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Bill Tison's Rules

Quite possibly the most comprehensive set of tank guidelines in existence.


By: Bill Tison of the HellFire Paintball Team.

I was asked to submit some tank rules, so I went out on the web and found a bunch, compiled them for easy reading and added my $.02 worth of comments, suggestions, opinions and recommendations. Enjoy ;-)

Tank Rules
A compilation of Rules used by
National Paintball Association (NPA), Wayne's World (WW), Mackez Extreme Sportz (MXS) with additional comments and rules proposed by the crew of the HellFire tank (HellFire).

Tank drivers are responsible for the conduct of their crew.

Tanks shall be constructed to have sufficient hard surface area to ensure paint will break on the target. This should be at least 80% of the tank, front, sides, back.

Tanks should look like they belong in the game.  Pickup trucks, vans, 4 wheelers with camo netting probably do not fit in with the theme of most games.  So many people go to great lengths to build a "tank" that looks like a "tank" and therefore should be played as a tank.  Leave the other "wannabe" stuff at home until you have invested the time, money and effort to make it into something to be proud of.  

Tanks that wish to operate at night must have lights, and for safety reasons, should have working windshield wipers.

Viewable area of 360 degrees: Means the occupants must be able to see all around the vehicle with no blind spots.
(MSX)  And the occupants must be able to communicate with the driver. If the Tank is too big, then an intercom or radio system needs to be used so that the occupants can tell the driver what is going on and how to deal with it. (HellFire)

Team Indicator: The vehicle must be readily identifiable as to which side or team it is on. (MSX)  
HellFire tapes the opposite corners of the vehicle with 2' of team armband tape wrapped around the corners.  This is visible from all four directions and provides the same identification as the players.  We oppose using team flags, because flags give our position away when trying to be "stealthy".  (HellFire).

Dead /Eliminated Indicator: Much like the old fiberglass antenna or fiberglass bicycle pole that can be flagged and either positioned up or down, alerting all players to the vehicle's status. Pole in up position indicates vehicle is eliminated. In down position indicates vehicle is in play.

Fully functional brakes.
(MXS) Private joke here!  ;-)

Ref must have remote ignition cutoff switch in case of emergency (ie: rc remote control) (NPA). Suggested ways to make this work are inexpensive alarms wired to disable the ignition system with keychain activators.  Recommend you tie a large ribbon or flag to the keychain activator with the tank name on it so it won't get lost.  Also, might be a good idea to have a spare (or two) and a bypass switch.  But, you would want all of this approved by the field director.

If there is any room for negotiation on remote ignition cutoff switches,
HellFire opposes the use of a remote cutoff switch.  We feel that the ref may kill the engine to a tank at a time when, in the interest of safety, it would be better to have the engine running.  If the tank were to get into a situation that could cause damage or bodily harm, there will probably be a lot of yelling, screaming and panic with the ref doing what he was instructed to do, kill the tank's engine.  This could make the brakes less effective (power brakes), steering harder (power steering) and cause additional panic for the tank driver when faced with a dead engine.  Florida may not have hills, but a tank with a dead engine careening down a ravine does not make for a pretty picture!  A tank about to pin a player to a tree or building suddenly losing the ability to stop or steer would escalate a potential problem into a horrible accident.  Until the ref can get behind the wheel and drive, he should leave the ignition key in the hands of the driver, for safety's sake.  (HellFire)

Ref must have walkie talkie communication at least with tank
(NPA). Helps with the communication issue, especially for the large tank, when the ref is behind it trying to communicate with the driver up front. (HellFire)

Even if a vehicle meets all of the above conditions, it may only be used with 3 weeks prior approval, as well as immediate pre-game approval of the scenario director. After approval, the vehicle may be required to be escorted by a full time ref, judge, or a non-player tank support person. Additionally, you may be required to bring your own tank support person, depending on the number of motorized vehicles on the field and availability of extra staff.  

Tanks must be accompanied by a ref.
(NPA). A ref should be with the tank at all times to declare hits on the tank and keep players away from it. Also, to tell the driver if there is a dangerous situation that could injure someone. (HellFire)

Tanks may travel no faster than walking speed
(NPA).  Seven mph has been stated in several places, for those of you who want a finite number.  (HellFire)

Goggles: Mandatory. Must be worn at all times inside the vehicle.
(MSX)  Common sense. Paintballs do make their way into the tank and many leave welts. (HellFire)

Tanks will be limited to 3 "shooters" max. Tanks operating as a troop transport are limited to 1 "shooter" but may carry as many people as can be "safely" transported

Tanks can shoot guns in semi auto mode only with one shot per trigger pull
(NPA). It's becoming common on more fields banning full auto.  Most players can shoot faster than 9 balls a second.  (HellFire)

Vehicle-mounted Paint Markers must Chrono at 260 fps day, 240 fps night. Chrono speeds are lowered slightly because these vehicles close distances quickly (It's hard for a person inside a vehicle to hear a person outside yelling hit).
(MXS)  HellFire chronoes at 240-250, daytime.  If the refs want to chrono a tank on the field again, give the tank driver a card saying we have passed to show the next ref that has a complaint from a player.  (Remember we were tested before we came on the field just like everyone else) ( being tested ever 50 feet by each new ref is NOT fun)  (HellFire).

