Every year come April, some of us get really excited. It’s not because of weird and constant weather changes. And it’s not because of April first/day of fools. It’s because there’s less than 30 days to go for one of the biggest and most popular airsoft events in Europe; Border War. It has won several »Player Choice Awards« over the years and with a good reason. Every year, they offer several “waves” of tickets, going from the lowest price to the normal price. This happens several months in advance, but some still come in too late. The slots are usually sold out in a few hours, so you need to be quick, if you want to secure a slot on your favourite side. This is also a nature friendly event so no littering, no smoking in non-designated areas and no destroying the flora. BIO bbs are strongly encouraged and you can usually buy them on the spot. If you bring your own, make sure they meet the standards. Some shells are too hard, and could potentially destroy private property and/or some cheaper safety equipment. The facilities are all taken care of. There is catering at almost all mayor bases, as well as toilets and drinking water. And no event would be allowed if there was no medical service. The paramedics on the spot are highly trained and can provide their service on any part of the terrain. People there strive to bring the atmosphere like no other and the number of participants each year only adds to the experience.
While there are many sides of the conflict, one of them is almost always overlooked and underrated. Until one comes across it. My team (Wild Dogs Slovenia) is a fairly constant participant of the event and we wanted to try as many different sides as possible. We were playing as militia (S.E.L.A.), as the PMC units as Privateers & Consulting and Triangle corp. last year, smugglers. While playing as smugglers, we got a whiff of how the LARP game could be played, so this year we decided to go all out and chose (in my opinion) the best side there is. It’s the side that puts the Sim in Mil-Sim. Without these guys and gals, the game would only be a massive arcade. The side is; Civilians / Villagers.As specified by the organizers this side is 80% LARP (Live Action Role Play) and 20% survival. It is recommended only for the truly experienced participants, as many of players actions often lead to game changing results. One needs to completely embrace the theme of the event and adjust their behaviour accordingly. There are no ballistic weapons at the beginning. One must acquire them as the game develops. This side is not recommended for trigger happy players as it just might happen you won’t get to fire one bb during the whole event. You do however get to bring and carry around all the rubber training weapons you want (knives, axes, shovels, etc.) and if the situation requires the use of these weapons, the kill is much more rewarding. Also if you die during an attempt to use these weapons, you go down with glory. It’s strongly recommended you play out the hit by falling to the ground and pulling out the kill-rag while screaming in imaginary pain. This kind of game play not only enriches your experience but also the experience of the player that shot you and the people around them. Some might say »but i can’t wear all of my tacticool gear«. Well this is kind of the point. This game side takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to improvise, adapt and overcome. You don’t even get a food voucher and in-game money at the registration desk. All of the supplies must be acquired through game play. Dress code is also as important as with any other game side. It helps with the atmosphere and if your gear is tacticool enough, you can wear some items under the costume, whatever it may be. You know…just to be safe. You never know what may be lurking at Béla.
Upon arrival everything must be done exactly the same as for any other game side. Registration of your weapons with chrono and registration of yourself. One of the good properties of this game side is also the shortest line at the registration desk. We arrived on Thursday at 2000 and completed all the formal business in roughly in half an hour. The plan was to mingle for a while and then decide when to set up base. While reminiscing with some of the clubs we don’t get to talk to very often, we realized that some of the other villagers were already in character. Costumes and all.We decided to do the same and went to set-up shop. Upon arriving at the village and the camp set up, we realized we have brought insufficient costumes. Some were barely enough and others didn’t fit at all. Luckily the other villagers included some really dedicated organization staff and soon they had us geared up. This year, the village theme was some sort of Wild West. It was split into literally cowboys and Indians and of course, a casino in the middle. We ended up on the Native American side, so we got some pelts, some headwear and some feathers. Also what we took from this was a whole lot of great ideas which were quickly put to use. The atmosphere on our side of the village was kind of mystic/spiritual, and the villagers acted accordingly. There was chanting and all kinds of percussion instruments involved. All from war drums and horns to small rattles that made the eeriest sound. Those were in short supply, so we made our own. Some 0,5l PET bottles, pine twigs, panzer-tape and rocks.They worked perfectly with some practice. The weapons were some Cold Steel training knives and a CS training tomahawk. Safer than wooden props and more durable than foam.
