The second instalment of the biggest milsim event in Finland is about to kick off. Based around a backstory of a near future civil war in Finland, TSTOS 17: The Code (TSTOS is Finnish military shorthand for taisteluosasto, battlegroup) is a three-day long airsoft event combining milsim and LARP elements, in-game vehicles and several factions all rolled up into one.

The series started last summer with TSTOS PAROLA, which had more than 600 participants. This year the maximum number of players is set as high as 1000.

We interviewed the Helsinki based organizers, Ehasa ry — who started out in 2011 and have since grown to become the force behind Finland’s largest airsoft event — regarding the past, present and future of the series.

Event:

How would you describe the event to someone who hasn’t heard of it at all?

TSTOS 17: The Code” is a big, three day long milsim event arranged by Ehasa ry. The game takes place on actual Finnish Defence Forces training grounds in Parolannummi, located in southern Finland. The two fighting factions are over 600 strong in total, and are supported by vehicles ranging from AFVs to bicycles and drones. The forces are led through a military command structure. A civilian faction is also present in the form of local villages and their inhabitants, which both sides need to work with in order to reach their goals. The official event languages are Finnish and English (most Finns are very fluent in English, too).

What can players expect to see and experience during the weekend?

The event will kick off on Thursday in the form of a relaxed pre-game event where you can enjoy food, drink, and Finnish nature at its best, and get to know your future friends and foes. There will also be a sauna and a pond to swim in.

On Friday, we switch gears as players start to prepare for the game, which will begin in the evening. Registration and chronoing are opened, and you can buy cool stuff from us and our sponsors.  Faction bases will be built and commanders start to give their battle orders.

During the event, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, intense fighting will take place over the control of strategic locations and resource points. The ever developing situation can be seen in real time through our service status.ehasa.org. The service shows the game area map overlaid with each location and resource point, and tells which side currently owns which.

Those that have chosen the reconnaissance role get to sneak around and gather important intel related to enemy movement, as well as find more information about the mysterious code that is central to the story. Infantry and mechanised troops also get to participate in solving the code by interacting with ingame civilian population through LARPing. Ultimately, the leadership staff is tasked with finding the players suitable for cracking the multilevel code.

What different kinds of roles are there?

The roles are diverse, as both Battle Groups have HQs with leadership staff, who set out tasks for basic infantry, mechanised infantry and reconnaissance units. Players can sign up as faction leaders, platoon and squad leaders or leaders of small reconnaissance parties.  The roles in the ranks are diverse as well, ranging from vehicle drivers to engineers, medics and riflemen.

Anti-tank forces use 40mm TAG Paladin powder projectiles to destroy opposing vehicles. This brings added realism when compared to events that use a laser based system for this purpose.

There is also a civilian faction that opens up a multitude of possibilities regarding their roles and characters.

How can you participate?

You can sign up through our event controller tstos17.kuulaportti.fi

Is this for first timers, and if yes, is there some extra support for them?

TSTOS 17 is suitable for first timers as long as they keep in mind two basic facts: (1) they have to be able to operate in a forest environment for multiple days and (2) they must obey the rules of the game and the orders given by their commanders. First timers can decide their game roles based on the level of stress they feel comfortable with.  

We offer multiple forms of support in terms of food options,  water, sanitation etc. and our sponsors/partners can even support you with rental guns and gear. We have a site called player.ehasa.org to help out players before, during and after the event.

How did the backstory come about?

The basic idea is of a future Civil War in Finland, where the Finnish armed forces have divided and are supporting different factions. This year’s backstory continues from last years TSTOS Parola, with an added mystery in the form of a crackable code, hence the name TSTOS 17: The Code.

How to travel to the game location and what can you tell us about it?

The event takes place in Parolannummi, Finland, which is located a little over a 100 kilometers North of our capital, Helsinki. Trains running from Helsinki stop at Hämeenlinna, which is the closest station to the game location.

The game is organized on actual Finnish Defence Forces’ training grounds, which offer a variety of forests and woodlands split up by a vast road network that can support all kinds of vehicles. Also present are some built-in urban battle environments.

Organizing and making it all happen:

What can you tell us about the organizers / Ehasa history?

Our whole organization was based on the fact that at the time there were simply too few high quality events available in Finland. We started off with simple combat and conquest type games in 2011, and had some more LARP oriented games on the side, which began building our reputation and player base. In 2016, we moved onto our biggest project thus far, the TSTOS series, which provided players with a long awaited, quality Milsim type event series in Finland.

What made you want to organize something like this (and on such a scale in such a small country)?

There was a clear demand and we answered it.

We knew there was plenty of interest for something like this due to the vast numbers of Finnish players visiting Berget each year. On top of this, we knew there were a lot of new players who had been waiting for a large event like this. A more serious milsim event like this even managed to lure out some old players from their “retirement”.

How long did you have to plan and prepare to make the first event a reality?

We began organizing TSTOS Parola in the autumn of 2015.

How many people does it take to make something like this happen?

Our own organization consists of 18 people, on top of this we recruit a lot of helping hands.

What has been the biggest challenge in organizing the event so far?

Managing all the little things involved in such a big event. We have also had our share of bureaucracy to climb over.

What’s the feedback been like?

We received very positive feedback from TSTOS Parola as we managed to avoid the most common mistakes in big events like it. We believe this is the result of being well prepared and having previously accumulated knowledge from both our smaller events as well as from our own visits to other large events in Europe. From the negative feedback, we picked the main issues that seemed to crop up, and have worked on fixing these aspects. So far so good for TSTOS 17.

Are you happy with how the first event turned out or are you planning changes (something outside of player feedback)?

We are never fully satisfied. We always aim to make our games better for the players. This is one of our key qualities as game organizers. This year, the events is longer than last year, and we are better equipped to support the players before, during and after the event with systems like players.ehasa.org and tstosnews.ehasa.org. In addition, there are more AFVs and other in-game vehicles to provide support, and we have also improved our food service, etc.

Our latest project was to make a website for players that would contain all the information regarding arriving to the event. You can view the player-site from here: http://players.ehasa.org/

What has been your best experience organizing so far?

Getting positive feedback on our events from people outside of the sport of airsoft. That’s when you know you have achieved something remarkable.

We thank Ehasa ry for taking the time to answer our questions as well as providing us images from last year’s event. AMNB will have presence in the game as well, and a report will follow once the event is over.

Links to event related websites:

  • http://players.ehasa.org/ – A site where we have tried to gather all the essential information regarding arriving to and staying at the event.
  • https://status.ehasa.org/ – A system where you can see the game area, track your location, and see the state of the flags live. Factions may also use this as a Blueforce tracker.
  • http://tstosnews.ehasa.org/ – An ingame website for ingame news. Updated and moderated by in-game civilian players that play as reporters.
  • https://code.ehasa.org/ – A mysterious website built around the game story.

Ehasa ry on social media etc.