Ok, so we were late. FA-1 (Lance, Ripfire and me) got to Full Throttle Paintball sometime around 10:45. Just for the record, it wasn't my fault this time. I'm normally late, but on this occasion, Lance forgot the BBs so he had to go back to his place after meeting Ripfire before meeting me on I-4 for the ride to Lake Helen, a few miles past Orlando.
Full Throttle is a different field. An L-shaped speedball course is immediately visible beyond the protective netting separating the parking lot and staging area from the playing area. The whole playing area sprouts off this initial L-shaped course. At the corner of the 'L' is the tower. The tower is more like a mini fort: the base is fully enclosed with a door for access and firing ports all around the walls. From the center rises the tower itself with a protective wall for its occupants. A bigger speedball course is located at the base of the L, with a 'temple' on the opposite end. Between the larger speedball field and the temple is section of tall grass, and not much else. On the top-side of the 'L' is a quasi-city: small enclosed structures spaced closely together with small pine trees in between. (The section provides for some good CQB-style play). Where there aren't visible structures are dense vegetation. Not too many big trees but lots of small ones and brush. In some parts it reminded me of a pine tree and brush maze.
Our first game of the day was elimination (we really should get away from this) using the entire field. FA-1 would be augmented by Ghost from FA-2, while FA-13 would get Recon, also of FA-2. FA-1 started at the furthest edge of "Pine City" while FA-13 would start at the opposite end of the field. At game on, we decided to not follow our route into our start point. Ripfire and I were unfamiliar with the field so we decided to form buddy teams with 1 buddy knowing the field. I would work with Ghost while Lance and Rip would work together. In case we got separated, at least 1 person knew what the field was like. The going was slow, deliberate and more importantly, stealthy. We made our way to near the tower complex where Ghost performed a visual recon with his scoped M16A2. No contacts. We proceeded on to the temple and cleared it from its backside. Again, no contacts. We kept on moving and started bounding each team member through the large speedball area. As I was about to clear the corner, I spotted Recon at the far edge and fired. Out of range. He pulled into the brush out of sight. It was a turkey shoot soon after and we were the turkeys. FA-13 was concealed and covered in the brush while we were in the open speedball area with the barricades pointing the wrong way. Our flanks exposed, Lance took the first hit. I began to pull back towards the temple providing my own cover fire. Upon reaching a tire bunker, I next saw Ghost eliminated. I took fire from Todd's 60 and was eliminated. A few seconds later, Ripfire also went down. We hadn't recognized the bad tactical situation we placed ourselves in. We had good cover in front but our flanks were exposed. Combine that with poor judgement to stick around and slug it out and you get the expected result: skunked! Kudos to FA-13 for performing a textbook hasty ambush. Lesson learned: when caught in an ambush, leave the kill zone.
Game 2 was an attack and defend of the temple and FA-1 would attack. We first proceeded on to the tower complex to recon the temple. From here, we split up. Ghost would stay at the tower and observe the objective. Ripfire would setup a sniper position in the brush. Lance and I would perform a wide sweep and assault the temple from its flank or better, its rear. We followed a similar route from the first game. Behind the temple is a patch of small closely spaced pine trees. By slowly squeezing my way through the gaps between the trees, I learned that if you move slow enough, you can minimize noise. Lance and I worked our way to the temple's rear. It's these times when Murphy's Law kicks in. I spotted Recon and just as I was about to take my shot, he turns in my direction and instinctively ducks. Skully pops up and with the combined fire, I get eliminated. Lance had also began to assault and thought the person calling "HIT!" wasn't me. Moments later he was also out. Only after the game did we find out that Skully had heard us talking. Good thing for our team, Todd's 60 suffered a malfunction (he eventually had to leave for the day). Later, Recon and Ghost eliminated the rest of FA-13. (NOTE: I may be wrong with this result but this is how I understood the game ended. If I am incorrect, apologies to FA-13)
Game 3 was a quick demo game for a potential new player (sorry, forgot his name) at the small L-shaped speedball course. It was a bad day for us -- it was another turkey shoot.
