Water Warfare: Basics
Want to participate in a water fight, but have trouble gathering interested Players or setting up a game? Read on for ideas that will hopefully offer ideas to overcome such problems.
:: Building Interest
To have a water war, one needs to have willing participants. Neighborhoods or areas with a long standing history of holding water fights typically have no problems in terms of locating individuals who would join in a battle. However, even in areas where participants are easy to find, attempting to hold more organized water combat games can still be a challenge.
For those who do not have a ready supply of participants, one must be a little more aggressive in terms of recruiting individuals to participate in a water war. Of course, some feel that going up to another and asking, "Hey, wanna join me for a water fight?" does not often go over too well and the one posing the question may appear too geeky or childish. Gathering interest should not involve attempts to push one's own interest onto others as this often just alienates people; rather, persuasion and/or temptation of others works best such that they feel compelled or even envious and opting to join from their own desire. Situations and timing are the keys to getting others wanting to be involved.
Friends and Family First
When looking for more participants, it is simplest and safest to see if any friends and/or family members show any interest in joining in a water fight. In fact, keeping an eye out when visiting with friends and family may surprise you; some just might have the odd water blaster lying around collecting dust that you can bring to their attention and ask them when the last time they used it. Starting a conversation on water warfare first to gauge interest is a safe way to bring up the topic without asking for any sort of commitment from them. Those who have fond memories of good water fights are the ones who should be asked first about making more memories. Of course, sometimes there are simply no soakers within view to bring out a conversation on water warfare, thus a back-up plan is needed.
The Squirt-Pistol Scheme: Hanging out with friends on a warm day can offer one the opportunity to pull out a small squirt pistol to tease/taunt others with. Starting off with something small and gauging reaction to it is a very effective way to see whether some have interest without turning everyone away or making others think you are some obsessive water warrior freak (even though the latter may be true *smile*). Co-workers can also be lured into considering joining a water war in a similar fashion. If you feel that a positive response is likely, one can even bring a few small squirt pistols, teasing those showing interest at first, then handing them the squirt pistol while you pull out another. This build up of participants/opponents is an extremely effective way to coax even those less interested in joining. Sometime people can be interested, but would only feel comfortable joining if others are involved as well. By passing out a few squirt pistols, one changes the scene from you being the sole promoter to having multiple participants show how fun it can be through example. The key is then to look at who seems to be enjoying themselves the most, then ask them after things have calmed down, but while the feeling of using the squirt pistol is still fresh, whether they would be interested in joining you for a slightly larger scale water fight in the future.
Outdoor events with classmates, co-workers, friends, and/or family offer prime situations to present the idea of participating in a water war to others without making others feel odd about such a query. The squirt-pistol scheme as described in the Friends and Family First section works very well in an outdoor setting. However, some settings such as at picnic grounds or on the beach are perfect places to hold a larger scale water fight. In many cases, there are actually many interested individuals, but few would go the extra step to bring some water weaponry to the event. If you have the resources, bringing a few water blasters along to an event that you would be willing to share can work wonders at coaxing others' interest. On warm to hot weather days, few can resist the lure of a water blaster when it is presented to them at an outdoor event. To not intimidate inexperienced individuals, it is best to start off by exposing them first to smaller calibre blasters (no larger than a Medium-sized water blaster). Akin to the squirt-pistol scheme, taking out one or two water blasters at first to gauge interest and recruit at least one other water blaster toting individual is the optimal way to begin. As more see and want to get involved, pulling out some more blasters and sharing them around can work wonders. Be sure to keep a note of who in the group appears to particularly enjoy hosing down others and be sure to talk with them before the end of the event about the possibility of having another water fight at a future date.
