OP: Darkstar After Action Report

First let me give props to Mantis Productions for an awesome story line.  For those of you who missed it, the story line can be found by clicking here.  If you’re just wondering what my opinions were of the operation, then skip down to “Thoughts about the Operation”, otherwise continue on.

I was asked to be the CO (Commanding Officer) for Asmodel (pronounced: as-moe-dell).  While at first I was a bit leery about taking the position, I decided to do it.  My concern about leading it was based on my bum knee, and I didn’t want to let my team down.  As I found out, that wasn’t going to be a problem. 

The day game started out, and unfortunately I hadn’t had time to get fully geared up, as I was helping replace a set of gears in a player’s gun at the last minute in the field.  I decided to try to “armchair” command this one.

Mission 1:

We were given a map that laid out the known campsites of the local tribe (Banti), and the campsite where the Mintek Corp. had setup, as well as the location of the site we were to control.  Other than that, we had no other intel.  Our campsite was a location known as Satellite Hill.  A top this hill is a small building and a watch tower from where we can see most of the AOE (area of engagement).  I decided to split the overall team into 4 fire-teams, which countered the setup the other 2 factions had with 5 fire teams.  Our starting point was a section of land known as The Maze.  Think Vietnam with a bit less vegetation.

I had the teams move methodically into position.  Team 1 sprinted straight to the campsite while team 2 was to be close behind but bypass the campsite and come back to it at another angle just to do a look see as to what might be coming down the road.  Team 3 was to take position in front of the campsite and Team 4 was to take position on the berm about 500 feet from the campsite to watch for Mintek’s forces amassing at the Dirt Hill.  Team 1 set up a hasty security perimeter while Team 2 moved to the bend in the road behind the campsite and setup a secondary observation point.  Team 3 moved to the edge of the campsite facing the road that separated the campsite from the lake.  With this accomplished, fighting broke out at both Banti and Mintek made their move to disrupt our campsite.   We held strong, and losses were minimal and the camp was never lost.  During the fighting, I did find that communications to teams 3 and 4 were sporadic and not as effective as I had hoped. 

One of our objectives were to try to remain undetected by Mintek, and in that area we failed miserably.

Objective 3 was to hold our campsite till the end of the mission, which we were succsssful at doing.  We raised the blue flag and held it securely.

Mission 2:

Objective 1 was to shadow Mintek’s scouting teams and take control of any relic sties they discover.  This should have been easy, but unfortunately the fireteam I requested to take care of this, lost communications and were not stealthy enough to accomplish this.  As such, we were unable to locate the relic sites at this point. 

Objective 2 required us to retain control of our camp and prevent Mintek agents from getting too close.  Again, we were routed quickly due to poor communication before the game.  I was quickly loosing patience with a sect of our team known outside the OP as Team Ruckus.  They failed to make it to the briefing in a timely manner, so the start of the mission was called before I could even organize teams and tell each team the objectives.  We did not have time to make a strong defensive perimeter, and as such were quickly routed.  My suspicions were that Mintek had an objective to accomplish in our campsite, but whatever it was, was not clear to me.  After being routed painfully by Mintek, they moved on and did not return.  It was obvious that they had accomplished their objective there. 

This mission was a total failure due to poor communication and teamwork.

Mission 3:

By now I’m seriously irritated by Ruckus’ lack of teamwork outside of their cliche, and their inability to show up to the team briefing before the game.  Lack of communication was eating us alive, and Mintek’s superior teamwork was tearing away at our ability to get footing in the operation.

Objective 1: We are told that there is a journal that we must obtain from the Mintek camp / CO.  The reason behind needing this journal is not readily apparent, except that it must have something to do with unlocking the The Orthax Figurine.  I assigned Team 1 to this objective.  They were to take control of the Mintek site and search for it and any relics that might be there.  This was quickly accomplished, and we had control of the area.

Objective 2: This became an ongoing objective for the rest of the game.  We were to use the specialist who was able to handle the relics, to retrieve them and transport them back to our camp.  I didn’t want to send him all over God’s creation, and I knew we would take a beating from Mintek and Banti both if we tried to go head to head… so my overall strategy began to form.  We would try to meet with Banti and setup an alliance.  In doing this we would have access to their entire campsite, allowing us free movement within.  With any luck, Mintek would retrieve some of the relics, and Banti would regain them and choose to relocate them close to their Temple.  This being the plan, I put my specialist next to me at all times.  If a relic was brought into the temple after being recovered, he would sneak it out.  No one within Banti was aware that we had someone who could handle a relic, INSIDE their campsite!  This alliance would also begin to feed me intel that I did not already have.  Banti’s CO quickly gave up information such as the exact location for each relic.  This was instrumental to my plan. 

Objective 3: We needed to prevent Mintek from reaching their camp with any relics.  In doing so, I sent in an additional team to the CQB area and from there, to watch for, and destroy any Mintek forces that were out of range of the team that we had controlling Mintek’s campsite as they approached with relics.  This proved to be successful, as by the end of the mission, no relics made it to the campsite. 