On day 1
…we got to use all of the gear as the game started with a ritual/ceremony in the militia base. We were roughly explained the situation regarding our village and the whole scenario and implemented in the community as Hunters/Beggars.We loaded up onto a truck, which took all of the »Indian« villagers to the site. Of course, chanting all the way. The ritual was to dig up an ancient war axe and give it to the commander of the militia. Rattles and weapons were used in the ritual to summon the spirits and bring good fortune to the militia units. Later followed a speech from the commander and a game start at 1200.When we arrived back to the village, we had some time to check the rest of the buildings around and went to visit the »sheriff« side of the village. They had a court, a church a hospital, a few other buildings and a brothel called »Blue Oister«. More on that one later.We familiarized ourselves on how the village works and found out the two tribes were not necessarily in conflict, but rather lived in a »you don’t mess with me, i don’t mess with you« kind of state. For me, this was an unnecessary added tension between the villagers since there were first troops rolling through the village already. Members of our tribe were armed with some bows and »less lethal« arrows. The point was screwed of and replaced with a soft ball of foam and tape. This made a fun projectile that had relatively long range. Soon they found this out and started to shoot each other across the whole village. Needless to say, this drew a lot of looks. We decided to start contacting the passing troops with a beggar style approach.
This was well accepted with our leader and soon we got the hang of it. The loot was plentiful so we had no shortage of tobacco and sugar. All of regular troops were free game except the PMC units Phoenix Corp., which protected our village.The protection part was not a previously established affair so the members had to do a bit of LARP-ing to get to this. Our Chief was happy with the deal and the cooperation began. Later we found out, the PMC units had an alternate arrangement with our Chief regarding some illegal substances (in game drugs), which caused many tense moments later in the game.When the first wave of troops moved on, we decided to go for a short patrol, just to check everything was in order. We reached the second PMC unit base Greyhound Ind. They were not as friendly as the Phoenix corp., so we photo bombed their team picture. Nobody was mad, so we hung around for a while, trying to soak up any useful info. Talked to some fellow countrymen and established a safe environment for the future.Upon returning to the village, the whole thing was in full swing. Our tribe was preparing a ceremonial dinner and the village wise man was in his element.The sheriffs already had a »visit« at the courtyard noose. At the time, we were not sure what the person that will be hanged did, but it soon became clear that it involved drug trafficking.
He did not wish to confess his sins, so he was sentenced to hang by the neck until dead. The whole thing was played out perfectly. Almost too perfectly, as the offender was genuinely scared of being executed. Every year, village executions bring unrest to some players, as they realize they will have to walk to the re-spawn point even if they don’t get shot by the enemy.After the ordeal what followed was a show of power. What we were told, was that the TF forces will come to the village and try to frighten us with their superior firepower. There was supposed to be a big gun involved and we were instructed to act frightened when they pointed it at us. I was not sure what to expect.Right before this happened, the orders were corrected, saying that this will be a friendly »visit«, but still a show of force. A sweet APC/IFV rolled in accompanied by TF forces and PMC units. It was the Steyr-Daimler-Puch 8×8 Pandur II with a 30mm main gun. An awesome machine to see up close.Even though this was a friendly visit, the protecting units acted nervously when we tried to approach the vehicle. We were at first genuinely intrigued by the machine, but when we saw that people were nervous, we played on it and started to get MORE intrigued. Some of the Sherriff’s people tried to sell them fuel, but they declined with grabbing their sidearms. It’s fun to see people on the edge. After a few photo sessions later, they left in a cloud of smoke, smell of diesel and a sound of 6 in-line cylinder engine. Nom.
