This was my first scenario game and my first trip to Red Dragon Paintball. My experience was a bit mixed. The good barely outweighed the bad.
Before pre-registering for the game, I contacted the filed owner and asked about field rules and gun limitations. I was told semi-auto only, no full auto and no ramping.
So I configure all my gun for semi-auto only and headed up. Well, within 10 minutes of the start of the game, I get pinned down by three people with Tippmann A-5's with response triggers firing 15 bps at me. I called a ref over and complained that the owner told me no full auto. He said he didn't know anything about that and to keep on playing. Other people were using e-frames and running 3 round burst and full auto. To, me, none of that is "semi-auto" only. By the end of the day, I counted over 20 A-5's with response triggers. A response trigger is just a mechanical full auto vs an electronic (which some were using). So I felt a bit cheated because I would have came with different gear if the owner had said full auto was allowed. It takes some of the fun out of it when half the people on the field can spray more paint, and you could be too, if you had just known.
For the most part the refs were okay, but I think many were more concerned with not getting hit than with reffing. First, this is a fairly large filed, and I only counted 6 refs. One at each base and four roaming. This wasn't really enough for the field size in my opinion, and a couple of the refs I often saw standing around talking away from any action and not really refing. There were also several times were a paint check was clearly yelled for (I hear it 300 feet away) and the ref who was 50 feet away just stood there after repeated calls (probably because there was a hail of paintballs and they didn't want to get hit). There were only about 65 players, so a 1:10 ratio wouldn't have been so bad, if the refs had been on top of their game. When the refs were working, they did seem fair. They were all polite.
The field was pretty nice, and safe for the most part. The only safety complaint that I had was that in one of the HQ buildings near the speedball field, a whole box of 3" screws had been dumped on the ground. I was in a fire fight and dived into the building and crawled for cover. After the firefight, I realized I had been crawling around on long screws with sharp points, and I considered myself lucky that when I dived in, I didn't get a screw through the hand. Other than that, it was pretty safe.
Prices were fair and paint prices were reasonable (field-paint only event). Some players were obviously using their own paint as they were using brands the field didn't sell. I don't know if the field knew this and let it slide, or just didn't know.
The scenarios were well co-ordinated for the most part, once the game got started (it started 30-45 minutes late). Procedures and scenario rules were pretty clear. My only real complaint is that refs at different ends of the field seemed to handle the respawn rules differently. At the red team, players were cleaning their hits on their deadman walk, walking to their HQ and slapping it to respawn. If they had a goggle shot or something that needed more cleaning, they had to go to the staging area, clean up and head back to HQ. On the blue side, even if you got hit square in the chest and could wipe with a rag on your walk back, the ref there would make you walk past the HQ, downhill to the speedball field, go behind the netting, and walk back up hill to the HQ before you could respawn. This walk up and down the hill was an extra 5 minutes per player the reds didn't have to do. And the walk back up a fairly steep hill took a toll over the course of the day. At the rules briefing, it sounding like the speedball field was sort of a remote "staging area" for google shots or taking breaks for the blue team. But I questioned the ref at the blue base and he said we had to go to the speedball field as part of our respawn.
I also questioned some of my "generals" command decisions, because at least 3 times during the day he placed me in 1 on 4 vs. 1 on 5 situations, with the promise of reinforcements that never came (why not hold until 2-3 people can move out as a squad at least). There were even more bone-headed things he had team members doing throughout the day. Also, on both sides I head complaints by non-team members that the team members got the best missions, and walk-ons and smaller teams were just used as cannon fodder or to do jobs the team members didn't want to do (like lug two 10 pound boxes, plus your gear, to a gunship the general's team had secured in a fire fight). This wasn't really the fields fault. The lesson I took away was to do what I want and what I thought was sound strategy and not listen to the "general". Unfortunately it took me half the day to figure this out and get more fun out of the game (guess I was taking the sim part too far following orders).
Another complaint was that when you would respawn, you didn't really know what was going on, or what the current mission was about. Maybe in the future, they can laminate a mission card or something and hang it in the HQ by the map. That way respawn players can read the mission, check the map, and head out.
Overall, the field does have the potential to be top notch, but they weren't on top of their game at Operation Just Cause. As it was, I gave it a 6 out of 10. More/better refs. Consistent, enforced rules detailed in advance. More sitrep. Clear up a few hazards. Do these things and Red Dragon could easily be a 8-9 star field.
UPDATE: I went back for their Fall Bash. I had more fun this time because it wasn't as structured and I did my own thing. The building full of screws had been cleaned up. Still not enough refs. There were even fewer this time, and about the same turn out for players. This was a multi-flag game where three flags were worth 25 points and one was worth 75 points. At scoring intervals, whatever team held the flag base scored the points. The 75 point flag rotated around, and I never knew where it was at. The only way to know was to check the scoreboard at base camp, or find someone with a radio. It would have been nice to have a handout that had the scoring times (every hour and half hour) and what each flag station was worth at that time. They could ave provided that to everyone with 100 sheets of paper and 5 minutes in Excel.
There were several times the scoring interval passed and no ref had showed up yet, and we were battling to keep holding the 75 point flag. Then it would be 5 minutes past when we were supposed to score, and no ref there. Then we lost the flag station and the ref would show up 30 seconds later and score it for the other team. Basically there were only two (and sometimes one) ref walking to all four flag stations to score them and if he had to walk all the way across field, you would need to hold the flag an additional 5-10 minutes, which can make all the difference in the world. There should have been a ref at each flag station at scoring time. This is where most of the battles were anyway. How hard is it to have four dedicated refs (and not just player refs)?
I upped my score to a 7, but they will need more refs and better sitrep for players to score any higher.
Last edited on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 at 7:25 am PST