Freshman - An organisers perspective.
Well what can I sayâ€¦. Great site, great players, great game!
This one was a real challenge for us as it was the first time weâ€™d done an urban â€˜combat missionsâ€™ battle and especially one in which the organizers cant see each other at any point.
With limited radio contact itâ€™s a testament to the players cohesion and a sound plan by webby that everything ran so smoothly.
Turn around between engagements was on average *ten* minutes, meaning more â€˜in actionâ€™ time and less trudging to and from start points or to rally points.
Quite a few first for us, other than it being our first urban battle, it was also the first time UCAP â€˜underworldâ€™ of access tunnels under the site had ever been used â€“ allowing us to bypass the normal site entry and insert the engineers in a more atmospheric way. It was also one of the first ever airsoft battles where weâ€™ve had approximately 30 per cent of the attendees from the blank firing re-enactment scene. Truly the crossover predicted by many and supported by the AFRA guys is happening!
So the eventâ€¦
Our organizers set up and walkthrough with the UCAP guys gave us a few last minutechanges on the Saturday night as folk arrived for the social â€“ and there I was pleasantly surprised. While it was as merry and banter filled as any other group of wwii enthusiasts, no body over did it meaning that in the morning *everyone* was up for a days play and not groaning and feeling sick. The last minute decision to hold the social in â€˜the barâ€™ was a cracking idea and from not on PBI events will hold the drinking and gaming (zombiesssâ€¦..errrghâ€¦.bite nom!) away from the sleeping area so those whoâ€™ve driven a long way can get some kip!
Morning briefing went like a dream wit everyone paying attention, the usual 25 minutes brief was got down to around 15 (phew!) and *everyone* was ready well before the scheduled start period of 10am (which *never* normally happens).
So in to the battle. Weâ€™d planned for a â€˜slow burnâ€™ in this one and really were not expecting there to be any contacts for the first hour or soâ€¦ there were but they turned out to be a nervous garrison shooting at each other.
While the engineers and scientists assembled the parts for the newly arrived machinery half the garrison were sent to fetch supplies from the warehouse or were put on sentry duty while the lucky remainer got to hang out in the bar with gallons of â€˜pissenbrauâ€™ and â€˜rottenwineâ€™ to slake their thirst.
Guards were rotated, more fetching and carrying was ordered and the science team went about their job roles they had been given (they had also been given loose character motivation to develop as they saw fit)
All of this helped create a sense of growing tension while allowing new players to find their way around the garrison. At times garrison troopers manhandled barrels of chemicals mere yards away from saboteurs lying prone in the dark!
Shortly towards the end of the second installment contact was made and all hell broke loose as the alarm was sounded. Royal Engineers scouting for their targets had been spotted and engaged. Von Himmel rushed to the radio room to inform the town garrison that enemy paratroopers had landed!
At around this time the heavy rainfall in the region had caused some areas of the complex to take on water and the power room was disrupted. The complexâ€™s lighting ring failed giving the facility only intermittent light and emergency light. Using the patchy lighting the Airborne Engineers moved into stage three and launched simultaneous raids on the valve room, radio room and power transformer.
With open rules of engagement the facility turned into a warzone as both sides gave no quarterâ€¦ valuable scientists still tried to attend to the safe running of the plant as they knew that without a constant check on the pressure gauges and dials critical damage could occur. Neither the garrison or the raiders could afford to lose a scientist which valuable skills and knowledge which made accurate shooting even more vital.
Shortly before 1pm the commandos complete therir last objective. They had silenced the entire gemran garrison, blown the power, captured the notable scientists and destroyed the german signals equipment. All they now had to do was destroy the main heavy water facility and hold the facility!
Lunch was now served. Hats off to UCAP here as every player was served and fed in record time and the food was tasty and more than enough to keep you going for the second half of the battle.
The second installment saw the RE forming a delaying system of ambushes while the German relief garrison rushed up from the town to regain a foothold within the factory.
And here the rules change a little. PBI games usually feature a â€˜hit/bandage/deadâ€™ system as we find regens a bit dull at times. For this scenario only we gave each German player four â€˜livesâ€™ to simulate a mass of re-enforcements but while still requiring more caution to stay in the fight than a limitless amount of re-entries. Aided by a tripod mounted Mg42 the Axis trooped forced their way back into the complex and gained vital footholds allowing them multiple start locations for the penultimate mission.
Now all that remained was for the RE to hold the line for 45 minutes while the charges were set in vital machine areas and detonators set. A brutal fight ensued and it looks like all was lost for the germans as with one minute to go the last few engineers held the machine room with their finger on the detonatorâ€¦. Then disaster struck for the allies.
One of the captured scientists who had earlier managed to escape his â€˜rescuersâ€™ turned out to have been a quisling nazi sympathizer all along and dashed out of the shadows, flung himself at the machinery and tore the wires off one of the chargesâ€¦. With five seconds to go. This plucky Norwegian (PBIs own Barrie!) was riddled with a hail of automatic fire and slumped to the floor clutching the severed wires.
The second charge went off leaving the Brits with only a partial victory as they had no more explosives and had only damaged rather than destroyed Hitlers facility.
All that was left was for the Brits to extract themselves under the eyes of a vengeful garrison. Now personal;y I thought they were doomed but the Germans managed to leave a route uncovered and nearly every Allied trooper (other than Lt Heath who was killed by a grenade and the SOE agent who went missing) made it out alive down a side tunnel. Even more miraculous was one of the other SOE agents who managed to nonchalantly walk past a German checkpoint without even being challenged (hats off to Wladek there)!
So great site, great people, great game.
Thanks to Andy and the UCAP guys, the PBI team for all the hard work, in a particular webby for the scenarios and briefing and Nige and Evo for the props and most of all thanks to all of you who played, who got into â€˜characterâ€™ without being farcial, who performed the dull duties without complaint and who lost and won in equally graceful measures!
Weâ€™ve two more PBI games planned for this year so if you liked this one watch this space for details and if you missed this one then â€˜shame on youâ€™ ïŠ we expect to see you at â€˜Donâ€™t Panic Mr Heath!â€™
"I think we are in rats' alley - Where the dead men lost their bones."
I'd just like to basically add my apologies to the German side for my appalling lack of leadership.
I woke up on the sunday with a splitting (non-drink related!) headache, and by the first 'stand to', it had bordered into a migraine, so i was struggling to concentrate. By the end of the first (second?) combat mission, my vision was blurring and i could barely string a sentence together, so made my excuses and then spent the next several hours sat in the dark in a quiet area of the tunnels, waiting for my head to calm down.
By mid-afternoon, it had relaxed back into a standard headache, and i managed to at least see some of the action, from the background.
So, apologies to everyone involved, and many thanks to Gadge for taking up the reins of organising the Germans. I hope everyone enjoyed it, and i wish i could have had more of a role in it all.
i would just like to add , on a personal note, i thought the menaceing air carried by the germans was fantastic, on more than one occation when i was being asked for my papers and having to think on my feet as to why i didnt have any, i was genuinely nervous. hats of to the boche.
laurels to all involved, players organisers and the UCAP staff. a very different event in a lot of ways, made possible by peoples attitudes.