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Paintball Long Island
Big Game 2000
by Bill Mills

One of the largest, and most fun paintball events in the nation happens late every spring at Paintball Long Island - the annual Rec Ball Extravaganza. 

Things kick off with a "recreational tournament" on Saturday.  Those two words usually don't go together.  The recreational tournament is for players who normally don't play tournaments, and has some wacky themed games with their focus on fun, rather than the intensity typically found in tournament paintball.

Some examples of the specialty games are the Bull Run Card Trick, the Run For The Gun and the Top of the Hill Eggscelence.  In the Bull Run Card Game playing cards are distributed to players before the game.  At the end, their score depends not only on eliminations, but on which team has live players with the most valuable cards at the end of the game.  In the Run For The Gun, both teams start in the middle of the field with their guns in their flag stations.  They have to dash across the field, and grab their guns, and then start playing.  The Eggscelence game is much like a normal center flag game, but each player is carrying an egg that they must keep from breaking.

Each game format featured a maximum of 10 points for the winning team, with a common penalty system.  5 points for violating barrel plug or goggle rules, 1 or 3 points for hot guns, 3 points for playing with an unobvious hit, 5 for playing with an unobvious hit.  Intentional cheating - 10 points, and ejection from the tournament.  Unsportsmanlike conduct yeilds a 5,000,000 point penalty - emphasizing that the event is for fun.

Weather during the rec tournament ranged from overcast, to a light sprinkle, and then progressed to a heavy downpour.  With many players camping at the field for the weekend, people huddled under tents and next to campfires and barbecue grills between their games - but they still played.

In their own reserved campsite, or perhaps better termed compound due to its size, the Canadian Contingent camped with the Wild Geese.  If these names sound familiar, they should.  Canadian Contingent travels to a number of big games each year, and counts amongst its members, Durty Dan, one of the most prolific writers in paintball.  The Wild Geese hold the distinction of being the oldest paintball team still in operation.

The paint, unfortunately proved a dissapointment to many.  While much of the Diablo paint sold at the event was fine, there were a number of odd, teardrop shaped balls in many if not most of the cases.  Some players reported no problems, but others complained bitterly that the paint was substandard.  

After a night's rest, it was time for the big game.  The scheduled team generals were Ben Tippmann of Tippmann Pneumatics, and Dawn Mills; webmaster of  Unfortunately, a personal emergency arose for Tippmann, which required he leave the event early.  Taking over his position as blue team general was Jeff Orr of Worr Games Products.  Working with his father Bud, Jeff has been responsible for products such successful as the STO Autococker. 

The year before, Dawn had been the yellow team general, facing off against myself, on the red team.  That game, the Knights acted as her personal bodyguard.  This year, she assigned them to be field captains, each leading groups on different areas of the field, and calling back information by radio - when the radios worked - or by sending runners.  Various members of Canadian Contingent guarded her while Jeff Orr was protected by another Worr Games sponsored team, the Fallen Angels.

Over 900 players had pre-registered for the game, and a much larger crowd was expected (1400 players attended in 1999) with walk on registration.  With the heavy rain the day before, many no-shows were anticipated, but the numbers at the gate still reached over 1000.

The game format utilized the entire Paintball Long Island field.  Each team started with its players occupying three bases.  Two of those bases were worth one point for each minute a team held it, while one was worth three points.  Another important location, the Oil Refinery was located midfield and though it started neutral it was worth two points per minute.  Any team that maintained its bases, and managed to hold the Oil Refinery would gain more points per minute.

In addition to base points there were special missions assigned that added entertainment value to the game.  At any time, a general being hit was worth 50 points.  Retrieving the P.O.W. - a headless dummy on a stretcher was worth 100 points.  A canvas folding bucket filled with water was marked with a graduated point scale.  If it was brought to the score desk full, it was worth 100 points.  Marks down it's side decreased the score as water was spilled.  The red team returned it for 50 points.  One of the most entertaining missions was the BRIEFcase.  A briefcase was found on the field with instructions inside.  In order to get points for the mission, a player had to take the case to a referee, remove the pair of briefs it contained, put them on, and do a dance.

At the scoring booth, a large map of the field was updated by radio to show which team held each base.  Team score totals were updated roughly every half hour.

