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Paintball 101: Paintball Game Types

Played either indoors or outdoors paintball games take various forms. Whether your game is woodsball, speedball, scenario or tournament play. You'll want to adjust your equipment accordingly-Including your choice of Nelson® Paintballs.

Woodsball/Recreational Paintball

Paintball started out as a recreational game in wooded areas, with capture the flag and elimination being the most common formats. Woodsball can involve any range of players with a variety of bunker types. The size and terrain of woodsball fields make it unlikely that a player can observe more than a small subsection of the field at any given time. This limited field awareness coupled with the usually larger number of players causes woodsball games to generally last for an extended period of time.

Many playing locations often have their own custom variations. Woodsball gives players the freedom to engage in any number of typical and atypical scenarios such as ambushes, assaults on fortified positions and protecting VIPs. Woodsball is commonly played by players who prefer to use military type tactics and concealment.

Recommended Nelson Paintballs:
Nel-Splat, Precision, HotSpot


Speedball is characterized by a small field filled with bunkers. Speedball fields are usually less than half the size of a football field, and located on level, treeless terrain. Bunkers on a speedball field are man-made, and have evolved from wooden spools and crates to corrugated sewer piping to the customized inflatable obstacles in various shapes that are common today.

Because of the small field size, and the lack of foliage or any other objects aside from the artificial obstacles on the field, players can see from one end of the field to the other, and games are usually much shorter than those played in the woods. Since players can see each other and start the game within range of each other, action between opponents is immediate and lasts the entire game.

Speedball is the only format of paintball that is played professionally in major professional leagues, the PSP, and Millennium series. Paintball fields tend to also hold tournaments of their own throughout the year.

Recommended Nelson Paintballs:
Hemorrhage, Nel-Splat

Stock Class Paintball

Stock paintball play has specific rules regarding the configuration of the marker, restricting the technology of the markers to mechanisms available in the early 1980s. Markers used in stock class play must use a pump action to fire, cannot hold more than 10 rounds of paint with in the marker at one time, must be powered by 12-gram carbon dioxide powerlets, and must hold paintballs in a linear feed tube parallel to the barrel.

A 12 gram CO2 powerlet will typically only fire 20 to 40 rounds, depending on the efficiency of the marker, before needing to be changed for a new powerlet. Because the paintballs are lined up parallel to the barrel, they will not naturally fall into the marker while it is held in a level firing position, requiring the marker to be tipped (rocked) forward or backward before being pumped (re-cocked). This complete action for loading another paintball into the chamber of a Stock Class marker is thus called "Rock & Cock".

Recommended Stock Class Paintballs:
Anarchy, Special Forces

Scenario Paintball

Scenario paintball is a type of paintball game that adds a specific theme or story to the paintball game. Themes vary widely, including re-creations of historic battles, popular movie themes, holiday themes and more. The general rule for being a "scenario" is if players or teams are pretending to be something other than paintball players, the game is most likely a scenario.

Almost all scenario games are also "big game" style events, designed with hundreds or thousands of players involved. The games offer extended play times, anywhere from 6 to 48 hours. Players that are eliminated with a paintball hit may return to the game after a pre-set period of time, giving players a chance to be part of the action throughout the event.

Recommended Scenario Paintballs:
Special Forces, Hemorrhage, Nel-Splat, Precision, Hot-Spot

Tournament Paintball

Organized paintball competition is nearly as old as the sport itself.
Though tournament paintball was originally played in the woods, the rise in popularity of teams such as Team Dynasty(Then known as the IronKids) in the late 1990s saw speedball become the standard competitive format.

The small size of speedball fields brings several advantages to competitive play. The artificial nature of bunkers allows each side of the field to be set up as a mirror image of the other, ensuring that neither team possesses a terrain advantage (as can be the case on woodsball fields). The flat, vegetation-free playing surface makes it easier for officials to see players and make the correct call and, coupled with the small field size, allows a spectator to view the entire game at once or be televised.

Recommended Tournament Paintballs:
Anarchy, Special Forces, Hemorrhage