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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Fulda GAP


Fulda Gap 2012 – Top Five

Words by Jason “foolybear” Lineberger
Photos by Stephen “K-Dawg” Kent


Rather than dishing out a blow-by-blow description of the Fulda Gap Mega Game, one of the marquee American woodsball events, I’ve decided to make a list, in the spirit of the new year.  Here’s my Fulda Gap Top Five.

5.  Camping.  The scene in the staging and camping area remains one of the best reasons to attend Fulda Gap.  While November temperatures in North Carolina can be on the cool side, the packed camping area at the Command Decisions Wargames Center feels like a weekend-long paintball family reunion.  So many teams end their scenario calendars with the Fulda Gap game, and that gives the camping area the vibe of a year-ending blow out with plenty of campfires, music, and more funny “war lies” than anyone can swallow.  Thanks to the generous hospitality of my teammate Robert “Woodboss” Cox and his wife Janet, the Capital Offense campsite was the place to be with hot meals, a roaring fire, and warm beds.


4.  The Vendors.  Vendor Row at Fulda Gap has continued to grow, and this year the scenario player hungry for product could have his Eclipse marker professionally teched before picking up a new hopper, pack, or uniform from his choice of stores on site.  The retail spaces ranged from tents to show trailers, with everything under the sun for sale, from top-of-the-line markers to a wide selection of MREs and military surplus equipment. 


 
3.  Game Structure.  The game, now seven years running, simulates one Cold War era scenario for the beginning of World War III.  A hypothetical invasion of Germany in the 80s by Warsaw Pact forces provides the backdrop to a large scale paintball game that includes simulated chemical warfare, airstrikes, tactical nukes, mobile spawn points, and dead zones that can be won or lost based on field position.  Command Decisions Wargames Center has a fleet of paintball tanks and a local team (ODX) experienced in their operation.  Combine this with a tank-friendly field and the Fulda Gap game becomes a major draw for that special breed of paintballers – the tankers.  Finally, the terrain itself is a great reason to sign up for this game.  Sure, the field is famous for its wicked hills, but with forts, bunkers, and trenches all over the 70+ playable acres, it’s possible to play Fulda Gap multiple times without having the same game experience.  The variety of terrain gives this field and game some serious replay value.



2.  The Action.  The 2012 Fulda Gap game built up a conflict between two crafty scenario veterans.  Kent “X-Man” Jones of Team Boxer squared off against Richard “Mamba” Money of World-Combat Paintball Clan.  Boxer has earned a reputation for strategy, communication, and troop coordination.  Mamba, as Warsaw commander, brought some wily scenario strategy and a helping of history to his side; the Warsaw Pact team had racked up victories five out of six years before 2012.  (Perhaps not coincidentally, the lone NATO victory in 2010 was also the year that Capital Offense switched sides to play for NATO.)

This year’s game brought the usual intensity, ratcheted up by the fact that neither side steamrolled the other at any point.  Most scenarios have an ebb and flow, but the action at the 2012 Fulda Gap stayed hot from beginning to end.  Neither team kept an advantage for long, so the game came down to which general was better at herding their players to the right field locations to score the most points.  If you thought herding cats would be tough, imagine herding scenario paintball players.  That takes real skill!  Both sides came hungry for the victory.

My favorite moment of the game came when my team, Capital Offense, got orders to assault Firebase Alpha.  At that point we had our mobile respawn in the general area, but Mamba shifted a heavy group of shooters to trap us on one side of a bridge across from Firebase Alpha on the other.  We rallied some players to lay down a wave of covering fire as Capital Offense jumped off the bridge to cut through the woods to approach Alpha from the south.

Once in position, our assault ground to a halt by yet another Warsaw roadblock – this time a literal one – their heavy tank.  Fortunately we roster the best tank-killer in the game, but even without their tank, our quick assault transformed into a protracted siege against a determined defensive force.  Finally, we swarmed the dirt wall around the base and brought the fight to the tight confines of the firebase’s trenches.  We gained ground, and my daughter (foolycub) and I were left to charge up the middle to occupy a three sided bunker.  A few minutes of trench-clearing CQB later and we’re in the bunker blasting strings of paint through two shooting ports with our ETHAs.  She has a group of charging Warsaw players in her sights when I run out of paint, and without skipping a beat she’s handing me a spare pod while zapping runners left and right.  I couldn’t have been prouder.



1.  Victory.  A great game is made all the sweeter by a hard-fought victory, and at the 2012 Fulda Gap the NATO side managed to squeak ahead in the last few hours of game.  I’ve played hundreds of scenario/big games, and this year’s Fulda Gap ranks high among the most fun and competitive games I’ve attended.  I never felt outclassed by the opposition, and I never walked over my competition.  We fought for every foot we took (or retook) and the points reflected this tightly contested battle.  When NATO inched forward at the end, that’s a cherry on top of an already excellent game.  Best Fulda Gap yet.

Thanks to all the teams who brought their A games this year.  Thank you to Ferg and Lee Ann and the entire CDWC staff who brought off such a fun event.  This game ended the 2012 scenario season for Team Capital Offense, but I got in a couple of games in December, so look for a final report to wrap up the year.

Follow foolybear on Twitter (@foolybear) and Instagram (foolybear) and keep up with his game calendar.


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