Flying overhead in a small helicopter was Doc of Ground Zero Gold.  Doc played for neither team, simply shooting folks when the opportunity arose.  If they tried to hunker down under cover, he'd toss a Tippmann Squadbuster grenade to take care of them.  Since it would be unsafe to fire back at the helicopter, Doc was literally invulnerable and added an exciting twist to the game. 

While the weather was overcast and mostly dry with a few light sprinkles here and there, most of the trees still held water from Saturday's rains.  When the helicopter hovered low, the downwash shook the trees, releasing their water, and stirring up leaves and debris on the ground, making for an extreme experience.

Traditionally Canadian Contingent has tried to get Doc on their good side by providing him with a case of beer after the game.  This year, they decided to turn that into a direct reward system.  Next to the main scoreboard was "Doc's Beer Board," with 24 pictures of beer bottles on it.  Each time Doc eliminated a member of Canadian Contingent, one bottle was crossed off.  Of course, Doc tried to get as many crossed off as he could.

Through the morning, the red team managed to hold its half of the field most of the time, and maintained fairly steady control of the oil refinery, while occasionally taking the capitol - the blue team's 3 point per minute base.  Both teams completed several missions, and when the lunch break totals were tallied, the red team had a lead of just over 500 points, about 30% of their total score.

In the afternoon, the teams returned to the field, but switched sides.  This time the red team was in the position of having its 3 point per minute base - the capitol - fall into enemy hands.   The capitol ended up changing hands several times through the course of the afternoon session.  The red team also did not manage to hold the oil refinery as much as they had in the morning.  The points ticked by, and special missions accumulated.

Just after four o'clock, with an hour to go in the game, the blue team charged the capitol and took control.  They pushed further into the area where the red general was located.  Since Dawn was playing the game as a strategist rather than a front line shooter, she carried only a PGP as a sidearm.  She tried to quickly hide herself from the advancing blues by piling leaves atop of her, but it was too late.  The blues charged toward her, the first falling to a shot from her Sheridan, but then she was out - 50 more points for blue.

As she came off the field, things did not look so good for the red team.  Blue had taken control of most of the bases.  A score update showed that the blue team had not only closed the score gap, but gained a 12 point lead. 

Dawn was then informed of a plot that was under way, in which a blue player would shoot his own general.   50 points could reverse the game.  Assassins are not unknown in big games and scenarios.  Earlier in the day, Paintball News reporter Gary "The Judge" Jones, who was playing for the red team commented that someone had tried to pay him to assassinate Dawn, but he couldn't do it because, "she was too nice."

As the minutes went by, players began gathering at the scoreboard, watching the tide of the battle.  Red team members often saw how close things were, and headed straight back out into the game, while many blues, content that they held the field, and were now winning, started packing their gear.

The red players in the know anxiously awaited news on the assassination attempt.  While he did manage to shoot the blue general, he fired at a couple of other players first, starting a small fire fight.  The blue general's referee declared that the assassin was hit before he shot the general, so the assassination attempt had failed.

It all came down to who held what.  Fortunately for Dawn, more reds were returning to the field, and she now had a working radio with which to call in player movements.  Base control did an about face.  By the time the ending whistle blew, red had recaptured all of the bases on the field.  No one knew if the bases had been taken in time, and the totals were not posted, they were checked and double checked in preparation for announcing the game winner at the awards ceremony.

Paul Sattler opened the awards ceremony by bestowing the Paintball Industry Award.  An annual tradition of the big game, it recognizes people for their contributions to the growth and success of the sport.  This year, the award went to Larry Cossio of the National Paintball Association, honoring the contributions he has made to paintball safety while laying out field operation guidelines for the fields he insures.

Then came the scores, while Jeff and Dawn stood anxiously waiting.  The red team finished with a 99 point lead.  As is the point of big games, winning and loosing does not matter so much as having fun, and both sides had their share.  Prizes were then given out to the gathered crowd, some were raffled, some were simply tossed out, but others were given to the winners of contests.

Hats, jerseys and paintball equipment went to players who competed in potato sack races, egg races (the contestants carried an egg in a spoon held in their mouth), T-shirt word jumbles, and one of the most entertaining contests - threading the needle. In this contest, two teams each had a rope that they must thread through their shirt and pants leg, then pass to the next team member until the entire team is "on-line."  This of course lead to tripping, tumbling, tangled teams, half of which had their pants falling down.

As the activities drew to a close, the players said their good-byes, already discussing their return next year, as well planned meetings at other recreational events like EMR Paintball's Castle Conquest.

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