Planet Caravan – Airsoft International Exclusive Content
Each and every month we produce exclusive content for the venerable pages of Airsoft International. Often commentary based, a social conjecture on the scene, or overview on its myriad of genres, to reviews, load outs and more …
Just short of our third anniversary we penned this piece originally printed in Vol 12 Issue 11, a return to our skirmishing roots – and as such, to give you the chance to see what we produce each month for Airsoft International I’ve reprinted it in long form.
Territory – Elite Action Games Site Visit
Every Sunday thousands of players, in the UK descend upon their local Airsoft sites. Regardless of weather, rain or shine – they turn out to once again wage ‘War’ and make much ‘Plastic Deth’ …
It’s with this very enthusiastic approach to our beloved past time that I and very good friend Jon A descended upon what not only was my home site for many years, but also significant in that this was where my very first skirmish took place.
Often overlooked, the genre of Airsoft commonly known as Skirmishing is for many not only as good as it gets, but perhaps a commonality amongst most most if not all players. Undoubtedly I’d wager, most MilSim gods, Speed Soft fanatics, and even RealSim re-enactors where born on your venerable skirmish field.
Furthermore, we thought it only fair, whilst revisiting old haunts we’d also review one of the UK’s best and most established Airsoft sites, the Airsoft International award winning Elite Action Games in Surrey.
Biased or not, many years before officially coming onboard I penned the very review that accompanied their site award way back in 2009.
Regardless, I’m keen to find out not only how the site has evolved, and more relevantly, why after all these years the buzz for Skirmishing has not waned, but grown exponentially.
A little history, not long formed before I actually started playing ‘Plastic Deth’ EAG Dorking (or Delta Kilo as I later affectionally coined it after its popular Nam based games). Was the sister site to both EAG Worthing, and the now sadly lamented CQB mayhem that was EAG Epsom, popularly known as ‘The Tunnels’.
Return to Strength
Anyhow, virtually almost exclusively for two and a half years, I cut my teeth and virtually every other weekend saw me descend upon EAG Dorking, ever refining my load out and more importantly my skill set.
Woodland based sites are not always to everyone’s taste, preferring either CQB based arenas or more urban style sites. However, here’s where EAG excels, it utilizes its extensive undulating terrain, eerie forestry and existing fauna and foliage not only to its advantage. They’ve considerably added to its vast size with buildings, fire bases and entrenched positions to best facilitate not only game play, but to create a tactically complex AO for you as player to operate within.
Yes, it’s skirmishing, but they’ve cleverly disguised it and embellished not only the site, but the game play to provide a far more immersive atmosphere be it the casual passing player, young gun or veteran MilSim aficionado.
So, it’s this premise that only furthers what is aside from a truly natural beauty spot, but lends an atmosphere of suspense and terror that would easily lead you to believe your fighting across the Mekong Delta, in the height of summer an Ecuadorian jungle or in winter, Cold War Northern Europe.
This is all bolstered by friendly, amenable and professional staff, who as enthusiasts of the hobby themselves work long and hard to deliver a top day to all present.
So, back here after few years absence whilst crossing the country playing at a whole slew of sites, and event. It appeared whilst much had changed and been improved upon it was reassuringly familiar. I must confess, I’ve missed the relaxed atmosphere and pre game amble as people gear up over a hot drink.
Safety briefing was succinctly informative, detailing the rules and site regulations without sending everyone to sleep, but more importantly reiterated EAG’s long standing commitment to safety, fair play and honest hit taking. This ultimately set the tone for the day, that we are all here to have fun.
Martin, head marshall admirably picked up the slack whilst John recuperates from recent surgery – was keen to iterate and explain to us that the sites key ambition, as it always has, is to ensure varied and different styles of objective gameplay. This, is because whilst the site attracts a large number of new and old players who descend upon the site, they are keen to offer something that entices more veteran players from other genres of the past time.
First game of the day was, whilst a simple premise, was an attack based scenario. Here, including my accompanying photographer and two other long standing players – simply put, we took on the remaining sixty players who took up defensive positions with the labyrinthine FOB.
