After Action Report: Legion Airsoft’s Op: Gladius IV

So… Where to begin? A game that had the potential to be the highlight of a pretty underwhelming year for “Milsim” in the UK, did it deliver? Well yes sort of, but also… No.

Before we start, Remember to take my account of things as it is… MY account.

Other people might have had vastly differing experiences, It’s sometimes easily forgotten that two people experiencing the same event can often have different experiences.

One person’s shit Weekender is another’s “Best Day Ever!”.

Also, note that the opinions expressed are solely my own. They do not necessarily represent the opinions of anyone else and should be taken as one persons personal account of a weekend long game at Longmoor, not necessarily those of everyone who attended.

I’ll start with the pre-game expectations and the information that was given to players booking on.

The event was advertised as a “Milsim” spanning from 09:00 on the Saturday till 15:00 on Sunday, a continuous 30 hour game where we were hoping to get in a decent amount of time under NODs and hopefully be given a well planned and organised game to attend.

I was attending with a few friends from various teams, all of us knowing each other pretty well. Diablo being the main element of our callsign (6 bodies) with a pair from Cobalt and another pair from Coldspear making up the numbers.

Unfortunately we had a last minute cancellation from one of the Coldspear guys effectively putting us in as an 11 man callsign, but with a fair amount of experience amongst us of both weekend events and Longmoor as a site, we were eager to see what we could accomplish.

Some of the information we’d been given pre-game was a little concerning… The medic rule in particular seemed a little too complex when you take into account that your average airsofter can’t even understand the most basic of rules such as team colours (more on that later).

The medic flowchart is below for anyone whose interested, now before you sit there and say “hey, it’s not that difficult to understand…”, consider having to work out what the hell is going on at midnight when your whole team is down and there’s no chance of being rescued in the middle of a piss wet fern covered field. I’d say I have a grasp of what is “immersive” and what is needlessly complex, this was certainly the latter.

So… got that? Let’s move on.

On arrival to the site we forced to wait on the slip road just outside of the Griggs Green entrance to Longmoor training area, bearing in mind it would have been a damn sight safer to let us pull onto the track first and then hold us there until enough people were there to convoy us all to the FIBUA village, not really a good idea considering the amount of cars waiting and the obvious issue of traffic hurtling up and down said slip road. This isn’t my first time to Longmoor but it’s certainly the first time I’ve had to put my car onto an embankment to prevent it being hit by traffic.

After half an hour we were able to head off the road onto the site, another half an hour and we were convoyed to the game area. For those who have been before, you’ll know the long route alongside the A3 which somehow managed to have some of the deepest potholes known to man.

Once at the southern FOB, we made our way into one of the cabins to have our game safety brief. The briefing itself was pretty well presented, relatively short but also mindful of the fact that this sort of game is generally for those who’ve played more than a couple of games of Airsoft.

The one surprise however was that they didn’t plan on running a mandatory chronograph, instead they’d “rely on us to be honest” and randomly chrono thought the weekend.

I personally didn’t see one and neither had anyone I’ve since asked about it… More than a bit worrying to be honest, even at Stirling I’ve seen Chronoing become par for the course in recent times, certainly at FIBUA sites where the shooting is closer and generally you’re gonna take rounds to the face repeatedly.

There was also a well stocked shop (admittedly a Viper/Nuprol shit fest) in this cabin and I managed to stock up on a couple of TLSFX Thermobarics and smokes before getting my gear put into our accom for the weekend.

Our accommodation was based within the SF FOB to the East of Longmoor FIBUA Village, not often used but surprisingly well equipped. We had windows, lights, electric and… A gas heater!

This came in rather handy for drying out wet gear mid game as well as being a massive morale boost.

We got ourselves set up and prepared for game on, we’d been looking at the game schedule and although it was inevitable that it’d turn to shit before sundown (as plans often do), we took our place and prepared to move out. Speaking of the game schedule, most of us were left scratching our heads at what the plan was for S21 after 03:00 as they’d been left off, leaving at least one squad having to be in two places at ones.

Another issue was that a few people (on both teams) didn’t have the right gear for their chosen team, more than once I had to work out which side DPM fell under (neither under the rules) as people on both teams only had this pattern for their wet weather gear.

After an uneventful couple of hours patrolling around the southern wooded area and FOB in the pouring rain, we made our way back to “The Alamo” (A small FOB right on the southern edge of the village) to take our turn as the camped force.

A bit of pyro came over the walls but it was extremely easy for OPFOR to sneak against our walls and dart back off into the village that we had no chance to return fire under our strict ROE (Rules Of Engagement).

