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Wayne Dollack, the master of the 24 hour game, returned once again to Skirmish USA for a much anticipated scenario game. "Tour of Duty", a 24 hour Paintball scenario game based on the US invasion of Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War, was played at Skirmish USA, in Jim Thorpe, PA, on July 11 and 12, 1998. Over 600 players came out for this exciting scenario game that used 200 acres of Skirmish's woodland, 70 percent of which, had never been used for a scenario game before.
Wayne Dollack has had a long association with Skirmish, and "Tour of Duty" marks the 7th year that he has produced a game for the field, and his 64th game as a producer. Owning their own field, Wayne's World in Ocala, Florida, Wayne and his wife Jackie also travel the Eastern US producing 24-hour scenario games for an adoring public at some of the best fields in the country.
Wayne and Jackie had an interesting adventure during the trip to Skirmish for "Tour of Duty". They had done a game for Hell Survivors in Michigan a few weeks before and then took a vacation in Canada, taking their motor home across the border. Upon their return to the US, Wayne declared a paintball gun to Canadian customs. This gave the Border police an excuse to search the motor home. The Canadians found all the goodies that Wayne uses for game props and they assumed he was a terrorist trying to infiltrate the US. They weren't amused by his collection of what appeared to be illegal drugs, millions of dollars in counterfeit money, false ID papers, fake explosives, military equipment, and simulated LAW rocket launchers. After having the motor home torn apart and many hours of intense questioning, Wayne and Jackie were released with a stern warning from the Canadian government about what they shouldn't be bringing into Canada.
Role Playing in "Tour of Duty"
For most of the players, their "Tour of Duty" began on the field at the bases. For the role players, it had actually begun well before, when Jackie handed out the player roles at the sign in. For a role player, seeing Jackie and asking for a role is the first step in a great adventure. With a smile and a twinkle in her eye, she'll say, "Okay, lets see what we have for you..."
Wayne's scenario games are played on several different levels. Most players are only playing the tactical game, concerning themselves with moving in organized patrols to complete assigned missions. These players receive a role to fill within the team and some, like platoon leaders, demo specialists, and medics can be quite a challenge to do well.
Wayne also works more complex roles into his games. These are the team officers, intelligence operatives, spies, and evil doers of all descriptions. For the 24 hours of the game, the role players live these roles on the field and off. Most role players take their roles very seriously because the game can be won or lost on the actions of the role players. Wayne wants every player in his games to feel like they are living a part in a movie, using the roles he creates as a starting point for their character.
The Cast of Characters
For the American 5th Special Forces, under orders from the President to destroy the NVA units in Laos and Cambodia, the general was played by Chuck Stoner, and his executive officer was Jeff Hartman. Working with the American Army were the CIA agents, who were tasked covering up the invasion of Laos and Cambodia. Played very effectively by Joint Fury, they were led by team Captain Spiro Mamaligas.
The NVA team general was played by Brian Ahearn and his exec was Bill McAuliffe. The NVA team was charged with repelling the American invasion and recovering the proof of the use of Agent Orange in Cambodia. The Russian KGB agents under the leadership of Comrade Frank Coppola assisted the NVA in this daunting task.
A third team, a rogue group, was the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, led by team general John Avila, with the assistance of his personal medic, Zena Bell. John quite effectively portrayed the despicable Pol Pot and left most of the tactical employment of the Khmer Rouge team to a tribal chieftain, played by Marc 'Snakebite' Dollack. With his sari skirt, sandals, shrunken head necklace, and head wrap, Marc looked and acted the part. Throughout the whole game, Marc and his Khmer Rouge could be heard banging on their bongo drums and chanting for hours to calm the spirits of the jungle.
Another important role player was Air America, portrayed by Skirmish ref Dewey Green. As Air America, Dewey was the man to see for safe air transport. For a price, Dewey would take anyone anywhere by helicopters, portrayed in the game by refs on a rope.
The Afternoon Game
At the orientation, Wayne addressed the 600 players with the basic outline of the game and the special scenario rules. There were several changes that were done to eliminate some of the problems of the past. This year, there would be no assigned double agents and there were to be no command tent assassinations. Also, the only way to destroy a command tent was through the use of a satchel charge placed by a demo man, with a demo card, in the presence of a ref.
The players went through the chrono stations and then were sent out to assemble at their bases. The NVA got the long walk to their base at Cau Dung, at the far end of the field. At the bases, each team received a pep talk from their general and were then divided into their assigned platoons and given mission assignments.
