Proactive vs Reactive sniping

After a long day at work, and suffering from an alcohol-free January, I pinged a message to team engineer Dan, who earlier in the week had suggested a game of online chess. My go-to game at the moment is Escape from Tarkov, but SkinnyBitch has fucked off to Denmark this week and there’s nobody online to play with.

I address Dan in his local language, which is similar to English.

Now, Dan plays chess regularly. He’s incredibly intelligent. I haven’t played since my mid teens. It’s a very patient and tactical game, though in this instance a little bit of a mismatch, but actually a welcome change from getting constantly gunned down in first person shooters. Patience and tactics are obviously important to us as snipers too, and while Dan is busy analysing my every move, I’m looking at our two play styles as the games unfold and soon comparisons are made to airsoft.

Dan knows his way around the board and all the technical terminology. He’s well practiced, and is planning his game several moves ahead based on my moves, second guessing from what he’s seen before. Although I used to be half decent at it, I’m new to the site. It’s unfamiliar at first, and my game has no forward planning. I’m waiting for him to make his moves, and mine are simply reactive; I’m minimising losses to his attacks, and waiting for openings to hit back and do some damage, jumping on his mistakes. It’s defensive, and counter attacking. I can’t plan ahead simply because I don’t know the game, or Dan, well enough.

It finished 2 – 1 to Dan with another game drawn, although I blatantly did win that because he only had his King left. His analysis was interesting and its easy to look back afterwards and see if something could have been played differently. We’re quite different in our game plans, and it did get me thinking about two different strategies for the sniper…

Proactive Sniping

Being on the front foot, and going on the attack. I asked Dan if he went into airsoft games with a plan, and he replied “yes, mostly”. If you know a site inside out, and you know how it plays (where players are likely to attack or defend, and how they move around the site) you may well play more aggressively and with a plan in mind. You have to be bold enough to make that first move and hope that the enemy are going to do as you expect them to to make the “play” work.

For example, in a game of capture the flag at your local site which you’ve played hundreds of times before, it might be that the opposing team is likely to move down a specific path because it offers the least resistance, or is the most logical and efficient route. You will likely plan to use your favourite hiding spot along that route as you have done many times before, which offers a good field of view, and plenty of kills. After all, it’d be stupid not to and if you’re filming it’ll make a great compilation video. It’s all about putting plenty of plastic into opposing players. Of course, if you’re always in the same spot that plastic slinging will invariably be in your direction too.

After that, you’ll probably know where the flag needs to be taken to to win. Its not your job to carry a flag because with a bolt action you can’t defend it. But you’ll have your little access routes and rat runs through the site to be able to move yourself around unseen and be able to do a lot more damage to the enemy. Great fun, if a little predictable as a regular. Tactically, there’s not much to it beyond knowing the site and the routines. Then you can develop a route in your head and know what to do at what time. But if you don’t, keep reading…

Reactive Sniping

Reactive sniping is more my play style. Airsofters are an unpredictable lot, and I like to travel so I’m not always in a familiar environment. Also, it’s better practice in the long term to learn to react to things as they unfold. Without a plan, you’re not obliged to follow a particular path that may not be the best option. And almost not knowing what your own plan is, makes you a lot more unpredictable to the enemy, which makes you harder to find. There’s still underlying tactics and strategies, you’re just choosing which to apply depending on the situation. Sniping is decision making;

  • Will this action benefit my team?
  • Will this action put me in a good position to engage targets?
  • Will this action get me killed and then have to start again from respawn?
  • Will this route take me towards the action or away from it?
  • Will this route allow the enemy to see me move?
  • Is this a stupid idea? (a sniper buddy can sometimes help reduce this)

Let the enemy make their moves and then ask the right questions. Pick your response carefully, don’t go Leroy Jenkins style rushing headlong thinking you’re some kind of super soldier, because you’re not. Defensively, you’re the weakest player on the field. Offensively, you’re lethal. So choose the moves that keep you alive and in the fight – a sniper in the field is worth ten in the respawn.

What you’re looking for are mistakes. Head to head, the sniper is dead.

Have the enemy players turned their back on you? Hidden behind cover, but left a body part hanging out? Let their guard down and started chatting amongst themselves thinking they’re in a safe place? These mistakes are the moment you want to pull the trigger; you’re not exactly going to shoot them head-on when they’ve got their weapon up and ready and are looking in your direction.

One of the ideas I’ve touched on in previous blogs is to avoid in game objectives. Don’t play the game, play the players. Your teammates can grab objectives, you just want to be able to float around freely, striking when opportunities present themselves. Having a pre-planned routine or game plan is a hindrance to that. Knowing that you have to go and grab a flag or collect some objective item, or kill an enemy commander, forces you into potentially bad situations because you’re not asking yourself whether you should or not – you know that you have to regardless.

Box clever, learn from your decisions when you make the wrong ones (maybe start a sniper diary or something) and let the enemy make the move first. Sniping. It’s not like chess at all really.

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