Are you weak or strong?
In this article I’m going to cover a lot of ground. I’m going to touch on a few subjects outlined in the Art of War by Sun-Tzu. If you haven’t read the book, I would highly recommend it. In one of the brief chapters he covers a subject matter that most of us don’t really consider. He mentions that our strengths become our weaknesses and that our weak areas become our strengths. I choose to believe that he uses this to explain that we tend to guard our weaknesses and leave our strong points open and readily available for attack. We usually tend to leave our strongholds unfortified or undefended with the thought that they don’t need it. Sun-Tzu stresses this point, that we need to make it a priority to attack our enemies where they are strongest because that is where they will fall the hardest and where they will least expect it. What does this mean to us, the lowly paintball strategists? Well, it means we must know our enemies, also a key point that Sun-Tzu makes in his book. We must also analyze our defense and our awfense. I’ve broken this article up into three sections: Knowing your weaknesses and using them to your advantage, protecting your strengths, and knowing your enemy.
Knowing your weaknesses
Knowing your weaknesses can be as simple as asking others for their input. Everybody is always quick to correct someone else but slow to analyze their own game. This can doubly affect your game when you ignore your weaknesses and allow them to go unchanged. Correctly spotting a weakness can be a huge advantage when used against your enemy. If you present a weak point in your defense as an easy target and feign an opening, your enemy will be more likely to attack there. This will give you the opportunity to control where your enemy will strike. If you can control where the opposition will focus their attack you can quickly eliminate their offensive force. On the other hand, if you are unaware of your weaknesses your enemy will see them as an open door and attack them before you have a chance to regroup your awfense and present a proper defense.
Analyze your defense first and figure out where you can improve. This will allow you to improve on your weak areas and also will point out possible areas of attack. If you have noticed a pattern of attack from your opponents, analyze where they are attacking and how. Ask yourself why they attack a certain area or gang up on certain members of your team. If you are consistently losing matches, or the opfor is constantly widdling down the same team members every game, you can take that to mean that you have a serious weakness that is open for attack. You may want to encourage weaker teammates, double up certain areas, or make sure you defend certain landmarks more heavily than others.
Once the opponent thinks they have you figured out, they are the most vulnerable to a defeat. This goes the other way around as well so be careful. What you want to do is make your strategy in defense easy to figure out. Make it plain to see so that you can easily control where your opponent will strike. Letting the other team think they have your plan figured out will make confident. A confident team rushes into a firefight without consideration of defeat. If you can harness the foolishness of your opponents, you will be able to turn any match into a victory.
Protect your strengths
Your strengths are what you will use to strike the winning blow in a game. You may win a match because of a weakness, but your strength will finalize your victory. A boxer may feign a strong left hand by repeatedly throwing jabs with his left hand, but he will end the bout with a strong right when the opponent has dropped his guard on that side. The same is true in paintball. I spent a lot of time talking about weaknesses and how they can be a huge strength, but the areas where you are strong are still going to be your strongest areas and you want to use them as such.
While you want to train and work on developing your weaknesses into strengths, you also want to train and further develop areas where you are already strong. Perfect your strengths like you would hone a razor edge on the tip of a spear. They will provide you with a deadly instrument to cut through the enemy.
How do you know what your strengths are? Well, you might want to talk this over with your team. Everyone might see things a little differently than you do. As a team what strategies worked best time after time? What players stay in the game the longest? Who racks up the highest kill count? These are all questions that will help you dial in your strengths and work on improving the areas where you are already strong.
Know your enemy
Knowing your enemy is the most important piece of this whole article. You need to study and analyze your opponents. One of the best ways to do this is to watch them play, and even by watching how they react to your strategies and tactics during matches. If your opponent is intelligent, and you should always assume he is, he will probably be wise to your strategy before you are able to follow through with it unless you can accurately predict what he will do next. Most people are creatures of habbit. We will often react the same way over and over to a stimulous as long as it remains constant. The definition of insanity, or a definition rather, is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. So, knowing this we can study how our opponents react and reproduce these reactions and ready ourselves for the response of opfor.
Like I mentioned in the section on weakenesses, allow your enemy to know you and your team. Allow them to become comfortable with your tactics. This can become your greatest strength in a firefight where your enemy is expecting you to react the same way you always do. The only trick is to NOT DO WHAT YOU ALWAYS DO. Just don’t make a habbit of being unhabitual. Just unhabitual enough to give the other team confidence but to not allow them to gain the upper hand on your team.
Knowing your enemy also includes knowing yourself and what your habbits are. As a team you need to work on breaking habbits and learning to adapt to every situation in a different way. Every game is….well a different and new game which requires you to react in new and different ways. Sun-Tzu talks about armies being like a stream of water. You must go with the flow of battle and be able to flow around whatever comes up. This can be a hard thing to grasp so I’m going to save that for a whole other article. For now, I’ll leave you with this: Knowing yourself and your enemy will greatly enable you to win any game. You will be able to fully utilize your weaknesses to your advantage and use your strengths to strike the final blow.