Well, yesterday we (Rob, Kate, Tony & I) went paintballing (again, in the case of Rob & myself). Tony & Kate had never been paintballing. Kate was strangely excited about it leading up, although she got a tad nervous on the day. Tony wasn’t entirely keen on the idea, but I talked him into it, and I think he had fun nonetheless. :)

Lochy had originally intended to go as well, but had confused the date, thinking it was Saturday, and consequently got stuck working instead. Michael similarly was pre-booked with some silly football game – it was for his sake alone that we chose a Sunday as opposed to a Saturday. Bah! There’s just no pleasing some people. :)

I was (and am) pretty disappointed about the general reception to the idea. Not a single person I emailed (of about 25 or so) actually replied unprompted; of those I got answers from it was only because I talked to them directly (online, typically). Most of the excuses were along the lines of “busy washing my hair” or “I just gave my last twenty cents to the charity for Underprivileged Clowns”. A few people were straight enough to say it wasn’t their thing, and I appreciate their honesty at least.

Anyway, bitching aside, I’d rung earlier in the week to see what other group(s) were booked in, and there was one of 14 or so, so I figured we’d chance it and go along anyway; provided that group turned up, we’d be good to go. We hypothetically could play two vs two, or free-for-alls, but you really need at least half a dozen per side to really get the most of it – teamwork is the most interesting aspect of the game.

I picked up Tony and headed to Rob’s place, running late because I’d mucked about with my car for a bit before leaving, and waited for it to warm up. The day was reasonably warm, but humid, even at 10:30 in the morning. The weather report claimed we were in for rain and a high of 23, which was interesting given it was 22.5 by 10:30am. As expected, the weather report was exactly wrong, which in this particular case worked well for us. (they’d also stated sunny 36 with a late thunderstorm-change for Saturday, which was in fact high 20’s and overcast – with rain – all day… retards)

The weather looked pretty nasty up north as we were driving, but even by the time we got to Rob’s it was looking pretty good, and we arrived at the field in Wallan greeted by predominantly blue skies, no signs of rain, and very little wind – perfect conditions.

We were five minutes late, which was actually pretty good all things considered – we’d been about half an hour late at the start, by my calculations, but made great time to Rob’s place (about an hour) and then expected time from there, despite missing the unsigned turnoff and losing five minutes. None of us – well, primarily Rob & myself – had bothered to refresh our memories on the route, so while I thought the name “South Mountain Road” was familiar, I presumed I was getting confused with the route to Marzi’s place, and didn’t say anything.

Anyway, a couple of groups all arrived at once, although it became apparent that two of them at least were playing lasertag, not paintball – they were largely under-18 kids, for a start. One group, luckily, were paintballing. There was about a dozen of them or so. We all got kited up quickly enough, then Peter went over the rules and all, and then we headed off to the first field. Our refs were Timmy and Stuart – last time we had Rob & Stuart. Rob was there as well, but doing other things evidently.

They divided our group of four in half, along with the other group… I was hoping our four would be able to stay together, but I guess they thought it fairer to divide us all evenly. Anyway, Rob & I stuck together on green team, while Tony & Kate consequently went to red.

Kate was a bit worried that she’d be the only girl there – it is predominately a male preoccupation, the shooting of people in a highly competitive environment :), and I was unable to assure her that there’d be any other girls. Surprisingly, though, more than half the other group were women. The other group were largely our ages, maybe a bit further into their twenties. It looked good.

I did have rather a spot of luck, though, in getting assigned the one marker with an electronic trigger. That means there’s a sensor on the trigger that controls the firing, rather than a mechanical mechanism. This makes the trigger a lot more sensitive, improving your reflexes and increasing the maximum rate of fire. I also had an agitator on the ammo hop, which is really just a device that spins inside the hop whenever it detects the feed is empty, helping to ensure the ammo doesn’t get stuck. I had that problem quite often last time… it’s not a big deal, but it is handy to know when you want to fire you’ll be able to, without first checking the marker.

