Report on Operation Greenback and Gunman Eversely

Sorry for the delay on this, was waiting for some more pictures to be available. Thanks to Hoopy on the Gunman Forums and Ray for most of the new ones

This report is on Operation Greenback, a weekender event taking place from the 17th until the 19th of August 2012 at the Eversely Site for Gunman.

Map picture

Site Facts

Origin: Forestry Commission Site
Operator at time of writing: Guman Airsoft
Style: Dense Woodland with areas of interest such as watchtowers and villages in place
Website: http://www.gunmanairsoft.co.uk/gunman_airsoft_sites_eversley.php
Postcode: RG27 0PY

Facilities

Due to it being a Forestry Commission site, there is not a huge amount of safe zone facilities in order to minimise the amount of impact on the site. Kit storage area would normally be cars for a single day of play but thanks to it being a weekender, there was plenty of space to camp and dump equipment. No water or food on site so you have to bring all of that yourself which can be a bit of a pain. However, some water was provided at the bases in game due to the weather (hitting 30 degrees C on both days with stupidly high humidity).

Plenty of parking spaces although the road in may give some cars pause for thought. The camping area is huge and there was a great deal of community spirit amongst the players with nearly everyone sitting around the big campfire on the Saturday night

General Game Rules

Guman’s complete set of rules are available here so I won’t go through them in their entirety. This weekend event was using a set of rules known as FilmSim, designed for making airsoft games play like an action movie with high speed play and dramatic deaths. I think they worked really well, especially when combined with the scenario focus of the weekend. The medic system was simple and easy to remember mid game and really made wearing your helmet worthwhile, despite the blistering heat.

I was a little puzzled at their choice to allow ricochet and weapon hits to count as 90% of the sites I have been to don’t count these in order to prevent constant death. However, due to the slower pace of the games it made sense as well as fitting in with the old style movie feel.

Another worry was the large number of non-airsofters roaming around. Access to the site is open to all so some care had to be taken around the outskirts of the site in regards to walkers and horse riders.

Site Layout and Environment

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The entire area of the site is thick woodland with a large number of bush system constructing rat runs in some areas. This makes it quite easy to sneak around in some areas while others are quite open allowing longer ranged combat. As you can see on the map above, there are also quite a lot of obstacles and buildings put up, making it more than just a fight through the woodland. These become the focus points of most of the fighting making them good places to hold or keep an eye on. My personal favourite has to be the Tower, thanks to its ease of access all around, making it easy to escape from when you need to fall back.

Overall it is a really fun site – it feels like a huge area, but it is easily crossable in 10 minutes or so removing the need to trek for half an hour between objectives.

The Scenario – Operation Greenback

I was playing 82nd Airborne all weekend so unfortunately I can only write it from the Allied perspective with one or two Axis asides thanks to camping with a group of German players

Operation Greenback is a secret mission set in 1943 just after the Allied attack on Salerno. British Commandoes have been in the area for weeks trying to make contact with an Italian Officer wishing to defect (codenamed Greenback) as well as observing the Germans who are in the area in a big way. This all came to a head when element of the 82nd Airborne were inserted to assist the Brits and get Greenback out to his new life in America thanks to Uncle Sam.

Day 1

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The scenario unfortunately started poorly for the Yanks with them landing off target and loosing half their number as well as their command staff (This was actually due to real life problems and later written into the story). Due to this, the combined Able and Baker squad had to trek from A19 on the map all the way north in order to meet up with the Commandoes, ideally without being spotted by the Germans. Luckily, we managed to do this by the old tactic of diving for cover as soon as anything spouting comedy German came anywhere close to us.

Once meeting up with the Brits we checked in with Colonel Harvey, British Commandoes, and were sent out on recon missions throughout the map trying to find Greenback and also spot large concentrations of Germans. Throughout the morning the standing orders for both sides was to hold fire – in fact, the Germans had been advised to not engage Allied units in the open as long as they seemed to be trying to hide. This lead to some tense moments such as when a German runner stopped mid way back to the CP, turned around and spotted a squad of US Soldiers hiding in the undergrowth. Being part of that squad, we were moments from popping out and dropping the guy.

