Nothing quite like discussing gaming styles to bring us all out from our troll bridges…
I’ll put in a few more comments here based on what some others have said.
Brian said: “but you don't have to go to a "big game in the USA" to get it
you don't need hundreds of people and armoured vehicles to get the same feelings and experiences.”
EXACTLY!! In point of fact, I think it is easier to have a really good milsim experience if you stick with a smaller group in general.
Here’s an example from one of the things we do over the winter in the lead up to East Wind.
We run training events generally in the fall focused mostly on leadership and hard skills such as comms and/or equipment training then over the winter months we run a series of what we call Fieldcraft Weekends which are actually nothing more than a series of challenges that we put groups through in order to allow them to put newly learned skills into practice.
One of the best ones we run is our night nav focused weekend which has teams traversing a 9 mile (14.5 Km) course across one of our National Forest Wilderness areas down in Missouri during the course of a night. We’ll generally set groups going in opposing directions and either have one team trying to make it past unnoticed or just let things play out as they may when the groups converge. Generally speaking, if one side gets totally busted by the other, it is understood that they will be buying breakfast at the Café the next morning. This probably sounds pretty simple to guys who have never covered any kind of distance tactically at night. Those that have know what all of this entails and recognize some of the challenges that are there for the taking:
Patrol leader: Has to guide everyone through the planning process, must conduct PCIs to make sure everyone is ready, checks troops gear, boot fit, looks for shiny things, checks for rattles, steadies nerves and keeps everyone together on the march.
Nav: Navigation is the biggest challenge, the area is laced with trails but it is not as simple as just following a footpath through the Jack Pines on a night were you may only have 22% moon coming up at 23:45. Fail to keep on top of where you are at any point and you’ll pay in spades. This event has a greater than 50% failure rate and almost all of that comes down to nav. If you are working nav, you have a rough night ahead if you’re not on your A game.
Signals: All of our fieldcraft event have a signals aspect as much for safety as anything else. We’ll generally have set times when the units must call in to the White Cell (Admins) and we’ll keep score of who is where doing what from there. This is not as simple as is sounds once we start talking about longer distances in hilly, densely wooded terrain. You’ll soon see who was paying attention in the comms course and who was not.
Soldier: For the new attendee just showing up as a soldier in an event like this there is simply the challenge of moving this sort of distance in your kit. Got problems with your boots? You’ll soon know for sure, pack not fitted right? You know about that too. Need to gain some experience picking your way though tough terrain with NODS, you can bet you’ll get some of that as well. If you fail, you’ll know what to do better next time, if you succeed you’ll have a lot more confidence when you step out on your next night patrol.
These are fabulously fun events and we get attendees who drive absurd distances to attend them. Some of them come to the Fieldcraft weekends with no intentions of ever coming to East Wind, they get all they want out of the weekends instead.
How many guys are we talking for one of these events to run well?
9, NINE, Neuf for our French speaking friends.
Two four man teams and 1 white cell. Great fun, bigger is not always better. Does this need excessive gadgets to work? Nope. Do you need to come to the USA to do it? Nope. If you have 9 guys up there and some land (boy do you guys ever have land) then you can do exactly the same types of event.
Trev said: “Numbers is often the root cause of the problem. It should not be the goal but the outcome.”
I agree to a point. The issue you are talking about here has more to do with managing expectations and sticking to your guns than anything else. It is tempting as an event planner to try to get as many people on board as possible with your event since there is generally the perception that a successful event is a full event. As such, sometimes planners let things slide a bit or give guys a little bit of leeway and before you know it your event is in fact full but it’s full of guys who expect to get catered to and who are not really in it for what you had planned but are instead in it because it is “the big game”. That is bad medicine, poison to milsim…
9 years ago when I started planning East Wind I said I wanted an event that ran tactically24/7 for 9 days, I wanted strict gear requirements so that we could stay tactical regardless of weather, and I wanted the infrastructure in place to do it well.