If you have at least one other who enjoys water fights, but lack additional participants, another common means of finding other interested individuals is simply to have a water fight duel in an area where there are others who can be found. Public places that can water fights can be easily held like local parks, playgrounds, beaches, and such where there are many people are great places to look for more people. Public duelling is particularly effective on hot, summer days when many are outside ejoying the weather and looking for ways to keep cool. When duelling around others, though, one must be sure that no innocent bystanders get hit by any streams as some may not respond too kindly to getting wet. The main problem with trying to gather more Players this way is that one must deal with others one has little or no prior knowledge of; this can be a safety concern for some. It is often a good idea to stick to familiar public areas where known friends, family, and acquaintances know and visit. If the duel does manage to raise interest from some spectators and some state their desire to participate, you need to be able to judge their intent quickly to be sure they are truly interested in water warfare and do not have sinister alterior motives. For safety sake, it is also best to stick with allowing only others of similar age to participate; significantly older or younger Players who you do not know can lead to additional complications should trouble arise. Anyone who states true interest should have their own water blaster; when dealing with first time acquaintances, it is better to play things on the safe side and not lend out personal water blasters. If battling in a residential area, interested individuals can often go and get their water blaster fairly quickly and return to join in the duel after a brief amount of time. For those who state their desire, but inability to quickly get their water blaster, a future date and time to hold a larger water fight can be scheduled. For the initial subsequent water fights, it is best to stick with holding the water fights in the area where the recruiting occurred. If a new recruit suggests another location, it can be considered, but one must be certain that such location is a public area that one is decently familiar with and that someone who is not participating knows where you are going to and how long you intend to be there just in case of problems. As you are dealing initially with individuals you are less familiar with, caution is always a good thing to have. If you ever feel uncomfortable with a suggestion or if you feel this new Player is giving you strange vibes, it is better to end a game and look elsewhere for participants than to be put into a situation one does not like or perhaps even in danger.
Sometimes events and local public area which could be good battle grounds just do not have enough people who regularly visit in order to gather more interested potential water warriors. As such, the idea of advertising a water war event is a common alternative. The most common method of advertising is done in the form of flyers or posted put in visible parts of one's local neighborhood. (Safety Note: if you are not of the age of majority, be sure that your parent(s) and/or guardian(s) know and approve of your plans). Before attempting to advertise, you should have at least a couple of friends and/or family members who are willing to help. The next step is to pick a public place with an easy-to-find meeting point where to have interested people gather and pick a day and time to schedule a waterfight. The public location should have a free, available safe, clean water supply for participants to refill. If such a location is unavailable, you need to consider what alternatives on has to ensure there would be a good supply of usable water (i.e. providing multiple filled water bottles, having a large refill station, etc.). In addition to location, date, and time information, you should also include acceptable age range of Players as well as the note that all participants should provide their own water blaster. Weekend days are more likely to draw more participants than weekdays. As well, optimal times are early to mid-afternoon such that even late-risers have a chance of making their way to the battlegrounds. Furthermore, two times should be noted; set-up/registration time and actual game play beginning time. Thirty minute to an hour should be given prior to the start of the water war to allow participants to register and teams (if required) to be determined.
Before the day of the scheduled water fight, the entire public grounds should be roughly mapped. A participant map should be created, designating what parts of the grounds will be used, where refill stations, washrooms, and/or other resources are located as well as noting which areas are deemed out-of-bounds. Any potential hazards should be clearly identified and labelled. A sign similar to the posters or flyers posted should be made as well as participant contact information sheets to collect information from possible participants in order for future battles to be scheduled. Requested contact info should not request too much private information. First name, age, and email address should be sufficient. If one has a fear of liabilities, a disclaimer should be included on the participant contact information sheet as well as a slot for a signature for the agreement of the participant to the terms. Lastly, a sheet containing a short listing of water warfare rules is needed. For initial games, as there is no way to know in advance the calibre of possible Players, game rules should be as simple and straightforward as possible. Score-based free-for-alls, team one-hit-scores or individual/team one-hit-eliminate games are good choices. If choosing an elimination game, a time limit on the game should be set, a waiting area should be designated, and participants should be informed that multiple games will be played so no Player will be left sitting out to long. Also, since you will likely be dealing with some water war novices, a designated referee or moderator to oversee the game would be highly advised to help enforce rules and oversee gameplay.
On the scheduled day, you and your friends should go to the battlegrounds at least 30 minutes early to prepare to greet interested individuals. The sign denoting the meeting place as well as your water blasters should be easily visible such that newcomers can readily identify that they have come to the right place. New participants should be asked to fill out the Participant Contact Form as well as receive a copy of the battle grounds map and water war rule set. New Players should be allowed to join up until ~5 minutes before preferred start of the water war. Teams, if required, should be divided just prior to the start of the game.
In the event of poor weather on the scheduled day, you should still go to the scheduled meeting point in case anyone does show up. While weather may prevent gameplay, it is still an opportunity to find out if there are some interested individuals who still show up.
