Maybe one kid went rogue and tagged another in the ass with a water balloon. Or maybe some dad from two houses down got one of those massive balloon slingshots and launched one into your attic window. It doesn’t take much for casual water balloon cool off to turn into all out warfare. And water balloon battles can get pretty fierce. Plus, you know, it’s fun.
In case you want to help organize your kids and help soak the other team down to their Spider-Man briefs, we recruited the help of Special Tactics. An international team of military experts and scholars, they spend their days developing military and law enforcement manuals. (For reasons explained here, they remain individually anonymous and let their manuals speak for themselves; but their team includes former members of the U.S. Army Rangers, Special Forces, Navy SEALs, and counterterrorist units.) But these guys know their stuff.
“The same strategies and tactics that have helped military commanders achieve victory throughout history can help you completely dominate the adversary in your next water balloon fight,” they say.
That’s why they’ve combed through the annals of fighting techniques to outline the very best strategies to win the most important of all backyard fights. Just remember: Soak, or be soaked.
Hone a Fighting Force of 7 or More into a Well-Oiled Machine
The best tactical approach depends on the size of your force. If you have seven or more water warriors and an open battlefield, you’ll want to use volley fire — the same approach soldiers used during the Civil War. That means dividing into three units: throwers, re-suppliers, and water fillers. “You must achieve a high rate of fire the old-fashioned way,” Special Tactics says.
You’ll need at least four throwers, divided into two “ranks”. When you give the command of “Ready, aim, fire!” they lob their weapons. Then, they immediately run to the back of the line to reload while the second rank throws their balloons on command. And repeat. “The more throwers you have and the more ranks you have the better,” Special Tactics says. “You will be amazed how fast you will be able to get balloons on target!” Just be sure to make the kids switch roles from time-to-time. Spending your summer as a supplier sucks.
Maintain Open Supply Lines
With a high rate of fire, your throwers will run out of ammunition quickly. Here’s where re-suppliers come in (you’ll want at least two). Have them drop baskets of filled balloons at the rear of the ranks of throwers, who can re-arm themselves after lobbing their ‘loons. “Hopefully, when one basket is empty, the second runner is already on the way with more ammo!” Special Tactics says.
Meanwhile, keep at least one water-filler stationed at the hose spigot, or weapons “factory”. “It will help to have extra baskets at the factory so the runners can drop off an empty basket and pick up a full one,” they say.
Decapitate the Enemy
Your well-armed throwers can now maneuver about the battlefield and coordinate a crippling blow. “All great military strategists know that the key to victory is breaking the enemy’s morale,” Special Tactics says. There’s no better way of doing that than taking out their Napoleon, Pablo Escobar or Robert E. Lee. Now that you’ve got a high firing rate, focus it on their commander. It’s what military-types call “engagement priorities” and Russian hackers call “the 2016 election.”
Small Forces Must Deploy Guerilla Warfare
If you have an army of fewer than seven, you have to deploy the lean and mean tactics that make guerilla warfare so lethal.
Hit and Run
Guerilla fighters never face an enemy in open battle. Instead, they use speed, camouflage and the element of surprise to carry out critical hits before vaporizing into hiding again. “With several ‘snipers’ attacking from different directions, the enemy will have trouble chasing down all of them,” Special Tactics says.
Hide and let the enemy come to you. “Wait until they pass and hit them from behind when they least expect it.”
This is a mashup of a hit-and-run with an ambush. You start by having a sniper launch a balloon at an enemy combatant. When the sniper runs away, the enemy will chase them down a pre-determined path — right into the ambush trap you’ve laid for them. “Just make sure that when your sniper is running away he/she yells a code-word over and over so the ambush doesn’t accidentally hit your sniper instead of the enemy!”
“Just make sure that when your sniper is running away he/she yells a code word over and over so the ambush doesn’t accidentally hit your sniper instead of the enemy!”
Plant Re-Supply Caches
Arrive in the war zone early and plant secret stashes of ammo. After each sniper attack or ambush, stealthily re-arm yourself at the cache. “Just make sure the enemy doesn’t find your stashes!”
Water balloon battles are fought and won with creativity. Here are a few next-level implementations:
Make Shields Out of Umbrellas
“Just as SWAT teams use armored shields for protection, you can bring umbrellas to the fight,” Special Tactics says. Deploy these in front of your first rank the way Roman and Spartan soldiers did.
Special Ops and Heavy Artillery
Arm a few soldiers with water guns to act as highly-mobile commandos who can harass the enemy and conduct reconnaissance. Moreover, “If heavy artillery does not violate the laws of your water balloon war, use it to your advantage,” says Special Tactics.