A typical mission for the teams went much like the one take by the NVA 2nd platoon. Under orders to attack and hold Ban Tung Noi, a cluster of huts in the American zone, 2nd platoon leader Kirk, of Lightening Force, headed out with his band of 50 players into the dense jungle of Cambodia. After patrolling in a loose formation for several minutes, Khmer Rouge players were spotted moving across in front of the NVA patrol.
Under orders to shoot the Khmer Rouge on sight, Kirk found that his advance element had opted to talk with them first. This created a dilemma for Kirk because his communications with the base were poor and he couldn't receive directions from command on how to deal with the Khmer Rouge. Seeing the mission as more important than body count, the patrol was moved through and the Khmer Rouge were allowed to pass. As the 2nd platoon neared its objective, the American forces initiated an ambush that ultimately decimated the patrol.
Another early action involved an American team of LRRPs who ran into big trouble while on a long range patrol. Led by Dennis and Dan Carbo, they were assigned the mission of setting up a forward observation post. The LRRPs found a suitable position and tried to contact base, but before they could get a report in on an advancing NVA patrol, they were detected and wiped out in a short but intense firefight. The LRRPs learned a valuable lesson and were later to teach the NVA a lesson in sweet revenge.
The Afternoon game was set up time for the role players in the CIA and KGB. The Khmer Rouge were the people to deal with and the Joint Fury CIA were the first to get to them. With a simple promise of protection, the CIA agent 'Darkman' convinced Pol Pot to assist CIA. The NVA, anxious to work with Pol Pot, then paid him 12 million dollars for the identity of a double agent planted on their team, the actual head of the CIA, "Black Cat'. What the NVA got for their money was Chris 'Bomber' McVeigh, the NVA head of base security. Believing they had 'Black Cat' within their grasp, they were bitterly disappointed to learn otherwise.
By 2pm, the NVA launched their first major assault on the American base at Trang Bang. Nearly succeeding in capturing the base, the NVA suffered the loss of their general, Brian Ahearn, as he led a charge that ultimately failed. "I lead from the front!" he was heard to say later.
There was one last great tactical move before the dinner break at 6pm. A large group of NVA had returned to their base for one last mission before the dinner break. Assembling at their base, many players expressed a serious desire to just go wipe out the American base. General Ahearn agreed and a special mission was called in for the NVA to attack the Xom Mat Cat area, a forward base of the Americans, which was the key to taking the American base.
This group of well over 100 players then set off in a broad skirmish line and literally swept the field. The American forward base was easily taken, satisfying the special mission orders, but it just wasn't enough. With 12 minutes left to play before the dinner break, the NVA attacked the Americans with a mass screaming charge. Inside the American base, the few defenders were just waiting for the dinner break and were completely unprepared for the attack. The US radio operator in the command shack called Wayne on the radio at Central Command pleading, "What can I do? What can I do?". "Hold for 10 minutes." Wayne calmly replied. Within 3 minutes, the base was overrun by the mass of screaming NVA players. To complete the assault, the NVA then had a demo man blow up the American command shack for additional points.
Role Player Deceptions
There were rumors circulating that the Khmer Rouge were selling drugs to the CIA and using Air America to transport it into the American zone. It was also revealed that there had been an American aircraft lost over Cambodia. This plane was carrying a bomb packed with the defoliant Agent Orange and the CIA would do just about anything to get it, as it was clear proof that the US was operating inside Cambodia. The pilot of the plane had not survived the crash and his body was also evidence that the KGB were looking for.
This body was spirited away by the Khmer Rouge in one of the best deceptions of the entire game. It was kept sitting upright against the Wayne's motor home until it was to be introduced into the game. John Avila, playing Pol Pot, was entitled to it as it was to be his prop, but the CIA role players were keeping a very sharp eye on it so they would know when it was placed into the game. John took one of his players and had him dress just like the pilot, placing a large Vietnamese style hat on his head just like the pilot had. The Khmer Rouge player then crawled under the motor home and slipped quietly in beside the body. When no one was watching, he pushed the pilot back out under the motor home to a waiting accomplice. The new 'pilot' then sat motionless in the same manner that the original pilot had for over half an hour. As some CIA agents were later checking on the body, they lifted the hat up and were very shocked as the 'pilot' suddenly got up and walked away. The CIA were then faced with the mystery of just who had pulled off this well-done switch.
Masters of the Night
After the Dinner break, the teams chronoed again and assembled back at their bases. The scenario team Joint Fury was determined to rule the night and they launched a plan to control the field. The Joint Fury players are night time specialists and Spiro actually assumed command of the American team, sending Chuck Stoner off for some much need rest.