Kate’s request for pink paintballs unfortunately wasn’t honoured, though, although they did promise that if she calls them up ahead of time, next time, that they’ll get in a box just for her. :)

They also gave us a pretty darn good deal, too, on account that Rob & I had been there before. A bit of a discount, as well as an extra 100 rounds – taking our total to 600 each. On Sundays they have reduced rates anyway – I guess it’s a quiet day for them – but this was even better. I hadn’t been expecting the really generous treatment we’d had last time, although I had been secretly hoping… and we weren’t disappointed, far from it. I guess there’s really two types of people that go paintballing – those that do it once because their friend(s) organise a trip, just for the novelty of it, and those that get into it and make it an ongoing hobby. I imagine the latter group are really the best ones, both in terms of patronage and also respect – as a regular player you abide by the rules, and looks after the equipment, which unfortunately hasn’t been a consistent theme with the two groups we’ve played with thus far at Wallan.

Anyway, we didn’t realise it but the other group only bought 100 rounds each, which hypothetically you could stretch to two, maybe three games, but in reality – when at least some of the other players have no such limits – you’d be hard pressed to be so conservative. As a result, after only two games half the group sat out! :/ We still had enough people to play – four on each side – but it was a bit of a shame. I can sympathise with the cost a bit, but really – paintball is an expensive afternoon, you can’t do much about that; just suck it up and deal with it. It compares very favourably with many other similar sports & games, like go-karting or Laserforce, in terms of cost. And it’s certainly got its own unique thrill.

Contrary to appearances, I have not in fact signed up as marketer for Adrenalin Games. Sorry. :)

Call it sexist, but since half the players were women, I wasn’t afraid to get straight into it really aggressively, rather than playing it safe as I did last time we were there. That paid off immediately – in the first game Rob & I pushed forward, flanked the enemy really well, and (with help from the rest of our team, of course) pushed the enemy right back to their edge of the field. Rob & I both felt that was our best game, in terms of kills-per-death; I shot half a dozen people easy, and Rob probably the same, if not more. Our aggressive approach put us in a great position straight off – on the high side of the field, far forward, such that we were able to flank the enemy as they unknowingly advanced past us. I got Kate a good one in that game, I think. I also got a great hit against one of the girls on the other team – she was focused on Rob, apparently unaware that I was nearby, and took cover behind a tree from him. A tree right in front of me. I turned around and looked through the barricade I was behind to see her right there, facing me straight on. In hindsight she was actually probably close enough that I should have offered her surrender, but I didn’t think to initially – instead, I shot her, just once. It hit smack bang in the middle of her chest, and she wandered off, dazed and confused. :D

I’ll add also that women get padded vests to wear over their overalls, which provide some measure of protection against the front and back torso. So I didn’t feel too bad about shooting her that close – she would have felt it, but it’s unlikely to have hurt much, if at all. And the ref, Timmy I think, though it was fantastic – he cheered and I gave him a happy thumbs up, before going back to picking off the enemy. :D

I didn’t get shot at all in that game, not even close, so I was feeling pretty high afterwards. In the second game we swapped ends, of course, and went at it once more. I did well in that game too, although not so much as the first time. I think we played a flag-push game in that one; the flag starts in the centre of the field, and the objective is it grab it and drape it over the enemy’s bunker. There’s also limited lives, unlike the first game, so naturally the idea is to gradually pick off the enemy, then make an attempt on the flag when you’ve got the numbers against them. I can’t recall a game ever really getting to that point, at least not like you try to plan, so ultimately it’s largely just a standard shoot-the-other-guys affair.

At once point I thought I got hit in the ankle, but when I looked I couldn’t see any paint at all, so I assumed it had just bounced. It did hurt a fair bit, too, which indicates a bouncer rather than a splat. So, I played on. That was about halfway through the 15 minutes game – it was only at the end that I had the opportunity to check again; it turns out I had been hit, but on my sock, not the overalls, and when I’d checked midgame of course the overalls had slipped back over my socks, so I couldn’t see anything. Tony claims that hit against me; I didn’t even know I was against him. It was a lucky shot – came in through a hole in the barricade. But then a lot of them are; if you can afford the ammo, you can really give ’em hell that way.