However, the king of tense moments came around the middle of the day, when we were ordered to investigate movement around the Tower on our way to meet up with Greenback. Literally metres from it, our squad went to ground prepare to engage a token force around it. As we checked ammo and cleared sights, a squad of Fallschirmjäger turned up on patrol. Now, it was pretty obvious they had spotted us thanks to their multiple comments about the large rabbits nearby and so we started to prepare ourselves for the final fight. The Germans even started to pretend to pee into the bushes near to us.

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By now the number of Germans had started to escalate rapidly and we knew it was only a matter of time before we got lit up. However, the Germans stayed on point and completely ignored us giving us an awesome memory of the weekend. At the tower we discovered a metal box which we dutifully reported in. This tied into the main objective of the weekend.

Turns out that Greenback was in fact a British Secret Service agent and was reporting in the existence of a secret weapons program through out the area. The metal box we discovered was but one of three scientific sites that needed investigation by a highly trained technician that had been dropped in (a marshal in character) So we now had our objectives for the afternoon and as part of this was given the all clear to engage.

Objective 1 saw us back at the Tower with the Americans forming up on close protection while the Brits made use of their overabundance of collected camouflage to hide out around the tower in the various bushes and gulleys. For 27 of the 30 minutes need to fully test the site, we didn’t see hide or hair of the Germans. However, as we started to pack up, grey shapes were drifting down both side of the valley and before we knew it the Germans were upon us forcing us to split and make a break for it through any gaps we could find. The Americans fell back as two small groups taking it in turns to pause, fire off a few shots into the undergrowth before carrying on. There was a harrowing moment when we reached the road, only for a member of the other group to simply tell us we had lost the Sarge to enemy action. We marched back to CP in silence and prepared for our next op

Objective 2 started off well, with a quick and speedy assault onto Badlands CP1 meaning we knocked the Germans back. Unfortunately, CP1 was just down the road from the German HQ leading to it coming under constant attack as the Germans simply got cut down, respawned and got back in the fight. We didn’t manage to hold it for the 30 minutes but the scientist bought it but not before he gave one of the survivors the captured intel. Unfortunately, I didn’t survive this fight, bleeding out and receiving a red death card marking me for some special event on the second day.

Objective 3 was a mortar pit at Badlands CP3 allowing the Allies to fill the area with reinforcements. We manage to hold it for the full length of time but was finding it hard to extract the scientist due to enemy fire. It was at this point that I traded my helmet for the scientist’s labcoat in an attempt to make an escape. I got out of the bunker and ran off to the north west before running into a German squad comprised of my fellow Teessiders. I was shot, knifed, tee-bagged and executed before going back to regen and hearing the end ex for the first day.

Apparently our British commandoes had recovered a German diary that alluded to the presence of a scientific mission in the area for longer than the Germans. It also pointed to them working with a Professor M. However, as night fell both sides put out their sentries and went back into social mode.

A little aside but apparently the discovery of the diary also included the discovery of a mass grave of scientists by the Germans. When this was reported back to their HQ, the German Commander drew his pistol and commanded that he be given the diary. According to the Germans, this led to a stand off between the Commander and his troops and the FJ leader and his troops.

Day 2

As Day 2 dawned, both sides reported that a large number of their wounded had vanished in the night and disappeared into the centre of the site. These were all the players who had received the Red death cards the previous day. This represented them being mortally wounded by managing to drag themselves back to their HQ and get back in the fight. On the second day, these had all been affected by the alien spacecraft buried under the hillside. After having been saved from death, it used its pawns to protect its attempts to get back into space thanks to the involvement of Greenback who is in fact Moriarty who was helping the alien return to space in return for immortality. As one of those who had been critically injured, I was now working for Moriarty – seeing him as the Allied CO.

I really loved the plot at this point – being off the wall without falling into the Nazi Zombies trope. Also shouting out “MORIARTY!” when we were shooting was also fun.

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As the mind slaves, we set about recovering all the parts of a machine (the sites we investigated previously) and then dug in and prepared for a two prong assault from both the Germans and the Allies. This turned up as some serious close quarters fire fights, started off by another Teessider deciding to open up on an Allied group attempting to parley with the Germans meaning the first part of day 2 was more action packed than the while of day 1. I took advantage of this by managing to get revenge on the guy who tee-bagged me on the first day before I was rescued by my Allied comardes. In fact, the Allies managed to clear out Moriarty’s base, forcing him to vanish off into the undergrowth to skulk around and make sure his device went off.

