What is Defense?

Defense in paintball can be considered “half” the game. Depending on the type of game you’re playing there may not even be a need for defense. The main game type that requires you leave guys on “D” is capture the flag or middle flag. For this page I’m mainly going to be going through some defensive strategies for capture the flag.
Defense is, basically, your ability to keep the other team from taking your flag. That means you’ve gotta hold off the attack squad long enough for your guys to get the flag and make their way back to the base. Most of the time you’re going to be stalling for time. A successful defense is not always a defense that stays alive. Staying “alive” or in the game is not the point of defense. It’s just to make sure that you are in the game just long enough to keep the other team busy. Your job as a defender is to buy your team time. In a timed guy, your job is to hold out for however long the game will last.

What makes a good defender?

A lot of times I see teams leaving the “newbies” or unexperienced players back on defense almost as a punishment for their lack of experience. Most of the time they end up getting rolled over when the other team comes up on your base. Unexperienced players are NOT going to serve any purpose on “D”. You want to leave some of your best and most experienced players on defense. You’re trusting them with your flag.
A good defender is going to be a person that doesn’t mind if they go the whole game without seeing any action as long as they’re happy knowing that they’ve contributed to a team victory. These guys are going to be big team players.

You don’t want to leave people on “D” that are itching to be in the middle of the battle. They’ve gotta be calm and quick thinkers. You want guys that aren’t afraid to get shot at but also know when to cut and run.

How many players to leave on “D”

This is a hard concept for some people to grasp. A lot of the time I see teams leaving half of their guys back on defense. This will seriously hurt your attack squads chances of rolling over the opposition. You’ll want to consider only leaving a few of your experienced players back on defense.

The exact number is going to depend largely on the size of your team and the size of the opposing team. If you’ve got a team of 7 guys, you’re only going to want 2 guys AT THE MOST to stay back on defense. I usually try and think of it like this: 1 good defender can hold his own against 3-5 guys. That means if you’re playing a team that’s 15-20 you’re going to want to have 4-5 guys back on defense. If they’re even teams that will leave you with around 11 guys on your attack squad.

Defensive Strategy

The different strategies for paintball defense all kind of blend together. It’s really a gray area of “I think this works best” but really it’s going to depend hugely on the game you’re playing. The best plan for defense is to be open to change your plan at the drop of a hat.

Ambush Defense

This is a classic defense. It requires teammates that are able to hide and not be seen, as well as nerves of steel. You’ve got to be able to hide and wait, kind of like a paintball sniper, until the opposition is well within your trap before you spring it.
The ambush style defense is best used when your team is highly outnumbered, like 2 to 1 for example. A lot of the time when you’re facing a team that is much larger than yours it can pay off to stay behind and have your whole team stick to defense until you can even up the sides a little bit.
There are a couple of different styles of ambush defense that you can employ. The first being a succession of smaller ambushes carried out by 1 or two smaller ambush squads throughout the field. This can be very effective if the other team has sent out multiple smaller attack squads.

Another way of doing the ambush defense is to have your whole team stay back by your flag base and wait for the opposition to get within range. The key to this defense is to create a “U” shape with your team outlining the edges of the field. You then wait until the other team has walked into the middle of your “U” before you open fire. This strategy works well when you know the other team will be sending out a rather large attack force. It doesn’t tend to work very well when the other team has only sent out a couple of guys, or has also stayed back to play defense only.

The ambush defense can be very effective if you make it very clear to your team that they all have to be on the same page. It doesn’t work if you’ve got one guy that can’t hold his fire untilthe right moment. One mistake could blow the plan wide open and end up getting one or two of your teammates taken out(which in the 2 to 1 situation is a bad thing).

Stall Defense

You can think of this strategy as a “Stall for time” strategy. The point to this one is to buy your attack squad/squads as much time as possible by holding down the fort until they get back. This requires that you leave a minimal number of players back on defense and make sure they are very well equipped. They’re going to need lots of paint and air if you expect them to hold out for any respectable amount of time.
For this plan to work you’re going to need players on “D” that know where their maximum range is and aren’t afraid to use it. You also want players that don’t shoot for no reason. You’re going to be at it for the whole game so you’ve got to try and conserve your paint and air so they last you the whole game.
Your starting position should be pretty far forward for this plan to work successfully. Find your maximum range(150-175 feet) and start out there. Don’t start in your bunkers. This is going to allow you to eventually be swarmed and overwhelmed. Once you encounter the opposition then you can begin to fall back.
As soon as your team has left your maximum range you’ll want to start watching the perimeter. You’ll most likely not have to watch the areas your guys just went through because they will more than likely take out any opposition coming from that direction but make sure you pay attention to the WHOLE field anyway. Also you’ll want to stay mobile. Move from cover to cover but make sure you’re not putting yourself out in the open too much.

You’ll want to spread your defenders out so they can cover all of the possible areas that the opposition might come through. This will give you a better chance of seeing them while they’re still at maximum range.

