Berget 6 - Convoy Operations (2008-07-08)
Berget isn't just a game - it's an annual Airsoft event in the true meaning of the word. Despite having a large scenario game running for half a week, Berget 6 was also a chance for players from around Europe (and even around the entire world) to meet each other. With over 1200 participants mostly from Europe but also from remote distances such as Alaska and Israel, it is the largest and most global of its kind to our knowledge.
In this year's game, the theatre was an imaginary country called Liburania, which has been torn by a civil war since 2004. The SRP (Separatist Reform Party, yellow armband) troops are set against General Conrad's mercenaries (red armband), with the UN and NATO forces (light and dark blue armbands respectively) in the area to secure stability in a humanitarian intervention operation. As in an actual crisis, a number of civilians are also involved, as well as government officials and diplomats, and random criminals as well as organized gangsters.
|A game marshall donning a cap, courtesy of RedWolf. We gave out hundreds of these!|
With other than fighting elements involved, for some participants the game was more a live-action roleplaying game with Airsoft guns used as props, rather than a simple "shoot what you see"-skirmish. The organizers even had in-game money printed to serve as the currency of Liburania! The plot elements were quite complicated, and simply eliminating everything in sight would not mean victory for your team. As you would expect from a game of this magnitude, the settings were massive with trenches dug in camps, bunkers, pyrotechnics and a laudable amount of military and other in-game vehicles.
Sweden is quite well known for it's beautiful nature and ladies, and we could already witness the former from the window of the aeroplane before landing. Moving from the busy Stockholm area north towards Sundsvall and further to the idyllic Härnosand reflected even more beautiful landscapes one after another onto our retinas. What a perfect location to play our favorite sport! Our involvement in the game was limited to our booth for the most part, even though we were able to send our own RedWolf recon patrols to witness some of the action.
Upon arrival we found that we didn't have any kind of a shelter provided, but this was quickly solved with the creative application of wooden sticks, rope, multi-purpose cover and some boy-scouting skills. Looks don't do justice to the temporary shelter we whipped up, because it stood strong through several days of Swedish summer weather, which was windy at times.
|An MP7 PDW in its intended purpose, within arm's reach of a vehicle driver.|
We brought some interesting heavy weaponry with us, such as a select fire 6mm Barrett M82 replica with Systema internals at 500 fps. We also had the entire Real Sword line-up with us, which again attracted curious people to see the rigid build quality for themselves. From VFC we had their latest AIMS release as well as the prototype KAC PDW for demonstration, and of course the Systema PTW lineup and our own RWC creations. An RWC L96 custom sniper rifle was raffled between all the people who visited our booth and had time to fill out the raffle ticket. For those unlucky players who would break their weapons, we flew two of our technicians and a crate full of spare parts to get them back into action in no time.
Here are some sample shots of vehicles used in the game. The prop tanks were made of plywood over a 2-by-4 structure, but they were mobile as well! A handful of old cars were sacrificed for the project. Some actual military trucks were also used, as well as a variety of vans and pick-up trucks by mercenaries, PMCs and other parties. The Mercedes pictured above was fitted with a gas blowback .50 cal built from scratch by a player who dabbles in mechanics, and they drove the whole thing to the game all the way from Norway! (Obviously with the machine gun dismounted in public.) The machine gun has full barrel recoil and it shoots BBs too!
Starting on the 2nd day, RedWolf organized an Airsoft Practical Pistol shooting competition, sponsored by Airsoft Surgeon. Five MadBull plates were set up at 4 meters (13.1') and the stop plate at 2.5 meters (8.2'). The compo was quite unrestricted, with the only limitations being that the weapon has to be an airsoft gun without a stock or optics. A holster was not required at all, as the weapon was placed on a wooden block in front of the shooter in the starting position. This was done to make the competition fair and as open as possible, without unnecessary limitation on the weapon or equipment. As an additional challenge, the weapon was to be unloaded and the magazine set aside, so the shooter would have to insert the magazine and rack the slide first.