Due to this third threat, the Allies and Germans finally managed to form a truce. However, their lack of radio communications meant pockets of the Germans were still fighting. One of these was the rest of the Teesside group and there was a touching moment where we managed to inform them of the truce and reconnect with them. In jokes were shared, stories told and we finished the day off as friends having stopped Moriarty’s plan.

At the end of the day, volunteers were asked to join Major Harvey’s special division of cutthroats and desperados to guard the device as well as take part in other secret missions. All those who failed to volunteer were gunned down. The rest? Well, they might appear next time… On Secret Missions of World War 2!

Conclusion

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Overall I loved the weekend – perfect plot which the players took seriously but not too much. Everyone got involved with the role play side of it spouting out things in comedy accents. The Germans win in this regard with some of the finest ‘Allo-‘Allo style lines and catch phrases as well as the contestant japes (“Hey Hans, want to hear a joke? The 82nd Airborne!”). Players were fair and mostly followed the rules and there was no cheat calls all weekend. I’m really looking forward to the next game and whole heartedly recommend filmsim to the more experienced player. Expect some more write-ups soon of these events as I’ll be setting money aside to go to many more.

On The Olympics and Tablets

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So it might have escaped the world’s notice, but the UK is currently hosting the Olympics. Fortunately, I’m living in Leeds at the moment, well away from any of the events. However, mentioning the sport seems to have permeated into nearly everywhere I go. The funniest thing though has to be the Olympics effects on my parents who have no great interest in sports.

Since the start of the Olympics, I don’t think my Mum has watched much else on TV when she has had time to sit down, especially now the athletics has started up. At the same time, my Dad (always mad keen on the sailing) has been following it with great interest as well. To be honest I’m not a huge sports fan – I don’t really have any team I support or anything like that. However, if its one I’ll watch it quite happily and I’m still following what’s going on thanks to the BBC’s excellent website. I think its great just how well we are doing at a home turf Olympics despite some questionable decisions about training. Also I’m impressed with how well it seems to be going – there hasn’t been much in the way of huge fiascos once the Olympics started apart from the empty seats and most of the people that have been there seem to have been having a blast. I’m also kind of happy that the G4S contract fell through and the MoD stepped up to the plate – our forces actions at the Olympics help to show that we still have a lot of pride for the various services involved.

However, you don’t come to me for sports or current affairs talk, its more tech, gaming or airsoft stuff. So on with the show!

I haven’t yet jumped onto the tablet bandwagon. It isn’t from not having any interest its just I haven’t found one that suits my need/price range. The iPad is something I really enjoy playing with but can’t really see myself using much – its rare I’m away from a PC and the price is a little bit extreme especially for the 64gb version I would be wanting. Similarly, I really think the Surface is a cool bit of kit, but it is still underneath a Windows PC of which I have already have two. In addition, the version I would want (the Pro) is approaching ultra book price which is a bit much for what I’d use a tablet for.

However, this was before I saw the new Nexus 7 and its low, low price.

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Due to a lifetime of having to justify my tech purchasing to my mum (not as bad as you’d think) I ended sitting and justifying it to myself;

Basically the tablet I would want is going to be used primarily for organisation, music and video, note taking and web browsing. Ideally, it would be a small device that I can easily put into a small satchel rather than having to cart a huge laptop bag around. It would also run Android, allowing me to use apps on the Android marketplace without using my rather old HTC Hero which is almost impossible to use thanks to a crippling bug with the kernel in relation to its WiFi.