Players said: 9 days is too long, nobody will want to attend that long, lets just cut it back to a weekend!
Players said: Gear requirements are too restrictive, we should just let people use their judgment and we can just go non-tactical if there is bad weather.
Players said: Night games are hard, we should just run perhaps 2-3 hours out of each night so people can rest.
Players said: All that infrastructure costs a lot of money to get and manage, lets just have players bring their own stuff, sleep in their cars or just go to motels at night.
So if I had followed the advice I was getting, I would be running pretty much the same “weekend OP” everyone else has…
I didn’t, I stuck to my guns and kept to the vision I had for my event. I would get emails from big teams who wanted to attend but wanted this one little rule bent so that they could use their team uniform and I would say no. I would lose those guys, (sometimes) but at the same time, I kept the original vision of what I wanted to do intact.
I am CERTAIN, that every event host knows what I am talking about. You have an idea, it is a good one, it is going to absolutely kick A$$, but it ends up dying the death of a thousand paper cuts as one piece at a time it slowly gets frittered down to the same old same old by the end of the day.
If you want Milsim, you need to determine what it is you want to do, what you REQUIRE of your attendees (you do not want “customers”) and then be absolutely clear and honest about what you are doing. If someone directly challenges your plan, says that they think it will not work, thinks you are a fool to try it, etc then you just smile and keep moving forward. Time will tell but it will only tell if you have the courage to give your own ideas a chance to stand on their own merit.
If you want Milsim, you need to set requirements and then just as importantly you need to mean it. If you say that you require rain gear and big tall Sam with the shimmering smile shows up without rain gear then you tell big tall Sam with the shimmering smile to go pound sand, he does not have the gear you said was required. What’s big tall Sam going to do? Of course he’s going to run off to the internet where he is going to complain bitterly about what a huge horses a$$ you are, swear that he’s never driving 4 hours to go to one of your events again, and encourage everyone else to do the same. In other words, he’s going to become a tremendous marketing asset for you. He is going to cement in everyone’s head the fact that when you say that you require rain gear at the event you are not kidding. He’s going to tell the guys who are smart enough not to show up on a 10 degree day that has a 30% chance of rain without the right gear that when they show up ready to go, the event can and will still happen because the event planner can push forward through potential weather. He is telling the serious guys that you are serious…
Don’t waiver on your vision, there are others out there who want what you want. Provide it and you will get “the numbers” even if the numbers only ends up being 30 guys instead of 300.
Trev also said: “I really believe if Milsim games were posted that absolutely did not allow newbs and filtered the players severely, the games would be at the next level.”
I agree with the concept of what you are saying but not exactly what you are saying.
Again, this is about managing expectations. If newbs are showing up expecting what you are producing then in fact the issue is not newbs at all, the issue is leaders.
Give me 90 newbs and 18 real leaders and we will have a milsim game that will knock your socks off. If you give a section of newbs a section leader who can take the time to show them what to do, guide them the right directions towards success, allow them to grow and learn over the course of the event, and dare I say, allow them to fail then they will have a successful section. You give those section leaders a platoon leader who can provide the guidance needed to keep the sections on task, communicates well enough to make sure that EVERY troop knows his part of the puzzle, then you will have a successful platoon. You give everyone Company level leadership that can manage rest/work cycles, keeps everyone fed, keeps up with the logistics and can provide the upper guidance needed to keep things flowing and your entire event will flow. Leaders are the issue, not newbs. Get more leaders and your newbs will do just fine. Put one guy in a tent with 14 squawking radios and a bad map expecting him to guide unskilled section leaders via platoon leaders who have broken radios and you have a recipe for failure. I have seen that play out time and again at “big ops” and I am sure most of the rest of you have as well.
Worry about leaders, focus on leaders, don’t sweat newbs.
Janus said: “I.e. large scale scenario = fun. Don't enforce HOW a team should organize. No one likes a micro manager.”