.: Things to Consider
One of the key things to consider is expected participant skill and knowledge level. If the majority of Players are novices and/or only general water warfare enthusiasts, game types chosen should be simpler to follow with minimal, fairly straightforward rules. More organized water wars can only be held successfully if all the participants are willing and capable to adhere by a more complex rule set. For beginners and novices, basic scoring such as the subjective "are-you-wetter-than-me" based on visual inspection after a game is a simple way to start. One-hit-soaks/scores type games should be used only when the majority of the participants have the same general view on what should be considered a hit and are willing to help enforce scoring rules.
Another key thing to keep in mind is age range. For those in their teenage years, it is best not to mix in those more than a year or two older than the average Player in the group. For those in their 20s to 30s, the age range can be slightly larger (up to 5 to 8 years around the average Player's age). In general, small children (below 10 years old) should play only with those of about the same age under their parents' and/or guardians' supervision. Of course, wider age ranges can also work if the group knows each other fairly well (i.e. a company outing, school trip, family picnic, etc.).
Availability of usable water sources is something that can make or break a successful water war. The amount and ease of refilling in a chosen battle ground will affect how smoothly different game types will work. Free-for-all soakfests tend to require a good number of filling stations with ample water supply. An organized, highly tactical one-hit-soaks/scores game may just require Players to bring their own water for the game.
When Things Go Wrong
Always have at least one backup plan in the event something does not work as originally planned. Such considerations should be made for the more probable problematic situations. Below are listed some examples:
- weather - in the event of rain or other poor weather, should a game continue? How bad must the weather be before a game is called off? Plans for a make-up day?
- access to water - what happens if some water sources are unavailable during the day of the game? Is there adequate alternative sources? What should be done if someone uses a banned source?
- injuries - in the unfortunate event of Player injury, how will be Player be assisted? Where can Players find help? How will Player injuries affect game play?
- problematic Players / disagreements - sometimes not everyone has the same idea of what is fair or what is fun. There are also times when Players mean well, but there is an honest disagreement on how some rules should be interpreted in specific situations. What will be done when someone is breaking the rules or if there is a disagreement over how a rule should be interpreted? How will rules be enforced?
.: Setting the Rules
Water warfare rules are perhaps one of the least well-defined and variable rules out there. That said, there are definitely a few cardinal rules that iSoaker.com stands by first and foremost:
- Water warfare is a non-contact sport - at no time during a water fight should there be aggressive contact between Players. Battles are to be done using water as the medium, not by any other physical means.
- Only clean, clear, drinkable water - this is the best water to use for blaster care as well as participant safety (Note: the General Rules set, created with input from a number of individuals, has rules governing how game creators can decide on what to deem safe/usable which may or may not fulfil the clear and drinkable terms. Those rules were added for sake of completeness, though iSoaker.com strongly recommends using only clean, clear, drinkable water.)
- Water blasters are for safe, fun use only - water blasters should never be used to intentionally injure and/or harm anyone or damage any property
- Respect Non-Participants - those not participating in a water war should be safe from stray streams and not feel threatened. While accidents may occur, all Players are expected to do everything they can to avoid hitting any non-participant, even if it means giving up a shot; full and proper apologies as well as assistance should be offered in the event a non-participant is accidentally hit. Areas chosen for a water fight should preferrable not be crowded with non-participants and/or be in a location where the typical non-participant would not feel threatened by the nearby use of water blasters.
- Players' Rights: all Players have the right to locally suspend a game if a definite danger, injury, and/or likely risk of injury/harm is evident. A code word or sign should be told to all Players to use to stop play if something has gone awry. Depending on the size of the problem, full game play may be suspended depending on either the majority of Player consensus, the decision of game organizers, and/or the majority of team captains.
Organized Rule Set Templates
For a complete, generalized set of water warfare rule options, see the full Soaker Combat Rules page.
Some Game Ideas
Online Flash-Based Games
.: Game Time
During Game Organization
- Players should all know which team they are on (if applicable) as well as acceptable starting positions.
- All Players should know the style of game being played and be familiar with the rule set; a copy of the rule set should be available to all Players
- All Players should know the accepted boundaries of gameplay as well as acceptable water sources
- Referees/moderators and/or emergency contacts should be introduced to all Players
- All Players should know when the game ends and where to meet for the end-of-game meeting
Just Prior to Game Start
- An official time keeper should announce when there is 15-minutes, 10-minutes, and 5-minutes before starting mark, then perform a 10 second countdown aloud to start the game
- Players should be at their designated starting positions by the 5-minute starting mark
- Any last minute announcements and/or rule clarifications should be made before the 5-minute starting mark
Dealing with Disagreements on Rule Interpretation
Optimally, all Players will have the same understanding of the game rules. However, there is always the chance for a disagreement to occur over some things such as whether a hit has occurred, whether a Player has stepped out-of-bounds, etc. For minor disputes, Players ivolved should briefly discuss their disageement and hopefully come to an agreement over the dispute. If the Players involved seem unable to come to a quick consensus, game organizers, referees, and/or team captains should be called in to make a ruling.