Back at the NVA base, things began to go badly. The first incident occurred when the US LRRP team infiltrated the NVA base. By simply walking along with the returning NVA players in the dark, the 4 LRRPs walked right in and sat down with the NVA. When a call came out for someone to run a mission, the LRRPs jumped up and asked to take it. While the NVA Head of Security was explaining what must be done, one of the LRRPs shot a paintball onto the foot of the Security Chief. Realizing what was happening, the Chief called for a medic while another NVA eliminated the LRRP with a touch. The ref stepped in to calm things down and to sort things out as the medic revived the Security Chief. After he was healed, another LRRP pulled the same trick and the Chief was eliminated again. Soon the LRRPs were kicked out the base and security people received a royal chewing out.
There were several memorable night missions run by the NVA, most notably the Plei Bo mission, in which a small group moved through a great distance in the dark, using a single night vision scope as a detector for enemy infra-red night vision activity. The adventure of this group was really remarkable for the fact that at one point they ended up literally surrounding a group of enemy players in a very close stand off situation. Both sides saw the missions as the most important thing, and wisely passed each other by after a very tense conversation. The Plei Bo mission was a great success, but the biggest surprise came back at the base. The pointman of the patrol, Darren Quaintance, a guy who led the team unerringly over 400 yards through dense woods in the dark, admitted that this was the first time he had ever played paintball. "Are all games like this?" he asked. No Darren, this one was special. Some other members of this patrol were Lawrence Danforth, Glenn Miller, Jeff Raymond, and the team Executive officer, Bill McAuliffe.
Back at the American base, things were going much better. CIA operative Dr John Allen and other Joint Fury members were out in force to run as many missions as possible. Dr. John actually went out with nothing more than a flashlight and completed some missions. Encountering enemy patrols, he gave the old "I lost my fannypack" story and was left alone to complete his missions.
All this action against the NVA resulted in the base being attacked and overrun several times during the night. At 3am, the NVA general was even blown up by his own demo man, who was an enemy agent in disguise. By 5:30am, general Ahearn had enough and blew up his own base to prevent the enemy from doing it again. It was a bad night for the NVA and a tribute to the effectiveness of Joint Fury.
The Americans didn't escape unscathed however. As acting American general, Spiro had a little excitement of his own to deal with. A KGB agent managed to work past the base security and assassinated him right in front of his command shack. Spiro never saw it coming. Just goes to show that there are some pretty devious people out there in the woods at night.
The Day Game
After the breakfast break, the spies really came out of the woodwork and the story of the role players began to emerge. The Khmer Rouge had been bought by the CIA. With his only goal being to fatten his wallet, Pol Pot had duped the KGB into buying a fake hand from US pilot he had for $15 million. He then sold the Agent Orange bomb and the pilot's body to the CIA for $50 million. The last major prop he had to sell was a map that pinpointed the location of a low yield tactical nuclear bomb that the KGB had in Cambodia. Pol Pot had two maps to sell, one real and one fake- the CIA offered 15 million, so they got the real map while the KGB's offer of 12 netted them the fake one.
Pol Pot, played by John Avila, was a true nasty in this game and his services simply went to the highest bidder, earning himself a cool $89 million. A ruthless role player, John also captured the head of the KGB and poisoned him in a fake tribal ceremony. A last minute appeal for the antidote fell on deaf ears as the evil Pol Pot also eliminated a French journalist trying to help the Khmer Rouge and the KGB reach an agreement.
Under the leadership of Tribal Chieftain Snakebite, the Khmer Rouge also ran a successful drug operation. Using the services of Air America, they were moving drugs for the CIA to make it appear that the NVA and KGB were behind the epidemic of heroin use in the United States. Air America's head of operations, Dewey Green, got greedy and was skimming from the shipments. The CIA found out and attempted to assassinate him. Suspecting his impending demise, Dewey managed to take out the CIA agent 'Darkman', with a poison snake first. The CIA chief, Spiro then took out Dewey with a cap gun character assassination. Air America wasn't out of business for long however, as Dewey's crew chief, who looked exactly like Dewey, assumed the role of Air America.
For the role playing game, the CIA had managed to cover up for the US Army and gave the operation of the invasion plausible deniability. They also made the Communists appear to be the source of the drug problem in the US. The Khmer Rouge got just what they wanted, money. They didn't care one bit about the invasion of Laos and Cambodia because they knew the US would eventually leave.
The NVA never captured any proof that the US was using Agent Orange in a neutral country and ended up being blamed for illegal drugs that the Khmer Rouge and CIA were actually moving. The KGB suffered a stinging defeat, having not gained one shred of evidence for the all time and money they expended. Had the KGB agent, Frank Coppola, not died a horrible death at the hands of Pol Pot, his own agency would have surely liquidated him.
