The premise of this mission was pretty simple. Four players would be US Special Forces soldiers, while the rest would fill out the Russian OpFor ranks. The US soldiers would be on their own, far behind enemy lines, and would have to sneak or fight their way back to friendly lines through territory swarming with enemy patrols, both AI- and player-led. The US SOF soldiers would find themselves equipped with a few assorted bits of demolition (satchel charges, claymore mines, and landmines), one anti-tank rocket in the form of an M136 AT-4, and small-arms of the M4 variety.
The amount of terrain that would need to be covered by the SOF team, along with the sheer number of OpFor present in the area, promised for quite an experience. In retrospect, it was one of the most intense missions I’ve played in Flashpoint multiplayer thus far. As to why that was, well.. you’ll just have to read on.
Our SOF team ended up consisting of Enigma as team leader, MechaStalin as the anti-armor soldier, Kaider as a demolitions man, and myself tagging along as a fairly standard SOF operator. Out of the group, Mecha was a Goon, Enigma was new to the server, and Kaider and I were both ShackTac guys.
Here you can see a map of the mission area. We ended up just to the East of Alsheim for our starting point. For reference, each of the big grids is 1 kilometer on a side. As you can see, we were a good distance away from the safety of the friendly lines to the NW.
The mission started at 11:43pm CST. The in-game mission time was dusk, approximately an hour before total darkness. Thanks to the real-time day/night cycle in Flashpoint, and the fact that we had nightvision goggles while the enemy did not, this would come into play throughout the mission.
After a brief orientation we decided to head to concealment in the woods to our W/SW. A vehicle could be heard somewhere to our North, and since it sounded like it was slowly drawing closer, we decided to use one of our mines on the road. I chose to be the one to supervise the mine placement and vehicle destruction. Kaider handed his mines off to me before following Enigma and MechaStalin into the concealment of the woods.
By this time it was obvious that the vehicle heading our way was a light armored vehicle of some sort. I set one mine on the road, then placed a remote-detonated satchel charge about 30 meters prior to it. My hope was that I’d be able to kill any first-responder human OpFor players with the satchel charge, or possibly finish off the enemy vehicle or any surviving occupants. After placing the demolitions I headed to the treeline, taking cover behind a slight ridge with the rest of my team a further 100 meters into woods.
The source of the noise came into view – it was a BMP-1, rolling along the road on patrol, utterly oblivious to any danger. I watched through my rifle scope as it headed towards and then onto the mine, which was followed by a sharp explosion that lifted one side of the vehicle some inches into the air. The seemingly destroyed BMP rolled a further 30 meters before coming to a halt. I watched, finger on the virtual trigger, aiming at the rear hatch, expecting some wounded infantry to dismount at any moment.
Not a single soul emerged.
Pleased with the kill, I waited a short while to see if any other vehicles would come to investigate. The satchel charge sat out on the road, unused, and the thought of leaving it there and wasting it did not sit well. Still… I did have one satchel left, and going out to retrieve the road one would be a risky maneuver. I ended up detonating the satchel before heading into the woods to regroup with the team.
We trekked south through the woods, eyes peeled for any enemy movement. It looked like our best bet would be to head south, stop just short of the enemy-occupied town of Sokkwabeck, break out from our forest, cut across a small road leading to an even smaller town, and enter the forest to the NW of Sokkwabeck.
We opted to use our second (and last) landmine on the road that lead north from Sokk. I set it about 700 meters to the north of the town while the rest of the team continued on.
I rejoined the team no worse for wear. We met no resistance after crossing the small road, and were soon on the far side of the forest. Next up we’d be forced to cross some fairly open ground, along with one of the main roads for the island. Considering the size and limited mobility of our team, we’d likely be toast if we were caught in the open like that. Unfortunately, we had no other options.
We moved out at a dead sprint, hoping that the dusk dimness would make it impossible for our non-nightvision-wearing foes to notice us. We made it across with no contact. It was tense, yes, but nobody shot at us, and we could only assume that noone saw us. No doubt the enemy was investigating the BMP wreck from earlier by this point.
It was 11:56pm CST, and the mission had been going on for 13 minutes. The 14th minute would end up being the defining period for our team, and would decide the fate of two of our teammates.
I don’t know who noticed it first, but shortly after entering the woods someone spotted a vehicle coming down the road to our north. An attempt was made to rush to the road to put a satchel charge on it, but the vehicle’s fast approach speed made this impossible to safely accomplish. It became apparent that the mystery vehicle was a BMP. I thought it would be a bad idea to attack the vehicle at this point, due to such an action likely allowing the enemy to zero in on us. I said more than a few times over Teamspeak that we should let it go, leave it alone, we weren’t in a position to do anything about it. Alas, Enigma decided to engage it. He used his one and only AT-4 to attack the BMP, and his shot hit true. The BMP was knocked out of action without immediate repercussions.
Enigma then moved up across the road to the woods to the north. MechaStalin lagged behind him a bit, and Kaider and I decided to stick to the southern part of the woods. I had a feeling something bad was about to happen, and it seemed wise for our team to break up to increase the odds of one of us eventually making it to safety.