|A very mobile mercenary medic on his ATV, and reporters of Popular Airsoft magazine|
Airsoft Surgeon gave away a highly customized Caspian style race-pistol (based on the TM G17) as the prize, which would be claimed by the fastest shooter to hit all the plates and the stop plate to stop the MadBull timer.
|It's easy to smile with a brand new RWC weapon in hand.|
Over the course of three days, almost a hundred shooters had time to complete the stage while taking a break from the actual game. Weapons were a diverse selection of GBB pistols mostly, but even a Tokyo Marui MP7 was employed with good success! No-one was quite able to beat the RedWolf team shooter's time, but the winner showed some serious skills, completing the stage in 6.79 seconds. Congrats to Toan from Norway, and good shooting with the new pistol!
Here are some shots from the NATO camp, with military tents pitched for accommodation. The flags aren't just for show, but represent actual nationalities present! This side was equipped with lots of vehicles, and they also held a bunker to fortify their positions. The in-game money was used for various kinds of transactions, and the diplomats had to resort to less diplomatic means from time to time to save their hides...
CHAAAARGE! A group of mercenaries were patrolling by foot when they ran into hostile forces up the Main Supply Route. A mechanized section was called in, and fierce battles ensued. The bushes along the road were quite dense in some areas, so staying close to the roads allowed greater mobility at the cost of cover. On the other hand vehicles could be stopped by placing mines on the road, and a carefully planned and well executed ambush could wipe out even a heavily armed convoy. An example of this was seen on Thursday night at around 2300 hours, when SRP ambushed a NATO convoy and laid waste on them. This was witnessed by Airsoft Soldier Magazine who made a video of the battles.
A sniper has climbed higher for a better shooting position, and is armed with a self-loading rifle for firepower. The truck is equipped with a light machine gun, and the crew is taking a rest in the camp.
In the following scene, mercenaries are once again utilizing a pick-up truck to pick a fight on the MSR. They face heavy resistance, so the vehicle is driven to the side and the crew dismounts. The machine gunner is left without cover and hit, so the team takes cover behind the vehicle while attempting to rescue their gunner. The situation turns worse when the SAW is put out of action, and the team is shot from under the car - a classic trick! The last fighter is making a stand behind the front wheel, but was soon overrun by the opposing forces.
|Real Sword gave away 10 AEGs in the aftergame party. The player with the most in-game money got to pick theirs first!|
A large game like this is a real challenge for the organizers, all of whom have real jobs or studies and possibly families to keep them busy with the responsibility of a big event on top of all of that. From what we saw, the supply and logistics were handled very well, and players were taken care of in terms of water supply, hygiene and waste management. During the event the only complaint we heard was lack of action for some players, but it would be quite impossible to keep 1200 players busy all the time, and it would require stripping the in-game leaders of any authority of what happens in-game. On the flipside it could ruin the experience for realism-minded MilSim players, who wish to employ realistic tactics and even strategies on a larger scale, and sometimes the situations can be de-escalated by negotiation as well. We heard that a high-ranking diplomat in the game was finally shot after double-crossing the wrong people, so not all disagreements were settled in a peaceful manner...
|Highway to helvete"? The musical policemen performed some serious rocking, much to the pleasure of the partying crowd.|
After the game, the organizers hosted a big party near the center of Härnosand, with beer-tents and a live-band "Musikpolisen", consisting of musically inclined members of the local police force! Ten (10!) Real Sword AEGs were handed out to players with the most in-game "Berget money" in their possession, and the air was filled with flying T-shirts and bottles of BBs.
All in all Berget 6 - Convoy Operations was an exemplar example of what a well organized large Airsoft-event is, and we enjoyed every moment we spent in Sweden! It was a unique chance for us to meet players from very diverse backgrounds and meet our customers face-to-face in person and share thoughts and jokes. A big thanks to both the organizers, partners and players for making it all possible. We hope to see all of you in events in the years to come!