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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Warriors in the Woods V: Operation Rhino

originally published in the August 2007 issue of Paintball Sports Magazine

Tippinators help defend Strudleburg at the much anticipated Warriors in the Woods V: Operation Rhino presented by Banshee Paintball was held at Mersey Road Paintball in East River Nova Scotia on May 6th 2007. Every year players expect bigger and better Warriors in the Woods event than the year before. Constantly striving to exceed player expectations, Eric Fisher and Jennifer Washtock from Banshee Paintball, put on an extensively planning and meticulously prepared event that lives up to players' expectations. In only a few short years, Warriors in the Woods has become the premier scenario even in Eastern Canada drawing players and teams from throughout the Maritime Provinces.
Warriors in the Woods, known for elaborate field preparations, clearly defined player objectives and the use of massive amounts of pyrotechnics, has become such a popular event that the cap of 400 players was met, and registration closed, six weeks prior to game day. Such was the demand to attend Operation Rhino that a few enterprising players scalped their registration packages for more than the original price of $25.

In preparation for Warriors in the Woods, Mersey Road Paintball was transformed into a facsimile of Western Europe near the border between Holland and Germany. The 10 plus acre main field was bisected with two simulated rivers, each river having only two bridges that could be used as crossing points. After hundreds of hours of planning and dozens of hours of physical field preparations, game day arrived.

The 2007 edition of Warriors in the Woods V was set in Europe, 1944. The Allied wave of liberation is sweeping across Europe moving ever closer to their ultimate prize, Berlin Germany, and the complete destruction of the Nazi war machine. Feeling the unrelenting pressure of the Allied advance, the Axis powers have amassed a large quantity of their illegally obtained war booty in a modest museum in the small fictitious town of Strudleburg Germany. Local intelligence assets, followed up with reconnaissance patrols, revealed the location and contents of the museum to the Allies. As important as determining the museum location has been the interception of documentation stating the artifacts in the museum will be destroyed in place rather than fall into the hand of the Allied forces.

In an attempt to liberate the priceless artifacts, and have them returned to their rightful owners, the Allied high command prepared to execute Operation Rhino. During Operation Rhino, for the Allies to achieve victory they needed to attack the Axis held museum, just over the Rhine, and capture artifacts stored inside. The game would be declared an Axis victory if the Axis were able to retain possession of the artifacts at the end of the game or completely destroy all Allied players by overrunning the Allied insertion point.

After checking tank hydro dates, chronoing markers and listening to preparatory briefings by their respective Generals, the teams were ready to take the field. When both teams were in place, and ready to play, several large explosions marked the start of Operation Rhino. The use of pyrotechnics was continuous throughout the day simulated the whistle and explosion of artillery fire. These explosions coupled with the sounds of machinegun fire and tank tracks played over the loud speakers plus smoke pots ignited by the reffing staff at strategic points throughout the day, added an incredible amount of realism to the game and at time made communication between teammates difficult.

From the outset of the game Axis players moved aggressively forward and were able to block three of the four bridges over the two rivers with a main line of defense layered defense around the museum holding strong. Throughout the day the Axis team applied unrelenting pressure on the Allied left flank, pushing the allied forces back toward their insertion point, and defeat. Axis General, Phil 'Von Bull' Hadley's, plan to draw the Allied team into a protracted fight on the flank, well away from the main objective was working perfectly. The Tippinators, working in three man teams, repeated snuck through the main lines to wreck havoc in the Allied rear areas, coupled with the MilSim Maniacs aggressive, strike then withdrawal movements, on the main assault line kept the Allied team off balance and unable to coordinate an attack. If Von Bull's luck held it appeared that victory would easily be at hand.

Allied General, Ian 'Tatsukao' Birchall's, plan for the day was simply to continually probe the Axis lines and exploit any weaknesses found. Seeing his line on the left slowly collapsing Tatsukao ordered his forces to aggressively counter attack on the left, to hopefully draw more Axis players away from his true objective. Near the end of the day, Tatsukao did not return his respawned players to the battle but prepared them in the rear for the final assault. His plan would only work if whenever possible his medics could immediately respawn eliminated players in place at the front to continue the fight. With total collapse of his lines looming, Tatsukao set his decisive plan in motion. In what would be the Allied team's one grab at the brass ring, Tatsukao deployed the Allies only mobile bridge to a location on his right flank, close to the Allied insertion point, near the Axis museum and well away from the main battle raging on his left flank.

Luck was on the side of the Allies as the mobile bridge deployment went unnoticed by the Axis defenders preoccupied by probing attacks conducted by the Allies at the front and left of the line. Rallying the large number of respawned players, he had been holding in reserve, Tatsukao executed a human wave attack across the newly deployed bridge. The aggressive fire and movement of the Allied players, approaching from an unexpected direction, circumvented Von Bull's layered defensive plan. The rapid Allied advance threw the surprised Axis defenders into complete disarray allowing the Allies to overrun the museum, remove the artifacts, control the Axis insertion point and win the game moments before the complete collapse of the Allied left flank.

With numerous momentum shifts, airborne drops behind enemy lines and individual skirmishes apart from the main fight on the front, Banshee Paintball's - Warriors in the Woods V: Operation Rhino had something for every player regardless of experience or ability. When the smoke cleared and the final horn sounded, Allied forces won the day but everyone had stories of personal heroics to share while enjoying free hamburgers provided by one of the event's main sponsors, Pete 'the Meat' Disbrowe owner of M&M Meats in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Operation Rhino marks the second year in a row that the Allies have pulled a last minute victory away from the Axis. Axis General Von Bull has vowed that "This minor set back is temporary. Revenge will be sweet when my forces crush the Allies once and for all." Allied General Tatsukao, who never doubted his players will to win, was confident from the start that his plans would come to fruition, "VonBull put up the kind of fight I'd expect from a man with nothing to loose. Knowing his last days on earth are nigh." Bombastic rhetoric aside, both Generals and every scenario player in Eastern Canada look forward to an Axis vs. Allies rematch, and eagerly await the new scenario Fisher, Washtock and the Banshee Paintball crew and come up with for - Warriors in the Woods VI to be held spring 2008.

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