The ROE made things relatively interesting and I’ll be honest, it’s this one element that separates a themed game from a standard Green Vs Tan shootout you tend to get at some games. It’s just a shame that we didn’t have any takings that would particularly test us or put us in a situation where we would have to make a Shoot/No Shoot call.

For the most part, the below picture sums up our Saturday afternoon… An awesome FIBUA site with OPFOR just begging us to walk through and fuck with us but being told to sit in a tower and wait for an attack that never came (with OPFOR being told apparently that there was to be no shooting till 17:00).

Our TL (Diablo’s Max) had already formed us into two Fireteams, both with a dedicated Fireteam Leader that would enable us to split the workload of Stag duties and also help us co-ordinate movement between buildings.

We took a half hour on/half hour off approach and it made the standing in a shitty cold guard tower just about bearable knowing that you’d be able to head back in after your slot and grab a hot drink.

Our rest period came soon after and we welcomed the opportunity to get some hot food and start getting tooled up for the approaching dark and cold winter night.

After our 2 hour downtime slot we took our turn on FOB sentry duty (again, we took 30 minute watches to spread the work between our two fireteams). As much as I appreciate the nature of a themed game with people taking their turns, I couldn’t help but feel that after 10 hours in game, we should have been able to be on the ground for more than the 3 hours we’d actually been able to patrol for.

Once our two hours were up, it was suitably dark enough to head back out on the start of a triple patrol slot lasting 6 hours. Into the early hours of the next morning and hopefully with the chance of pulling those, as yet untouched triggers.

Up until now we’d not fired our weapons, and I’d be lying if jokes about shooting the first guy we saw or “Doing the whole fuckin’ village” didn’t pass our lips. Whilst respectful of the game rules, we were on the brink of instigating a firefight or popping some rounds into a villager just to get some trigger time.

As they say… “If he runs, he’s OPFOR… If he stands still, he’s well disciplined OPFOR”.

The next 5 hours or so contained some of the best night time play I’ve experienced. Although it was pretty light on objectives given, we managed to make the most of it and get into a couple of small firefights. Some brief intense firefights but for the most part we were assaulting empty buildings, the other team being nowhere to be seen.

There was one particularly enjoyable fight where we were told to infil and overwatch a particular building as there was a suspected meeting of the OPFOR leadership taking place, as we crept along in the darkness it became apparent that we were walking into a trap.

The great thing about a trap though is that the enemy will have an expectation of triggering it on their terms, not have their quarry turn the tables and fight through their planned ambush. I’ll admit that this was where one of the games more unusual rules gave us the overwhelming advantage.

Head mounted night vision was restricted to Task Force use only, OPFOR would have to make do with handheld units only. A brave decision to make, but one that did allow Task Force to operate as they would in the real world. We made our way through the wooded area after a pretty intense firefight, the Trojan Milsim guys putting up a spirited defence with one guy in particular nailing 4 of us with a pistol and a PVS-14 held in his free hand.

Moving around the rear of the train tracks we quickly realised that we’d been followed and had to pull back into the woods, unfortunately we ended up being ambushed by a separated member of our own patrol (Thanks Tim 😂).

After a couple more adventures in the dark it was time to grab some much needed shut eye, we were supposed to be the Taskforce QRF but due to a combination of the game winding down, the lack of actual taskings given to other callsigns and general breakdown in communication we decided that because of the distances that most of us had driven to the event, we’d grab a solid 5 hours sleep and play through from dawn till endex.

Waking up in the morning we realised that it had gone very quiet despite the upturn in the weather, a considerable pint of people (certainly OPFOR) has called it a day and decided to pack their gear ready to go home.

We performed a short Recce patrol into the village before withdrawing back to our FOB, having been informed that there would be a 2 minute silence at 11am due to it being Remembrance Sunday.

This was thankfully respected by all the attendees but the manner in which it was observed by the organisers was a little odd to say the least.

No real prior warnings had been given out as a whole (I’d expected a mention of this in the initial game brief) and in place of a speech or indication of respect, the silence was signalled by some guy firing a blank firing pistol.

The end of the two minutes silence was also called by a pair of shots from the same pistol… A little odd to say the least. With Longmoor being a military camp and their staff using a siren to signal the start and end of the silence, I’d expected us to use the same signals to ensure we remained respectful in our observance.

Soon after the 11am silence, we made our way back out into the game zone. After a brief stand off at the Alamo where OPFOR must have thrown a good 40/50 pyro over the Hesco barricades, we started to push through the village.

Starting at the railway embankment, we moved from the western edge and attempted to bisect the opposing team and create a safe environment to send out fire teams, allowing other callsigns safe ingress to the northern part of the village.

We’d held the middle row for practically the whole game, encountering little resistance and being given little in the way of taskings.

