One or two of my readers may have come across an earlier article detailing my first encounter with milsim (‘Milsim and me’). It ended with me suffering a painfully twisted back and my readers suffering an equally painful analogy about opera.
Anyway, I’ll try anything twice, so back in April I attended the next in an ongoing series of milsim episodes located in the fictional province of Moldistan (situated just off the M25, near Hertford).
Once again, the scenario was brilliantly organised, with lots of in-game colour including a towable SAM battery, lots of pyrotechnics and a realistic (almost) CivPop represented by Moldistan’s unluckiest farmer.
As before, I signed up to the MDF side, the loyalist defenders of Moldistan’s rightly elected president (or self-serving tyrant, depending on your point of view) Gretsky. We carried Western-supplied arms and sported uniform DPM battledress.
The opposition was a rag-tag bunch of ill-discplined insurgents who carried AKs (the official weapon of the world’s no-goods) and wore pretty much anything they fancied, short of drag. Though what went on after hours was entirely their business.
This time I decided to carry my trusty KA FN FAL battle rifle, which was cumbersome in the undergrowth but looked well cool and ally with its field-expedient camo and dressing pack gaffered to the stock.
During the course of the first day, I dropped one of my expensive and rare mid-caps. Remarkably, it was picked up by a player on the opposition side and handed back to me at the close of play. A small gesture which typified the exemplary conduct of everyone involved in the weekend.
This conduct extended to the level of immersion in the game. There was much fake Eastern European shouting (my Moldistani sounds like Welsh, so I stuck to grunts and groans) and lots of playful aggression.
Play-acting really is part of the fun. At one point I was rightly chastised for shouting ‘Hit!’ when the appropriate course of action is to drop to the ground and roll around in agony while screaming for a medic.
At this distance (over three months have elapsed since the event) I can’t remember the events of the two days in detail. However, day one involved the defence of our FOB using genuine military practice, with arcs of fire and range cards. We repelled successive thrusts by the enemy, taking the fight into the woods and claiming a gratifying number of scalps.
Day two involved the defence of our forward-deployed SAM unit. On occasion this meant taking up a fire position for some length of time. I grew to enjoy these tension-filled lulls in the fighting as they meant that contacts, when they came, felt all the more frantic and exciting.
However, one of our fire teams decided to defect to rebels in search of more action. This provoked considerable disgust on the MDF side. However, it’s the kind of thing that happens in insurgent warfare, and so to that extent it was in the spirit of the game.
As you can probably tell, my experience this time was one of unqualified enjoyment. I ended the weekend physically exhausted but mentally buzzing, having escaped the banal concerns of adult life for a precious two days.
Above: A TAG Reaper 40mm shell in action. Cool or what?
So much so that, like an idiot, I’ve signed up for another tour of duty in Moldistan in two weeks’ time. This time the conflict will be played out amidst the dense mid-summer foliage of Eversley. In place of my FAL, I will be sporting my M4, tricked out with a launcher for my newly-acquired TAG Reaper rounds, which will be allowed in the game for the first time.
Those rebels won’t know what’s hit them.