For hard-to-decide situations, a replay and/or restart from defined starting positions could be a simple solution. Unless the dispute is large, it is best not to interrupt full gameplay, thus only the disagreeing Players should be affected
Dealing with Problematic Participants
If the presence of potentially problematic Players is feared, game organizers should ensure the availability of strong enough authoritative figures to help oversee the game (i.e. good team captains, visible referees, and/or even parents/adults). Player and/or Team penalties should be outlined in the game rules to punish offending individuals/teams. For team battles, having a team police its own members for fear of losing points is a good means to spread out the responsibility of dealing with potentially problematic Players.
If a particular Player does start causing problems for other Players and/or begins disrupting gameplay, game officials and/or team captains should get involved to get gameplay back in order. If the situation deteriorates (i.e. other Players start getting unruly and/or aggressive physical contact is made between Players), gameplay should be stopped until the situation is remedied. Game officials should be willing and able to quickly determine how likely problems can be resolved with the current game participant population and, if need be, be willing to call in for help from non-participants. Of course, hopefully things never get this bad, but such problems are sadly still possible, particularly for games comprised of individuals who are not very familiar with each other.
How to Improve Repeat Participation
Having a water war is gerat, but it is even better to have many water wars with the same group to improve one's own stills, develop better team interactions, and develop good relations amongst all the participants.
At the end of the gaming session, all Players should lower their water blasters, meet, and shake hands to signify the end of the game and the mutual respect amongst game participants. Following this, an end-of-game meeting should be held. The time and location of this meeting should be clearly stated in the game schedule.
An end-of-game meeting amongst all participants alls end-of-game results to be discussed, winners (if applicable) can be recogned, and Players can interact with allies and opponents in a non-battle setting. To increase involvement and enjoyment of the end-of-game meeting, refreshments and/or food should be offered. Assuming the majority had had a good time during the water war, if it had not been obtained initially, contact information for all or as many as possible of the participants should be acquired such that future games can be scheduled.
Small prizes and/or awards, even if it is simply a mock certificate printed from a personal computer and inscribed with a Player's name, can go a long way to make people feel rewarded.
Awards and recognition certificate ideas:
- Participation - this certificate is a good one to give to all Players after a water war. A piece of paper with the water name, date, and location inscribed on it to recognize and remind a Player of his/her involvement in the game serves both as a bit of Player participation recognition as well as a reminder to the Player, reinforcing their hopefully enjoyable memories from the day.
- Winner - a self-explanatory award recognizing the winning Player or Team.
- Most Dry Player - this award can be given out in any game. For games with a large number of participants, to facilitate the most dry personl determining, those who think or appear to be most dry should be lined up, then have the group as a whole vote amongst the top most-dry individuals.
- Most Wet Player - same idea as the award for the Most Dry Player, but obviously for the opposite level of Player wetness.
- Most Valuable Player - this award works only for team-based games; team captains would be given th responsibility to selecting which of his/her team members contributed most to their victory. This award would only be given out of the team captain felt that a particular Player should be recognized or not.
- Most Helpful Individuals - game organizers may also wish to recognize the efforts of individuals who significantly helped either in the organizing and/or running of a water warfare game. Showing various parents and/or guardians appreciation for the help is a great way to improve their opinion of water warfare in general and of holding future water wars
Of course, other awards can also be given out if game organizers consider them useful. The above lists only some ideas which do not necessarily need to be used; they are merely suggestions of possible means of recognizing Player achievement and show appreciation towards the water war participants.
This article is meant to give one ideas and offer suggestions on how to organize, set-up, and run a water warfare event. However, this article by no means covers all aspects of holding a water war and is not meant as an exhaustive look at water warfare organization. It is, of course, meant to promote and inspire people to try holding their own water warfare event and give advice on things to look out for and suggestions on how to handle known potential problematic situations.
Updated: 20100205 | Posted: 20070701