The alarm clock rang. Usually, I don't have much trouble getting out of bed, but this time I didn't want to. After a while, it rung for the second time. It's today! My eyes opened immediately, as if it was the middle of the day. In the end, I wasn't going for a typical game, but to a meeting that has, for some time, completely occupied my thoughts: "Operation WINTER".
I picked up the phone to see if the rest of the team was online. They were not. Well, this time I was supposed to go alone anyway. I looked out the window. It was dark, too dark. Krauzak promised snow again and probably did not keep his word, again. This was not promising, but we'll see. Against all odds, I stood up.
BEFORE THE GAME
I arrived at the meeting place on Saturday at 6:15. I wasn't the first one, obviously, as the meeting started on Friday with an integration. "Oblacka Przystań" - a very interesting place. At first it seemed empty and calm. Thanks to the Posmyk pond behind the trees, it was also very pretty. I went to the waterfront to warm up a little and take a look at the landscapes and thousands of birds covering the water surface.
Several minutes later, after returning to the meeting point, it started to get lively. The registration process was in full swing. Taking advantage of the fact that queues were just beginning to build up, I immediately registered and took my replicas for FPS measurement. The measurement itself was fair and the site was well secured. The results were measured in joules, using heavy BBs, to minimize the impact of joule creep on the real performance of replicas in the field. I was well within the limit. It would be strange if I wouldn't be when using the stock budget AKS-74U replica (as a real rebel should).
The parking lot was starting to get crowded. It was interesting because there were many more players than cars. As I mentioned above, the event officially began the day before, with an integration at a big gym, which was converted into an event-sleeping space for the needs of Operation WINTER. Contrary to the fears of some players, people participating in the integration didn't seem to be particular tired in the morning. Judging by the conversations between them, this idea was a hit.
Time designated for registration was spent in different ways: some talked, others sat in the room, some players tested and set up their replicas. A wide time frame and a relatively small number of people (around 115) meant there were no registration queues and unnecessary downtime. As I heard, the briefing was slightly delayed but I didn't pay much attention to this. Perhaps because many smaller games had much larger delays.
The briefing was short and informative: the organizers recalled the main premise of the game and its mechanics. Then came time for the briefing of commanders of both sides and of individual units, as well as time to find other members of one's own unit.
Because there was no one else in my group (the RQS Team) except me, I had to be moved to another one. While registering online, I indicated no preferences for the sides that were involved in the game. Due to the delicate disproportion of forces, which was visible during my registration, I asked to be added to the rebel side. When I saw the troop list, I smiled. I was added to a unit that contained a team I knew, the Lone Wolves Team, which has a similar approach to games as me.
However, just before the game itself, there were minor reshuffles. Ultimately, in the second unit, in addition to LWT, there was a group called Bald Snakes, as well as two non-associated players - Siwy and Niedźwiedz - and me. After briefly familiarizing myself with the rest of the second unit, the commander, Harcerz from the Lone Wolves Team, began to give us our tasks.
ONE H1 TOO FAR
At first, we didn't receive much information about the purpose of our activity. We knew that we were to conquer and secure a fortification area in sector H1. It was a relatively open area consisting of a large number of small buildings, surrounded by a forest. This task was assigned to three units, i.e. most of our forces. We did not know the number of enemies occupying the H1 area. However, we knew that we had one of the enemy units on our backs, so we had to hurry. After a short march, forward scouts made eye contact with the enemy. We were ordered to extend our unit into a tyralier and approach the buildings from the left flank.
However, we were surprised by enemies who were set up very well, limiting our room for maneuvering. I was alone on the edge of the left flank, forced to move up from the left (we wanted to close the distance) and I got directly under the fire from an enemy player hidden behind some bushes. Due to the short distance, I did not manage to react. I fell to the ground "wounded". Fortunately, this place was concealed from further enemy (gameplay mechanics allowed "killing" players with subsequent hits). I saw the hidden opponent through the branches. I knew that calling a medic in this situation could get other people into an ambush. The rest of the unit had enough problems already, conducting an intensive fire exchange with the OPFOR. I decided to lie down and wait for things to develop further.
What can I say: help did not arrive. I "bled to death" and walked away from the battlefield towards other "corpses". They were increasing in number with every passing moment. Unfortunately, mainly ours. After a while, the exchange of fire on the left flank was over. The second unit I belonged to was broken. After contacting the staff, we set up a mobile respawn nearby.
