Three Rivers Paintball’s Black Hawk Down Woodsball Scenario Game Review
(DL) — On Saturday, May 11, 2019, Three Rivers Paintball in Pittsburgh Facebook, (TRP Website), Pennsylvania was host to Mission Master Scenario Paintball‘s Black Hawk Down woodsball scenario. Here is my game review. While a review is subjective, what makes a review worthy of your time is illustrating unique facts, things that can’t be disputed. Keep that in mind as you read ahead.
Black Hawk Down was not your typical scenario on a number of fronts. We played 7 games with 7 unique objectives from all directions of the field to change up our shooting lanes, pressure points and it just kept every player a bit off balance and on their toes. Seven games you ask? Yes. Seven games, six breaks with one as lunch. Imagine playing rec ball but on entire complex. Imagine players being shot out and they can’t return. This and more made the day amazing.
This event had some expectations. Pittsburgh is six-hour drive from Delaware. This raised the stakes a bit in being judged. Some things are beyond control. Others are not. An event that should be great can go poorly due to things beyond control. Weather is one such factor. On this day, it did not rain, and the absence of rain alone can make an event great!
How does DangerMan get to Pittsburgh? The invitation came by way of Team Dunedain’s founder Dan Andreko. Thanks to Dan and his wife Adriana for hosting yours truly. Dan, Adriana, and their team were proof positive of how great a town Pittsburgh is.
After you read a run down some of my basics, tell us in comments about how my woodsball scenario game expectations match up to yours!
Game Review Criteria
- Field Environment
- Game Production
- Player Quality
Breaking this criterium down would be short for a bad event. Mission Masters made this special enough that it must be said early if you see an event with their name on it. It’s worth attending. Period.
Warm in the high 70’s and not an ounce of rain. The field did have some wet terrain due to the previous day where rain was intermittent. Paintballers come in all types. The runner gunners are keen solid dry ground. Over 90 percent of the field was dry.
This too can make or break an event. A number of factors come to mind that made Three Rivers Paintball a dynamic host environment for woodsballers.
Do bugs bother you? Not here. Sure you will need your standard tick protection. The absence of gnats, mosquitoes, and chiggers is another check in the plus column.
Not all paintball fields have the luxury of being the perfect balance of woods, open shooting lanes, flat and hilly terrain. Pittsburgh, in general, can be a paintballers paradise with the variety you encounter. Three Rivers Paintball is a 70-acre spread.
Do you love hills, dips, valleys, turning bends shrouded with cover? Do you like natural insulators such as water hazards and open space? This is a great paintball location. A far cry from flat locations in Delaware, Eastern Maryland, and New Jersey.
If the natural obstacles were not enough for this to a great paintball complex, the man-made structures are great! The owners made amazing structures with very little waste. The log cabin like buildings with the railroad tie walls are put together with shooting lanes in mind.
This needs to be said first. Mission Masters gets a HUGE thumbs up. They get 5 out of 5 DANGERS.
- Replay Value – Yes
- Intuitive Objectives – Yes
- Easy to Understand Rules – Yes
- Theme – Yes
- Strategy – Yes
A unique aspect of this scenario was the day was not your traditional — play until lunch, flip sides and play until the final battle. This day was divided into seven (7) games. It was if we played RecBall on steroids.
Are you questioning, how can this be good?
Here is how.
First. Mini-games enhance the elimination of a player factor. In these mini-games, there is no immediate respawn. Players can pull the walk 100 yards and decide to turn around stunt. They get two respawns as they must return to a deadbox (start location) and await a timed re-entry to play. This means if you shoot a player out, you’ve truly cleared the field to advance on your objective.
Second. the mini-games allow for players to travel lighter on the field. It goes without saying, the DangerMan rig is low profile. The loadout is minimal pods of paint attached to my body.
Third. Who does enjoy a short break to refill your air and paint without the worry you are missing out on gameplay. And you return to battle with your team, you are less likely to play separated.
Without game reviews, it seems you may only know the value in success in an event is if a field owner wants it back. We asked the field owner his take.
“Mission Masters always does a fine job. We’ve been associated them for 11 years”. – Ryan Krichke
Mission Masters is a team of paintball game producers who operate in the central interior of the East Coast. They have a game truck and team of production assistants for game day. Many field owners can self-produce. They often find a concept that is unique and make it an annual event. To compete with staple events, Mission Masters has made clear moves to be unique in its production.
I asked Mission Masters head game producer Dean Allen what made their missions unique.
