The only thing I like as much as playing scenario paintball during the day is playing scenario paintball at night. When dusk arrives, I get that giddy feeling that the night play is just around the corner. I don't know why, but there is something exhilarating about running around in the woods at night. Not to mention that the temperatures drop and a cool breeze ensues. Sometimes its pitch black and you cannot see much. But often times, the moon is out and you can see quite well. After a few minutes of darkness, your eyes will adjust and you might be surprised how well you can see. Not to mention that the night games allows you to play your favorite hobby that much longer! Why stop after dinner break?
For many, paintball ends before the night games begin. The number of players dwindle for the night games and some just refuse to play during the night altogether. Understandably, the two biggest reasons I hear for players not playing the night games are:
1) Mask fogging
Many players have issues with their masks fogging. However, a quality dual pane thermal lens mask will usually resolve this issue. Maybe apply some anti-fog spray as well. For some, mask fans work wonders even though they can be noisy. For me, none of those solutions have worked. The only solution I have found to prevent fogging is to lightly coat the inside of my mask lens with baby shampoo. I have also used the defogging gel that scuba divers use. That worked too, but the baby shampoo was easier to apply. So, there. Problem solved!
Night games do make it easier for players to continue playing after they were hit by a paintball. First of all, it's dark. It is nearly impossible to tell if you were able to hit the player. Furthermore, the “quarter size hit” rule does not apply during night play. A paintball simply has to bounce off of the player for it to be considered a hit. This makes it even easier for players to ignore hits and anger the opponent who believes he hit the player. While this does happen, there are still many players that play honorably and I believe they are in the majority. It is those players that make it worthwhile and why I continue to play the night games.
You may have heard different types of complaints about night play. But those above are the main ones I hear a lot. Once you get past the issues, you might find that there is a lot of fun to be had during night play. You can learn to take advantage of the darkness and how it affects your enemy's senses. The night play really enables those sneaky players to shine. I have learned a lot from those sneaky players. Recalling my first night game, I remember another player coming by asking if I had seen his pink marker. That totally threw me off. I ended up helping him find the pink marker until he barrel tagged me! You have to congratulate someone when they do that. It only makes your experience that much more fun. Speaking of fun, the now defunct Tactical Paintball in Texas used to throw a night game called Tears of the Sun. That was a night-game that started at 5pm and ended at 5am. One year was particularly fun because one of my teammates was chosen to be a spy for the other side. The spy was actually written in the game script. So everywhere we went, we had a firefight on our hands because he was constantly calling in our position! Yeah, we gave him hell for it, but it was all in good fun. With that said, a few things that will help you during night play, in no particular order, are:
Flashlights have their uses. But be careful with them. They will obviously give away your position. All it takes is one accidental flash. Some players see a light and they will start shooting at it, even if they are not sure if it’s the enemy or not. On the other hand, I have seen them used to temporarily, and harmlessly, blind players and secure their surrenders. Some players will freeze and give up when a light is shined on them. If it happens to you, just run! They can also be pretty nifty when pulling base security. Also, be aware that your eyes may have to adjust to the darkness again after using a flashlight, particularly the bright ones. They are definitely useful when trying to find our way out of the field.
Make sure you cover up your hopper LEDs. Those little hopper lights will give away your position time and time again. Simply cover the light with tape.
5) Night Vision
Several guys on my team use night vision devices. This makes the night play infinitely more fun and you do not have to attach them to your marker. There are cheaper Gen1 night vision monoculars that work ok and don't break the bank. (i.e. Gen1+) I have a Gen1 that works pretty well, but you get what you pay for. Some players fear the guys with night vision. While night vision does give them an advantage, it's not an overwhelming advantage, in my humble opinion. Actually, night vision can be a hindrance as it can cause tunnel vision due to constantly training your eye on a small area. Not only that, but the infrared on the night vision devices will give away your position, like a beacon, to other players using night vision. Moreover, you can get really clever and use strobe IR lights to throw off players with night vision, especially when you know a nearby team is using them. So they are some pros and cons.
Spotlights can come in very handy, especially if you are tasked with guarding your base. If your base is about to be attacked, you can light up a forest with the right spotlight and keep sneaky attackers at bay. Of course, it gives your position away but chances are they already know you are there at the base. They can be a pain to carry around, so I tend to leave mine with someone who is hanging around the base.
7) Staying Quiet
Learn to move quietly. Players will be paying more attention to the sounds around them. If you need to communicate with a team member, use a radio and headset. Don't alert the enemy player that you are about to barrel tag! In addition, keep your finger off of the trigger at night. I can personally remember instances where someone accidentally shot their marker and gave away their position.
8) Being sneaky and lying
At night, you can be a bit sneakier and deceive players. I have yet to play a scenario game where the rules do not allow you to lie about what side you are on. I have seen some really sneaky moves at night. In particular, walking up to a player on another team, telling them you are on their side, and barrel tagging them once you get near them. How fun is that!?! If you are taken out by a sneaky player, reward him or her by staying quiet and walking off the field quietly. That is good sportsmanship.
I am sure there is more to be written on this subject. Just be sure to keep safety in mind and follow the night rules. It definitely helps to know the field you are about to play a night game on. Otherwise, you will most likely get lost. This is when you will have to use a flashlight and a map to get back to the desired location. Be aware that you might come up on a player who is a few feet away from you. You may want to offer surrender, especially a younger player. Try hard to avoid friendly fire. Know where your teammates are and most of all – have fun!