The only solid objective I can recall from Sunday is the retrieval of an ammunition box… Which having held the central row for most of the morning was pretty simple work and was recovered in minutes from being assigned by HQ.

As a callsign we remained out on the ground until 14:00, without having fired or taken a shot in over an hour we decided to patrol aggressively back through OPFOR’s central location and if we couldn’t draw them into a fight, we’d call it a day.

Another callsign had the same idea and after a mostly uneventful walk back to the FOB, we started to pack our gear up and await permission to collect our cars.

Now let me be very clear before we talk about our last hour on site, I’m an adult and I understand the responsibilities of cleaning your shit up after a Weekender. Generally the site organiser at a Milsim makes their expectations very clear at the start and ensures that the players understand their responsibilities and what is expected.

After realising that there were no bin bags provided (generally clear bin bags are provided by organisers to enable rubbish to be effectively disposed of without danger of pyrotechnics or gas canisters blowing up) we used our own rubbish bags and piled them up at the front door of our accommodation ready for collection.

We were then informed that no one would be allowed to collect their vehicle until all buildings had been swept, mopped and inspected by a member of the staff.

Now I appreciate that organisers do not want to be left with all the hard work after a long weekend, however I will say that asking a paying customer to mop a floor that’s certainly not seen a mop in the last decade is taking the fucking piss.

When we were then informed that we’d have to take our own rubbish off site, more than a few people started to have chats with staff about what is and what isn’t above the expectations of a paying customer.

Again, I’m an adult and well aware of what is a reasonable request to your customers. At certain sites such as The Trees it’s widely accepted that you carry off every last scrap you took with you, it’s a rural site and not good manners to leave all your shit in the woods for people to find at the next game.

This is however the first time I’ve been asked at a FIBUA game to role-play as a kitchen-porter and a bin-man. Just wanting to be gone, we all chipped in and gave the accom block a good fucking mopping…

I’l l be honest though, all it did was turn a dusty as fuck floor into a brown shitty mess. A waste of time and energy, certainly a good way to burn a few bridges with their customers whilst achieving nothing.

So overall, what went well and what didn’t go so well in my opinion?

The Positives:

  • Longmoor is a fun site to play at, until now I’ve always preferred Copehill Down but at night, Longmoor becomes a hell of a setting with its alleyways, woodland fern areas and closely spaced buildings.
  • The Men! The guys from Diablo and Cobalt are old friends and about as close to a personal team as I’ve ever played in. Coldspear also follow much the same philosophy and I’ve found it naturally quite easy to slot in and play alongside these guys over the years. In and out of game there’s a bond that runs pretty deep with these guys and I’ll be honest it’s what saved the event for me.
  • The other players, I personally didn’t suffer from some of the issues others reportedly did in game. For the most part the hit taking I saw was pretty good. Some people took longer than others but mostly it was honourably played from my point of view.
  • The accommodation, we were put up in glazed and heated buildings in the SF FOB. Flushing toilets and running water (drink at your own peril). It was warm and dry, all you can really ask for. Although the floors could have done with a mop 😂

The Negatives:

  • Organisation, I didn’t see many Marshals wandering about until the end of the Sunday, more concerned with picking up pyro at 10am to ensure they could leave promptly than actually ensuring the game ran well and that camouflage rules were abided by is pretty poor… it also means having to go back at endex anyway as there’s always going to be another smoke to pick up.
  • The rules, the medic rule in particular was overly complex for people to work with. The lack of night vision for OPFOR did also effect the other teams ability to actually fight at night which probably led to the sudden drop in tempo at midnight. I didn’t mind the lack of opposition NODs, I’ll never back down from an unfair fight 😂
  • The behaviour of a few players, literally offering people out for a fight in the carpark? Shame on you. Shame on you for doing it on camera as well, I suggest laying low for a while we find something else to laugh about.
  • The word Milsim, often overused and rarely delivered. A request from those of us who actually remember Tier One, CAG and the various other well organised and run games from the past, please stop using the word Milsim to describe what you offer. The nearest I came to feeling like a soldier is when I had to hurry up and wait in the queue to leave site, Milsim should have an actual objective based game somewhere within, at no point did I feel like I was attending anything but a very long themed skirmish.

So, would I attend another Legion Airsoft event? Well I doubt I’d ever be allowed to attend given the largely negative review I’ve given them, but yes… I had a good idea what the weekend would be like and generally it’s the guys you attend with that make or break a game, I’d happily play a shit game with good mates rather than a good game playing alone.

Maybe I’m being slightly unfair…

I actually enjoyed the majority of the weekend, as did those I played with. I just feel that when someone takes your money as a customer they have a responsibility to deliver the game you’d been led to believe was on the menu.

Next time Legion Airsoft, I’d like to see more coordinated taskings and less mopping please.

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