As the day moved on, we got to meet players from all over the world. There were even some guys from Brazil. They stopped by our tribe and shared some cultural facts and Capoeira beats. One of our villagers even jumped in and danced with them.By this point players started to complete their personal LARP missions. Every participant receives his personal LARP mission in the care package provided by the organizers, upon completing the registration process. It can contain different items, depending on your choices when registering online, but some are the same. Every player (except the villagers) get some in game money, game side sticker, platoon sticker, sausage/non-alco beer/tea voucher, a map of the terrain, biological effect card, personal ID card and a personal LARP mission. These can be completed at any time during the event and can be as different as the participants.We witnessed many different missions from being blessed/cleansed by the village shaman to learning how to throw a tomahawk or knife to lasso lessons. Some of them are fairly easy to complete but others can be a bit tricky. Power games were one of the trickiest, as the participant had three rounds to finish. The last round was balancing on one foot on an upright log while holding a log in each hand. Extended. This had to be held in the position until all of the water drained from the ladle with a hole. The quantity of the water was determined by the one administrating the test.As the day was coming to an end, we decided to go for another patrol, this time to the off-zone for some food (we went for a hunt, if anyone asks). On the way, we saw all the other »goodies« that make Border War such an impressive event.Once again, like every year, there were Airmobile units being loaded, transported and then deployed behind enemy lines. The tickets for this special game side are more expensive, but for that you get to be transported to the battlefield by a Robinson R44 Raven helicopter and a scenic flight over the whole terrain. But almost as epic as the heli ride, are the vehicles that some teams bring with them. Each year they try to one-up each other by building their own IFVs. This year was no different with vehicles equipped with tracking systems, IR cameras and all possible gadgets and toys. Jeeps, Land Rovers, Opels, Ford pickups, Ladas, all makes and models each with a different theme, gadgets, mounted weapons and feel. Even some MG42 and M2 fully functioning airsoft replicas were mounted. Truly a sight to see.The shop stands are also getting a whole lot bigger and better each year. If you forgot something at home, you can be sure you will be able to purchase it on-spot. Flashlights, sleeping bags, power gas, ammo, you name it. You can even buy full sets of airsoft replicas with accessories, if your wallet allows.
When we returned to the village, we were offered a business opportunity. Remember that drug affiliation i mentioned earlier? Well it turned out, that our Chief had some »powder« to sell. And guess who bought a large quantity for the village control to go through. Yep, that would be our friendly neighbourhood PMC unit Yankee-Two from Phoenix Corp. They tried to distribute the goods, by being a wholesale partner and we would be the retailer. We took one ampoule of sample and went on our way, later realizing what was going on. We went to the Greyhound base and tried to make a deal. Being a skilled and schooled salesman, i tried to make a deal worth our while. The deal was not good enough, so we just sold the sample, got our hooker money and went on our way. It was still a good leverage tool though. Having this kind of information always comes in handy. Just as we were discussing further actions, there was some shouting coming from the casino tent. By the time we got closer, some shots were fired and a guy was dragged out. It seemed someone had a bright idea of robbing the casino.Luckily some Sheriff’s guys were at hand to put some holes in that plan. The poor guy was made an example of and was hung while bleeding out. Then we all cheered and rejoiced.
After seeing how efficient the Sheriff’s people were, we thought it might be a good time to visit the brothel and see if the women are equally efficient. On their wall, next to the entrance, there was a price list. Upon checking the prices, we found out that we made enough money from the drug transaction to buy an »all inclusive« package for each of our team members. We scanned the building all around and could not see any goats. Each year, the brothel was filled with prop goats. Funny, but not worth spending money on. This year, there was just women. Two beautiful women. So we decided to have a go. We were not disappointed.As with all the fellow LARP-ers, these ladies acted out the service perfectly. You could get a single photo, group photo, strip-tease and a massage. Like stated above, we got the whole package. There was even a shower involved at the end (a can of air freshener) but nice touch. There was so much commotion and laughter coming from the tent during our visit, that there was a whole line of people waiting outside to see what was going on. In fact, the whole ordeal was so much fun, that i had a bright idea by the end of it. To release the tension between the two tribes in the village, we thought we should make us a one big family. I decided to marry the more experienced employee of the brothel. We asked what she thought, she agreed and there we were, all set. The marriage was set for the next day, when the priest would be available.During the night we got to experience what we heard and read during the day. There were signs all over the village, warning us that there was a spirit/ghost lurking around. Witnesses were instructed to stay completely still and not to shine light on it as they might feel the wrath and die. It was protecting the ancient burial ground and did not attack good people. Players that witnessed this being did as instructed and the sighting went through without any known casualties. The ghost was emitting coloured light, had a creepy mask of a dead shaman and emitted the scariest sounds. The sighting was very intense and luckily it happened near the burial site just next to the village with lots of people. If it surprised someone in the field, the sighting could turn really ugly really fast.
