Tippmann Challenge 2012 review

Now revived a bit after a bath, tent dried in back garden and put away and can relax, ahhh.

Mixed feelings about the event to be honest, some aspects were awesome, others could have been better. Fully aware that the venue “wasn’t a proper paintball site”, so I’ve taken that into account with the following – some of this may come over a bit negative, but I’ve tried to be constructive with any criticism.

Kicked off on Friday morning about 6.30am, eventually getting to Sennybridge about midday. Signposting to the site was fine, but got right to the village only to be told that the car park was full, so turn around and head for the overflow – not a problem, although it would have saved a lot of cars from doing 180s if there had been a staff member at the road junction redirecting cars before they turned off.

Car park was good – proper hardstanding, although the pre-event warning of being unable to get your car out once parked was certainly true, with everyone sandwiched in nose to tail. Unfortunately the overflow was no-way walkable, so needed to make sure we took absolutely everything we might need to site.

Long wait to be collected from the car park – I reckon we were there 45 minutes before the kit van arrived and there were others who’d been waiting longer. Bit of a PITA to be honest, would have been good if we’d been allowed to drop kit & passengers from the cars close to the campsite and then just have the drivers collected from the carpark – maybe next time.

Anyway, kit van arrives shortly followed by the minibus and whisks us the mile or two to site. Now, considering we’re slap bang in the middle of a HUGE unpopulated area surrounded by lovely fields, I wasn’t expecting the campsite to be quite so, ermmmm ‘snug’. I’m sure it’s probably because the HLS was the only bit swept for munitions or something, but the campsite simply wasn’t big enough for the number of people. If the player numbers had been as originally planned before the server went bonkers (c.400), it would have been fine, but with 800+ it looked like a cross between a refugee camp and glasto, unpleasant.

There was no paved route from drop off to safezone, which with the rain meant everything quickly deteriorated into a quagmire. Suggestion for next time – shift the netted fence halfway onto the concrete path so that half can be used for players to move around in the game zone and the other half for people to navigate the camp site, problem fixed.

Eventually managed to find somewhere to squeeze our tents in, near the entrance to the campsite (which turned out to be a bonus as we didn’t have hundreds of people kicking mud all up our tents and tripping over the guylines for three days, felt sorry for those in the middle of the site). We slotted our two tents in around the MIA guys (it was like a little corner of the Sarf East with us from Essex and the Medway boys), two brothers over from Massachusetts and a collosal UBER-TENT-THING packed with Germans (more of which later).

Headed up to register which was nice and efficient, followed by the induction briefing video. Now this is a GREAT idea, but it was a bit too long at 20mins. Could do with being scripted and edited down to half the length. Also the first half volume was very low, which combined with the genny running 10ft away and the loud birdsong in the recording made it pretty unintelligible. The volume jumped for the 2nd half which was fine though.

Got our tokens and playing tops (very nice, great design Indie) and collected pre-ordered flashbangs etc from the ever-lovely Suzy in the shop.

Liked the token system BZ had setup for paint allocation, very slick. One query, was there talk of the paint being stored in a temp controlled facility or did I imagine that? As the only storage I saw was shrink-wrapped pallets under a gazebo 🙂 Still, it could well have been in a heated lorry at night, but regardless I’ve no issue with the paint, it worked fine for me.

Kitted up and headed up to gas up and chrono. Nice lot of fill stations (with 4500psi fills, great!), although no checks for air safety (?)……which was brilliant for me as I’ve never managed to make one of the training sessions. Decent number of chronos as well.

Things didn’t start well for me – I’d decided to go old-skool and break out my trusty .68 Automag and either the level 7 with hardnose bolt didn’t like the paint, or the Rotor was forcing balls past the detent but either way it turned into a complete blender within a handful of shots. Swapped to my Axe later and it ran flawlessly all event, didn’t break a single ball from 4 cases. While on the topic of paint, I know there was mention of the paint being bigger than usual (with the average ball today being what… .685ish?), but the stuff we got on Friday was huge! Just about squeezed it down my largest bore (.693). Paint seemed to change to a different batch on the Saturday/Sunday, not as clear and a smaller bore. Still, it was all good stuff if very thick shelled – you could chuck it
hard at concrete and it’d bounce, which led to some pain later on.