When to open fire

You’ll want to start firing on the enemy as soon as they’re in range, and even a little bit out of range. It doesn’t really matter that much if you can hit them at this point. You’re just trying to get them to stop and get behind cover. This will make them stop and think “Ok what are we going to do now”. Every time they stop and think you’re buying your team another minute of valuable time. Try and keep them bunkered up as much as possible this means shooting a good amount while they’re out in the open and then sparsely as they’re already bunkered up. You’ll want to let them know you still know where they are and have a bead on them without wasting paint.
If they’re smart they won’t stop for long. They’ll know they’re pretty far out in your range and can take a few chances while advancing. You can also take advantage of this by timing your shots so you’ve got balls in the air before they start their runs. It’s going to be real hard to hit a player while they’re running so you’re just going to want to discourage them from doing so.

When to fall back

When they opposition advances you’ll want to keep track of your maximum range. You want them to be between 75-125 feet away at all times if possible. This will give you plenty of chances to get a good shot at them, but if they get any closer than 75 feet it’s time to fall back to better cover. This doesn’t mean run back to your base. This only means moving back 10-15 feet.
A good way to move is to keep up your shooting and then keep trees or a bunker in their line of site as you move. A good way to do this is crawling, but I don’t suggest this because you want to be quick. You’ll want to keep an eye on the opposition while you move. DON’T LOSE TRACK OF THE OPPOSITION! This could be a huge mistake while your moving. If you lose track of them they can easily sneak around you. BUT if you can move without them seeing you, don’t give your new position away. They’ll think you’re still where you just were and will spend a few minutes trying to figure out if you’re still there. It’s a good maneuver to move to a new position that has a good angle on possible advancement points for your old position. You’ll want to calculate where they might move up to get new angles on your old position, while trying to figure out if you’re still there. Then you can open fire while they are exposed to your new position. This will surprise the heck out of em and could also cause them to fall back giving you a perfect opportunity to move again.
When you move it doesn’t always have to be back. It could be to the side, or to a new angle. You’ll always want to keep moving, and keep changing angles. This will keep the opposition bunkered up for more time.
Try to leave your main base bunkers as a last resort. They should be like your alamo. You don’t want to be stuck bunkered up with nowhere to go. This is a losing situation. The longer you can go without falling back to your main bunkers the better. This means the further forward you start the better, but you don’t want to start TOO far forward.

When to move

You’ll want to move when they’re moving. That means when the opposition runs up you should be running as well. Keep an eye on them while you’re moving though. You don’t want to lose track of them. If you move while they’re moving, more than likely, they wont be paying attention. You’ll be able to get that element of surprise in there.

What not to do

Don’t put yourself in harms way. The last thing you want to do is get taken out. You want to stay away from maneuvers that are too aggressive. Be very cautious with your movements. Your team is counting on you to last the whole game.
Don’t start too far forward. Depending on how big your field is I usually say a good distance is usually 150-200 feet from your main base/bunkers. Any further forward than that and you’re going to be out in the fray.

Basic Defensive Moves

I’ll just reiterate some basic moves here and introduce a few new ones.

The stall and flank

It’s a basic mentality in combat that your attacking force should keep up their momentum. As soon as they lose their momentum they lose the advantage. As a commander you never want your attack squads to lose momentum in their forward movement. So it goes without saying that as a defender you WANT to stall the attack squads. You want to ruin their momentum.
As soon as you can stall the opposition you’ve gained the upper hand. You want to stall them and bunker them up and start trading fire. You want to move on their position while they’re bunkered up. You’ve got to be quick. It should be immediate. As soon as you stall the opposition your other defenders should swing down on them from new angles.
This strategy involves using a more offensive defense. Your defenders need to be quick and smart. They have to know when and where to go as soon as the opposition stalls. If done correctly you can take out the whole attack squad with only 2 or 3 defenders.

The roaming defense

This is a pre-contact strategy for defenders. When you’ve been assigned to defending the flag base, you’re going to want to know where the attack is coming from. If your base is positioned in a spot where you have a good line of sight out to 200-250 feet in most directions you’re doing pretty well. You’ll want to move out 100 feet or so and keep moving. You should find a line of cover around the perimeter of your base and move from cover to cover until you make contact. You’ll want to draw out fire from attackers at their maximum range. This will let you know where they are and where they’re most likely coming from. This will also make them go “Hey, there they are, let’s go get em!”.
As soon as you make contact you’ll want to notify your teammates where they are and where they’re coming from. That way you all can take up your defensive positions.

Assigning defensive positions

It’s a good idea to make sure your defense knows what it’s doing. If you’ve got 2-3 guys on “D” assign them to different areas of the field. Everyone should have a section of the field they’re covering. Everyone needs to know that that’s their section of the field, and their responsibility. Something I see a lot is defenders sticking together in one bunker. They’re breaking at least 2 cardinal rules of defense. Never start in your bunkers and never stay in the same bunker with someone else. You want to keep the whole field covered. If one section is getting over run then the other guys can come to the rescue. This is only if it’s absolutely necessary. If you abandon your post you’re giving the opposition an open door to come around your flank and get new angles on you.
If your defense is spread thin you don’t want guys out there that don’t have the nerves to hold off 4-5 guys. They’re going to end up falling back to early, and even falling back ALL THE WAY to the main base. This will leave a gaping hole in your defense.