All Roads Lead to No Ends
By Jason ' Foolybear'
Photos by Matt “ColMustard” Leonard and Dwayne Humphries
Once again February rolls around and paintballers drive to Adventure Beach for their annual scenario throwdown, the Road to No Ends. This year Kevin Shimwell set up a classic confrontation, selling the game as Eclipse vs. Dye. Hambo, from Dye-sponsored WCP, faced off against Ripper, from Eclipse-sponsored SSK. The lure of a hot game on one of the best fields drew record numbers to this year’s event, and the way the scenario played out will probably set Adventure Beach up for another record-breaker in 2015. Spoiler – Eclipse won, and the game was intense from start to finish!
The game’s storyline pulls in some classic fantasy elements, but the scenario itself plays out as pure paintball action. Both sides, The Hidden (Dye team) and The Knowing (Eclipse team), fight for bases, missions, and props. The Hidden recruited a tank from Team ODX, and the Knowing countered with their own armor, the debut of Larry “Ironman” Rivenbark’s tank. Additionally, each general added some role-playing councilors who had free reign of the field and a mandate to grab props and make deals.
When the Adventure Beach field is set up for scenarios, there are a couple of approaches to get players across the field. Slow and sneaky teams like to creep up the swamp side where they can make good use of camouflage to attempt a flank move. The tanks controlled the easiest path across the property – the main road. Thicker woods in the middle make movement difficult but rewarding, while the net line offers the fastest route to action. At the opening buzzer, both sides rushed the net line hard, hoping to control a central swing base that would allow one team to reinsert players into the front lines. Team Capital Offense and SSK committed to this assault, but groups from The Hidden proved that they could dig in and endure the attack. An hour later, The Hidden still held the base, and they pushed their control across the center through all zones.
Scenario paintball is a game that’s all about momentum. Even though Madkow (from Wulfenkow Legion) was scoring points as the team’s councilor, the shooters on the frontlines for the Eclipse side kept getting beaten back. By early afternoon The Knowing needed something to shift the tide. Dwayne Humphries from Team Capital Offense had an idea so crazy, it just might work.
Get to the Chopper!
To put it bluntly, scenario helicopter insertions almost always suck. A team of players “flies” through enemy lines only to be followed and gunned down mercilessly when they “land.” Or worse, newbies don’t know the rules and shoot up the chopper as it passes by. However, faced with an impenetrable wall of defenders, Team Capital Offense decided, after some heated debate, to give the copter a spin. They snagged a referee so he could fuss at players for following the chopper (That wasn’t allowed in this game). The plan worked like a charm. The more the ref yelled, the more attention The Hidden paid the helicopter. TCO took their time, circling the city field and wandering through the woods, all the while pulling more and more gunners from the front lines to cover this airborne threat. By the time the eight-player squad landed, the thin front lines crumbled, and when the enemy rushed back to their posts, Capital Offense disembarked from the chopper without taking a single shot. Our helicopter run taught us a few lessons: A) Helicopters can be fun, if used to distract. B) Mission teams left to guard out-of-the-way bases don’t expect a team of shooters to land on their doorstep. C) The rules at Road to No Ends don’t allow the enemy’s main base to be taken. Even if everyone inside gets shot out. Even if the flag gets flipped. (Sorry about that!) In any event, mission accomplished; momentum had shifted, and by the day’s end The Hidden had control of the city while The Knowing ruled the rest of the field.
Snipers in the Woods
Sunday’s game played out with many more momentum swings than Saturday’s. The generals had their teams hungry for the win! The Hidden took an early lead on Saturday and held it firmly for the rest of the day, so The Knowing were fired up to complete missions, grab props, and score some points; however, for every punch thrown by The Knowing, The Hidden had a counter punch. Several times on Sunday mission teams for The Knowing took what looked to be uncontested ground only to be blasted by well-concealed teams and snipers popping off with First Strikes from a distance. Even so, The Knowing steadily whittled away at the lead until the rocket exploded that signaled for Final Battle.
The Low Down on the Throw Down
With only 70 points separating the teams, it all came down to Final Battle – 15 minutes of open insertion and 15 minutes of elimination. That means, both teams had 15 minutes of respawn time to take as much ground as possible before the final 15 minutes when getting shot meant leaving the game. Teams scored points for each player left active at the end of the 30 minute period. For about 20 minutes the teams stalemated in the streets and alleys of Adventure Beach’s impressive city field. Then, gradually, The Hidden succumbed to the firepower and aggression The Knowing had brought since the opening horn. With seconds to go, The Knowing ran the length of the field, zapping most of the remaining players on the other team, and securing a narrow victory. Eclipse for the win!
Foolybear on the Front Lines
Not only was this game all action, from start to finish, but it also marked my first time back in a tournament-paintball style setting since I left that scene almost ten years ago. During Saturday’s lunch break both generals got to choose teams to compete in a five-on-five match on the airball field. Team Capital Offense was tapped for this special mission, and we fielded four players (Joel, Aardvark, Brian, and me) plus our guest shooter, Matt Sossoman from Omaha Vicious.
I made my spot off the break, but not everyone fared so well. Our opposition, dressed in matching tournament gear, obviously worked well as a team as they shot lanes and all made their bunkers. After 20 seconds we were looking at a 4-on-3. Matt kept up a constant stream of chatter from the back left, calling out positions, and when our snake player got eliminated, those old tourney instincts kicked in. I shifted to home so Matt and I could cross up. We played it cool, and waited for them to run into our guns. After whittling it down to 2-on2, Matt ran up the tape and shot out his mirror while I picked off their last player to close out the game. The mini game was a blast and a great way to mix things up at the scenario.
Road to No Ends is a staple in my yearly scenario calendar. If you haven’t given it a spin, start looking towards February 2015.
Foolybear is on a mission – a mission to play a lot of paintball! If you see him at a game, be sure to say hello, and he’ll probably give you a free sticker. You can follow his exploits on this blog, on Twitter (@foolybear) and at the same name on Instagram. Check his game calendar to see where he’s playing next!