Anyway, my presence in the remainder of that game was largely incidental anyway – I provided some cover while one of the girls on my team grabbed the flag, then moved up along the high side, slowly but surely, in a flanking move against the enemy base. I was in a good position, too – I had a clear shot at two of the remaining three opposition, none of whom knew I was there yet… but I was trying to play well, which means getting in close enough to guarantee success, rather than risking a long-range firefight. I got in pretty close – I opened up on one of the two I could see, when they made themselves even more visible to me, but I’m not sure I landed any shots – they quickly took cover behind a tree, although that surely must have made them a good target for the others on my team.

As I did that, two things happened concurrently. Kate came running down towards me, ready to fire, and I ran out of ammo. Quickly I called the ref over for a refill, which Kate luckily respected and didn’t try to shoot me. She offered me the chance to surrender, to which I politely but definitively declined, and I was just refilled and ready to shoot her when the whistle went, and the game ended. Damn it! It was very much like last time, and I think the same field – where I made a sprint towards the enemy, only to run out of time. Ah well.

Tony told me afterwards that while the ref was refilling my marker he could see my butt sticking out around the other side of the tree – I realised I was probably a bloody tempting target as that was happening, and tried to crouch in, but the ref was somewhat in the way, and I wasn’t entirely sure Kate understood the “no shooting while the ref’s refilling” rule. :) Anyway, Tony didn’t have at me, luckily – I think he saw the ref there – and since the game ended we’ll never really know who would have come out on top of all that. But it wouldn’t have been Kate, that much is certain. :P She keeps insisted she made me surrender, which I think arose initially out of the misconception that simply yelling “surrender!” at someone forced them too, whereas it is of course entirely up to the recipient of such a challenge to acquiesce, which I did not. And ultimately I think she kept spouting the story because she was too stubborn to admit otherwise. :)

But I vowed to get her back by making her surrender, just so there’d be no confusion as to who really was alpha dog. ;)

I almost forgot – she did actually hit me in that game, she claims – the ammo hop on my gun was hit undeniably, with a nice big white splat, and Kate was at that point the only one with white paint, I think – she’d really really really wanted yellow, rather than orange, ammo, so the refs had nicely relented and given her a bag of yellow. [note: the yellow-shelled rounds are filled with white paint, which probably makes the previous sentence a whole lot more comprehensible :) ]

We played the same three fields as last time, by the way. So we moved on at this point to the next field. Rob & I were a bit confused – me especially – as we remembered the field being slightly different… of course, once we got to the third field we realised we were confusing the two, which are surprisingly similar in many ways, even down to a fallen tree in more or less the same place on both fields. Anyway, at this point we were down to four vs four, as I noted previously, which was a bit unfortunate given that we were now moving to the larger fields. We played two attack-defend games; in the first my team defended. In this type of game one team is designated the defenders, whom must prevent the enemy from touching their flag (placed behind the bunker). They’re also limited as to where they can travel within the field, to only the area immediately surrounding their base. Defenders get only one life – so once you’re hit, you’re out. Attackers get three. So it was in a way four vs twelve.

It was a tricky thing, actually, as most of the barricades within said area faced down one side of the field, providing very little cover from the opposite, higher side of the field. I was worried that the enemy would move to flank us and force us into a bad position. As it turns out, they didn’t – Tony did, and did pretty well at it I might add, but his three teammates came through on the low ground right in front of us, which was simply a bad way to go. I stayed back in our actual base, calling out tips and instructions to my teammates. Until Tony flanked us, anyway, at which point I focused on keeping him suppressed. Which I did quite superbly, I think – I made it difficult for him to get a good angle on my teammates, and kept him from firing too freely at them.

It did, of course, preoccupy me, which worried me – especially when Rob was hit and forced out. Four vs three, then. Luckily, my two teammates – Paul & Emma, from the other group – were actually pretty good, and we held them off for the full fifteen minutes without much difficulty.