“We like our objectives and challenges as realistic as possible to fit the theme and add a twist or two for the fun factor. Realistic is good, but they gotta be fun!” -Dean Allen
On this day, the ‘scenario’ is based on Black Hawk Down. Not the movie but the incident. If you are not familiar with this historical event, a United States Black Hawk chopper was downed in Mogadishu, Somalia, Africa in 1993. It quickly became a rescue mission. It is from this the missions were created. Paintball players were treated to moving large replica bodies during the day. Attack and defend objectives were also involved.
Paintball Goes Hi Tech
The button box is one objective that seems unique to Missions Masters. My first exposure to it was by reference and the obscurity in the name was intriguing. In truth, the words define it well.
With the Button Box your objective is to press a button on the box. For as long as you press the button, an award in time is accumulated. You need to reach a set amount of time to accomplish the objective. The box is sometimes in the open, sometimes in some partial cover.
As to the Button Box’s cause for invention, Mission Master’s head game producer Dean Allen explains its inspiration. “In an effort to keep up with cutting edge tech in paintball events we wanted a versatile challenge.”
That turned out to be a great idea on Dean and Mission Masters part. According to Dean, “It’s evolved into two new button box’s, one uses an Arduino board. The other is raspberryPi. It’s the size of a cigarette box and fully programmable to emulate older game systems.”
Since Black Hawk Down was such a great experience for players we asked the field owner Ryan Krichke if Black Hawk Down would be returning next year. His answer will surprise you.
“The last time we did Black Hawk Down was 3 years ago. We try to mix it up to keep storylines new and fresh.” -Ryan Krichke
It will be back, but you’ll need to be patient! It seems both Three Rivers Paintball and Mission Masters know how to market. Keep things original and don’t over-expose!
High marks on organization go to both the field owners and the game producers. Flawless. Perhaps it is easier for a field owner to manage an event when they have less acreage to deal with. Skirmish has 800 acres to the 70 acres at Three Rivers Paintball in Pittsburgh. It stands to reason a normal field operation would be in a better position to manage every task. In truth, every field has things that go wrong. It is this detail that Three Rivers Paintball showed excellent care.
This day was structured carefully. The games started and ended on time. Between games, there were no long waits for air. The set up offered plenty of pavilion coverage for players to set up and be near the action. The producers had their carts to transport props between games. The props are serious items too. A number of full-scale dummies stood in for wounded warriors in need of rescue. The objectives were laid out clearly before games. Things ran smooth.
One ding on organization. It happens to the best. Yet it can’t be ignored. There were too few refs. This was attributed to a communication mix up between the field and the producers. It happened, they owned it. The upside was the day on a whole did not suffer for it. Players were good about playing honest as you’d expect.
Paintball, in general, offers more value than most understand. You spend more money for three hours at a professional baseball or football game than you get for all day at paintball. Yes, that includes paint.
The cost of this scenario was right in line with standard costs anywhere in the US. Entry, paint, and air were less than $100 on the day. As this event is scoring a high game review, you know the value was spot on.
Big thumbs up on two fronts. Players were decent towards each other. Yes, there was an altercation. It happens at events. It’s always a case of interpretation. A player assumes someone is out or thinks they see hits or thinks they’ve been bonus balled on purpose, the list goes on. The situation that occurred on this day was settled as the players concerned left. This blip was truly a blip. I found in many instances players calling their hits and walking off without even seeing where they were shot from.
Pittsburgh Has Great Paintball Players!
The next good thing to acknowledge was the quality in the skill I experienced playing against. Wow. It seemed as if everyone there had been in the game for years and that everyone was a brawler. Everyone was at each other’s neck on this day and wow was it fun to experience. You earned every ounce of ground you walked on.
This was mentioned prior. It’s impossible to say the refereeing was bad when they simply did not have enough refs due to the mix-up in planning.
Who Won Who Cares
That’s tongue-in-cheek. Everyone cares. It’s why you come out to play, to win. Yet beyond that intent, players did not get over-excited. No one left bitter. It’s just a game and having fun makes you a winner. With that said, the losing side did get thumped. Their general was not happy. I’ve been in games like that. And yet, despite the other side losing by a lot of points, I never felt they were not playing hard.
An event this well run deserves some attention. Here is how to contact Three Rivers Paintball & Mission Masters Game Producers.
Three Rivers Paintball
As with most every scenario woodsball event, there was free schwag tossed into the crowd. MVP’s recognized… Oh…and the team I came to play with Team Dunedain – They won MVT. Good going guys! Credit Dan Andreko for recruiting great paintball players!
I was happy to award the Paintball Professionalism award to XX in recognition of great gamesmanship. He took home an Axis Pro from my sponsor Dye Paintball. Eric Harris from South Carolina didn’t go home empty handed either. He won a random pick DangerMan powerpack which included an Inception Designs T-shirt, decals, patches, tags and more.