Overall Mission 3 was very successful.

Mission 4

By now, my strategy is formed and solid.  My relation with the Banti CO is good, and I have their support watching my back as we help to defend the temple.  I can now take a bit of focus off of trying to not be destroyed by Mintek.  I’m sure that my relationship with Banti is only temporary, and I’m certain that there is some backdoor dealings to be had here.  I’m curious as to when Banti will kick us to the curb, but am still thinking a step ahead.  In doing so, I organized a method to acquire relics outside of the Banti campsite.  The Banti CO had informed me of a relic at the “Bend in the Road” near my campsite.  This was convenient, as I have to pass that on the way to Banti’s campsite.  Unknown to most of my team, I told my specialist to duck off on the way to Banti’s campsite, and look for that relic, and then report back to Banti’s campsite with it secretly concealed, or if unable to find it within 20 minutes of searching, to return to me without anything.

Objective 1: We had already accomplished the meeting with Banti and making an alliance in the previous mission.  Objective complete.

Objective 2: Being that our meeting had already happened, we didn’t need to bother to prevent disruptions. 

Objective 3: Protect the CO from Mintek’s forces.  Well, that was easy.  We split into 3 fire teams.  Team 1 was to head straight to Mintek’s site and look for relics that were already recovered, and take control of that area.  Team 2 was to provide me with security. Team 3 was to follow and provide rear support and defend Mintek’s site.

Objective 4: Repel any attack from Mintek.  This was rough going at first.  My team 2 was doing a great job at protecting me as I talked strategy with Banti’s CO.  Team 3 took charge of providing security at the South end of the campsite.  After finding out from the Banti CO, that there was a relic just South of our location at a 3 sided bunker, I had my Team 3 pull security at that location, and continued to have team 2 handle security at Banti’s site and the rest of Banti took care of anything else.

Objective 5 included helping Banti with their operations.  Doing this was easy as they really had it all under control.  I kept my guys moving about (Team 3) to try to uncover any relics.

After about 20 minutes my specialist showed up, relic in pocket!  Oh how I loved knowing that we had a relic, IN Banti’s campsite without their knowledge. 

On into the night….

As night settled in, the numbers began to dwindle on all sides.  People who stayed for just the day portion of the operation began to pack up and head out, and others needed a rest and sat out or made camp and took a nap.  With numbers dwindling, time was against us.  We had only one relic and need 4 more as well as that journal.

Tensions were beginning to rise between the Banti CO and I as we knew the time to part was going to be coming closer.  My team was experiencing technical difficulties with radio communications and they were starting to become less effective.  By now Asmodel’s numbers have dropped to a third the original number.  Mintek’s numbers were about equal, but Banti had two times the number of people of Mintek and Asmodel combined.  This is where my alliance kept me in the game. During a disastrous mission, Banti’s CO came to me with a plan.  Knowing that there were 3 relics missing (one in my possession), he wanted to make a fake alliance with Mintek.  His plan was that he would fool Mintek into thinking he was going to give us to them on a silver platter, when in reality it would be an ambush taking down Mintek.  Being there there was only minutes left in the current mission, I decided to let it fly and agreed to it knowing that there wasn’t time to put it in play, and I had a squad with which radio contact had been lost. 

With the next mission about to begin the Banti CO came to me to confirm our plan and I said it sounded like a good idea.  In truth, I didn’t trust him at this point.  We were late in the game with a lot of ground to make up.  Banti had kept us in the fight and kept Mintek off our backs long enough for us to keep Mintek from winning.  Now I saw a double cross coming along and I wasn’t about to allow my team to get slaughtered! 

Instructions to my team were to maintain radio silence.  If the Banti CO tried to communicate on my channel, they were to be silent and let me handle communications.  My team was to do all they could to stay alive.  The specialist with the relic was to remain protected, and in the event it looked like they were going to be destroyed, he would rush out into the thickest part of the forest, hunker down in a dark hole somewhere and not move till the mission ended.  The numbers were against us, so we just needed opportunity.  My team was instructed to look for opportunity.

Mission on, and within in a minute or two, Banti’s CO was on the radio.  He was asking for my team’s position.  Now, the radio communications problems earlier in the day made my story more believable.  I told him that I could not communicate to my team in the field, and that they were not responding.  He continued to ask for them to move to the “Bend in the Road” which was about 600 feet South of the Asmodel campsite.  I figured either we would be slaughtered there by an ambush, led into an ambush, or that the Banti CO would make good on his promise, then ambush us.  He began to become notably upset when radio communication fell silent as he repeatedly asked where my team was.  I continued the charade telling my team,”You heard what to do, now get it done!” Of course I was referring to our mission briefing, not what the Banti CO had said. 

After the mission, I found out that my team had managed to stay undetected and at times, only 10 feet away from the opposition and over heard that Banti was going to double cross us and ambush us.  The Banti CO was irate that he couldn’t find our guys right under his nose!  The best part is that one of his team members had Gen 3 night vision on.  There is something to be said about fieldcraft!