For Frank Coppola, this game was quite an eye opener. It was his first time as a role player and he had a substantial role to play. He did the best he could and if he was playing attention, he learned a valuable lesson in role-playing from both Joint Fury and John Avila. Frank will be back, you could see it in his eyes.
Final Action on the Field
Out on the field, the American's and NVA continued to run missions against each other for the remainder of the morning. The last big battle occurred when the NVA tried to repeat the successful attack on the American base in the last minutes of the afternoon game. With a force of about 100 players, the NVA did take the American forward position at Xom Mat Cat.
While rushing towards the main base, they found themselves in a trap. Surrounded, they formed a perimeter and took positions. Receiving intense fire from all sides, one NVA player was heard to say, "Ok boys, we got 'em just where we want 'em - surrounded from the inside!" Another NVA, unmarked but completely out of air and paint, refused to give up and ran around the perimeter yelling, "Bang! Bang! Bang! Check yourself, buddy!" Slowly the relentless fire took its toll and the NVA were whittled down to a small group that was overrun just as the game ended. It was quite a finish for the Americans.
At 12:30 on Sunday afternoon, the Awards Ceremony began with the announcement that the American's had won the game by scoring more completed missions. For the role players, the CIA had recovered the special props and had won the game. Wayne gave Dr. John Allen a special mention as the only role player who figured out that the KGB had a nuclear bomb in Cambodia. In terms of money, the Khmer Rouge had done the best by acquiring $89 million. But, as Wayne went on to say, all of that was secondary, because all the players were winners for coming out to play. I couldn't agree more.
The 1st award given out was a special plaque, given to Skirmish owner Paul Fogel from Wayne for his long association with and support of scenario games. Karen Fink, Skirmish Field Manager, accepted it in his place.
The Awards to the American Team went to:
Most Valuable Player - Jim Fudge
Most Valuable Team - Joint Fury
Best Judge - "B.A."
Sportsmanship - Pat Peme
Purple Heart - "The guy on Hill 46"
For the NVA, the Awards went to:
Most Valuable Player - Kyle Stiegerwalt
Most Valuable Team - Bravo Company
Sportsmanship - Curtis Pandorf, Drew Fago, and Chris Jacob
Best Judge - Joe Deluca
Purple Heart - 'Jester'
The Khmer Rouge Awards:
Most Valuable Player - Zena Bell
Most Valuable Team - Ghetto Brothers
Sportsmanship - Team Aggression
Best Judge - 'Danny Boy'
Purple Heart - Mike Tash
The awards ceremony continued with the traditional "Ooh and Aah" ceremony led by Dewey Green. There were many prizes given out. The Grand Prize, a Viper M-1 by USA Performance, went to Brian Blume, who came up from Dallas, Texas to play in this game. The 2nd prize, 5 free passes to Wayne's grand Finale Game in December, went to Chris Cambell.
Many other prizes were given out, including 8 'Spec Ops' computer games, courtesy of Ripcord Games, and 1 dozen Vents and Scott goggles, and many loaders, hoppers, and accessories, courtesy of Global Paintball, Emmaus, PA.
Among the event sponsors were the Batman and Robin of Paintball vendors, Charles Holton and Fred Moulton jr. These two friends and travelling companions perform a vital service for players needing those special parts and other cool stuff at events all over the Eastern US. $200 in gift certificates were given out by Intense Marketing, Chuck Holton's travelling paintball supply company, and several Sgt. Splatter T-shirts and comic books, were given out by Fred Moulton jr's Wacky Tacky T-Shirt Factory, soon to be online- watch Warpig for an announcement.
At one point in the dispersal of items, Dewey "Ooh and Aahed" a Tippmann Squad Buster paint grenade into the crowd. Unfortunately the pin came out and the grenade released, spraying paint all over the crowd. This was so entertaining, the crowd started chanting, "Do it again, do it again..." To squeals of delight Dewey pulled the pin on another and it went off in the crowd too. Before the mess was over, people were running to vendor stands and buying more to contribute to the mess. It was all done in great fun, and even Wayne, Dewey, and Karen Fink ended up as covered in Tippmann Blue as everyone in the crowd was.
Thanks to All
"Tour of Duty" was one of
the best scenario games ever done at Skirmish. The game went very well
and the size and layout of the Skirmish field was a truly enjoyable challenge.
The refs were everywhere and performed their thankless task very well.
The players were fantastic, a friendly group who played fairly and safe.
On behalf of all the players who had a great time at this game, I would
like to thank Wayne and Jackie Dollack, and Paul Fogel and the Skirmish
staff for putting on a great show. Skirmish was a fantastic stage for the
"Tour of Duty" game to be played on and that made this game a very memorable