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Tom Vasel
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As fun as board games are, sometimes you just need to get out and do some physical exercise. Sports don’t excite me that much, but paintball is an exception. I have a lot of fun playing the game, even though I play it as a fun exercise, rather than jumping headfirst into the hobby. I’m content to play with the trashy guns and equipment the lot will rent me, rather than buy a $2000 gun, etc. One thing I found fascinating about Paintball was that it taught me the importance of a team. Glory hounds and hotheads have no business in the game, as victory is only a result of excellent teamwork.

Because I have a lot of fun whenever I play paintball, Paintcheck, the Paintball Game (Adrenaline Games, 2003 – Wilfrid & Rodolphe Lupano), looked like it might be a fun game. The pictures I saw online of it were fun, and I don’t usually mind “miniatures-in-a-box” games, which this one looked like – so I picked it up, and we got ready for a lot of fun!

Well, I’m still waiting, I guess. The rules were so confusing for me to play that the only way we figured out how they worked was to play through the confusing practice game in the book. The rules sounded promising, but the game tried to be so realistic that I think some of the fun was taken out to add more realism. Components were great, but the game played a little too much like a war game for my tastes, too much like a miniature game for the war gamer’s tastes, and too much like a mess for everyone involved. The game was developed by obvious paintball fanatics, and I do not doubt that it provides an accurate simulation of a paintball game. However, the game just is too “fiddly”, a word I use very infrequently – but I didn’t like having to consult the rulebook about 200 times our first game – and that was after two very thorough readings of it.

I’ll try to summarize the rules for you, and if I make any mistakes – it’s the rulebooks’ fault, and not mine. Paintcheck is a two-player game, played on a large board covered in a rectangular grid of dots – 13 by 26. Various plastic pieces are placed around the board in a predetermined setup to simulate a paintball field. Each player takes fifteen player models – three poses each of the five players for each side (laying down, kneeling, and standing). Piles of cardboard tokens are placed next to the table – “millstone” tokens, flag tokens, suppressive fire tokens, defense tokens, and hazard tokens. Each player receives a set of five order tokens (numbered 1-5), and a breakout sheet. Two reference sheets, two templates, and two dice (D6 and D20) are placed near the board. A stop watch token is placed in a track next to the board, in the first spot – to designate game turns (of which there are ten.) The first turn is ready to begin.

The first turn is the most confusing of the game, and the most important – if the rulebook is to be believed. I’m still confused as to how this phase works exactly, because even though it’s the most “important” phase of the game, the rulebook devotes the least amount of space to it. From what we gathered, each player writes down on their breakout sheets exactly what each of their five characters will do. Some characters shoot at entry points on the other side of the board, while others try to run up and find cover. If player happens to run through a spot that is being sprayed by a player on the other team, they have a chance of getting hit. Otherwise, everyone is in position, and the second round begins.

During each round, the player puts one order marker face-down next to each of their characters. These mark which players move first, etc. Each player turns over their “1” marker first, and those players are activated first. The player who has fewer players alive announces the actions of their character first, and then the other player (ties are broken by a die roll). Players then give each player four actions, choosing for them move, attack, defense. Each action is taken once, and then can be “sustained” for an additional action (or more.) Defense actions help keep the player from being hit by enemy fire, and allow him more maneuverability if hit. For each move action a player takes they can move 4 dots on the board. If a player takes an attack action, they can shoot at another player, sustaining this action gives them a better shot. Players who have moving players in their sights can also shoot at them, and players who have the moving character pinned down with fire can also shoot. Therefore, many characters may go each of the five steps of a phase. Each player rolls initiative for their characters, with some modifiers being made depending on what they are doing. The characters with higher initiative go first.

Whenever a player is shooting, or being shot at, a plastic template is laid on the board, pertaining to the shooter, target, and any bunker the target is cowering behind. All kinds of modifiers are taken into account – such as if the target and shooter are in different positions, and finally two numbers are reached: a shooting value, and a protection value. These two numbers are compared on a table to find a target number, which must be rolled (or higher) on a twenty-sided die. If this number is rolled (or higher), the target is hit. They are not necessarily removed, however, if the target had any defense tokens. They can roll up to two six-sided dice; and if they make up the difference between the rolled number and the target number, they escape being booted from the game. This does, however, mean that their options on future turns are severely limited. Otherwise, they are removed from the game. The first player to kill all the other characters, or capture the flag, or have the most players after ten turns – is the winner! Please realize that I condensed forty-eight pages of rules into two paragraphs here, so there is quite a bit more…

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: Here is one of the higher points of the game. All the components were of excellent quality. The game board was large, nice, and durable. The models were small, but look really good. Little stickers (that were a pain to put on!) designate the numbers of each player, and they help when differentiating the players on the board (although I suppose you could paint the little plastic models if you want.) The bunker pieces are made of good plastic, easily punched out of sprues – although the box showed yellow and blue bunkers, but I only received yellow bunkers in the box. The templates are really nice – although confusing to use – but are still better than using a ruler or string. The tokens are nicely colored, and easy to designate, but are just a tad thinner than I would have liked. But, when the game is set up, and all the pieces on the board – it looks great! Everything fits well in the box, which is fairly flimsy – but nicely illustrated.

