The Game Modes I Recommend Most for Beginner Paintball Players

best paintball game modes

Stepping into the world of paintball can be tough if you are unprepared. Players with years of experience, high-end equipment, and plenty of time to practice may seem like intimidating opposition, especially in some game modes. Thankfully, most types of paintball games carry plenty of opportunities for beginners to have fun and hit targets even without the experience that makes a long-time hobbyist so dominant. These game types are ideal for perfecting your gun skills, learning how an arena plays out, and testing out new gear and equipment setups.

Best Paintball Game Modes For Beginner

Team Deathmatch

Almost every paintball field I’ve been to has used a team deathmatch (TDM) mode at some point or another. Most feature this game type regularly, with some even scheduling the majority of their rounds throughout the day around some variant of it. TDM is, to many, the “default” way to play paintball.

The premise is simple: two randomly-assigned teams go up against each other trying to score hits on opposing players. Sometimes, no team is declared winner, but individual fields may have systems for keeping track of how many players get tagged on each side. For example, one outdoor arena near me requires players to add a tally to a board in their spawn area before “respawning” and returning to the fight.

TDM is a simple game mode but may offer some ways to get experience working as a team. You may need to cooperate with players to capture part of the map or flush a few enemy players out of a position. Or, if you want to go solo and just score as many hits as possible, there are plenty of opportunities for that as well. If you’re trying out some new gear or are a first-time paintballer, TDM is probably the first game mode you’ll play.

Capture the Flag

The second most popular game type I’ve seen is capture the flag (CTF). While similar to TDM, this mode adds an objective into the mix, forcing each team to work together to find and move with a flag. CTF is popular at all levels of play and is one of the most common game types for professional teams to play against one another.

Capture the flag can vary from field to field and round to round. Sometimes you may need to find a singular flag either hidden somewhere in the area or placed in a prominent central position and fight the other team for control of it. Alternatively, each side may have a flag near their spawn point that they must defend from their opponents while simultaneously working to capture the opposing flag.

While CTF can be more complicated than TDM, I actually recommend it over simple deathmatch as a starting point for new players. Paintball is more fun when you work as a team and fight for a goal other than simply dominating the opposing side. CTF presents a great way to do that without getting too complicated.

Free for All

You might not see this game mode at larger and busier paintball facilities, but when there are only a few players around, organizers may decide to switch the mode to free-for-all (FFA) deathmatch. Like TDM, your sole objective is to hit other players, but this time nobody is your teammate. You can shoot anyone, and anyone can shoot you.

Since there is no spawn point available, most FFA games involve taking a knee for a few seconds until you can come back in. There may also be a “no tag-back” rule that prevents you from immediately going to shoot the player who just got you out, but not all fields enforce such a policy. This game type might be harder than others if your opponents are experienced players, but the lack of any specific objective should give you plenty of opportunities to score hits.

No-Respawn Deathmatch

I give no-respawn deathmatch modes their own section because they play out very differently from other types of FFA or TDM. In these games, if you get hit once, you’re out for the rest of the round. As a result, everyone moves slower and checks more corners to stop opponents from getting the drop on them. These rounds are the epitome of suspenseful and tactical paintball play.

I recommend playing a few rounds of other game modes before these, if possible. You should know how your gun works and how the arena plays out before being thrust into a game without respawns. However, if you already have sharp aim and think you can put up a fight, then try these rounds out and see how you like them.

Bomb Defusal

My final recommendation is one of the simplest types of attack/defend game modes and is taken straight from the pages of video games like Counter-Strike. In a bomb defusal game, one team must assault one of (usually) two objectives and plant their bomb. The other team wins by either eliminating all of the attacking players or defusing the bomb before it can go off.

These games require a bit more field equipment than others to play out, but the mode seems to be popular enough for multiple local facilities to feature it. Usually, there are no respawns in each round, but each round only has a few minutes to play out before the teams reset and prepare to clash again. These matches are some of my favorites because, without teamwork and a focus on the objective, the other side will dominate you in both score and paintball hits.


These game types are not only great for beginners but also exceptionally popular with the broader paintball crowd. Any place that offers rental markers should offer most or all of these game modes on rotation, regardless of whether it is an indoor arena, outdoor field, or extensive section of woods. Just don’t be afraid to get hit and dive into the action and you should have fun with any of these beginner paintball games.


Hi, my name is Jeffrey Alan. I've been playing paintball and airsoft for years, having started out small and slowly making my way into bigger and better events while learning as much as I can about the sport.  Read More

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