The Nexus 7 can easily do all the things I want it too although I have to bear a few things in mind. The biggest thing is its storage capacity. They max out at 16GB which is a little small for what I would want to do. However, this can all be avoiding thanks to the cloud and streaming, something Google really want us to get into. Google Music works for my music anywhere and it seems a really good service, especially as it allows up to 20,000 tracks (my library only tops out at around 8000) meaning I have access to my music as long as I am in a WiFi zone. Video is a bit more of a tricky problem – however, when I’m at home I’m able to simply stream it from my home PC. While I’m away I might be able to watch it from an external hard disc after I pick up an adaptor to take USB. There is however another issue with the Nexus – it doesn’t have a mobile antenna so its limited only to WiFi. This isn’t really a problem though – in Teesside it will be rare I’m not in range of a WiFi antenna and if I need to I can invest in BT Open World access which would let access it any where.

I’m going to buy one at my next paycheck and get a good use out of it next year. But before that, I’ll be writing something up about my Salerno weekend where hopefully I’ll be running around with may Garand playing the role of a 82nd Paratrooper and not leading my squad into an ambush. Hopefully.

On Hawaiians, Guns and Garands

I’ve had a good few weeks being back at work and getting on with the contract tasks I came back to do. It’s also making sure I get out of bed at a decent time rather than just lying in bed all day. And I get to do some programming in my off time.

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I managed to get out to Northern Airsoft Alliance again this weekend for another one of their great open days as a sort of warm up for the Salerno weekend in just over a week. It was actually a quite quiet day apart from the group from Teesside, with many of the site regulars being away, what with it being summer holidays. However, both the North East Airsoft team and another black kitted team turned up so it wasn’t just us versus rentals. As usual it was a brilliant day in terms of the airsoft, with a good few games and some Olympics based madness to suit the occasion. We were also really lucky with the weather – there were storm clouds just skirting around the edges of the sky all day and then as we were packing up the clouds opened up. I ended up driving back to Leeds in my boots as I didn’t have a chance to change out of them. Talking about clothing, you may notice I’m wearing my Hawaiian again. This was in part due  to it being a bunch of cool guys airsofting but also because a light weight shirt is great in summer. I usually wear a base layer underneath (something like a thermal but still allows me to sweat) and the shirt over the top is always comfy. It also makes it super easy to spot your self on the photos.

Because of the number of our guys coming to the site via train or lending out their kit, I ended up packing all my guns. And unfortunately not all of them worked, what with this being airsoft. So going down a list from borked up to working well

  • ASG Shotgun – snapped in half. Apparently the araldite we stuck it together with can’t withstand an airsofting Scot and part way through the pump the stock and body decided to part company. It either going in a skip and being replaced with a decent gun I can lend out to people or its being turned into a Masterkey to go under the M16. Speaking of which…
  • ICS M16 – not working well at all. Firing the odd round on both semi or auto, worked fine when inverted. Going to do a bit more work on it as the new hop unit is supposed to be really good. However, opening that thing up has made me very concerned about what the previous owner did to it – it truly has become a project gun. In better news, one of the CGS guys mentioned the triangular hand-guard cap on the front end can take a VN hand-guard.
  • M1911 – It worked. Unfortunately not very well. Even with the new TM mag, it really isn’t holding gas well, empting it after 3-4 shots. My plan is to swap it out, either for a TM 1911 (again going for the A1 variant to match with the airborne kit and use the mag I recently bought) or sell it entirely and pick up a KWA pistol (either the 1911, SIG or Mk23)
  • M79 – Multi-kill. I’ve started loading the shells to just below fully loaded as both an ammo saving method and a way to get a bit more range. I’m going to have to test just what FPS the rounds are flying out at. I did manage to get a multikill on both the VIP go be captured and a bad guy at NAA. Unfortunately, the loaded shell was the 8mm firing Russian Buster which scares the shit out me – the ability to point this at a man and see him bowl over is worrying. I’m going to investigate mixing the load with some 8mm and some 6mm but if I start firing 500fps 6mms I might be in trouble. Best moment with it though was watching one of our team borrow it, vanish off into the thick woodland in the centre of the site and then suddenly hear a loud THOOMP.
  • Thompson – I didn’t use this at all on Sunday as one of the CGS guys was using it (and gave me a bottle of Florida Orange for the pleasure) but he quite enjoyed it. At this rate, the Thompson is going to be my go to AEG – If I ever go airsofting and I can only carry a small bag, I can fit it in a rucksack and it has the reliability to last a weekend or two without exploding. The weekend size batteries help in this regard.