There is a common misconception that Milsim means that you are not going to have leeway in what you are doing, that things are automatically scripted etc. This is not the case at all.
“You men there are going to go up over the top of this trench and move at a walk across no mans land towards the enemy position when I blow on this shiny shiny whistle” “You must take that trench and eliminate the enemy machine guns located there”
There are many memorials here with the names of the brave men who died following those kinds of orders during WW1. I am CERTAIN, that there are even more up there in Canada since you guys were involved a great deal longer than we were down here. WWI saw a lot of long lasting changes in how wars were fought but the one thing that came out of that war that rings as clear today as it did back at Cambrai is the fact that leadership insulated from the men who are doing the fighting us a sure recipe for failure.
In 1917 the French experimented with doing it differently, rather than the officers knowing the plan and just driving the men forward with bluster and resounding rhetoric they brought the soldiers into the planning process, they showed them the plan, the ENTIRE plan, they made absolutely certain that the soldiers understood above all else what the commanders intent of their portion of the mission was and MOST importantly, they gave enlisted soldiers the authority to make command decisions on the battlefield that were in direct conflict with “the plan” as long as they were doing so to achieve the intent of the plan. In other words, they began to look, however briefly at what would happen if they had an NCO corps.
The French experiment did not resonate well with the French but damn did it ever have an impact on the Germans who felt the brunt of what this system could do. They learned from the brief French experiment and grew it from there into what nearly every professional army in the world today recognizes as how combat orders are done.
“why are you telling stories about battles from 95 years ago when we are talking about milsim”
Because when you are doing it right, all that structure at a milsim event that you think is there to bind you is actually there to support you. If we take the focus away from “trigger time” and instead focus on missions then the leadership can give you well worded orders that allow you to come up with a plan, a REALLY good plan, to go achieve your mission and succeed without just being told to go over the top when the whistle is blown. Milsim done right gives you so much MORE leeway and so much less micromanagement if you see the limitations you have as ties that support you rather than ties that bind you.
Crom said: “have the teams evenly matched and I dont care if fat kid in multicam or paintballer guy bows out after 4 hours... as long as there’s still people fighting until the end...”
Well said, this is again a matter of leadership above all else. If we get guys out of this mode of thinking that everything has to be a beach assault run run run situation 24/7 and instead focus on the bigger picture, then the pace can slow to a point where you can actually manage things a little bit better and keep your guys in the field. This is a HUGE problem at big games here in the states. Summer time events where the game kicks off at 10:00 am into a huge fight, by 3:00 pm, if you managed yourself well you can pretty much walk the field and take objectives at will since literally 60% of the players (including leadership) will be back at camp at best or down with heat exhaustion at worst. The last big event I was at (which was actually pretty well run even) was Broken Home by American Milsim. I was just in the area and stopped off to help the staff guys with some logistics then ended up using my truck for medevac duty when players started dropping out from not managing heat well. The end of that event looked a lot like the end of a lot of bigger events in that there was a fraction of the guys who started out on the field. This is always a problem but the solution comes down to leadership as much as anything else. We see some fluctuations from things like people needing to leave early from work and we do see some people drop out from injury or illness at East Wind but in general we end the event with about the same amount of guys on the field that we started with. Is it because we are all uber soldiers who eat nothing but wheatgrass smoothies while doing pushups wearing barbed wire jockstraps? Nope. It’s troop management. Manage troops well and you’ll have a force at the end of the day. Focus on “trigger time” and just keep cycling guys again and again at the same Yosemite Sam charge attack at the same place then you’ll end up falling behind on troop management and onesy twosey, they’ll filter back to the cars…
Brian said: “It requires a suspension of reality, and a willingness to step through to an alternate reality where 6mm plastic bbs can kill you.”
Another way to look at that is personal investment in the situation. If you really believe that you are there for the experience rather than the to “win” and you have time and energy put into what you are out to achieve then you REALLY do not want to get hit with that BB regardless.
Sheesh…. 5 pages…. I need to lighten the hell up…