I found this article while skimming around the net, seems to answer most of the questions that people have about tanks, from what thier used for to how to build them. I in no way take credit for this article.
Ahhh..... Where to start. How about some brief definitions and tactical ideology. I see paintball vehicles in three basic classes.
Combat support vehicle:
This could be anything from a mountain bike to unarmored and only lightly armed golf carts or other small utility vehicles. Mainly designed to help the troops with probing weak spots, but are very limited in the abilities and are unable to withstand a serious fight.
Armored Personnel Carrier:
Usually on a larger chassis with multiple light arms and a few counter measures. This vehicle is mainly designed to carry troops long distances safely and provide close fire support once they get there. These usually require some outside troop support to thwart any anti-armor attacks.
The Koenig Tiger, the Mac Daddy of all tank systems. These comprise of the largest of the tank chassis class. Mostly built on light vehicle or truck frames and beyond, they boast full armor protection and possibly serious countermeasures systems. The defining characteristic of this class is the main weapon systems. Usually a large caliber/ multi-shot weapon capable of delivering a considerable amount of paint in a single shot. Generally accepted as destroying other tanks, buildings, or terrain features. This ability qualifies it as a main battle tank. In the year of our lord 2001, it is generally accepted that five simultaneous hits from a single large weapon, or a splat at least the size of a baseball constitutes as a lethal hit.
The very advent of the tank was the search for something to move machine guns forward across the stalemated battlefields of world war one. Able to cross the trenches and upturned wastelands, they did in a few cases give power and mobility to an assault and actually get something moving. From WW2 on, tank warfare has evolved from a fast means of exploiting breaks in enemy lines and pouring force into them. Case in point is the infamous Blitzkrieg tactics used by Germany in WW2. Well organized, large formation strategies that rapidly deployed heavy firepower into a large area of action to consume fixed targets like cities, or threaten the position of less mechanized infantry divisions operating within striking distance.
Very lofty ideals, but what the hell does that have to do with the fast growing phenomenon of these freakish nightmares that have been unleashed on poor unsuspecting players just trying to have a good time? Those who are standing in mass skirmish lines just blazing away. The fastest winners in that fight are the guys who's ads fill the magazines. Get it? The vehicles do several things for the game. They give commanders an added force factor to use strategically. They add momentum to pushes, and get everybody on both sides all crazy and fired up. It is moments like this that you get to see some of the funniest s**t happen as players lose their minds. In the same respect, they also give mobility impaired players another option in the game. Plus they are just plain cool.
Some of the people put forth a lot of time and effort into producing high quality vehicles. A few I would like to mention such as Rat Patrol, War Wagon, Weekend Warriors, S.O.T.A., Hellfire, Bad Monkeys, and my very own Doom Troopers. As you look around the web, you can find more and more cool vehicles being produced independently. Even Tippman has gotten into the game by producing the Hellhound, which is a fine example of what can be done when you have all the money in the world. I love building tanks as much as I love using them. The best part is how your neighbors approach you with a new caution and respect when they finally realize what it is exactly that you are building in your yard. Area52 paintball builds and sell tanks in Florida if you are not up to the challenge yourself.
I hear all the time that somebody wants to build their own tank. I say great and wish them luck. Building a tank is a fun and rewarding experience, like getting a puppy. Much like a puppy, there is also the responsibility of care and the expense of upkeep. Until you actually own a tank, nobody ever thinks about the work involved after the build and the first game. Tanks require a lot of support and maintenance. After it is built you have to transport it on a trailer, or drag it. This requires a strong tow vehicle, using extra fuel, trailer license, tolls, etc. and then home again ( assuming you had no combat breakdowns). Then all that paint goo has to be washed and scraped off. Then new paint, repairs, refuel, storage.... it is a lot of work. All this stuff takes a lot more time than the few hours of fun that you have with it on the field. It is truly a labor of love.
On the field, tanks generate excitement and a certain degree of chaos. A lot of us are in this for the chaos. Whether I a crewing a tank or hunting them with light anti-tank launchers, I love them both. There you are, sucking in tight to some ridiculously small piece of lumber while some giant malevolent machine bears down on you. You are waiting only to spring at the moment to take a single shot ( which is about all you usually get). It has a sky high thrill factor. All this mayhem does require some clarity and control; however. Mostly self control.
Three R's , Rules Refs & Respect
Several major scenario game promoters have printed rule guidelines. They don't all agree on the particulars of this or that, and despite the evolving nature, I find them to be a good platform. However, until we can canonize an overall rule format ( much like the NPPL's tourney rules) I would encourage everybody, even non-tankers to be familiar with the local tank rules and play within them. Knowing the rules both helps the players use the vehicles utmost , and the defenders to understand their weaknesses.
Good God , we already work these poor bastards to death, and holy shiitake mushrooms now TANKS!! Reffing tanks is tough. It's a combo of reffing speedball and baseball base running. You've got to be on top of it and in that moment when they fire, you have got to make the best call you can immediately. When the shots are fires, neutralize both tanks in place, count the hits, eliminate the destroyed vehicle(s) and let the victor move on. Crews must be aware of refs at all times. Be looking for their signals, don't make them chase you down. If you are hit, take it and get off the field like any other player. You opponent bested you this time, accept it and try harder next time like a sportsman.
Have it. Show it. For the field, for the refs, and for the players. For everyone's enjoyment and safety. The vehicle driver is a critical part of the safety. As well as moving the tank tactically, the driver must keep one lobe in the real world. Always making sure not to endanger the lives of players outside the vehicle and prevent the vehicle itself from becoming an accident. Keep it slow, people are running and hiding all around you. Overshooting and close shooting is not acceptable. I like to say we never did it. We've all done it. It is wrong and lets not let it happen again. Give people a chance to surrender if you are too close. If they have no weapon in which to dispatch you, then they should have the common sense to take the hit when offered. It is when they don't that the aforementioned ugliness usually occurs. It makes us all look bad. Refs could be more active in eliminating players that don't have a prayer, but basically just respect each other. A tank is not a license to go out and indiscriminately rip on other players.
Well, sown to the end here. All I can say about the current insurance turmoil is that it will all settle out in the end. Fact of the matter is that these things should be insured in some way, for everybody's protection. People will play paintball, tanks will play paintball. Together or apart. But tanks are not going away. I do wish to stipulate that tanks do not belong in every scenario situation. That is at the promoters discretion. Doomtroopers and Son's of the Apocalypse are working at the feeble beginnings of a tank association which might produce some rules, safety guidelines, ref techniques, equipment standards, a forum for tank owners and designers, and possibly an independent event or leagues. Who knows where this could go. If squeegie bugs me enough, I might do a technical article on armor tactics and equipment, but I am tapped for now. Thanks for listening and sorry I lied about the Nude Speedball League.
Doomtroopers - Florida