Tanks must check in with their base prior to being activiated. Tanks will be neutral (unable to be eliminated) until activated.  In the event the base is overrun at insertion time, then the tank will become active at midfield to allow the tank to assist with re-taking the base

Tanks are a mobile platform. They must be on the move at all times (unless specified in a mission where tank must hold an area)  * Exception: When a tank is eliminated, a tank may sit still for up to 5 minutes - then the tank must exit the field. Players may not use the eliminated tank as cover when it is exiting the field. (5 minutes allows the ref to clear the area.
(WW)   HellFire does not agree with this.  In the real world, tanks do park and shoot, thereby becoming a stationary target that is probably easier for the opposition to hit.  To comply with the rule, tank drivers simply shift from forward to reverse, moving a few feet in each direction and therefore, not really moving at all.  Just does not make sense. (HellFire)

Tanks can only be eliminated by LAW rockets, other tanks' main gun (LAW rocket type of gun), satchel charges, or land mines. Paint grenades do not eliminate tanks. Paint for LAW rockets will be a separate color
(WW).  I think that it should take a hit of 5 balls breaking on the tank to take it out. You can even make this cumulative. So, it 2 break on the first shot, the tank is still alive, but when the LAW rocket guy takes more shots and gets a total of 5 breaks, the tank is eliminated. The satchel charge must land on the tank or on the side of the tank to eliminate it.  If the satchel charge lands within 10' of the tank, then it is treated like a grenade and the tank is disabled for 5 minutes but may still shoot.  Hand grenades should be effective to the point that they disable the tank for a period of time, say 5 minutes. The tank can shoot during this time, but may not move. Makes players think before the disable a tank in front of their objective! (HellFire).

Personnel inside the tank cannot be eliminated unless the tank itself is eliminated. There is no shooting into the gun ports of a tank
(WW)  No player should be allowed to approach a tank, stick his marker barrel into the tank and shoot the players in the tank. Tank players take extreme exception to anyone that tries this and will resort to very interesting ways of disabling the offending player's marker (like snapping off the barrel!) For those of you who think a player may not touch another player or his marker, just consider the tank as the tank crew's marker and keep your hands off of it, too!  (HellFire).

Anything used as cover (forts, houses, bunkers, large trees, earthen mounds, etc) may be blown by the tank's main gun (LAW rocket), killing anyone inside or next to it. Man made structures cannot be used for cover until rebuilt by an engineer.

Tanks may not engage people at less than 15' nor may they block doorways to buildings.  
(WW)  It's a safety thing.  Closer than 15' is tantamount to bunkering.  Blocking doorways could lead to needless injuries as players scramble to exit a building, running into a tank and each other.  Players next to a natural object, (tree, etc) are called out if the tank pulls up to within 3 feet of the object (removing the hot gun effect for those who refuse to take the hit) (HellFire)

No player may approach within 20 feet of any PAV.
(MSX)  HellFire believes that 10 feet is OK.  This is sufficient room to allow the tank to change direction without running into someone.  And it allows the players to use the tank as they would in the real world, as a moving shield.  Team players within 10 feet of a tank get one warning, and then are called "out" and must leave the field until the next insertion time.  HellFire).

Players charging a tank that break the 10 foot rule are automatically called "out" and must leave the field until the next insertion time.

Tank owner and operator must have liability insurance of at least $300,000 and name the field owner and promoter as additional insured one week prior to event. (can be purchased from insurance agent for off road use only)
(NPA). Well, maybe you can get it from your insurance agent, but I doubt it!  Check with your field owner to see what his requirements are for the game.  This varies from "no insurance needed" to you must buy NPA's insurance for $100 per game.  Some fields will reimburse you for the cost of NPA's insurance.  It is HellFire's opinion that tanks bring something special to the game and added revenue to the field owners. Tank owners expend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of their time to create and use a tank.  Plus, there is the added expense to bring the tank to a field and operate it.  The insurance protecting the field owner is of no benefit to the tank owner and should be paid for entirely by the field owner. The tank owner can (and should) get his own insurance. (HellFire).

Lastly, yet most important.  Tanks are allowed on the field to increase the level of fun in the game.  If your tank, its crew and your actions to not contribute to the fun had by the other players (all of them), then either change the way you are playing or leave the game.  "Be sure the person you are shooting is having as much fun as you!"

The above was originally posted on the WarPig rec forum on December 15, 2001  I asked Bill if I could post his work so he e-mailed it to me with a bit more added to it.

Had to have a pic of Bill's HellFire tank, this is it's original form.