Variations of Paintball and The Rules They’re Played By

Paintball Tank

Razorback Paintball Tank

So you’ve heard of variations of paintball games, but you’re not sure what they are or how to play them. Below is a list of the more popular ones. But like any extreme sport there’re bound to be smaller people who make up their own variation.


  • Also called Woods Paintball, Hillball, or Bushball
  • Players compete in woods like settings
  • This was the original form of the game
  • Dominant leagues are the Woodsball Tournament League and Ultimate Woodsball League

Speedball – (Airball refers to the version with with portable, PVC Fabric bunkers)

  • Started at SC Village in Corona, CA
  • Brass Eagle introduced inflatable bunkers
  • There are three professional Speedball leagues
  • The NPPL, PSP, and NSL all use flags
  • Professional speedball is played in teams of three, four, five, or seven players
  • Played on groomed, enclosed courses with bunkers
  • Games are timed (2:15 to 20 minutes)

Scenario Paintball

  • Games are based on scenarios or stories
  • Scenarios are historically based, futuristic, or video game simulations
  • Games consist of large groups and can last for hours or days
  • Points are usually scored by objectives
  • Players may wear costumes based on characters
  • Vehicles, such as Paintball Tanks, are sometimes used
  • Players sometimes carry water and may be able to re-enter the game if eliminated
  • Players are sometimes given roles with abilities and tasks
  • Various props such as radios and electronic bugs may be used

Tactical Paintball

  • This is a MilSim variation of Woodsball or Scenario PB
  • Used in law enforcement and military training
  • Markers may be equipped with devices such as grips, rails, scopes, bipods, flashlights and lasers
  • Players may wear vests and pouches

Stock Class Paintball

  • Only a marker a player must pump or cock may be used
  • Marker must have feed horizontal to the barrel that must be titled to feed the next ball into
  • Marker must use a 12 gram powerlet
  • Each feed tube may only hold 20 balls
  • A player is generally only allowed to carry 40 rounds
  • Variations are modified stock class, super stock, and open class


  • Points are scored when a team wins centerflag (A version of capture the flag where a flag is placed in the center)
  • Professional Xball matches are 50 minutes long and split in half
  • Most leagues only allow five or seven man teams
  • Some leagues allow up to 19 players that are substitutes when points are scored
  • Coaches and spectators are allowed to communicate with players
  • Penalized players are not removed from games but are placed in a penalty box

These variations deserve honorable mentions:

  • Hopperball – Players are only allowed to use 200 balls or the amount that fits in their hopper
  • One Ball – Players are only allowed to load one ball into their hopper at a time
  • Xball Light – Consists of one period (usually 15 minutes). Matches are won when total points are scored (usually five or seven) or time runs out
  • Splatmaster – A child friendly version played on smaller courses. Visit our Splatmaster page.

Do you know of any other alternatives to Paintball? Let us know on Facebook.

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