Mega Game Tops 1000 Players...

Fulda Gap 2012 by Jason "foolybear" Lineberger

Big Game - a paintball format usually involving a set number of flag stations worth a specified amount of points.  While the term "big game" denotes a large number of players, what qualifies as "large" is subjective.  At some fields 100 players would be a crowd, while at others 100 players could fan across the field without meeting each other. 

Mega Game - a specific annual event held at Command Decisions Wargames Center in NorthCarolina.  The Fulda Gap Mega Game began in 2006 with approximately 300 players and has grown since then to break the 1000 player cap, putting it, in terms of size, in line with some of the biggest paintball games in the world.  Fulda Gap transcends big-gameness.  The armor, the charges, the field, the teams, the camping - Fulda Gap Mega Game has matured from an intriguing scenario to one of those handful of must-play paintball games.

Fulda Gap's premise stems from a real Cold War military scenario where NATO troops drilled against a possible land invasion of Europe by Warsaw forces through the Fulda Gap region of Germany.  The game's format mirrors the real-world scenario; NATO begins by holding key bases around the 70+ acres of land at Command Decisions, and Warsaw makes an aggressive surge using their superior armor to take those defensive positions.  Generals on each side plan their strategies well in advance knowing that they'll have simulated airstrikes, chemical gas attacks, tanks, and even the ability to use tactical nukes to remove an area of the field entirely.  Also, since timing and coordination can mean the difference between taking a base and wastefully throwing players at a losing cause, the generals began recruiting early this year, through personal contacts, using online paintball forums, and even utilizing recruitment videos, like this one for the Warsaw Pact.

Making The Scene . . . . . . .As the Fulda Gap Mega Game has grown, so has everything surrounding it.  Over 1000 players attended this year, and many of them chose to camp.  The expansive camping area, divided into NATO and Warsaw zones, has become a sea of RVs, tents, and trailers, and now that this event is a staple on many teams' schedules, it's the place to get reconnect with paintball friends and close out the year with one last blast.  The vendors have also seen the opportunity, and Vendor Row has steadily grown as well, from a few pop-up tents to this year's mobile showcase trailers.  As intense as the action gets on the field, off it Fulda Gap is a paintball meet-and-greet, and with players from across the United States (and overseas!) attending this event, there are plenty to meet.

PAR (Paintball Action Report) . . . . . . .After the dominating victory by NATO in 2010, the Warsaw Pact troops came with a fire lit under them, hungry for payback.  Led by Al "Aldva" Downs of team SoVa, Warsaw pushed aggressively from the opening bang and rolled through the entrenched NATO defenders.  Within an hour they had NATO on their heels, and by noon, when Warsaw's Czech Paratroopers inserted in force, their mission to take the forts on the back end of the field had already been completed.  What followed on Saturday was sporadic skirmishes between some tight-knit NATO units determined to hold off the inevitable advance and Warsaw shooters eager for a confrontation.  One by one, the NATO-held bases dropped until as time expired for Saturday's segment, NATO held out in the urban field near their base, desperately clutching to their last bit of real estate.

Ballin' After Dark . . . . . . .During night play, teams Capital Offense, Thunderstruck, and SoVa coordinated a plan designed to lock down the field for Warsaw.  They divided up shooters wearing night vision goggles (NVGs) and teamed those with groups of players without night vision units.  NATO fielded squads using advanced thermal imaging technology, but even so, the motivated Warsaw teams quickly established control of four out of the five bases up for points during the night segment.  Once again though, while Warsaw players snuck into Sim City (called Frankfurt in the game) and flipped the flag at one point, they couldn't crack NATO's hold on that location.  With four out of five bases though, the night portion widened an already wide points margin between the sides.

Sunday Bloody Sunday . . . . . . .Saturday's one-sided battles gave way to much more competitive contests on Sunday.  NATO, led by Larry "Ironman" Rivenbark, brought their A game early Sunday morning with assaults deep into territory held by Warsaw throughout Saturday's day and night segments.  NATO had changed their tactics, favoring assaults on the perimeter bases while utilizing the game's rules to open DZ's (dead zones) in those areas.  Without easy roads for tanks or open fields for mass charges, Warsaw had much more difficulty prying NATO's gunners from their bases.  Warsaw never let up on the pressure, and the precise troop coordination through Warsaw's command structure allowed them to focus their pushes on key zones to crack the NATO wall.

In the final hour, Warsaw turned their full attention on Sim City.  The Fulda Gap players shot over 3.5 million paintballs during the weekend, and from the intensity of that last hour, probably 25% of the shots fired took place in those hotly contested 60 minutes.  Like leaks in the dam, Warsaw runners made small inroads into the city, taking the perimeter buildings, massing players, then making insane dashes to the interior.  Ten players might run to have two survive, but two guns at a building opened new moves.  Eventually NATO fought in increasingly tight quarters and finally their lines collapsed as Warsaw swept the field in the closing minutes.  The sixth Fulda Gap drew to a close, and as teams packed up their camp sites, they already began turning their attention to a return in 2012.

Foolybear on the Frontlines . . . . . .Sunday was by far the better day this year, and my favorite moment happened on a mission through the woods at the far end of the field, the farthest point away from the main bases where the action tends to happen.  For this year's Fulda Gap I left my Geo in the hands of my daughter, foolycub, while I put the new Etha to the test of a major two day paintball throwdown.  The two of us separated from our team (Capital Offense) and joined up with some players from teams Fracture and Wulfenkow to clear out the back woods that were thick with NATO players.  While my Warsaw companions moved in force on both my left and right, foolycub and I dashed up the middle, straight into the enemy.  It was one of those moments when everything comes together.  With their attention drawn to the massive groups on either side, the NATO players failed to see the threat coming down the middle.  I felt bad for stealing all those eliminations, but I'll justify it by saying that I had to really test the Etha. 

Results - I put two cases of paint through that beast, one of field grade and one that was of a higher grade.  Zero breaks in the gun or barrel.  At one point I dove behind a bunker so hard that I cracked my nigh-indestructable loader.  Damage to the Etha?  Zero.  Entry level?  Hardly!  It might cost like an amateur but it swings like a champ.

Thanks to Brett Weaver of PB for the photo's in this article...

Latest Intel fresh from the front lines tell us that Jason "foolybear" Lineberger next outing will be Battlefield 3 at Line-of-Fire Paintball on November 26.