka' that can destroy enemy tanks.
- Mercenary: Mercenary players, typically a field's scenario team, can be 'bought' at certain events by a general to use for a short-time. Mercenaries are typically experienced tournament players that know the field better than most of the field's players. Hell Survivor's Monster Game is famous for its mercenaries.
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SpecialOps Paintball gives one of the more comprehensive lists of team positions available on the internet, listed in the Articles sections of the SpecialOps Paintball website. Arguably these positions promote equipment and products created by SpecialOps Paintball, but they also place paintball players and their mannerisms and preferred playing styles into clear categories.
The SpecialOps Paintball breakdown of player types is as follows:
"The Commander must become a master of strategy—the initial plan is his responsibility. But, he must stay flexible enough to tailor the plan to fit the developing tactics of the battlefield. Perhaps, the toughest part of command is hanging back and letting others “take point.” Out front is no place for the Commander and his team makes sure he’s securely in the rear. However, a great Commander knows that his men need to see him put himself on the line on occasion. So, when the moment’s ripe, the Commander doesn’t hesitate to get in the thick with his buddies.
The Commander is smart, well-liked and he communicates clearly and frequently with his guys. He is the brain of the team and the team performs like a dark symphony of mayhem when the Commander is on his game."
"Close Combatman are the main role for quick actions such as flanking, ordered on point when you’re covering ground, and handed the flag when it is time to make the last run. They're generally fast, and prefer to dodge paintballs then engage the opposing team at every instant.
When it comes to buildings and bunkers, he’s the close quarters specialist. His paintgun is short, light and maneuverable and it spends a lot of time getting shoved into dark corners. They're an action junkie, and it’s a good thing, because they generally end up surrounded and attacked more often than any other players."
"...the most versatile position on the team. He flanks, he suppresses, he runs point, he snipes and he serves as the team’s all-around backbone. He covers any position that has been left empty by a downed comrade. With a balanced gearkit, he carries enough paint for a series of tough engagements, but not so much as to slow him down."
"The use of suppressive fire is one of the greatest advantages that an organized team has over walk-on players. The militaries of the world rely on suppressive fire to advance their squads and to put enemy heads down. Paintball can work exactly the same way.
The Heavy Rifleman unleashes a sustained rate of fire that freezes the opposition’s battle line while lighter elements of his team maneuver for advantage. He’s the perfect man for defending the flag or hammering on the opposition’s base. With an enormous load of paint and a fully automatic paintgun, the Heavy Rifleman isn’t the fastest-moving member of his squad."
"Few are prepared to carry the enormous burdens, or the bulging gear kit, of the Support Gunner. Few can afford the price of the weapon or its limitless appetite for paint.
But for those who have the brawn and bucks, the Support Gunner position is like a horseman of the apocalypse on the field. To qualify as a Support Gunner, as opposed to a less-endowed Heavy Rifleman, you need to be toting something really, really heavy."
"the Sniper slips into ambush position then waits. Some Snipers push the envelope of paintball ballistics to fire off long, aimed shots. Others use superior camouflage and stealth to take targets up close and personal. In either case, the paintball Sniper turns fieldcraft and marksmanship to his advantage. While others attempt to power their way across the field, the sniper outplays the opposition on the strength of his wits. Patience is a minimum requirement and practice is a must.
Even the term “Sniper” was controversial among woodsballers. Some claim that, since paintball guns had no real long-range potential, that a paintball sniper is a contradiction in terms. But, with the introduction of Tiberius Arm's First Strike rounds, a player using a First Strike-enabled marker can shoot an enemy player at twice the range of an ordinary marker. Paintball snipers know, however, that it takes much more than long shots to call yourself a Sniper. Victory on the field comes in the wake of stealth and mental discipline..."
- Floater Position "Grip Paintball". February 18 2017.