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Race for the Wool: My OTB is open for bizness

Hello sports fans. I’m not feeling well so I apologize in advance for the following nonsense. This is indeed another Minecraft post, however it is not a post in the traditional sense. One of the more novel experiences in the game of Minecraft is the creation of games within the game. Early on in development a group of players developed a game called Spleef which involved custom-built in-game arenas and was in my opinion comparable to MMA fighting. A bit homoerotic and incredibly boring. Minecraft has also been used for development of adventure maps and so-called parkour maps, or platforming maps as us old fogies would recognize them, and perhaps I will discuss these in a later post. But today I’m here to discuss a unique game within the game. Race for the Wool sets itself apart from other Minecraft games by boiling down the essential elements of Minecraft into a competitive form. The concept popularized by crafter Vechs seems simple enough. Two teams race down mirrored “lanes” to reach three different chests containing different colors of wool. These three wool types must then be returned to the starting point and placed on a “victory monument.” Between the teams and the wool lie several obstacles in the forms of terrain, mobs, traps, and mazes. More importantly PvP is essential and consists of arrow attacks, TNT cannons, and redstone traps.

Vechs’ Direct Fire map was chosen for a recently completed reddit RFW tournament which featured a number of high-profile members of the Minecraft community. By the final matches the games had boiled down to an adrenaline filled “speedball” style mad dash to organically established chokepoints as each team attempted to be the first to obtain resources and prevent their rivals from doing the same, often in explosively entertaining ways. The map heavily favors TNT cannons and the use of, as of MC 1.1, grossly over powered diamond armor. So it should come as no surprise that the winners were a who’s who list of redstone developers like SethBling, disco, and Etho, called the Redstoners. While the map limited teams to four players, teams had alternates to avoid scheduling conflicts. The matches even include a slew of referees who monitor for hacking, rule violations, and ensuring players stay on their own sides.

The tournament matches were livecast by not one, but two commentators, and in the case of the Redstoner matches, they were livecasted by the the Redstoners themselves. The matches took on the distinct feel of a sporting event. I can now relate to Elrood’s experience of watching Starcraft II matches at Blizzcon. While the camera angles presented by the commentators often left something to be desired, watching the Redstoners in action and hearing the intensity in their voices as they went about their tasks with the discipline of a Triple A ball club without the show boating and the tedious punishment of green pitchers trying to hone their craft. The precarious tight rope walk on the way to the pain water maze is made all the more harrowing when the enemy opens up with arrow volleys that threaten to push your team over the edge and into the deep lava pit. Each misplaced block and the subsequent loss of valuable seconds feels like a death-blow. But the successful launch of a chaos cannon that wipes out the enemy’s iron supply and much of their hopes of attaining the vital supply of diamond armor.

The games are surprisingly addicting. At the present time I’m not convinced I could round up enough friends to play a game myself, which is probably just as well. My PvP skills are slim to none and like professional sports it’s doubtful I could match my favorite players even if I practiced more than a nerd making out with his hand before prom. Lucky for me reddit is already organizing another tournament beginning with a map building contest, and I’m sure the plans for livecasting each match are expanding. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to put my rally pick on top of my monitor so I can watch the classic Redstoners v. Efficiency IV match. Right after I set up a betting site for the second tournament.


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