I’ve played urban paintball once before, at the old RAF Greenham Common site back in the 90s and the key things I remembered from that event was that a) a lot of pain was involved and b) paint + concrete floors can be a lethal combo. Both turned out to be true! 🙂

Gameplay on the Friday afternoon for us (Blue team) sucked to be honest. The red team had taken a lot of key buildings and seemed to have a significant headcount edge, which meant that the blues spent lots of time futilely trying to dig them out one building at a time. I didn’t enjoy myself.

Hit the hog roast baps for food which were nice and decently priced with a pint from the excellent bar, top stuff.

The night game was certainly an experience but again we were heavily outnumbered and veered between cowering being cover shooting at shadows in doorways and getting chopped to pieces when trying to assault entrenched positions. Again, not much fun. It was however an awesome spectacle with all the burning tanks, smoke and rockets with the sound system going. Glad I experienced it, but discovered that one sided night games aren’t my cuppa.

Headed to bed about 1030ish. There was still plenty of noise from the game site, but it wasn’t too intrusive, however there was a fair bit of paint coming over the fairly low netting into the campsite. Eventually managed to get to kip about midnight after the German guys next to my tent quit yakking loudly (a taste of things to come!).

Woke up about 0600 on Saturday after some huge mofo pyro went KABOOM but didn’t get into the game till about 10am after brekkie and faffing.

Gameplay on the Saturday was much, much better. Teams seemed more evenly balanced and things swung back and forth all day. Lots of brilliant house clearing stuff going on – Blues on one floor, Reds on the other, flashbangs down stairwells etc. Real heart in the mouth stuff, LOVED it. Saturday morning made the whole event for me.

Unfortunately it was all cut short by the ‘Tippmann Team’ thing – which to be honest was a bit of a damp squib. Took about 10 minutes to utterly annihilate the poor sods with no obvious point to the game – it didn’t add anything to the event and it killed some of the impetus that the main game had built up prior to that. Things did eventually pick up later on though and the Humvees and A-Team van certainly spiced things up, helping to keep the game nicely balanced.

Stopped to cook ourselves up some grub about 1800 and then got assaulted by a zombie advertising the TPX challenge (nice idea). TPX was fun to watch, however the close proximity of viewing area to toilets meant that the stench of effluent took the edge off the beer and the event which was a shame.

While on the topic of toilets – they did seem to run out of both paper and the anti-bac handwash on the Saturday and weren’t replenished, something to keep on top of next time?

Decided to hit the sack early as we were shattered from playing and I was in my bag before 2130, however I hadn’t counted on our German neighbours, who had decided that sitting up talking loudly until 0345 was fine. Guys, when it’s still loud through earplugs it’s taking the pee a bit, I wasn’t a happy bunny.

One thing that had struck me during the day’s play and was reinforced while listening to yet another oh-so-amusing germanic anecdote (Ho-ho-ho) was that cheating was sadly rife. I’ve always found it a bit of a problem in scenario events, but it really was taking the mickey at times over the weekend, with the clear paint and urban enivronment making it far easier to bend the rules.

Lots of people were ignoring the semi-only rule, the clearest case was one I heard while trying to get to sleep that night – you could clearly hear the gun ramp – pop-pop-brrrrrr , pop-pop-brrrrr – 3 shot kick in to ramp every time. Same goes for velocity – I was chronoing everytime I headed out, with my Axe running 235-245 the whole weekend, but I was getting lasers coming whipping past me (and these weren’t curvy Apex/Flatline type shots, but full-on hairy chested 290fps bullets) in return with half as much range again. Both those were bad enough but it was people not calling themselves out that really got my goat. My (usually as placid as a cow chewing cud) teammate was incensed to Hulk-like fury by one bloke in building 22 on Sunday morning who he clearly hit at least 4 times but just played on. The cheating bugger must have decided that he didn’t like getting hit so instead he stuck his marker round the corner and blind-fired instead…..we had to take our teammate away for a nice sit down and a listen to mood music before he ran through the wall and physically inserted paintballs into the bloke’s orifices.

