Working with Reserves

When less is more.

Let’s face it, we exist in a SpeedBall world. The game begins with the opposing team in sight and it is a foot race to see who can claim the most territory before things bog down. The fields are narrow and long. Maneuvering room is non-excitant without drawing fire. The guys in the back lay down the paint so the ones in the middle and front can take their shots and move up. It becomes a ten minute battle of attrition. And in a battle of attrition, the side that has the most at the end wins. Pretty simple.

On your typical SpeedBall field, There are no reserves. The front players of the other team are usually in range of the rear players of your team. However, once we move into the woods, things become much different. So today, we are going to talk about taking part of your force and leaving it “in reserve”.

Now, I know what you are thinking, what’s the point? Simple, by having a force in reserve you make yourself much more flexible when encountering opposition. If your entire force comes upon an opposing force and gets pinned down, you might as well be eliminated because your entire force is now effectively suppressed and out of the fight for the moment. The longer they are tied up in this firefight, the more in danger they are of being eliminated completely and the more they are hindering the overall effort of their team.

First, for those of you that are not familiar with the concept, let me define reserves. We are not talking about reserve units (ie The U.S. Army Reserve units that serve every other weekend and two weeks a year as opposed to “Regular” Army units). When a force goes into combat, it usually holds back some of its forces in reserve. This is done for a number of reasons but they can be combined into the one lump idea of flexibility. If your main force breaks through the line, your reserves can be called in to “pour through the gap” and take advantage of the break before the opposing force can plug it. In defense, if a hole is punched in your line you can fill it with reserves or use your reserves to initiate a counter attack. Having reserves keeps your options open.

Now let us translate this into paintball. Suppose we have this scenario. Two teams, Red and Blue, each composed of 10 members. Traditionally, they move out and once they find each other, they hunker down and try to leap frog forward as they eliminate the other team. This is a Frontal Assault and, generally, it is a bad idea. As we have seen, it usually results in the winner taking heavy casualties for very little, if any, gain other than the complete elimination of the opposing force. In scenario games this is especially bad because now you have fewer assests to use on your next mission. Perhaps during the firefight one team will try to break one or two players free to move around the flank of the other team. If they don’t get taken out that side is usually the side that takes the field. However, when this is done after the contact has been made, chances are the other team will see this and send out assets of its own to stop them.

So now let’s say that the Blue team takes 3 players and puts them in reserve. They move behind the front 7 by about 15-30 yards and try to just keep the front 7 in view. Now when the battle erupts in front of them, the Blue team has much greater flexibility in how the firefight is fought.


This is pretty straight forward. Upon the initiation of the firefight, the Blue team reserves immediately move to a flank and begin to advance without shooting and as quickly as possible. The object is to try and get into the Red force's flank without being detected and before the Red team sends out its flankers. The front seven players’ job is to keep the Red team occupied and to try and take out any flankers they send out. The front seven should HOLD their positions and NOT try to advance. You are holding the nose of your opponent.

Once the Blue flankers are in position, they will have clear shots at the Red team hiding behind their bunkers. The flankers should open fire from behind cover as quickly as possible but only after they are in a position so that when they fire, the likelihood of them eliminating a number of Red team members equal to or greater than their number is high. The flanking team should communicate which target they will engage in their first volley so that two shooters are not aiming at the same target. It is also wise for the flanking reserves to have designated individual secondary targets as well. Methods for doing this should be decided upon and rehearsed beforehand. This is the Kick in the Butt part of the operation.

With fire coming from two directions, the Red team will either be quickly eliminated or forced to pull back. Either way the Blue team will again be quickly on the move and will have the superior numbers if they meet up with them again.


The problem with the above maneuver is that the flanking force may take a considerable amount of time to get into position. The Pull and Draw makes up for that with the trade off that the front seven become more exposed to fire.

The set up for the Pull and Draw is the same as above. When contact is made, however, the reserve force moves off to their immediate flank and takes cover to conceal themselves from view. The front seven will get the Red team's attention and then begin an organized retreat. An organized retreat is one where the back lines provide cover while the front lines pull back. As those in the front lines pass the back line, they find cover and begin covering the withdraw of the now front line.

The front seven continue to do this as quickly as possible. The idea here is to give the Red team the illusion that they are driving you back. This will cause them to do two things. One, they will not send out flankers because there is no need. Second, they will spread themselves thin as some of their number will be quicker to follow than others.

As they get spread out, their combined firepower will be diminished. The front seven will Pull the Red team apart and Draw them into the trap the reserve unit has laid. The Blue flankers want to let the first couple of Red team players get a bit past their position before they open up. The idea is to get as many people on the Red team in front of the Blue's flank players as possible. When the flank players open up, the front seven need to stand their ground and start pouring fire into the trap. The front players of the Red team will likely try and get out of the trap by moving to one side or, if they are smart, turn back onto the flank of your flankers. The front seven are there to prevent that and to take out those few players the Blue team flankers let through.


The reserves are not just a flanking force. Sometimes you may come across a group larger than yours. It is here where they can be a real asset as well. Like the Pull and Draw, the reserves can drop to cover in the rear once the fight begins. The front seven then make an organized withdraw until they are past the line of the reserve unit. Once past, they try and get out of the area as quickly as possible. As the Red team comes into view, the reserves fire from cover trying to take out as many of the opposition's front players as possible. This volley needs to be a short burst of about 5-6 shots only. This volley is to try and take out those pursuing forces that have outran the rest of their group either by eliminating them or causing them to seek cover. Once the volley is done, the reserves should take off and catch up with the main force (which should already be long gone) as quickly as possible. The pursuing Red team should slow down or cut off their pursuit as they will now be looking for more of the Blue force hiding and waiting for them.

The entire purpose of this is to cause confusion among the opposing force and thus negating their superior numbers. While there is a chance of loosing some or all of your reserve force, the idea here is to try and maintain the majority of your force intact.

These are just three examples of how reserve units can be employed in paintball when two units are moving to contact. Reserve units can also be used to help reinforce a line in a defensive position or to help relive pressure from an attack by threatening the flank of the attacker. Remember the whole purpose of having reserves is to be flexible in your options and to keep your opponent off guard. Be creative but most of all, have fun!



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