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You may have noticed I missed off the Garand from this list for a very important reason. I ended up using it for 80% of the games on Sunday, the only time I didn’t being when I was creeping round with my M79  trying to blat people. However the Garand is an awesome airsoft weapon. First, the cons though:

  1. It is stupidly gas inefficient. I had to keep refilling it with green gas every two to three clips (or 16-24) shots. This is in part due to having to move the heavy (and I mean heavy) bolt to compress the biggest recoil spring you ever did see. Also because of the gas, it won’t work in the winter.
  2. Reloading the Garand is a pain. You need to lock the bolt back, place the clip in until it cases the lever that releases the bolt and then slam the bolt forward so it seat properly. Even then, there is a chance the first shot will no blow back which gives you a nice range increase but requires you to recock it which is not what you want in the midst of a fire fight.
  3. The Garand is a very fragile gun that needs a high level of maintenance. Even in use, the blowback is so strong it WILL shake screw out sockets. After the game yesterday, I had to sit down and re tighten screws across the gun, from the bolt attachment back to part of the bolt guide rail. In addition, there was ton of dirt around the bolt by the end of the day, causing it to start to jam when cocking.
  4. Three clips is too few to skirmish with. The advantage of semi auto over bolt is the ability to quickly line up a follow up shot or to adjust if the first shot misses. Having to sit down and rearm after 24 shots can be a pain when you don’t have familiarity with using the Garand and you end up using two or three shots on taking one guy down. Of course, it would be nice if black suited SAS-Wannabes actually took their hits :-|.
  5. You have to be careful with the clips – they are stupidly rare and are so easy to loose, especially on a site which has a lot of rabbit holes, short drops and tyre based obstacles.
  6. 8mm f***ing hurts. I do not want to use 8mm at close range because it always leaves a mark. Luckily I don’t quite have a fully auto rate of fire.

However in terms of good points:

  1. It is the coolest airsoft gun to use (except maybe the MAC11 one of our guys was using). Watching the bolt come flying backwards as the clip flies up in the air, seeing other players duck into cover just because of the noise or running up to a building and realising you are moving like half the guys in Call of Duty 2 just helps to show you – airsoft is about doing cool stuff with cool guns and having fun.
  2. You get a lot of looks and comments when you use it. Both marshals and players were saying just how fantastic it was seeing it in action, especially when the clip comes flying out the top of the gun and you then casually load the next clip. And then try and find the ejected one before you stand on it.
  3. The tension of each engagement just racks up. Having only 8 rounds means you have to count every single shot and make each one be as effective as you can. You can’t do the same suppressive fire as you can do with an AEG so instead you are acting like a marksman – creeping around, finding good setup points to dump your ammo/gas before finding a shooting position nearby.
  4. The Garand has the range and accuracy you want most of the time. Obviously it is nowhere the range of a real gun but it outranges everything else on the field apart decent sniper rifles and the little git with his pimped out systema. In terms of accuracy, you point it at someone and there is a good chance they will be out once you have the familiarity with the gun. I just about was getting to this stage by the end of the day but I’ll have to do a bit more practise with it.
  5. 8mm f***ing hurts. Being hit by it is very obvious and most player who are hit by it visibly cringe. This makes it hard to ignore and marshals pounce on people who have just screamed out and then carried on playing. The 8mm makes it easier to spot as well so you can easily approximate range of each shot. One shot managed to hit a guy mid run (one of the other players who was next to me when I fired compared it to one of Winter’s shots in Episode 5 of Band of Brothers) and he crumpled, rolled forward and came to a stop just in front of the cover he went for.

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After playing with the Garand for basically a full day, I can easily see myself doing it again before the year is out. In terms of plans for it, I have a list of upgrade parts (primarily steel version of the cheap metal used for the rest of the gun) which I am looking at pricing for. This also includes a twist barrel, just to make it even more of a killing machine. And as even I am looking for more clip. The ideal would be 10 (80 shots) but I want at least 5 to make it skirmishable.

I’m going to write another post on a few other topics as this one is getting stupidly long. It should be up tomorrow as I’ll be writing this straight after uploading this. I promise Olympic Discussions and talk of Tablets if not more. New post tomorrow!