A dozen or so minutes spent there allowed me to take a closer look at the vegetation and the terrain. It was essentially flat, but very attractive. The area was devoid of larger bushes and heavily favored long-range replicas. There was a predominance of conifers and forest mulch was slightly green... the area (despite the lack of hills) was very similar to Border War events from the times when they took place in Vrchbela.
We watched the actions of other groups from the respawn. When it seemed that our team was beginning to gain an advantage, another unit of the enemy team appeared on their flank, which destroyed these dreams. The time has come for us to enter the area. We quickly started firing at the enemy. Despite significant losses, we were able to push them out of the right flank and start approaching the center of the buildings. The closer we got, the more the fight intensified. Unfortunately, the buildings and trenches between them were extremely difficult to take. We were beaten again, although this time we could move the mobile respawan much closer to our objective.
After waiting for the respawn to complete it was time for another attempt. We managed to eliminate the opposing forces in the central part of the area, but we still had to fend off attacks from one side, while protecting ourselves against fire from the last buildings held by the enemy. Still, the area was not safe enough to carry out the scenario mission: find the crate and the key to it. This time, losses on both sides were equal but, once again, the game mechanics did not make the task easier for us.
Organizing sensible respawns during this type of staff game is a big challenge. Krauzak has put cards giving the possibility of individual healing plus mobile respawn for entire units. Rules constructed in this way lead to an interesting situation. If you managed to beat your opponent while sustaining a lot of your own losses, you wouldn't celebrate for long. You can't revive the dead part of a unit without withdrawing it's living members. The enemy will soon be back with an intact units. This system has its disadvantages, but it nicely affects the dynamics of the situation and forces cooperation between units. The enemy's forces were well aware of this and pushed us out of the field over and over again.
We were down and once again we had to put on bright pieces of cloth on and go to a mobile respawn, considering the superiority of our opponent. At this point, the organizer entered the action and canceled our task for the moment.
A SUNDAY MOUT OR A MILSIM?
Fortunately for us, from that moment on it got only better. Another task we received was to intercept the already known explosive crate from the other team's unit, Matriona, which was carried around by them in a much more extensive part of the game area, north of the pond. The vegetation was very similar here, and the area was cut into sectors by many roads and paths. This area was also very similar to the one found at our Czech neighbors.
This time it got much more pleasant and atmospheric. The need for long marches, avoiding contact with the opponent's forces, visible from time to time, holding position, organizing ambushes and staying in constant contact with other Rebel troops operating in the area. This is what I personally liked the most.
At one point, while crossing one of the roads, we noticed an enemy group several hundred meters away. They were heading in a direction similar to ours. We identified the group as an enemy unit carrying the crate and improvising, we decided to stop it. They were heading towards the edge of the pond, so we wanted to use the terrain to our advantage. With a small number of players (initially Markus from LWT and me) we separated from the pursuit group and quickly went towards the edge of the pond to cut off the path of the opponents transporting the crate.
Few things are more rewarding during a game than a plan that works out. We arrived at the shore at the right time to be ready to fight. Opening the fire by us surprised the opponent and caused losses. However, they had a large numerical advantage and it began to tip the scales in their favor. In time, however, they were engaged by our pursuit group from the other side and together we managed to crush the threat on the very shore. We seized the crate, picked up the wounded and decided to leave the danger zone as soon as possible.
At this point we had to turn up the pace. Just a few minutes passed, and instead of contacting a friendly unit, we came across another group from Matriona.
This time we didn't want to engage them, but it was inevitable. We were very lucky, because soon another our units appeared. Together, we drew the opponent's attention away from the crate. We managed to get it out of the fighting area, but several people, including myself, paid for it with another life.
RETURN TO H1
The next task required us to return to the build up area of sector H1, find the key to the seized cargo crate and blow up the key objectives in this location. We hid the chest near the buildings, after that we reported to the staff the desire for team respawn.
After the respawn, we return to H1 without any problems. We easily took the area from the hands of a small group of opponents and were able to hold it while searching for the key to the crate.
Here, however, we met with the first organizational glitch. Krauzak did not foresee that one of Matriona's players could take the key, thus negating all the time and effort spent by the Rebellion for searching it. Therefore, this task was conditionally canceled and recorded in our favor, however, some of the nice stuff associated with this task was lost forever (it was not possible to place the charges and secure them for a certain period of time).
We got into a few minor skirmishes here with Matriona, which inflicted losses on both sides. In the end, most of our unit fell and Harcerz decided to withdraw and reorganize a team at a respawn.
IN THE WOODS AGAIN
In the meantime, we received more orders. Gas valves had to be found and turned them off for Matriona , complicating the economic situation of the big state.