On day 2
… we began with regular village rounds for the Chief. There were rumours of a deadly attack on him, so the tribe hired some protection help from the PMC unit Yankee Four of Phoenix corp. It consisted of excellent players of a Slovenian team Bad Boys and some other ones. They did the job perfectly and with excellent results.No harm was done to our Chief, as they perfectly provided overt protection and kept would-be assassins at bay. For their success they received valuable information regarding illegal trafficking of illegal substances. Since our tribe was the only one providing this service, we did not look kindly on imposters.The two »business men« were quickly tracked down by Bad Boys, effectively searched and detained. They were put into the village prison to be questioned and dealt with by the Phoenix corp. leader. Upon Sheriffs arrival and consultation, the fate of the »business men« was put in their own hands. They can be hanged or they could choose trial-by-combat. Being excellent participants, they chose the latter.They competed in a revolver shootout between them and the village champion which was one of the Sheriffs men. They walked ten paces and turned around, facing each other on the village dirt road. When a signal shot was fired, they would raise their weapons and fire one shot toward the opponent. One of them survived the ordeal, one did not. At the end, they all walked away with smiles on their faces and good memories.The day continued with a scripted combat between the two village tribes. Our tem was invited to participate. We were not sure what it was about, but we were intrigued and acted naturally. It was at this point we realized that we won’t be able to effectively participate in village affairs, if we don’t secure some ballistic weapons. By this i mean rifles and pistols. When you are charging on to an enemy who is using these, your tomahawk is useless. If the script predicted sneaking the flanks and dealing with the enemy from up close, things could work our way. What followed was more personal LARP missions which brought more combatants to the village with each passing.People were getting haircuts, learning to throw knives, completing their intelligence tests and catching and treating STDs. Yes, some had this personal LARP mission. Go to the village and contract an STD, then go to the hospital. This task took a lot longer, if you did not have previous knowledge of how the thing works.
By this i mean that the nurse in the hospital significantly shortened the waiting time if you had some sort of candy bribe. She would refuse to accept in-game money. But whip out a candy bar and you could be out in less than half the time.By this point the tension in the village was about to be relieved as it was time for the marriage of two opposite members. The Sheriff’s team prepared a whole ceremony. Benches were brought from the buildings, the priest got ready, the marriage gift was provided by my team and the noose was decorated with a heart made of twigs and ribbons. Only one small detail needed to be taken care of. Since the wife was a lady from the Blue Oyster, her »employer« had some demands. We had to buy the wife and she needs to keep working for him after.We negotiated on the price and got a good deal. We secured a lower price and free Blue Oyster visits for a select group. Once again our brothers from team Bad Boys stepped up and chipped in some in-game money for the bride. The ceremony proceeded, the bride got a diamond duct taped to her finger and all was well.During the day, the village graveyard was expanding fast and the undertaker had his hands full. He and his team barely handled all the deaths around the village since everyone had a different »head stone« or should i say »head wood«.From what i could gather, the Task Force realized, that they need the help, if they wanted to defeat the militia. There were several supply runs completed to the village and the items kept piling up. Water, medicine, the works. They were very persistent. Every transaction had to be verified by the Chief, so this meant a lot of sit-downs with them. While the Chief was extremely busy, our team was invited by the village wise man to a secret meeting with some of the militia members, just outside the village. There were some rumors going around, that they might to try to hurt us. So we went out early and set up our own protection positions. Soon the rumours came true and we heard some yelling from the road. While covering our flanks, we spotted several enemy combatants trying to outflank us. We informed the leader and a fight erupted. Unfortunately we were out gunned and soon were laying on the ground with our death-rags on. When bleed-out time was up, we moved back to the village with long faces and revenge on our