I think in that game I got only two or three hits against the enemy. Towards the end, although Tony was still at large, I noticed one of the enemy crawling along the dry creek ditch, heading towards us…. he was more or less facing me, lying on his stomach, and I opened up on him. I think I might have hit him a few times, but I kept firing until I finally saw a very satisfying orange splat right on the top of his head. Then I let him go. :D

Kate was just behind him, as well, although behind a tree from my viewpoint, so I didn’t get a chance to get her – the game ended. Damn… revenge would have to wait another game. :D

So, for the next game we had to attack and had set the bar as defaulting at fifteen minutes. I knew our best bet was to go at it hard, which we did – Rob & I went high, while our two teammates went low. It took a while, but we gradually got in closer, and had a bit of luck an knocked out the opposition, slowly but surely. My memory is a bit fuzzy of that game, but I remember at the end I started to creep towards the enemy base – Rob was off to my left, and Paul & Emma to the right, and as far as I could tell the two or three enemy in their base didn’t know where I was. Indeed, I copped no resistance as I slowly moved in. I should have been faster and more aggressive, hindsight tells me of course. Kate was hiding inside the main bunker, which provided pretty good cover from all but the rear angle, so I knew I’d probably have to get right around. I made a dash for it – I think I saw one of the enemy go out, so I figured at worst there was one other somewhere, and I figured I’d take my chances. As it turned out, Rob & Paul also rushed the bunker, so the three of us put Kate into a sticky situation. She surrendered, sadly, before we had a chance to actually get a good line on her – I think the ref might have, seeing us all coming, suggested very affirmatively that she surrender quickly. :)

It wasn’t quite as definitive as I’d hoped, but it’s enough – 1/3rd part in Kate’s surrender, putting the score at Wade: 1/3 Kate: 0. :P

For the last two games we moved on to the third and final field. I was surprised a bit that we hadn’t played a medic game, actually – I’d been kind of hoping for that, but then the games we did play had been good, and perhaps medic games only really work well with lots of players.

Anyway, the last game was I think a flag-push again. Rob swapped teams, as the other group were mixing and matching and something had to given to even the teams up again. So then it was just Paul, Emma, some other girl and myself, versus Rob, Tony, Kate & someone else. I didn’t really want to go up against Rob, since we’re pretty evenly matched in these sort of things and I don’t particularly like my opponents being well matched to me :D, but as it turns out I didn’t really see much of him. I pushed forward on the high side with Emma behind me, while Paul and the other girl went low. I moved forward very slowly, thinking they’d have to send people out against me sooner or later, or at least take pot shots from afar, but in consistent theme there was no such resistance. I made it pretty much as far across as I could – there was no more decent cover further around, so I couldn’t flank any more, and I’d gone far enough across that I didn’t have all that much cover down the hill towards them either. I could have scarpered back and tried another approach, but as it was I had fun – I sat behind the very low and rather holy barricade, taking pot shots at the other team. They mostly clustered in and around their little bunker… a few times they made moves out from that, and Tony in particularly pushed forward a fair bit along the opposite boundary, but they were overly defensive, and the worse for it in the end.

At once point, though, someone – I think the unknown fourth enemy – sneakily came crawling up the hill to my left, while my attention was largely on the bunker. This was fairly early in the game, though, and at that point I was in fact quite worried about them doing just that. So I wasn’t entirely surprised, but very relieved, when I looked over and saw the top of a head bobbing slightly up and down, working it’s way up the hill. I waited a bit for him/her to get close enough, then crouched up and had at them. I don’t think they even had a chance to respond – I had a good clear shot at them, and they were most definitely hit. :D

I drew a lot of fire, for the rest of the game, sitting up in my little hidey-hole. They didn’t try anything else against me again – just the occasional volley of shots in response to my occasional pot shots. The range was pretty far – it would take a pretty direct hit to actually break on them anyway, so I wasn’t really trying to actually hit them; just keep them holed up.

I also had a good angle on them whenever they pushed forward, particularly Tony, but at such a distance that I could barely even make the range. Indeed, Tony noted afterwards that my shots were actually getting to him, but bounced off ineffectually. Still, they were acutely aware of my presence, and it kept them stuck in their base, so I think I did well. :)

For the last game, we just did a free-for-all as usual, without the usual rules aside from gun-in-the-air-means-don’t-shoot. There were only six or seven of us at this point, I think – just those that had ammo left – and I’d refilled at the start, so I had a nice hundred and fifty rounds or so to get rid of. The refs had us all start together out in the open, in the little graveyard bit they have. On the first whistle we were to run for cover, but weren’t allowed to shoot. After the second whistle, the game was on. I knew the ref, Stuart, wouldn’t give us enough time to get to cover before the second whistle. I just knew it. I also knew were Rob was heading, because he was inching towards it while we were waiting to start. I knew were I wanted to go – to the large barricade up near the safety area – but since I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it in time, wondered if I should just drop down where I was and get people in the back as they ran off.