By now the numbers had dwindled even further, and the guys running the operation realized that there was no way that the Mintek Corp, nor the Asmodel, could win given the amount of work needed to be done, so the game was called about 5 am.  Sad, but to continue to play would have been futile. 

All said and done, I couldn’t be happier with the team I had at the end of the night.  They knew what to do, they did what they were asked, and performed exceptionally well.  Props to the team at the end of the night!

Operation over.

Thoughts About the Operation

Mantis Productions did an awesome job putting together a story line for this operation.  In addition to a great story was the use of not just two, but three factions.  That makes the whole design that much more complicated, but they did a great job with it. 

The missions were clearly laid out and the objectives were given to us in writing so that they were easy to comprehend and remember.  Radio channels ranges were assigned to each faction, and then broken down to individual channels as each CO saw fit.

Mission lengths were good.  Neither were they too long or two short.  I did feel a bit rushed between missions though and that was irritating.  I understand it was taking longer than expected to get people to the start points than they wished, but none the less, I still feel that more time should have been given.   I had two problems with getting my guys to the start point on time.  First, was the lack of hustle by the guys who normally play as Team Ruckus. They would dawdle about and then just show up as they wanted to, most of the time not listening to my instructions, and at times doing what they wanted without even knowing the objectives.  The other problem with starting on time, was due to the long grueling hike up what some know as Satellite Hill, but one of our guys re-coined “Cardiac Arrest Hill”.  It’s exhausting and time consuming, and we had to march it at the start of EVERY game.  I suggested that next time they offer a trailer or truck to give people a ride up to the start point, but they had to be ready on time or they’d miss the “bus” and have to hoof it.  A better idea would have been just to move the start point elsewhere.

When it came down to it, Mantis Productions came up with a great way to get back on track time-wise.  A period of the operation was called DarkStar.  During this point, no objectives were given and it was up to CO’s to determine the course of action.  Also, no end time was given as it would be adjusted dynamically depending on the start time, and what time was needed to put us on schedule for the last mission.

Dwindling numbers were a real bummer for this operation.  We started strong at the beginning of the day, and come dinner, a large portion of the crowd left for home.  I understand this… people get tired.  Some people headed for their campsites. Cool.  The problem was that most of the people who headed for camp… never woke back up to play! That is not for a lack of trying on the part of the players who were still awake at 5am.  We ran about making noise and setting off fireworks.  Were there enough breaks in the day?  I would say so.  Lunch was a decent length (although a touch longer would have been nice).  Dinner was a nice long break.  So I can’t fault that. 

My suggestion would be to offer 3 types of play to those that register the next time something like this is planed.  First, 24 hours of Airsoft.  Second, daytime play only.  Third, nighttime play only.  This might have kept the numbers from dropping so drastically and so low.  It would be like getting a new set of troops for the final push. 

Overall I have to commend Mantis Airsoft on the great story line, cool props, and overall theme.  The game was enjoyable, and Team Airsoft made the game a blast with the addition of a new two story kill house.  Overall, I would mark this operation up as a win!

Links

Team Airsoft (Georgetown Field)

Mantis Productions


3 responses

23 07 2008
nomad1027

Good after action report. I enjoyed it. It was great to read up on what the OPFOR was doing while we were working on our missions. Your game was certainly more complex than Mintek’s.

It would be interesting to see an after-action-report written up by the 3 commanders. The 3-sided perspective we might get, mission-to-mission, would be fascinating.

The duration of the game definitely had an impact on the teams and game play. I think you’re right – most people were worn out by dinnner time. Certainly, my team kept losing numbers between dinner and midnight. Our commander had to finally consolidate us all into one squad and had us dig in, since we did not have enough warm bodies to mount any sort of offensive. I finally went off to sleep at 3:00 AM. I just could not keep going and had no desire to squat in the woods waiting for the enemy to over power us by sheer numbers.

As to the 3 types of play… I have another suggestion. If most people really just could not go on after midnight, perhaps Team Airsoft and Mantis Productions might be put on a game that goes rom 9:00 AM to Midnight (this will be very cool in the fall and spring, when days are shorter). Also, if there are special raffles or prizes given away, I would give them out in between missions, and not all at once, so that people will be motivated to stay for the duration. Additionally, I think it would be a good motivator to stay if we were to have a team prize (BB’s, a victor’s patch, a discount or gift certificate,etc.) at the end of the evening, that would go to who finally wins the scenario.

Regardless of how the evening ended, however, it was a great game and a really entertaining scenario. Mantis puts on a good show, that’s for sure.

31 07 2008
khsguy09

I was unable to attend this event due to the fact that I had to work the morning shift at SACOM ;However I found this review to be quiet enjoyable. from the way you described it, it sounded to be much better than the previous operations that I have attended at georgetown in the past.(mostly due to incompetent CO’s, no offense) After reading this I think i’d like to be under your command next OP. Great write up A+

29 08 2008
stinkles

That was awesome. I didn’t even attend that game (I was searching for news on it) and I felt like I was just there. Outstanding job.

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