1- Don’t be afraid to get hit! It’s very common to see new players take cover behind the nearest obstacle to their starting bunker and spend their whole game hiding. It’s not only the most boring way of spending the first game but also not a very likely way of preventing oneself from getting hit. The worst that can happen is that you get hit! So, don’t be afraid to take a chance and move around. You’ll get more tactical experience this way and get to explore much more of the field which in turn will show you which points on that field work well and which don’t. Then in the next game you play, you already have an advantage. More on this in tip 5.
2- Dress appropriately – If you can’t follow tip 1 because you are afraid of the pain of getting hit then choose your wardrobe wisely. You could spend hundreds on proper protective clothing but if you are new to the sport, your money is better spent on getting a decent marker/gun and mask. Your mask is your most important piece of protective equipment. You want something that’s, first and foremost comfortable. This doesn’t have to cost the earth. Although with masks you get what you pay for in terms of quality. As for clothing, for those starting out it’s as simple as making sure your skin is covered to limit pain.
Wearing long sleeve tops and long pants will do the job and depending on the weather you can even get away with two layers. Some fields offer protective vests which not many people take advantage of. But if it means you get to relax and enjoy the game, I say wear the vest! The experienced players will often wear gloves, which again can be just another cost you can invest in later. However, if your starting out a cheap pair of cycle gloves or even some dollar store fingerless gloves will last a few games and at the very least protect your knuckles! Running around the field will soon get you hot enough you may well be wanting to take layers off. Be prepared to compromise comfort over pain and get used to sweating it out in summer time, although as you grow in confidence you will be able to decrease your layers of clothing to an extent.
3- Work as a team – New players are notorious for letting the adrenaline get the better of them. The buzzer goes and the team scatter in all directions. Every man for himself is very rarely successful. Strategize with your team. Pick a plan of attack and work together to make it happen. If your pinned down behind an obstacle and can’t see your opponent, don’t waste ammo shooting at an impossible target. Instead, provide cover fire while you send your team mates around to flank the opponent. But remember markers/guns are not nearly as silent as you might like, so be prepared to give away your position as soon as you fire you’re first shot.
4- Communicate – This can sometimes be a challenge on the field. With speedball or CQB (close quarter battle) play it is obvious where most players are, so yelling out to your team is common. However, in bush ball your aim is to be stealthier. Calling out to your team would not only highlight your own location but potentially give away your team mates and your plan of attack too. This is where tip 3 becomes important. If you are working as a team with a clear plan, you are likely to be near each other or know where your players should be. This means communication can be achieved by talking quietly, with gestures or by meeting up at different points along the planned route of attack to reassess.
5- Take chances to get to strategic places – Many new players fail to do good in the game because more experienced (not necessarily better!) players take good positions with fast moves and agility putting others in a situation of disadvantage. So, move quickly and remember tip 1!
6- Watch your back – Just as we have told you to get around behind an opponent who cannot be seen to shoot (tip 3). You should also be aware the other team will be trying to accomplish this too. Try to take a mental picture of the field and keep in mind where your opponents are. Depending on your field layout this may be more difficult than it seems. However, the last thing you want is for someone to sneak up behind you and shoot you in the back while your busy watching the front. Stay vigilant and remember to scan around you in between shots.
7- Know your team – Get to know the members of your team.
You may have a mixture of new and experienced players. Try to utilise your experienced (or more confident) players to assist the new players to learn. This might mean having a new player shadow a more experienced player to see more of the field and better understand the tactics involved in moving forward or holding a specific tactical point. Experienced players may find this rather slow or frustrating but in the long-term this will result in a better skill level for the new players and a better understanding of how each of your team work together. Everyone has their own ideas of the best approach so sometimes a team captain can be a good idea to make sure the team isn’t divided mid game. Most importantly work together and communicate (tips 3 & 4).
8- Friendly fire – This tip is simple, but important to prevent pissing off your own team mates! As much as you want to move quickly and not hesitate during the game, you also want to make sure you don’t take out one of your own. This can be easier said than done in a military simulation (Milsim) style game where everyone is in camo gear! If you are following tips 4 & 7 then you should have a pretty good handle on who’s who out there. However, if you’re playing free for all, every man for himself style, then the likelihood is you will at some point be the victim (or culprit) of friendly fire.
9- Be a good sport – Always remember, no matter how competitive you are that this is a sport. It is only enjoyable if you play fair, call your hits and don’t be an arse! If an experienced player notices someone not calling their hits, unfairly targeting people or just generally being a dick, that person is likely to become the focus of some serious payback! Keep in mind that the game is only as fun as you make it! Which brings me to my last point….
10- Have fun! – The most important tip is of course to have fun! If you’re not enjoying yourself then you’re doing it wrong! Happy gaming!
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