Game 4 was a reverse of Game 2: FA-1 would defend the temple. On game on, Lance and I would stay at the temple and provide intel to our 2 snipers. Ghost took our left flank, in the tall grass, while Rip took the right in heavy brush. First contact was made at the large speedball area. After trading long range fire, who I thought was Skully and Recon slowly advanced left to right of the temple. Dominic was unaccounted for and I thought I had sighted him attempting to sneak his way near where Ghost was posted. In the meantime, I was still trading fire with Skully who was now getting closer. Next thing I hear is a "PING" on my M4's stock and instinctively, I call "HIT!" As I exited the temple to observe the game (and the weird livestock -- a horny bull, a llama and an emu -- in the neighboring field), I thought to myself and asked aloud: "Do gun hits count?" Of course they don't and I should've known it. Too late now, I had called "hit" so I decided to stay out. Unbeknownst to me, Ghost had taken out Dominic who indeed was sneaking his way through the tall grass. Ghost was spotted by Recon and with no cover, was taken out. Ripfire had moved to a better position and was able to flank Skully. Last, Recon was eliminated while performing what Lance called the whack-a-mole dance (Recon would duck under the tall grass, pop up, duck down, move and then pop up somewhere else). In retrospect, while it would've been better if I had recognized the gun hit, I don't regret the call. Lance had mentioned "any BBs get near Joey's area and he calls himself out". Better to be accused of calling non-hits than not calling legitimate ones. There's always another game.
After a break, game 5 was another attack and defend, this time on the tower, and FA-13 would defend. We proceed behind thick brush for cover and concealment and approached the tower. Enroute, we noticed scaffolding that had some interesting possibilities. After Ripfire climbed it though, the objective was obscured by a tall tree. No go. We proceeded neared and soon took fire from the tower. It was here when I decided to approach the tower opposite from where Lance and Ripfire where now dug in in the brush. Ghost and I put as much distance between the tower and ourselves and proceeded to the temple. Once there we entered the woods and headed back for the tower. As we neared the tower, I would request cover fire (more like distraction fire) from lance and Ripfire. Each time, Ghost and I edged closer to the tower until we where finally at the base, undetected. I prepared a frag and struggled to ignite it. No go. Moisture had affected the supposedly 'waterproof' matches that would ignite the device. I tried a flashbang next and while attempting to ignite it, Dominic peered out the port closest to my position and immediately fired. Luckily, I was behind good cover and ducked in time. Ghost returned fire but wasn't as lucky. I thought I had managed to light the 'bang and chucked it into the structure. No bang. Pistol in hand, I began shooting through the ports and after a brief exchange, managed to eliminate Dominic. I circled the tower endlessly trying to find an entrance while trying to take shots at Skully and Recon on top of the tower. I was finally spotted and eliminated. Eventually, Lance and Ripfire picked off Skully and Recon. After the game, they showed me the door. Good intel about the objective is always desirable, to say the least. It definitely would've been better if we had set it up as a demolition game -- get to the tower, place charges (simmed by smoke), and beat feet.
Games 6 and 7 where played in Pine City. Each team hid a bottle on their side of the city and the objective was to find the opposing team's. Game 6 was quick. I had taken position behind a large tree to the left of Lance and Ripfire. Skully and Recon soon appeared within range of the brush was getting ready to fire on my teammates. As I pulled the trigger on my 203, misfire... nothing happened, the trigger wouldn't budge. By the time I shifted back to the M4 and fired, Lance and Ripfire where out. At least I got both Skully and Recon. As I moved forward to search for Dominic, I was soon eliminated by my own quarry. Good shot, I didn't even see him but just the BBs coming out of the brush. Soon after, Dominic eliminated Ghost. Game 7 went just as quick for me. We had flipped sides and after making my way through the woods in an attempt to outflank FA-13, was quickly dispatched by Recon. I have no knowledge as to what happened after but it looks like FA-13 won that one too. I later learned the reason for the 203 misfiring. I was using one of the new First shells and had overfilled it, making it harder to fire (it later fired while we were fiddling with it and waiting for game 6 to end). The field of combat is never the best place to test new equipment.
All in all, we had some pretty good games. Engagement ranges here seemed a lot closer than in ThunderBay and there are enough structures and landmarks for some interesting scenarios. I'll be looking forward to the next game here in October. In the meantime, we'll be concentrating on learning from the lessons from these games: actions at the objective, proper planning, noise discipline, and coordination, to name a few. Hope to see everyone at ThunderBay for the August game!