2.) Rules: So much to say here…. The rulebook is forty-eight pages of beautiful, huge illustrations, showing all kinds of situations and scenarios. It’s easy to read, and the fonts and formatting look great. HOWEVER, there are several problems. One, and a minor one, is that the game rules were obviously not originally written in English – and it’s oftimes confusing, because the translation isn’t that good. Secondly, and much more important – it’s difficult to find where the rule you need is in the book. As much as I dislike Avalon Hill’s “1.1, 1.12, 1.122”, etc. way of numbering their rules, it would have been much better than the way this book was formatted. Sure, I’m glad they have all the colored illustrations – that’s great! But you cannot mention an extremely important rule once in non-bold print in a forty-eight page book and expect everyone to catch it. Thirdly, the rules assume that the reader has a good knowledge of paintball. Often, terms were used casually, that I, not a professional paintball player, had no idea of what they meant. I’m assuming the game was marketed to paintball players, but one must take into account that people who’ve never played the game in their life would buy the game. I mean, I’m not a monk, but I still want the chance to play Mystery of the Abbey, and the same principle should hold true here.

3.) Rules, part 2: The game may be easy to teach, if one could only but learn all the rules. My friend commented when playing the game that it was easier than Squad Leader in some ways (Squad Leader was a comparison he made often when playing the game), but more difficult in others (facing of the model, angles, etc.) The reference sheets included were nice, and I’m glad they included two – but some important charts, etc., were not on the reference sheets – which is a no-no.

4.) Rules, part 3: The rules included a sample game – which was very helpful – but it DID NOT INCLUDE THE FIRST TURN! The one turn of the game that’s different, the one turn that’s supposedly most important, and they devote only a couple pages in the rulebook to it. Very bad form!

5.) Rules, part 4: I went to the website in an effort to play the game better, and downloaded a poorly translated FAQ and quick set up. (As an aside, the designers promise advanced rules coming soon. Heaven help us all!) The quick start rules were annoying. They helped us skip the first turn, but a player can lose one or more players before they start – and that, frankly is extremely annoying.

6.) Strategy: Now, after I’ve lambasted the rules – I must say that there is a lot of strategy in the game. I really think miniature gamers and war gamers would probably like this game, as it is on their complexity level. Using the obstacles to the best advantage, moving the team in formation, shooting at the right time and place – all these are big factors in helping a player win. I just wish I understood them better to use them to their full advantage.

7.) Fun Factor and Theme: It’s here, I’m sure. Even though I didn’t know what was going on half the time, I did have fun. No matter what, it’s fun to roll the dice, shooting at someone in a game. However, it is NOT fun to continually look up rules in the book. I was not pleased with having to do this all the time, and it certainly slowed the game down for my partner. This is one of the times where I actually think the theme of the game may have detracted a bit from the enjoyability one gets from playing the game.

If you are a paintball fan, especially a serious one – then I’m sure this game is for you – it seems geared at them. If you’re a war gamer or a miniature game, this game may do well for you, although I think the rules can stand to be streamlined. If you are a Euro gamer, then I really doubt you’d like this game at all. It can offer unfair advantages to one side, the rules are a monster, and the game play is for only two. I really, really wanted to like this game – and still do. But until the rules are clarified, or I memorize the current ones, this game will not often come off my shelf. I’ll just go find a paintball range and play for real.

Tom Vasel

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John Di Ponio
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Re:User Review
Great review Tom!! I wanted to like this game more than I actually do at this point. i have printed the'DISCOVERY' rules (supposed to be a basic version of the basic game) so I am going to attempt at digesting the basics and add more stuff as i go along. You are right...the first move, while one of the most critical, is not covered like i thought it should be.
The weekend is here so I can spend some in-depth time with it!

I will post if I come to any breakthroughs or clarifications!
 
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Gary Averett
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uh...whose turn is it?
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I spent 100gg for this?!?!
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Re:User Review
TomVasel (#28122),

Good review, I have to pretty much agree. I also give the manual a "malus" for the translation.

The rep for the game company came into my game club last Friday and he was French (the game was designed in French), so his explanation of the game seemed pretty clear, and the game was relatively inexpensive so I bought an "English" version.

It might have been easier to learn French.
 
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Dwayne Thompson
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I was wondering if that French rep told you anything about the "Advanced Rules" that are mentioned on their (late) website. (Just found out it no longer exists even tho there is a link to it on www.adrenalinegames.com. I purchased this game while in Iraq in 2003. I agree with the review. Pretty but cofusing and too much like a wargame. Then 2003 or 2004 they anounced the advanced rules. And NOTHING EVER HAPPENED.

Just wondering.
 
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Gary Averett
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uh...whose turn is it?
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I don't remember him saying anything about Advanced rules.
 
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Scott Lynch
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I have never been able to figure this game out-and I do Like Advanced Squad leader! I think I'll give it one LAST read, and if I can't make it again, I'm just going to use the simple Freebie rules I found;

http://www.ebobminiatures.com/products/paintball.htm
or;

http://actionpointgames.blogspot.ca/2017/06/paintball-skirmi...

shake
 
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