* Player Defence - Hiding/Camouflage
The art of hiding and camouflage are similar in the way both are used to allow the user to remain unnoticed by the casual observer. The difference is that hiding depends solely on the environment whereas camouflage depends on the environment and clothing on an individual. As such, both will be looked at separately though the end goal is the same.
The hardest part of hiding is finding a good place to hide. A knowledge of where opponents may approach from is useful since this can determine whether a hiding position can be used or not. A good place to hide should basically completely obscure one's profile from view while giving one a good view of the surroundings. Usually, a Player wishes to hide in order to ambush some opponents or escape from them.
Another key element to a good hiding spot is escape routes. One does not want to back oneself into a corner. Also, if one intends on performing a surprise attack from one's hiding spot, one needs routes to use to get away once the opponents discover one's location. Having at least a couple of escape route options is recommended just in case one ends up blocked by an unexpected group of hostiles.
However, when hiding, though one's profile may be hidden, one must also remember to stay quiet. Noise can just as easily give away one's location as sight can. A good hiding place should also have little clutter which may make noise when stepped on (i.e. twigs, dry leaves, plastic bags, etc.)
Unlike hiding, camouflage is more dependant on what one is wearing to match one's surroundings. Mixing camouflage with hiding makes one nearly impossible to detect by simple visual scans.
To be well camouflaged, one needs to be wearing proper attire to match one's environment. Some suggest army fatigues for any situation but many of us cannot afford to spend on such gear. As such, clothes which are dark or earth-toned (i.e. browns or dark greens) can often suffice in shrub/forest battle grounds. Greys or kahkis can work well in asphalt/cement battle grounds. The key is to try and match the surroundings.
One should also remember that broken, non-solid colour patterns are more effective at camouflaging a person than solid colours. The idea behind camouflage is to break apart recognizable forms into non-standard forms which the human eye will tend to overlook.
Of course, to be properly camouflaged, not only does one need to be wearing the right attire but one's weaponry must also be disguised as well. At present, the colours offered in the water weapon world do not fare well for hiding in the brush. Of course, painting one's water weaponry takes time and effort. Also, it is not recommended to alter a water blaster's colour to match that of a real firearm just in case one ends up in the sights of a police officer or anyone else who may mistake your blaster for something life-threatening.
It is, of course, easier to remain undetected when one is also hidden. When concealing oneself, shadows become one's friend. Avoiding light adds to the effectiveness of one's camouflage as well as blurs one's profile from view.
Opponents cannot hit what they cannot see. Infiltrating and gathering information on the opponent's whereabouts can really turn the tides in one's team's favour. (See: Reconnaissance) However, more often than not, opponents do not wish to be found so easily. The skill of sneaking into the enemy's lair undetected is something which requires practice and patience. Covert operations also allow for strategic attacks deep within enemy territory. Successful surprise attacks can result in the enemy becoming disoriented, confused and weakened in number very quickly with little or no wetness on one's own side.
Before even considering being a spy/sniper or participating in a covert operation, one must ensure that one has suitable gear. Binoculars come in handy for spotting enemy locations from a distance. Knowledge of the general terrain also helps one avoid open areas or places with a lot of twigs, leaves or other objects which tend to make a lot of noise when stepped upon. Clothing to match the terrain also helps reduce the chances of being spotted.
The main idea is to move quickly and quietly in areas where opponent patrols are not looking. Camouflage can really help reduce the chance of being spotted even if a patrol may approach one's position temporarily.
Stealth when moving over ground depends on several factors: type of footwear, type of terrain, objects on terrain, amount of cover, wind, lighting conditions and number of enemy troops at a given location to name a few. Due to the large number of variables, there is no one technique which can be universally applied. However, there are some general principles which should be kept in mind:
- Crouch while moving. This reduces one's profile, making one less obvious. Objects and people lower than eye level can often be overlooked.
- Hide behind objects. Anything from trees to boxes to fences can obscure one's profile from enemy sights. The nice thing about some types of fences or bushes is that one can see easily out of them without being seen within. They also provide great cover in case one is discovered since the enemy will have a hard time getting a clear shot. However, remember the idea is to remain unseen, not just protected.
- Watch where one steps. Noise is as big a give-away of location as sight is, sometimes even more so. Dry leaves, twigs, gravel, broken glass or any surface which grinds together will make noise if stepped on. These types of terrain should be avoided if possible. If they cannot be avoided, care should be made to step slowly and lightly to make as minimal noise as possible.
- Avoid open areas. This seems sort of obvious, but should be remembered even if no opposition is in sight. Open areas have no places to hide and one can be spotted several hundred feet away without any difficulty. Any open spots, if they cannot be avoided, should be crossed quickly, but preferably one Team member at a time to reduce the Team's profile when crossing.
Keeping one's teammates aware of one's position as well as whether it is safe to proceed or not is very important in covert operations. However, talking or even walkie-talkies can be noisy and alert the opposition on one's positions as well as actions. Hand-signals are usually the best option for alerting one's comrades about what to do next. Of course, before heading out, signals should be confirmed with the rest of the group so that everyone knows what each hand signal means and what to do.
Other signals from waving sticks to whistling to throwing small pebbles can also be used if the situation calls for them. The best method to use really depends on the situation.
There are times during any covert operation where patience plays a critical role. Opponent patrols may linger in key areas or opposing Team leaders may stay where one had hoped they would not. In any event, if one wishes to remain unseen, one often must wait for the enemy to leave or head elsewhere before proceeding. Waiting can turn moments into eternities, but this is where patience comes into play.
...and if Spotted?
Planning, stealth and silence may allow one to infiltrate deep into enemy territory, but there is always the chance for the unexpected to occur and one is spotted. Once spotted, the mission is futile since the enemy would now be aware of one's presence. However, one has a few options. One could either make a dash back to friendly territory, stay and try to hold one's ground, or surrender. What one should do really depends on how many opponents are in the area, how far back it is to safer territory and what one is equipped with.
The objective of the covert operation is to remain hidden while uncovering as much information as possible before returning to base or performing a surprise attack within opponent-controlled territory. The key is to remain silent and out of opponents' sight while having the patience to wait for opposing Team patrols to leave areas before proceeding. Covert operations usually take more time to accomplish than standard attack patterns, but are often much more rewarding if completed successfully.