As it was I didn’t quite have the gall to do that – I went for cover, same as everyone else, and didn’t attract any fire at all. From there I was able to pick off Kate a few times, as well as one of the other girls (Emma, perhaps), whom was having a long-running firefight with Paul.

At once point Paul, way up on the other side of the field, was behind a log barricade. He apparently went to grab or support himself against one of the larger logs, only to have it fall over. I saw that happen – he just suddenly feel forward over the barricade, A over T, into the middle of nowhere. Being nice, as I am, I gave him a good two or three seconds to get his bearings again, before I started shooting at him. :D

(I don’t think I hit him, actually – it was a pretty long way)

Towards the end, as people were gradually walking off as they ran out of ammo, I looked back to see Tony on the wrong side of a barricade. I couldn’t let that by, so I opened up on him. Unfortunately, I don’t think I actually hit him – I don’t know how, he was well within range and completely in the open. He fired back at me a bit, so I had to take cover at times, but, yeah… I just had no luck.

I did have much better luck, earlier on, against Emma (or whoever it was) – focused as she was on Paul, she repeatedly put herself into positions where I had a good shot at her. I must have hit her half a dozen times or more. Muahaha! :)

Anyway, right at the end Tony copped a good sconer from Rob – as Tony was focused on me, and unbeknown to me Rob was up the hill behind him, Tony was unable to avoid all our shots at once. :)

So, that was that. We eventually left, after thanking everyone there once again. I checked out the lasertag equipment that they had arranged on tables there; there was a group of about twenty teenage girls – Rob suspects a Girl Guide troupe or somesuch – about to head out to play. The guns they have are pretty serious – they all have scopes on them, the larger ones some pretty serious rifle scopes. It’d be interested to give that a shot, I think… I’m quite a fan of paintball and it’s more physical aspects (i.e. real shots), but if the lasertag guns are as accurate and long-range as those scopes would indicate, it could be a very different, much more tactical game.

I don’t like the odds of getting together a group to do that though; Rob’s already said he’s had enough paintball for a while, and while Kate seemed to love it more than anyone – she said so about forty times just on the way back in the car :) – she also was thinking months ahead. I don’t think Tony would do it again, although as I said I think he enjoyed it pretty well anyway.

We had dinner at Sophia’s, wherever that was – somewhere relatively close to Rob’s place, I guess – and I was somewhat pleasantly surprised that they didn’t completely suck. Last time I’d been there was with mum in Frankston, and I’d had so-called lasagne, which in Sophia parlance apparently means pasta sheets with pizza cheese & ham, which is mostly definitely not lasagne. This time we all shared a couple of pizzas, which was far safer and a far more typical application of cheese and ham.

Kate wanted dessert, as did I, and she ordered on my behalf some giant ice-cream/sorbe thing. It was pretty huge, I must admit – probably a good litre and a half all by itself. I ate most of it… I was tempted to stuff it all down in a manly fashion, but then though the possible outcome of that – throwing up in Rob’s car – wouldn’t be nearly as glamourous. :D

And if nothing else the meal was cheap – $41 for the four of us, including the two desserts.

And after that we more or less all went home. We stopped a little while at Rob’s so that Tony could actually go inside – he’d never been to Rob’s place before, in all the years they’ve known each other – and so that Rob could show Tony a few Weird Al video clips; Weird Al had come up in the car conversation and Tony had no idea who he was. I don’t think he’s Tony’s kind of musician, somehow. :)

I ended up back at dad’s, having dropped Tony off, not long after 10pm. As I noted previously, I was pretty happy with the timing – it meant that all the crap that was on TV was about to finish, and The Punisher was about to come on. As I noted, it didn’t. #%!@ So, I just went to bed instead – there was simply nothing on, and I figured I should be tired. I wasn’t – I rarely am; on the rare occasion that I do actually do significant physical activity, especially adrenaline-packed stuff, it makes me more lively, not less. Indeed, it took quite a while to get to sleep. But I slept pretty well. :)

Also, Tony brought his camera, and took a few photos, so as a teaser, here we all are:

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