Lo and behold, an enemy team member accidentally marked the map such that our team could see it. They knew where the second BMP had been blown, and likely had forces en route to it. MechaStalin, still in the southern woods, decided to cross the road and catch up with Enigma to the north. As he crossed, an enemy jeep came blazing down the road to the west. It was unclear from our position what exactly happened, but it seemed apparent that MechaStalin had been spotted by the enemy. MechaStalin and Enigma regrouped and headed further north, attempting to shake enemy pursuit.
Kaider and I continued west, skirting just south of Noatun. We avoided an enemy patrol that was walking through the woods near the town, continued west, and eventually halted upon the realization that further westward travel would bring us dangerously close to Breidablick, a town that was brimming with enemy infantry and armor.
More vehicles could be heard driving around, and a jeep passed by, lights on, heading in the direction of our teammates.
I ran to the main road to our north to plant a satchel after the jeep was gone, hoping that we’d be able to blow up any other vehicle that might be headed down it. It seemed risky to try to regroup with the other part of our team with the amount of attention they had drawn upon themselves, but as I got out onto the road I realized that there really wasn’t anything else we could do. The north was our only option, unless we wanted to do some serious backtracking. I passed the word on to Kaider for him to head north while I rigged up the satchel on the road. He passed by at a crouched jog while I set the timer on the satchel for a few minutes’ time. The explosion would hopefully act as a diversion and draw any nearby enemy towards the source, which we would hopefully be long away from by that point.
Satchel placed, Kaider and I continued north. Over Teamspeak it became increasingly obvious that MechaStalin and Enigma were in trouble. They were hiding in some woods, enemy AI infantry all around them. It was only a matter of time before they’d be spotted.
Kaider and I drew up short of their position as the situation threatened to erupt into violence. We took cover by some trees, only 200 or so meters away from the other half of our team and as yet unseen by the enemy.
It would be the last time we’d find ourselves that close to our teammates. The link-up was not meant to be. With no choice but to fight, MechaStalin and Enigma opened up on the enemy forces. The sounds of shots were loud in the otherwise quiet night air, and in short order the two were withdrawing north after a short but violent gunfight. Kaider and I went in the opposite direction, returning the previous treeline a hundred meters behind us.
Unable to continue directly north, we were faced with the daunting prospect of heading across the fairly open and exposed ground to our northwest. Observation of the area our teammates had been in only moments earlier revealed a vehicle of some sort in the woods, lights on, along with a squad of enemy infantry patrolling nearby. We waited until the infantry had passed before heading out across the hill, sprinting from one large tree to another in an attempt to retain some small amount of stealth in our movement.
Imagine the surprise we felt when an engine revved up not 200 meters from our position, while we were crossing an area barren of significant cover. Kaider and I whirled to face the sound, diving to the deck in the process, hearts in our throats. As it turns out that vehicle we had seen in the woods previously was not abandoned, and was now driving out to reinforce the enemy that was pursuing the still-fleeing Enigma and MechaStalin, who were now almost a kilometer to our NE. We warned them over TS of the approaching vehicle. Unable to do much else, we continued moving towards the border, away from our cut-off teammates.
Rapid gunfire erupted in the distance. Looking back, a flare could be seen drifting in the sky above our teammates’ distant position. The gunfire continued steadily, followed by a radio message announcing that the #4 man, MechaStalin, was KIA.
Alone, outnumbered, and cut off, Enigma continued to fight on valiantly. We never saw the results of his work, but considering the intensity of the firefight it’s reasonable to assume that he killed someone before being taken out himself. MechaStalin also likely took someone with him, but, alas, neither survived to tell us their exploits.
Kaider and I, meanwhile, were moving steadily closer and closer to friendly lines. The enemy seemed oblivious to the fact that our group had split up a third of the way into the mission. Unlike the other two, we managed to avoid enemy contact and E&E our way without drawing unwanted attention.
Tension filled the air as we stealthily closed on our objective. No enemy could be seen, and we stopped frequently to observe the terrain for any sign of activity. It seemed that the bulk of their forces were still back at the last stand of our teammates, searching the area. They left our escape route wide open, and we took full advantage of it. The only point at which we saw anything of note was when we spotted an abandoned UAZ sitting by some small trees in the clearing between two forests. No hostile infantry, no patrolling vehicles, no nothing. The enemy truly had no idea that we were so far away.
Despite their best efforts, Kaider and I successfully returned to friendly territory.
Mission accomplished. The total gametime was 55 minutes, and despite Kaider and I never even having fired a shot from our rifles at the enemy, the level of intensity from start to finish was second-to-none. We ended up bagging a BMP-1 and three infantry, with MechaStalin and Enigma likely having cut down quite a few enemy in their running firefight and last stand.
No other game could have come close to offering that level of E&E gameplay. No other wargame could have given Kaider and myself 55 minutes of pure intensity in which we never even fired a shot.