While on the topic of muppets, my final approbrium is reserved for the people who think it’s sporting to sit in buildings overlooking the opponent’s spawn and continually light people up as they touch the spawn point. Seriously? I can only hope that you enjoyed this futile activity and it in some way compensated for your incredibly tiny genitalia. 😉

Suggestion for the organisers would be to have netted shields placed in front of the spawns to allow respawning players covered avenues to get back into the field (the Forumula 5 sup air format has this to prevent teams being pinned and it works well), or even have respawns in dedicated buildings which the opposition aren’t permitted to enter, thus allowing multiple ways of building counterattacks.

Anyway, Sunday, as you may have guessed, I did not enjoy nearly so much as Saturday. Hitting the field it felt like we were entering a game that was already 95% lost, with Reds camping buildings surrounding all of our respawns. Bit of a frustrating experience. Sadly the day was cut short by some kind of injury, I’m not sure what happened but I hope no-one was seriously hurt. The game was due to restart an hour later but we decided to call it quits and head for home.

Having packed up and cleared all our rubbish into the skip there wasn’t too bad a wait for the kit van and minibus. Had some fun offroading a Honda Civic to get out of the still packed car park (spotted a v.amusing note stuck to the windscreen of an Audi A5 that had been parked diagonally blocking in two rows of cars!) then had a nice easy run home.

Reading that lot back it does sound a bit like a long whinge, but I did overall enjoy the event – most of it was great, but those are the areas that I think need improving. I do think it would have been a better event with 400 players rather than 800 and if we’re venturing into fantasy land, the thing which I think would make it utterly awesome would be making it a stock-class pump + pistol only event. I know it’ll never happen, but that would make it really exciting, as even with semi-only at 12bps it was far too easy for one person to suppress a whole swathe of the map.

Final thing – and I did consider leaving this bit out, but I think it needs to be mentioned as it left me with a slightly bitter taste. I was spoken to twice by a Scottish ref (I think I know who it was, but won’t mention names in case I’m wrong) over the weekend and both times he was fairly unpleasant to be honest. First time was while everyone was gearing up for the first night game, I’d chronod and walked onto the side of the road to get out of everyone else’s way and wait, only to be told off as if I were a naughty schoolboy trying to sneak onto the field early – admittedly I did get an apology for that one as he realised he’d gone OTT. Second time I was in a building and found two refs standing outside the window half-blocking some great shots, now being a cultured chap I didn’t just start ripping shots past their heads but first asked politely if it would be ok for me to fire from that window – only to get a curt, unfriendly response, when a “sorry mate, could you shoot from somewhere else?” would have done the job just as well. I don’t take offence easily, but it’s not the kind of attitude I appreciate from event staff. Shame.

Oh final, final thing (always best to end on a high note) – Darwin award of the event goes to the red player who attempted to throw a flashbang through a window with 8 of his teammates stood beneath – hit the window frame and BOOM, 8 hands in the air, hehe.

    4 thoughts on “Tippmann Challenge 2012 review

    1. As i am both scottish and was reffing was it a guy in red cloth i4’s with a clear lense? I didnt hear any other scottish refs so just wondering. Thanks

      • Jamie – sorry for the vague reference and any implication it might have been you. No, I’m 99% sure it was Al Murray actually.

    2. Re the A5, it was a team mate of mines car and after going and collect so items from the car sat morning was ask to move it to said position. You can imagine he wasn’t best pleased after to find W****R written on nice bit of paper on his windscreen when he went to collect the car to leave sunday afternoon, i think some people need to grow up

      • Fair enough mate – don’t know who stuck the note on there, we were over in the first couple of rows, but did have a chuckle when I saw it as the positioning made it look like some flash harry had just swung it in without bothering to park. 🙂

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