As we assaulted from two flanking positions, fallen players joined our side and increased our attacking force until only a few remained.
Here, the newly built FOB, built upon the remains of the old ‘Paintball’ fort really shone. Once inside its newly increased size is broken down into maze of corridors and doorways with elevated fortifications and watchtowers.
It’s really cool to transition for woodland assault to interior CQB and this scenario allowed for a great start to the day.
Despite the weather being absolutely diabolical, much of the earlier snowfall still being present. The site despite being swamped in huge knee deep pools of rain and slick mud over sixty players had braced the cold and wet to break the post New Year blues.
To be fair, all credit to the site the mud and rain only added to its character, and fighting through the slimy muddy undulating undergrowth for me just made it all the more immersive.
So, everyone freshly warmed up from the first bout, we broke into a very simple domination game fighting over munitions in the middle of the Cable Reel field. This was essentially a good excuse to get into a good old firefight. I’d lost none of my enthusiasm as I and my buddy soon managed to find a well concealed fighting position overlooking the munitions we’d been tasked to retrieve. Despite scoring an incredible number of hits against the OPFOR, they clearly had determination on their side, despite heavy casualties they retrieved far more ammo than we did.
The Sands of Time
Before we departed, an old favorite of mine, was wheeled out. An old military crate, armed with a switch to reverse the lights between red and green was situated in the dead ground between the Cable Reel field and the old Fire Base.
Simply, teams had to fight across these two positions, switch the crate to their designated color, the device recording the time spent on either red or green, the longest accumulated time being the winner.
Whilst this may sound a rudimentary and basic affair it’s designed to, and works very well at encouraging both teams to utilize the expansive natural terrain and constructed cover and defensive positions to flank and block each other, all the whilst under a withering hail of fire.
All credit to the players who braved the obnoxious weather and biting cold, we all became so immersed in the firefights we nearly forgot about the box altogether. So intent on moving and firing between cover and flanking positions, people where having just too much fun.
It’s this which perhaps one of EAG’s strongest assets in its armory. It’s commitment and longstanding experience amongst it organizers and experienced marshals to ensure attending players have fun.
FOB Delta Kilo
Whilst the remainder of the site set off to explore the remainder of the site and play out several scenarios before lunch, I and Jon set about taking a really good look at the new FOB. A formidable four walked structure, it poses as an intimidating presence in what is an already expansive and varied site. With its watchtowers elevated fighting positions not just along its walls but across the FOB as well, it gives defenders a 360 degree defensive view.
Once inside, here transitioning to a pistol is the way forward, it’s breaks down in a confusingly good warren of passage and walkways. This allows for some superb, frenetic CQB action. The walkways too, add to the 3D combat as they allow defenders elevation with which to pour down fire on would be invaders.
So, a welcome return to the skirmish field. Possibly in today’s generation of players who pursue ultra realism within MilSim, or the thrills and spills of frenetic paced Speed Soft, the skirmish genre has possibly become overlooked, forgotten maybe even neglected. It’s was a very welcome reminder what I’d been missing. Good old fashioned action, getting gears and kit dirty and muddy whilst slinging plastic in long and hard fought gun fights was an exhilarating and refreshing change of pace.
Hey, at the worst I got a great days exercise and much needed opportunity to refresh my skill set.
Better yet I got spend my day in the company of some truly superb Airsofters, who’s hit taking, honesty and integrity towards gameplay is truly commendable. All bolstered by enthusiastic marshall’s who only seek to further drive the days games to ensure they long continue to reach heady heights of excitement and action.
A Snipers View
Longstanding friend, and today my photographer Jon A wheeled out his formidable PTW in the guise of a Mk 12 Mod 0.
Jon’s been a longstanding player for over a decade, and like me, has branched out into the more immersive world of MilSim. Today he too was keen to explore his skirmish roots, and get back to basics.
(Here he us through hit taking, being behind the long gun and how the site best lends its self to taking long shots)
As Andy S23 said, I’ve been playing for over ten years, in such time I’ve drifted over to the more immersive MilSim structured events.