Knowing that other Rebel troops carried out this task in parallel, we took part in a valve located on the shore of the pond, near the place where we previously captured the crate.
It was slowly getting dark, so some of us who hadn't done it before had to make minor changes to the configuration of their equipment. The first edition of Operation WINTER was an "unplugged" event. This means that all night vision and thermovision devices were not allowed. Instead, we focused on flashlights. Once again, I appreciated the fact that I was to work with the Lone Wolves Team, which is great at night games. The guys can work effectively using both night vision devices and flashlights.
We didn't have to go far this time: the valve was quickly found. Harcerz ordered circular defense, and the area was well protected. At one point we made contact with several Matriona players. With decisive action we were able to quickly avert the threat, without loosing any players in the process. Soon, however, more enemy units began to move in our direction, and the deficiencies in visibility began to become more and more bothersome. We began to lose control of the situation despite of support of allied forces in the area. There was a great fire exchange in which flashlights played a big role. Unfortunately, there was also friendly fire. At one point, all of our troops were forced to respawn.
We were somewhat lucky: the only time did Matriona get the upper hand and could turn the task in their favor, but the darkness stopped them from finding the valve. Soon, our troops began to leave the respawn and regain control of the area. The opponents were repelled, and we could rest for a while and prepare for the next task, which was to be carried out in complete darkness.
Because the game was coming to an end, the organizers wanted to draw people near the offgame zone. We were again ordered to recapture buildings in sector H1, this time under the cover of the night.
If we haven't quite managed to do it during daytime, maybe the darkness will help to get the opponent out of there once and for all? The task seemed difficult, as the buildings strongly favored the defending team. Despite this, we were able to approach the buildings without any losses, and then slowly but efficiently clean subsequent buildings and zones, still using flashlights. Losses were sustained by both sides. Fortunately for us, Matriona's were more severe. We captured the area shortly before the end of the game was announced.
The gameplay may have come to an end, but not Operation WINTER itself. Krauzak, together with the rest of the organizers from Hammer ASG Team - Silesia, wanted to organize a mainly integration-oriented event. Therefore, a brief summary of the scenario was held at the Oblacka Przystań restaurant and each player received a tasty, warm dinner, access to soft and alcoholic drinks, all included in the ticket price.
The briefing after the game ended with applause for Krauzak and the rest of the organizers, as well as for the commanders of the parties to the conflict: Mattpo from the Horda ASG team (Matriona) and El Dario from the Hammer ASG Team - Silesia (Rebels).
After dinner, some players went home, and the rest stayed for further (dis)integration. As for me, due to the plans for the next day, I belonged to the first group.
As the organizer himself stated, the idea of creating an annual event focused on the integration of players from Silesia (but not only) has appeared in his mind for a long time. A little adversity, as well as moderate skepticism, however, prevented him from implementing these plans.
So what had to happen for Operation WINTER to have finally been organized? Certainly Krauzak's stubbornness must have been a factor. I am also convinced that the successes behind the organization of one of the most recognizable events in (and not only) Silesia - Fedrunek - must have inspired the organizer to say "who, if not me?".
In this way, after enormous efforts put in to the final touches, for less than a hundred PLN (around 22 EUR), players had the opportunity to participate in a perfectly prepared event. Nice sanitary facilities, gastronomy, an interesting scenario and a phenomenal area are just some of the advantages of Operation WINTER. Repeated, positive reviews of the event give great hope that the plans related to the even being annual will be upheld and subsequent editions will become even better. Maybe one day we will be able to perform more tasks, and not just a handful of those prepared, as was the case this time. I keep my fingers crossed!
Probably no one would be against a wider use of the area around the Posmyk pond, because its playability seems enormous. Especially for long and extensive events such as Fedrunek.
Finally, I would like to thank Krauzak and his team once again for such a big contribution to the development of airsoft in southern Poland. I also wanted to thank all players for fair effort. Special thanks to friends from the Lone Wolves Team under the command of Harcerz, for the opportunity to play with such a well-coordinated and cool group and for the other members of our unit, namely Bald Snakes, Niedźwiedź and Siwy. I would also like to thank the commanders of both sides for a very well played chess game in the privacy of the staff.
Congratulations to Matriona, commanded by Mattpo from the well-known ASG Horde!
PS: Sponsors of the event, i.e. the Coral Electronics company and SoldiersASG gave prizes to participants that could be won in a competition organized by the Hammer ASG Team - Silesia, for the best photo/video coverage of Operation WINTER and the best report/text coverage.
See you at the next edition!