minds.After doing some tasks in the village, we witnessed an uneasy situation. Our village was protected by Phoenix corp., which had check points set up at the major entrances. All of the passing units had to remove the magazines from their weapons, to prevent incidents. A vehicle of the other PMC unit the Greyhounds was stopped and searched. All magazines were removed, and the vehicle with all of the occupants was allowed to enter.But the Phoenix corp. executed another random search inside the village and discovered two loaded pistols. The details of this incident are uncertain. Our best guess was, that some players, just like to be safe than sorry. This goes for both sides. The Greyhound/Phoenix relationship wasn’t that great from the get-go and this time they almost started a major problem. While the Phoenix corp. members could have their weapons loaded to protect the village, the Greyhounds just wanted to have a sense of security. And the Phoenix searches should not happen, after the entry check point. Also their treatment of the Greyhounds was questionable, as they wanted them in a line and on their knees. Naturally the Greyhound platoon leader ordered them to not comply. So they exchanged some arguments in a professional LARP manner, the commanders were contacted and they were both told to let it slide…this time.
The night was mostly quiet since the rain washed away almost half of the participants. Guys, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment. There was some yelling going on from the road, but we soon found out, it was just celebratory.
On day 3
…we decided to make our »hunt« start early. We headed out in the rain with hopes that the walk will warm us up. We took a scenic route over the hills and stumbled across two TF snipers. After we talked to them, requesting to visit their base, we established that the commander was unavailable because they were planning an assault. We dispatched the snipers and moved on.After the »hunt« we visited the Greyhound base. The unit at the front gate was not too happy to see us. Not sure what was the reason, but they forced us to act as their camp was blocking our path to the hunting grounds. They would not let us through and ordered us to go around. This was frowned upon and we proceeded to the other side. When we found that there was a second entrance in the back, we decided to infiltrate. The unit at the back was more relaxed and even told us the »pin code« for the door. We went in, asked for some tobacco and sugar and mingled with the rest of the occupants. The team up front was not happy, but they realized that we were not a threat and saw that their stuck-up attitude was redundant. One of them challenged us to a duel with a foam sword. His challenge was met with a training tomahawk and we both soon regretted it. We all walked away with an enjoyable experience.Soon after arriving back to the village, the main assault began. Task Force decided to push the militia from the territory for good, so they brought out the big guns. Their plan was to first »liberate« the village and then push forward. What followed was a massive attack and combatants were coming from all sides. In no time, they had the village under their control.They set up an artillery position just outside the village and started to fire upon the militia positions. As the commander was giving out orders, some LARP action erupted from the Greyhound base and he was shot while sticking out of the IFV.His escort unit quickly dealt with the threat and the tribe shaman was brought in to work her magic. After some help and a lot of chanting, the ritual was complete and he was back in action. Even the ghost was spotted on site, being summoned by the ritual.As we are unsure, we will not make statements on which side emerged victorious, but from all things whitened, it would be safe to assume that this year, the Task Force came out on top. With the village liberated and the support of artillery fire there was nothing but terrain standing in the way.On this bombshell, we would like to thank all the organizers and participants for a terrific event. This year our team was able to experience it from a different perspective and we must say it was immersing, to say the least. The whole BW staff was amazing in performing their duties, which really put the cherry on an already great event. In our minds, this will stay one of the greatest Mil-Sim events in Europe and we will continue to participate annually.
As for you, dear reader, if you want to know more about Border War, you can go check out their official website: http://www.borderwar.cz/ and join their forum for even more info. Players can also use this forum for feedback regarding the event.
Also be sure to stay tuned for more airsoft and Mil-Sim related news here.