After a brief hiatus, I returned to the scene – complete with tuned and superbly accurate PTW in the guise of a Mk 12 Mod 0 SPR.
Returning to not only a site I frequented but to return to the skirmish scene was an intriguing proposition.
That said, the terrain, foliage and heavy tree line really allowed me to move around, get some good line of sight on the opposition putting down either accurate sustained fire, or even suppressing the opposition to allow team mates to move up.
As much as he’ll hate me for saying it, I prefer to run a far lighter load out, allowing to carrying enough magazines to stay in the fight without getting snagged on branches and bushes.
This, ultimately assists with just getting down on the ground, prone, comfortable and behind my blaster to take the shot I’ve spent ages getting into position with out compromising concealment.
Despite the poor weather, like S23 a good soft shell, with a warm under layer proved more than adequate to keep me warm and dry. Boots were coupled with Seal Skin socks, I just wish I’d brought my gaiters.
Hit taking was fantastic, and reassuringly gives confidence to just relax and enjoy skirmishing – a friendly well run site, varied terrain, all made for a fun day out. Jon A
So, as the weather was so inclement, a segue on from my previous article on cold and wet weather gear, here’s a quick run down on the gears and kit I assembled for the day at EAG in the pouring rain.
As I knew beforehand that it’d be bitterly cold, sitting only just above minus temperatures I ran my Lightweight Thermal PCS smock, this not only kept me warm but over laid with my Patagonia Lvl 5 Soft Shell, dry too.
As previously discussed a few issues back, it doesn’t have to be bank balance breaking, but some good quality apparel that’s well maintained can make all the difference between sitting on the sofa watching television or really getting out and into the mix with the best of em’ – regardless of just how bad the weather gets.
However, I’d decided that as today was going to involve a lot of running around, even in the cold this may cause core temperatures to rise. So, to mitigate that I ran ToySoldiers MBAV, with only training plates to reduce weight, and naturally give some modicum of reference to visually sporting, aesthetically at least my usual load out. This was ably coupled with Haley Strategics D3 Chest Rig, which gave me an ample supply of four magazines upfront, two secondary magazines and the ability to carry flash bangs and munitions to reload. This coupled with Crye’s MRB belt which supported my dump pouch, admin reload for my pistol also carried an additional four magazines if I really got pinned down in any heavy firefights. Initially feeling somewhat lost and bewildered without all the usual trappings of gear carried, but this proved to be a very successful happy medium. I satiated the inner gear fiend whilst keeping low drag and high speed with the best em’ …
I gave the new Patrol Incident Gear FDT gloves a good run out, whilst soon soaking wet and slick with mud the held up well and dried exceptionally fast. I’m keen to keep punishing these, purely just to see what they’re really made of and can they withstand the rigors of aggressive gaming.
This, really worked out well – it was a lightweight low drag load out, even with the obligatory helmet (better safe than sorry, as I’ve a predisposition to bashing my head). It also gave me the option, had the rain subsided to either ditch the soft shell, or if I’d started to overheat remove the lightweight thermal pullover.
All this aside, Jet Boil and Aeropress was on hand to make up a fresh cup of coffee.
However, as it stood Mother Nature did her best to freeze and drench us all off site. Nonetheless, despite such poor weather I remained, otherwise dry, comfortable and in the fight.A testament to modularity and layering the right technical clothing can ensure fun can be had skirmishing despite what the weather sends your way – S23
You can catch with all the up to date news, game dates and information for Elite Action Games here:
Wether your rocking Multicam, M81, DCU, UCP or solid greens, tan or black you can now show your S23FAMILIA pride …
S23 Mk II ‘Beer Mat’ PVC patches back in stock – S23
You can get your Mk II patch right here:
Measuring 5.6 cm by 3 cm in ‘burnt orange’ with black embroidered 23 – our S23 ‘Ranger Diamond’ celebrates the very best of the S23 Familia ethos.
This is a pre order limited to only 50 pieces – delivery takes 2-3 weeks – S23