PB Art of Paintball by Sun Tzu

How does the Art of war by Sun Tzu apply to Paintball? Nor am I pro player nor educated in the art of war. I will still try to mirror the ancient tactics to the sub air field.

I have not yet read the book but skimmed several summaries what people sees in theese chapters.

The book appears to be common sense and maybe in depth analysis in human psychological mindset. I recognise many good pointers for paintball but Id prefer to weigh chapters according to relevance from first picking up a marker all the way to winning substantial  achievements at tournaments. I guess the LEAN strategies would come in hand for building you basic skills (B), measuring your accuracy (M) and abilities and learning from them (L) and continue on to build on team skills, rehearsing team achievements and learn how to focus on  common strategies.


1 Planning (B,M,L)

This is mainly done by practising. Setting up the field before tournament and gain experience of critical angles and how to tuck in behind bunkers. As for individual fighting skills are not represented I will put Technique training under this category. This concerns the basics of utilising the bunker types, breakout, laning etc..

One could also calculate team motivation. How many are willing to roster for each tournament. What members bring best contribution for a tournament. How invested are teammates for independent alone practice, team practice and maintaining physical fitness. What are the costs to attend tournaments, how to commute, how many cases of balls, spare markers, spare players one must have.

The more you calculate the more decisive your victory will be

2 Waging war (B)

Meaning being prepared. You can not show up at tournament without equipment needed to play. The equipment need to be serviced and prepared to operate. Prepare for hydration loss days in advance. Have a reserve plan if a player turns ill before play. Enough clean swabs and perhaps even spare equipment if primary fails on you. Optimise own resources at the play field.

In sub air there are no lengthy campaigns to pursue. 10 min limit is the end unless reached sudden death. However if you have 20 sec left and need the point get it without prolonging the pain.

3 Strategic Attack (M)

Affect the opponent’s spirit by dominating the field. Even though gun battles are important to win, it is more important for the entire team to execute synchronized plan. Perhaps by dominating the 50, isolating the left and right side from communicating or other stratagem. By constantly knowing how many you are fighting with and how many are with you makes it possible for each team member to make right choices.  A play 3 on 5 is different than 4 on 1!

Winning gold medal without fighting is not possible in paintball, but psychological advantage is doable.

4 Positioning (L)

Put you out of harm’s way but trick the opponent to step out of shelter. You need to gain experience in order to predict opponent’s most likely reactions. Example: You shoot him he snaps you in you go low and tag him out since you know repetitive pattern is easier than to creating an inconsistent pattern. In somehow practising battle skills could be dealt in this chapter as well.

In 1 on 2 you may be skilled player but are not sure of the outcome. Your experience will keep you out of harms way yet  reducing over eager opponent numbers.

5 Momentum (B, M, L)

If you take the wall player you might be eager to make a run for it. Do so but know what you are doing without walking in an crossfire. If both corners are alive advance one bunker at a time. If one side is left utilise the bunker shadow to surprise his flank. Know than if he knows wall is gone he might have scope on you coming down the field. Then go in shadow towards him and bunker him out on the other side. Lay a stray of paint on a bunker behind him so he really thinks you are running for the drop rather than surprising him. Don’t lose your momentum by taking too much ground at once. Trade out is less beneficial than staying alive and helping your team objective.

With focused teamwork you are able crash and divide less organised teams.

6 weakness and strength (L)

If your back guy at home is good at laning and opponent torito runner weak you must act on it. Snake runners tend to be strong since it is their sole purpose to stay alive and yet you must acknowledge it, don’t fold on his strong moves but disrupt them.

The book refers to modern ”SWOT”. Review own strengths and weaknesses do so as well with the opponent.

7 Maneuvering (M)

If back corner is laining own mirror snake runner must be aware of friendly fire and communicate for back corner to go high so he can run low to the snake. If you are wide and understand than the opponent loses his widness you must immediately act on it as a united team.

Here the ”SWOT” opportunities and threats come in picture. An elimination is opportunity to gain field where as friendly fire and opponent’s key bunkers are threats.

8 Tactic variations (B, M, L)

You are defeated if:

  • Over concerned of opponents whereabouts
  • Recklessly advancing disregarding opponents whereabouts
  • You cowardly stay and wait behind your bunker
  • You temper upp if you mistake a bounce ball for a brake and start talking
  • You are ashamed of you lack of accomplishments on the field

Even if you are set out with a in advance rehearsed strategy. Communication on the field will grant you flexibility to adapt according to own shortcomings and emerging opportunities.

9 Team Movement

Since we are playing on plains you must utilise the shape of your bunkers and maybe read shade silhouette. Sound signature also reveals where there are fights going on.

Give room for error  and mistakes but inspire your team with disciplined focus.

10 Terrain (M)

Responsibilities of a team captain: The subairfield is constrained why some elements are reinvented.

  • Flight – Mostly you practice pushing up but you must also practice luering aggressive opponents out from their bunkers.
  • Insubordination – Team captains must have a reserve who is willing to step in if someone doesn’t follow the game plan
  • Collapse – affects moral when seemingly unbeatable team comes against you. This is why routine and individually clearing your mind will prevent team collapse.
  • Ruin – Own team sabotaging team captains strategies
  • Disorganisation – there might be two strong wills disorganising the team but mostly the pit stop is the weak link. No one has any clue of where anything is and the pitt crew desperately searching for hits and wiping them.
  • Rout – This occurs mainly if bunkering move surprises you and you freese rather than fire back

Win and fight for your team not for your own good.

11 nine scenarios (L)

  • Torito side
  • Snake side
  • The ”Wario” wall
  • Mini wings
  • Back corners
  • Crawl bunker
  • Crouch bunker
  • up straight bunker
  • Home base

Create a common purpose to reach for.

12 attack wit fire (L)

This concerns mainly the natural elements. It might be considered as cheating if wetting down opponents paint, flame throwers are not safe to use in paintball. Smokegrenades are used at woodsball. However I’ve witnessed an insignificant victory caused by the elements.

Ex. It was Raining and one team wanted to forfeit the play as the other one did not. Win or lose it would not affect the remaining ranking positions. The winning team didn’t get the practice they craved for and the loosing team could sustain their endurance and moral into a game that mattered.

Another reference explains this as: knowing when to push forward, when to stay put and when to retreat, as at chapter 3 knowing when to play as 1:2 and when as 2:1.

13 Inteligence (B)

You can watch certain players when they fight other teams and identify their behaviour patterns in gunfights. When encountering them yourself you are able to counter a known different opponents moves. Also at Breakout you must not reveal your playing position, you may bluff sprinting to corner and when the horn blows delay at base and lane. Similarly you are able to read at 10-5 sec mark where everyone are placing them on the opposite side. Learn who deceives at start and who you can lane out from break of.


Remember we paintballers are all friends and should act accordingly. When knowing your enemy you are better prepared to handle strength weaknesses threats and opportunities on the field.

And most importantly ”Share the loving” 🙂 Share the love for eachother as well as for the sport.

The art of war is based on Taoism and finding balance. When of balance/focus you will lose. When in focus, balance and harmony you will win.

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